Venue: Mandela Room
Contact: Scott Bonner
Declarations of Interest
no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
A Member sought clarification on Minute number 23/33 relating to paragraph eight on page two of the minutes. The Member stated this was a question and should be reflected as such in the minutes. As such it was agreed the Minute in question should read,
A Member queried that, in the event a s114 notice was
issued, would staff be given statutory redundancy only.
The Executive Member for Finance and Governance also clarified that in the event a Section 114 Notice was issued the nature of redundancy packages for staff would be informed by available funding.
With the amendment above, the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 15 November 2023 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 Chair welcomed the Mayor, the Executive Member for Finance and Governance and Director of Finance to the meeting and invited the Mayor to present his information to the Board.
The Mayor outlined the need for a Council Plan stating it helped the Council deliver its priorities and to inform the budget setting process. The Residents Survey carried out in 2023 had informed the Council Plan which showed how residents viewed the town. The Council Plan was structured around four strands which included, A Successful and Ambitious Town and A Health Place. The Mayor commented the Delivering Best Value strand was also important as it demonstrated how the Council could deliver its services effectively. Associated with this was the need for the Council to deliver against the actions contained within the Best Value Notice. One of the main ambitions of the Council Plan was tackling poverty and improving the quality of services.
Consultation on the Council Plan had been undertaken with partners with the final version to be considered by Council at its meeting in February 2024. After approval several service level plans would be produced that would feed into the Council Plan. The Overview and Scrutiny Board would be provided with budget and performance monitoring information on a regular basis against the Council Plan.
The Mayor commented the Council Plan provided an insight into the status of the town and that the health of residents was a major determinant in other outcomes.
Each strand of the Council Plan had several priorities associated with them. The Healthy Place strand was used as an example of how residents, generally, had poorer health outcomes than other areas. While the Council Plan could contribute to changing this, it would not be an easy or quick fix. The Reducing Poverty priority would be supported by two further strategic documents, namely the Anti-Poverty Strategy and Social Charter.
The Safe and Resilient Communities strand would inform decisions including the need to build more bungalows and investment in access services. The Delivering Best Value strand included the priorities Ensuring robust and effective corporate governance and Set a balanced revenue budget and Medium-Term Financial Plan to restore financial resilience and sustainability. Both priorities helped inform other strategic documents such as the Public Health Strategy. Under the Delivering Best Value strand there was a need to undertake transformative work that would help the Council save money, such as the Shift programme in Children’s Services.
At this point the Mayor invited questions from the Board.
A Member agreed with the prospect of building bungalows on new developments and asked what guarantees there were for this. It was commented this sort of initiative could be built into the Local Plan. By 2040 it was estimated Middlesbrough would lose 5,000 people from its workforce population. There was a need to entice and retain people living and working in the town and as such there was a need for a more fluid housing stock which included single person accommodation. The Member commented ... view the full minutes text for item 23/40
The Mayor and Executive Member for Finance and Governance will be in attendance to present the Council’s Budget for 2024/25 and the refresh of the Medium-Term Financial Plan.
The papers for this agenda item will also be considered by Executive on 20 December 2023 at 12.30pm. As such, any amendments made at the Executive meeting will be verbally noted at the meeting of OSB.
The Chair advised this item afforded Members the opportunity to ask questions about the budget proposals and that service specific budget proposals would be considered by the relevant scrutiny panel in early 2024. The Chair stated it was not the Board’s responsibility to set the agenda for individual panels. The Executive Member for Finance and Governance advised the Board that an all-Member briefing about the budget proposals would be taking place on the evening of Thursday 21 December.
The Chair commented the budget consultation process for 2023/2024 had been one of the most comprehensive the Council had undertaken.
The Chair invited the Mayor to present his information.
The principles behind the budget proposals were data driven, with a need to reduce demand and shape priorities. Initially the projected overspend for 2023/24 was £11.5 million but this had been reduced to approximately £7.4 million. Revenue reserves stood at £14.8 million but this was projected to fall.
Overall, even with all budget proposals taken into account and factoring in budget growth there remained a budget gap of £6.2 million.
Each budget proposal was categorised and had been reviewed extensively. The Mayor provided the budget proposal for Levick Court as an example. While this was initially categorised as Stop, it was now seen as a transformative and categorised as T, or Transformation. Pieces of work like this could utilise monies raised from the asset review. There was a desire to reduce the number of S, or Stop, categories as much as possible.
Budget proposals that were categorised as Stop stood at £500,000 while proposals categorised as transformational or those seeking efficiency exceeded several million pounds.
