Venue: Virtual meeting
Contact: Caroline Breheny
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 20 October were submitted and approved as a correct record.
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.
The Executive Member for Environment and Finance and Governance, Cllr Barrie Cooper, was 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 Director of Environment and Community Services was also in attendance. It was advised that given the depth of the Portfolio the update to the Board would focus on the Environmental aspects of the Portfolio. A further update would be given in respect of the Finance and Governance aspects at a future meeting of the Board.
As part of his update to the Board, the Executive Member for Environment and Finance and Governance explained that the main areas of the portfolio were as follows:-
Highways and Infrastructure
Property and Commercial Services
In terms of Environment Services it was advised that this was the area that was most visible to the public and included:-
· Waste services and recycling – Domestic refuse, recycling and green waste collections, collection of household bulky waste, Waste Disposal Contract, Pest Control.
· The Area Care Team was another important aspect of Environment Services and the Team was focused on the Green Strategy, play areas and alley cleansing, grounds maintenance and animals and needles, street, trees and arboriculture, burials, parks maintenance.
· School Catering was a further area of responsibility within Environment Services.
In terms of Highways and Infrastructure the main areas of focus were as follows:-
· Highway Engineers – Bridges and Structures, Highway Maintenance, vehicle crossings, highway inspections and interventions, flooding issues, beck maintenance, highway emergency response, winter maintenance (includes gritting and snow clearance), Street Lighting.
· Fleet services – Vehicle and machinery repairs, MOTs, car hire, servicing of Middlesbrough Council vehicles, fuel
In terms of Property and Commercial Services the main areas of focus were as follows:-
· Transporter Bridge
· Metz Bridge Travellers Site
· Building Maintenance and Project Management
· Building Cleaning, Caretaking and Security Services
· Operational Management for Bereavement Services
· Integrated Transport Unit
· Lead on Emergency Planning
It was emphasised that in terms of the Transporter Bridge works had been undertaken to ensure the safety of the Bridge and all options for the future use of the Bridge remained.
With regard to priorities the Board was advised that the following were regarded as priorities within the Portfolio:-
· Increased cleanliness of the town and its physical environment
· Development and Implementation of the Green Strategy
· Tender for main Waste Disposal contract for post 2025/26
· Increased recycling
· Transporter Bridge
· Improved Highway Assets
· Light up the Town
· Provision of efficient and effective front line services post pandemic
Reference was made to the priorities for next year and the following issues were highlighted:-
· Explore outcomes of Environment Bill and its implications for Middlesbrough
· Improve A66 through Middlesbrough
· Secure further highways investment to improve roads and footpaths
· Plant another 10,000 trees
· Increase wildflower coverage across Middlesbrough
· Expand wild spaces across the town to introduce more growing spaces
· Transported Bridge Investment
· Light up key Buildings across the town
Following the update in respect of the Environment ... view the full minutes text for item 20/47
The Chief Executive was in attendance and provided an update to the Board in respect of the following:-
· COVID-19 update
· Executive update
· Performance Summary
· Staff Survey: engagement
In terms of the latest local COVID-19 data, as at 8 November 2021 the rolling seven-day rate of cases per 100k of the Middlesbrough population was as follows:
Reference was made to the COVID case rate by age group and it was advised that the highest number of cases were amongst young people aged 0-19. In terms of vaccination rates it was advised that 62.7 per cent of the populated had been vaccinated. In terms of booster uptake amongst the eligible population to date 64.4 per cent had received their booster vaccination.
In relation to the Executive decisions taken recently it was noted that a number of reports had been considered. These included; a report on the Medium Term Financial Plan; Strategic Town Centre Acquisition; Middlehaven Outwood Riverside development; Ambition for Children; Peer Review of Virtual School and Highways Infrastructure.
