Cabinet Minutes

Thursday, 13th March, 2008
4.30 p.m.
Lecture Hall, Stockton Central Library, The Square, Stockton on Tees
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Cllr Ken Lupton(Chairman), Cllr Mrs Jennie Beaumont, Cllr Robert Cook, Cllr Alex Cunningham, Cllr Terry Laing, Cllr Mrs Ann McCoy, Cllr Steve Nelson, Cllr Mrs Mary Womphrey
G. Garlick (CE0); I. Miles (R); N. Schneider, M. Robinson, R. Poundford, C. Straughan, I. Robinson(DNS); A. Baxter, S. McEneany (CESC); H. Dean (ACE); S. Lee, V. Rutland, E. Chesworth (PPC) D.E Bond, S. Johnson, M. Waggott, N. Hart (LD)
In Attendance:
Cllr Mrs Alison Trainer, Cllr Tina Large, Cllr Steve Walmsley, Cllr Colin Leckonby, Cllr Mrs Hilary Aggio, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Mrs Lynne Apedaile, Cllr Mrs Suzanne Fletcher, Cllr Mrs Eileen Craggs, Cllr Mrs Ann Cains, Cllr Mick Eddy, Cllr Maurice Frankland, Cllr Mrs Sylvia Walmsley, Cllr David Coleman
Apologies for absence:
Item Description Decision
Councillors Mrs Beaumont and Mrs Womphrey declared personal non prejudicial interests in the item entitled Thornaby Town Centre Redevelopment as they were members of Tees Active Management Board.

Councillor Cunningham declared a personal non prejudicial interest in the item entitled Carbon Management - Strategy & Implementation Plan as he was employed as an energy consultant.

Councillor Cook declared a personal non prejudicial interest in the item entitled Thornaby Town Hall as he was a member of Visit Tees Valley.

Councillors Walmsley, Miss Large, Mrs Trainer and Mrs Craggs declared personal non prejudicial interests in the item entitled Thornaby Town Hall due to being members of Thornaby Town Council.

Councillor Mrs Craggs declared a personal non prejudicial interest in the item entitled Adult Services and Health Select Committee-Scrutiny Review of Parkview Care Home due to being a member on the Adult Services and Health Select Committee.
The minutes of the meetings held on 11th February 2008, 14th February 2008 and 21st February 2008 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
Cabinet Decision Record D080024

1. a closure programme be prepared for Parkview, and Officers explore the possibility of replacing Parkview Home with an Extra Care facility on the same site.

2. that Officers begin a process of assessment with the current 13 residents at Parkview and their families to explore their needs both now and into the future

3. that Cabinet receives an update report on the progress around a potential extra care development and the reassessments of the current residents in 3 months time.
Cabinet Decision Record D080028

1. the freehold sale of Thornaby Town Hall be agreed in principle and Submission B be endorsed as the preferred developer based on indicative proposals submitted to the Council,

2. officers be authorised to invite the preferred developer to work up and agree detailed proposals and business plan based on their indicative proposals for a viable and sustainable scheme that incorporates Thornaby Town Council and Thornaby Heritage Group through an appropriate mechanism,

3. the Corporate Director of Resources in consultation with the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services, the Director of Law and Democracy and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport be authorised to agree Heads of Terms for the sale to the developer

4. the Head of Legal Services be authorised to complete a sale on the terms agreed in accordance with recommendation 3 above and the Council’s Scheme of Delegation.
Cabinet Decision Record D080025

1. Approval be given in principle to seeking to negotiate local enhancements to the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS). The enhancements sought will enable residents of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees borough councils to travel before 9.30am and after 11.00pm on weekdays.

2. Subject to agreement, an enhanced scheme operates for a one-year period from 1st April 2008 to March 31st 2009 inclusive, with negotiations carried out on a Tees Valley wide basis.

3. Approval to determine the Stockton contribution to a joint Tees Valley offer for the year 2008/09 be delegated to the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services in consultation with the Corporate Director for Resources and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport.

