|Councillor Nelson declared a personal interest in the item entitled Structural Change in Schools and Sector-Led School Improvement, under paragraph 11 of the Council's Code of Conduct for Members as he was a Governor at Frederick Natrass School.|
Councillor Nelson declared a personal interest in the items entitled Economic Climate Update Report, Parkfield Regeneration Scheme, Amended Common Housing Allocations Policy and Billingham Extra Care Scheme, under paragraph 11 of the Councils Code of Conduct for Members, as he was a Member of the Tristar Board.
Councillor Cook declared a personal interest in the item entitled LA Nominations, under paragraph 11 of the Council's Code of Conduct for Members, as he was a Governor at Billingham South Primary School and Norton Primary School.
Councillor Beall declared a personal interest in the item entitled Structural Change in schools and Sector-Led School Improvement, under paragraph 11 of the Council's Code of Conduct for Members, as he knew the author of the position paper.
|The minutes of the meeting held on 1 November were agreed and signed by the Chairman.|
|In accordance with the procedure for the appointment of school governors, approved as Minute 84 of the Cabinet (11th May 2000), Cabinet was requested to approve the nomination to school Governing Body as detailed within the report.|
|Consideration was given to a report on local developments in relation to sector-led whole system school improvement and outlined the emerging approach to structural change. The report also included a proposed memorandum of understanding with Northern Education Trust (draft, subject to approval by Northern Education Trust).|
The context for educational change was set out in the Schools White Paper The Importance of Teaching which was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Education in November 2010. This comprehensive and radical plan included significant structural change, particularly in relation to the escalation of the Academy programme. The aspiration was for all schools to be academies by 2015. The opportunity for schools to convert was extended to outstanding schools, and later, good schools with some outstanding features, and also to primary and special schools as well as Pupil Referral Units. Arrangements for less successful schools followed, requiring such schools to secure the support of a sponsor that could provide and sustain school improvement capacity. This could be a recognised provider of school improvement or a local outstanding school.
The Schools White Paper also set out the emerging approach to school improvement which would be rooted more in schools supporting one another and new providers of school improvement services and less in local authority school improvement services, although local authorities could continue to offer school improvement as a traded service. The introduction of Teaching Schools and the call for applications from schools with outstanding teaching and learning aligned with this new approach to school improvement.
In Stockton, these changes had prompted an ongoing dialogue and debate that had focused upon how schools, the local authority and key stakeholders could retain the strong ethos and culture of Campus Stockton in the new operating environment. These discussions had been particularly meaningful as some schools had grappled with the issue of academy conversion, whether through choice as a good or outstanding school, or when seeking a sponsor route, as a less successful school.
A group of headteachers and college leaders had worked with local authority officers to draft and agree a position statement on the issues of structural change and sector-led school improvement. The position statement was attached to the report. It set out a shared vision that acknowledged the need to change but stressed a strong conviction that partnership and collaboration, which was very strong across Stockton schools and partners, must be maintained as it was essential to delivering improved outcomes for the children and young people of the Borough. In Section 2 the national policy context was outlined, with clear reference to the Schools White Paper 2010 and The Education Act 2011. The section also included the local context which described the success realised and the challenges facing the education community in Stockton as well as the emerging developments in relation to structural change and school improvement. Section 3 outlined the plan to deliver sector led school improvement with key priorities around building capacity and developing expertise, maximising resource and sharing decision making in terms of school intervention and support. In Section 4 the approach to structural change was set out. This included an explanation of the approach to, and characteristics of, local solutions. This section also described the approach that would be taken in relation to external school improvement partners. Section 5 was an explanation of how the partnership would operate and it included a description of the various working groups that would lead on key themes.
The document outlined had been circulated amongst headteachers and principals, chairs of governing bodies and other key stakeholders, including Trade Unions/Associations. It would be the subject of a range of presentations and workshops, feedback from which would be incorporated into a version of the document that would be finalised for adoption by partners and stakeholders. The working arrangements would be in place from January 2013, although the degree and rate of change would be reflected in membership and remit.
The contribution of the Council to the Campus Stockton Collaborative Partnership was indicative of the commitment it had to maintaining and developing the strong and productive relationship with schools, colleges and other providers of education across the Borough. This commitment to the Campus Stockton brand and philosophy was a clear and tangible demonstration of the importance of children and young people of the Borough and the belief that they were best served through partners working together. The Council was also committed to working with other key stakeholders who operated in this way and who share similar values, where it believes they can bring additional value and expertise and contribute to local solutions.
