Council Minutes

Council Minutes

Date:
Wednesday 18 February 2015
Time:
7:00 p.m.
Place:
Council Chamber, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Kerr (Chair), The Mayor (R Mallon), Councillors Arundale, Biswas, Bloundele, Brady, Brunton, Budd, Carr, Clark, Cox, Davison, Harvey, Hawthorne, C Hobson, J Hobson, Hubbard, Hudson, Hussain, Junier, P Khan, Loughborough, Lowes, Mawston, McPartland, Morby, Mrs H Pearson, OBE, G Purvis, P Purvis, Rooney, Rostron, Sanderson, Saunders, J Sharrocks, Taylor, B Thompson, M Thompson, N J Walker
Officers:
R Broad, L Henman, R Horniman, A Hoy, J Lewis, S Lightwing, T Parkinson, M Robinson and K Whitmore
Apologies for absence:
Cole, Dryden, Hanif, Rehman, P Sharrocks and J A Walker
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest made at this point of the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
14/70 MINUTES - COUNCIL - 7 JANUARY 2015

The minutes of the meeting of Middlesbrough Council held on 7 January 2015 were submitted and approved as a true record.

14/71 ANNOUNCEMENTS/COMMUNICATIONS

There were no announcements or communications.

 

NOTED

14/72 PETITION

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule Nos. 88-89, Council received a petition presented by Mr G Pear, lead petitioner, against the proposed closure of the Acklam Post Office and associated planning application for a takeaway.  Mr Pear asked the Council to refuse the planning application.

 

The Executive Member for Regeneration thanked Mr Pear and stated that whilst the proposed closure of the Acklam Post Office was a commercial decision, the Council would continue to discuss the issue with the Post Office.  The Post Office had confirmed that it would retain a site within Acklam centre and was currently exploring other possibilities.  The planning application was a matter for the Council's Planning and Development Committee to determine, however, it was noted that the Officer's recommendation for the application was for refusal.

 

NOTED

14/73 QUESTIONS BY THE PUBLIC

The question from a member of the public was withdrawn with the consent of The Mayor.

14/74 MAYOR'S STATEMENT AND REPORT

The Mayor indicated that his statement would focus on the past, present and future of Middlesbrough Council's finances.

 

Since the formation of the Coalition Government the economic themes of Government had been: deficit/public borrowing, austerity measures, re-balancing the economy, public sector financial cuts and economic growth.  The financial impact on Middlesbrough Council to date had been cuts of £60.5 million plus £8.9 from the removal of the Working Neighbourhoods Fund.

 

The Mayor outlined proposals for the 2015/2016 budget which included financial cuts of £14.1 million, a budget requirement of £119,917,000 and further investment of £4.578 million in care for children, young people, older people and vulnerable adults, capital investment and the introduction of the Living Wage.  The Local Authority would receive a reduction in Formula Grant of £13.4 million which was a 14.9% reduction.  If Middlesbrough had received the average reduction of 1.7%, an additional £6 million would have been available to support services to Middlesbrough residents.

 

In light of the above priorities and the budget requirement, the Mayor concluded that the Government Council Tax Freeze Grant should be rejected and the Council Tax should rise by close to 2%.  Accepting the Freeze Grant would result in a further budget reduction of £400,000 for 2015/2016 and an additional financial shortfall of £17 million over the next ten years.

 

The Mayor went on to outline the further savings that would be required.  From 2011/2012 until 2019/2020 the savings needed would be £145 million without mitigation or £121 million with mitigation. 

 

Details of the impact on services including job losses, reduction and reconfiguration and new service delivery models were outlined.   The Mayor also spoke in detail about the challenges to balancing the Council budget and focussed on children's safeguarding, adult social care and income.  The Mayor also suggested remedies to the current financial situation including increasing the number of residents in the town by building more houses, which would in turn increase Council Tax receipts and income.

 

The Mayor stated that there would be more financial cuts over the coming years and no new money would be forthcoming, whoever was in Government, due to the deficit, public borrowing and the fragile state of international and national economies.

 

In conclusion, the Mayor stated that further financial cuts would be imposed on the Council in future years, the demand for social and health care in relation to children and adults was rising and at best 73%, or at worst 85%, of the Council's budget would be spent on these two areas.  Integration and closer working between the NHS and social care was key to dealing with the pressures.  The Council had to be self-financing like never before and partnership working was vital. 

 

The Mayor commented that the statistical information and data referred to in his statement was available to all Members on request.

 

Members asked questions in relation to young people, in particular the Scouts, building on brownfield sites and business rates, to which the Mayor responded.

