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Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future


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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. Some Select Committees also have non-councillor co-opted members.

Select Committees examine, review and challenge the work of the Council – in essence, a watchdog role. They cannot make decisions but do make recommendations to the Council and other organisations.  

Read the latest Annual Report outlining the work of the Committees during 2016 - 2017

The current work programme is shown below:


Executive Scrutiny Committee

Scrutiny provides Councillors who are not part of Stockton 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.


Adult Services & Health Select Committee

Review of Gambling

According to the Gambling Commission, results of a national survey showed that in 2016  47% of adults participated in at least one form of gambling in past 4 weeks - 31% when National Lottery is excluded – and 16% participated in ‘at least one form of online gambling in past 4 weeks’.  Around 1 in 6 children under 16 participated in a gambling activity in the last week – this has been consistent since 2012.

Not all gambling leads to harm, but problem gambling is potentially of great harm to individuals and families, and survey data from 2012 suggests that the prevalence of problem gambling is 0.6%.  

Premises with a gambling license are highly visible in some high street/shopping locations.  There is particular concern at the national level surrounding the use of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

The aim of the review is to conduct an investigation into the scale and effect of gambling in Stockton-on-Tees.  The review will consider the availability of information on local gambling activity, the types of activity, the licensing regime, and the relationships with local economic activity, health and wellbeing, and community safety.    

This could include problem gambling, risk factors, and the services/initiatives in place to provide support. 


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, and undertakes visits to local health and social care services.


Children & Young People Select Committee

Review of the Role of Inclusion in Schools

Stockton Council has placed a continuing priority on improving educational outcomes, the concept of Campus Stockton, and commitment to ‘all Stockton children’.

Within this context, the Council must operate within a rapidly changing policy landscape, the increasing academisation of schools, and the loss of the Education Support Grant during 2017-18.

To face these challenges the Council is undertaking a strategic review of education, looking at on specific service reviews, development of traded services, and sourcing external funding.

To contribute towards this, the review will focus particularly on the Council’s role in promoting inclusion and supporting vulnerable pupils, with a focus on those at risk of exclusion.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in July 2018.

Member Visits to Frontline Services

In addition to review work, Select Committee Members are undertaking a programme of visits to frontline services as part of their wider quality assurance work.


Crime & Disorder Select Committee

Review of Hate Crime

It has been nationally, regionally and locally recognised that the issue of hate crime continues to grow, yet the true extent of hate crime within communities is not known due to under- reporting.  There have been a number of reports and consultation documents to support the issues of under-reporting of hate crime within communities.

This review would enable a closer examination into the issue of hate crime (including communities from LBG&T (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and trans communities), people with disabilities, faith & belief and BME (black minority ethnic) communities, asylum seeker and refugees.

The overall aim would be to increase awareness and understanding for hate crime issues, seek to build confidence within communities and increase reporting.  The review will also explore restorative justice programmes and partnership working arrangements.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in March 2019.


People Select Committee

Review of Digital Optimisation

In November 2012, the Government Digital Strategy was published which set out how the government would become ‘digital by default’ – that is, digital services that are so straightforward and convenient that all those who can use them will choose to do so whilst those who cannot are not excluded.  It was estimated that moving services from offline to digital channels would save between £1.7 and £1.8 billion a year.

The strategy acknowledged that most public services are provided by local organisations such as local Council’s and the NHS, and that people often use a range of services, not just one at a time.  It was also noted that most people and businesses do not differentiate between different levels and types of public services; they just want a good service.

Councils have huge numbers of customer interactions every year, and by channelling visitors away from expensive phone and face-to-face interactions and towards more lean and efficient user-friendly digital services, they can serve more customers whilst significantly reducing costs.  Increasing digital provision also allows for better customer service and experience, and offers 24 hour-7 days a week access – this can in turn enhance the customer journey by providing greater interaction between the Council and its residents.

The aim of this review is to:

  • assess how well Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is progressing in its provision of digital services;
  • understand how digital services are being tailored to meet the needs of the Borough’s residents (personalisation of service);
  • consider to what extent the Council facilitates those who need access to digital services, mitigating for digital exclusion through the provision of technology in libraries and assisted customer self-serve;
  • ascertain how the Council’s digital services are being communicated, and how residents are being engaged;
  • explore what can be developed in the future to further encourage the channel shift towards digital services.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in January 2019.

Place Select Committee

Review of Consolidation of Thirteen Housing Group

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council (SBC) completed a large-scale stock transfer to Tristar Homes Ltd in December 2010 which facilitated a multi-million pound investment programme of upgrading existing stock, funding environmental improvements and the delivery of much-needed new affordable homes in the Borough.

In July 2017, Tristar Homes, along with Erimus Housing, Housing Hartlepool, Tees Valley Housing and Thirteen Care and Support joined in partnership to create one strong social purpose business called Thirteen (the single landlord).  This consolidation would enable Thirteen to deliver an internal efficiency programme and give greater flexibility for the single landlord to lever in additional financial resources to support future investment programmes across the Tees Valley.  Thirteen remain committed to working in collaboration with SBC and want to be the Council’s ‘partner of choice’.

The aim of this review will be to explore the impact (if any) of the consolidation of Thirteen Housing Group in relation to:

  • the delivery of services to tenants within the Borough.
  • ongoing liaison and contact with SBC at both an operational level (including appropriate Ward Members) and at strategic level.
  • their commitment post-consolidation to continue to be the Council’s ‘partner of choice’ (i.e. how their significant forward investment programme aligns and supports the Council’s broader economic and regeneration priorities).

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in October 2018.


Other Scrutiny

A Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Joint Committee comprising the five Tees Valley 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.

Scrutiny support is also provided to the Cleveland Police and Crime Panel whose remit is to be the scrutiny body with a range of statutory duties, and the responsibility for scrutinising and supporting the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner’s activities over a range of policy areas.  

For further information on our select committees please visit our egenda page or telephone 01642 528158.