Northern Education Trust was an approved Department for Education Academy Sponsor. It was a not-for-profit organisation committed to supporting academies and to helping them improve because of the belief that first class education gives young people life chances and choices. In the mission statement of the organisation it was the development and achievement of young people that was central to the vision. Northern Education Trust set out a commitment to understand the community context within which any sponsored Academy operated and it would work to promote community cohesion and economic regeneration. Northern Education Trust was committed to working in local authority areas where there were shared values and aspirations for young people.
The report included a proposal to put in place a Memorandum of Understanding between the Council and Northern Education Trust. The proposed Memorandum of Understanding was attached to the report and would utilise what was best of both organisations and provide the basis for securing strategic local solutions for schools in challenging circumstances.
|Further to the meeting of Cabinet held on 6th September 2012 (Min No CAB 68/12 refers), consideration was given to an update on the proposed draft new model for the election of the Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) and establishment of a more representative and democratically appointed Stockton Youth Assembly (SYA); which was currently the subject of on-going consultation with young people and stakeholders.|
The new model for Youth Participation:-
sought to replace the former Shadow Youth Board with a more representative Youth Assembly made up of representatives from a range of existing youth forums (e.g. school councils, BME, young carers, sixth forms, special needs reps) and the UK Member of the youth parliament;
provide that the MYP should be a representative on the youth assembly so that young peoples voices in the Borough were heard on a local, regional and national level;
ensured that local youth elections for YMP and the Youth Assembly were held every two years with support from Democratic Services, Electoral Services;
encouraged the Integrated Youth Support Service to work with young people directly in youth led action projects, actively encouraging youth involvement and community change;
sought to involve young people in innovative and accessible ways, taking part in consultations to guide the work we do as a Council;
provided information to young people about our projects, the work of the Council and other youth services.
The guiding principles for the model were based on guidance provided by the British Youth Council (BYC) and the proposed membership was to be drawn from 11 - 19 year olds (up to 25 year olds for young people with special needs) from the following groups in the first instance:
School Councils (secondary), Academies, Independents and Sixth Forms ( 1 member from each )
Colleges ( 1 Member from each )
Universal Youth Clubs ( 1 Member from each township - Stockton Billingham Ingleby Barwick Thornaby and Yarm)
BME (via Cornerhouse) ( 2 Members )
Young Carers (via Eastern Ravens) ( 2 Members )
LDD Representatives plus appropriate Advocacy Support (possibly via Special Schools but not mutually exclusive to one organisation) ( 2 Members )
LAC/ Care Leavers (via CiC Council) ( 1 Member from LAC 1 member from CIC Lets take Action Group)
Member of the UK Youth Parliament ( 1 Member)
On-going discussions and consultations had and were continuing to take place with young people already involved in a variety of groups including the shadow board with a view to involving those young people in supporting the transition to the new SYA. The Youth Providers Network (an inclusive group of partners and organisations involved in providing services for young people) had also been informed / consulted and responses / feedback received had been supportive to the proposed more effective model of youth engagement and participation for young people in Stockton.
Details were provided of the proposed SYA nomination process; member induction and on-going development and the forthcoming election of a new Member of Youth Parliament in February 2013; along with the suggested governance framework for the Assembly and options regarding the appointment of its Chair and Vice Chair. It was anticipated that the SYA would be established from April 2013 and would initiate development of its own work plan firstly through the holding of an Annual Borough Debate to which all of the Councils elected representatives and appropriate stakeholders would be invited.
It was also noted that the Councils young residents panel, previously known as Youth Viewpoint, was also currently in the process of being reconfigured, and renamed, with a view to distributing the first questionnaire to the refreshed young residents panel in early 2013. The reconfiguration work aimed to create a statistically representative panel of 1,100 young people from across the Borough (including young people who are NEET, looked after and participating in a youth offending scheme) aged between 10 - 19 years, as well as including young people with learning disabilities aged up to 25 years. Once established, the Panel would provide officers in the Council and partner organisations a way to engage with young residents about service and policy planning, development and improvement and would also be able to help inform and evaluate the work of the Boroughs Youth Assembly from April 2013. Arrangements for initial awareness raising and publicity for the new model for Youth Participation was also submitted.
|Cabinet considered a monthly update report providing members with an overview of the current economic climate, outlining the effects that this was having on Stockton Borough, and the mitigations already in place and those being developed.|
Members noted some of the positive and negative developments since the last report. Details of the support on offer to people and businesses was also provided.
|Consideration was given to a report on the proposals that would deliver a full site residential redevelopment for the Parkfield/Mill Lane (Phase 2) area. |
Cabinet approval was sought for a number of critical next steps that would enable the successful delivery of a sustainable residential development which would deliver much needed affordable housing, the Councils housing regeneration ambitions for the Parkfield/Mill Lane (Phase 2) area and support its broader vision for a vibrant Stockton town centre.
