Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Wednesday 20th October, 2021 11.00 am

Venue: Virtual meeting

Contact: Caroline Breheny 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Overview and Scrutiny Board - 8 September 2021 pdf icon PDF 172 KB


The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 8 September were submitted and approved as a correct record.



Executive Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 298 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.





Executive Member Update: Executive Member for Regeneration pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Regeneration, Cllr Eric Polano, 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 Regeneration was also in attendance.


As part of his update to the Board, the Executive Member for Regeneration explained that his portfolio did not neatly match the way in which services were structured and the slides included in his presentation showed the way the portfolio was set out and how services were structured.


It was explained that the main areas of the portfolio were as follows:-


Transportation – designing how people get about (not the maintenance of the roads)

Inward investment – attracting money, people and jobs into Middlesbrough

Economic development – growing the jobs available in the town

Housing development – increasing the options for people wanting to live here

Planning – managing the long term look and functionality of the town

Building control – ensuring things were built correctly and safely


In terms of changing the town centre one of the main areas of focus was on converting Captain Cook Square into a leisure destination. Currently the town centre had too much retail space and insufficient leisure space. The Council had therefore purchased Captain Cook Square in an effort to redress the balance.


In respect of developing the concept of urban living it was explained that Middlehaven was the focal point for a significant amount of investment to create more houses and apartments for people wanting to live in the centre of town. 


Boho X was another key area of focus and would deliver sixty thousand square feet of commercial space for the digital sector. In addition the Council was currently refurbishing the Captain Cook Pub and work would soon commence on the Old Town Hall to bring these buildings back to life. 


Clearing up eyesore sites and properties was another high priority and it was advised that the Council was investing in buying up eyesore sites and properties that were blighting local communities. In terms of the Future High Streets Fund and the Towns Fund Middlesbrough had received in the region of £35m to spend on changing the town centre and Middlehaven, as well as some other parts of the town. Delivering housing growth was a further area of focus and the Council was working with house builders to deliver 400-500 new homes each year.


The Executive Member for Regeneration advised the Board that in respect of his own personal priorities the areas that he was most passionate about driving through were dealing with the eyesore sites and properties and getting more people into the town centre. It was advised that the Council had invested £1m into working with Middlesbrough Development Company (MDC) to buy up or refurbish properties in local communities that were ruining people’s lives. The Council was looking to tackle as many of these as possible and clean up some of the worst streets.


In terms of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/37


Chief Executive's Update pdf icon PDF 426 KB


The Chief Executive was in attendance and provided an update to the Board in respect of the following:-


·         COVID-19 update

·         Executive update

·         LMT update

·         Chief Executive briefing staff feedback


In terms of the latest local COVID-19 data, as at 18 October 2021 the rolling seven-day rate of cases per 100k of the Middlesbrough population was as follows:


  • 76 new cases had been added to the system on 18 October 2021;
  • 557 new cases had been diagnosed in the last seven days;
  • 395.1 rate per 100k of population (last seven days); and
  • 302.20 COVID-19 deaths per 100k population.


Reference was made to the vaccination rates and to date 65.4% of over 12’s in Middlesbrough had received 2 doses of the vaccine. In terms of vaccination by age range 9.6 % of young people in Middlesbrough aged 12 to 15 had received 1 dose of the vaccine and the vaccination rates increased with age. For example, 87.3 % of people aged 55 to 59 in Middlesbrough had received 2 doses of the vaccine and 94.2 % of people aged over 80 had received their 2 doses. It was emphasised that the number of over 50’s unvaccinated in Middlesbrough was 8.2 %, which equated to 4,335 people and this was the area of greatest concern.


In relation to the Executive decisions taken recently it was noted that a number of reports had been considered. These included; a report on Middlehaven; the expansion of Middlesbrough College; Community Environmental Initiatives; Council Tax Reduction Scheme; Fountain Court and Centre Square Office development.


