Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Thursday 8th April, 2021 4.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Chris Lunn 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


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


Executive Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 263 KB

Additional documents:


The Chief Executive submitted a report which identified the forthcoming issues to be considered by the Executive, as outlined in Appendix A to the report.  The report provided the Overview and Scrutiny Board with the opportunity to consider whether any item contained within the Executive Forward Work Programme should be considered by the Board, or referred to a Scrutiny Panel.




Executive Member Update: Executive Member for Communities and Education pdf icon PDF 211 KB

The Executive Member for Communities and Education, Councillor M Smiles, will be in attendance to update the Board on her aims and aspirations, progress made to date and to highlight any emerging issues relating to her portfolio.



AGREED that in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 5, the Board agreed to vary the order of business to consider the remaining agenda items in the following order: 5, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9.




The Executive Member for Communities and Education, Councillor Mieka Smiles, was in attendance to update the Board on her aims and aspirations, progress made to date and to highlight any emerging issues relating to her portfolio.  The following officers were also in attendance: the Director of Regeneration and Culture; the Executive Director of Children’s Services; and the Head of Stronger Communities.


As part of her update to the Board, the Executive Member discussed her portfolio under three areas – Communities, Culture and Education.




·        In terms of aims and aspirations it was explained that, overall, this was to achieve a safer Middlesbrough because this impacted upon wellbeing, business and perceptions of the town.  In addition, the Executive Member wished to see further joint working to avoid duplication and to spread resources further, and also to support communities to help themselves.

·        The Executive Member currently chaired the Community Safety Partnership.  A Community Safety Strategy was currently being finalised, which had required extensive partnership working.

·        The Neighbourhood Safety departments had recently been revamped, with a new structure consisting approximately 60 Street Wardens now in place.  The Street Wardens had received new powers, including the ability to compel individuals to provide personal details.  A new Operational Manager had also been assigned to post.

·        Active Intelligence Mapping (AIM) – a Data Analyst had been employed to pull together crime and Anti-Social Behaviour statistics; fortnightly meetings were held to discuss major issues and the deployment of resources.  This was progressing well.

·        Locality working – this had been slightly delayed due to COVID-19, but a large amount of collaborative work had been carried out virtually.

·        Regarding the Community Grants Scheme, there was £160,000 of grant funding available for community groups to apply for (for grants of up to £1500).  The Executive Member sat on the grants panel that awarded the funding and felt that a lot of positive work was taking place in local communities.

·        A Community Strategy was currently in development.

·        In terms of emerging issues, reference was made to the reopening of the Community Hubs and Libraries from 12 April 2021.

·        Reference was made to smaller community and charitable organisations; it was felt that close monitoring of their progress during COVID-19 was required.




  • In terms of aims and aspirations, reference was made to the success of the Big Weekend event.  Next steps to build on that success by bringing further high profile events to Middlesbrough were impacted by COVID-19, but work was now taking place to create a calendar of events.
  • In terms of income generation, the Executive Member wished to enhance the Council’s commercial outlook; reference was made to the Town Hall and increasing profits for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/3


Middlesbrough Council's Response to COVID-19

The Chief Executive and Director of Public Health will be in attendance to provide the Board with an update in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19.


The Chief Executive delivered a presentation to update the Board in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19.


With regards to responses to previous OSB queries, the following information was provided:


  • Following an overview of the revisions to be made to the Outbreak Control Plan in light of Lockdown exit arrangements being provided, a query around potential impact of revisions was made.  In response, the Chief Executive advised that in order to provide assurance that relevant systems and processes were in place to respond to outbreaks, enduring transmission and any new variants that may emerge, the OCP was updated / revised as follows:


  1. Care homes: enhanced support extended into care settings to include supported housing, extra care housing and children’s homes and the testing regime in care homes;
  2. Schools: enhanced support was now available to schools, including testing in schools and at home;
  3. High risk settings and the support to reduce risk in those settings;
  4. Updated testing section detailing all the symptomatic and asymptomatic testing available;
  5. Local contact tracing approach added, including support to isolate and local discretionary financial support;
  6. Surge capacity section added describing approach to surge testing for variant(s) of concern;
  7. Sections added on community insights, tackling enduring transmission and building COVID-safe communities;
  8. Section added on vaccines and improving uptake in all communities to minimise health inequalities arising from differential uptake in communities; and
  9. Section added on lessons learnt and feedback to Government.


