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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 2017 - 2018

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 Temporary Accommodation for Homeless Households

The Committee is looking at the provision of temporary accommodation and housing related support services for homeless households.

Short term emergency supported accommodation is commissioned by the Council, and supports people with a range of needs.  There is a focus on ensuring clients are able to move on into independent living.

The review is examining how this support works at the moment and whether we need to develop more options for those most ‘difficult to house’.

 

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 Child’s Journey

The Council is committed to planning and delivering services which are based on the views and lived experiences of children and young people.

The review is testing how well the Council does this by looking at what tools and techniques are used at a number of levels: the individual, at a service delivery level, and the strategic.

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

 

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.

Review of Under-representation of BME Communities in the SBC Workplace

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council (SBC) has been working for a number of years to increase the representation of the BME community in its workforce.  It is a stated aim of the Council’s People Strategy that it wants to ‘recruit and retain a diverse and talented workforce’.  SBC aim to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of its residents, customers and stakeholders, and recognises that promoting equality benefits public services for all.

SBC continues to promote vacancies within the BME community through Community Engagement and supports the retention of its BME workforce, particularly through the BME staff forum.  However, it is hoped that further progress can be made, with the aim for the diversity of the Council’s workforce to be representative of the diversity of the Borough.

It is proposed that the Committee assess the Council’s performance against the ‘Roadmap to Success’, recommended to organisations in the independent McGregor-Smith Review (2018) – Race in the workplace to assist leaders to move positively towards a more diverse workforce:

1)      Consider our Data

2)      Take Accountability

3)      Raise Awareness

4)      Examine Recruitment

5)      Change Processes

The review is scheduled to report to Cabinet in February 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 early-2019.

 

Review of Bring Sites (Recycling)

Bring (recycling) sites are defined as areas in car parks and on streets at which Local Authorities or third parties provide containers for the public to deposit recyclable materials.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council (SBC) currently spend over £16,000 per year to J&B Recycling Ltd to service 19 bring sites within the Borough.  Materials accepted at these sites include paper, glass, cans, cardboard, plastic bottles, textiles or a mixture of materials known as ‘co-mingled’.  Collection frequencies vary depending on the size of the site, ranging from 12 times per month for the largest to once a month for the smallest.

The overall management fee for this service is split between the five Tees Valley Local Authorities on the basis of the number of bring sites they operate.  SBC have significantly more than Darlington (3), Hartlepool (3), Middlesbrough (1) and Redcar & Cleveland (3), some of whom have previously examined their provision and subsequently reduced their bring site offer.  The current joint contract with the other Local Authorities will end in March 2019, and some Councils have confirmed that they will make their own arrangements once this has expired.

The amount of material collected at each site varies, and there is evidence that some are becoming under-used.  In addition, incidences of anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping are increasingly linked to bring sites, and last year around £2,000 was spent on replacement containers due to arson, as well as unknown costs relating to the, on occasions, daily visits to these sites by the Council’s street cleansing operatives.  With this in mind, and in recognition of the impending service contract situation, it is a prudent time to review SBC bring site provision.

The aim of this review is therefore to:

  •          Understand current bring site provision across the Borough and establish the extent to which they are used and the costs involved, including geographical variances and associated issues such as anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.
  •          Ascertain the impact of any changes to the current bring site provision, specifically costs to the Council and the ability for residents to continue to recycle materials.
  •          Propose a preferred option for the provision of bring sites in Stockton-on-Tees post-March 2019.


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

 

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.