The Parkfield/Mill Lane (phase 2) area, located between Yarm Lane and Dovecot Street was identified as an area of housing market failure a number of years ago and since 2006 a programme of property acquisition and demolition had been ongoing. Significant progress had been made in acquiring properties by voluntary agreement with 195 of the 204 private properties acquired by the Council.
Following the sudden cessation of Housing Market Renewal Funding, Cabinet agreed (July 2011) to remove 80 properties from a future phase of demolition. These 80 properties were prioritised for improvement works and subsequently had benefited from investment via the Go-Warm Community Energy Savings Programme.
Earlier in the year (February 2012) a report was presented to Cabinet which explained that the Council in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) had commissioned DTZ (working alongside Gillespies and Arup) to undertake site master planning. The purpose of this exercise was to identify how best to bring forward this site for development in the future and included; an assessment of the site, a review of any constraints, market conditions and soft market testing with house builders. In summary, this exercise concluded that the site was challenging (mainly due to prevailing economic conditions), but there were opportunities to implement a phased development programme which would create the right market conditions for private sector led development in the longer term. However for this to be a viable option, the report concluded that the Council should invest in public realm, greening and infrastructure improvements i.e. to make the site more attract in the longer term for a potential partner. Cabinet subsequently approved £970k for this purpose.
With regard to the proposals for the redevelopment of the site the Council had recently been approached by two separate parties seeking to redevelop either all or part of the site:-
As reported previously to Cabinet, Fabrick (a partnership of Tees Valley and Erimus Housing) secured £500k from the HCA to facilitate the delivery of 20 new build homes on the Parkfield site. Fabrick had a strong track record of working in Partnership with the council and had delivered a number of new housing schemes across the Borough in recent years. In addition, they had also acted as lead development partner in a number of regeneration schemes in other neighbouring authorities.
The Council had been in discussions with Fabrick to bring forward an alternative development proposal. In summary; with the £500k secured from the HCA, grant support from the Council to a maximum of £910k and utilising their own resources and borrowing capacity Fabrick had proposed a fully funded, full site development for the Parkfield site. This development would see in the region of 118 new build properties; 84 houses, 12 apartments and 22 bungalows. Fabrick proposed to take the lead developer role and would not rely on any further investment from the private sector or the appointment of a private house builder to sell properties.
It was anticipated that this development would take in the region of 3 years to build out and complete. Members were asked to note that this timescale was dependant on the Councils ability to acquire remaining properties and may be affected should a Compulsory Purchase Order prove necessary.
Given the market conditions, lack of mortgage availability etc. it was anticipated that the majority of properties built would initially be made available for rent (both market rent and affordable rent). With a small number being available for sale (potentially via intermediate home ownership options such as equity share or rent to buy). However as market conditions and confidence in the area improves it was Fabricks intention to flex tenures (i.e. as/when a rented property become vacant a decision would then be made to either rent again or sell either on an outright or affordable home ownership basis). Members noted that this flexibility in tenure was not proposed for all properties on the site, for example those units identified as affordable rented (such as those funded via the HCA) would remain as affordable units in perpetuity. This flexible approach was supported by the Housing Service as it would promote a mixed-tenure, sustainable development.
In summary a scheme of this nature would:-
a. Deliver in excess of £9 million to the local economy;
b. Deliver a fully funded, 3 year proposal for the site which include a mix of house types developed to address local housing need (including accommodation for elderly and vulnerable residents);
c. Deliver a quality housing scheme which has achieved secured by design status, with all properties achieving HCA design standards and Code Level 3;
d. Incorporate a green wedge/pocket park and high quality landscaping in accordance with the masterplan (which was a priority for local residents);
e. Offer guaranteed training and apprenticeship opportunities (as Fabrick would commit to a 3 year build project);
f. Increase the number of people living within this area of the Borough, thereby supporting the wider regeneration of Stockton town centre;
g. Promote affordable homeownership options for those wanting to purchase a property but struggling to do so due to lack of mortgage availability etc; and
h. Deliver the Councils housing regeneration ambitions for the Parkfield/Mill Lane (phase 2) area without requiring any further additional investment by the Council (i.e. Fabrick would be responsible for carrying out all necessary infrastructure works and greening improvements required within this development).
