|Councillor Beall declared a personal, non prejudicial interest in the item entitled Communities Fund Exit Strategy as he was a Member of the Central Area Partnership and Chairman of the Eastern Ravens Trust.|
|The minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 12 January 2012 were agreed.|
|Cabinet considered a report that presented the findings of the Housing and Community Safety Select Committee following the EIT review of Community Safety and Security Services. Members were provided with a copy of the relevant Equality Impact Assessment.|
It was explained that the review had encompassed the following areas within Community Safety and Security Services; ASB Team, Community Safety, Community Safety grants, Security and Surveillance (CCTV, alarm monitoring, etc), Care Call (community alarm service, Telecare, Telehealth, Domicillary Care), Neighbourhood and Enforcement Service, Caretaking Services (Admin Buildings), Town Hall Housekeeping Service, Concierge Security (fully funded by Tristar Homes Ltd).
The overall aim of the review had been to identify options for future strategy, policy and service provision that would deliver efficiency savings while sustaining/improving high quality outcomes for SBC residents. Members of the Select Committee considered that the high performing frontline service benefitted the area and were keen that the need to make efficiency savings did not impact detrimentally on the service. The Committee was also sensitive to planned central government funding cuts to the police as this may feed through to policing in the Borough, which may have a negative impact on crime levels.
The Committee identified a number of vacant posts that if deleted would produce savings.
The Committee also proposed to delete two of the four posts of Senior Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer, and to use the vacancies at the main Neighbourhood Enforcement grade as deployment options for the two people displaced from the senior level. This approach was intended to minimise the impact upon service delivery.
Unions were consulted to discuss the proposal. Other alternatives had been considered, for example, retaining the current four Seniors, or running with three, but it had been concluded that the two Seniors' model was the best option in the circumstances. Discussions then focussed on the criteria and process for selecting two from the remaining three Seniors. The trade unions confirmed that the selection criteria were satisfactory and were advised that an HR Officer and the Community Safety Manager would participate in the selection process to provide additional independent objectivity.
It was noted that 21 of the 26 respondents to the consultation process expressed clear support for this proposal.
Cabinet was informed that Hartlepool Borough Council as lead authority of the Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit (CEPU), had initiated a programme of efficiency measures, with targets for 10% savings for all four local authorities within year 1, i.e 2011/12 (achieved), a further 5% for 2012/13 and a final 5% in 2013/14. The Chief Emergency Planning Officer had put in place a range of measures to achieve these budget reductions in staffing levels and increased income generation through organisation of training programmes. The intention was to make the savings without reducing the level of service to the four authorities. In particular, a full and active programme of updating, testing and exercising statutory emergency plans in respect of the chemical industry would be maintained. Progress of the CEPU savings is being monitored via the Joint Committee on emergency planning;
The Committee had agreed a reduction in the contribution to the
Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit of £7,000
Cabinet noted that, in relation to other costs associated with the above deleted posts, there would be a further reduction to the Services and Supplies Budget.
During debate the work of the Committee and Officers was applauded, particularly in identifying the changes to operational structures, that would have limited impact on frontline services, whilst achieving savings in the region of £152,000. It was suggested that further work be undertaken to focus on residents' satisfaction and service improvement and transformation opportunities.
|Members considered a report relating to the EIT review of Registration & Bereavement Services which had been undertaken to identify ways in which those front-line services could be carried out more effectively and efficiently, having due regard for statute. The review had been carried out as a "Gateway" review under the scrutiny of the Arts, Leisure & Culture Select Committee. Cabinet was also provided with the Equality Impact Assessment that had been developed for this review.|
The review had examined a variety of services that were delivered by Registration & Bereavement services to both residents and non-residents of the Borough. Those included the statutory registration of births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships, conducting of ceremonies for weddings and civil partnerships, the administration of all burials and exhumations within the Borough's cemeteries, approval of memorial applications and the non-statutory services such as naming ceremonies, renewal of vows, family history research and technical and legal advice on the law of burial and exhumation.
