|Members considered a report which set out the findings and recommendations from the Arts, Leisure and Culture Select Committees scrutiny review of River Based Leisure Facilities. The review examined the progress made since the construction of the Tees Barrage in relation to river based recreational activities. The review encompassed a wide ranging consultation of those involved in river based leisure provision and the Committee made recommendations in order make further improvements to use of the Boroughs major natural asset.|
|Members considered a report which set out the findings and recommendations from the Environment Select Committees scrutiny review of Wastes Management and Recycling. There was a slight change of wording made to a recommendation in the Select Committees report. |
A comprehensive scrutiny review of waste management took place during 2004/05 which identified further work for the Select Committee to undertake including a review of the outcome of the kerbside plastics and cardboard recycling trial. In addition, there had been a number of national and local developments as well as stretching new national performance indicators.
The overall aim of the review was to achieve real improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of waste collection and disposal services and to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill sites, whilst maintaining or improving customer satisfaction in the service.
|Members considered the report by Children and Young People Select Committee regarding their investigation of a decline in pupil numbers in primary schools in Stockton Borough which meant that pupil numbers in secondary schools were beginning to decline. It was expected that it would be necessary to remove up to 1500 secondary places.|
|Members considered a report that set out the findings and recommendations from the Regeneration and Transport Select Committees review of the Sustainable School Travel Strategy. The report examined home to school travel and transport in the borough; the take-up and effectiveness of school travel plans amongst Stocktons schools; the travel and transport and facilitating measures necessary to assist in the effective provision of safe and sustainable school travel in Stockton; governance issues surrounding sustainable school travel; and links to the Building Schools for the Future programme. Members noted the importance for School Travel Plans to be a standing item on each School Governing Body meeting, to ensure that these be developed.|
|Members were presented with a reported regarding the reorganisation of education for children with Behaviour, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD). It was noted that consultation had taken place on a possible proposal to close King Edwin School and develop Westlands School as the single specialist centre in the borough for students with BESD. The proposal arose from a review of provision for students with complex needs carried out in 2006.|
A consultation paper was distributed to interested parties and meetings were held at King Edwin School for parents and carers and for school staff. The issue was also discussed at a meeting of the Interim Executive Board, the body acting as governing body for the school.
Members were informed that parents and staff expressed concerns over potential disruption to the education of vulnerable young people who found any change of routine unsettling. The timing of the proposal was also questioned. Some parents were not convinced that Westlands School would offer a better service for their children. Members of staff at King Edwin contrasted their own position - facing potential redundancy - with the security of Westlands staff, and suggested an alternative proposal involving closing both schools and establishing a single new BESD school.
The consultation carried out was the first stage of statutory consultation, and it was noted that if it was agreed to proceed to the second stage of consultation, the results of that consultation would be presented to Cabinet in July 2008. Members took into account the outcome of the first stage of consultation before considering whether to proceed to the second stage by publishing a Statutory Notice.
|Members considered the nominations to school Governing Bodies in accordance with the procedure for the appointment of school governors, approved as Minute 84 of the Cabinet (11th May 2000).|
|Cabinet considered a report relating to Green Infrastructure Strategies for the Tees Valley and Stockton.|
It was explained that Green infrastructure was the network of open spaces, countryside, rivers, lakes and street trees within and between our towns and villages. It included both public and private assets.
A number of key regional strategies highlighted the multiple benefits provided by green infrastructure and the important role it could play in the economic, social and environmental regeneration of the North East and its city-regions.
The Tees Valley Green Infrastructure Strategy set out a vision for a strategic green infrastructure network across the sub-region.
Members noted some of the benefits of Green Infrastructure
Provide a high quality environment which encourages businesses to remain in the area and helps to generate inward investment.
Enhance landscape and townscape, and provide an attractive setting for new development.
Improve environmental sustainability, contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation. For example, greenspaces can provide water storage capacity and natural flood defences; tree cover contributes to cooler urban microclimates and improved air quality.
Promote health and well-being, for example, by providing opportunities for passive and active recreation, sport and childrens play.
Provide safe spaces for people to socialise and a focus for community-based projects and events, helping to create a sense of local pride and promoting community cohesion.
Contribute to the areas tourism offer, providing new and improved visitor destinations and enhanced connectivity.
Promote sustainable transport through the provision of cycle and footpath networks and linkages to public transport.
Enhance biodiversity and conserve local heritage.
Provide opportunities for education and training.
Contribute to local food production and provide opportunities for the production of renewable energy.
Members were informed that the Tees Valley Joint Strategy Unit had led on the development of a Green Infrastructure Strategy on behalf of a wider partnership comprising all five Tees Valley Local Authorities, Natural England, the Environment Agency, North East Community Forests and Cabe Space.
A copy of the final version of the Strategy was provided to Cabinet.
It was explained that the strategys vision was to develop, by 2021, a network of green corridors and green spaces.
The Strategy outlined a network of 17 Strategic Green Infrastructure Corridors across the Tees Valley, linking existing environmental resources with strategic priorities such as major redevelopment schemes, housing market renewal areas, and areas of new housing and business development. Details of the strategic green infrastructure network for Stockton were provided.