4. A further report be provided to Cabinet, in November 2008, regarding any potential impact upon resources for the scheme in 2009/10 following bus passenger usage data collection and analysis.
Cabinet Decision Record D080026
RESOLVED that the progress made to date on the redevelopment of Thornaby Town Centre be noted.
Cabinet Decision Record D080027

1. the Carbon Management Strategy and Implementation Plan be noted as being the delivery mechanism to achieve significant carbon savings for the Council.
2. Annual reports of progress against targets and the value at stake be produced and published.
Cabinet Decision Record D080029
RESOLVED that the draft 3rd Edition of the Single Equality Scheme be agreed.
Cabinet Decision Record D080030
RESOLVED that the minutes of the following meetings be received/approved, as appropriate:-

Western Area Partnership 28 January 2008
The Billingham Partnership 4 February 2008
Cabinet Decision Record D080031
RECOMMENDED to Council that:-

1. Scrutiny responsibility for Adult Services be removed from the Adult Services & Health Select Committee and transferred to the remit of the Corporate and Social Inclusion Select Committee, and Article 6 of the Council’s Constitution be amended accordingly.

2. The proposed extension of the remit of the Select Committees identified at Appendix 2 be approved and Article 6 of the Council’s Constitution be amended accordingly.
Cabinet Decision Record D080032
RESOLVED that the Corporate Management Team be authorised to continue to refine the Council Plan and Service Improvement Plans 2008-2011 prior to Special Council on March 26th.

RECOMMENDED to Council that the draft Council Plan and Service Improvement Plans for 2007 - 2010 be approved.
Cabinet Decision Record D080033
RECOMMENDED to Council that:-

1. The revised timetable for the Local Development Framework as detailed in the Local Development Scheme (appendix 1) be agreed.

2. Future amendments to the Local Development Scheme be delegated to the Head of Planning in consultation with the Chairperson of the Local Development Framework Members Steering Group.

3. The conclusions of the Employment Land Review Stage 2, which would be used to as a basis for the development of employment policies in the LDF, be noted.


Cabinet was reminded that at its meeting in December 2007 it had considered a report that set out a proposal to commence a consultation exercise on the future service provision of Parkview Residential Care Home in Thornaby, given National Guidance and the Council’s local policy.

Cabinet agreed the period of consultation and noted that feedback from the consultation would be provided at a future meeting. In addition Cabinet asked the Adult Service and Health Select Committee to undertake a short review to determine:-

• The national and local policy framework around services for older people.
• The factual issues around Parkview Care Home focusing particularly on the building occupancy, care standards, financial information and staffing.

The Select Committee was asked to feedback its findings to Cabinet to inform future decision making.

Cabinet was provided with the Select Committee report that included a summary of the feedback received during the consultation process.

Members noted that the Select Committee had received evidence from officers, representatives for residents/carers, staff, Village Park Residents Association and Ward Councillors. The Committee undertook site visits to Parkview Care Home, Mandale House Care Home, The Poplars Care Home and Aspen Gardens (Extra Care facility).

The report contained evidence about the national and local policy around services for older people and factual issues relating specifically to the Parkview Care Home

Cabinet noted that the Committee was able to confirm that it had not received any contrary evidence to that received by Cabinet in December.

During the review the Committee considered the following possible outcomes and related implications for the future of Parkview Care Home:-

1. The existing hold be removed and Parkview be actively promoted so that the level of demand could be determined - Delaying a decision for one year has the possibility of upsetting a larger number of people than were resident at Parkview. Due to the continued cost levels the Council might also be criticised by CSCI and the audit Commission for its use of resources.

2a. Refurbish Parkview to the Grade 1 standard it would need to achieve as any alterations would be deemed as a ‘change of use’ - A full structural survey and review of the building footprint would be required. Major structural works would then require the closure of Parkview and the resettlement of residents (not necessarily all to the same place) whilst work was undertaken. The number of bedrooms would reduce to meet Grade 1 standards without an extension to increase the size of the facility.

2b. Update one room at a time - The variety of rooms and room sizes limits this possibility.

3. Develop Parkview as an Extra Care facility - Developing existing building would be problematical. The ‘site’ however could be developed by a housing provider. Site was likely to be suitable for a new build facility. Grant funding would need to be explored. Options appraisal required.

4. Sell Parkview to an alternative provider - Change of ownership would require alternative provider to bring Parkview up to Grade 1 standard at great cost which is likely to make purchase unattractive.

