Agenda and minutes

Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday 21st July, 2021 4.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Susan Lightwing 

No. Item


Welcome and Evacuation Procedure


The Chair welcomed all present to the meeting.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


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


Minutes - Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel - 30 June 2021 pdf icon PDF 211 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 30 June 2021 were taken as read and approved as a correct record.


Middlesbrough Regeneration Post Covid-19 Scrutiny Review - Business Support/Grants pdf icon PDF 402 KB

The Strategic Business Manager, Regeneration, will be in attendance to provide an overview of the business support/grants provided by the Council during the pandemic.


Recommendation: for Panel to determine whether further information is required.


The Strategic Business Manager, Regeneration, was in attendance and provided overview of the business support/grants provided by the Council during the pandemic.


Since March 2020 the Council’s Revenues and Benefits team, Economic Growth/Regeneration and Finance Service,  had collaborated to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic to support businesses.  Whilst continuing to deliver a regular day to day service, a range of additional initiatives and grant schemes were designed.  Teams worked quickly to ensure support was provided speedily and effectively where it was most needed.


At the earliest opportunity information was disseminated through web and social media platforms and business networks to promote and guide businesses through the support available both via the Local Authority and the wider business support landscape.   Several support mechanisms were initiated and promoted by Middlesbrough Council which included:


  • Buy Boro campaign: promotion of local supply and services.
  • 1 to 1 business workshops – targeted to small/independent business to ‘plan it not panic’.  The workshops covered managing cashflow, business planning, emergency procedures.
  • Comprehensive list of PPE suppliers prepared and promoted through the Council’s website.
  • Businesses linked directly to Teesside University Digital City to receive free support to improve website and ecommerce options.
  • Outdoor tables available to loan to retail/leisure/hospitality businesses and supported to acquire an outdoor licence.
  • Town Centre cleaning stations, ambassadors to support high street shoppers and businesses.
  • Guidance and signposting via dedicated web pages and help lines for businesses to access full range of support.


A range of grant schemes were designed with quick delivery remaining a priority throughout.   Middlesbrough Council was the first Local Authority in the area to distribute an emergency Covid grant.


The onus was placed on Local Authorities to determine the approach and design of the schemes to best support their respective local economies.  This was challenging at times due to changing legislation combined with the perceptions of the business community on eligibility.


Middlesbrough’s emergency and discretionary business grant schemes sought to support businesses through the covid pandemic and restrictions by:


  • Providing direct grant support to businesses impacted by restrictions.
  • Supporting businesses that were unable to access other business support schemes.
  • Supporting home businesses and sole traders with fixed business costs.
  • Introducing business support measures to stimulate the local economy through key sectors and priority regeneration areas to facilitate long term job creation and investment.


Both the mandatory grants and discretionary funding had been used to full effect, with grants distributed in accordance with government guidance and discretionary elements tailored to target gap areas and provide the most strategic impact.  In the first 6 months of the pandemic, over £25m was initially distributed in grants to support Middlesbrough businesses.


Local Restriction Support Grants (LRSG) were issued in November 2020, as restrictions and lockdowns became more prevalent.  Alongside the LRSG a discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) was launched to address gaps.  Both schemes were regularly reviewed and included several enhancements to the scheme to ensure that gaps in eligibility were addressed, targeted sector support was provided and business support measures were introduced  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/13


Teesside Crematorium - Update Presentation pdf icon PDF 244 KB

The Panel will receive an update on Teesside Crematorium from the Operational Manager, Environment and Community Services.


Recommendation: for Panel to determine whether further information is required.


The Operational Manager, Environment and Community Services, provided an update on three recommendations from a previous review by the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel, in respect of Teesside Crematorium. 


Voile curtains had now been installed in both Chapels.  There had been some concern regarding the lighting in St Hilda’s Chapel but that had been resolved. 


The accessible parking review had been undertaken.  An additional footpath had been installed at St Bede’s Chapel.  St Hilda’s Chapel complied with accessibility requirements and additional parking had been introduced.  Accessibility within the crematorium and cemetery would be reviewed as part of the ongoing accessibility audits carried out by Asset Management.


A chart showing details of income in relation to cremation services was presented and it was noted that this had declined since 2017-2018.   The Panel was assured that the changing situation in relation to finance would continue to be kept under review and the Council would adapt its services to meet the community’s needs.


Middlesbrough Council set a budget for the Cremation and Burial Services and the objective for the Service was to operate within that budget.  It was confirmed that Teesside Crematorium was operating within its budget as part of the Council’s current financial plan.  Provisions would continue to be built into the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) as part of the Council’s response to increased competition for crematorium services since two local councils had opened their own facilities.


In relation to query regarding the lack of air conditioning in the chapels it was explained that in line with current government guidance during the covid-19 pandemic, such units should not be used to circulate air. 


With regard to future improvements at Teesside Crematorium, the service area had looked at a number of digital solutions over the last year and a number of them had been introduced.  It was important to get the right balance of what people required at such an emotional time.  The team would continue to look at opportunities to make sure the best service was provided.  


The Chair, on behalf of the Panel, thanked the Officers for attending the meeting and providing an update.  The Chair also placed on record the Panel’s thanks for team’s hard work in difficult circumstances throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.


AGREED that the information provided was received and noted.


Date of Next Meeting - 8 September 2021


The next meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel would be held on Wednesday 8 September 2021 at 10.30 am.


Overview and Scrutiny Board Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update on matters considered at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 29 June 2021.


The Chair provided a verbal update on the following items which were discussed at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 29 June 2021:


·         Chief Executive’s update in respect of the Council’s response to Covid-19 and other organisational matters.


·         Director of Regeneration’s update regarding the Future High Streets Fund, as well as an overview of the plans for the transformation of the Town Centre.


·         Strategic Plan 2020-2023 – Progress at Year-End 2020-2021.





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