Cabinet noted that the Key priorities for each corridor would need to be reflected in Local Development Frameworks, other local strategic plans and regeneration schemes. An Implementation Plan for the Tees Valley Green Infrastructure Strategy was also being developed with input from all major partners. The Plan would:
Summarise existing and planned strategic green infrastructure projects and initiatives.
Identify gaps and new opportunities.
Provide an indicative timetable for implementation.
Identify potential funding sources (One NorthEast have initially allocated £500,000 in 2008/09 through the Tees Valley City Region Investment Plan, but a variety of other funding and delivery mechanisms will need to be employed).
Set out arrangements for monitoring progress and reviewing priorities.
The strategic framework included an Infrastructure Strategy specific to Stockton. The Strategy would focus on the development and sustainable management of green infrastructure and include a spatial planning element identifying key assets and opportunities. The long-term aim would be to develop networks of multifunctional and connected green and blue space across the Borough.
Members noted the purpose and broad objectives of Stocktons strategy.
Cabinet were given details of the next steps and anticipated timescales which would see the final version of the Strategy and Action Plan published in April 2009.
It was proposed that a Strategy Working Group be established involving a number of external partners who could be invited to play an active role in the development of the Strategy, including:
North East Community Forests
Tees Valley Wildlife Trust
Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)
In addition a number of sections of the Council should be represented on the Working Group.
It was agreed that it was important that the Strategy was underpinned by a robust evidence base. Existing information and planned new research included:
A Borough-wide Recreation and Leisure Survey, completed in March 2008.
Viewpoint Surveys and the Stockton-on-Tees Residents Survey.
A review of the existing Open Space Audit data and other existing spatial data held by the Council and its partners. This will be supplemented by additional green infrastructure mapping as required.
A review of the Boroughs Local Wildlife Sites, to be completed by August 2008.
A proposed Landscape/Townscape Character Assessment
|Consideration was given to a report that provided details of the delivery of Small Environmental Improvements during 2007/2008.|
Members were reminded that in February 2007 the Members Advisory Panel approved the protocol for the Small Environmental Improvements Budget and the dividing of the Capital Programme budget allocation of £400,000 per year for 2 years (2007/08 & 2008/09) between the wards on the basis of population per ward.
This approach represented a significant change in the delivery of local priorities and services, in that communities, through their ward councillors, were able to influence the public realm improvements in their own areas.
Cabinet noted that in February 2008 a further allocation of £400,000 per year was approved for a further 2 years - 2009/10 & 2010/11.
It was explained that across the 26 Borough wards a total of 92 projects were carried out, these projects varied in size from the installation of a single waste bin to the creation of additional car parking areas. Specific details of the schemes undertaken were provided to Members.
From the allocation of £400,000 for 2007/08 the projects implemented were projected to expend £370,000 by the end of March 2008, leaving £30,000. The remaining funding would be rolled forward into 2008/09 and added to the appropriate wards allocation.
Members were provided with details of some of the feedback received relating to the programme:
Several Members had highlighted the size of the available budget as a major constraint for the programme, given the amount of requests received.
Requests for additional parking provision is the most popular request received from members of the public.
Certain schemes require a greater level of investigation, involving several sections/disciplines of the Council and the development of a detailed design to ensure the scheme meets the necessary specifications for adoption. In some cases it had been necessary to apply for details of the locations of utility apparatus, this can take up to 8 weeks.
Officers required as much detail as possible for requested schemes to assist in the assessment and costing of the particular scheme.
It was better to implement certain schemes at certain times during the year.
Several Members identified large scheme, which exceeded the annual allocation for their ward. They welcomed the opportunity to use the following years allocation to ensure that these schemes could be implemented. However, the combining of annual allocations were not appropriate when there was an election scheduled in the following year.
The need for Members to indicate the level of consultation was essential prior to requests being processed.
Cabinet was provided with changes in ward population which would result in a change of funding allocation, effective from 1st April 2009. It was suggested that this be reviewed every 2 years. Members noted received representations suggesting that the current allocation criteria be examined with consideration being given to allocations being based on actual need.
It was noted that the type of works for the Small Environmental Improvements Budget carried significant legal and liability issues, simply because such works existed within the public domain. It was therefore important that contractors that were used were properly covered in legal, insurance and quality terms. In addition, construction regulations, highway and traffic law (including accredited Street Works status) had to be adhered to and maintenance liabilities, procurement practices and Health and Safety regulations had to be understood. The Council remained liable for such works and activities within the public domain. Consequently, any schemes should be agreed and delivered through the Council professional services of both Direct and/or Technical services as appropriate.
|Members considered a report that sought approval in principle for a scheme designed to link Ingleby Barwick with Eaglescliffe, Preston Park, Thornaby and Yarm via a series of pedestrian and cycle routes, including new bridges across the Rivers Leven and Tees.|
It was explained that as a result of a successful bid for Big Lottery funding in December 2007, Sustrans had secured £50 million of grant funding for Connect2, a national initiative designed to link communities currently severed by a physical barrier such as a road, river or railway. Each of the 79 Connect2 schemes across the UK would receive a share of the grant over the five years from 2008/09 to 2012/13 inclusive, with the Council receiving £600,000 towards the cost of the scheme proposed within the Borough.
