Overview and Scrutiny Board Minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board Minutes

Tuesday 18 August 2015
4:00 p.m.
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough

Attendance Details

Councillor Mawston (Vice Chair, in the Chair) J G Cole, Councillor C Hobson, Councillor N Hussain, Councillor J McGee, Councillor F McIntyre
A Crawford, P Duffy, E Kunonga, P Mitchell, M Padfield, J Shiel and K Whitmore
Apologies for absence:
Councillor J Culley, Councillor E Dryden, Councillor T Higgins, Councillor J Rathmell, Councillor J Sharrocks, Councillor J A Walker,
Declarations of interest:

There were no declarations at this point in the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution

The Minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 28 July 2015 were approved as a correct record.

15/15 CAPITAL OUTTURN 2014/2015

The Scrutiny Support Officer introduced this Item and advised Members that consideration of outturn reports was one of the ways in which the Board could hold the Council’s performance management framework to account. In addition to reports such as this, detailing the year end position, monitoring reports would be made to the Board at various stages throughout the year.


The Chief Finance Officer presented a report concerning the capital outturn and how this affected the capital programme, 2013/2014 to 2017/2018, based on information at 31 March 2015.


The Chief Finance Officer highlighted the following, in particular:-

  • actual capital expenditure outturn for 2014/2015 was £62.1 million, against a budget of £64.1 million at the second review;
  • the five year capital budget had increased by £3.99 million to £193.1 million;
  • the net position overall was that schemes were £63,000 under programme, so the programme was in balance.

A Member raised the following points:-

  • Under Outcome 1, Economic Development: Hemlington Grange Electrical Connection - would Northern Grid have undertaken this without the Council’s investment? The Council should be exploring other ways of ways of finding this money. The Chief Finance Officer responded that discussions were on-going as to the Council’s contribution. The exact amount had not been determined.
  • Under Outcome 7, Environment, Property and Commercial Services: Middlesbrough Sports Village - had Section 106 monies been used for the Council’s contribution towards the access road and new hospital car park and, if so, had the Council needed to borrow money for this? The Chief Finance Officer said he would check and confirm whether Section 106 monies had been used, but they represented a relatively small proportion of the scheme costs. Discussions were continuing with James Cook University Hospital about the car park to ensure that the Council’s interests were protected. The Council had not had to borrow money for this scheme.
  •  In terms of the re-profiling of expenditure between financial years, under Outcome 1, Economic Development: Middlehaven Urban Park and Urban Pioneers, the contractor had started on site later than expected due to a delay in legal documents. This scheme would have been known about for some time, so why was there a delay with the legal documents? The Chief Finance Officer said he would contact the Legal Department to ascertain the reason(s).
  • Under Outcome 1, Economic Development: Middlehaven Dock Bridge - was the Council still intending to choose the option of a swing bridge? The Chief Finance Officer advised that a report considering all of the options would be considered.

ORDERED that the following information be noted:-


a) actual capital expenditure for 2014/2015 of £62.1 million;
b) the increase in the overall capital programme of £3.99 million;
c) the net re-profiling of £3.69 million for 2014/2015 to 2015/2016 and a further £9.9 million over the whole programme period;
d) the overall net position has changed from £242,000 over-programmed to £63,000 under-programmed; and
e) the overall capital programme for the period to 2017/2018, as outlined in Appendix D to the report.

15/16 REVENUE OUTTURN 2014/2015

The Board considered a report by the Chief Finance Officer concerning the final revenue outturn position for 2014/2015.


The Chief Finance Officer took Members through the report which included progress against each of the Council’s nine outcome areas.


He highlighted the following, in particular:-

  • there had been a saving of £5.805 million, which represented a saving of 4.44% of the budget. This would be used to help mitigate future budget reduction requirements over the medium term;
  • on Outcome 6: Social Care - an on-going budget pressure had arisen due to a High Court judgement regarding Deprivation of Liberties Safeguards. The Council had created a reserve to contribute towards the cost of any additional legal support that may be required for this in future years;
  • on Outcome 7: Environment Property and Commercial Services - under Property and Commercial Services, the loss of income following the opening of the new Crematorium at Yearby had not been as high as forecast. In response to a question from a Member, the Chief Finance Officer felt that this could be because there had been publicity encouraging people to use the Crematorium, but he would ascertain the reasons for this and inform Members;
  • the overspend on Outcome 9: Organisation and Governance, had been due to delays in the implementation of service reviews and the Agresso System (the new business system being introduced within the Council).

A Member referred to Outcome 7, Leisure Services and commented that this budget always seemed to be overspent. This needed to be addressed. The Chief Finance Officer said that he would pass on these concerns to the Department.


Also on Outcome 7, the Chair enquired why the saving achieved from the sale of Clairville Stadium had not been as high as originally expected. The Chief Finance Officer said he would find out the reason and advise Members.


