Middlesbrough Council 17 June 2009 MEETING OF MIDDLESBROUGH COUNCIL At a Meeting of Middlesbrough Council, lawfully convened, and held in the Council Chamber, Middlesbrough on 17 June 2009. PRESENT: Councillor Bloundele (Chair), R Mallon, The Mayor, Councillors Budd, Carr, Carter, Clark, Coppinger, Cox, Dryden, Dunne, Elder, Ferrier, C Hobson, J Hobson, Hubbard, Ismail, Junier, Kerr, Khan, Lancaster, Lowes, Majid, Mawston, McIntyre, McPartland, Michna, Mrs Hazel Pearson, OBE, Porley, Purvis, Rehman, G Rogers, P Rogers, Rooney, Rostron, Sanderson, B Thompson, J A Walker, K Walker, N J Walker, Whatley and Williams. M Braithwaite, B Carr, A Hoy, J Lewis, R G Long and M Storey OFFICERS: **APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE were submitted on behalf of Councillors Biswas, Brunton, Cole, Davison, Morby , Taylor and P Thompson. COUNCILLOR J A WALKER The Chair welcomed Councillor Jeanette Walker to her first meeting following a lengthy period of illness. Councillor Walker extended her thanks to Members and officer for all the cards and good wishes she had received over the past six months. NOTED CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD 2009 The Mayor presented the Citizen of the Year Award 2009 to Kelly Ireson. Miss Ireson received the award in recognition of her voluntary work, particularly with young people in the Thorntree area of the town where she had worked closely with Thorntree Junior Club, Caldicotes Junior Club and nursery, Thorntree Youth Club and the Mother and Toddler group. NOTED ** MINUTES The Minutes of the previous meeting held on 6 May 2009 were submitted and approved as a correct record subject to the following correction: Vice-Chair – Election of Line 2 - Councillor Ronald Lowes to read Councillor Ronnie Lowes. ** DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST There were no declarations at this point in the meeting. See below. **ANNOUNCEMENTS Mike Brider The Chair made reference with sadness to the recent death of Mike Brider, former leading local trade union officer for the Transport and General Workers Union, a former communications officer for the Council and more recently Regional Secretary for T&GWU in Scotland. The Chair placed on record the Council’s thanks and appreciation for the valued support Mr Brider provided to the Council and to his trade union members over many years. Councillor L Junier The Chair also welcomed Councillor Junier to his first Council meeting following his recent election. Middlesbrough Council 17 June 2009 PUBLIC QUESTION TIME Question from Mrs M Donnelly to Councillor P Thompson, Executive Member for Streetscene "This area of Middlesbrough, considering it is the focal point of the town, requires some colour. Could the council members agree for the planting of flowerbeds to brighten the area similar to the beautiful beds outside Albert Park. The town has experienced gardeners who never seem to get praise for their efforts and I am sure they could brighten the town centre for residents who would appreciate the sight of colour in a sparse area as it is at the moment. I am old enough to remember what Victoria Square looked like years ago with flowers and trees. Please discuss this suggestion". The Mayor responded in Councillor Thompson’s absence and concurred with the sentiments expressed. He stated that although the Centre Square area was the largest public square space in the country the open space was designed for the specific purpose of holding outdoor public events. However, he agreed that the area would benefit from some colour. He indicated that officers were already looking at providing some colourful features, however, as the design would make permanent flowerbeds difficult to manage, alternative portable features such as hanging baskets and flower tubs were being considered. Structures that are more permanent could also be provided in front of the Central Library. The Council was also due to engage with the Magistrates Courts to discuss the future reuse of the fountain in front of the court building. The Mayor also referred to the need to reconsider the options for development of the East Central Gardens area that could include the possible retention of the lake. MAYOR’S STATEMENT AND REPORT Council received a brief report from the Mayor that accompanied his statement to the meeting that focussed on the following matters: proposals for an informal Mayoral Question Time; the East Middlesbrough By Pass; the success of local primary schools following Ofsted Inspections and MP’s expenses. The Mayoral Question Time initiative would take place on the Thursday following each meeting of the full Council. The proposed dates and time for the meetings were set out in the report and would provided Members with an opportunity whereby they would be able