Cabinet noted that the Council had worked with Sustrans to develop a Connect2 scheme. Members noted the main features of the scheme:-
A new footpath/cycleway bridge across the River Leven between Ingleby Barwick and Yarm (Link 1);
A new footpath/cycleway bridge across the River Tees between Ingleby Barwick and Eaglescliffe (Link 2);
A new footpath/cycleway between Ingleby Barwick and Thornaby (Link 3); and
A new footpath/cycleway Ingleby Barwick and Preston Park via the existing Jubilee Bridge (Link 4).
Subsequently the Council had carried out an outline feasibility study, which identified a number of potential route alignments for the two proposed bridge crossings, together with an initial cost estimate of £6.3 million.
Members representing the Wards directly affected by the proposed scheme have been updated on progress. A public consultation exercise was carried out through the Winter 2007 and the level of support for the scheme was high.
The landowners affected by the proposed routes had been identified and most broadly supported the proposed links.
Cabinet was asked to give its approval of the proposed scheme in principle.
Members noted that in order to take the scheme forward, an outline Project Plan had been developed to deliver the scheme by 2012/13. The Project Plan sets out the key tasks associated with delivery of each of the four proposed links, together with an indicative timescale in each case.
For practical reasons, a phased approach to the delivery of the scheme hasd been adopted. The target year for completion of each Link was as follows:
Link 4 (Ingleby Barwick to Preston Park): 2009/10
Link 3 (Ingleby Barwick to Thornaby): 2010/11
Link 1 (Ingleby Barwick to Yarm): 2012/13
Link 2 (Ingleby Barwick to Eaglescliffe): 2012/13
It was explained that effective management of risk would be crucial to the successful delivery of the scheme, and Members were appraised of some of the key potential risks to delivery of each of the four proposed links.
Members were informed that it was intended that an External Project Board would be established to maximise engagement with key stakeholders and reduce the risks to delivery of the scheme
Sustrans had requested detailed information prior to issuing a Memorandum of Understanding, which will set out the conditions governing the release of the £600,000 of Big Lottery funding for Links 1 and 2 over the next five years. As this contribution would cover only a small proportion of the overall scheme cost, work was also underway to identify and secure the other ingredients in the overall funding cocktail.
Should it prove impossible to secure sufficient funding the possibility of meeting part of the cost of the scheme from the Councils own resources may need to be considered.
A further Report would be brought to Cabinet in February 2009, by which time a more detailed funding strategy for the scheme would have been developed.
|Members considered a report that set out for members changes to the RSS and the Councils response. Members noted that, due to the consultation period expiring on the 2nd April, Council officers had submitted the comments detailed in the report. Cabinet was therefore asked to note and endorse the reports contents|
The number of net additional dwellings in the region, over the period 2004 -2021, was to be increased from 112,000 to 128,900. This change was considered necessary because of revised population projections, which identified international migration as a main factor in sustaining housing growth. Cabinet noted that these figures did not represent a ceiling and LDFs could make a case for a higher figure as appropriate. It was envisaged that sufficient brownfield land had been identified to accommodate this increased scale of growth and no major greenfield allocations would be necessary.
The revised regional figure would result in an additional 36,325 for the Tees Valley sub-region an increase of 2,465 in the proposed changes (May 2007), see table 1 below. This increase was in line with representations made previously by the Tees Valley Joint Strategy Unit on behalf of the 5 Tees Valley Authorities.
Members were provided with details of how the additional dwellings had been redistributed throughout the Tees Valley.
The revised figures allowed for an average additional 25 dwellings per annum, within Stockton on Tees Borough. The 2007 version of the RSS frontloaded the majority of dwellings into the earlier phase of the plan period, with the latter phase having a more limited level of growth. The revised figures provided a more balanced provision of dwellings over the plan period with reduced growth in the first phase and higher growth later on in the plan period.
Changes to the RSS included the number of pitches required to 2020 for Gypsies and Travellers by groups of Local Authorities. Stockton Borough had been grouped together with Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Darlington (Hartlepool was grouped together with Easington and Sedgefield). A total of 51 additional pitches were considered to be required.
However, paragraph 23 of circular 01/06 states that, The RSS revision should identify the number of pitches required (but not their location) for each Local Planning Authority in the light of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments and a strategic view of needs across the region. The approach in the RSS was therefore not in accordance with advice in the Circular
Policy 32 had also been altered, in accordance with circular 01/06, to include a requirement for LDFs to plan, monitor and manage the provision and release of pitches for Gypsies, Travellers and Show-people communities. A Tees Valley Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs assessment was commissioned in July 2007. This would identify pitch requirements by local authority area and inform the LDF in terms of future pitch provision.
In view of the above officers had submitted the following representation
Amend table in paragraph 3.89 to provide Gypsy and Traveller Numbers by each Local Authority rather than groupings.
Pitch requirements should be updated by Tees Valley study
There were a number of errors on a map relating to the Tees Valley City Region, these included the locations of, North Shore; Wynyard Business Park; the A66 trunk road; Darlington - Saltburn branch railway line and; Durham Tees Valley Airport, all being identified in the wrong location. In addition some settlement names were located erroneously which had also resulted in the extent of the conurbation, to the south of the borough, being geographically incorrect.