Members noted that this site was challenging. In addition to the challenges, rent levels in the area would be relatively low (thereby restricting potential rental income levels), a high pressure gas main runs through the site which was cost prohibitive to re-route and as a consequence the layout of the site was limited. Therefore without the grant support from the Council, Fabrick would be unable to proceed with this comprehensive redevelopment proposal. On this basis Cabinet were asked to support the re-direction of a maximum of £910k from the £970k previously identified for public realm, greening and infrastructure works to be paid to Fabrick as a grant. This grant would be targeted at the delivery of affordable housing units on this site. To ensure the Council was appropriately protected the allocation of this grant funding would be time limited and subject to planning approval being granted.
Officers from across Finance, Land and Property and Housing had been provided by Fabrick with the financial feasibility details of the project. In addition, Fabrick had offered to go open book prior to the grant funding being awarded.
The disposal of land to facilitate this development would be undertaken on a non-restricted market value basis. However Members were asked to note that given current market conditions, a non-restricted market value was likely to be negligible.
With regard to the next steps for the next steps / timescales for the Fabrick proposal:-
Fabrick were working to finalise a final site planning and want to commence work on site as quickly as possible. On this basis they were aiming to:-
Wk commencing 10.12.12 - Hold a pre-planning community consultation event
Early January 2013 - Submit planning application
Early June 2013 - Start on site
With regard to approach 2:-
Interest in redeveloping a small area of the site had been made by an alternative party; this party owned a number of properties on the site which the Council had yet to acquire. This approach was relatively new and as such the full details were not available.
Members noted that this alternative proposal was being considered as should it; prove viable, offer better value than the Fabrick proposal alone, be incorporated within the Fabrick development proposal and did not impact on the Fabrick development timetable then it may negate the need for future Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) action. Should the Council need to secure a CPO this would inevitably be costly and impact on the development timetable for the full site redevelopment. On this basis Cabinet were asked to authorise the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety to incorporate Approach 2 within the site redevelopment proposal should the issues noted above be suitably addressed.
Members were reminded that the HCA had previously supported the regeneration of the Swainby Road and Parkfield regeneration schemes via the allocation of funding. This funding allocation was linked to a Funding Agreement which placed a number of obligations on the Council in relation to both sites. In order to deliver one/or both of the proposals received it would be necessary to agree a variation to the Funding Agreement.
An initial scoping conversation had taken place with the HCA who had indicated that they were supportive of the proposal detailed within the body of the report. Members were therefore asked to authorise the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services and Head of Legal Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety, to negotiate and agree with the HCA those changes to the Funding Agreement necessary to enable site redevelopment to progress.
Local residents were in attendance at the meeting and spoke certain aspects of the proposed development. It was noted the scheme would be subject to planning approval that the residents could input into and that there would be an open day where residents would be able to make comment.
|Consideration was given to a report on the sub-regional Choice Based Lettings Scheme (Compass). Members were also provided with an addendum to the report which provided explanatory information with regard to under occupation of non-compass partner accommodation and the one offer policy.|
The sub-regional Choice Based Lettings Scheme (Compass) operated under a common allocations policy. The policy was a statutory requirement and provided the framework for the allocation of social housing in Stockton-on-Tees, as well as the other Tees Valley authorities, and larger stock holding registered providers in the area who participate in the Compass scheme. The enactment of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, Localism Act 2011, and the revised Allocations of Accommodation Code of Guidance (July 2012) had triggered the need for a review of the current common allocations policy to ensure it is fit for purpose. The report outlined the proposed amendments to the policy.
A reason for the amendment and the decision of the Compass Partnership Steering Group that was reached following consideration of the consultation feedback was also detailed. The proposed changes to the Compass Common Allocations Policy were detailed within the report and included:-
Eligibility to join the Housing Register.
Under occupation of Compass partner accommodation.
Under occupation of non-Compass partner accommodation.
