BEST VALUE REVIEW OF
SCOPE OF THE REVIEW
1. The scope at a glance Page 3
2. What is the focus of the Review? Page 6
Why a review of Birtley Page 7
The geographical area Page 7
Features of Birtley Page 7
3. What activities are covered in the review? Page 9
Service provision Page 10
Changing services Page 10
4. What issues are apparent? Page 12
Council priorities Page 12
Local issues Page 13
Residents’ views Page 14
5. How will the review be conducted? Page 15
What is the process for the review? Page 15
The Review Team Page 16
Involving Employees Page 17
Involving Councillors Page 17
Involving other organisations and people Page 18
1. THE SCOPE AT A GLANCE
Review title Best value review of Birtley
Sponsors Lesley Bessant – Strategic Director, Assistant Chief Executive
Derek Quinn – Group Director, Development and Enterprise
Lead officer Lindsay Kirkley, Special Adviser, Chief Executive’s Office
Review officer Jane Robson, Area Co-ordinator, Community Based Services
Jo Richardson, Policy Officer, Chief Executives Department
Focus of the review The focus is the geographic area of Birtley; Council services provided at
Birtley and the views of Birtley residents about those services.
Aim of the Review Improve services for Birtley residents
Review Methodology We will:
Talk to Birtley residents to establish their views about the area and
services they receive
Compare the level and quality of services provided in Birtley with
those provided to other areas
Challenge if the right services are provided and how they are
Assess whether residents of Birtley are receiving quality and value
for money from their services
Check to see if Birtley residents are getting the services they want,
when they want them.
Consider what is needed to maintain communities where people want
to live and work
Outcomes of the Joined up service delivery for the residents of Birtley
Review Effective community engagement and involvement so that residents
are able to influence how and which services are provided
Increased number of residents who are satisfied with services
Involvement of residents in decisions that are made about services
The review will not include:
service improvements to individual services unless these are specific
reviewing partners activities
the ongoing review of Birtley Town Council
Internal members of Best Value Officer: Alan Townsend
review team Best Value Asst: Charlotte Wainwright
Legal and Corporate Services: Ian Rutherford
Finance and ICT: John Jopling & Jim Robson
Human Resources: Neil Sproates
Community Based Services: Reg Knowles, Ian Stevenson
Development and Enterprise: Bill Wetherspoon
Learning and Culture: Ian McGowan (Dave Hewitson, Head Teacher,
Barley Mow Primary School)
Local Environmental Services: Tony Alder
Housing Billy Lugsden
LES Arthur Coe, Assistant Area Manager
Education Ian Beverage, Business manager Lord Lawson
Trade Union: Dave Walkden
External reference The following will be invited onto the review team:
group Representatives from a large business (Komatsu)
Representatives from a small business (Cafdec)
Representative from Elisabethville Community Partnership
Representative from Birtley Community Network
Representative from Northumbria Police
Representative from Gateshead NHS Health Trust
In addition the area consultative forum will be used to establish a range of
external reference groups for the review.
Member involvement Lead Cabinet Councillor Henry
Support Cabinet Councillor McNestry
Advisory Groups: Quality, democracy and management
Overview and Quality, democracy and management
Ward Liaison Birtley & Lamesley
Current partnerships at Birtley include :
Elisabethville Community Partnership
Birtley Community Network
Residents and tenants groups include:
Barley Mow & Vigo Residents Association
Brightlea Residents Association
Birtley East Tenants & Residents Association
Elisabethville Residents Association
Lansbury Bungalows Tenants Association
Northside Tenants & Residents Association
Portmeads Residents Association
Start date September 2003
End date October 2004
2. WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF THE REVIEW?
This is a review of the geographical area of Birtley.
The review of Birtley will focus on assessing the extent to which the Council’s vision
of wanting ‘Local people realising their full potential, enjoying the best quality of life
in a healthy, equal, safe, prosperous and sustainable Gateshead’ is realised in Birtley.
The focus is the geographic area of Birtley; Council services provided at Birtley and
the views of Birtley residents about those services.