14/75 DEPUTY MAYOR AND EXECUTIVE MEMBER REPORTS

(a)   Waste Strategy and Environment Team

 

Responding to an enquiry in relation to litter removal generally in the town, the Executive Member for Environment confirmed that due to financial cuts there had been a reduction in staff and therefore a reduction in services.  It was also clarified that smaller litter bins were now provided due to their design being compatible with the waste collection vehicles.

 

(b)   Business Growth

 

Reference was made to the positive comments in the report on business and economic growth in Middlesbrough.  The Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development responded that this was as a direct result of investment from Middlesbrough Council in local enterprise.  The Executive Member also commented that the vast majority of apprenticeships nationally were for existing employees and were not new jobs.

 

(c)   Planning and Development

 

A Member commented on the restoration by a local company of several buildings in Albert Road which were of historical significance.  The Member asked whether the streets known locally as the "jewel streets" had been sold to a private developer.  The Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development agreed to investigate whether the "jewel streets" had been sold, although he was not aware that this was the case.  The Executive Member added that it was good to see private developers investing in the town as there were some properties that had fallen into disrepair and this was a blight on the town.

 

(d)   School Improvement

 

A Member queried why the Executive Member for Education and Skills had not responded to correspondence sent to her by school governors.  The Executive Member replied that she was not aware that this was the case but had arranged to meet with the Headteacher and Chair of Governors of the school in question to discuss their tracking systems. 

 

(e)   Community Learning

 

Reference was made to the Executive Member for Education's reports on a local running club, customer service apprentice and cleaning courses.  The Member requested that future reports focussed on the good work taking place in Middlesbrough schools.  The Executive Member responded that education was for life and Community Learning was about supporting those people who wished to continue learning.

 

(f)   Education Welfare Service

 

A Member requested further detail as to the geographic split across the town of the 61 prosecutions for poor attendance and the 301 penalty notices issued.  The Executive Member agreed to provide the information requested and added that the Secondary Schools Improvement Group was currently focussing on poor school attendance.

 

(g)   School Readiness

 

A Member asked whether the funding for the new service for under five year olds would be used to employ staff or whether volunteers would be used to help support parents.  The Executive Member for Supporting Communities clarified that there would be some initial work in respect of training parents and also giving them opportunities to move into employment.

 

(h)   Asylum and Migration Issues

 

Responding to a question regarding what support had been made available to asylum seekers in Middlesbrough, the Executive Member for Supporting Communities was pleased to report on the establishment of the North East Migration Partnership.  Whilst previous voluntary agreements between local authorities had not been successful, the Executive Member was confident that the new partnership would be effective in working with the Home Office to assist with the system of dispersal and ensure that housing standards, reception and integration remained very good.

 

NOTED

14/76 REPORT OF THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY BOARD

Council received and considered a report presented by the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Board outlining the work of the Board and Scrutiny Panels.

 

A Member raised a Point of Order in relation to the special meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 10 February 2015, to which the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Board responded.

 

NOTED

14/77 MEMBERS' QUESTION TIME

There were no questions for this meeting.

14/78 NOTICE OF URGENT MOTION

There were no urgent motions for this meeting.

Business Reports
14/79 LIVING WAGE

A report of the Executive Director, Commercial and Corporate Services, was presented to provide Council with information relating to options for implementation of the Living Wage within the Council and their impact on the medium term financial plan.  The Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Finance and Governance highlighted that implementation of the Living Wage would help improve the quality of life of lower paid staff as well contributing to the local economy and a better quality of service for the Council's customers.

 

ORDERED as follows that Council unanimously approved:

1.   implementation of the Living Wage without accreditation under Option 3, an annual realignment of grades

2.   the associated costs, as outlined in the submitted report, which would follow the publication of the Mayor's budget proposal for 2015/2016.

14/80 UPDATE ON URGENT DECISIONS JUNE 2014 - JANUARY 2015

A report of the Chief Executive was presented to provide Council with an update on special urgent and urgent decisions for the period June 2014-2015.   No special urgent decisions were taken during this period. Three urgent decision were taken as detailed in the report.  It was recommended that Council note the decisions.
 

NOTED

14/81 COUNCIL DIARY 2015-2016

A report of the Assistant Director, Organisation and Governance, was presented to request approval of the draft programme of Council committee meeting dates for the next Municipal Year as outlined in the Appendix attached to the report, and to approve the dates and times of Council meetings.  The dates were tentative at this stage and could change depending upon the meetings being re-established in the new Municipal Year and to the requirements of individual Chairs appointed at the annual meeting.


ORDERED that the timetable of meetings for the next Municipal Year was approved.
 

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