Still on Outcome 7, the Chair asked whether the grant income referred to under Environmental Services had been a one-off grant. The Chief Finance Officer said he understood that it was but that he would check this and advise Members.


ORDERED that the report be noted and that officers provide information to the Board on the queries raised.


The Assistant Director - Organisation and Governance presented a report which outlined the process undertaken to date to implement a Balanced Scorecard approach to performance management within the Council and which provided an overview of the Council's performance at year end 2014/2015, using the Balanced Scorecard Model.


The Assistant Director made the following points:-

  • the previous top down approach contained a plethora of performance indicators. This had left a gap, but also an opportunity for the Council to see what works for its purposes;
  • the scorecard would provide a single "traffic light" view of performance across four perspectives of Customer; Business; Finance; and People at the Council’s three senior management levels - Council; Executive Director and Assistant Director;
  • this was a pilot and would evolve and be modified over time;
  • some Indicators appeared in all quadrants as they were of particular importance to the Council;
  • a number of targets and measures were underdeveloped and information missing had skewed the data in some cases. These issues should be resolved by the second quarter;
  • Assistant Directors had been asked not to just report on an exception basis (e.g. where performance was not what had been anticipated) as this tended to be negative; they had been asked to report on good performance too.

In response to questions by Members, the Assistant Director explained the scoring system. Up to 25% is awarded for each element of each perspective. If no information was produced the score would be zero. If a score of 80% or more was attained overall, this was adjudged Green. If an area over-achieved a judgment would be made to see if this was planned. If work had not been undertaken, or there had been a failure to deliver an outcome, the judgment would be Red.


She also confirmed that "real time" generation of scorecards referred to the aim of producing performance information at any particular point in time - traditionally, this information had been produced for discrete periods - such as monthly, or quarterly.


Members sought further information about the actions being undertaken under Physical Activity which was Red.

The Director of Public Health advised that there was a Physical Activity Group and that a Physical Activity Plan was being finalised. Participation through schools and voluntary sector organisations would be used to provide in year clarification.


The Chair commented that he hoped the situation on obesity would be improved upon so that the status moved from Red and sought further information as to what was being done to tackle bulimia and anorexia. The Director of Public Health said that initiatives tended to focus more on weight management, but it was crucial to tackle the obesity environment. Eating disorders were a significant concern and impacted on young people, in particular. He would obtain figures for Members together with the actions being undertaken.


There were national programmes in place to measure height and weight with obesity in mind, but the data could also be used for identifying people underweight.


Prior to the meeting the Chair and the Vice Chair had asked for an explanation about the high rate of exclusions in Middlesbrough’s schools and actions being taken to address this.


The Head of Access to Education tabled information which confirmed that Middlesbrough had more than 4 times the national average of permanent exclusions.


This was due to a range of factors all combining simultaneously, including the fact that existing Pupil Referral Units were unable to accept pupils as they were full to capacity and early identification and interventions were insufficiently developed and alternative education provision was not well developed.


The Council was tackling the issue in a number of ways, as follows:-

  • an early help approach was being developed to ensure that children were ready to learn for schools
  • a Strategic Review of provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and who were vulnerable would commence in September 2015
  • some short term measures had been put in place to alleviate pressure on Pupil Referral Units to allow them to be able to move some children to an alternative provider and therefore to be able to take in new referrals
  • agreement had been reached with Middlesbrough schools to set up a Middlesbrough Behaviour Partnership to tackle these issues

The target was to have the new Behaviour Partnership arrangements in operation by March 2016 and improved exclusion rates significantly towards the national average within 18 months.


Councillor Brunton, the Executive Member for Education and Skills, said that the Council needed to work with schools to manage their own pupils or to monitor moves to other schools when this was necessary. Intervention would also assist the situation.


The Chair said that the Board would wish to see progress reports towards the targets.


A Member commented that very few families now ate together. The Director of Public Health said this reflected the need for various approaches. For instance, with young people the family would be targeted. For older people, a community-based approach was more appropriate.


The Director stressed the impact of social media on young people and the crucial importance of aligning health messages with these communication streams.


A Member mentioned that schools needed to be conscious of the messages they were giving. She had recently attended an Awards Event where chocolate had been given as a prize. The Director acknowledged this but, on a positive note, referred to Hearty-BEATS (Better Eating & Activity Through Schools) - a pilot project which aimed to develop the pilot primary schools as a healthy setting for the promotion of heart health and healthy lifestyles to pupils and their family members.


ORDERED as follows:-


a) That the process undertaken to date, to implement a Balanced Scorecard approach to performance management within the Council, be noted.

b) That the responses of Departments and the Council’s wider Change Programme to the performance issues outlined in the report be noted.

c) That the tabled information on pupil exclusions within Middlesbrough’s schools be noted.

d) That the Director of Well Being, Care and Learning be asked to provide progress reports to the Board on the measures being introduced to reduce the number of pupil exclusions.


A report of the Chair of each Scrutiny Panel was submitted which outlined the current activities of the Panel. NOTED.

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