|Consideration was given to a report that presented an update on Quarter 2 monitoring of the outcomes / impact of Welfare Reform including emerging issues.|
Quarterly reports were provided to Cabinet providing information on a range of indicators which showed how welfare reforms were impacting. These reports also included detail on any updates the Council had received with regard to further roll out of welfare reform and interventions the Council was making to manage the impact. Since reporting at Quarter 1 there was no further national update to report this quarter, however monitoring data for Quarter 2 was provided within the report and full details were attached to the report.
Peter Clark (Job Centre Plus) was in attendance at the meeting to answer any Member questions. Member's questions / comments centred around:-
The impact of the new sanctions regime
The unfairness of some of the sanctions that are imposed on JSA and ESA claimants
Targets for Job Centre Plus staff to reach with regard to imposing sanctions
Claimants that are having sanctions imposed are having to rely on crisis loans
The figures for the number of appeals that have been won and lost
Reassurance that there are no inappropriate referrals to Stockton Council for hardship allowance
Timescales for the imposition of a sanction and for reinstatement are unfair
Any commitment from Job Centre Plus to engage with children
Peter Clark (Job Centre Plus) responded as follows to some of the questions that had been raised and reported that he would report back to the Director of Resources with any information that he did not have with him:-
There are no targets nationally or locally for Job Centre Plus staff to reach with regard to imposing sanctions on claimants
Job Centre Plus Staff need all of the relevant information and the conditionality needs to be correct before they can make a decision
Team Leaders have regular observations to make sure that any sanctions are fair and appropriate
Every sanction case is looked at individually and if any doubts are raised the case is referred to a decision maker
Claimants should be informed before a sanction is imposed and depending on why a sanction has been imposed will have implications for the timescale for the lifting of the sanction
Job Centre Plus have been tasked with doing some outreach work with children
The Chair thanked Peter Clark for his attendance at the meeting.
|Consideration was given to a report on Tees Valley Unlimited Governance - A Combined Authority for the Tees Valley.|
The purpose of the report was to:
Highlight the ambition for establishing a Combined Authority for the Tees Valley to achieve economic goals and to receive greater devolved powers
Clarify what the Combined Authority would do
Clarify its membership
Clarify its relationship with the LEP
Describe the scrutiny arrangements and how they would be funded
Provide an update on timescales following a recent discussion with DCLG
Set out plans for consulting on our Combined Authority
Outline the decision-making process going forward
The principal functions of the Combined Authority would be to:-
(i) Set the strategic economic vision, key priorities and outcomes for the Tees Valley area, in relation to:-
Strategic Transport and Infrastructure
Employment and Skills
Low Carbon; and to
(ii) Fulfil other duties and responsibilities including to:-
determine the use of funding received for joint purposes;
approve the commissioning of capital projects; and
consider funding agreements and joint venture arrangements
The proposed Terms of Reference for the Combined Authority was attached to the report setting out a comprehensive list of its functions in relation to each of the functional areas in (i) above. It also set out the decisions that the Combined Authority would take, alongside the decisions to be taken by the local authorities.
Some detail of the current TVU management and financial arrangements and the detailed proceedings of the Combined Authority were attached to the report.
As part of the development of the new arrangements further work would be undertaken to establish the support arrangements and model for scrutiny. More detail behind the scrutiny arrangements was attached to the report.
A detailed consultation plan had been developed and would be implemented subject to all five Cabinets' / Finance & Policy Committee's approvals. Considerable work had already been undertaken to inform key stakeholders about our ambitions and the rationale for a Combined Authority for the Tees Valley, but consultation would commence in earnest as soon as all five authorities had approved the report. Set out below was a summary of the approach to consultation.
There were a range of organisations, groups, individuals which may form part of the proposed consultation arrangements:-
Association of North East Councils/North Yorkshire Councils
Businesses and Business Organisations
Durham Tees Valley Airport
Government Departments and Agencies
Members of Parliament and House of Lords representatives
North Yorkshire LEP
Parish and Town Councils
Regional and Sub Regional Newspaper Editors
TVLEP/NE Combined Authority
The consultation with those groups detailed above would be arranged and delivered in December 2014 and January 2015.
For each of the target groups there were a range of potential options. Taking the examples cited from the NE Combined Authority, which was recommended to by CLG, the proposal would be as follows:-
Key documents and FAQ and contact information for feedback on each LA website.
Letter to key stakeholders inviting direct response to proposals.
Key contacts for each key consultee for more detailed discussion for feedback if required.
