The Chair invited Members to raise items for general discussion arising from the Information Booklet of Executive Member reports 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 (Sections 3 and 4).
The Chair advised that twenty four Executive Member questions had been submitted. The Chair requested questions and answers on the reports to be precise. Only one question per Member would be allowed in the first instance and if there was time left before the time allowed for questions had elapsed, Members that had submitted a second question, would be given the opportunity to ask their second question.
The Chair advised that as the Deputy Mayor had been on leave when the Executive reports were distributed, he would provide Members with a verbal update.
The Deputy Mayor stated that before he presented his report, he wished to pay tribute to Ron Lowes. He advised that he had attended school with Ron Lowe's children, they were a lovely family and they currently worked really hard within the education system and were very proud of their father. He stated that he wished to pass on his condolences to the family of Ron Lowes.
The Deputy Mayor advised that the Council were very close to agreeing the new model for the local authority. There were two key areas which the authority was focussing on. The report was due to be submitted to the Senior Leadership Team the following day, for further scrutiny and it was hoped it would be finalised in the near future. He stated that the Council had been brave with the new model, but it would improve the offer for people affected by sexual violence, domestic violence, substance misuse and homelessness and the Council needed to get it right. The report was due to be submitted to the Executive meeting in October and it was hoped that the new model would be ready by September 2020 and it would be a much improved offer for service users.
In terms of the Heroin Assisted Treatment pilot, the Council would use this programme to challenge the social difficulties faced by service users. In the long term, if the programme was removed the Council hoped to have something in place to replace it. As stated earlier, the Deputy Mayor had hoped to meet with the Health Select Committee, but the meeting had been unavoidably cancelled. In relation to the idea that people had been dying because of a lack of services, the Deputy Mayor advised that people were dying as a result of continued drug abuse and using a cocktail of drugs over a long period of years. The Deputy Mayor stated that Middlesbrough Council's service users did receive a good service.
The Deputy Mayor made reference to a "Recovery" event which was taking place on the following Saturday at 12 noon outside the Town Hall. He stated that the event would attract thousands of people from all over the UK, who had recovered to the town. The fountain outside the Town Hall would be purple and the Town Hall itself would be flying the purple Recovery flag. The Deputy Mayor highlighted that Middlesbrough people did recover from substance misuse in Middlesbrough because of the services on offer.
Questions on the Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health report
a) Suicide Prevention
Councillor Wilson referred to the funding allocated to NHS England to support a reduction in the suicide rate and he queried whether this funding was available to fund suicide prevention courses; who would be delivering the training; who was the training aimed at; were the Council going to employ selected suicide prevention workers; were the Council going to employ mental health mentors/counsellors; why was the training aimed at males aged 25 - 65 when mental health started at an early age? He queried whether the training should be aimed at male and females.
The Executive Member advised that there was training available which consisted of (ASIST) Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training; A life worth living suicide prevention training and broader mental health training, which was funded through Public Health. Redcar and Cleveland Mind currently held the contract for the Tees- wide training hub. They co-ordinated the training offer which was delivered by qualified practitioners from a range of organisations.
Suicide audits were carried out and those identified as being at risk were targeted. The Executive Member provided a list of the areas/professions/groups that might be perceived as being at risk. The Council did not plan to employ a Selected Suicide Prevention worker however they did have a role in co-ordinating the Suicide Prevention Action Plan supported by a multi-agency task force. The Council did not intend to employ mental health mentors/counsellors as the responsibility for these functions lay within the NHS. The training was funded through NHS England. The conditions attached to the funding for the training was that it had to be ring-fenced for male high risk specific age groups. There were however local initiatives which were included in the action plan which took into consideration other high risk groups.
Councillor Rooney advised that the reason why the group were submitting so many questions was because they were not receiving enough information from the Executive.
Councillor Rooney referred to the appointment of a drug related post. She queried with regard to whether it was a new post; when it began; where did the funding come from and how long was the post funded for?
The Executive Member advised that she would provide a response to the member following the meeting.
The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Culture and Communities advised that they regularly met with members, published information on social media, regularly published information and had an open door policy.
c) Homecare and Repeat Medication
Councillor J Walker advised that many members had completed the Suicide Prevention course and found it very useful.
