Venue: Council Chamber
Contact: Bernie Carr
Declarations of Interest
any declarations of interest.
no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
The Chartered Institution of
Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) had been commissioned to undertake a
review of culture and governance at Middlesbrough Council following a
qualification to the Value for Money (VFM) judgement in the External Auditors’ Report
in July 2022.
The Head of CIPFA’s Consultancy
Services presented the report, a copy of which had been circulated with the
agenda for the meeting. The review had
been undertaken in the context of VFM qualifications in the External Auditors’
Reports for the years ended 31 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 and longer standing
issues in relation to culture and Member behaviour. The Auditors would return in six months
expecting to see positive progress.
CIPFA interviewed a wide range of
Officers and Members to gauge the situation and identified that following the
2019 election and unprecedented political change, the Council had struggled to
adapt to the entrepreneurial style of the new administration. Notwithstanding the seriousness of the
situation, CIPFA believed that if everyone worked together and accepted that
the problems existed and why, then significant improvements could be made.
Attention was drawn to Section 5
of the submitted report which detailed the serious issues in the governance and
operation of the Council that had been identified during the review and the
following points were highlighted:
• Clash of
• Roles and
of FOIs and complaints.
• Focus on
In conclusion, the issues facing
the Council were significant and having a negative impact on the culture and
the Council’s ability to deliver good governance. The Council had an opportunity to made
considerable improvements, but not without acceptance that the issues contained
in the report were real, serious and needed resolution.
CIPFA’s recommendations were set out as follows:
• the Mayor should seek the support of the full Council for
the development, in conjunction
with CIPFA, of an Action Plan with clear milestones to address the issues highlighted in the report.
and Members were involved in the development of the Action Plan and that it included deliverables and
milestones on a timescale of 30, 60 and 90
days. Cross-party working groups should
be used as a way of involving Members
in creating solutions.
• the Mayor should agree a review process for the plan, which
involved all parties.
ORDERED that the report was received and noted.
The Mayor thanked CIPFA for their
report as presented at Agenda Item 3 and commented that this was an opportunity
to start the process of creating the most effective, constructive, challenging
and strong Council in the country. The
Mayor also urged all present to agree the recommendations proposed by CIPFA in
order to move forward and become a Council that set the standard for others to
The Executive Member for Finance
and Governance presented the joint report of the Mayor and the Chief Executive which
summarised the findings of the independent diagnostic work completed by CIPFA
and the proposed next steps.
It was proposed that a
politically balanced Improvement Board consisting of Statutory Officers,
Elected Members, CIPFA representatives, and an independent Chair would have
responsibility for agreeing, delivering and reporting an action plan to improve
governance across the Authority. Wider
groups of Members and Officers would be involved in task and finish sub-groups
as the improvement plan developed to ensure wide engagement in the improvement
journey. The Executive Member had
received nominations for all sub-groups and confirmed that the details would be
circulated to all Members.
Councillor M Storey referred to
the CIPFA report findings and stated that nobody should have to come into their
place of work in fear or trepidation of being bullied. The fact that this had been highlighted was a
stain on the Council and Members would do everything they could to ensure
Officers felt supported at all times.
Councillor Storey also commented that the Board and Sub Groups were the
right way to progress and the Labour Group would support this process
Responding in relation to a query
regarding the percentage of people interviewed by CIPFA, the Executive Member
stated that responsibility for the review was delegated to CIPFA and he was
confident that CIPFA’s findings were accurate.
Regarding the response times from
Officers to Members’ queries, the Executive Member commented that Officers were
doing the best they could under immense pressure. However, improvement in this area could be
discussed as part of the improvement plan.
Councillor C Hobson stated that
the Middlesbrough Independent Group (MIG) understood the seriousness of the
situation, wished to think positively about moving forward and urged all
present to agree with the recommendations in the Report.
The Executive Member for
Environment, speaking on behalf of Middlesbrough Independent Councillors
Association (MICA) stated that the group were looking forward to working with
everyone and building bridges. The
Executive Member proposed that the membership of the sub groups should be
extended to include one place for Conservatives on each sub group.
On a vote being taken, it was ORDERED that the proposed membership of
the sub groups was amended to include one allocated place on each sub group for
Some further discussion took place amongst Members in relation to the amended membership of the sub-groups and the issue of proportionality. The Mayor thanked Members for their comments and stated whilst there could be follow up conversations, the vote had ... view the full minutes text for item 22/49