to: hold the Mayor to account and propose new policy ideas; enable Councillors to express opinions and contribute to the ‘debate’; pick up on ongoing issues and explore areas for possible future consideration; and help shape the Mayor’s agenda. The Mayor also updated Members on the current stage of the proposals for the by pass. He reported on the discussions to be held with Redcar and Cleveland Council following completion of the latest joint feasibility study which concluded that there was an absolute strategic case for the by pass together with a number of other initiatives. The Mayor confirmed that he would be writing to the Leader of Redcar and Cleveland. Member’s attention was drawn to the recent success of several of the town’s primary schools that had been awarded ‘outstanding’ rankings following recent Ofsted inspections and the Mayor placed on record thanks to pupils, parents, staff and governors for helping to achieve such successful results. The Mayor reported that he had recently written a letter of formal complaint to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson asking him to carry out an investigation into the recently reported abuses by MPs in the submission of their claims for Parliamentary allowances. The Mayor also referred to recent comments expressed publicly by certain individuals regarding the workings of the panel established to consider nominations for the Citizen of the Year Award. The Mayor spoke at length on the matter in order to put the record straight and dispel untrue allegations regarding his stance in relation to the award. In response to the above comments a Member made reference to a recent spate of bogus mischievous letters circulated to the local press under false names and addresses which the Member alleged were attributed to another Middlesbrough Council 17 June 2009 Member of the Council. As the Member, the subject of the allegation, was not present at the meeting the Mayor suggested that as he was aware that the police were investigating other people in connection with the matter he would be prepared to forward any evidence to the police. NOTED Declaration of Interest – East Middlesbrough By Pass ** Councillor Elder declared a personal/non prejudicial interest in the above matter. DEPUTY MAYOR AND EXECUTIVE MEMBER REPORTS The Chair invited Members to raise items for general discussion arising from the Information Booklet of Executive Member reports (previously circulated) and which detailed activities carried out within the respective Executive Member portfolios (Section 1), Executive decisions taken (Section 2) or to be taken where known, prior to and following the meeting (Section 3 and 4). Members commented or posed questions in relation to the following matters and Executive Members responded where appropriate:(a) Urban Design – The Deputy Mayor/Executive Member for Regeneration drew attention to the forthcoming series of events to raise the profile of urban design in Middlesbrough. Through the Council’s new Urban Design Awards members of the public would be asked to vote on their favourite design projects. He stated that the impact of good design was under appreciated but with the introduction of the awards, along with the awards presented by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) it showed that the Council as a whole was much more interested in design. Commenting on the design proposals and funding for regeneration projects for Middlehaven/Gresham Wards, a Member asked the Executive Member to explain why some of the owner occupiers, within the 1500 existing homes identified for demolition, and who would be compelled to relocate, should lose financially when they moved. This being as a result of the withdrawal of interim major assistance grants of up to £20k now that the grants were to be replaced by loans. The Executive Member explained that the funding elements of the proposals were part of a report to the Executive in 2005. The Government had now suggested that loans should replace the previous grant regime. This had proved difficult for a number of residents as they had been led to believe grant funding would be available. The Council’s funding bodies had largely driven the change but he felt that there would be very few incidents of people affected. Those cases would be looked at favourably and be treated with some care. (b) Entertainment/Middlesbrough Theatre– The Deputy Mayor/Executive Member for Regeneration replied to a query regarding the length of time (i.e. 6 weeks) that Middlesbrough Theatre had been closed due to the need to replace the stage fire curtain. He confirmed that as the replacement curtain was to be purchased from a specialist firm that impacted on the length of time the theatre had to be closed. The Member concerned should now have received