Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Arts Leisure & Culture Select Committee Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 23rd February, 2012
Time:
1.00pm
Place:
Lecture Theatre, Stockton Central Library, Church Road, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 1TU
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell(Chairman), Cllr Eileen Johnson(Vice-Chairman), Cllr Carol Clark, Cllr Gillian Corr, Cllr Evaline Cunningham(Vice Cllr Nigel Cooke), Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Mick Womphrey
Officers:
Jane Humphreys, Shaun McLurg(CESC),Graham Birtle, Michell Jones, Sarah Whaley(L&D)
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Nigel Cooke, Cllr Ray McCall
Item Description Decision
Public
ALC
41/11
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
ALC
42/11
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
ALC
43/11
MINUTES FOR SIGNATURE - 1ST DECEMBER 2011
AGREED that the minutes be signed.
ALC
44/11
DRAFT MINUTES - 4TH JANUARY 2012
AGREED that the minutes be approved.
ALC
45/11
EIT REVIEW OF CHILDREN'S SOCIAL CARE
AGREED that the final report be accepted and forwarded to Cabinet for approval.
ALC
46/11
SCRUTINY DEVELOPMENT SESSION
AGREED that

1) the information noted

2) Members suggestions be taken into account when embarking on new reviews as detailed above.
ALC
47/11
QUARTERLY PROGRESS UPDATES ON PREVIOUSLY AGREED RECOMMENDATIONS
AGREED that

1) the Progress Updates be noted and the assessments for progress be confirmed.

2) the Review of Tees Active be signed off as all recommendations had been fully achieved.
ALC
48/11
WORK PROGRAMME
AGREED that the information be noted.
ALC
49/11
CHAIRS UPDATE
 
1.00pm - 2.45pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
ALC
41/11
The evacuation procedure was noted.
ALC
42/11
There were no declarations of interest.
ALC
43/11
Consideration was given to the minutes from the meeting which was held on the 1st December 2011.
ALC
44/11
Consideration was given to the minutes of the meeting which was held on the 4th January 2012.
ALC
45/11
Consideration was given to the draft final report of the Efficiency Improvement and Transformation(EIT) Review of Childrens Social Care.

The Head of Children and Young People Operational Service, presented Members with the draft final report and highlighted the following key points:

Background

- The strict legislative and policy framework limited the scope for transformation of services.

- The increased workload pressure which Stockton had encountered, following such cases as the much publicised tragic death of Peter Connelly, which had resulted in an increased upsurge in referrals meant that cash savings were unlikely from the review.

Methodology

- It was noted that some aspects of children's social care services had been covered by previous overlapping EIT or other service reviews.

- A development day was held in November 2011 allowing a wider cross section of staff to have an input into the review.

Service Evaluation

- The most recent inspection outcomes were discussed including the criteria Ofsted used to grade the inspections. Significant improvements had been made since 2010 and the service was focused on further improvements prior to the next round of inspections.

- A new inspection framework was to be be introduced in 2012/2013. Members heard that this would consist of a 2 week unannounced inspection, and would concentrate on safeguarding and not looked after children.

- File audits were undertaken by the Corporate Director and Head of Service on a monthly basis which generally highlighted improving practice from social workers.

- Complaints received were fairly typical in children's social care. The most prominent of complaints received from service users were delays and frequent changes of social workers.

- There were excessive amounts of paperwork following the introduction of the Integrated Children's System which was overly bureaucratic and resulted in less time being spent with families. Just recently however the requirements for using the system had been relaxed.

Findings

- There had been a unanimous decision amongst staff that a team be set up to focus on children living away from their families.

- The Head of Children and Young People Operational Service, reported an improved ability to recruit social workers in Stockton and a higher level of staff retention. It was concluded that recruitment and retention incentives may not be required in the future to attract and keep the best staff.

- Support had been offered to staff who were taking work home enabling them to come in on weekends and receive pay as and when needed.

- Agency staff were being used on a regular basis however recommendations had been made to reduce the reliance on this due to the expense involved.

Options

- To move away from the distinction between specialist and targeted social work teams as officers felt this was having a negative impact on staff development.

- To spread more evenly experienced staff across the service.

- The possibility of a permanence team for Looked After Children aged between 0 - 13.

- To develop a family support team.

- Progress high quality staff to become fully qualified social workers.

- Support staff to have a flexible approach to working hours to help families who need support outside of the standard working day.

- All social workers to have the opportunity to progress to grade M within the authority.

The Committee were informed that Stockton Borough Council had provided additional support of around 330K per annum. The aim of the proposed service structure would be to reduce the need for this additional funding to approximately 80K with a view to managing within allocated budget in the longer term.

Members considered each recommendation and agreed the final report be submitted to Cabinet on the 8th March.
ALC
46/11
The Scrutiny Officer informed Members that with the Efficiency, Improvement and Transformation(EIT) Reviews coming to a close, the process which had been used prior to EIT would now be re-introduced.

Members received a presentation highlighting the necessary tools and ingredients needed for a successful scrutiny review.

It was explained that Members could have the opportunity to evaluate the work which they had carried out, review the process and look at the outcome of the recommendations.

Members highlighted that suggestions in the past had not always been fully received by officers when working on reviews and hoped the process outlined in the presentation would eliminate this.

The Committee also indicated that where a review was within a particular Cabinet portfolio remit, the Cabinet Member should be invited to the Scrutiny Committee meetings enabling them to have a valued input. In addition to this, Members highlighted that as well as senior officers providing evidence in scrutiny reviews frontline officers could also add value by offering their views and experience when gathering evidence.
ALC
47/11
Consideration was given to progress of the implementation of previously agreed recommendations. There were outstanding recommendations from the reviews of:

- EIT Review of Sport, Leisure & Recreation
- EIT Review of Highways, Lighting & Network Management
- EIT Task and Finish Review of Finance
- Review of River Based Leisure

The Review of Tees Active having achieved all the recommendations set, no longer required to be monitored.
ALC
48/11
Members were informed that the Scope and Project Plan for the 'Marketing of Stockton Visitor Offer 2012-2013' would be presented at a future meeting of this Committee.
ALC
49/11
There was no update.

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