Officers had therefore advised Government Office North East of the necessary amendments.
Members noted that changes to the employment land section of the document were minimal and it was not considered that any representations were required on this section. However, Members were advised of certain changes to terminology and descriptions.
|Consideration was given to a report relating to the redevelopment of the Shambles Market Hall, Stockton.|
It was explained that the Shambles was a Grade II listed building within the historic environment of Stockton High Street. Members noted that the building currently housed small kiosk units, together with a small central office block for the Markets Service. Today, the units are too small for many types of business and no longer suitable for fresh produce. The central markets office blocks the sightlines inside the building, making it seem unfriendly and the un-let units serve to add to the negative impression.
It was therefore proposed that the building return to its former use as a permanent indoor market selling fresh produce but with adaptations that make it fit for this purpose in the 21st century. To ensure that the facility creates a vibrant addition to the existing mix, it was also proposed to attract into the new building high quality, specialist and niche food retailers including organic and fair trade goods and local produce. In order to undertake the development, there was a requirement for the Council to borrow monies to supplement existing funds. Capital Strategy Group had endorsed the proposal.
Cabinet was provided with a floor plan and elevation showing the proposed redevelopment of the building. Members noted that:-
The central blockage created by the markets office was removed, returning the main thoroughfare;
The existing units would be doubled in depth, with a sales area to the front and a storage/preparation area to the rear, making them more commercially viable;
Each unit had its own metered supply of mains services;
The cash office facility was retained but relocated;
The award winning toilets were not compromised and would still be serviced by a warden;
Each unit was flexible in its usage and several could be joined together if required to accommodate a larger business.
The new development incorporates a cash office at the south end of the building which would be used to collect rents on market days. This would be constructed first, allowing the existing cash office to be demolished without interrupting the secure operation of the markets.
It was explained that following the redevelopment, it was proposed that the Town Centre Management and Markets Service would take over management of this facility and collect rents. Appropriate controls would be put in place to ensure that the new occupants operated in accordance with the Councils aspirations for the building, with regular inspections to ensure compliance with Environmental Health regulations and Trading Standards legislation and more general rules for occupation enforceable via the terms of lease and appropriate conditions thereto.
It was proposed that new, high quality appropriate signage would be designed and erected on or adjacent to the building, identifying The Shambles as an indoor market and the hub of the newly renovated outdoor market, known as The Queen of the North. This would be designed and produced in accordance with the regulations regarding listed buildings, and would be agreed in advance with the Planning Conservation officer.
Members agreed that there was a requirement for a highly proactive marketing campaign to raise awareness of the changes and to recruit new traders that fitted with the profile described and to fulfil the Councils aspirations for the new-look market hall. It was explained that this was already underway and a range of methods were being employed including , web and magazine advertising, and a highly targeted telesales marketing campaign to secure interest from targeted businesses in the region. This had already produced some keen interest.
Capital remaining from the markets redevelopment programme approved by Council totalling £91,000 had been earmarked to undertake this development. Further Prudential borrowing of £180,000 was required which would allow the project to go ahead. Prudential borrowing would be funded over a 10 year repayment period via projected increased income due to the rental uplift achievable post-redevelopment.
|Members considered a proposal to develop a themed Christmas Festival and Market of regional significance over the next 3 years in Stockton.|
Cabinet was reminded of the contribution the Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF) and Billingham International Folklore Festival made to the Boroughs profile and economy.
However, both of these exceptional events took place within a short period of time over the summer months. Recognising this, and the need to provide shoppers and visitors with a reason to choose Stockton town centre as their destination during the Christmas season, in 2006 the Stockton Sparkles Christmas Festival was launched, the primary purpose of which was to enhance and support the retail offer in Stockton town centre at Christmas, thereby positively influencing the decision of Christmas shoppers to come to Stockton. Having completed two successful years, Stockton Sparkles was ready to move forward to become a high profile festival of regional significance, to complement the quality of the summer festivals.
Stockton Town Centre had a well known and well used market, which provided a range of convenience and comparison goods 52 weeks a year. Stocktons market continued to remain at capacity with a waiting list of potential stallholders, and offers a good range of products for customers to choose from. Markets were key to Stocktons ability to attract and keep new customers who would not otherwise have come to the town centre.
Taking the above into account it was proposed that a high quality, well managed and publicised Christmas market, as a four-day focus of Stocktons Christmas Festival celebrations be developed, supplemented by a programme of entertainments, musical performances and attractions on a much larger scale than achieved by the Stockton Sparkles festival to date forming a solid basis for an annual event. This would grow to become regionally, even nationally, significant over the years and would play a key role in ensuring the vitality, viability and attractiveness of Stockton town centre at this crucial time of year for retailers whilst sending a strong signal to potential investors that there was sufficient footfall to justify their investment in regenerating the town centre.
Members noted that the proposal had the full support of the Regional Development Agency, One North East.
Cabinet noted the positive impact a successful Christmas Market had on the economies of other towns and cities in the UK, such as Bath and Lincoln.
The involvement of local businesses was considered important to the ongoing viability of such festivals and Members noted that there were a number of ways for the event to sit alongside the existing market and other retailers. Plans would be discussed through the Markets Forum and the Retail Forum and a nominated representative of the market traders encouraged to sit on the steering group developing the event.
