A report was submitted, the purpose of which was to provide an update regarding the proposed merger of the Teesside and Hartlepool Coroner areas, and to seek Executive Member approval to proceed.
Following the retirement of the Senior Coroner for Teesside in 2014, a business case supporting the merger of the Teesside and Hartlepool Coroner areas had been submitted to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The MoJ had consulted on this document and, following consultation, stated that, in line with the response sent by the Chief Coroner, they were unlikely to recommend the merger unless the Senior Coroner position was full-time and appointed by an external competition.
Since the original business case was submitted, some three years ago, there had been several key changes which meant that the recommendations in the business case should be revisited. Following discussions and negotiations, the respective authorities had prepared a Further Addendum Business Case - draft dated August 2017, which was attached as an Appendix to the report.
The report detailed the progress that had been made and the changes that had occurred since the submission of the business case. Further details, together with information regarding changes to the impact of these, were set out in the Further Addendum Business Case.
The report proposed three key issues that were apparent in the current proposed merger, together with next steps to be taken.
The following options were considered:
Option one (not recommended) - reject the merger as proposed in the Further Addendum Business Case. This was not recommended as it would leave the coroners service across the Tees Valley fragmented, and would not offer any opportunity for additional savings.
Option two (Recommended) - approve the merger as proposed in the Further Addendum Business Case. This provided the greatest likelihood of securing the best outcome for the Tees Valley, and would provide greater flexibility for Middlesbrough as responsible authority.
ORDERED as follows:
That the current model of senior coroner and coroner support for the merged area (1 FTE Senior Coroner plus 0.8 FTE Assistant Coroner Support) be agreed;
That the current Senior Coroner for Teesside be slotted in as Senior Coroner for the new area;
That the proposed funding model for the new service, based upon the percentage costs of the combined services paid by each authority at present, be endorsed;
That the Executive Member notes that the MoJ can 'force a merger if not agreed by the relevant authorities;
That the Executive Member agrees the contents of the current Further Addendum Business Case; and
That any subsequent revisions to the Further Addendum Business Case, which did not fundamentally alter the direction set, be delegated to the Head of Legal and Democratic Services.
The decisions were supported for the following reason:
This would secure the best outcome for the residents of the Teesside and Hartlepool Coroner areas.