Councillor Walker referred to the implications for people regarding ordering of repeat medication and she queried what provision was in place for those people who were unable to get to the doctors, those who were in care homes and those who were cared for in their own home.
The Executive Member advised that the Repeat Medication Project was being managed and run by the health partners. The Council had ensured that all the commissioned services were aware of the changes that were taking place and tasked them with ensuring that vulnerable people affected by the changes would be supported to remain under the previous medication ordering system if required. Due to patient confidentiality, the health partners were unable to share personal data, so the Council had only been able to provide a communications and support exercise in relation to sharing information about the changes. Medication administered in care homes would not be affected by the changes. The situation regarding the changes to the arrangements for requesting repeat medication would continue to be monitored until the changes had been embedded. The health partners had advised that they had written to every person that had been impacted.
Councillor Wright raised a point of order. He pointed out that there was no reference to the fantastic key stage 2 outcomes or the outcome of the recent GCSE exams. He highlighted that here was no reference at all in relation to education in the Executive Member's report.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer advised that before the Council could consider a point of order the Councillor was required to point out which law or breach of the Council Procedure Rules he was referring to. The Councillor advised that he just wanted to make the point.
Questions on the Executive Member for Children's Services report
d) Progress against savings plan
Councillor Hill advised that he wished to withdraw his question.
e) Care Services
Councillor Uddin referred to the inclusion of the delivery of the Edge of Care Programme in the Executive Member report. He queried what services would be included, over what timescale and how much each service would cost.
The Executive Member referred to the presentation that was due to be provided on the following Monday. He advised that following the presentation, if the member required any further information, he would be happy to provide it.
The Mayor referred to Councillor Wright's query with regard to the omission of the recent school examination results from the Executive Member report. He advised that he was recently at the Unity City academy and they had discussed exam results. The Mayor was advised that exam results were subject to appeal. On that basis, the Executive Member would be better to wait until results were confirmed before including reference to them in his Executive report.
Questions on the Executive Member for Culture and Communities report
f) Cleveland Show
Councillor Mawston first of all congratulated all those involved in bringing the Knife Angel to Middlesbrough. He stated that it was a very powerful piece of art.
He referred to the section on events in the Executive Member report and queried why there was no mention of the Cleveland Show in the report. He stated that the show had been going for 76 years and had almost closed this year and he stated that the show needed all the publicity and help it could gain.
The Executive Member advised that the Cleveland Show was a very important event. There was a packed programme and hundreds had attended, despite the weather. There had been publicity in the press about the show. In terms of support being given to the show by the Council, the Executive Member advised that the Council had assisted in the organisation process of the show; pointed out areas of improvement in line with best practice and assisted in the application process to the TVCA, which had unfortunately been unsuccessful. The Council had also assisted in social media and marketing and producing a press release. The show had also conducted an audience survey and the results of the survey were awaited. The Executive Member advised that she would ask officers what support could be offered in the future and she would ensure that reference to the show was included in future reports.
Councillor Cooke referred to the plan to try and relocate homeless people to their respective local authorities. He queried whether if this was achieved, then Middlesbrough would only have one homeless person. He referred to the recent count carried out in respect of homelessness and he queried how confident the Council could be about the accuracy of the count given the number of dilapidated properties and the number of camps that were emerging in Newport.
The Executive Member advised that she was unsure how the count had been conducted and she pointed out that there was a difference between homelessness and rough sleeping. In terms of the camps, the Executive Member indicated that she was concerned about this issue and would need to discuss it with those residents and discuss their circumstances.
The Executive Member referred to the new sit up service that had been established for rough sleepers and had been in operation for one week. There was a helpline and people would be picked up in taxis and taken to a safe space and provided with a warm drink and a meal for the night.
The Executive Member advised that there was a strong provision for homelessness in Middlesbrough. The budget was £1.6m for the provision of services for homelessness and domestic violence and it included eleven different provisions. The aim was to engage with people and direct them to the appropriate service.
h) Selective Landlord Licensing
Councillor Furness referred to the statistics for Selective Landlord Licensing and he commented that it appeared to have been a success in North Ormesby and it was on its way to being a success in Newport. He queried when the scheme would be rolled out across the remainder of the Newport Ward and whether there was a date for that. He also queried whether there were any plans to roll SLL out in other Wards.