The best value review will fundamentally examine what we do, why we do it and how
we can do it better. We will:
Talk to Birtley residents to establish their views about the area and services they
Compare the level and quality of services provided in Birtley with those provided
to other areas
Challenge if the right services are provided and how they are provided
Assess whether residents of Birtley are receiving quality and value for money
from their services
Check to see if Birtley residents are getting the services they want, when they
Consider what is needed to maintain communities where people want to live and
To achieve the following outcomes:
Joined up service delivery for the residents of Birtley
Effective community engagement and involvement so that residents are able to
influence how and which services are provided
Increased number of residents who are satisfied with services
Involvement of residents in decisions that are made about services
The Council is fully committed to the development of Neighbourhood Management,
which focuses on the co-ordination of services and agencies across geographical areas
in order to ensure local services meet local needs and expectations. An area focus
will ensure service providers more accurately assess local needs and that borough-
wide targets are translated into local actions. It will ensure joined-up service
delivery and added value through multi-agency neighbourhood management planning.
What is not covered by the review?
This is an area-based review. It will not include
service improvements to individual services unless these are specific to Birtley
reviewing partners activities
the ongoing review of Birtley Town Council
Why a review of Birtley?
Previously, Best Value reviews have focussed on services on a borough wide basis.
However, an alternative approach is to consider improvement on an area basis.
The Birtley area has been chosen for the first area review because it has distinct
boundaries and strong identifiable communities. The estates of Elizabethville and
Northside are not within the Birtley ward boundary, but the residents clearly
consider themselves to be part of Birtley.
The Council has agreed to take part in the Audit Commission’s pilot approach to area
profiles. The purpose of these area profiles are to test the feasibility of assessing
service provision on an area basis and explore the role of agencies/partners. This
review will form the basis for the pilot.
The geographical area
The review will therefore include the entire Birtley ward along with Elizabethville and
Birtley East from the Lamesley ward. Identifiable communities within Birtley include:
A plan outlining the review area is attached at Appendix 2.
Features of Birtley
Birtley is in the south east of the borough, with a geographical size of 1.93 square
miles. It is bordered to the east by the City of Sunderland and to the south and
west by Chester-le-Street District Council. The north of the area is bordered by the
The area as a whole comprises of dense residential areas, with some interspersed
open spaces. It also includes a small industrial estate and several pockets of light
industrial units. It is served by its own shops, which are situated near the centre of
Birtley ward. The area is also serviced by a main bus route to Gateshead, Newcastle,
Chester-le-Street and Durham. There are a number of leisure related facilities
including a swimming pool, sports centre and golf course.
The population of Birtley ward has declined by 4% (to 8021) since 1991, which is the
Borough average. The population of the Review area (Birtley ward and Elizabethville
and Northside) is 11,612. The economically active population in Birtley has risen by
4% since 1991 to65%. This is above the borough average of 61%. Unemployment at
Birtley has decreased from 9% to 4% since 1991.
There is a mixture of housing type, age and tenure at Birtley, however it is dominated
primarily by private housing - 78% owner occupied; 17% local authority housing and
Registered Social Landlords; 5% Private Landlords.
Since 2001 there has been physical changes in the appearance of Elisabethville with
the demolition of over 50 houses and there has been an overall improvement of the
There are a significant number of new private houses being built at Northside estate
- 980 three and four bedroomed homes for sale - which will enhance the range and
choice of housing at Birtley.
4. WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE COVERED BY THE REVIEW?
It is essential that services support the Council’s policies and priorities. Services will
be reviewed in relation to their contribution to the following Council Policy areas:
Children & Young People
Children and Young People who are empowered and supported to develop to their
full potential and have the life skills and opportunities to play an active part in
Employment & Economy
Local people who have the skills and opportunities to access rewarding jobs in the
public, private and voluntary sectors in and around Gateshead; more businesses
locating, forming and growing in Gateshead.
Local people who learn throughout their lives and have the life skills to realize
their full potential as individual and active citizens.
Leisure & Culture
Local people who participate in a rich array of cultural and leisure opportunities.
Local people who live in good quality affordable homes, which meet their changing
needs and are located within pleasant, safe and sustainable communities.