Online consultation with residents via each authority website.
|Consideration was given to a report that provided details of a local test of assurance that had been carried out in relation the roles of Director of Children's Services and Lead Member - Children & Young People in compliance with Statutory Guidance. Reference was also made to the roles of Director of Adult Services and Lead Member - Adults and health. The outcome from the assurance test had indicated no need to change the arrangements. The assurance test had been carried out independently of the Children, Education and Social Care Service and would be subject to regular review.|
Statutory guidance in relation to the roles of the Director of Children's Services and the Lead Member for Children's Services was released by the Department for Education in 2005, 2009, 2012 and updated in 2013.
Local authorities in England must have regard to it in relation to the appointment of the Director of Children's Services and the designation of the Lead Member for Children's Services.
Whilst there wasn't any up to date statutory guidance in relation to the role of Director of Adult's Services or the Lead Member role for Adults, both of these roles are referenced in the Statutory Guidance relating to the Children's roles where, as in Stockton's case, there was a joint appointment.
The test of assurance document was attached to the report and set this out in more detail and provided the position within Stockton alongside a diagrammatical representation of the assurance arrangements.
The risk assessment undertaken had reached a conclusion that the control measures were sufficient to mitigate the risks identified in the statutory guidance but that this would be kept under regular review as part of the corporate arrangements for risk management.
The risk assessment had been subject to scrutiny by the Corporate Management Team and the Corporate Governance Group.
|Consideration was given to a report that gave an update on the Medium Term Financial Plan and the Big Ticket Reviews.|
This was the first report to be presented to Members in respect of the 2015/16 Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP). The final report would be presented to Cabinet and Council in February 2015. The report also provided an update on the 2014/15 financial position and outlined progress on the Big Ticket Reviews.
Members were provided with a table detailing the current MTFP position.
A summary of the outturn position for each Big Ticket area was detailed within the report.
The Capital budget for 2012/18 was attached to the report and summarised within the report.
In June 2014 the LGA and Cipfa launched a Commission on the future of Local Government Finance. Organisations were invited to send submissions to inform the Commission, and Stockton along with ANEC provided responses. The Commission had recently issued an interim report "Public Money, Local Choice" and a copy had been circulated to the Council. The Commission sought further views to shape the recommendations in the final report which was expected in early 2015. A summary of the information published to date was attached to the report.
The revised projected MTFP position based on the assumptions contained within the report and the position incorporating the Big Ticket areas was detailed within the report.
In line with the agreed approach to the MTFP, was proposed that the 2015/16 budget gap be funded from the £7.5m from 2014/15 to ensure a balanced position, with the remainder retained to manage the transition in delivering further savings. Given that the level of savings would be influenced by further funding announcements, the approach would be considered as part of the budget report.
A summary of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement to Parliament was tabled for Members information.
|Consideration was given to a report that provided details of the Council's performance in the first six months of 2014/15, highlighting key achievements, areas for improvement and proposed actions. It also included information relating to Freedom of Information requests and complaints and commendations. Whilst it aimed to give a perspective on the overall performance of the Council, its primary focus was on the achievement of the basket of measures and associated targets agreed as part of the Council Plan 2014-17.|
There were a wide range of achievements and activities delivered in support of the key Council Plan themes that were not captured within the agreed basket of key indicators. These were reported throughout the year in various reports to Cabinet, captured through press releases, Stockton News articles and various accolades awarded to the Council throughout the year. Further details were included in thematic summary reports that were attached to the report for information.
Members discussed the large number of Freedom of Information requests that had been received and felt that a scrutiny task and finish group should consider the issue.
A briefing paper on Funded Early Learning for 2 year olds was tabled for Members information.
|Consideration was given to a report that gave the key headlines from the Employee Survey 2014. |
The Employee Survey 2014 was undertaken between 6th October and 7th November 2014. The survey was delivered to 3,485 employees and completed by 2,342. Overall, there was a 67% response rate across the Council, above the target rate of 66%. The report gave the key headlines from the survey for the Council as a whole. Further breakdowns of the information would be reported to Cabinet once a detailed analysis had been completed. Overall the results were extremely positive in themselves and especially when the context of the amount of change and reduction in resources was taken into account. Work was already underway to undertake more detailed analysis and benchmarking which would feature in a further report to Cabinet.
|Consideration was given to a report that presented minutes of various bodies.|
In accordance with the Council's Constitution or previous practice the minutes of the meeting of the bodies indicated below were submitted to Members for consideration:-
Tees Valley Unlimited - Leadership Board - 22nd October 2014
Safer Stockton Partnership - 7th October 2014
SLSCB Board Meeting - 16th October 2014
|Consideration was given to a report on Children's Social Care Activity and Performance.|
In light of the Ofsted inspection of child protection in January 2013, it had been decided to review the content and format of future children's social care reports to Cabinet.
