The details of the specific questions were included at Agenda Item 16.
1/16 - Question from Councillor Lawton to the Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport regarding Captain Cook Birthplace Museum.
The Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport confirmed that it was Middlesbrough Council who were investing the money as they were custodians of the funding and they were drawing up the design schemes. The funding had been used as follows:-
£100k for improvements to the building with an extra £50k as a contingency fund to ensure the works were carried out; £200k for display cases, equipment installation and procurement; £30k for natural science collections; £80k for voyage and education collections; £27k for technical, archival and artistic works and £5k for storage and archival facilities,
The Executive Member stressed that the above figures were approximate. The aim was to make the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum a museum of city regional significance.
2/16 - Question from Councillor Lawton to the Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Regeneration regarding registered companies in Tees Valley
In the absence of the Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Regeneration, the Chair read out the following response:-
Middlesbrough Council has secured significant investment in the town over the last 2 years (see the Deputy Mayors attached report of some of the higher profile achievements we have helped secure). With multi million pound investment from both private and public sector this has led to an important transformation, enabling the regeneration and supporting business growth and expansion. This has provided a wide range of job opportunities for residents and improved the image of the area.
Between May 2015 and May 2016, Companies House estimate that the number of businesses registered in Middlesbrough grew by 538 (14.3%), Stockton was up 355, Darlington 296, Hartlepool 213 and Redcar & Cleveland 81.
The total number of new businesses in the town in this period was 981 registrations, although there were 443 de-registrations during the period. With further premium brands moving into the town centre such as Valerie Patisserie, Flannels, The Disney Store, as well as two new restaurant chains secured for empty units along Albert Road, this highlights the confidence and forecast demand in Middlesbrough by the retail, leisure and hospitality sector.
With further developments proposed, Middlesbrough remains an attractive proposition to ongoing major investment and regeneration. Middlesbrough Councils business rates are growing; which demonstrates an overall positive direction with regard to economic growth in the town. The estimated business rates receivable for 2016/2017 is £43.4 million. This is an increase of 2.4% on 2015/2016. I am sure the Councillor will agree with me that these figures demonstrate that entrepreneurship and growth is thriving in the town under this Council. This town is open for business despite the efforts by some to talk it down.
3/16 - Question from Councillor Lawton to the Executive Member for Communities and Public Health re men's health in Middlesbrough.
The Executive Member for Communities and Public Health advised that in terms of engagement, developing new insight, realising men's health assets that already existed and connecting up services; a comprehensive view had been taken in respect of the challenges with men's health e.g. men die younger as they are less likely to go to a doctors and as a consequence diseases were not detected early.
The Executive Member advised that his report had outlined the approach in developing a Men's Health Plan which was due to be launched in 2017.
4/16 - Question from Councillor Lawton to the Mayor re external legal advice over the sale of the TAD Centre
The Mayor confirmed that the legal advice received in respect of the TAD Centre was internal legal advice.
5/16 - Question from Councillor Lawton to the Mayor re sale of the Cleveland Craft Centre
The Mayor confirmed that the Council had received £50k so far. The property was currently exempt from business rates whilst renovations were taking place but it would be considered in the longer term once the renovations were complete.
6/16 - Question from Councillor Rathmell to the Mayor re sale of Craft Centre
The Mayor advised that the 150 year lease was sold for £50k as the £110k bid received was not legitimate as it did not propose a use that was in the best interests of the town. As a consequence a second round of bidding was opened. The request to reduce the rateable value did not come from Middlesbrough Council. It was the Valuation Office that reduced the £7k rates to zero because no rates were payable whilst the building was being renovated. The Valuation Office would make a decision with regard to the new rateable value once the building was brought back into use.
The member commented that the building was currently on the market for rental at a value of £42k per annum. He queried whether the renovations to the building were completed. The Mayor advised that he did not have that information.
7/16 - Question from Councillor Rathmell to the Mayor regarding the valuation of Acklam Hall
The Mayor advised that the valuation of Acklam Hall had been carried out by a suitably qualified person but it was not a RICS Valuation. The valuation was obtained for the purpose of the Statement of Accounts. Councils were not required under Section 123 to obtain an independent valuation; an assessment of market value could be carried out in-house. Councils had a General Disposal Consent from the Secretary of State where a disposal asset was under value in certain circumstances for the promotion of social and economic wellbeing.
The member queried why state aid was not considered in respect of the Acklam Hall disposal. The Mayor advised that he could not confirm why state aid was not considered.
8/16 - Question from Councillor Rathmell to the Mayor regarding issue of fraud
The Mayor advised that the newspaper reports indicated that there were other defendants involved in the case referred to by the member. It was a different scenario to that of the sale of land where a number of people would be required to sign for the transaction.
9/16 - Question from Councillor Rathmell to the Mayor regarding investment in TAD Centre
The Mayor advised that the purchaser estimated that £800k would be required to be invested in the TAD Centre to improve it. The report referred to in the Scrutiny minutes was from the Executive Sub Committee for Property which stated that £300k would be needed to improve the Centre to make it useable.
10 /16 - Question from Councillor Rathmell to the Mayor re further investigations into sale of the TAD Centre, Acklam Hall and Cleveland Craft Centre.
The Mayor advised that as far as he was aware there were no further investigations underway however he was aware that a further complaint had been submitted.