We Asked, You Said, We Did

Below are some of the issues we have recently consulted on and their outcomes.

We Asked

The consultation outlined the Council’s intention to review the catering service which was originally set up to provide hot meals at lunchtime to tenants and local residents at Cedar Court and Oak Tree House extra care housing services as well as The Maples Day Service based at Rivermead.

We asked for your views on possible alternative ways to access a meal at lunchtime and sought your view on the current service. We wanted to understand why you choose to eat/not to eat in the restaurant and we wanted to understand any impact closing the restaurant may have.

We wanted to use this feedback to inform the future catering requirements at these services.

You Said

The theme across the responses was that people did not want the restaurants to close. The majority of respondents wanted to maintain access to a hot freshly prepared meal.

72.5% of respondents from the Extra Care schemes (Oak Tree House and Cedar Court) indicated that they ate in the restaurants every day. 65% of respondents from the Extra Care schemes indicated that if the restaurants were to close they would not get a hot meal that day.

Of the alternatives proposed, only 30% of respondents from the Extra Care Schemes were happy to try a Fresh Meal Delivery Service and only 7.5% were happy to try a Frozen Meal Delivery Service.

75% of respondents from the Day Service indicated that they currently purchase the available hot meal. However, 37.5% indicated that they would not be bothered by a change to this service. 31.25% expressed concern that they would not get a hot meal that day.

Respondents from the Extra Care schemes wanted the restaurants to remain open, to continue to provide a freshly prepared hot meal alongside and opportunity to socialise. Respondents from the Maples Day Service were also keen to still access a hot meal but were more open to this being sourced elsewhere since it is not currently cooked on site anyway.

As well as responses from residents and service users, responses were also received from relatives, carers and an MP.

Responses also highlighted the number of people who would need assistance to prepare a meal should the restaurant close and that the restaurant had been an important factor when choosing to move into these schemes.

Feedback provided in the 6 Focus Group sessions also echoed the above views.

We Did

We reviewed the responses received and acknowledging the view that it would be best to keep the restaurants open, we sought a micro-business that would be able to use the kitchens to continue to provide a hot meal service.

We also looked at alternative ways to provide a hot meal including a hot meal delivery service.

We were successful is sourcing a micro-business to continue to provide a 7 days a week hot meal service in the restaurant at Cedar Court. This micro-business is also able to continue to provide hot meals to The Maples Day Service.

The landlord at Oak Tree House has also sourced a micro-business to continue to provide a service. This will be available 6 days a week (excluding Saturday, although cold food can be provided on the Friday to residents on request) and will provide a café service alongside one hot meal option each day.

There will be a change in meal price for each location. The meal prices are set by the micro-businesses and will therefore differ between sites.

At Cedar Court the meal price will increase from £4.45 to £5.05 for two courses (£4.05 for main course only). At Oak Tree House the meal price will change from £4.45 for two courses to £4 for a Main Course and £1.50 for a Pudding (£5.50 for two courses). At The Maples the price for a two course meal and refreshments will increase from £5.40 to £5.50.

We Asked

Are your children with SEND accessing their Early Entitlement and attending for their full entitlement and reasons why this is?

 

 

What support do you feel is needed for your children in Early Years Settings.

You Said

48% were not accessing their Early Entitlement and 25% were not able to access their full time entitlement.

10% were unable to access as the setting said they were unable to meet your child’s needs.

60% of you were not confident in the settings meeting your child’s needs.

10% will not accept your child due to safety needs.

 

 

20% were unable to access your entitlement as additional funding was not available.

More General and specific training for staff 

Additional Funding

More Specialist Early Years Provision

 

 

We Did

We intend to provide additional support, training and advice to support our Early Years Settings so that we are able to support children with SEND to be able to access their Early Year Entitlement for full time in preparation for starting school.

 

 

The Early Years Advisory Service are completing Myth Busting Sessions to remind Early Years Providers of their Legal Requirements to support children with SEN, and advise them of what support is available.

We have sessions booked for more training sessions at the Avenue Centre in October, November and January.

There are bespoke packages that are available to request for additional training, or whole setting training and these training packages can be included in these bespoke packages.

Following completing of the SEND Audits, further training will be planned depending on the outcomes of the Audits.

Training is being provided to all settings about the additional funding that is available to apply for to support children via the inclusion funding that the Government released in April 2017 to increase access and inclusion for children with additional needs in Early Years Settings.

The SEND Strategy is also looking at the provision available for all children with additional needs from aged 0 to 25 and what is available in Reading, with specialist Nursery Settings sitting on the SEND Strategy.

 

We Asked

Consultation asked for views on the Draft Local Plan, which sets out planning policies for Reading up to 2036.

