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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 2015 - 2016 

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 June 2018.

  

Place Select Committee


Review of Billingham Event Infrastructure / Billingham International Folklore Festival (BIFF)

Billingham International Folklore Festival (BIFF) has been staged every year for over 50 years.  Celebrating diversity, bringing communities together and attracting visitors, it has a significant international reputation and considerable value as an example of how global cultural forms were revealed and celebrated in an era without global digital communications.

In recent years, BIFF has used a variety of school buildings and temporary structures to house their artists, most recently utilising the former Campus School sports block on Marsh House Avenue, Billingham.  However, as part of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s (SBC) ‘Let’s Share’ strategy, approval has been given to the transfer of the Campus sports block to Onsite, on behalf of a range of tenant/users.  Required alterations to the building (which will result in more people using the building more of the time) reduces the space in which BIFF can house artists for this and future year’s festivals.

The Council provides BIFF with an annual grant of £60,000, in addition to which BIFF have successfully secured Arts Council England (ACE) grants at varying levels.  For 2017, the BIFF organisers estimated the additional costs for temporary infrastructure to be approximately £25,000 – Cabinet approved the use of up to £25,000 of Council resources to enable the short-term measures to facilitate BIFF this year, and endorsed a proposal for further work to be undertaken to explore and define costs for longer-term solutions to the infrastructure challenges faced by BIFF and similar events in Billingham.

The key aims of this review are therefore to examine the following:

  •  Analysis of how BIFF organisers are using the current Marsh House Avenue site, and what infrastructure requirements are needed for the current format of the event in both the performance and accommodation sites.
  • Understanding of the costs of accommodating groups during the festival period, including catering and transportation, as well as infrastructure associated with the performances.
  • Exploration of potential alternative accommodation sites and different approaches, including the provision of temporary ‘event village’ systems provided by commercial suppliers.
  • Consider the potential for existing partners in BIFF, such as the Billingham Town Council and St Modwens, to play a different or greater role to enable its future sustainability.

 

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.