Venue: Mandela Committee Room
Contact: Scott Bonner
Declarations of Interest
no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 16 November 2022 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
The Executive Member for Regeneration provided the Board with an update on activity within his portfolio. During the presentation the following points were made:
· There were five general areas within the remit of the portfolio; Transportation, Inward Investment; Economic Development; Housing Development and Planning and Building Control.
· With regards to Transportation – the Council had secured approximately £30,000 of Net Zero Hub Funding. This scheme had allowed the Council to install solar panels to the Zetland Car park with the aim of reducing its electricity running costs.
· A total of 32 Electric Vehicle charging points had been installed.
· Cycle lanes had been installed on Linthorpe Road with extensions intended to Linthorpe Village.
Members queried if there were any usage statistics for the cycle lanes and if there had been any incidents reported by users on the cycle lane. It was clarified that usage statistics were difficult to quantify but that no incidents had been reported by users of the cycle lanes.
A Member stated that while incidents may not have been reported there were signs incidents were happening, such as cars colliding with bollards on the cycle lane. A Member also stated that such occurrences were not unique to Middlesbrough and happened in other areas that had cycle lanes in town centres.
The Executive Member continued with his presentation and made the following points:
· In terms of inward investment - there had been several places in the town that had benefitted from increased investment.
· There was a rise in rental values which was having a knock-on effect of triggering private sector investment.
· There was also educational investment such as the Eton site in Middlehaven as well as increased investment in key digital companies.
· Middlesbrough was now ranked in the top five European Small Cities for Foreign Direct Investment in 2022.
A Member sought clarity on the term Foreign Direct Investment. It was clarified this was a complicated ranking system that identified that Middlesbrough was ripe for investment. It was also clarified that the term Foreign was misleading.
A Member queried when BoHo X was due to open. It was clarified that works needed to be carried out by Northern PowerGrid which were due to begin in January 2023. Upon completion of this work, it was hoped the building could be handed over to the tenant in April 2023.
A Member queried why the Council was approaching Eton College as a partner for educational investment and what the pros and cons were for this. The Executive Member stated Eton College was a prestigious, recognisable, name and could not think of any arguments against having them as a partner.
It was queried if Eton College’s presence would have the effect of creating an educational hierarchy with existing colleges. The Chair commented that Eton’s presence may draw educational talent away from existing colleges which, in turn, may have an impact on funding. The Chair also commented that Eton could provide support to Middlesbrough in other ways.
The Chair queried the delays to the ... view the full minutes text for item 20/141
The Head of Financial Planning and Support provided a verbal overview of the Council’s Quarter Two financial position.
As part of his overview, the Head of Financial Planning and Support made the following points:
· Projections showed a potential overspend of £9.4 million at the end of 2022/23.
· If the projected overspend was not kept under control this would have a negative impact on the Medium-Term Financial Plan.
· There was a great deal of uncertainty around this issue.
· There was also a projected capital budget outturn of £69 million against a revised capital budget of £90.6 million.
· Members’ attention was dawn to the table in paragraphs nine and ten of the report which detailed how the projected overspend was calculated.
· Member’s attention was also drawn to paragraphs 23 to 30 of the report which outlined the quarter two financial position.
· Paragraphs 99 to 102 of the report illustrated the Council’s financial recovery plan and what was being done to address the projected overspend.
· Paragraphs 132 to 139 of the report provided details about borrowing amounts and costs while the table paragraph 140 showed the amount of reserves and provisions. It was commented that that the General Fund Reserve stood at £12million.
· The Head of Financial Planning and Support stated that several variables could change the figures presented and, where possible, those variables including the local government pay award, were being monitored.
A Member queried if any other pay awards could influence the Council’s financial position. It was clarified that factors such as the living wage could play a role as this would play a role in inflation levels. It was also queried if other pay award models, such as that in Scotland, would be available. It was commented that work could be done to assess this and determine the risks, but much more detail would be required beforehand.
A Member queried, because of a lack of funding from Central Government, was there scope to work with other Councils to combat funding challenges. It was confirmed that significant discussion had taken place with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had taken place, especially around the issue of Adult and Children’s Social Care. It was also commented that the formular for the local government settlement was likely to change going forward.