In respect of the current LMT strategic items if was advised that the focus was on poverty / social exclusion; reoccupation / Fountain Court; values / staff engagement; 2022/23 budget preparation; performance management and locality working. 


Reference was made to the feedback received from staff in respect of the Chief Executive’s staff briefings and it was noted that over 95% of staff rated the briefings as very good / good overall; over 90% rated the relevance and usefulness of the content of the briefings as very good / good overall; over 90% rated the opportunity to ask questions at the briefings as very good / good overall and over 70% had opted for the briefings to be continued virtually in the future with over 20% opting for a mix of virtual / in person. It was anticipated that the briefings would continue to be held virtually but on a six monthly basis an in person event would be held. 


The themes from the free text responses to the Chief Executive staff briefings were provided and these included the following;-


·         Staff valued hearing direct from the top

·         Staff wanted the same level of engagement at Directorate level

·         Subjects that staff were particularly interested in were; Strategic Priorities; Reoccupation; LMT thinking


Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.


A Member of the Board made reference to the fact that the take up of the COVID-19 vaccination by young people had been slow  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/38


Scrutiny Chairs Update

Adult Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel - Councillor J. Platt
Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel – Councillor D. McCabe
Children and Young People’s Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel - Councillor D. Davison
Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel - Councillor C. McIntyre
Economic Development, Environment and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel – Councillor S. Walker
Health Scrutiny Panel - Councillor D. Coupe


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





Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel - Final Report - Cultural Events in Middlesbrough pdf icon PDF 736 KB


The recommendations to be submitted to the Executive were:


1) To enhance and strengthen community cohesion, cultural events traditionally held in the town centre should be delivered within communities where possible. Ideally this should take place with at least some elements of the Christmas 2021 celebrations.


2) Given its growing cultural and financial significance the Council should work with relevant third parties, including charities and the private sector, to introduce eSports as a regular and high profile cultural event. Where possible this should relate to wider leisure initiatives the Council is currently involved in.


3) Future leisure developments in the town centre should look to include opportunities for associated hospitality venues, such as an eSports business.


4) In order to attract a wider audience; the Council should continue to work with Teesside University so that the Town Hall can be used as a venue for the Animex Festival, ideally for the event held in 2022.


5) To attract audiences that sit outside Middlesbrough’s local boundaries; the events team should explore how to exploit virtual event delivery by having an on-line component.


AGREED that the findings and recommendations of the Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel be endorsed and referred to the Executive.




Revenue and Capital Budget – Projected Outturn position as at Quarter One 2021/2022 pdf icon PDF 1 MB


The Director of Finance and the Head of Financial Planning and Support provided an update to the Board; the following points were highlighted:


  • The information detailed in the report was separated into two elements: COVID-19 related and non-COVID-19 related;
  • The 2021/22 Revenue budget for the Council was £116,492,035. The Council’s outturn position for 2021/22 for non-Covid-19 elements was projected to be an overspend of £1.717m (1.5%). It was anticipated that there would be a potential financial pressure due to COVID-19 of £2.036m in 2021/22. The total projected outturn at the end of the year was £3.753m;
  • The total projected overspend in 2021/22 would be covered by the full utilisation of the Social Care Demand Reserve of £0.5m and the Children’s Services Demand Reserve of £0.732m, which were created at the end of 2020/21. The remaining £2.521m of the total projected outturn pressure would be funded from the £4.512m Covid Recovery Reserve, which was created during 2020/21 to cover the potential costs arising from the Covid-19 recovery in 2021/22 and future years;
  • Paragraphs 80-100 of the report detailed expenditure against the Investment Strategy, which had a revised budget of £93.716m.  The current latest estimated outturn for 2021/2022 was £82.029m;
  • Paragraph 101 of the report indicated that borrowing had reduced by £1m in Q1 to £217.8m;
  • Total reserves were detailed in paragraph 108, which showed projections for 2021/22 to be £33.8m.  
  • Appendix 1 of the report detailed virements; Appendix 2 showed the revised Investment Strategy which would be used from this point onwards.