a report on the matter and, if not, the Executive Member gave an assurance that it would be circulated. Middlesbrough Music Live – Congratulations were extended to all involved in producing another successful Music Live event. The Executive Member was asked to convey special thanks to the Streetscene staff involved in the clean up process for the town centre following the event. Low Council Tax – Reference was made to statements made in political leaflets circulated during the recent by election campaign for the North Ormesby/Brambles Farm ward that wrongly stated that Middlesbrough had the highest council tax levels in the Tees Valley area. The Executive Member for Resources challenged the comments in the literature that she felt misrepresented the facts. Recently published (c) (d) Middlesbrough Council 17 June 2009 government figures showed that Middlesbrough had the lowest average council tax per dwelling of all the Tees Valley authorities and was lower than national and North East averages. Accurate details of the Council’s council tax levels were published in the local press. (e) Telecare – In response to a question on the take up of the Telecare initiative, the Executive Member for Social Care advised that following its launch in 2008, 130 people were now using the system and from the original take-up a number of people had since died. 61 people had also received the service on a temporary basis where remedial care had been required. The overall take-up had been disappointing and the reasons for this would be investigated. Ofsted Inspection Reports – The Executive Member for Children, Families and Learning was asked whether it was likely that Middlesbrough schools would fair less favourably as a result of proposals by Ofsted to change the emphasis for its inspections to concentrate more on attainments. The Executive Member explained that Middlesbrough schools achieving ‘outstanding’ rankings were double the national average but overall scores were not necessarily at the highest levels. Although everyone wanted to achieve the highest possible level of attainment, socio-economic backgrounds would affect those levels. One better way of reflecting this would be to look at added value, as that was where significant progress would be achieved. The successes made at primary levels were difficult to replicate in the transition to secondary level but that was something that the authority was striving to improve. The celebrations and positive comments expressed earlier in the meeting were not related only to those schools achieving ‘outstanding’ evaluation reports but also to the vast majority of schools that had been ranked as ‘good’. Satisfaction levels would be raised further in future years through a combination of the efforts made by parents, pupils, teachers, governors and the help provided through additional central government funding. Councillor Carr took the opportunity to extend his personal thanks and good wishes, on his retirement, to Les Howes, Head Teacher at Caldicotes Primary School, his school having obtaining two consecutive ‘outstanding’ Ofsted reports. (g) Protection of Children Action Plan – The Executive Member for Children, Families and Learning provided an update on the present situation regarding the Protection of Children Action Plan. The plan related to the national picture and was the Government’s response to the detailed report by Lord Laming following the Baby P case. Ofsted had recently criticised local authorities and other bodies for the slow response in driving through the recommendations of that report. In reference to the recent report by the independent panel into a Serious Case Review carried out in 2007 by the Council, that also received criticism from Ofsted, the Executive Member recognised that although the case had been difficult, mistakes had been made. The conclusions and recommendations of the independent report were acknowledged and progress on implementation of the 47 recommendations in the report, 16 of which related to Children, Families and Learning, was being made. Transporter Bridge Closure – The Executive Member for Transport responded to comments regarding usage of the Transport Bridge, including the Heritage Open Day, and use for extreme sports (abseiling, bungee jumping etc). He confirmed that he would shortly be considering a report recommending that an open day should be held on the last Sunday of each month to provide a regular opportunity for residents and visitors to indulge in extreme sports and for walks over the top of the bridge. University Residents Parking Scheme – Acknowledging the thanks and appreciation from the Ward Member on the introduction of the scheme the Executive Member for Transport confirmed that following detailed consultations the scheme was still on schedule