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Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Scrutiny

town hall

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 June 2018.


Member Visits to Frontline Services

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

 

Crime & Disorder Select Committee


Review of Security at Preston Park

Preston Park and Museum is a successful leisure and heritage attraction.  Following investment in recent years the Park and Museum have become increasingly popular. 

The huge pressures of numbers of visitors to Preston Park and the Museum continue to challenge us with a growing need to manage the public’s use of the space, to control car parking, to deal with competition for the use of spaces, and to address the upkeep of the attraction as thousands of people visit every day. Pressure on river access is also an issue.

The Park has also suffered from incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour in recent months and these threaten the viability of the attraction and the satisfaction of visitors.Steps have already been taken to improve CCTV and other means of tackling antisocial behaviour in Preston Park.

There are numerous points of access to the park, both informal and formal, including rights of way and cycle paths. Clearing the 110 acre site at dusk and closing all points of access is not achievable with current resources.

The Committee will explore the causes and possible solutions in respect of the following issues:

  •   Night Time Activity
  •   Inappropriate use of cars
  •   Vandalism to Buildings and threat to collection
  •   Threat to safety of staff and café staff
  •    Damage to toilets
  •    Drug and Alcohol misuse
  •    Swimming in river
  •    Dog Control

 And examine the issues in the context of:

  •     Car parking and traffic flow
  •     Access issues (inc. potential for secondary access, bridge across the river)
  •     Signage/ paths
  •     Under-used areas
  •     Café / Restaurant
  •     CCTV

 

People Select Committee


Review of Mental Health and Wellbeing including Suicide and Self-Harm

Mental wellbeing is the foundation for positive health and effective functioning for individuals and communities.  Evidence from the last few years states that the foundations for good mental health are laid down from an early age, and indeed during pregnancy.

Mental ill-health is common, with a significant impact on individuals, their families and the whole population.  One in four people will experience mental health problems at some point during their life.  22.8% of burden of disease in UK is due to mental disorder and self-reported injury compared to 15.9% for cancer and 16.2% for cardiovascular disease (WHO 2008).

The overall picture for the Borough shows that mental health needs in Stockton-on-Tees are higher than the national average (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment – Stockton, January 2016).  The rates of suicide and self-harm in Stockton-on-Tees, and child admissions for mental health-related conditions, is also statistically higher than the national average.  Services have described more incidents of poor mental health in children and young people, and also described the increased complexity of the child’s lifestyles (CYP Mental Health Needs Assessment 2015).

This review will focus on the age group 14-25 and check how well mental health is being promoted and ill-health prevented, with a particular focus on preventing and mitigating the key risk factors for suicide and self-harm which may manifest themselves in this age group, and in later life.

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

  

Place Select Committee

 

Review of Management of Memorials

Stockton Council ceased approval of fixed, permanent kerb-sets on all graves in 1969 following the adoption of the then much preferred lawn graves, where no items were permitted to be placed on the actual grassed part of the grave.  Approximately 15 years ago, however, the Council recognised that some families needed to tend and care for their family graves by the placing of personal items, which reflected the personality and character of their loved ones.

In 2007, the Council’s Environment Select Committee carried out an extensive review of the Management of Memorials, which recommended extending the Council’s Cemetery Regulations to allow personalisation of purchased graves by appropriate planting of an area at the head of the grave no larger than 25% of the grassed area, with guidance being drawn up.  During the review, the Committee consulted extensively with cemetery staff, cemetery visitors, funeral directors, monumental masons and faith groups.

The new policy was implemented in a sensitive way over a five year period.  Since the introduction of Council policy, however, it has yet to be assessed/scrutinised for how it is being managed, how it is being received by bereaved families, visitors and cemetery users and whether any amendments or additional choices are required to meet with public opinion.

This review will therefore seek to:

  • Understand the current policy around grave personalisation, maintenance of cemeteries and access requirements for such sites.
  • Ascertain how the Council communicates with bereaved families in terms of current policy, and how it manages complaints.
  • Establish how effective the current policy is and determine if any amendments are required.

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in July 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.