In terms of long-term objectives, Middlesbrough featured prominently in metrics such as high crime rates, anti-social behaviour, and poor school attendance. This was a cumulative effect, and such Middlesbrough faced several difficult challenges. The Mayor commented consultation on the budget was crucial, especially considering responses to the Resident’s Survey. Consequently, it was decided that certain budgets would be protected including those in Area Care, Community Safety and Crossing Patrols.
The Mayor also clarified the Council’s core spending power. While there had been a 10% increase in core spending power this was not all available from government grant but was instead generated locally. As Members had been supplied with the individual budget proposals the Chair invited the Board to pose questions to the Mayor.
A Member thanked the Mayor for his presentation and brought his attention to Appendix one of the report, containing proposals that did not require consultation. As the proposals in appendix one would still affect residents it was suggested consideration should be given to them. The Mayor responded that some services in Middlesbrough were out of step with other Councils and sometimes operating above its own policies so needed reviewing. For those proposals requiring review this needed specific pieces of work to ensure proposals were not disadvantaging residents.
The Executive Member for Finance and Governance stated that part of Scrutiny’s response to the budget consultation could ... view the full minutes text for item 23/41
The Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel presented the Panel’s Final Report and draft recommendations in relation to its review of Dental Health and the Impact of Covid-19.
The Board was asked to consider the following recommendations:
a) That a further census survey of 5-year-old children is undertaken to enable analysis of data at a ward-level to identify health inequalities and enable the delivery of more targeted support.
b) That a locally tailored oral health strategy is developed, which is based on an oral health needs assessment.
c) That the Local Authority works with the relevant local authorities in the North East, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), NHS partners and the relevant water companies to support and delegate responsibility to respond to the OHID national water fluoridation public consultation (due in early 2024) to the Director of Public Health.
d) That the Health Scrutiny Panel receives regular updates on progress made with implementing a water fluoridation scheme for the region, including the outcome of the public consultation.
e) That targeted work is undertaken to increase uptake of the supervised tooth brushing programme and ensure engagement of the early years settings and primary schools located in town’s most deprived areas.
f) That, for those families who choose not to engage with the health visiting service, free toothbrushes and toothpaste are sent via postal delivery to encourage parents to adopt good oral health practices.
g) That a targeted community fluoride varnish programme is commissioned to reduce health inequalities across Middlesbrough’s population.
h) That, to influence the national reform of NHS dentistry, the Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel writes to the Secretary of State and the NHS England regional team undertake work, to make access to NHS dental services equal and affordable for everyone in the region.
i) That an update is submitted to the Health Scrutiny Panel in 6 months’ time in respect of:
· the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board’s (ICB) recovery plan to improve access to NHS dental services; and
· how feedback from the local population has been utilised to formulate solutions and determine future plans.
j) That Teesside University, the Local Authority and the North East and North Cumbria ICB work collectively to overcome and address current referral restrictions associated with the Student Dental Facility, with an aim to improving accessibility for those experiencing problems with accessing NHS dental care.
A discussion took place regarding the report’s recommendation to create a School of Dentistry on Teesside and the lack of dentists nationally. It was commented the availability of dentists was dependent on current funding models and an increase in the number of dentists was unlikely to change until this changed.
Members agreed the report was interesting and expressed their thanks to all involved in its creation. Given the Council’s challenging financial position it was agreed any recommendations the Council was directly responsible for should identify potential cost implications. It was commented that while many of the recommendations would be delivered by ... view the full minutes text for item 23/42
Scrutiny Chairs Update
The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board invited Scrutiny Panel Chairs to provide their updates.
Chair of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel.
The Panel met in late November where it received information about its ongoing review into school attendance. It was agreed that Member working groups would visit schools to understand what support could be provided to them with regards to school attendance.
Chair of the Adult Social Care and Service Scrutiny Panel.
The Panel met on 19 December 2023 and received a presentation from the Teeswide Safeguarding Adults Board. Members also received information from the Public Health Team regarding the relatively poor health outcomes for the town. The Panel was also examining preventative services and how people could be supported to remain in their own homes. The Panel’s next meeting was 9 January 2024.
Chair of the Regeneration Scrutiny Panel.
The Panel met on 6 December and received information relating to its continuing review into planning capacity in Middlesbrough. Members received a presentation from the head of Policy Practice at the Royal Town Planning Institute. The Panel also received an update from the Council’s Head of Development Control. The Panel was scheduled to meet on the 17 January where it would continue with its review into planning capacity in Middlesbrough.
Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel.
The Panel last met on 11 December where it discussed its final report into dental care and looked at its future topics.
Any other urgent items which, in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.