for full implementation by the end of August. The Mayor complimented the staff involved in the investigation process. (f) (h) (i) Middlesbrough Council 17 June 2009 (j) Swine Flu - The Executive Member for Public Health and Sport provided an update on the preparations taking place to deal with the Swine Flu Pandemic through the Pandemic Flu Working Group and other agencies. Family Intervention Projects – The Executive Member for Community Protection provided information and elaborated on the implementation of a Family Intervention Project carried out in partnership with Tees Valley Housing for which the Department for Children, Schools and Families would now provide additional funding for a further 3 years. Bereavement Services/Gravestones – The Executive Member for Community Protection confirmed that he had asked officers to look into the possibility and likely cost of re-erection of the gravestone for Moses Carpenter, although he had not noticed any groundswell of support for the work, he would endeavour to report to all Members as soon as possible. NOTED (k) (l) OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY BOARD - CHAIR'S REPORT Council received and considered a report submitted by Councillor Dryden, Vice-Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board outlining the work of the Board and Scrutiny Panels undertaken since the last meeting. He highlighted in particular the reports/work of the health scrutiny committees regarding Audiology Services, the North East Ambulance Service’s Foundation Trust status application and the loss of the ambulance control centre. NOTED STRATEGIC PLAN – ANNUAL UPDATE Council received and considered the final draft 2009/2010 revision of the Council’s 2008/2011 Strategic Plan, which formed part of the Council’s Policy Framework. In response to the new performance framework, in 2008 the Council revised its first Strategic Plan one year ahead of schedule and developed a new plan for the period 2008-2011. The aims of the Strategic Plan are to: identify and prioritise the Council’s contribution to delivering the Sustainable Community Strategy and the Local Area Agreement outcomes in the medium-term provide a strategic overview that brings clarity of purpose to the organisation and provides a coherent framework for financial and delivery planning and performance management communicate the Council’s improvement agenda to all stakeholders. The Deputy Mayor approved an outline structure and development timetable for the 2009/2010 revision of the Council’s existing Strategic Plan on 5 March 2009. It was agreed that this year’s plan would: reflect the vision, aims and objectives of the revised Sustainable Community Strategy for Middlesbrough include the revised ‘Fit for Purpose’ aim and priorities, following a corporate consultation exercise address key findings from audit and inspection over the last year be structured to clearly reflect the key questions of the Area Assessment element of the forthcoming Comprehensive Area Assessment be published as a single, streamlined and cohesive document, rather than as separate parts. As the Council’s overarching business plan, the Executive at its meeting held on 26 May 2009 endorsed the document for approval by the full Council. Moved, seconded and ORDERED that the 2009/2010 revision of the Council’s 2008/2011 Strategic Plan be approved. Middlesbrough Council 17 June 2009 SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY STRATEGY FOR MIDDLESBROUGH Council received and considered Council’s Sustainable Community Strategy for Middlesbrough 2008/23. The 2006 Local Government White Paper, Strong and Prosperous Communities set out the functions of the Plan. The Council’s most recent Community Strategy was produced in 2005. That document provided for the first Local Area Assessment (LAA) produced in 2006/7, as well as the ‘new look’ Local Area Agreement covering 2008-2011. Guidance ‘Negotiating New Local Area Agreements (Communities and Local Government, September 2007) recognised the relationship between the SCS and the LAA. The final draft of the SCS was based upon the bringing together of information from existing plans and strategies to support agreed priorities. It also built on feedback from the Council’s Corporate Assessment Report (December 208) and included longer-term outcomes that illustrate what Middlesbrough will look like if the overall vision is achieved as well as demonstrating the incremental short, medium and long-term steps required to achieve the vision. In addition, the report ensured that the Middlesbrough Partnership was able to respond effectively to the requirements of the Comprehensive Area Assessment introduced in April 2009. The final draft SCS was based on the following structure: About Middlesbrough - telling the ‘story