In 2008 the event would set out to deliver
An exciting, pleasurable and safe family day out
A range of new customers for Stockton town centre
An environment which would stimulate the senses and encourage people to buy
A day out for local people and visitors from further afield
An atmosphere of vibrancy, activity and celebration
An event which would raise awareness of Stockton and change perceptions locally, regionally and nationally.
Members considered the key elements of the festival and noted possible attractions/activities under the following broad headings:
Creating a Buzz
Celebrating multiple cultures
It was felt that the entire festival would be extremely beneficial in helping to change perceptions of Stockton and reinforce its forte as the home of great markets, where there was always something going on, making it a place to visit, not just a place to shop. Retailers, hospitality providers and other associated town centre businesses would benefit from the additional footfall and spend generated. In particular, the aim was to improve the dwell time of visitors (how long they stay in town) to ensure that businesses benefited.
Cabinet noted the additional infrastructure that would be required. For example:
- Car parking (local provision combined with remote park and ride; alternatives for local workforce)
- Coach drop off and waiting facilities, with booking system
- Road closures, bus diversions
- power distribution (market stalls, area / local lighting, specialist for events)
- Bespoke stalls, e.g. wooden huts, pop ups
- temporary toilets
- Additional rubbish collection / disposal
It was proposed that the 4-day event would occupy a number of sites across the town centre area, in much the same way as Riverside Festival occupies different areas for different types of performance. In October 2007 preliminary site visits were carried out on potential areas where activities could be located. Since that time, further planning had taken place which has identified the type of activities best suited to these prime locations. These areas were identified, see below, and Members were provided with details of their inherent advantages and disadvantages.
a. Stockton High Street
b. Parish Church & Parish Gardens
c. Church Road/Splash plazas
d. Green Dragon Yard and the Cultural Quarter
f. Trinity Gardens
h. Wellington Square
i. West of High St (Partnership Scheme (ShiP) area)
Members were informed that there was considerable experience, within Stockton Council, of managing large scale events such as SIRF, events at Preston Park and throughout the Borough, and in the town centre. There was a well established group of officers, and representatives of external bodies (police, fire brigade, ambulance etc), which came together to manage every aspect of such large scale events and this group would oversee the operational aspects of the proposed event.
Marketing and promotion would be essential and would focus on recruiting traders attracting visitors.
A significant advantage was the existence of the Town Centre Joint Promotions Group, part of the Town Centre partnership and the body that already delivered the Stockton Sparkles magazine, the Stockton Sparkles festival and other events and campaigns throughout the year. This group would be in a position to maximise the marketing of the event and through joint funding and sponsorship would achieve greater coverage, and better buy-in from town centre businesses, than would otherwise be achievable. It was proposed that this group oversees the programme of marketing for the event.
The project would be managed by a small but experienced group, which would co-opt additional expertise as required.
It was explained that updates would be provided to the wider Town Centre Event Operations Group (which incorporated town centre ward councillors and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport), and also to the Markets Forum, Retail Forum and the Central Area Partnership Board.
Members noted that the event would be funded for the first three years through capital and revenue investment. Over the period, however, there would be opportunities to generate income through stall rents, sponsorship and fees. Whilst this amount was expected to be small in years 1 & 2, it would be banked and by year 3 the event was expected to have generated sufficient surplus to offset the expenditure required to implement it in year 4. Thereafter, the event should become financially sustainable.
|A report was presented which advised Members of the Tees Valleys bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government for Growth Point status and summarised the potential next steps if the bid was successful.|
On the 2nd November 2007, the Tees Valley Local Authorities submitted a bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) to be designated Growth Point status. 28 bids had been made nationally and all of them were still being considered. A decision on the bid was originally anticipated in mid February and had been delayed several times. It was anticipated that a decision would be made in May 2008.
The requirement for Growth Point status was for the Tees Valley to build at least 20% more new homes than the approved Regional Spatial Strategy target for the period to 2016. To put this into context, the Tees Valley sub region as a whole had to increase its annual house building completions from 2,200 per year to 2,600.
The Tees Valley Growth Point bid was complimentary to the approved Tees Valley Living Housing Market Renewal Strategy. It could most accurately be described as an accelerated development programme, which identified key infrastructure investment necessary to speed up the development of the city region. It maintained the focus on the core of the city region as the priority area for development.
If the bid was successful, the Tees Valley would receive funding from the Community Infrastructure Fund to enable accelerated and increased housing delivery. Although more detail on this was still awaited from the CLG, it was known that the first tranche of funding, £200million nationally, was for transport projects. This would be followed by the main funding pot to fund site assembly costs including contamination, infrastructure and environmental improvements. The main pot of funding available was £1.7billion nationally and would be shared between the existing 29 Round 1 Growth Point areas and the successful Round 2 areas once announced. Although it was still not known how much the Tees Valley could be allocated, it had been estimated that the initial transport fund could be in the region of £12m to £20m.
Growth Point status would also provide the opportunity for more affordable homes for sale and rent as it was the Councils policy for developers to provide 15% affordable homes on all sites over 15 units.
