Agenda and draft minutes

Executive - Wednesday 14th February, 2024 12.30 pm

Venue: Mandela Room

Contact: Chris Lunn / Scott Bonner 

Items
No. Item

23/64

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.

23/65

Minutes- Executive - 17 January 2024 pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the Executive meeting held on 17 January 2024 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

 

23/66

Corporate Performance Review: Quarter Three 2023/2024 pdf icon PDF 183 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor and Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health submitted a report for Executive’s consideration.

 

The Council’s Scheme of Delegation gives the Executive collective responsibility for corporate strategic performance, together with associated action.

 

The report provided the necessary information to enable the Executive to discharge its performance management responsibilities, setting out progress against Executive approved actions, delivery of the Strategic Plan and other key associated items, together with actions to be taken to address any issued identified.

 

The projected financial outturn at the end of Quarter Three 2023/2024 was presented separately to this meeting of the Executive, and so not repeated here. Where performance had a significant impact on finances, this was highlighted within the body of the report.

 

As part of continuous improvement in performance and risk management, the Council’s Leadership Management Team (LMT) had implemented monthly reviews of corporate performance utilising a Directorate Performance dashboard, drawing data from a range of performance systems.

 

The Council’s overall performance at the end of Quarter Three saw a slight dip from the position reported at Quarter Two, with progress towards expected performance standards, as set out in the Council’s risk appetite, achieved in two of the four active performance disciplines in 2023/24.

 

ORDERED that Executive:

 

1.    Approves the proposed amendments to Executive actions at Quarter Three 2023/24 detailed in Appendix.

2.    Notes progress of delivery of the Strategic Plan 2022-24 at Quarter Three 2023/24, detailed in Appendix 2.

3.    Approves the proposed amendments to Strategic Plan workplan at Quarter Three 2023/24, detailed in Appendix 3.

 

OPTIONS

 

No other options were put forward as part of the report.

 

REASONS

 

To enable the effective management of performance and risk in line with the Council’s Local Code of Corporate Governance

23/67

Best Value Notice Update pdf icon PDF 325 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Mayor and Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health submitted a report for Executive’s consideration.

 

The report set out the content of the ‘Best Value Notice’ issued on 30 January 2024, following the expiry of the existing Notice which had been issued for a period of 12 months in January 2023.

 

A Corporate Improvement Plan was put in place in response to corporate governance concerns identified in 2022, which were also formally raised by the Council’s External Auditors in a Section 24 report issued in August 2022. 

 

Since September 2022, the Council had both a Corporate Governance Improvement Plan and a Section 24 action plan in place to address the range of governance issues identified in both plans. In January 2023 the government issued a ‘Best Value Notice’ on a non-statutory footing, which set out the government’s concerns in relation to the Council’s governance. The notice was in place for 12 months, with clear expectations that should the Council fail to respond positively to it, intervention would be moved to a statutory footing.

 

The Mayor commented he welcomed the updated Best Value Notice as it was a clear sign the Government had faith in the Council’s ability to shape its own destiny. The Best Value Notice was also an endorsement of the Council’s hard work in achieving its objectives.

 

The Chief Executive commented the Council was heading in the right direction. However, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had made it clear that the pace of improvements needed to be maintained and that hard work to implement improvements was essential. The Council would be reviewed again in July 2024 and there was a good chance the Council would not require further intervention.

 

The Executive Member for Finance and Governance stated the latest Best Value Notice was the second consecutive report considered by Executive that showed the Council in a positive light on its improvement journey. There was, however, a need to concentrate on the pace of work being undertaken.

 

The Mayor thanked all staff for their work in this process.

 

AGREED that Executive note the revised ‘Best Value Notice’ that had been issued by government, following the expiration of the previous notice that was issued in January 2023.

 

OPTIONS

 

No other options were put forward as part of the report.

 

REASONS

 

The Council must continue to respond effectively and at pace to deliver the improvements set out in both the Corporate Governance Improvement Plan and the Section 24 report if it was to effectively address the concerns around its culture, governance, and financial challenges in order to provide Government with assurance that its corporate governance was fit for purpose.

23/68

Revenue and Capital Budget - Forecast Outturn position at Quarter Three 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance and Governance submitted a report for Executive’s consideration.

 

The report set out a forecast of the year-end annual outturn for the financial year 2023/24, based on the Quarter Three review of revenue current and projected expenditure against the current year’s Revenue Budget, and highlighted the areas of financial challenge.

 

The report also set out the management actions that had been taken to control expenditure within the General Fund budget approved by Council in February 2023 as well as seeking Executive’s endorsement of the management actions that were in place to control expenditure within the approved budget and to develop more financially sustainable solutions for future years.

 

The report sought approval from Executive in relation to revenue budget virements and revisions to the Capital Programme.