Alignment of bedroom requirements with changes to benefit
Awarding priority to people with general affordability issues.
Giving preference on the scheme to households in low-paid work.
Giving preference on the scheme to households doing voluntary or
Giving preference on the scheme to households who are prospective
adopter, foster carers or special guardians.
One Offer Policy.
Reducing priority of applicants who have worsened their own
Allowing families to bid on any property type.
|Consideration was given to a report on an amendment to the Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Policy. The report sought approval to amend the Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy in respect of Appendix P to resolve conflicts between the contents of the policy and that appendix.|
On 19 April 2012 Cabinet approved the revised version of the Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy following consultations with the trade and other interested stakeholders (minute CAB 5/12 refers).
The revised version contained new provisions relating to the licensing of horse drawn hackney carriages and their drivers and included a new appendix P detailing conditions that would apply to such licences. These provisions had been determined following a previous report to the Licensing Committee and a consultation exercise with the trade and interested stakeholders.
It had come to light that an incorrect version of Appendix P was included in the policy document submitted to and approved by Cabinet. This did not reflect what the policy intended to achieve and in relation to the qualifications in respect of drivers was in conflict with both the policy and statutory requirements.
It was proposed therefore that Appendix P in the policy be replaced with a new version, as attached to the report.
|Consideration was given to a report on the proposed new Extra Care housing development in Billingham and to sought approval for the sale of the car park site for this purpose. |
The report also provided an update on the proposed like-for like car parking re-provision.
Extra Care housing was generally housing designed with the needs of older people, generally those over 55 years of age, with varying levels of care and housing related support available on one site (24 hours a day 365 days of a year). Accommodation of this nature provided a genuinely safe environment for residents and was a popular choice among older people. For Stockton Council it could be seen as a strategic alternative to older models of residential care provision and also included a base for community health services, outreach services and intermediate and rehabilitative care. The key principle of Extra Care housing it that it enhanced the quality of live for residents by promoting independence, choice, control and social well-being.
Members were reminded, the need for additional units of Extra Care Housing provision within the Billingham area was originally identified as part of the larger Integrated Health and Social Care project. The PFI credits the Council was aiming to secure would in addition to the Integrated Health Facility had included the development of a 50 unit two-bedroom Extra Care scheme.
As part of the Integrated Health and Social Care bid preparation work, an exercise was undertaken to identify a suitable location for the proposed Extra Care scheme. An extensive range of potential site options across the Billingham area were considered (including those both within the Councils ownership and also those owned by third parties). Following this exercise the schemes proposed location was identified, and as reports to previous Cabinet meetings had set out this was the car park site adjacent to Billingham Community Centre. This site was deemed suitable for a number of reasons including for example its proximity to local amenities and bus routes.
Whilst the Council was unsuccessful in its bid for PFI credits, Vela (a north east Housing Group formed in 2010 following the partnership of two social landlords, Tristar Homes Limited and Housing Hartlepool) had secured £1.2million funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) therefore making this proposed new development a financially viable proposal once again.
With regard to the next steps and timescales Vela Homes recently completed the second of two pre-planning public consultation events and a planning application had been submitted. On the assumption that planning approval was granted, then start on site for the Extra Care scheme would commence in March 2013. It was anticipated that the scheme would take approximately 18 months to complete, it was therefore anticipated initial lettings/sales taking place summer/early autumn 2014.
|Members were provided with a report that provide an overview of the major events presented by Stockton Borough Council during the summer of 2012. The report set out the key objectives and characteristics of the events and the analysis of customer responses and media impact. The report also highlighted any lessons learned from debriefs and feedback from partners. |
It was explained that 2012 was a particularly busy summer due to the coincidence of the Queens Diamond Jubilee, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the 25th Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF). Members were provided with a summary of the form and purpose of the larger, strategic events, and where market research is available provides an analysis of the customer response to those events. In particular the report is concerned with the following events;
Infinity Festival (featuring the Tees Regatta)
Diamond Jubilee Beacons
Royal Opening of the Barrage White Water Course
London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games related activity,
including the Torch Relay
Stockton Cycling Festival
Take to the Tees
Stockton River Rat Race
Members viewed a short video showing many of the events that had taken place.
|Cabinet considered a report providing members with a Local Account of Adult Social Care for 2011-2012. |
The production of a Local Account by Councils has been promoted as part of the approach to sector led improvement. It was also seen as an element of the national Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) which was introduced in 2011 as part of a revised approach to monitoring the effectiveness of Council provision for adult social care. Although the publication of a Local Account was not a statutory requirement, it had been expected that Councils would produce Local Accounts for 2011~12 in order to share learning and develop best practice.