The Growth Point bid was still very much work in progress. As part of the submission the Tees Valley Local Authorities were required to provide details of a range of indicative sites with the potential to accelerate and increase housing completions. The Stockton Borough sites were:
Green Blue Heart
The indicative sites included were those which were known to be being brought forward for development up to the period 2016. The identification of the sites was to demonstrate that the sub region could deliver an accelerated and additional housing development programme in order to seize the opportunity of the invitation to bid. The bid contained a clear caveat that all sites would be subject to due diligence and their inclusion as part of this initial expression of interest stage would not prejudice the planning process or mean they would be part of the final approved programme.
If successful, the next stage would be to start reviewing in more detail the feasibility of the sites listed and to make any necessary amendments to the programme in light of any change in circumstances and potential new sites identified in the developing Strategic Housing Land Assessment (SHLA). As part of this process, the individual Ward Members for all of the proposed sites would be consulted.
The allocation of the Community Infrastructure Fund would be managed through the Tees Valley Unlimited structure. Further details on this will be reported to Cabinet in the future if successful.
|Cabinet considered a report that introduced the Councils draft Community Strategy and requested the approval of it and its action plan.|
The importance of Community Cohesion had become magnified in the wake of the unrest in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 and the London terrorist attacks of 2005. These events had prompted the government to set up the Commission on Integration and Cohesion to make recommendations for improving cohesion across the country. This report Our Shared Future was released in the autumn of 2007 and had informed the development of the draft strategy.
The Commission identified a cohesive community as one where there was a shared sense of individual rights and responsibilities, those from different backgrounds had similar opportunities and strong positive relationships, where there was a strong sense of trust in local institutions and a focus on common values. This cohesiveness could be influenced by amongst other issues, population characteristics, crime, satisfaction and deprivation levels as well as perceived and actual discrimination.
In Stockton on Tees, the key issues which could influence community cohesion were levels of resident satisfaction, levels of deprivation in some areas and perceptions of crime and anti-social behaviour.
In order to prevent a breakdown in Community Cohesion in the Borough, Stockton Renaissance established a Community Cohesion task group with representation from across all sectors in the partnership, to develop the Boroughs Community Cohesion Strategy.
This strategy had been developed and approved by Stockton Renaissance. It outlined the key themes for promoting community cohesion in Stockton-on-Tees. These were:
Promoting equality of opportunity
Community well-being and pride
Meeting needs and aspirations
Celebrating diversity and commonality
Reducing conflict and tension
These themes ensured the strategy was in line with the recommendations of the Commission but were also reflective of the boroughs unique circumstances.
The action plan to accompany the strategy had been developed through a process of consultation with the various thematic partnerships of Renaissance who had adopted the draft strategy and agreed actions, milestones and dates where appropriate.
Delivery against the strategy and its action plan would be supported by the Councils Diversity Team with progress being reported on a bi-annual basis.
Cabinet was provided with copies of the draft strategy and action plan.
|Cabinet was requested to appoint Members to various outside bodies. It was noted the nomination on the report for Stockton Renaissance Health and Wellbeing Partnership. |
No nominations had been received for a member to the Independent Living Steering Group and a substitute member for North East Strategic Migration Partnership and these were deferred to the groups for nominations.
|Consideration was given to the minutes of the meetings of Area Partnership Boards and Tees Valley Living Board. |
|Consideration was given to a report that provided details of the implications of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.|
It was explained that the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force on 6 April 2008. The Act provided a new offence of Corporate Manslaughter to apply to Companies, Government Departments, Local Authorities and similar bodies, Police Forces and certain unincorporated Associations.
The Act was essentially concerned with health and safety and increased the scope of prosecutions where there was a fatality.
Under previous law, a Company could only be convicted of manslaughter where a directing mind of the organisation could be identified. In practice that meant a senior individual who could be said to embody the company in his actions and decisions. Such an individual was easier to identify in a small organisation than a large organisation. This was one of the reasons why manslaughter charges were dismissed against Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council following the deaths from Legionella of seven people in 2002. In that case, the Judge expressed doubt that even the Chief Executive could be the directing mind of the Local Authority. Despite the charges of manslaughter being dismissed, both the Council and a Senior Manager involved were convicted of health and safety offences. The Manager was fined £15,000, the Council £125,000 and the Council was ordered to pay £90,000 in costs. Therefore, it was important to note that the new offence of Corporate Manslaughter would complement and run alongside other charges such as breaches of health and safety legislation and possibly a manslaughter charge against an individual.
Liability for the new offence depends on a finding of gross negligence in the way in which the activities of the organisation are run. It was explained that an offence would be committed where an organisation owed a duty to take reasonable care for a persons safety and the way in which the organisations activities had been managed or organised, by its senior management, amounted to a gross breach of that duty and caused the persons death.
Members noted that the Act was designed to target management failures by senior managers. It focused on the arrangements and practices made by senior managers for carrying out the Councils functions. Individuals that were identified as being responsible or the cause of the management failure must have played significant roles in that failure, ie a decisive and influential role, not a minor or supporting role.
Senior management was defined as those persons who played significant roles in:-
the making of decisions about how the whole or a substantial part of its activities are to be managed or organised, or
the actual managing or organising of the whole or a substantial part of those activities.
The definition would therefore include strategic decision-makers (Chief Executive, Directors and Cabinet Members) and those who actually manage the activity or function (Heads of Service and possibly third or even fourth tier Officers).