 

The Council’s Scheme of Delegation gave Executive collective responsibility for corporate strategic performance and financial management / monitoring, together with associated actions. Standing Orders and Financial Procedures required Executive’s approval for major virements between revenue budgets, and in-year changes to the Council’s Capital Programme within approved Council resources.

 

The report enabled Executive to discharge its financial management responsibilities by setting out the General Fund Revenue Budget forecast outturn at Quarter Three, the Statement of the Council’s projected reserves and provisions at Quarter Three, the Capital Programme forecast outturn at Quarter Three, the statement of the Council’s borrowing and prudential indicators and actions that the Council had taken, and planned to take, in order address the issues identified.

 

Financial Procedure Rule 1.37 required Executive’s approval of the proposed revenue budget virements as set out in Appendix 4.

 

A revised Capital Programme for the period 2023/24 to 2025/26 was attached at Appendix 6 for Executive’s consideration.

 

The Executive Member for Finance and Governance commented that both Members and Officers and Officers had worked together to improve the Council’s financial situation. The Director of Finance was thanked for her work on the report and that of the Collection Fund.

 

The Mayor commented that the Council’s improved outturn projections was another reflection the Council could control its own destiny.

 

ORDERED

 

1.    In respect of the General Fund Revenue Budget that Executive approve the proposed revenue budget virements over £250,000 as detailed in Appendix 4. These were technical adjustments.

2.    In respect of the Capital Programme and Treasury Management that Executive approve the inclusion of additions to the Capital Programme for 2023/24 totalling £0.297m (summarised in Table 9) which were externally funded or funded from within existing Council resources for the 2023/24 Capital Programme as approved by Council in February 2023. These had increased the 2023/24 Capital Programme budget to £67.631m from the £67.334m revised Capital Programme budget for 2023/24 approved at Quarter Two.

 

AGREED

 

In respect of the General Fund Revenue Budget that Executive:

1.    Note the forecast 2023/24 net revenue budget year-end outturn as at Quarter Three of £131.898m against an approved budget of £126.354m, a forecast year-end overspend of £5.544m (4.4%). This represented an improvement of £3.012m from that forecast at Quarter Two.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/68

23/69

Levelling Up Partnership pdf icon PDF 405 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Regeneration submitted a report for Executive’s consideration.

 

The purpose of the report was to seek Executive approval for Middlesbrough Council to accept £20.816 million of Levelling Up Partnership (LUP) funding and agree, as the Accountable Body, to deliver and enable local partners to deliver the package of proposed projects.

 

Having been identified as an area of need by Government, Middlesbrough Council had been working alongside the Department for Levelling Up Homes and Community (DLUHC) to develop a series of projects to be delivered by 31st March 2025, to address Middlesbrough’s greatest areas of need. The funding would be provided under a S31 grant to the authority, and was expected to be provided in two tranches of approximately £9.900m in 2023 -2024 and £10.916 in 2024 - 2025 financial years. The first payment of £9.9m was received in December 2023.

 

Levelling up partnerships aimed to bring the collective power of Government to provide bespoke place-based regeneration in 20 of England’s areas in greatest need of levelling up over 2023-24 and 2024-25.

 

Middlesbrough had been selected based on the analysis in the levelling up White Paper which considered places in England against four key metrics: the percentage of adults with Level 3+ qualifications; gross value added (GVA) per hour worked; median gross weekly pay; and healthy life expectancy.

 

There was up to £20.816m capital resource available for the Levelling Up Partnership in the financial years 2023 - 2024 and 2024 - 2025. Total funding allocated would depend on the policies agreed and subject to business case approvals.

 

Awarded capital resource could cover expenditure on assets, investment in existing assets and capital grants to third parties, with respect to this programme this would be delivered via capital grant from Central Government which would fund capital costs of delivering bespoke local programmes.

 

The Mayor was encouraged to see a health offering as part of the proposals and that the partnership overall was a benefit for the town.

 

ORDERED that Executive:

 

1.    Approves the Levelling Up Partnership Programme as set out in appendix A;

2.    Approves the acceptance of funding and Council status as accountable body for the funds – on the basis that the formal grant offer letter was in the form of an un-ringfenced S31 Capital grant and funding conditions being achievable; and, formally approved by the Director of Finance (S151); and,

3.    Approves that the submission of any programme amendments / change control processes with DLUHC be delegated to the Director of Regeneration and Culture, and Director of Finance (S151), subject to consultation with the relevant Executive members.

 

OPTIONS

 

Do nothing - not accepting the funding would have represented a missed opportunity to provide new facilities, improve existing ones and create new opportunities for Middlesbrough residents.

 

REASONS

 

The Levelling Up Partnership funding provided the opportunity to carry out a range of interventions that would not be possible without external funding. Each project had been designed to address an evidence-based need within the town, that would benefit a wide  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/69

23/70

Newham Hall - Disposal Option Update pdf icon PDF 398 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Regeneration submitted a report for Executive’s consideration.