Evidence from statutory key performance indicators showed that customer satisfaction levels had remained above the national standard of 90%, with formal complaints maintaining a below average standard against a national figure of 0.5%.
Feedback from stakeholder consultation was strongly in favour of retaining the current set-up of Registration & Bereavement Services, maintaining the satellite office within the University of North Tees Hospital, but indicated a real need to open both service areas all-day Saturday, particularly for death registrations and the giving of Notices of Marriage & Civil Partnership.
It was noted that the service was predominately funded by income generation with a cost to the authority of £30,000 per annum. Due to the highly sensitive nature of the services the review focussed upon service transformation/improvement thereby ensuring that both service performance and customer satisfaction levels remained high.
It was explained that the Arts, Leisure and Culture Select Committee had been supportive of the proposals coming from the review. Members welcomed improvements which would be delivered through the Tell Us Once' service, improvements to the marriage venue and the proposal to retain the satellite registration office at North Tees General Hospital.
It was noted that through the proposals the services would become cost neutral.
During consideration particular reference was made to the Tell Us Once' service and it was noted that when established this service would be promoted appropriately.
|Members considered a report relating to the Borough Wide Parking Strategy. |
The purpose of the report was to provide Cabinet with an outline of the next steps in the delivery of the Borough Wide Car Parking Strategy which had been approved by Cabinet on 8th December 2012. The Borough Wide Car Parking Strategy considered the parking needs of all of the town centres within the borough and included Norton High Street.
The strategy included a series of actions that were appropriate for the individual town centre locations and led to a priority assessment based on need and other activities that were planned for those localities. It was intended that Cabinet be updated at appropriate stages as this action plan was to be delivered across the borough.
Each town centre was moving at a different pace in terms of the changes that had been identified. In response to the Borough Wide Parking Review there had been a focus of attention and the demand for a response to the policy that had been set relating to Yarm town centre. A significant amount of attention had been drawn to the proposals put forward for Yarm and the issues there were longstanding, so it was understandable that early intervention remained a priority.
In view of this Cabinet was provided with an outline of the next steps relating to Yarm. Progress relating to the other town centres and Norton High Street would be reported to Cabinet as appropriate.
Members were informed that there was a clear plan for consulting with businesses, residents, taxi operators, Ward Members and Yarm Town Council through a variety of means, which would help to shape the parking solution, prior to the formal consultation stage being commenced. Through this engagement it was hoped that many of the issues that had been raised, to date, as concerns, would be able to be accommodated in a workable solution.
|Members considered an update report relating to Tees Valley Transport Schemes. |
Members noted the progress with regard to the Tees Valley Bus Network Improvements and Tees Valley Metro projects.
It was explained that within the Tees Valley Metro scheme the Council continued to prioritise the need to bring forward improvements at Allens West, Billingham and Stockton stations and, in particular, Billingham, where a series of environmental improvements had been specifically identified. The lack of disabled access to Billingham station remained a concern and officers continued to work with Network Rail and Northern Rail to look at appropriate long term solutions. Members felt that this issue was a priority and it was agreed that the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport should write to Network Rail setting out the Council's position. It was also agreed that the issue be raised at the relevant Area Transport Group, with a request that it be included within its Transport Plan, as a priority.
Members were also provide with an update on improvements to Thornaby and Eaglescliffe stations and noted progress against the Area Action Plan that had been developed for the trunk road network in the Tees Valley, in partnership with the Highways Agency.
|Cabinet considered a report relating to the Communities Fund employability and skills contracts which were into the third and final year of delivery.|
Members were reminded of the benefits of the Communities Fund and considered opportunities for the Council to continue supporting employability services beyond March 2012.
It was explained that in November 2011, the Deputy Prime Minister announced a £1 billion Youth Contract to help young unemployed people get a job. Over three years from April 2012 the Youth Contract would provide at least 410,000 new work places for 18 to 24 year olds. This included:
160,000 wage subsidies worth up to £2,275 each, for employers who recruit an 18-24 year-old through the Work Programme;
250,000 work experience placements, offering an income replacement benefit equivalent to their Jobseekers Allowance;
at least 20,000 more incentive payments to encourage employers (SMEs) to take on young apprentices. Each incentive payment is worth £1500 to an employer.