Cabinet noted that, at the Select Committee’s final meeting, relating to this review, it had considered each of the alternative outcomes detailed above. Support had been expressed, by some Members, for outcome 3, however, a proposal to recommend outcome 2a to Cabinet was carried, following a vote by 4 of the 6 Members present.

Cabinet received representations from the following groups, present at the meeting:-

• Members of the Adult Services and Health Select Committee
• Public
• Residents and/or their representatives
• Employees
• Ward Councillors

These representations expressed support for the Council to find resources, refurbish Parkview and maintain it as a residential care home

Members considered the Select Committee report, the evidence it contained and the representations submitted at the meeting and provided responses where required.

The Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Health thanked the Select Committee for the work it had undertaken and the useful evidence that had informed the development of the options identified in the report. The Cabinet Member noted that the Committee had recognised that the status quo was not an option and that changes were required to ensure that the Council offered the services that people wanted, met the highest possible standards and ensured the best use of public funds.

The Cabinet Member continued and proposed specific recommendations:-

• that a closure programme be prepared for Parkview and that Officers be asked to explore the possibility of replacing Parkview Home with an Extra Care facility on the same site. This would offer supported living to individuals to enable them to continue to live in their own homes with extra care and support for as long as possible. This recognised the need to further develop popular services in Thornaby for the authority’s vulnerable population.

• that Officers be asked to begin a process of assessment with the current 13 residents at Parkview and their families to explore their needs both now and into the future

• that Cabinet receives an update report on the progress around a potential extra care development and the reassessments of the current residents in 3 months time.

Cabinet considered and approved the recommendations.
Consideration was given to a report that outlined indicative proposals submitted to the Council for the future use of Thornaby Town Hall and sought approval for one of the schemes to be worked up in greater detail.

It was advised that, built in 1890-92, Thornaby Town Hall was a brick and stone building on a prominent corner with a clock tower facing west towards Victoria Bridge across the River Tees. Thornaby Town Hall was a Grade II listed building, this also covered numbers 3-5 Mandale Road. It was extensively utilised as the municipal base for the town of Thornaby, however, due to various changes imposed on local government over recent decades the building’s use had changed on a number of occasions. The current use of the building was confined to a small number of ground floor offices for the work of Thornaby Town Council.

A decline in use had led to the gradual deterioration of the condition of both the internal and external fabric of the building. To compound this, water ingress through the damaged and failing roof had accelerated the deterioration, affecting the internal condition and its features. At present, the Council was undertaking repair works to parts of the roof to the value of £330,000, funded from SBC capital, to eliminate the ingress of water and stabilise the condition of the building. This work was scheduled for completion by the end of March 2008.

It was advised that over recent years, a number of schemes had been considered for addressing the re-use of Thornaby Town Hall. The most recent full building group scheme was the proposed refurbishment of the Annex buildings (Nos 3, 5, 7 and 9 Mandale Road) and restoration of the Town Hall. The scheme, designed and co-ordinated by Stockton Borough Council, involved re-using the annexes as well as repairs to the roof. The scheme did not proceed, however, as reductions in regional funding packages meant funding could not be secured to a level that would enable full option delivery possible. The Council’s approved Capital allocation for the roof works had been honoured to fund the repair works that were currently underway.

It was explained that the basis of the scheme was then looked at in a phased approach. Members were provided with details of the two phases.

Members were advised that discussions with Thornaby Town Council and ward councillors regarding a way forward for the building resulted in the production of a marketing document in early September 2007. This resulted in SBC inviting expressions of interest from any parties interested in exploring ideas for the future re-use of the building, including the continued presence of Thornaby Town Council and provision for local heritage.

A total of five expressions were received at the end of September 2007. Two of these did not reflect the requirements of the brief. The remaining three were invited to expand on the proposals and submit further details. It was advised that these included:

• The proposed function/s of the building group;
• Target user groups;
• The expected benefits to users and the area;
• Funding - what was secured and where would funds be sourced from:
• Tenure proposals
• Implications regarding the building’s listed status

It was advised that three detailed submissions were subsequently received prior to the Christmas 2007 deadline. All three proposed a mix of uses for the building, varyingly proportioned between business and community uses. The building would re-engage with the community through the provision of access to shared facilities and local heritage. In addition, Thornaby Town Hall would continue to be used as a base for Thornaby Town Council to continue their work on behalf of the residents of Thornaby.