There had been a commitment through the N.E. ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) to support the production of Local Accounts and some peer review of the documents within the region as they had been developed.
The aim of the Local Account was to support greater transparency and accountability by reporting to residents, in an accessible format, how we thought we had addressed priorities and improved outcomes for those in need of social care. It was also intended as a vehicle for engaging with the community around local priorities and showing how feedback had influenced service delivery.
The Local Account was developed with the support of a small project group. It has been subject to consultation. The Adults Services section of Stockton News was to be used in the future as a vehicle for providing updates and for seeking feedback on development of future Local Accounts.
On approval of the final version of the Local Account, it was the intention that the document would be made available via the Councils website. A small number of copies would be printed, for circulation to relevant partner agencies and community groups.
|Members considered a report realting to the current Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) scheme.|
It was explained that the scheme would bring long-term benefits to over 1,000 private sector homes in some of the most energy inefficient domestic properties, in areas where there are also high levels of fuel poverty. The Council was supporting its partner GoWarm to deliver the scheme, which would result in reductions in carbon emissions of over 180,000 tonnes, along with substantial reductions in residents energy bills and attendant improvements in comfort levels and health. At the time of this report 900 properties were either complete, or in the process of installation in phases 1 & 2 (LSOAs in Parkfield, Newtown, Stockton Town Centre). Phase 3 (an area of Thornaby) was starting, with the completion of the whole scheme by the end of 2012.
Additional external funding had been found by GoWarm from energy companies for boiler replacements for qualifying residents, and also for external wall insulation measures in some LSOAs that could not be included in the original Eggborough-funded scheme. This brings the level of external investment in Stockton on Tees to over £7.5m.
CESP comes to an end in December 2012, to be replaced by the Governments new initiative Green Deal. Although Green Deal was principally a pay-as-you-save loan scheme, some funding would continue to be available from a levy on the energy companies, under the Energy Company Obligation. The Council, because of its previous success with CESP and CERT schemes, should be in a good position to compete for funding in the new scheme
As the national CESP scheme applied only to 17 LSOAs in the Borough, some needy areas, streets, and individual properties were not able to benefit. Under the Energy Company Obligation a further 8 LSOAs would become eligible for potential support from energy companies.
|Cabinet considered a report relating to the initial findings from a survey of local residents that took place between June and August 2012 and was conducted by Ipsos MORI. It also presented an outline plan for communicating and using the results which would be developed into a more detailed plan, subject to Cabinet approval and receipt of the final report.|
Seven authorities, from across the North East, agreed to a consortium approach to commissioning a residents survey, in order to achieve economies of scale, provide data for benchmarking purposes and support the principle of sector-led improvement. The survey captured resident perceptions in relation to a number of aspects including trust in the Council, whether it provided value for money and their priorities for improvement as well as satisfaction with a selection of Council services.
Cabinet was provided with headline findings, relating to Stockton Borough. Overall findings for the Borough were extremely positive, particularly in relation to satisfaction with the Council overall, trust in the Council and perception of the Council providing value for money. Levels of satisfaction with most of the services covered by the survey were good and improved on the whole from the 2008 Place Survey. When compared with the averages of the other Council Consortium participants, Stockton Borough compared extremely favourably.
Members noted that there were a number of steps to be taken in order to add value to the analysis, develop and deliver an effective communications plan internally and externally and to make best use of the intelligence to shape business and improvement plans. These were detailed below:
Identify any areas that need further or additional work by Ipsos MORI.
Some internal work needed to be undertaken by the Policy, Improvement and Engagement team to add value to the Ipsos MORI.
Work with relevant Heads of Service to provide additional context and understanding to the survey findings.
To consider and utilise the full range of analysis and intelligence to shape business plans.
A detailed communications plan would need to be developed, linked to the activity identified above including detailed timescales and would include Members, staff, key stakeholders and, where appropriate, the media. Some provisional work in relation to communications had already been undertaken:
Initial press release planned through Corporate Communications.
Members Policy Seminar for 22nd January 2013 delivered by Ipsos
Special Setting the Standards (January 2013).