In terms of risk management, the Councils procedures and risk management systems were well established and regularly reviewed, however, the Council was advised to :-
carry out a Corporate risk assessment of the likely exposure under the Act
ensure that the Chief Executive, Directors, Heads of Service and other senior managers understood their responsibility for ensuring all risks had been adequately identified and mitigated
strengthen Leadership on Health & Safety
ensure correct policies and procedures were established and enforced to prevent serious incidents from occurring and to continually monitor, audit and review Service activities
ensure that the corporate culture supported and reinforced the policies and procedures
provide effective training for all relevant employees, agency staff and volunteers
ensure effective record keeping
consider adopting a protocol for dealing and responding to a fatality in the workplace
develop an Action Plan to minimise the risks that were identified.
Where Managers had reasonable safeguards in place and a death nonetheless occurred, no liability would arise.
A conviction for Corporate Manslaughter may result in one or more of the following:-
an unlimited fine
an Order that required the management failure to be remedied
an Order requiring publicity about the conviction, the particulars of the offence, the amount of any fine and details of any remedial Order
an Order for the costs of the legal proceedings to be paid by the convicted party.
Cabinet was reminded that the Council had reviewed its insurance and indemnity arrangements in respect of Members and Officers in March 2006. The Scheme of Indemnity for Members and Officers was provided to Members. In relation to criminal offences, an indemnity was available provided that the action or failure to act that gave rise to the offence was taken in good faith. However, if an Officer or Member was convicted of a criminal offence and that conviction was not overturned following any appeal, the Officer or Member was required to reimburse the costs and any sums incurred by the Council in relation to the proceedings.
|Cabinet considered a report that examined the impact on Local Strategic Partnerships of changes in the national and local context, exploring the role of Stockton Renaissance post Neighbourhood Renewal Funding and opportunities offered by the governments introduction of the Area Based Grant.|
Members noted that the governments Comprehensive Spending Review introduced a new non-ring-fenced Area Based Grant or ABG. The ABG contained a range of grants including a Working Neighbourhoods Fund which had been seen as the successor to neighbourhood renewal funding. The inclusion of this grant within the ABG made it different to NRF in two important ways-
§ The grant was allocated to the Council and not the LSP.
§ It was non-fenced and therefore could be spent on a range of priority areas not just worklessness.
Though the Council had flexibility in what it choose to spend the WNF element of the ABG on there was a rational expectation that the fund would be spent on worklessness issues. The Council and Stockton Renaissance has also identified worklessness and employability as key priorities in its new sustainable community strategy and in the emerging Local Area Agreement. The council was therefore keen to use the fund to tackle these issues and to empower Stockton Renaissance in deciding how this element of the councils ABG was spent.
There were several issues which needed to be resolved in order to move forward:
§ The role of the LSP post NRF, including the role of the thematic and area partnerships
§ Finalisation of transitional arrangements for NRF funded schemes
§ The allocation of funding from the ABG to a fund to tackle worklessness for 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11 including any transitional arrangements for Deprived Area Funds (this fund is included in the ABG from 2009)
§ Governance arrangements for commissioning programmes to address the employability/worklessness agenda
Members noted that the Governments published Sub National Review of Economic Development and Regeneration made it clear that developing the economic base of deprived areas required a holistic approach which brought together action at various governance levels - national, regional, sub regional and local. Local strategic partnerships could play a key role in this, bringing together a range of partners to help co-ordinate action on worklessness and enterprise growth including the agreement of relevant targets in LAAs. As the engagement of all partners in the LSP would be important in achieving the regeneration of communities it was proposed to build on the previous arrangements at Stockton by requesting Council to allocate the available funding from the ABG through 2008-2011 into a Communities Fund for the LSP to develop a programme of projects to support this agenda. The LSP would then be responsible for monitoring the projects and reporting performance to the Council through Cabinet. Allocating the funding over three years would allow the LSP the opportunity to offer longer term commissioning opportunities for the voluntary and community sector.
This would support work looking towards the Comprehensive Area Assessment which would focus on outcomes for local people across councils, health bodies, police forces and others responsible for local public services, which were increasingly expected to work in partnership to tackle the challenges facing their communities.
The changes in the way that the ABG money was allocated meant that the Council would need to consider the implications for governance arrangements, including any necessary changes to the Councils Constitution and Scheme of Delegation and Stockton Renaissances Terms of Reference. An amended draft terms of reference for Stockton Renaissance Partnership was provided to Members.
In Stockton a proportion of the NRF was ring-fenced in 2006/07 and 2007/08 specifically for the community led Area Partnerships to allocate, who were tasked to prioritise issues within their areas with reference to the relevant Local Action Plans, Neighbourhood Renewal Floor Targets and community views. The following funding allocations were then given to each of the Area Partnerships for allocation to commissioned projects-
1. Central Area Partnership Board £87,444 p.a.
2. Eastern Area Partnership Board £43,950 p.a.
3. Northern Area Partnership Board £18,606 p.a.
These allocations were calculated according to the Super Output areas based on a total allocation of £150k per annum for the Area Partnerships. This was then split according to the population that the super output areas represented.