Members were informed that the submissions proposed the following:

(i) Submission A:
Through the purchase of the freehold of the building, a mix of community, business & enterprise uses were proposed with allocated display and storage areas for heritage related exhibits, plus office space for Thornaby Town Council was proposed. Possible linkages to education establishments could be made through partnerships and mentoring. The project would be delivered through the formation of a Public / Private Partnership with the Council sourcing appropriate funding to progress the development and implementation of the project that would also include the restoration and renovation of the internal and external fabric of the building.

(ii) Submission B:
Through the purchase of the freehold of the building, a mix of community, business & enterprise uses were proposed with generous allocated display and storage areas for heritage related exhibits, plus meeting and conference facilities. Office space for Thornaby Town Council would also be provided. The scheme would restore and refurbish the council chamber and historical aspects of the town hall building, whilst fully refurbishing the terracing elements for office / business incubator usage. The project would look at developing an existing relationship with DigitalCity through the mentoring of digital media, technology and creative business opportunities, thereby expanding their Tees Valley remit. The project would be financed through the developers own resources.

(iii) Submission C:
As well as physical display items, the proposal included the development and creation of a “virtual” museum to offer a range of digital tours via flat screen TV’s, overhead projectors, touch screen display units, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) units. These units would receive information as the holder walked round the facility. Provision for community activities such as meetings, events, performances etc would be made through access to the refurbished and restored council chamber and Town Hall rooms. The terrace element of the building group would contain a café / restaurant, gift shop / visitors centre as well as offices / units for creative media and digital business use. The building would be retained by the Council or come under the governance of a Charitable Trust. It was likely that a management company would be engaged to deliver the project.

Following assessment and analysis of each of the submissions, a number of questions and clarifications were raised. Each party were offered, and took, the opportunity to answer these questions and present their ideas before a project panel made up of officers from Regeneration, Planning and Land and Property.

Each submission was separately assessed and scored. Members were provided with a copy of the assessment matrix outlining the scores for each submission.

It was explained that whilst all submissions presented both general and bespoke benefits, it was recommended to Cabinet that the developer for Submission B be approved as the preferred developer for the following reasons:

(i) It provided for community, heritage and Town Council needs:
Consultation by the developer with Thornaby Town Council and the Heritage Group identified bespoke and general spatial requirements. These requirements had been provided for indicatively in the submission and were allocated within the main Town Hall building. The Town Council would be able to continue their work for the people of Thornaby in a much improved environment.

(ii) It provided first-time business opportunities:
Incubator facilities would allow entrepreneurs to experience and develop business opportunities and ideas with the minimal amount of contractual obligations through easy in easy out leases. The project would look at building on the relationship enjoyed with DigitalCity at one of the developers’ recent projects, through the mentoring of digital media, technology and creative business in Thornaby Town Hall.

(iii) It could be delivered within an immediate timescale:
It was expected to take 3 months to prepare detailed design proposals for consideration. A further period would be required to negotiate Heads of Terms and seek approval, obtain statutory consents etc. Following exchange of contracts for the sale of the building, work on site could take as little as 9 months to complete to a standard to enable building users to take up residence.

(iv) It offered least risk to the Council should the proposed scheme falter:
The developer had indicated that they had the facility to fund the project directly from reserves and agreed borrowing facilities through their bank. On completion of sale of the property, the scheme would not be reliant on further capital or revenue investment from the Council. There would also be no need to access monies from external funding bodies, which recent experience had shown to be difficult to assemble in the amounts required.

(v) It provided greater delivery guarantees:
The developer was willing to agree timescales for completion of the process as part of the sale agreement as well as conditions relating to usage by Thornaby Town Council and The Heritage Group.

(vi) It offered good value for money:
Funding and timescales considered, the completed project would give a range of uses at a very reasonable cost.

(vii) It was the most viable option:
The focus of service and activity provision gave scope for economic and practical viability for delivering objectives in establishing a viable and sustainable long term use for the building.

