Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Corporate and Social Inclusion Select Committee (ceased to operate 03/06/2015) Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 11th June, 2013
Time:
9.30am
Place:
Jim Cooke Conference Suite, Stockton Library, The Square, Stockton-on-Tees
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Mick Stoker (Chair), Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Tracey Stott, Cllr Norma Wilburn
Officers:
J Danks, M Skipsey (R); K Fulton (PIE); J Grant, T Harrsion, M Jones (LD)
In Attendance:
None
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Terry Laing
Item Description Decision
Public
CSI
8/13
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
CSI
9/13
MINUTES FOR SIGNATURE - 5TH MARCH 2013
 
CSI
10/13
DRAFT MINUTES - 30TH APRIL 2013
AGREED that the minutes be approved.
CSI
11/13
CORPORATE AND SOCIAL INCLUSION SERVICE OVERVIEW
AGREED that the information be noted.
CSI
12/13
PROGRESS UPDATES ON PREVIOUSLY AGREED RECOMMENDATIONS
AGREED that the Progress Updates be noted and the assessment for progress be confirmed, with the amendments detailed above.
CSI
13/13
REVIEW OF NORTH EAST PROCUREMENT ORGANISATION

AGREED that:

1. The information be noted.

2. A breakdown of the details on the commodities procured for Stockton Council be presented.
CSI
14/13
WORK PROGRAMME
AGREED that the information be noted.
CSI
15/13
CHAIRS UPDATE
 
9.30 - 11.30am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
CSI
8/13
There were no declarations of interest.
CSI
9/13
The minutes of the meeting held on 5th March 2013 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
CSI
10/13
Consideration was given to the draft minutes of the meeting held on 30th April 2013.
CSI
11/13
Members were presented with an overview of Legal Services and the Monitoring Officer.

The key achievements for the service were highlighted as follows:

-Continued handling of large volume of child protection cases, which had increased significantly in the last three years.

-Conclusion of a number of Ordinary Residence Cases resulted in successful transfer of care costs to the neighbouring authority.

-The Private Financial Initiative for All Saints Secondary School had been successfully renegotiated in the Council's favour as a result of a transfer to Academy status. In addition Legal Services successfully dealt with five Academy conversions in respect of both secondary and primary schools.

-Judicial Reviews in respect of the Borough Wide Parking Strategy and street trading consent were successfully defended.

-An Application was made to the Supreme Court to obtain clarity on an important legal principle in regards to the "threshold test" in a child protection issue. It was the first time in 20 years the Council had been involved in Supreme Court proceedings. Although the Council did not get the ruling hoped for, it was a landmark case and widely reported on in various law reports.

-Members discussed the Supreme Court ruling and were informed that barristers dealing with the case had charged a reduced fee due to the importance of the case. The case had been sent to the Supreme Court on the advice of the Court of Appeal. Officers informed that the ruling would not be appealed at the Court of Human Rights due to a lack of evidence. Members questioned whether the ruling would change if a child was harmed in this case and were informed that it would be a new criminal case, there would be no change to the Supreme Court's verdict. Members raised a concern with treating someone as guilty until proven otherwise, especially in relation to Child Protection matters.

Emerging Issues for the service included:

-HM Land Registry had initiated a pilot exercise with 7 Local Authorities to consider whether the Land Registry could take on responsibility for the delivery of the Local Land Charges Service on a national level. If successful this would affect the standardising fees and services across all local authorities.

-A Family Justice Review would bring changes to the way, and time scale, in which child protection proceedings were dealt with by the courts. Members queried if there was capacity to gain evidence required in the new time frame, and were assured on this matter. The reliance on the evidence of one person was also raised and members were assured that checks and balances were in place.

The Monitoring Officers report was provided to Members.

The achievements of the Monitoring Officer were as follows:-

• Developed a new code of conduct for members in accordance with the requirements of the Localism Act and in consultation with Members, Officers and other interested parties and re-worked the Council's standards arrangements which included the procedures for dealing with allegations of misconduct by Members.

• Appointment of an Independent Person as required by the Localism Act.

• Established and published (including through the Council's website) a new Register of Members' interests under the Localism Act, to include in particular details of Members' disclosable pecuniary interests. Also Liaised with Town/Parish Councils in Stockton's administrative area to establish and publish registers of their Councillors' interests.

• Considered and determined, in consultation with an Independent Person, allegations of misconduct by Council and Town/Parish Council Members.

• Provided advice, guidance and support in respect of the establishment and operation of the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel.

• Supported the development of the Council's Health and Wellbeing Board, particularly its governance arrangements, through the provision of appropriate advice and guidance.

• Reviewed, revised and agreed new mutual support protocols with the other Tees Valley Authorities regarding the provision of Monitoring Officer advice and the determination of complaints relating to allegations of member misconduct.

• Revised the Council's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Policy and Procedure document in order to reflect the new legislative requirements relating to judicial approval to all authorisations/applications/notices and the introduction of the crime threshold for directed surveillance.
CSI
12/13
Consideration was given to progress of the implementation of previously agreed recommendations. Members agreed to change the assessment of progress to fully achieved for the outstanding recommendations for the reviews of Outside Bodies and Older People's Strategy.
CSI
13/13
Members received information regarding North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO), from Martin Skipsey (Procurement, Risk and Insurance Manager) and Julie Danks (Corporate Director of Resources) which included:

-Background information of NEPO

-Remit of the independent Review commissioned by NEPO, to look at the operational structure of the organisation. The review ran across the 12 member Councils in the North East and would need to be agreed by the Joint Review Committee.

Members were also presented with a list of commodities that were required to be procured and the optimum sourcing levels for each of these.

The purpose of the Select Committee's work would be to provide further guidance to Stockton's NEPO representatives following the independent review.

The main issues discussed were as follows:

-Member's queried if NEPO provided value for money and whether some services provided by NEPO would be better undertaken locally, sub-regionally, nationally or with NEPO

-It was questioned if the fee would be lowered if Stockton reduced the amount procured via NEPO. Officers informed the fee would not be lowered.

-The skills within NEPO and the 12 local authorities and how well the resources were deployed. The Committee noted the expert skills required in different processes of procuring in complex markets.

-How well NEPO had delivered outcomes against its 19 objectives. This was included in the remit of the independent review.

-The procurement of energy was raised and Members queried whether this could be done sub-regionally via the energy plants in the area. Officers informed that the authority was locked into a contract, via NEPO, and this had offered good value for money.

The Committee requested the following further information:

-A breakdown of the list of commodities that were required to be procured, the cost of procuring each of these, whether savings were made by procuring through NEPO, and how much would it cost if procured differently.

The Committee also requested that the Stockton Representatives be invited to a meeting.
CSI
14/13
The Scrutiny Officer advised that the next meeting of Corporate and Social Inclusion Select Committee would be held on 16th July, where the discussion on commodities would take place.

The results of the independent NEPO review would be presented to the Committee in September.
CSI
15/13
The Chair had nothing to report.

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