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Scrutiny

Scrutiny helps ensure that local people receive high quality services and involves the Council's Select Committees checking that the services and policies meet the needs of local people according to the Council's own aims and standards.

The Council has five themed Select Committees comprising nine Councillors on each (politically balanced). Some Select Committees also have non-Councillor co-opted members.

Select Committees examine, review and challenge the work of the Council. They cannot make decisions, but do make recommendations to the Council and other organisations.  

 

Executive Scrutiny Committee

Scrutiny provides Councillors who are not part of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's decision-making Cabinet the opportunity to review decisions, policies and performance that affect the Borough.

Scrutiny is a Councillor-led process which helps to ensure that the Council's services and policies meet the needs of local people according to the Council's own aims and standards. The Executive Scrutiny Committee co-ordinates the Scrutiny Work Programme, providing a strategic steer for the work of the Select Committees.

In light of events surrounding the ongoing global pandemic, the Executive Scrutiny Committee will receive updates on the Council's response to and recovery from COVID-19.

 

Adult Social Care and Health Select Committee

Review of day opportunities for adults

Through Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's duty to provide services to people with eligible and assessed needs, day opportunities services have constantly evolved to meet local requirements and meet national guidelines.  This includes services provided by the Council, commissioned through the independent or Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector, and those people who choose to purchase their own support through a Direct Payment.

However, the profound and continuing impact of COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way the Council has been able to deliver this service during 2020 and 2021.  In line with Government guidance, building-based day opportunities have been closed for extended periods throughout the pandemic, with building-based offers limited to individuals who have been prioritised by risk.  As a result, the Council's day services have developed new remote approaches to support the wellbeing of individuals, this has included offering online groups, wellbeing calls and other initiatives designed to help people stay connected. These changes have caused the Council, people who access its services, and key stakeholders to reflect and review what, who and how day opportunities are offered in Stockton-on-Tees.

This review provides an opportunity to consider and identify options for the remodelling of Day Opportunities Services, primarily to move away from traditional building-based 'service-driven' provision to a 'needs-led' community-focused service which clearly articulates the role of the Council, independent / VCSE assets, stakeholders and volunteering in delivering this model. Critical in any future planning will be the need to ascertain the views of service-users and their families/carers, particularly in light of the considerable impact that the pandemic-related changes to day services will have had on informal carers.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in May 2022.

Quality Assurance Work

As well as undertaking in-depth reviews, the Committee looks at a range of other information to keep an overview of performance. These include NHS Quality Accounts and Healthwatch reports, as well as visits to local health and social care services. Visits are currently suspended due to COVID-19 social distancing guidance.

 

Children and Young People Select Committee

Review of child poverty

Child poverty rates are rising across the region. All 12 Local Authoritys, including Stockton, are included in the 20 Local Authoritys which saw the biggest increases between 2014 and 2015 and 2018 and 2019. Living in poverty has an impact on child development, attainment and future life chances.

The review will:

  • collate and analyse data
  • identify potential solutions
  • focus on a range of linked issues including digital divide, FSM eligibility etc.
  • review the approaches in other areas

The review will identify the key components of a family/child poverty strategy for adoption by the Council.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in May 2022.

Member visits to frontline services

In addition to review work, Select Committee Members undertake a programme of visits to frontline services as part of their wider quality assurance work. Visits are currently suspended due to COVID-19 social distancing guidance.

 

Crime and Disorder Select Committee

Review of bonfires on public land

Like many Local Authority areas, Stockton-on-Tees experiences an increase in bonfires between mid-October and mid-November each year. Whilst these usually occur because of Bonfire Night (5th November) celebrations, such cases have led to significant issues including damage to grassed areas, fly-tipping (involving refrigerators, old mattresses, kitchen units, etc.), public disorder, and associated obstructive parking.

The Council and its key partners, Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade, have historically worked together to mitigate the risks associated with the lighting of bonfires, particularly during the Bonfire Night period. However, concerns persist around the prevalence and impact of this annual activity, and the unabating challenges faced by local organisations in managing any identified issues in relation to bonfires. Reported attacks on public sector workers when attempting to intervene is a further alarming aspect of this practice.

Focusing on bonfire activity upon public land, the aims of this review will therefore be to:

  • establish the extent of bonfire related concerns (e.g. personal safety, damage to property, fly-tipping etc.) within the Borough during the traditional Bonfire Night season
  • understand what the Council and its partners have historically done to identify, address and reduce bonfire related issues
  • investigate what, if any, further measures can be put in place to strengthen the management, or reduction, of bonfires during this time period

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in September 2022.

 

People Select Committee

Tees Credit Union

Tees Credit Union merged with Moneywise Credit Union Ltd in September 2017.  The aim of this review would be to consider the operation of the Credit Union since the merger to ensure that it is serving the needs of the people of the Borough and specifically supporting the vulnerable who rely on it for the provision of loans, banking services and savings accounts at reasonable rates. The review is timely because it would be approximately two years after the merger and this would be a good time to ensure that the changes made to support the merger have been completed successfully.

In December 2018 Moneywise Credit Union Ltd was appointed to operate the new Community Bank in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland. The review would provide a good opportunity to consider whether any opportunities for collaboration arise from this new operation which may generate further benefits for the Moneywise customers in Stockton-on-Tees. 

The review would also provide an excellent opportunity to consider whether increased support and collaboration can be achieved with businesses and VCSE organisations in the borough in terms of payroll giving and collaborative working. The opportunity through the scrutiny process to illicit the views of partners and businesses would be valuable.

The review could also consider opportunities for generating greater take up of the Moneywise services with Council employees and seek to ensure that we have a healthy and high performing credit union in the Borough which is helping to tackle financial exclusion.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in July 2022.

 

Place Select Committee

Residents Parking Zones

The Council has only a "high level" policy regarding Residents Parking Zones (RPZs) which has not been fully reviewed since 2004.  There are regular requests for them from residents living near town and local shopping centres as well as near traffic generating facilities such as hospitals and schools. Many residents think that Residents Parking Zones are a solution with no downsides. The reality is that there are a range of issues that could arise from them e.g. costs to residents and visitors, no guarantee of a parking space for residents or visitors, issues with enforcement, potential loss of parking spaces, moving the problem to areas immediately outside any residents parking zone etc.

A review would tie in with the Council's Town Centre Regeneration Proposals. There is an important interface between encouraging businesses and customers and impact on residents living nearby requiring a balance to be struck. Areas where demand on parking is oversubscribed can lead to road safety and accessibility issues especially to those who are mobility impaired.

Residents Parking Zones's can help keep people safe and healthy by managing parking in areas where it is oversubscribed to ensure roads and pavements are safe to use by all. Correctly balancing the needs of residential and business related parking can also help support jobs and the economy.

The overall aim of the review would be to inform the objectives and components of a revised policy on Residents Parking Zones to be contained within the revised Car Parking Policy for the Borough.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in June 2022.

 

Other Scrutiny

A Tees Valley Joint Health Scrutiny Committee comprising the five Tees Valley Local Authorities exists to act as a forum for the scrutiny of regional and specialist health scrutiny issues which impact upon the residents of the Tees Valley, and for sharing information and best practice in relation to health scrutiny and health scrutiny issues. The North East Health Committee fulfills the same role for the region as a whole. Time-limited Joint Committees may also be established to respond to consultation on changes to local health services, as and when needed.

For further information on our select committees, including copies of final reports, visit the e-genda Council Meetings and Papers page or telephone 01642 528158.