(viii) It had great potential for assisting in the wider regeneration of the Mandale Triangle area:
Once restored and occupied, the building would become a local focal point for regeneration and community pride. It would form a flagship mixed use scheme to form the basis for master planning the Mandale Triangle and surrounding area of Thornaby.

It was noted that the developer had a proven track record in the regeneration of individual buildings to provide viable sustainable futures. Members were provided with brief details and photos of the most relevant to this project.

The requirements of The Heritage Group and Thornaby Town Council had been acknowledged by the developer. Indicative areas were shown on floor layouts for the Thornaby Town Hall building, of which Members were provided with a copy. It was noted that they could, however, be subject to change as the detailed proposals were drawn up.

Subject to Cabinet approval of Submission B, the preferred developer would be asked to submit further details of the scheme for consideration by the Authority. These actions would include:

(i) Worked up full scheme details.
(ii) A detailed robust business plan
(iii) The developer to consult further with Thornaby Town Council and The Heritage Steering Group.
(iv) Legal documentation to be prepared and agreed;

It was intended to report back to Cabinet on the detailed proposals and associated documentation identified above prior to the sale of the building on an information basis only.
Members considered a report that provided an update on progress with the implementation of the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) for bus journeys by the over 60s and people with disabilities to be introduced on 1st April 2008.

It was explained that Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council agreed to the recommendation to participate in the Tees Valley Enhanced Concessionary Travel scheme in a report presented to Cabinet on 1 February 2007. The enhanced concessionary travel scheme enabled those who qualified for free concessionary travel under the Transport Act 2000 to travel anywhere within the area covered by Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Councils at any time of day and at no charge to the pass holder.

Agreement was reached with bus operators on operation of the scheme for one year on the basis of fixed payments to operators. The cost of the agreement for the year from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008 inclusive was over £2.5 million, not including administrative costs.

It was advised that on 22 March 2006 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that from 1 April 2008, the government intended to introduce a new national scheme to apply throughout England. This would bring concessionary travel in England into line with the national schemes currently operating in Scotland and Wales.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 received royal assent on 19 July 2007. Under the Act eligible pass holders would be entitled to free concessionary travel on any local bus service between 9.30am and 11.00pm on weekdays and at any time at weekends. It was noted that local enhancements to the scheme were to be agreed under Section 93 of the Transport Act 1985.

Members were informed that the present Tees Valley Enhanced Concessionary Travel Scheme had local enhancements enabling cross boundary travel anywhere within the area covered by Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton councils and also removing all restrictions on the time of travel.

It was, therefore, necessary to agree a scheme including any local enhancements to operate from 1 April. Operators had indicated that they would be willing to agree on local enhancements to the ENCTS that would enable pass holders to travel at any time of day; removing the national restriction on free travel before 9.30am and after 11.00pm on weekdays. It was recommended that a one-year local enhancement on this basis be sought. It was advised that payments to operators should be based on fixed payments reflecting the number concessionary journeys made with each participating operator, the average fare of each operator and a reimbursement factor based on Department for Transport guidance. It was further recommended that negotiations be carried out on a Tees Valley wide basis in order to secure consistency between authorities.

It was advised that Stockton Council had been asked by Help the Aged to consider introducing an alternative token scheme where residents could choose to have tokens that could be used on taxis rather than a bus pass. It was not considered appropriate to consider such a scheme as concerns over the security of tokens were raised. A full assessment of the likely demand and financial implications for the Council would also be needed.

Members were advised that the Tees Valley authorities had also been asked to consider allowing companions of pass holders qualifying for free travel on grounds of disability. Various reasons were provided to Members as to why free travel for companions could not be considered until all the implications for the Council were clearer.

It was advised that payments to operators for the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme and any agreed local enhancements to it would need to reflect changes in operating costs. Fares charged by the bus industry were presently increasing at well above the general inflation rate, and fuel prices had risen particularly sharply since mid-2007. It was noted that operators were seeking further substantial increases in payments to reflect fare increases.