Local people supported by a network of caring services appropriate to their needs
Local People living longer and healthier lives.
Local people living in a safe, fear free and tolerant community.
Local people and businesses who have access to integrated, safe and affordable
transport which supports economic growth and balances the needs of all users in a
Local people who live in and contribute to a clean, pollution free, attractive and
This review will assess the extent to which the full range of Council services are
provided at Birtley. Firstly, whether services provided are of the same high quality
as the rest of the Borough; secondly, the extent to which they are joined up to
provide the best and most effective service delivery for Birtley; and thirdly whether
these meet the needs of Birtley residents. The extent to which services are
provided with our partners will also be assessed.
Services provided directly
A full range of Council services are provided in Birtley – see Appendix 3.
The council has many facilities within Birtley. These include Gateshead Council @
Birtley, which incorporates a library and Housing office. There is a swimming pool in
the area and a depot for Local Environmental Services. A full audit of all council
facilities will be undertaken as part of the review.
Working in partnership
Gateshead Council already works in partnership with a range of key agencies at
Birtley including the Police, the Primary Care Team (PCT), Health Trusts, businesses,
Job Centre plus, community and voluntary Sectors. These will be fully involved in the
Review either through direct representation on the Review Team and/or through the
establishment of area consultative forums.
Birtley has recently benefited from several new initiatives including Neighbourhood
Wardens the Council’s Customer Service Strategy, Gateshead @ Your Service. The
Customer Service Centre, Gateshead Council @ Birtley, has been developed as part of
the Council’s Strategy to improve local access to services. The centre also includes a
library providing a range of facilities including free access to information and ICT.
Other new initiatives which operate at Birtley include ‘Operation Blizzard’, which is a
Neighbourhood Relations Team working across all tenures till 10.00pm at night to
tackle criminality and improve community confidence and a Social Inclusion Project
based at Pinetree to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Neighbourhood Management will be implemented through area based structures,
which will co-ordinate services at a neighbourhood level in order to meet local need in
more efficient and effective ways. The area focus will ensure service providers more
accurately assess local needs and target resources appropriately, pooling resources
where possible. This will help borough wide strategies, policies and targets to be
achieved through local actions. Executive Forums are being established for each
Neighbourhood Area to ensure an integrated approach to service delivery on an area
basis. 5 Area Action Plans will be developed which will be the local delivery plan for
service providers. Together they will form the basis for the delivery of the
borough’s Community Strategy. Executive Forums and area consultative forums will
have a key role in the identifying issues for the Review and the implementation of the
final Improvement Plan.
4. WHAT ISSUES ARE ALREADY APPARENT?
There are a number of existing Council initiatives and programmes that will be
implemented within the Birtley Review Area. These include:
Achieving Excellence – the Council’s successful £60M Phase 1 PFI Bid to create
inspirational 21st Century learning environments in its schools. The Bid focuses on
Secondary Schools, a Birtley Schools Review, Infant schools amalgamation and
replacing primary schools. An important part of the programme is the Birtley
Schools Review, which involves the rebuilding of 3 primary schools (Barley Mow,
Birtley East, and Ravensworth Terrace) to a significantly higher standard. This
will also meet the needs of the major new housing development at Northside. The
Secondary School focus of the bid involves the replacement of two schools in the
Borough – Lord Lawson in Birtley being one of these. The development of new
schools can also enhance community facilities in the area through the development
of Extended Schools and Full Service Schools.
Customer Service Strategy – the Council’s Customer Service Strategy
(Gateshead @ Your Service) to improve the way people access Council services and
the way in which the Council provides its services. It will involve investment in new
facilities, technology and employee training and development. The aims of the
strategy are to ensure that in two years time residents, businesses and visitors to
Gateshead can access council services by telephone or internet up to 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week, or through a number of small, local customer service centres.
5 of these centres will be located across the Borough (1 in each neighbourhood
management area). These will be ‘district’ centres and provide access to a full
range of Council services as well as our partner’s services. This will involve
enhancing the services currently provided at the existing customer service centre
at Birtley (Gateshead @ Birtley).