Reference was made to the feedback received from the recent staff survey and it was noted that close to 800 responses had been received. Feedback was broken down by department and in respect of being well informed approximately 70 per cent of staff had agreed with this statement. In terms of having the opportunity to influence how the Council works over 65 per cent of staff had expressed this view. In terms of feeling valued over 80 per cent of staff felt valued by their Manager, however less than 40 per cent of staff felt valued by their Director. It was advised that a new corporate tool box was being developed for use by Managers, Heads of Service and Directors to improve how senior Managers within the organisation engaged and communicated with staff.
In terms of corporate performance by discipline it was noted that at the end of October 73 per cent of Executive Actions had been achieved against an expected standard of 90 per cent; 45 per cent of Strategic Plan outcomes had been achieved against an expected standard of 90 per cent. It was of concern that despite 99 per cent of Strategic Workplan actions having been achieved at the end of October the expected level of desired outcomes had not been delivered.
In respect of corporate performance by Directorate, Regeneration and Culture and Adult Social Care / Health, were the two directorates that had failed to achieve the expected standard by end of October 2021. Reference was made to the three strategic plan outcomes that were furthest away from target and these were focused on crime and antisocial behaviour, town centre vacancies and household waste recycling.
Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.
A Member of ... view the full minutes text for item 20/48
Scrutiny Chairs Update
Adult Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel
Councillor J. Platt (Chair)
Children & Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel
Councillor D. McCabe (Chair)
Children & Young People’s Social Care and Scrutiny Panel
Councillor D. Davison (Chair)
Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel
Councillor C. McIntyre (Chair)
Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel
Councillor S. Walker (Chair)
Health Scrutiny Panel
Councillor D. Coupe (Chair)
The Scrutiny Chairs provided updates in respect of the work undertaken by their respective panels since the last meeting of the Board.
The Chair of the Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel was absent from the meeting and the Board requested that given the importance of the work of the panel it was imperative that a written update be circulated following the meeting.
AGREED that a written update in respect of the Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel be circulated to all Members of the Board following the meeting.
The recommendations to be submitted to the Executive were:
A) Whenever opportunities arose, and in line with the hierarchy of need identified in the Local Implementation Plan (LIP), the Council should seek to ensure that it was easier, safer and more convenient to walk, cycle or use public transport, rather than travelling by car by:
• Providing additional cycle routes.
• Implementing traffic free zones.
• Working with public transport operators to increase local provision.
• Reviewing existing road networks to identify particular instances of traffic congestion at peak times and address these through the LIP to encourage further economic growth.
B) Whilst it was acknowledged that there had been a number of impacts on the approval and publication of Middlesbrough’s revised Housing Local Plan due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scrutiny Panel asked the Executive to ensure that the revised Local Plan was adopted as soon as practicable and by no later than March 2022.
C) In line with the Middlesbrough Council’s ambition for the town to be net carbon neutral by 2039, the Middlehaven developments be used as an opportunity to explore, promote and encourage the use of green renewable energy both with Developers and as a selling point for potential investors.
D) Consideration should be given to extending the Urban Pioneers Scheme, or encouraging similar developments, to provide more live/work accommodation in Middlesbrough, given the shift to increased home working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
E) The Council should ensure that green spaces around the Middlehaven developments were regularly maintained and attractive to prospective new residents and businesses. One suggestion was that hard-standing surfaces or laybys were built into development masterplans rather having grassed verges. This could also save the Council expenditure on maintenance of and/or repair of more traditional grassed surfaces next to roadways.
F) The Council could consider collaborating with the local community to encourage ownership and maintenance of public spaces (if appropriate) in Middlehaven to promote pride in the area.
G) By working closely with Broadband Providers, the Council should seek to ensure that all areas of Middlesbrough could have access to superfast broadband by 2025 at the latest, and that residents and businesses were not disadvantaged by lack of provision given the increased reliance on digital technologies post-pandemic.
H) The Council should consider developing a multi-purpose venue in the town, which could accommodate entertainment. A venue which attracts the best entertainers in the world would encourage people from across the UK to visit the area, stay and spend, boosting the local economy. The Captain Cook Shopping Centre would be an ideal location for an eSports gaming venue as evidenced by the Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel in a recent Final Report on Cultural Events.
AGREED that the findings and recommendations of the Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel be endorsed and referred to the Executive.