(a) Planning and Development
A Member referred to the Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Regenerations report on recent significant planning applications and key developments throughout the town. It was highlighted that throughout the recession and austerity measures, Middlesbrough continued to secure development. The Executive Member agreed with the positive comments made and highlighted that the Council was keen to progress investment in businesses such as the newly opened Holiday Inn Express for the good of the town and country.
(b) TAMP Project Update
A Member sought assurance that the OWVC construction project would be completed on time and without further cost to the Council. The Executive Member confirmed that an additional contribution of £341,200 had been committed to accelerate the Project, and staff were working hard to ensure a timely completion. It was also highlighted that the Project had been altered and enlarged part way through.
(c) Housing Delivery Vehicle (HDV)
A Member asked why the joint venture with Erimus established in 2011 to kick start the regeneration of Grove Hill had taken four years to come to fruition. The Executive Member explained that the HDV was in fact an extension of the original joint venture and was a town wide initiative rather than being concentrated on one area.
(d) Response to Government Consultation on changes to Trade Union Legislation
A Member commented on the proposed Trade Union Bill and consultations. The Member highlighted that Councillors and Trade Unions worked together to ensure good industrial relations, support the workforce, provide for pensions, health and safety and better working conditions. The Member stated that the proposed legislation could drive a wedge between management and Trade Unions. The Executive Member for Finance and Governance agreed with the Members comments and added that the proposals were unnecessary and counter-productive.
(e) Holiday Inn Express Hotel
A Member asked for a breakdown of the repayments for the loan the Council provided for the Project. The Executive Member for Finance and Governance agreed to provide the information requested.
(f) Middlesbrough Sports Village
Referring to the Middlesbrough Sports Village, a Member asked when the Velodrome would be opening. The Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport stated that during the three months since it had opened there had been 34,000 visitors. The Northern Athletics U15 and U17 Championships had taken place in August and excellent feedback had been received from all involved. The Velodrome would be launched on Friday 18 September 2015 and would be a specialist facility available to those accessing coaching programmes supported by qualified British Cycling coaches. Coaching sessions would be provided three days per week. The Executive Member urged all present to visit the Sports Village.
(g) Wi-Fi in Middlesbrough Libraries
Members welcomed the installation of Wi-Fi in Middlesbrough libraries and asked for an update on the implementation of free Wi-Fi in the town. The Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport explained that this issue cut across both his portfolio and the Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Regenerations portfolio. In relation to free town-wide Wi-Fi it was hoped to roll that out next year and the Council was currently looking for partners to work with.
(h) Changes in Housing Law
A Member welcomed the introduction of changes to housing law to tackle some of the abuses carried out by landlords and hoped that they would be enforced throughout the town. The Executive Member for Adult Health and Social Care agreed with the comments made and stated that recently the Council had successfully closed down two houses of multi-occupation. The Executive Member also highlighted that unfortunately reduced resources would impact on how effective the Council could be in enforcing Housing Law.
Reference was made to the Executive Member of Environments report in relation to trees at Stewart Park that had been identified as dead or dying. Assurance was sought that the trees would be replaced. The Executive Member confirmed that there were plans to replace the trees.
(j) Executive Member for Communities and Public Health
Since the Executive Member was not present at the meeting, the Chair suggested that Members should submit written questions to him or ask them at the next meeting.