The Council is establishing an Arms Length Management Organisation for its
housing management to ensure the borough has good quality homes in safe
sustainable neighbourhoods. As a result of establishing the ALMO there will be a
significant increase in the capital programme. The extra money will mean
improvements to homes throughout the borough, and will ensure all council homes
meet the Government's Decent Homes Target by 2010. Around 5% of the funding
received will go towards improving the environment and security on housing
Neighbourhood Wardens - there are 3 Neighbourhood Wardens for the Birtley
area, providing face to face contact for local people to help address local
Operation Blizzard - a pilot in the South of the Borough to address issues of anti
social behaviour across all housing tenure, this provides an initial contact for all
Social Inclusion Project – in April this year a two-year social inclusion project
started in the Pinetree Centre, Birtley. The project will identify a group of young
people aged between 13 and 19 years, plus an additional group of siblings, family
and peer groups to offer activities focussed on personal development, training and
employment in conjunction with local statutory and non-statutory organisations.
This project is jointly funded by Gateshead Council, Northumbria Police Authority
and the Children’s fund.
SRB funding - the Elisabethville area has benefited £400,000 SRB 6 funding, the
majority of this has now been allocated for environmental improvements and
additional facilities for members of the community with particular emphasis on
facilities for young people.
Birtley Town Council – following extensive consultation with Birtley residents, the
Council has applied to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for the abolition of
the Town Council. In order to maintain existing services in a manner which is
acceptable to local people, the existing services provided through the Leisure
Centre and the Allotments will be maintained through Gateshead Council.
Contributions to Community Groups will continue for a minimum of further three
years, subject to review thereafter.
Within Birtley there is a community partnership which consists of representatives of
various groups within the area and elected Councillors. The following are some of the
issues that the group has identified that may be issues for the review:
Declining town centre – concerns have been expressed about environmental quality
and the appearance of the exterior of buildings.
Parking - some parking is provided in the town centre, with a large car park at the
rear of Safeway. Although street lighting has been improved local people are still
reluctant to use it for fear of crime.
Transport corridor - the main route through Birtley is due to be upgraded with
the introduction of cycle and bus lanes.
Leisure facilities – there is high demand for leisure and recreational facilities at
Anti-social behaviour - there are concerns regarding to anti social behaviour in the
area and Northumbria Police has recently carried out an 8 week operation to
Environmental issues – there is a nearby sewage works and landfill site.
However, this list is not comprehensive and local issues relevant to the Review will be
identified and prioritized during the Review process.
MORI undertook a survey of Birtley residents in 2002 to assess resident’s attitudes
towards the council and to compare how these had changed over time. The survey
Compared with residents generally, residents at Birtley are less likely to say they
are satisfied with the way Gateshead Council is running the Borough (56%
compared to 65%).
Residents at Birtley are more likely to have contacted the council with a problem
or query in the last 12 months (57% compared to 48%)
Almost half of residents (46%) have visited the Gateshead@Birtley shop.
However, of those residents who have heard of the shop only around half (53%)
say they are aware that all Gateshead Council services can be accessed from it
Views of Birtley residents will be an important element in this Review. Effective
involvement of residents, survey of opinion and publicising of the Review will be
It is therefore suggested that an independent survey of residents should be
commissioned. This would inform the review about residents’ opinions about council
services. It would establish a baseline for 2003 and provide a basis for comparison
5. HOW WILL THE REVIEW BE CONDUCTED?
What is the process for the review?
The review will follow the Council’s revised Review Process and be completed by
November 2004. The process is made up of the following four key stages:
This is the present stage during which the scope of the review, the members
of the review team and the timeframe of the review will be agreed.
Background information will be collected about Birtley. This will include
information about the area, about services that the Council provides directly
and about the way we provide services in partnership with others.
At this stage a clear vision of the overall provision of services in Birtley will be
reached. The role of the Council in achieving the vision and any underpinning
principles will be outlined.
The background information, giving the current position of service delivery will
be analysed against the vision (a gap analysis). This gap analysis will identify
issues that should be addressed during the review.