Report/presentation to Stockton Renaissance and Area Partnerships
EMT (to add context to the findings and to inform business
planning (November- February).
SBC staff - through KYIT (November).
Part of the intention of a regional approach to the residents Survey was to support the principle of sector-led improvement and to be able to identify other Councils that the Survey suggested were performing better, to inform Council-Council conversations and/or peer reviews.
|Consideration was given to the minutes of the meetings of various bodies.|
|Consideration was given to a report that outlined the progress against annual performance targets for the period April to end of September 2012/13. It highlighted the progress against the Council Plan objectives, areas for improvement, provided a summary of Freedom of Information requests responded to, Complaints, Commendations and Comments, a RIPA update and provided details of suggestions received through the Staff Suggestion scheme. It also provided the Councils financial position as at the end of the second quarter of 2012/13.|
Good progress had been made during the first six months, with 74% of performance targets achieved or on track to be achieved. This compared to 81% achievement at the same point last year. Trends showed that actual achievement at year end tended to be lower than anticipated, but this was good progress at this stage. A significant number of Freedom of Information and Data Protection enquires had been received with an increase on the same period last year, 405 compared to 392. The staff suggestions scheme had received nine suggestions during the first six months of 2012/13; progress was detailed within the report. Progress with the EIT Review programme was attached to the report. Details of Complaints, Comments and Commendations received during the first half of the year were also provided within the report.
With regard to the Councils financial position the report contained tables that detailed the MTFP position of each service. Officers were continuing to monitor closely expenditure in all areas with particular focus on areas where services which were in the process of an EIT review.
With regard to Children, Education and Social Care a report to Members in October 2012 detailed the pressures that were being faced by the service and set out the use of £1.3m managed surplus to fund pressures in 2012/13. A further £94,000 of managed surplus was now expected to be required in 2012/13 reducing the overall balance to £324,000.
The main areas of pressure within childrens services continued to be related to looked after children and details were proved within the report. The report highlighted one-off savings from EIG grant (£150k) and grant funding brought forward from previous financial years (£310k) that was available to reduce the impact of the above pressures in 2012/13.
Within adult social care there were some continuing pressures and some areas of savings and these were detailed within the report.
Members were made aware that both adult and childrens social care areas were being examined closely as part of the Councils Big Ticket approach to efficiencies. The change would also be considered as part of the review of the MTFP during the 2013/14 budget process.
With regard to Development & Neighbourhood Services the overall managed surplus was expected to increase by £182,000. This reflected savings made from staff vacancies within Direct Services pending an EIT review. However the Directorate included budgets that were extremely volatile and would continue to be monitored closely throughout the year.
The managed surplus for Resources was expected to increase by £232,000. Of this, £134,000 was due to in-year costs of projects in HR, Policy and Communications being lower than anticipated and £74,000 resulting from savings on ICT systems.
General fund balances were expected to be £10.7m which was £2.2m above the 3% recommended target and given the current financial climate it was recommended that these resources are retained. The reasons for the increase of £400,000 was detailed within the report.
With regard to the financial climate Members were aware from the briefing note on 19th October 2012 of the recent announcements which would affect the Councils financial position. The approved position was detailed within the report.
The Comprehensive Review period ends in 2014/15 and the position for 2015/16 onwards was highly uncertain. The current plan included funding assumptions that were detailed within the report.
The plan also included a pay provision of 1% for 2013/14 and 2014/15 and 2% for 2015/16 and 2016/17.
Although there was uncertainty around Local Government Funding and the impact and mechanisms of the Localisation of Business Rates, there were 3 key issues emerging which would have a significant impact on the Councils funding and these were detailed within the report.
Although further details would not be known until the Autumn Statement and Provisional Finance Settlement in December, the Council was likely to have a budget gap of £3m in 2013/14, rising to £15m over the next 3 years.
Members were aware that reviews of Big Ticket and cross-cutting items were ongoing and further savings were expected as a result. Further details would be provided as part of a report to Cabinet in January 2013.
The Capital budget for 2012/17 was attached to the report and summarised in the table within the report.
With regard to additional capital schemes the main changes to the programme were detailed within the report.
|Consideration was given to a report on the Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Licensing Principles.|
Section 349 of the Gambling Act 2005 required licensing authorities to publish a statement of the principles that they propose to apply in exercising their functions under the Act, and that the statement of principles shall be reviewed every three years. The Statement of Licensing Principles was approved by Council in December 2009 and under the provisions of the Act, needed to be reviewed prior to re-publication in January 2013.