In addition to a range of measures to illustrate the pressures experienced by the service, a number of performance indicators would also be included so that Cabinet could more closely monitor the impact of these pressures on performance and outcomes for children.
As a way of achieving this, the use of a process model' was approved by Cabinet on 13 June 2013.
Given the importance and profile of these issues it had been agreed that the new activity and performance reports be brought to Cabinet on a bimonthly basis i.e. every alternate Cabinet.
This report was based on the available data at the end of quarter 2 (30 September 2014).
In summary, the overall picture reflected in the attached analysis was as follows:-
Inputs - contacts and referrals to social care, which reduced slightly during the previous year, have continued at broadly the same rate, remaining at relatively high levels compared to benchmark groups.
Processes - good performance with regard to the timeliness of assessment; a slight dropping off in relation to timeliness of initial child protection conferences and reviews, although remaining at relatively good levels compared to benchmark groups. Overall, these indicate that there is an efficient response to children in need of care and protection, although the high levels of children at risk of significant harm will continue to put pressure on support systems and services.
Outputs - the profile of children needing social care support has continued in line with the position at the end of 2013-14. Numbers of children in need, with a protection plan and looked after remain at relatively high levels compared to benchmark groups. The number of children becoming subject to a child protection plan for a second or subsequent time, and the number of child protection plans over two years duration, have improved but remain higher than the previous year, so continue to subject to close monitoring and scrutiny.
Following discussion at Cabinet on 9 October 2014, further analysis had been carried out in relation to the correlation between referrals and actual children / families. This analysis had been based on the year to date i.e. 1 April to 30 September 2014. During this period, there were 1082 referrals which progressed to a single assessment. This cohort could be broken down as follows:-
1032 children (some children were referred more than once)
872 children with one or more siblings
This cohort includes some large sibling groups eg 1 x 8 children, 1 x 7 children, 1 x 6 children and 4 x 5 children.
|Consideration was given to a report on the Children and Young People Scrutiny Review - School Admission and School Organisation Priorities Including the Consultation Document for Admission of Pupils to Primary and Secondary Schools in September 2016.|
Attached to the report was a consultation document including appendices and maps that outlined the admission arrangements the Local Authority (LA) was proposing for primary and secondary schools in September 2016. In order to comply with legislation for admissions in 2016, the consultation document included the full Co-ordinated Admission Arrangements and Admission Numbers for Primary and Secondary Schools for that year in addition to two priorities focussing on:-
(i) The proposed admission zones changes to primary schools in Ingleby Barwick
(ii) The proposed admission zone changes to secondary schools in the South of the Borough
On 20 November, the Children and Young People Select Committee were provided with finalised proposals following pre-statutory consultation prior to the statutory consultation commencing. The Select Committee noted that during the pre-statutory consultation period, the proposals had evolved to take on board feedback from schools and parents. The Select Committee commended officers on the transparency and inclusivity of the pre-statutory consultation process, commenting that the consultation had been a genuine and worthwhile exercise resulting in improved proposals. The Committee were satisfied that the revised proposals for statutory consultation had taken on board comments received and commend them to Cabinet for approval.
The Committee also welcomed the inclusion of a summary and highlighted changes in the consultation document and supported the holding of public meetings in January as part of the consultation in addition to consultation with Parish Councils.
|Consideration was given to a report that provided 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 in response to this. |
Following the recession in 2008 Stockton Council's ambition remained the same; to create a borough that was more confident, vibrant and successful than ever before; where business and people prosper and grow. To do this the Council must understand the nature and extent of opportunities and challenges that exist within Stockton's economy.
The monthly update report enabled a focused account to be made of any recent changes to economic circumstances (both positive and negative), the direct impact that this may be having on the Borough, and the responses and mitigations either in place or being developed to support businesses and residents. Attached to the report was a summary of those changes and responses.
|Consideration was given to a report that update Members on the continued success and progress of the Northshore mixed use regeneration scheme as per the Northshore Masterplan and sought support for a critical next step that would enable the successful development of the Northshore Gateway site.|
The report updated Members with regard to:-
Homezone Phase 1
Homezone Phase 2
Enterprise Zone Extension
With regard to the key next step, action to enable the purchase of a prominently located building complex the former Kwik Fit site, Church Road, Stockton would facilitate the continued development of the Northshore masterplan. The property was required to complete the ownership of the Northshore Gateway site marked as site A1 as attached to the report thus enabling its future development. The property itself was considered to be in a dilapidated state of repair having stood empty for several years. The building was therefore detrimental to not only the development of Northshore but in close proximity to the Town Centre on a route directly leading to the High Street of detriment to the significant private investment being made by adjacent business on Church Road.
