Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Wednesday 18th October, 2023 4.30 pm

Venue: Mandela Room

Contact: Scott Bonner 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


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


Minutes - Overview and Scrutiny Board - 20 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 279 KB


The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 20 September 2023 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


Revised Minutes - Overview and Scrutiny Board - 26 July 2023 pdf icon PDF 160 KB


The revised minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 26 July 2023 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


Executive Member Update - Children's Services pdf icon PDF 626 KB


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 presentation.


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 been appointed.


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 highlighted.


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 area.



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


Middlesbrough Boundary Review 2023 - Final Draft Proposal pdf icon PDF 364 KB

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.

Additional documents:


The Democratic and Registration Manager presented the final draft of the Council’s submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission.


It was explained that the submission 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 be necessary.


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.


AGREED that:


1.     The final draft of the Council’s submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission be approved.

2.     The information, as presented, be noted.



Revised Report - Setting the Work Programme for Overview and Scrutiny Board 2023/2024 pdf icon PDF 323 KB

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.


Following the previous submission to the Overview and Scrutiny Board on 20 September 2023, an updated version of the Work Programme report was submitted to include a previously omitted topic, i.e., Electoral Registration.  Details were shown on page 54 of the agenda pack.


Members discussed both the already agreed Work Programme, i.e., the chosen topics of Homelessness and Cyber Security, together with the additional Electoral Registration topic.  Reference was made to work being undertaken in other areas of the authority and consideration given as to how the scrutiny function could contribute to this work, without duplicating effort.  The Board also gave thought to wider legislative timescales, particularly in relation to election planning, and the need to carefully align scrutiny work to these. 


The Chair of the Health Scrutiny Panel indicated that information pertaining to Cyber Security had been provided at a recent meeting of that panel.  As it was anticipated that more information relating to Cyber Security would be raised at future Health Scrutiny Panel meetings, it was suggested that this be relayed from those panel meetings to the Overview and Scrutiny Board.  Members supported this approach.


Following discussion, it was agreed that the Board’s first topic of investigation would be Homelessness, followed by Electoral Registration once that had been completed.  Information relating to Cyber Security would be received via the Health Scrutiny Panel.


AGREED that:


  1. The updated Work Programme be approved.
  2. The information, as presented, be noted.


Executive Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 264 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.


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.


AGREED that:


  1. The Democratic Services Officer would review the formatting of the Forward Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
  2. The information, as presented, be noted.


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 were provided:


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 2023.


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 work.


As updates 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.