You Said

There were around 150 responses, which commented on all elements of the plan.

We Did

A revised Pre-Submission Draft Local Plan will be subject to consultation starting on 30th November 2017.

We Asked

Over the last couple of years we have spent time trying to tidy up the area as it was overgrown and used for anti-social behaviour. We would like residents ideas on how they would like this area used and be more pleasant (remembering we have a limited budget).

 

You Said

Some ideas from residents were:

  • Remove the railings and rejuvenate the riverbank and use it as a recreational area
  • Flower beds, wild flowers, plants that attract bees
  • A designated dog friendly area (but not exclusively) for dog walkers to meet
  • Children wildlife – bug hotels, nesting boxes, hedgehog houses
  • Information boards on wild birds/swans on the brook

We Did

  • We contacted the residents that responded to the survey and invited them to a meeting on 19 June 2017 to discuss the ideas provided and any new ideas; due to the limited budget we decided on some ‘quick wins’.
  • We managed to get some old tyres, paint & brushes donated to us from local businesses to help with our community project.
  • On 25 September 2017 we had our first planting session – the area had been flailed in preparation. Local residents and conservation volunteers helped to plant some wild flowers into the ground; old painted tyres were also used as planters.
  • In spring next year the area should be full of colourful flowers – a more welcoming area for residents. If the tyres/plants are ‘looked after’ by residents, we would like to build on this work next year and take forward more ideas provided in the survey.

We Asked

The Housing department continuously strives to reduce the length of time is takes to let empty properties and aims to re-let empty homes within 30 days of becoming empty. This change will help to further reduce the time it takes to re-let properties, ensuring the use of social homes is maximised and the rent loss associated with empty properties is minimised.

 

Whilst the fortnightly advertising/bidding cycle provides a basic, effective method of letting homes, there are efficiencies to be made by moving to the letting of homes on a daily basis.  As properties are currently only advertised on a fortnightly basis, any homes becoming available just after the deadline for advertisement cannot be advertised for a further 2 weeks. The move to daily advertising will speed up this process for the majority of properties.

 

The Council also wants to ensure a better experience for applicants, the improved website will allow the process to be more informative, easier and more user friendly for those who have applied for social housing.

You Said

Analysis has shown that there is significant support for the changes proposed within the consultation.  As an overview, 98% of applicants agreed (strongly or otherwise) that speeding up the time in which properties are let is a positive approach.

 

75% of applicants felt that the change to the advertising process to daily would either be positive or would have no impact, with many positive comments about the increase in flexibility that this would provide.  6% of applicants felt the change would be harder or more inconvenient for them to bid for property.  This equates to 33 applicants, who are being individually contacted to discuss their concerns.

 

90% of respondents said that they currently use the Homechoice website to view and bid for property, so this change will have no impact for a vast majority of applicants. Only 6% of applicants said that removal of the freesheet will make it impossible to find out what properties are becoming available, this equates to 33 applicants, who are being individually contacted to discuss their concerns.

          

An equality Impact assessment has been carried out to assess any adverse impact on any particular households identified as a result of the changes, it is important to ensure that any potential concerns have been identified and support is being provided to any individuals that may need additional help through the transition.

We Did

As a result of the positive consultation response the Council will move to daily advertising meaning that properties can be advertised on a daily basis. Property adverts will show a ‘bidding closes’ date to allow applicants to know how long properties are available. Customers will be advised to check regularly for new properties as homes may be added daily. Due to the 7 day advertising period, if applicants check on the same day each week they will see all available property. In addition applicants can set up email alerts much in the same way that mainstream private sector letting websites work to ensure they are informed when suitable properties are advertised.

 

This change will mean that the Council will no longer be able to provide and distribute a fortnightly ‘freesheet’, as available properties will change on a daily basis. Applicants will continue to be able to view a property advert for a minimum period of seven days, during which time they can bid for the home as they wish. A sheet will be made available to print off in reception if necessary.

 

Applicants will continue to be able to bid for property by logging into the website, telephoning or coming into the Council offices, by text message or through staff and/or agency assistance.

We Asked

for views on proposals for remodelling children’s centre services.

You Said

1. Concern for the lack of provision in North Reading
2. Concern that identification of need would be missed
3. Lack of support for children over three years old with additional needs
4. Improve the efficiencies of the service

We Did

1. Caversham Children’s Centre features in the new Children’s Centre offer as a satellite of East Reading hub
2. A new open access service for new parents and babies included in the new Children’s Centre offer
3. Targeted offer will extend to all SEND children under 5 years old
4. We are collaborating with Health, Maternity services, Voluntary groups, Libraries and sharing space in Community Centres.