To further support and continue to build on the success of this area of work, which involved devolving budgets to local communities, consideration could be given to allowing the Area Partnerships to address their Employment and Worklessness local priorities by allocating a sum of money as previously to commission schemes in their neighbourhoods. It was therefore proposed that, based upon the *formula below, the area partnerships receive in total an indicative allocation of £150,000 in 2008/9 with a further allocation of £153,749 in 2009/10 and £157,592 in 2010/11 with the allocation being targeted at addressing their Employability priorities. This would allow the following allocations-
PLEASE REFER TO ORIGINAL REPORT FOR DETAILS - attached
*Members noted the allocations were worked out on the basis of £150k per annum divided by the total population of the eligible lower super output areas based on the IMD 2007 out of work benefit claims of over 25% across the three areas - then multiplied by the number of people in each of the Area Partnership areas. The allocation has then been increased by 2.5% for each year.
Whilst it was considered important to retain a focus on the most deprived super output areas the non ring-fenced nature of the Area Based Funding meant that there can be a focus on the person rather than the place so there was the opportunity to also provide support for those unemployed people who were previously excluded by the ring-fenced NR geographical criteria i.e. Including those within the Western Area Partnership area. A sum of £18,000 is proposed for the Western Area Partnership in 2008/09, rising to £18450 on 2009/10 and £18,911 in 2010/11
After the NRF projects transitional year associated costs and area partnership allocations are deducted the following amounts would be available from the ABG to go into a Communities Fund to support employability-
PLEASE VIEW ORIGINAL REPORT FOR DETAILS - attached
It was proposed to allocate a small amount of the Communities Fund at this stage to create a new worklessness co-ordinator post within the Council to coordinate activity between all Partners and projects. This post would work at an operational level to enable effective cross-cutting project delivery that fully supported the achievement of Local Area Agreement targets. A budget of £50,000 per year in total would be required for a salary with on-costs and including a small amount of support funding.
Members noted that with regard to the thematic partnerships it was proposed that the Economic Regeneration and Transportation Partnership (ERTP) should work with the Employability Consortium to develop a criteria for allocating the available Communities Fund which would support delivery of the Local Area Agreement employability related targets, cross local authority boundary initiatives such as the Multiple Area Agreement and build upon the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative joint work with Middlesbrough. This approach would maximise the opportunity for any associated reward grant. The criteria would also provide a framework and guidance for the area partnerships in the commissioning of interventions from their allocated funds.
A commissioning process would then be run against the criteria and thematic leads/thematic partnerships (timescales allowing) would be asked to comment on and support the proposed projects to highlight any opportunities for linkages and to avoid any possible duplication of service. Thematic partnerships would have a role in monitoring any subsequently approved cross cutting projects that fell within their theme. The ERTP would then recommend a programme of interventions to the LSP who would recommend it to Cabinet for approval. Monitoring reports would be submitted to the ERTP, LSP and Cabinet every six months.
The proposals would necessitate amendment to the council constitution and scheme of delegation to reflect the new arrangements. In terms of the officer delegation this was likely to include authority for the relevant Corporate Director/Assistant Chief Executive in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member and the Director of Law and Democracy as appropriate to -
§ enter into any contractual arrangements to support the delivery of the approved delivery plan/programme of projects authorise payment and monitor delivery against the above contracts in accordance with the delivery plan
§ authorise changes to the delivery plan/programme for projects within determined limits
§ implement projects which use the Communities Fund and other similar regeneration programmes delegated to Renaissance and its boards for decision.
Cabinet was provided with a table that set out the proposed roles with regard to that element of the ABG that the Council decided to allocate to a Communities Fund.
It was explained that the late announcement of deprivation related funding as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review had meant that there had been little time to develop exit strategies for the 68 crime, children and young people, housing, health and employability schemes delivered through NRF within the borough, approximately half of which was delivered by the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). Similarly there had been little time to develop, agree and implement new arrangements for the non-ring-fenced Working Neighbourhoods Fund (WNF) within the new Area Based Grant.
Members were reminded that through its budget setting process the Council had agreed a transitional year, which allowed the change from NRF schemes to a worklessness programme to be managed without having a significant detrimental effect on those involved, particularly the VCS. Where schemes had been evaluated as successful and no mainstream funding could be found for 2008/09, schemes would be able to continue during 2008/09, funded from the Councils Area Based Grant (ABG). Some of the thematic partnerships were still going through the final stages of agreeing those projects which would continue, however it was anticipated that the cost of the projects would be £2,774,725 or below. Over 71% of the health package projects were going to the Primary Care Trust in late March with a recommendation that they be funded by the PCT from 2008/9 which would mean that 85% (which includes a couple of projects that will be part of the NRF transitional arrangements) of the health package in total would continue.
Cabinet noted that during 2008/09, alternative funding would be sought by the delivering organisations to mainstream / extend the transitional projects where they were deemed to continue to provide value to the borough. Where schemes related to worklessness they might be able to attract further funding from the element of the Area Based Grant that the council would allocate to the Communities Fund. Where alternative funding for projects was not secured, projects would finish at the end of March 2009.
It was considered that the above proposed approach would build upon the previous successful partnership arrangements in the Borough and strengthen both the LSP and community role in working together to deliver the employability agenda.