Continued efforts had been made by the Northshore Development Partnership in attempting to acquire the former Kwik Fit property. An opportunity existed to facilitate the purchase of the property via a partnership approach. The devised approach was to secure the building via a combination of HCA funding support and the use of Council CPO powers. Finally to be followed by a transfer of property to HCA ownership thus completing the assembly of the Northshore gateway site. Active negotiations continued to take place with the property owners on behalf of the NSDP with the aim of completing a commercial deal without the added delay of a CPO procedure. The present owner having been in control of the property for some considerable time is fully aware of the Northshore Regeneration plans and maintained an unrealistically high valuation of the property; as a result agreement to a commercial sale may prove difficult to conclude. Whilst all attempts at negotiation were to continue, the Council must be prepared, to use its Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers to support the ongoing implementation of the Northshore masterplan.
On this basis it was recommended that cabinet approve a commitment to undertake a CPO process, through the development of a business case as a key step to the use of the Council's CPO powers under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (Section 226(1)(a)) and the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 in order to acquire all necessary interests and approve the use of all actions and orders etc. that may be necessary to then deliver the CPO.
Whilst no firm timescales could be given should the CPO process be required to proceed, it was anticipated that the likely time frame from Cabinet approving a CPO process to developing a detailed CPO case with a view to gaining vacant possession of the property was likely to be in the order of 12- 18 months, however timescales were variable and would be impacted by a number of factors (i.e. if any objections are received / the need for a Public Inquiry etc.).
The Northshore Development Partnership had identified the gateways site as a potential location for a new Hotel development. It was anticipated that a Hotel development in this location would benefit both the Town Centre and complement the Globe Theatre development. Northshore partners sought to commission an independent market and financial feasibility study for the development of a new hotel at Northshore with the gateway site a preferred location within the development. A study would assess present and future demand for lodgings and such other hotel facilities as public areas, function and syndicate rooms, food and beverage outlets, and leisure facilities. The study would also encompass an evaluation of operating models income generation and expenses for five or ten year projections for return upon investment and demand analysis for rooms of a given competitive type for a designated catchment area of Stockton / Tees Valley.
The independent hotel market study outlined was a pre requisite to the design and development of a detailed development brief and design scheme for the site. A feasible end scheme was a key pre requisite of any CPO process.
|Consideration was given to a report on a proposal to locate a community centre on village six, to land south of Barwick Lane, Ingleby Barwick.|
In February 2010, a revised Development Brief for villages five and six at Ingleby Barwick was produced to guide developers and builders in preparation of detailed proposals for the final stages of development. This included a number of pocket parks for open space provision.
As a result of consultation, a desire for the consolidation of public open space, as opposed to pocket parks' was identified, so to maximise the visual effect and potential usage. It was proposed that village six could potentially incorporate a community centre, alongside this open space, at a confluence of cycle routes and a highly visible position for the growing community.
The area originally allocated for this community centre was along Barwick Green Lane which served as a major pedestrian and cycle link through the development connecting existing development to the east to the Heritage Park and Tees Valley.
Planning Permission was granted to Persimmon for residential development at Hazeldene / Ashbrook / The Rings subject to a planning obligation (pursuant to a section 106 agreement) to create an area of open space / play area and include an area of land to be retained for a proposed community facility. Persimmon was obliged, under that agreement, to transfer the open space and community land, to Stockton Borough Council (the Council) if so required.
Over time, it became apparent that the original site may not be the most advantageous for easy and safe highways access and surveillance of a community centre, and so the Council reviewed site options.
The Council identified an area of open space that would be acceptable for residential development, within Persimmon's ownership, that was otherwise required to be set out as open space in accordance with the masterplan referred to abov. Persimmon agreed, following negotiations with the Council, that in return for the grant of planning permission to build houses on this parcel of land they would allocate an equivalent area of land within the same site (known as the Sandgate / Sandview development) for the proposed community facilities. In accordance with this agreement Persimmon removed a section of land previously planned for housing development from their application for the Sandgate / Sandview development and identified it as being the site of the potential community centre, which was the Council's preferred location for such a facility. The proposal would also require a variation to an existing section 106 agreement with Persimmon for the release of the requirement to protect the original area for the community building and this whole area would remain as open space.