3. Future Service Provision
This stage of the review will look at each issue identified in more detail then
challenge the current service provision. This will generate proposals about how
the Council could achieve its aims and other ways that services could be
This will conclude:
what service options should be delivered to close the gap between current
and future provision
how services should be procured in the future.
This stage will end with the ‘Final’ report to Councillors, which will include
agreed performance indicators for the service and a five-year action plan.
4. Implementation and monitoring
It is essential that improvements agreed during the review actually happen in
practice. This stage will be ongoing over the period of the improvement plan
and will include regular reports to councillors.
The review team
As with all Best Value reviews a review team will be formed to undertake the work.
This team will meet as often as needed to manage the review process and ensure that
all necessary actions are taken. The Team will consist of a number of officers who
have specific responsibility with regard to the review:
Lindsay Kirkley Lead Officer Responsible for the day-to-day
management of the review.
Jane Robson Review Officers Two Review Officers are nominated for
Jo Richardson this review to provide both a local
knowledge of the area and a services
perspective. They will carry out the
review on behalf of, and in liaison with,
the Lead Officer.
Alan Townsend Best Value Officer Ensures that corporate procedures are
The following officers will provide the standard representation from other strategic
groups to bring specific skills and expertise to the review process:
Ian Rutherford Legal and Corporate Services Representative
Neil Sproates Human Resources
Jim Robson and Finance and ICT
As this geographical review will involve consideration of all services it is important to
have representation from all council groups on the review team. The following
officers will therefore be involved to provide a good understanding of how services
Reg Knowles Community Based Services
Bill Weatherspoon Development and Enterprise
Ian McGowan Learning and Culture
Tony Alder Local Environmental Services
The Review provides a real opportunity to use the experience and knowledge of our
employees to improve these services. As well as employees being members of the
Review Team, all employees will be informed and involved in the Review in a number of
Employee Representatives on Review Team:
Community Based Billy Lugsden
Learning and Culture: Ian Beverage, Business Manager, Lord Lawson School
LES Arthur Coe, Assistant Area Manager
Trade Union Dave Walkden
Representatives Paula Nunn
Regular newsletters will be sent to all employees throughout the Review process.
Employees will be sent a questionnaire early in the Review so that they can have a
say on the services the Council provides
During reviews Councillors are involved mainly by consideration of issues at Cabinet,
Advisory Groups and Scrutiny Committees.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee for this review will be Quality, Democracy and
The Advisory group for this review will be Quality, Democracy and Management.
However, this review will have a particular interest for Councillors for the Birtley and
Lamesley wards and it is therefore proposed to integrate the Ward liaison group for
Birtley and Lamesley into the review process. This will be done by:
combining the Ward liaison group with advisory group meetings where these
holding separate ward liaison group meetings in advance of any Scrutiny
Councillor Henry is the lead Cabinet member for the review, supported by Councillor
In addition, Birtley Town Council and Lamesley Parish Council will also be involved
during the review.
Involving other organisations and people
It is recognised as good practice to involve external agencies in the conduct of Best
Value reviews. These would be expected to challenge current practices, making
comments and suggestions that might not otherwise be made and to contribute to the
development of robust options for improvement. Representatives of external
organisations will also have professional expertise and skills in a range of areas that
can help the Council to achieve “stepped change”.
Clearly, there will be many groups and organisations that have an interest in the
future of Birtley. Many of these organisations are included in the area consultative
forums and it is proposed to meet with representatives of the panel at key points in
It is proposed to invite two representatives from businesses in the area and two from
community groups to have a more close involvement in the review by sitting as full
members of the external reference group.
Similarly representatives from Northumbria Police and from our Health partners will
be invited to sit on the external reference group.
It is proposed to meet with Birtley Town Council and Lamesley Parish council at key
points during the review.
Gateshead Council Service Areas
Community Based Services
Planning, Performance & Support
Services for Children & Families
Services for Older People
Services for Adults with Disabilities
Learning & Culture
Planning & Resources
Access & Inclusion
Development & Enterprise
Highways & Construction
Planning & Environmental Strategy
Local Environmental Services
Catering & Cleaning Services
Cleansing & Grounds Maintenance
Construction Technical Services
Policy Planning and Development