of place’ for Middlesbrough Our vision for Middlesbrough, Themes and Strategic Priorities - the Middlesbrough Partnership sets out its vision, themes and aims. The vision and themes describe ‘what’ Middlesbrough will be like in 2023 Delivering the Strategy - taking the wider vision for Middlesbrough as a starting point, this section articulates what the vision for Middlesbrough means in terms of each theme and describes the aspirations for the future in respect of the relevant theme Underlying Principles - there are also a range of important principles and priorities that cut across and need to be a consideration in all Middlesbrough Community Strategy priorities and everything it does. These principles are: Community Engagement Equality and Diversity Narrowing the Gap – people whose circumstances make them vulnerable Value for Money Sustainability How everything fits together - how the SCS relates to other plans and strategies Middlesbrough Partnership - sets out the role of Middlesbrough Partnership Monitoring the delivery The document, one of the reports within the Council’s Policy Framework, had received endorsement by the Executive at its meeting held on 26 May 2009. Moved, seconded and ORDERED that the Sustainable Community Strategy for Middlesbrough 2008-2023 be approved. ** URGENT ITEMS There were no urgent items to report. **NOTICE OF URGENT MOTION Consideration was given to the following urgent motion, moved by Councillor Coppinger, and seconded by Councillor Budd of which notice had been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 11. ‘This Council welcomes the recent visit of the ‘keep the post public’ campaign to Middlesbrough’s centre square on 23 May and the support of members of the public, local councillors and the town’s two MPs for the campaign. Middlesbrough Council 17 June 2009 This Council urges Government to not sell off the Post Office and to work with those employed in the industry and other interested parties, to explore and develop other alternatives to sell-off to secure investment in, and development of, Post Office services for the future’. On a vote being taken the motion was declared CARRIED. BY ELECTION RESULT – NORTH ORMESBY AND BRAMBLES FARM The Director of Legal and Democratic Services formally reported to outcome of the North Ormesby and Brambles Farm by election held on 28 June 2009 at which Mr Len Junier (Labour) was duly appointed as Councillor for the Ward with effect from 1 June 2009. There was no change in the overall political make-up of the 49 members of the Council that remained as follows: Labour Group 28 Middlesbrough Independent 7 Members Association Conservative Group 6 Marton Independent Group 2 Liberal Democrat 1 Green Party 1 Independents (including the Mayor) 4 NOTED POLITICAL BALANCE – ALLOCATION OF PLACES 2009-2010 – APPOINTMENTS TO VACANCIES The Director of Legal and Democratic Services sought instructions in regard to the filling of vacancies on various committees and reported on the changes requested by political groups to the allocation of places held in accordance with the political balance of the council prior to the recent by election. Moved, seconded and ORDERED as follows: 1. That the following members be allocated to vacant places on the committees/sub-committees indicated: Schedule A Appointments: Corporate Parenting Board – Councillors Budd and B Thompson (Subject to approval by the Deputy Mayor) Older Persons Partnership – Councillor Purvis (Subject to approval by the Deputy Mayor) Schedule B Appointments: Corporate Health and Safety Committee – Councillors Dunne and Junier Work Council – Councillors Junier and Rostron Schedule C Appointments: Corporate Affairs Committee – Councillor McIntyre Ad Hoc Scrutiny Panel – Councillor Dryden Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel – Councillor Biswas Health Scrutiny Panel – Councillors Carter and Junier Social Care and Adult Services Scrutiny Panel – Councillor J Walker – 1 vacancy remains Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Joint Committee – Councillor Carter Teesside Pension Funding and Investment Panel – Councillors Carter and Rostron 2. That the following changes required by the Labour Group authorised by the Director of Legal and Democratic Services under delegated powers be noted: Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel - Councillor Junier to replace Councillor Carter. Licensing Committee – Councillor Hubbard to replace Councillor Morby Middlesbrough Council 17 June 2009 Corporate Affairs Committee – Councillor Elder to replace Councillor McTigue ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS – SECTION 85, LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 – COUNCILLOR J A WALKER As Councillor Walker attended this meeting, the above report was withdrawn.