  • Following an update being provided on up-to-date vaccination numbers in Middlesbrough, confirmation of numbers had been sought as the totals of the age categories did not tally with the overall total.  The Chief Executive advised that these totals, provided at the March 2021 meeting of OSB, included only specific priority groups, so excluded (for example) health and social care and care home staff, and those in priority groups five and six that had already been vaccinated.
  • Community testing numbers were shared and a Member had sought confirmation of numbers tested versus numbers of positive cases confirmed across all sites as a result.  The Chief Executive advised that the total number of tests was 2,883, with 26 total positives (0.90%).
  • Following discussion of vaccination hesitation and a request for provision of vaccination refusal rates, by ethnicity, the Chief Executive advised that data provided by the Primary Care Network (not specifically Middlesbrough) which had a combined population of 160k (against Middlesbrough’s population of 149k and therefore not directly comparable) showed emerging vaccine inequalities (as at 23/03/2021).  Work was being undertaken to better understand Middlesbrough’s local data, and with the Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group to develop a Vaccine Equity Plan, to increase uptake of the vaccines across all communities in Middlesbrough and narrow the above gaps over the coming weeks.
  • Following a request for confirmation of the standard PPE provision to Care Homes, the Chief Executive advised that PPE supplies were distributed to health and social care providers (top-up emergency supplies only); education settings; homeless provision; Local Authority staff; testing sites; Domestic Violence refuges; mental health  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/4


Strategic Plan 2020-23 - Progress at Quarter Three 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 715 KB


The Head of Strategy, Information and Governance provided an update to the Board, which included the following points:


  • This Q3 update was in respect of the previous Strategic Plan, which covered the period October-December 2020, and which was presented to Executive on 16 February 2021;
  • A new Strategic Plan was approved by Council on 24 February 2021 – the process to begin monitoring and reporting on this plan would begin in the next quarterly report;
  • The delivery of the Strategic Plan, which was developed prior to the pandemic, had been impacted by COVID-19;
  • In Q3, additional restrictions were seen in response to rising transmission that impacted on individual communities and economies across the country including Middlesbrough; the Executive would receive a report in respect of revised recovery arrangements in due course;
  • Achievements made during Q3 were outlined, which referred to improvements in crime and ASB interventions; action to support children with remote learning; progress made in respect of Children’s Services and the improvement journey; Future High Streets Fund; completion of the first phase of the town pot hole purge; and submission of new plans for the Boho X development; and
  • Strategic risks – reference was made to the risk faced in relation to business continuity from the UK’s exit from the EU at the end of the transition period in December, which was stood down due to the approval of the trade and security agreement with the EU at the end of December 2020.  Risks and longer-term impacts and opportunities, such as the free port, were outlined to the Board, which would be monitored and reported on in future reports.


Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.


A Member referred to paragraph 17 and the current position in respect of the new commissioning model.  In response, it was indicated that an update would be sought from the Director of Adult Social Care and Health Integration and details provided in due course. 


In response to a query regarding paragraph 36 and the transformation of the town centre, it was agreed that the Director of Regeneration would be invited to the next Board meeting to brief Members.  The Chief Executive indicated that there was a full list of projects that formed the basis for the Future High Streets Fund and the Towns Fund, which would be considered by the Executive in the near future.