Members noted that this support was targeted at those people aged above 18 years of age and currently no initiatives were geared towards those 16 or 17 year olds.
It was agreed that such initiatives would go some way to helping the current levels of youth unemployment, but employers were critical to any success. A skilled workforce was vital to meet the challenges of both the local and global economies. It was important that the Council demonstrated its commitment to workforce development by helping and supporting young people into sustainable employment and setting an example to other employers.
The Council's Human Resources had developed a Young Person's Employment strategy within the Council to help increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities available for young people.
There were many different local authority funded initiatives across the country that demonstrated good practice and it was agreed to build on what had been developed in Stockton and use some of the good practice from other areas to design a model that met the needs of residents and the business community alike. Until detailed guidance became available from the government it would be difficult to provide the detail required to agree a definitive model at this stage, thereby avoiding any duplication in mainstream provision, but rather adding value or filling any gaps in provision.
Cabinet felt that the Council knew what worked locally and the preferred model was to adopt a Future Jobs Fund/Intermediate Labour Market (ILM) style initiative that would include those aged 16-24, which would also complement the Young Person's Employment Strategy. Some indicative costings showed that 100 apprentices employed at the National Minimum Apprentice wage (£2.60 per hour) for 37 hours for 39 weeks would cost in the region of £375,200. This number of apprentices would include a contribution towards the 18 apprentice posts to be created within the Council, identified in the Young Worker Employment Strategy, if approved. It was also the intention to focus on the looked after children', young people with learning disabilities or mental health issues and some of those young people with prolific offending history. Delivery would commence in April 2012.
|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.
|Members considered a report relating to the regeneration of the Parkfield/Mill Lane (Phase 2) and the Victoria Estates.|
It was explained that the Council had recently been advised that it had been successful in securing the full £1.52m sought from the Housing Market Renewal Transition Fund. Members were therefore updated on key next steps, to ensure the successful progression of the Parkfield/Mill Lane (Phase 2):
Improvements to properties no longer proposed for demolition, in Extended Area B
Masterplanning, which had highlighted an opportunity to implement a phased development programme in the short/medium term, which would create the right conditions for private sector led development in the longer term.
Compulsory Purchase Order powers to acquire properties to facilitate the development/redevelopment or improvement of land detailed in Appendix A to the report
With regard to the Victoria Estate, Members were reminded that as part of the stock transfer option appraisal process the Council, working in conjunction with Tristar Homes Limited, reviewed the sustainability of all the housing stock. At that time it was identified that two estates (Swainby Road and Victoria) were not sustainable in the long-term and more radical regeneration plans were required.
In partnership with Vela Homes, DTZ had recently been commissioned to undertake a detailed masterplanning exercise for the Victoria estate. This exercise, like that for Parkfield would assist the Council in completing a detailed financial appraisal and in preparing a framework for the future development of the site, prior to drafting a development brief in order to procure a development partner/s thereby enabling the longer-term re-development of the site
Once both the master planning exercise and financial appraisal were complete a further report would be brought back to Cabinet. Cabinet noted that a cost of regenerating the Victoria estate to the Council was estimated at £3.3m (i.e. to fund the decanting of leaseholders and all associated scheme costs).
Whilst the decanting of tenants and leaseholders was not due to commence until 2013 both the Housing Service and Tristar Homes were receiving queries from residents living on the estate. In order to address those concerns it was intend to agree a decant strategy and phasing plan with Tristar Homes, which could then be shared with local residents.
|Cabinet was provided with an update on the progress of the Parkfield Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP). Members were reminded that, in November 2011, Cabinet had approved a recommendation to proceed with the scheme and the appointment of a preferred provider had been delegated to the Head of Technical Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Environment and the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety.|
Cabinet noted that a deal with Eggborough Power Limited had been secured in an arrangement whereby all the CESP eligible measures would be installed onto qualifying properties with no match funding required from the Council, other than any required non qualifying remedial works. The investment was £3.85m.
