Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Thursday 3rd December, 2020 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.


Minutes - OSB - 5 November 2020 pdf icon PDF 310 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 5 November 2020 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


Executive Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 503 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.


A Member made reference to the impending Transporter Bridge report and queried the origins of the problems referred to within it.  In response, the Chief Executive advised that the report would cover the issues in full, but if there were any further questions after that report had been considered by the Executive, these could be raised at a future meeting.




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 provided a verbal update to the Board regarding the Council’s response to COVID-19.  The following points were made:


●   In response to queries raised at the last OSB meeting, the following information was provided:


Ø  In relation to whether an extension to the Selective Landlord Licensing scheme could be sought / considered with a view to recouping time lost as a result of COVID-related delays to inspections, the Director of Adult Social Care and Health Integration had advised that although housing standard inspections had been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, plans were in place to undertake the originally intended volume of inspections within the current lifetime of the scheme.  Consequently, as neither tenants nor landlords would be disadvantaged by the temporary suspension during the pandemic, it was felt that an extension to the scheme was not required.


Ø  Regarding a request for an update in respect of the Council’s approach to Christmas Free School Meals, this had been superseded by local allocation of a national Winter Grants scheme which the Government had announced (further details would be provided during the meeting); and


Ø  With regards to the impact of COVID-19 on staff absences / sickness / isolation relating to COVID-19 since 23/03/2020, and the further associated impact on Council finances, etc., further details would be provided during the meeting.


  • In terms of the latest COVID-19 position, Middlesbrough’s numbers had drastically reduced over the last 10-15 days; around 170 per 100,000 of the population, having been over 500 circa. 15 days previously.  Across all of the indicators that the Government was suggesting would be used to determine which tiers Councils were placed in, a similar drop had been seen within those.  Rates across population had reduced significantly in the over 60s and in the number of people in hospital, which mirrored the current trend across the whole Tees Valley.  It was hoped that this trend would continue, and although 25-30 cases were still occurring daily, this was a significant reduction from the 100-plus cases seen previously.


  • When looking at the statistics in relation to indices of multiple deprivation, there was a higher prevalence of COVID-19 in deprived wards, although some of the work undertaken had shown that in some areas, for example Central Ward, this was lower than would perhaps have been anticipated.  It was felt clear that this was due to testing activity, and therefore the testing strategy would focus on targeting poorer communities where take-up was known to be low.


  • Regarding the COVID-19 winter grant approach, it was explained that a circa. £700,000 allocation had been received from the Government to cover the period of the school holidays from January-March.  This had superseded local plans that were being developed around a free school meals approach over Christmas and school holidays.  Reference was made to an individual Executive Member decision being taken on 2 December 2020 in respect of this matter.  It was explained that there was discretion for local Councils as to how the grant could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/53


Executive Member Update: Executive Member for Environment pdf icon PDF 249 KB

The Executive Member for Environment, Councillor D McCabe, will be in attendance to update the Board on his aims and aspirations, progress made to date and to highlight any emerging issues relating to his portfolio.


The Executive Member for Environment, Councillor D McCabe, was in attendance at the meeting to update the Board on his aims and aspirations, progress made to date, and to highlight any emerging issues relating to his portfolio.  The Director of Environment and Commercial Services was also in attendance at the meeting.


Prior to the delivery of the Executive Member’s update, the Chair informed the Board that two call-ins had been accepted in respect of fortnightly bin collections, which would be considered at a separate meeting of the Board on 18 December 2020.  Discussion of fortnightly bin collections was therefore restricted at this meeting.


The Executive Member made the following points as part of his update to the Board:


·  Green Strategy – it was explained that the Council had set out to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2029, and by 2039 for the town as a whole, which was well ahead of the Government’s target of 2050.  The Green Strategy was based on the ten One Planet Living principles, which were highlighted to Members.  The updates, aims and objectives of the Green Strategy were outlined to the Board; it was explained that all Heads of Service had been involved in establishing working groups, each allocated one of the ten principles, to deliver an overarching strategy with partners, businesses and citizens.  Accredited training in respect of the Green Strategy and green issues would be provided to all Heads of Service by Northumbria University.  This was an ongoing piece of work; the strategy was expected to be completed in early 2021.


·  Trees – in order to increase tree cover to the national average of 16%, the Council was committed to planting 15,000 trees by 2021 (tree cover was currently 11.8%).  Certain parts of Middlesbrough, such as in suburbs, had good leaf cover, but this needed to be increased in order to achieve the environmental benefits that it offered, such as clean air and biodiversity.  In 2019/2020, 620 mature trees and 1,550 whips were planted.  In the current year, 960 standard mature trees and 12,750 whips were being planted.  Varieties included English Oak, Silver Birth and Lime.  Community planting would commence from this month onwards in partnership with Middlesbrough Environment City.


·  Wild Flower Areas – new areas, such as roundabouts and roadsides, were installed in October 2020 (as the spring window had been missed due to COVID-19).  This equated to approximately 30,000 square metres.  Significant work with Thirteen Group had been undertaken to achieve this.  It was explained that wild flowers not only enhanced the visual appearance of the town, but would also develop into wildlife havens across Middlesbrough (which provided further environmental benefits, such as cleaner air).


·  Teesaurus Park / Dino Park – due to wildlife habits and rare orchids being discovered on the site, previous plans to develop this area for use as an amphitheatre had been discarded.  Following further consideration, a volunteer group of Community Champions had been given permission to paint the dinosaurs: the Council and two  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/54


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. McTigue


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



Date of Next Meeting - Thursday, 14 January 2021 at 4:00 p.m.


The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board had been scheduled for Thursday, 14 January 2021 at 4:00 p.m.




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