A Member queried why certain investment plan items had been ring fenced, such as Teesaurus Park. It was confirmed that such plans would not have generated significant saving opportunities
The Chair thanked the Head of Financial Planning and Investments for his overview.
The Strategic Delivery Manager provided the Board with a verbal overview of the Council’s Strategic Plan position at quarter two. During her presentation the following points were made:
· While there had been delays to some projects the strategic workplan was performing at 98% of its initiatives being on track, with the corporate target being 90%.
· From a corporate compliance perspective, 83% of complaints and 86.9% of FOI and EIR requests were responded to within timescales. Overdue Subject Access Requests were also reduced further.
A Member queried if the slippage identified against the Brownfield Housing Fund initiative was related to the delays from work required by Northern PowerGrid. It confirmed this was the case.
A Member sought clarification on the commencement of Robotic Process Automation within the Council. It was clarified this was an initiative designed to remove repetitive administrative tasks and replace them with automated systems. However, it was also clarified this initiative had been removed from the portfolio as there was no appetite to implement this.
The Chair thanked the Strategic Delivery Manager for her overview.
Scrutiny Chairs Update
The Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel advised the Board that while the Health Panel has not met since OSB’s last meeting, it was meeting later in the day to receive further information from NHS England regarding the Panel’s review into Dental Health and the impact of Covid-19. This update would be presented by the Dental Care Commissioning lead, the Chair of the Local Dental Network and Dental Public Health Consultant.
The Panel would also be receiving an update about drug and alcohol services in the town from the Public Health Team.
The Chair of the Adult Social Care and Services Scrutiny
Panel advised the Board that at its last meeting the Panel was held on 30
November 2022 Members received an update from the Chair of the Teeswide Safeguarding Adults Board (TSAB) who provided
information regarding the Board’s Annual Report 2021/22 and Strategic Business
The panel also received an update from the Director of Adult
Social Care and Health Integration in respect of integration work that had
taken place between health and social care.
Members also heard from both the Director and the Head of Resident and Business Support in relation to ‘The Impact of the Energy and Cost of Living Crises on Caring for Vulnerable Adults’.
The Chair of the Young People and Learning Scrutiny Panel advised the Board that at its last meeting the Panel continued gathering evidence in respect of its current review of ‘Youth Offending and Partnership Working with Schools’. Kay Dargue, the Head of South Tees Youth Justice Service (STYJS) was in attendance to provide information on the barriers to young people in the youth justice system engaging in education.
The Scrutiny Panel also heard that young people involved in the youth justice system had often experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences and consequently, there could be numerous and complex reasons contributing to a child not attending school or being excluded. At the meeting, information was received on the work undertaken by the STYJS (in partnership with other agencies) to support those with drug or alcohol issues, those vulnerable to exploitation and those with the most complex needs.
The Chair of OSB provided the Board with the Economic Development, Environment, and Infrastructure’s update in the absence of its Chair. The Board was advised the EDEI Panel received an update in relation to school transport, and while it was done at significant expense it was necessary to do so. The Panel also received an update on the cycle lanes installed on Linthorpe Road and were told that extension of the scheme to Linthorpe Village had been paused.
A Member queried if parents were in receipt of mobility allowance would they be required to contribute toward cost of transport. The Member was advised to contact the Director Environment and Commercial Services for clarification on this.
Any other urgent items which, in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.
The Chair advised the Board that due to continuing demands on his time, it would be advantageous for both Overview and Scrutiny and the Chief Executive to attend Overview and Scrutiny Board on a quarterly basis rather than every meeting.
The Chair also advised Members that, where possible, the Chief Executive’s attendance would be aligned with the scheduled quarterly updates. Members also expressed a preference the Chief Executive attend Overview and Scrutiny Board to update Members on any urgent matters.
Members agreed this arrangement should begin with Overview and Scrutiny Board’s February meeting.
ORDERED that the Chief Executive attend Overview and
Scrutiny Board on a quarterly basis beginning in February 2023.
Date and Time of Next Meeting - Tuesday, 12 January 2023 at 10:00am