The scheme named as GoWarm Parkfield was underway and it was noted that over 800 residents had already signed up.
Members noted that Eggborough Power had recently offered further funding that would allow the scheme to be extended into other qualifying areas. The additional funding would bring the total investment to £5,950,000. It was anticipated that this would not result in any additional Council resources, beyond those previously approved, being required.
|Members sought approval to a new approach to the employment of apprentices and young people within the Council. |
It was explained that within the Council, three elements of the proposed way forward operated with varying degrees of success; these were work experience, apprenticeships and traineeships. The proposal was to coordinate and draw these elements together in a more systematic way to provide an effective and efficient development offer and maximise the opportunities to utilise the funding available.
In the future, an offer of pre employment training could provide an opportunity for employers like the Council to support young workers prior to leaving school to be work ready' and associated careers workshops could be used as an opportunity to encourage potential young workers to consider local government as a career.
It was proposed that, in future, training opportunities for apprenticeships within the Council would be identified in advance of advertising, normally on an annual basis. This approach would allow the Council to tailor opportunities to a range of young people. It was proposed that some 50% of those would be aimed at those who were most disadvantaged such as NEETs, Looked after Children or those with an offending history. This approach supported the needs identified through the evaluation of the Communities Fund and its impact on reducing levels of worklessness within the Borough. Other opportunities would be aimed at the most talented young people, supporting the Council's aim of increasing the number of young people in the workforce and its succession policy. For those, advertising would be timed to coincide with potential school and college leavers entering the employment market.
The following apprenticeship opportunities had already been developed with managers: 2 Civil Engineering, 2 Business Administration, 1 HR, 4 Catering, and 3 Horticulture apprenticeships, 12 in total. In addition officers were actively exploring apprenticeships in ICT, Marketing, Youth Work, Teaching Assistants and Care Workers. Future opportunities could include Building Maintenance , Highways, Accountancy, Housing and Cleaning and Environmental Services
Support for young people with learning disabilities was currently provided through the Job Carving Scheme. In 2009, CMT pledged to provide 12 opportunities each year. Since then 12 young people had worked in the Council under this scheme, although only 6 were employed. This programme therefore needed to be rejuvenated now the EIT programme was drawing to its conclusion.
Finally, Corporate parenting responsibility needed to be considered as a part of a young workers strategy. This group of potential young workers had access to positive action initiatives i.e. training in work ready skills and a small budget to support work placement for apprenticeships. As a tool for transition to work, additional funding would enable more targeted support, an opportunity to be in a work environment and a supported employment model for potential young workers in the Council's care. It had been agreed to increase this ring fenced budget (£20k) to 40k to enable the additional wage subsidies and expenses for up to 8 LAC apprentices in 2012 /13 to be full met. This would make such young people much more attractive to potential employers.
It was proposed that an in house graduate programme be developed to engage young workers who had completed degrees. A two year fixed term learning contract could provide the basis of employment and adoption of a pay model similar to the Future Jobs Fund model developed.
To ensure the successful implementation of this approach it was proposed that the Head of Human Resources and Communications would take on responsibility for the central coordination of apprenticeship/ trainee schemes and work experience /support to managers to include coordination of recruitment /employment and monitoring mechanisms and the development of a graduate trainee scheme. Working closely with other interested parties within the Council, HR would also be responsible for the identification and ring fencing of resources to provide wage subsidy for apprenticeships (including LAC) and graduate trainee salaries and to stimulate opportunities. In addition future vacancies will be monitored so that suitable vacancies were identified for apprenticeships.
Members noted the financial implications associated with the proposals and the target to create a minimum of 21 new apprenticeships in 2012/13.
|Consideration was given to the minutes of the meetings of various bodies.|
|Cabinet considered a report relating to the Spence Bequest, an unincorporated charity of which Stockton Borough Council was the corporate trustee. |
It was explained that the Spence Bequest held a sum of money which was to be used, alongside Heritage Lottery Funds, for the construction of the Spence Building, a new museum store at Preston Hall. The principal of using the Spence fund for this purpose had been agreed by Cabinet at its meeting on 5th February 2009.