A Member referred to paragraph 28 and the increase in the rate of children subject to CPOs.  In response to a query regarding management of complex needs, particularly during lockdown, the Director of Children’s Services explained that work had been undertaken in this regard; two managed teams had been introduced to the assessments service and assisting with reducing the backlog of work.  A decrease had been seen in the number of children subject to child protection plans in very recent weeks; the number of children looked after had also decreased.  These decreases had provided resource to help improve practice.  It was acknowledged that this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/5


Revenue and Capital Budget - Projected Outturn Position as at Quarter Three 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 890 KB


The Director of Finance and the Head of Financial Planning and Support provided an update to the Board; the following points were highlighted:


  • The information detailed in the report was separated into two elements: COVID-19 related and non-COVID-19 related;
  • The total projected outturn at the end of the year was £2.796m, which represented an underspend of £294,000 on non-COVID elements, and a cost of almost £3.1m on COVID-19 elements;
  • Paragraphs 79-91 of the report detailed expenditure against the Investment Strategy, which had a revised budget of £50.363m.  The current latest estimated outturn was £45.915m; there was a £5m underspend mainly due to delays in COVID-19;
  • Paragraphs 92-93 of the report indicated that borrowing had reduced by £10.3m in Q3 to £221.7m;
  • Total reserves were detailed in paragraph 94, which showed approximately projected to be £28.5m, which could be used and earmarked for particular purposes;
  • Appendix 1 of the report detailed virements; Appendix 2 showed the revised Investment Strategy which would be used from this point onwards; and
  • The main area of financial effect was in Children’s Care (just over £4m).  This was an area of concern; full year effects would be seen in respect of this next year.


Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.


In response to an enquiry regarding Adult Social Care and Children’s Social Care and the potential impact of COVID-19 on those budgets over the coming years, it was explained that this was a concern, but there were a lot of unknowns at present.  Consideration was given to increases in Adult Social Care costs and further increases in light of a greater need for home support.  It was hoped that a funding review would be undertaken in the near future.  It was acknowledged that this was an issue, which would be monitored closely.


A Member made reference to paragraphs 59-63 in respect of income reduction and queried how much of a risk this was going forward.  In addition, a reduction to mileage for staff had been noted – it was queried whether this would be pursued at the current time and/or whether this would be revisited.  In response, it was explained that the reduction in the mileage rate would be revisited in September by the Executive.  This matter had been postponed due to the pandemic, during which time a reduction in mileage had been seen.  There was a need to monitor the income longer-term, which was ultimately why as many reserves as possible needed to be built-up.  The authority was not necessarily going to receive all of the income that had been received pre-COVID-19, which provided reasoning as to why some COVID-19 contingencies had been built into the budget in future years.


A Member referred to the balance of reserves and sought reassurance that matters were in hand and that there had not been any significant (recent) changes.  In response, it was indicated that, in the budget report, the General Fund Reserve had been increased from £9.4m to just over £11.5m in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/6


Scrutiny Chairs Update

Ad Hoc Scrutiny Panel - Councillor J. Thompson
Adult Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel - Councillor J. Platt
Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel - Councillor S. Hill
Children and Young People’s Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel - Councillor L. Garvey
Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel - Councillor C. McIntyre
Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel - Councillor M. Saunders
Health Scrutiny Panel - Councillor J. 


The Scrutiny Chairs/Vice Chairs provided updates in respect of the work undertaken by their respective panels since the last meeting of the Board.




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


North East Scrutiny Network


The Chair advised that she had attended a meeting of the North East Scrutiny Network on 26 March 2021.  This covered the region and the aim of the group was about sharing information, knowledge and experience; it was not a decision-making body.  The meetings met on a quarterly basis.  During discussion at this meeting, it was agreed that six individuals from each Local Authority would be invited to attend.  It was felt that this would be a useful forum for Scrutiny Chairs.  It was explained that presentations were delivered from the Centre of Governance on Health and Housing Solutions, which covered poverty, homelessness, the impact of COVID-19, the response to COVID-19 and domestic abuse.  The Chair found this network very useful and encouraged people to attend if offered the opportunity.