The Democratic Services Officer submitted a report to provide information in respect of the scheduled attendance of Members of the Executive at the Overview and Scrutiny Board (OSB). It was intended for Executive Members to provide updates on their respective work in terms of their aims, aspirations, objectives, priorities and any emerging issues.
The Chair welcomed the Executive Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure to the meeting.
The Executive Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure advised that he had recently been given responsibility for this portfolio whereas previously he had responsibility for Culture, Leisure and Sport. Leisure remained an important aspect of the Economic Development and Infrastructure portfolio and a significant amount of work had been undertaken over the last year in respect of the Leisure Trust. The momentum for next year was focussed on legacy building and social regeneration was at the heart of the work being undertaken. Art in the community was a massive impetus and £500,000 had been received from the Councils Great Places Bid to grow Middlesbroughs creative industry. The aim was make art accessible for communities across Middlesbrough.
Mima had led on a project to redevelop socially deprived areas into artists residents. A public poetry had also been started in the town centre and it was anticipated that this project would be completed in the next 18 months. Reference was made to the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum and it was advised that a new café operator had been appointed and was keen to bring in educational programmes.
In terms of the Town Hall project it was explained that the work was ongoing and a huge transformation was taking place. There was a significant amount of community buy-in for the project, which had been given national portfolio status. The ambition was for the Town Hall to become a sub-regional centre for culture. The marble floors, court rooms and cells were all impressive and had captured peoples imagination. Discussions had taken place regarding the possibility of a craft beer / gin festival taking place in the cells. The venue had real potential and the opening up of this heritage venue was of cultural significance.
Tees Steel Bridging the World was set up by a group of individuals following the closure of SSI steelworks. The aim of the group was to promote Teessides great connection to the world and the group had many ambitions about taking over the full site and the blast furnace. A £10,000 feasibility study was currently being undertaken, although it was acknowledged that the project would be starting out small.
Reference was made to the Tour de Yorkshire and the legacy of the event, which had showcased Middlesbrough to the world. It had been a fantastic event and had drawn massive crowds. A Go Ride Coach, who was part funded by Public Health, was currently providing a number of services including training at the velodrome, a cycle user forum and support for the bike library. Anyone in Middlesbrough could hire a bike for free and the suggestion was put forward that an article be included in the Love Middlesbrough magazine to ensure the service was well advertised.
In terms of Economic Development and Infrastructure the Department of Growth and Place was considering how this work could be further developed. Officers were currently examining a range of cycling and walking routes throughout Middlesbrough, with a view to promoting the health benefits available via Facebook to enable people to look at the various options about what to do / routes to take, for example, with family at the weekend.
In respect of sport and leisure services the Executive Member explained that he was working with the Leisure Trust (SLM), as part of the Strategic Leisure Board, which was chaired by the Director of Public Health. Over £2 million had been invested in leisure facilities in 2016/17 including £800,000 at the Neptune Centre, £150,000 at the Rainbow Centre and the remainder at Middlesbrough Sports Village. SLM had also invested approximately £641,000 in the Golf Club, which included the reconfiguration of the golf shop, provision of professional golf advice, the development of a pitch and putt offer and FootGolf to attract more children to become involved in the sport. SLM were also looking to develop and enhance the catering facilities at the Golf Club and a new Golf Manager had been appointed.
Swimming was highlighted as an area in which the Council was keen to encourage more young people to become involved in. A scheme was in place that was due to commence in the summer holidays, which targeted families and it was requested that information on the scheme be forwarded to Community Councils. The provision of Dementia friendly swimming was also a key priority of the Mayor, who was keen to ensure that a safe, inclusive environment was provided for people with Dementia in which to swim.
The towns running programme was a further area of development and the forthcoming 10k race had a target of attracting 1400 runners. Running for juniors was a further area for development and the junior park run at Hemlington was proving hugely popular.
Reference was made to the Cultural Strategy and it was noted that the Strategy was being taken forward by the Executive Member for Culture and Communities. Work was ongoing to attract the biggest acts, including top comedians to Middlesbrough through the use of different venues. The theatre offer was also being further developed to provide a diverse range of acts that would appeal to a wide range of audiences. In respect of the offer available at the Dorman Museum the view was expressed that there was a need for a refresh to be undertaken. Funding for any such project would more than likely need to be applied for externally, for example, from the Arts Council but the point was made that the museum was worth cultivating, as it was the most accessible museum in the town.
Finally the Board was advised that the decision to move Orange Pip Market to Centre Square was not permanent. However, Bedford and Baker Street were a relatively small space and therefore consideration needed to be given to safety measures that needed to be in place and how the market could remain in that location, whilst attracting more visitors each month. Consideration was to be given to extending the use of road closures in the surrounding area and it was acknowledged that the market had to remain in the streets.
The Chair thanked the Executive Member for his update to the Board.