In preparing the statement of principles licensing authorities were required to:-
Adhere to regulations issued by the Secretary of State
Consider guidance issued to licensing authorities by the Gambling Commission
Recognise the need to be reasonably consistent with the licensing objectives where applicable. The licensing objectives were set out at Section 1 of the Act and were:-
- Preventing gambling from being a source of crime and disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime
- Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
- Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
The Act also required the licensing authority to consult with the following people on its statement of principles:-
(a) the Police
(b) those who represent the interests; of gambling businesses in their area; and
(c) those persons which represent interested persons likely to be affected by the exercise of the Authoritys functions under the Act.
A revised statement of principles was drafted and after consideration by the Licensing Committee on 24 July 2012 was published for consultation and a copy was attached to the report. The consultation was carried out with those parties identified within the report, in addition a public notice was placed in a local newspaper inviting comments and the consultation document was published on the Councils website. Only one letter with comments was received during the consultation period from the British Beer and Pub Association and a copy was attached to the report. Members were advised that this was the same response that was received before the initial statement of principles was determined in 2009.
Officers believed that the comments in the letter in respect of the grant of additional permits in alcohol licensed premises were adequately addressed in the Statement of Licensing Principles at paragraphs 24.2 - 24.6 and any further amendments which could fetter the Councils discretion in being able to consider each application on its merits were not recommended.
The Statement of Licensing Principles had been reviewed by the Licensing Committee at its meeting of 2 October 2012 when they recommended that the draft statement be referred to Cabinet for approval.
|Consideration was given to a report that provided details of the results of public consultation on the draft Local Council Tax Support scheme to replace council tax benefit. Sufficient responses had been received from the consultation to provide statistically significant responses, which showed the majority in agreement with all 7 principles of the scheme.|
Members were provided with extensive details of the consultation results and had been provided with the equality impact assessment associated with this issue.
It was explained that a letter had been received (provided to members) from the Royal British Legion urging that 100% disregard was provided for military compensation payments, which included war widows and war disablement pensions. Members were aware that such an enhancement to the housing and council tax benefit schemes had been operated in Stockton for over 20 years, and the proposed LCTS scheme for working age claimants did include provision for 100% disregard of such payments. The regulations for the national pensioner LCTS schemes were not yet available but DCLG had given assurances that local authorities would be given powers to continue to provide for a 100% disregard of military compensation payments within the pensioner LCTS scheme. It was therefore recommended that this provision be included in the draft scheme for pensioner claimants, subject to the appropriate legislative powers being made available.
At their meeting of 9 August members considered a full financial appraisal of LCTS proposals including details of the impact on the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP)
On 16 October 2012 DCLG announced an additional £100million of funding for councils to help support them in developing well-designed council tax support schemes and maintain positive incentives to work. The new voluntary grant was intended to encourage best practice and would be available to councils (billing and major precepting authorities) who chose to design their local schemes so that:
those who would be on 100 per cent support under current council
tax benefit arrangements pay between zero and no more than 8.5 per
cent of their council tax liability;
the taper rate does not increase above 25 per cent;
there is no sharp reduction in support for those entering work
The statement also indicated that Councils will rightly want to avoid collecting small payments, and it may consequently be better value for money for councils to avoid designing schemes which seek to do so. The grant was available for one year only to allow local authorities time to explore more sustainable approaches to managing the funding reduction that minimise the impact on vulnerable taxpayers. Clearly there was an encouragement for councils to identify savings elsewhere and not to pass on the funding reduction to people claiming council tax support.
Councils must make application for the grant after 31 January 2013, following scheme approval. Stocktons proposed scheme does not meet the requirements, in that it was proposed that those currently receiving 100% support would have to pay 20% of their council tax liability. The additional cost of meeting the grant requirements had been calculated and were detailed:-
Additional cost of scheme for max. 8.5% contribution £1,283,571
Maximum grant (SBC plus preceptors) £398,015
Additional cost to be met by SBC £885,556
Introducing a maximum contribution of 8.5% would equate to a council tax bill of £86 per year for a person living in a Band A property. Overall there would be around 6600 additional bills issued for less than £100 per year.
Given the additional financial pressures that would arise from securing this grant it was not recommended that Stockton makes an application for this funding.