The Chair invited Members to raise items for general discussion arising from the Information Booklet of Executive Member reports which detailed activities carried out within the respective Executive Member portfolios (Section 1), Executive decisions taken (Section 2) or to be taken where known, prior to and following the meeting (Sections 3 and 4).
Councillor M Storey queried why there was no report from the Mayor in relation to Children’s Services. The Council was currently subject to Ofsted and it was an important area particularly in relation to Children Looked After. The Mayor advised that a report had been prepared, however he had suffered a family bereavement eleven days previously. Without discussion with the Mayor, but with good intent, a decision had been made by officers that the Mayor presenting a report may not be appropriate.
Questions on the Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Culture and Communities report
Councillor Davison – General Question regarding Paragraph 4 of the report
Councillor Davison stated that she was pleased to see that the wheelchair swing in Stewart Park was to be replaced as it had been broken for over 3 years. Councillor Davison queried whether other parts of the play area in Stewart Park could be looked at in the future?
Councillor J Walker – Safety and Communication
Councillor J Walker wished the Deputy Mayor a speedy recovery.
Councillor J Walker referred to paragraph 29 onwards of the Executive Member report in relation to the fact that in partnership with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office the Council was set to receive a share of £23.5 million funding allocated to help women and girls feel safer on the streets. She queried whether the wording should be ‘to help women and girls be safer on the streets’. Councillor Walker also queried if all of Middlesbrough would receive a share of the funding as there were women and girls in every ward and whether this would mean that Hemlington would be allocated a share of the funding.
Councillor J Walker referred to the £381,771 Safer Streets Government funding. Councillor Walker noted that a range of initiatives would be introduced, which would be primarily focused in Newport and Central wards and queried whether any funding that was left over could be allocated to the Hemlington Ward to address the problems that the area was experiencing, over the past few years, but in particular over the previous four months. It was quite likely that Hemlington would focus highly on the Active Intelligence Mapping (AIM) system. Councillor Walker also referred to the fact that it mentioned in the report that AIM process was under constant review to drill down on priority areas. Councillor Walker queried whether the Executive Member was involved in the review process and whether it indicated that Hemlington had a very high level of crime and anti-social behaviour incidents.
In relation to the proposed closure of Cass House Road underpass, which attracted the most prolific offenders, Councillor Walker stated that she hoped the consultation process would begin soon.
In relation to the table of crime statistics, which showed a huge increase. Councillor Walker queried whether the statistics would help Hemlington to get the assistance they needed to feel safe. Residents were fearful for their safety, including the youth of the area. Many incidents had been reported and many residents had left the area because of the high level of crime and anti-social behaviour.
With regards to the funding bid that had been submitted to the OPCC via the Proceeds of Crime Act requesting £30,000 for security upgrades at the Viewley Shopping Centre. Councillor Walker stated that the figure was a drop in the ocean compared to the bid for Safer Streets funding of over £500k to keep businesses and residents safe from crime. Councillor Walker also referred to the fact that the dinosaur park had CCTV but Hemlington Ward was still waiting for additional CCTV.
Question on the Executive Member for Education report
Councillor Dean – Schools
Councillor Dean queried with regard to how many schools the Executive Member had visited since taking on the portfolio of Executive Member for Education.
The Executive Member for Education advised that he had visited several schools in this last term, and that he had several more visits planned for the remainder of this term and had more planned for the remainder of the year.
Questions on the Executive Member for Environment, Finance and Governance report
Councillor P Storey – Green Waste Collection
Councillor P Storey stated given the change in climate conditions and the fact that the growing season for gardens was extending could the changing environmental factors be considered in relation to the Green Waste collection times. Councillor Storey also queried whether an additional Green Waste collection could be scheduled for December.
Councillor Cooper requested that people visit the Council website for collection times, but he advised that there was always room for discussion. He advised that it was a fluid situation and they would consider any requests.
Councillor J Thompson – Highways Projects
Councillor Thompson referred to the planned carriageway surfacing works scheduled to be completed prior to April 2022 and queried whether there were any plans to repair speed humps, as there were a number of humps that required repairing in her ward.
The Executive Member advised that engineers were sent out to inspect speed humps to prioritise them in respect of order of repair. He advised that if the speed humps were broken, they would be repaired, however he was unable to provide a timescale for any such repairs. Councillor Cooper also advised that he would be happy to share an email that he received regarding potholes.
Councillor D Rooney – Green Strategy
Councillor Rooney queried with regard to the role of the proposed Green Champions.
The Executive Member advised that at the present time, the Council was looking for volunteers. The role of the Green Champion had yet to be defined, but he would report back, once the role of Green Champion, had been agreed.
Councillor Furness – Medium Term Financial Plan
Councillor Furness advised that there was a report further on in the agenda on the MTFP. Councillor Furness advised that there was a possibility of inflation rising and in his view this was not factored in enough going forward. The National Employers had been offered 1.75% and many services were getting higher rises. For every 1% pay rise it cost the Council £900k but every 1% increase in Council Tax would only bring in £600k. The report had assumed a 2% pay rise and he stated that he was concerned that the Council would not be able to cover the costs.
The Executive Member advised that there was a report on the issue later on in the agenda and he would rather defer the issue to when that report was discussed.
Councillor McTigue – Wild Flowers and Tree Planting
Councillor McTigue commented about the fact that the Council would replace a blue bin free of charge, if it was stolen, but it would charge for the replacement of a black bin. Councillor McTigue stated that where there was proof that the bins had been stolen, residents should not have to pay the £15 replacement fee.
Councillor McTigue stated that she wished to congratulate the Executive Member, his the department and director on the way the town was turning green. The Mayor was keeping his promise to plant trees.
Councillor McTigue advised that she had been given a million seeds to plant in the town. Thirteen Group played a major part in the wild flower planting and made a promise to donate £20k in the next year.
Councillor Cooper stated that the Council had been successful in a bid for funding of £477K for planting of approximately 1,140 standard trees over the next two years. The funding was awarded as a result of an application to the Forestry Commission as part of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund to plant trees across the town centre.
Questions on the Executive Member for Regeneration report.
Councillor P Storey – Selective Landlord Licensing
Councillor Storey queried with regard to when the Selective Landlord Licensing scheme would be extended to the Linthorpe Ward.
The Executive Member for Regeneration advised that the scheme had been very successful in the North Ormesby Ward and it was hoped that it would eventually be rolled out across the whole of the town, however he did not have a timescale for this.