Venue: Mandela 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 20 September 2023 were submitted and approved as
a correct record.
The revised minutes of the
Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 26 July 2023 were submitted and
approved as a correct record.
The Chair welcomed the Executive Member for
Children’s Services, the Executive Director of Children’s Services and the
Interim Director of Children’s Care to the meeting and invited the Executive
Member to deliver his presentation.
The Executive Member thanked Members for the
opportunity to appear before the Board and began by outlining the service’s
policies and plans; Members were invited to ask questions throughout the
Members heard that the aim was to show
Middlesbrough’s children that they mattered by working to make the town safe
and welcoming and improve outcomes for all children and young people. The Executive Member was working closely with
Directors, Heads of Service, the Executive Member for Finance and Governance
and all other relevant officers of the Council to help achieve this.
In terms of driving strategic priorities and
Directorate priorities to improve outcomes for Middlesbrough’s children and
young people and their families, the Children’s Services review was progressing
well. Both the Executive Director of
Children’s Services and the Interim Director of Children’s Care had recently
Regarding the Children’s Services Improvement
Plan, work was currently progressing on the improvement journey. It was acknowledged that more needed to be
done, but the hard work being undertaken by staff was noted.
Reference was made to the legislation that underpinned
Children’s Services; the Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004 were
Referring to the work of the virtual schools,
the Executive Member explained that this was an online education platform that
tracked and supported the progress of the children and young people that the
authority cared for. The Executive
Member commended the work of those involved in the service.
Regarding Early Help and the Multi Agency
Children’s Hub (MACH), Members were informed that Early Help was also known as
First Contact in Social Care. The
importance of addressing issues in a timely and effective manner to prevent
significant impact later on was highlighted. The MACH was a triage service that acted as
the first point of contact to assess the most appropriate support service,
based on individual need and risk, and signpost accordingly.
Referring to work with the Safeguarding
Children’s Board, it was explained that joint work to support children in
protection/care was carried out with other Local Authorities.
Children Looked After (CLA) referred to all
children in the care system, irrespective of type of care, i.e., residential
care, foster care, etc. If the MACH
determined the requirement for support, this would be provided. It was indicated that, at present, 70 young
children were externally placed. Not
only was this expensive, but external placements were not always the most
appropriate as it increased distance between home and friends. It was recognised that some children may have
benefitted from out of area placement, but not all. From a practitioners’ perspective, the
preferred approach was to consider the return of children back to the local
A Member queried how many children in total, to include all placement types, were currently under the authority’s care. In response, it ... view the full minutes text for item 23/25
The Democratic and Registration Manager will be in attendance to present the final draft of the Council’s submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission.
had been amended in line with comments made by Members at the last
Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting. The
final draft submission had been considered by the Leadership Management Team,
which did not make any amendments.
The final draft submission and associated documentation was forwarded to
the Boundary Commission on 5 October 2023 for preliminary checking, to confirm
that they had received all the necessary information. A response was currently awaited.
Members heard that prior to completing the Council size template,
officers had reviewed the submissions of five other authorities’ submissions
that had been quoted as best practice by the Boundary Commission and had tried
to model Middlesbrough’s submission on those templates.
Since the report was circulated, additional amendments to the submission
had been made. Officers had today been
informed that Hemlington and Trimdon also had active
community councils, and officers had also included reference to the two parish
councils in the submission.
In terms of reporting on Phase Two, warding patterns would be submitted
to a future meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board. The Commission would not look at warding
patterns until a decision had been made on Council size.
In response to an enquiry from a Member, it was
indicated that the deadline date for work was 31 October 2023. If any further issues were to arise an
additional meeting would be arranged; however, it was felt that this would not
A Member made reference to the term ‘Council
Size’ and queried whether this could be changed to ‘Councillor Number’. In response, it was explained that this was
the Boundary Commission’s wording and could not be changed.
Following brief discussion, Members agreed to the submission of the
document to the Boundary Commission.
The final draft of the Council’s submission to the Local Government
Boundary Commission be approved.
The information, as presented, be noted.
Following the previous submission to the Overview and Scrutiny Board on 20 September 2023, an updated version of the report will be submitted to include a previously omitted scrutiny topic.
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 queried whether, in
future, upcoming issues could be presented in decision date order, as opposed
to A-Z of Executive Member title. It was
agreed that this would be investigated.
Scrutiny Chairs Update
Adult Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel
Councillor J. Walker (Chair)
Children & Young People’s Scrutiny Panel
Councillor E. Clynch (Chair)
Environment Scrutiny Panel
Councillor J. Ryles (Chair)
Health Scrutiny Panel
Councillor J. Banks (Chair)
Regeneration Scrutiny Panel
Councillor I. Blades (Chair)
The Chair invited updates from individual
Scrutiny Chairs. The following updates
Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel
In the absence of the panel’s Chair, the
Democratic Services Officer provided an update.
It was indicated that the panel intended to begin its first topic of
investigation - School Attendance - at the next scheduled meeting on 30 October
Health Scrutiny Panel
The Health Scrutiny Panel’s next meeting was
scheduled to take place on 23 October 2023. At this meeting, the Scrutiny Panel
would continue to gather evidence in respect of its review of Dental Health and
the Impact of Covid-19.
Regeneration Scrutiny Panel
At the panel’s last meeting held on 11
October 2023, Members received an overview from the Head of Planning. Amongst the information received, it was
indicated that over 500 planning disputes were currently being dealt with by one
member of staff, who was currently on part-time leave. The backlog was in excess
of three years. Members had also
discussed the Terms of Reference for their investigation. The next meeting was scheduled to take place
on 1 December 2023. The Board discussed
issues around staffing and the availability of Building Inspectors to undertake
could not be provided for all scrutiny panels, a Member
highlighted the importance of either panel Chairs or Vice Chairs being in
attendance at Overview and Scrutiny Board meetings, to enable these to be delivered.
Any other urgent items which, in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.