 

The site at Newham Hall was identified in the Local Plan (2014) for residential development. It was the Council’s largest parcel of surplus land at 71ha. With 42ha of net developable land the site had capacity for approximately 1,000 dwellings (Appendix 1).

 

Although the land had not been marketed for sale, Middlesbrough Council had received two speculative offers for the land in the last three years. More recently, the Council received a Joint Venture proposition from Homes England and entered into an Exclusivity Agreement with them for the period December 2022 - September 2023.

 

Following assessment of these offers and insights from market research the report sought approval for Middlesbrough Council to:

·         progress with the disposal and marketing of the land independently rather than sell to a third-party developer or through a Joint Venture with Homes England; and

·         to utilise LUF2, Towns Fund grant, Strategic Highways and S106 monies, other developer contributions and Council capital programme resources to undertake site de-risking to ensure best consideration for the site at the point of sale.

 

The disposal of the land was recommended in order to meet the Council’s requirements to generate capital receipts, increase annually recurring revenue streams and, as the value of the individual site exceeds £250,000 it was a key decision.

 

The report would seek continued delegated authority to be granted for the Director of Regeneration and Director of Finance to ensure a smooth and efficient disposal and delivery process to take place.

 

The implications of the recommendations of the report had been considered by the appropriate officers of the Council and were set out in the main body of the report.

 

The overall integrity of the Local Plan (2014) depended upon the land supply identified within it being made available. Following Executive approval in 2017 to terminate the Agricultural Tenancy, approval to dispose of the land was granted by Executive in July 2022 via the Asset Disposal Business Case process (Appendix 2 - Confidential).

 

Middlesbrough’s housing offer needed to keep pace with the demands of the market. The release and development of this suburban site would allow that to be achieved; stemming outward migration and making Middlesbrough a more desirable place to live, with a quantity of residential properties that would address the needs of a changing, growing and evolving population.

 

The development of new housing was a key component of the Council being able to achieve financial sustainability through growth in its tax base which generated increased Council Tax income. In addition, the capital receipts generated from sale of land, including housing sites, would support the delivery of the Council Plan and its Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP).

 

The Executive Member commented the report was focussed on securing investment from the site rather than specific planning considerations.

 

 

ORDERED that Executive:

1.    Approve the approach of Middlesbrough Council acting as the master developer for the Newham Hall site - being financially responsible for bringing the site forward for phased  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/70

23/71

Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.

Minutes:

None.

23/72

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider passing a Resolution Pursuant to Section 100A (4) Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1972 excluding the press and public from the meeting during consideration of the following items on the grounds that if present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information falling within paragraphs 3  of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act and the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Minutes:

The Chair noted that information relating to the report at agenda item 8 (Newham Hall – Disposal Options Update) was deemed commercially sensitive and thereby potentially exempt from press and public view.

 

The Monitoring Officer advised Executive that when determining whether to pass a resolution to exclude the press and public from part of the meeting to discuss that potentially exempt information, there was a need to balance the public interest against, in this case, commercial sensitivity.

 

Executive were also asked by the Monitoring Officer to note that the law on access to information, which was mirrored in the council’s Constitution, provided that information was not exempt if it related to a proposed development for which the local planning authority may grant itself planning permission in principle.  The meaning of this provision had been interpreted in case law.  The Monitoring Officer noted that the report at agenda item 8 included a statement of intention on the part of the council to apply for planning permission in respect of the land.

 

A recent case had established that it was not reasonable to say that the provision only applied to decisions coming before planning committee. On the other hand, the legal provision should not be interpreted to suggest that as soon as the authority as landowner proposed development, information could not be exempt regardless of how far in the future the potential grant of planning permission. The case law underlined the need to have regard to the purpose of the law concerning exemptions, which was intended to promote public access to information but also to safeguard the financial and business interests of anyone. 

 

In the context of the case law, the Monitoring Officer advised that it was possible in this case for Executive to consider the information in the relevant appendices as potentially exempt, and it was a matter for Executive to determine whether - in balancing commercial sensitivity and the public interest – the press and public should be excluded from discussions on that information.

 

An Executive member commented that while Executive wanted as much transparency as possible in decision making, there was a need to ensure certain information was protected when it was relevant to do so.

 

ORDERED that the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that, if present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

23/73

Newham Hall - Appendices A, 2 and 3

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Regeneration submitted appendices containing exempt information associated with agenda item 8 (Newham Hall – Disposal Option Update) for Executive’s consideration.

 

AGREED

 

That the contents of the appendices be noted.

 

REASONS

 

For reasons outlined in the report at agenda item 8.

 

All decisions will come into force after five working days following the day the decision(s) was published unless the decision becomes subject to the call in procedures.