Agenda and minutes

Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday 9th February, 2022 10.30 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Susan Lightwing 

No. Item


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 - 12 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 141 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 12 January 2022 were taken as read and approved as a correct record, subject to the following amendment:


Page 3, paragraph 8, word 14 replace “low” with “slow”.


Post-meeting it was clarified that the intention of the statement in relation to slow vehicles was to convey that freer flowing (sometimes slower and not stop/start traffic) improved air quality.




Bus Services Update

The Head of Transport from the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) will provide an update on Bus Services.


RECOMMENDATION: that the Panel determines whether further information is required.


The Head of Transport from the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) provided an update on Bus Services.   The TVCA, along with the five Tees Valley Councils, had a long history of working in partnership with bus operators.  In 2021, the Government published a new National Bus Strategy, which included requirements to build on existing partnership working. 


One of those requirements was for the local authorities to develop a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).  The BSIP included a five point action plan setting out how bus services in the Tees Valley would be improved.  The action plan was structured around:


  • De-carbonising the fleet.
  • Considering how fares could be simplified and how targeted promotions for particular groups, such as young people, could be introduced.
  • Customer experience and how information provision could be improved.
  • Infrastructure, and what could be done on key travel corridors to make them more efficient for buses to travel along; as well as improving waiting facilities for passengers.
  • How improvements could be made to the network to reflect what was happening across the Tees valley in terms of growth markets and also ensuring the Tees Flex Service was integrated.


The BSIP was submitted to Government in October 2021 and published on the TVCA’s website.  The funding allocation to deliver the BSIP was expected to be awarded by the end of February 2022.  The next step would be to decide how the funding would be allocated across the five priority areas and a detailed business case would be produced.


The other main requirement of the National Bus Strategy was that highway authorities had to develop either an Enhanced Partnership or a Franchise system.  The Tees Valley Authorities were in the process of developing an Enhanced Partnership, which was in effect a statutory agreement between the bus operators and the authorities, setting out how the actions in the BSIP would be delivered.  A shell agreement that formed the basis of the plan had been developed in advance of the funding allocation.


Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government had been providing recovery funding to the bus services and this was due to run out at the end of this financial year.  Bus operators had experienced a huge reduction in terms of their fare income and there was currently a lot of uncertainty around the financial sustainability of the bus industry.  The longer term impacts of the pandemic in terms of passenger numbers was, as yet, unclear.  These issues had to be worked through at the same time as trying to deliver improvements and ensure that there was a sustainable bus network across the Tees Valley.  


A Panel Member expressed concerns in relation to the enhanced partnership system as to whether it would actually obligate the bus operators to provide the services the local authorities requested, whereas a franchising system would ensure they would have to operate the services required.  It was explained that no other local authorities outside of London had implemented a franchising scheme to date, although Manchester and Liverpool had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/56


The Green Strategy Review

The Head of Culture will be in attendance to provide information in relation to Middlesbrough Council’s Culture and Community Action Group.


RECOMMENDATION: that the Panel determines whether further information is required.


The Head of Culture was in attendance and gave a presentation in relation to Middlesbrough Council’s Green Strategy Culture and Community Action Group.


The Action Group’s current objectives were ambitious and high level, forming a long term strategy, and were as follows:


  • Develop an ambitious town wide approach to environmentalism with arts organisations in Middlesbrough: 20 year vision - all arts organisations are carbon neutral by 2040.


  • Increase public awareness and engagement in green issues: 20 year vision - Middlesbrough is recognised for relevant cultural programming that is focussed on the environment. 


  • Increase public engagement with our open spaces: 20 year vision is to increase footfall and engagement from diverse range of communities. 


  • Create the most radical parks in the UK! 20 year vision: Middlesbrough is recognised as the place with the most innovative parks in 2040.


  • Develop a cultural capital plan for Middlesbrough. 


  • Increase access to culture for communities in Middlesbrough. 


There had been a number of success in the first year of the strategy which included:


       Successfully implemented new events at Newham Grange Farm encouraging use of green spaces.  A new covered space included an exhibition about the journey from field to plate and there was also a live beehive.  The space was dedicated to environmentalism as a whole and the story of the farm and food.  Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, visitor numbers continued to increase year-on-year.


       Successfully implemented new events in Middlesbrough parks including Nightfall which encouraged thousands of new visitors to Stewart Park.  This was a partnership event with Stellar Projects which attracted 20,000 additional visitors within four days.


       Developed a new investment prospectus for cultural capital investment. The prospectus outlined plans as a cultural sector for the whole town and heritage sector.


       Submitted a £5 million pound bid for developing cultural buildings in the town centre.  The bid included £2.5 million for the Central Library.


       Developed an outdoor Holiday Action Fund programme for young people in our parks.  Parks and Museums were working collaboratively to engage young people and encourage them to think of parks as cultural venues and visit with their families.


       Secured funding for the Eco–festival.  Planning was underway for an Eco-festival which potentially would take place across multiple venues although this had not yet been confirmed.


       Parks investment.  This included £100K for Albert Park capital investment, £45K for Stewart Park from Section 106 Funding, potentially up to £90K investment from the Lawn Tennis Association for resurfacing tennis courts in Albert Park, Holiday Action Funding and Arts Council funding for park events including a circus, fairytales on ice, party in the park, the MELA and sports activities.


The Middlesbrough Cultural Partnership consisted of twenty arts organisations working collaboratively together.  This included joint delivery of projects by MIMA and the Tees Valley Nature Partnership.


For the next year, the intention was to build on the cultural programme in parks and ensure events were environmentally sustainable.  The Eco Festival would build on the partnership with Environment City and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/57


Date of Next Meeting - 9 March 2022


The next meeting of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel would take place at 10.30 am on Wednesday 9 March 2022.


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 18 January 2022.


The Chair provided a verbal update on the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 18 January 2022.


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


A Panel member raised a query in relation to broadband services in Middlesbrough.  The Chair confirmed that this topic was listed on the Panel’s current Work Programme and would be addressed at a future meeting.