Following the update, Members were afforded the opportunity to ask questions.


A Member queried as to what issues the Board should be most concerned about at present in respect of risk and unforeseen eventualities. It was advised that one of the emerging risks was in relation to energy inflation and whether that would filter through and become a longer term pressure, the legacy of COVID-19 on income was another key potential risk factor. The MTFP for next year was currently being prepared and those issues were being considered. The financial implications for the Council resulting from the new Health and Social Care Bill was another unknown at this stage, although it was anticipated that more detailed information would be available following the forthcoming Government Spending Review and Local Government settlement.  


Reference was made the Environment and Community Services overspend and whether there was potential for that money to pulled back over the course of this financial year. It was explained that the overspend was a result of the kerbside recycling company entering administration, which had generated a financial pressure of £500,000. The contact for kerbside recycling was currently out to tender and it was hoped that savings would be achieved following that process. Another risk in this area was the Integrated Transport Unit, as to a lack in the availability of taxi drivers increased costs were being incurred. Efforts were being made to pull back on costs but there were real challenges.


In response to a query regarding the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/41


Strategic Plan 2021-2024 – Progress at Quarter One 2021/2022 pdf icon PDF 601 KB


The Head of Strategy, Information and Governance provided an update to the Board, which included the following points:


  • This Q1 update was in respect of the Strategic Plan, which covered the period April – June 2021, and which was presented to Executive on 7 September 2021;
  • On 24 February 2021, full Council approved a Strategic Plan for 2021-24, setting out nine strategic priorities for this period. At its meeting of 11 May 2021, the Executive agreed an associated set of outcome measures linked to these priorities and a supporting workplan to deliver sustained improvement up to and beyond 2024.
  • At the end of Q1, 15 of 24 (62.5%) of Strategic Plan outcomes were on target against the corporate standard of 75%. At the end of Q1, there were three ‘Red Red’ outcomes i.e. those not currently projected to meet target and with performance worsening.
  • Details in respect of the ‘Red Red’ outcomes were outlined; the combined crime and anti-social behaviour rate per 1,000 people increased very significantly in Q1 to 55.07, up from the Quarter Four 2020/21 baseline of 44.1, taking performance well away from the 2024 target of 43.6; the crime rate in June 2021 was the town’s second highest in the past five years, driven by acquisitive crime in Central ward as retail reopened following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions; town centre vacancies increased and the current estimated vacancy rate was 17.8%, some way from the 2024 target of 13.25%; the household recycling rate dropped to 28.6% at the end 2020/21 from 33.1% in 2019/20 (and 33.7% in 2018/19), some way from the 2024 target of 35%.
  • Strategic risks – the total number of risks on the Strategic Risk Register remained at 35, comprising 20 high risks, 14 medium and one low risk, with no risks added or closed off during the quarter;


The Chair thanked the Head of Strategy, Information and Governance and the Strategic Delivery Manager for their attendance and contribution to the meeting.


AGREED that the information provided be noted, and the agreed action be undertaken.



Scrutiny Chairs' Training


The Democratic Services Officer advised that reference had made at the recent Constitution and Members’ Development Committee to Chair / Vice Chair training for Scrutiny Chairs. In light of the discussion a mandatory training session would be scheduled for Scrutiny Chairs / Vice Chairs by the end of November 2021.


It was emphasised that mandatory training for the Chairs of the relevant Children’s Scrutiny Panel’s was also included as part of the Council’s agreed OFSTED Improvement Plan and must be undertaken on an annual basis. A day time and evening training session would be provided, in an effort to accommodate any Members working full time or with child / carers responsibilities. The training sessions would be held virtually.   


AGREED that information in respect of the proposed dates be circulated and Chairs / Vice Chairs confirm their availability to attend the sessions.