Members were reminded that the Spence Bequest had been founded by the will of G O Spence. The Council was the sole (corporate) trustee. The Governing Document was HIGH COURT (CHANCERY DIVISION) SCHEME DATED 18TH JULY 1966 and the charitable purposes were twofold: (1) public display of a collection of arms, antiques and articles de vertu contained in the will of G O Spence and presented to the corporation of Stockton on Tees ("Spence Collection"), and (2) application of the residuary estate in the purchase of land at Stockton on Tees in or towards the erection thereon of a public hall to be used by the local authority for such purposes as it may, from time to time, consider desirable ("Spence Fund"). A copy of the Governing Document was provided to members.
As part of the successful £6.6million Hall bid (53% Heritage Lottery Funded), a specific collections store building (known as the Spence Building) was created, housing the majority of the Museum collections for Stockton Borough Council.
The cost of constructing the new build store totalled £600k and it was intended that the Spence Fund would contribute £240k towards the construction cost. The release of such funds was contrary to the second of the currently stated charitable purposes but would have no effect on the continued public display of the Spence Collection which was central to the exhibitions and reserves at Preston Hall.
Members noted that a legal process must be followed to bring about the use of the residuary fund. The Charity Commission, regulator for charities in England and Wales, had assisted in the direction of this legal process. Recommendations suggested the passing of three resolutions by full Council that were key to this legal process.
The resolutions dealt with the introduction of new procedures (provided to members) that regulated the Spence Bequest Charity. They also proposed the appointment of three ex officio trustees and terminated the trusteeship of the Council.
|Members considered a report relating to the Enterprise Business Rates Discount Scheme.|
It was explained that the Localism Act 2011 contained clauses that gave billing authorities powers to grant local business rate discounts.
The Council would be responsible for fully funding any discount granted under the powers, however, in certain defined Enterprise Zone sites the Government would reimburse the cost of providing up to 100% discount for 5 years, up to state aid de minimis levels (£55k) for businesses that entered the sites by 31 March 2015.
Members noted that a sectoral focus on the sites provided criteria to be met by incoming occupiers seeking to benefit from financial incentives. The target sectors were Advanced engineering/advanced manufacturing, Chemicals, Digital, Renewables.
The powers were expected to come into force on 1 April 2012, allowing discounts to begin from that date. The Council would have to design and set its discount scheme in accordance with Government regulations and guidance, not yet published.
The discount scheme would be a key element in the promotional package to attract new business to the Enterprise Zone and it was important that the scheme was finalised and approved as soon as the regulations and guidance were received.
In view of this Cabinet was asked to recommend to Council that approval for the detailed discount scheme design be delegated to the Corporate Director Resources in consultation with Cabinet Member for Corporate Management & Finance and Cabinet Member for Regeneration & Transport.
|Members considered a report that detailed the new standards provisions to be introduced by the Localism Act, and in response set out initial proposals for consideration. |
Cabinet noted some of the key features of the new provisions, which would take effect in July 2012:-
All current legislation would be repealed
There would be a new general duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members and voting co opted members
Each "relevant authority" must adopt a code which dealt with the conduct expected of members and voting co opted members when acting in that capacity.
There would no longer be any national coordination or express controls over disrespect, bullying, intimidation etc, though the Council's adopted code may cover such issues.
Regulations relating to "disclosable pecuniary interests"
Arrangements for investigating and determining allegations.
Requirement to appoint at least on "independent person"
A more detailed synopsis of the new provisions was provided as an appendix to the report being considered
Members then considered a suggested initial response to the new proposals which covered the following areas:-
The Code of Conduct
Arrangements for dealing with Misconduct
Initial decisions on a complaint
Registers of Members' Interests
Disclosure of Interests and withdrawal from meetings
Cabinet was provided with a number of proposals for consideration, and it was suggested that they be recommended to Council for approval.