The Executive Member advised that she and the Executive Member for Regeneration had been out in the Newport Ward with the Street Wardens and they had noticed that the SLL scheme stopped in a particular road and they had asked the reason for this. The Executive Member advised that they had taken information off the police and other agencies that the Council worked with when deciding on the area of the SLL. If the scheme was to be extend the remainder of the Newport Ward would be a priority.
In terms of expanding the SLL scheme across the other wards of the Council, if 20% of the housing stock was covered by a SLL scheme in Middlesbrough, then the Council would have to seek permission from the Secretary of State to expand the scheme further.
i) Selective Landlord Licensing
Councillor Branson referred to the principle of SLL and the SLL schemes set up in North Ormesby and Newport. He stated that there were other areas in the town where there was problems with private landlords. Often SLL was the only protection that private tenants had because of fear of being evicted. He stated that he would like to ask the Executive to support the principle that all private rented accommodation should be covered by a SLL system, given that private rented accommodation was rising and by 2021 a quarter of the population would be living in such accommodation.
The Executive Member advised that the Council would need to review how the existing schemes were working and then review the situation. As pointed out previously, if 20% of the housing stock was covered by a SLL scheme in Middlesbrough, then the Council would have to seek permission from the Secretary of State to expand the scheme further.
j) Stronger Communities
Councillor Hellaoui stated that the SLL scheme was another example of where it showed Gresham had not been ignored. Councillor Hellaoui wanted to thank the people involved in setting up the Gresham Together project. The aim was to address the problem with littering. Councillor Hellaoui provided members with an outline of the project and advised that another project was being set up in Gresham about recycling. The project was funded by the Empower Fund.
The Executive Member advised that she was thrilled to hear about the project and she acknowledged the work carried out by Councillor Hellaoui and Councillor Cooke in the Ward. The Executive Member advised that if Councillor Hellaoui wanted to discuss the project they could look at ways of expanding it .across Middlesbrough
Questions on the Executive Member for Environment report
k) Local Football Facility Plan
Councillor S Walker referred to potential funding from the FA in respect of MUGAs and football pitches. He advised that Coulby Newhamhad just lost a play facility. He stated that it was a large urban Ward with a high population and it only had one park. They were looking at submitting a Capital Funding Plan for an area where a MUGA existed but was not used very much. It was located next to a farmthat had £2m investment so it would add a commercial interest. He queried with regard to the process for Councillors and residents to become involved in the project.
The Executive Member advised that the MUGA referred to by the Councillor had been closed down due to the Sports Leisure management due to excessive vandalism and to replace it would cost in excess of £100k. The Playing Fields Strategy was looking at introducing some 3D facilities in respect of football, cricket, rugby and hockey pitches and the report was due to be published in the next week . The Executive Member advised that he would like to sit down with the member and look at any strategies that could be accessed.
Questions on the Executive Member for Finance and Governance report
l) Executive Meeting - 3 September 2019
Councillor Rathmell stated that given the predicted overspend of £336k and the discovery that £2.475m savings would not be achieved this year, resulting in the Council needing to find additional savings, he asked where the budget for new post of Director of Legal and Governance Services be coming from, given that there was a recruitment freeze across other departments.
The Executive Member advised that the Council did look carefully at recruitment and they did have a Vacancy Control Procedure and every vacancy was required to be submitted to LMT before recruitment took place. Two people had left the department and the budget was coming from the money saved from these two people leaving. The person currently doing the job did not wish to continue in it and for that reason, the job needed to be advertised.
m) Executive Meeting
Councillor Thompson queried whether the rents on the new housing would be social and affordable.
The Executive Member advised that the houses would belong to the Thirteen group so she would look into it and get back to the member concerned. The Mayor confirmed that the rents would be social and affordable.
Questions on the Executive Member for Regeneration report
n) Local Plan Working Group
Councillor Hubbard queried in regard to what consultation had taken place with residents in relation to the Local Plan. The Executive Member advised that the consultation process with residents had not yet commenced, but residents would be fully consulted in the near future.
The Chair advised that the time allocated for Executive Member questions had elapsed. He advised those Members that had indicated that they wished to ask more than one question, that they could email the Executive Members direct with their additional questions.