Operators would need to be reimbursed for cross boundary trips beyond the old Cleveland County area (for which payment was already being made under the Tees Valley Enhanced Concessionary Travel Scheme). Payments for journeys to Darlington, Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham would now have to be made, along with any other long distance trips commencing in Stockton-on-Tees. From 1 April 2008 reimbursement would be based on any passenger boardings in the Council’s area, regardless of the issuing authority for the pass.

Members were provided with an update on Smartcards, which the Secretary of State had determined should be issued to passengers for the ENCTS.
Consideration was given to a report that provided an update on the redevelopment of Thornaby Town Centre.

On 24th October 2002 Cabinet endorsed the recommendations of the Thornaby Regeneration Partnership Board and approved the appointment of Thornfield Properties plc (Thornfield) as the Council’s preferred developer for Thornaby Town Centre.

On 12th March 2004 the Council entered into a Development Agreement with Thornfield under which the latter was obliged to comprehensively redevelop the Town Centre. The Development Agreement set out all the necessary steps to prepare the Town Centre for redevelopment. One of the most important of these steps was the granting of the Building Lease, which transfers the leasehold interest in the Centre to Thornfield.

It was explained that under the Building Lease Thornfield would receive a 150 year lease of the Town Centre and would lease back to the Council, the Pavilion, Library and Area Housing Office at peppercorn rents. In exchange the Council would receive a capital receipt, and 10% of the annual rental income for the duration of the lease.

It was advised that in order to minimise the delay caused by the need for a CPO to secure possession of all interests required for the approved redevelopment scheme, Thornfield carried out the demolition of Brus and Meynell Houses under a separate demolition licence between April - July 2007. This represented a major step forward in the programme of works ensuring that following the grant of the Building Lease; Thornfield could immediately commence the main construction works of the scheme. Additional physical preparation work had also been completed such as the construction of a new roundabout, electricity substation and diversion of services to ensure a quick construction programme.

Following a successful CPO inquiry in June 2007, the land included in the CPO was transferred to the Council under a General Vesting Declaration on the 25th January 2008; consequently the Council was now in a position to grant the Building Lease to Thornfield.

Members were advised that like all commercial operators, Thornfield had recently experienced a sharp increase in commercial cost pressures on the project due to the recent credit crunch which had led to uncertain financial markets, alongside rapidly escalating construction costs. Consequently the Council had agreed to assist Thornfield with the costs of dealing with a B.T. fibre optic cable buried in land adjacent to Mitchell Avenue which was required to be lowered or re-routed prior to the construction of the new car park. The Council had agreed to assist Thornfield with the costs of dealing with the cable if it needed to be diverted and the costs exceeded the initial payment by Thornfield of £128,000. It was explained that the Council would contribute up to £122,000 using savings from MS, on the basis that Thornfield would spend £10,000 on legal action against B.T. to recover the costs, and if successful, the Council's contribution would be recouped.

Members were informed that the Council and Thornfield were now both working to achieve a transfer date of the 31st March, when the Council would grant the Building Lease to Thornfield. This would ensure a start date for the main construction programme of works on the 1st April which would provide Thornaby Town Centre with modern retail & office accommodation desirable to national and local retailers, an attractive public realm and a new car park by summer 2009.

A contractor had recently been appointed and was likely to commence lead-in preparation works throughout March 2008. It was advised that Thornfield had already secured 65% pre-lets (based on rental income) and successfully attracted a number of key national retailers to the scheme as well as a number of local traders, to provide an attractive mix of local and national retailers delivering a greatly improved shopping offer. It was expected that further retailers would be announced as the scheme construction was underway.

To further enhance the scheme Thornfield had submitted planning applications to provide a retail kiosk in the new open air mall and construct three retail kiosks in prime locations in front and to the side of the library, in exchange for reconfiguring and extending the library to provide the facility with a greater frontage on the main shopping mall, significantly enhancing its overall prominence within the Centre. In addition Thornfield intended to seek permission to extend an existing retail unit to secure the interests of a national retailer to the scheme and may use it as an opportunity to achieve improvements to the layout of the recycling bins and taxi rank.

Members were informed that in addition, the Council and Tees Active had completed the initial stages of the Pavilion Sports Centre refurbishment; the provision of a new 70 station gym, which would offer brand new state of the art fitness equipment and the refurbishment of the bowls club signifying the beginning of an investment in excess of £1m. The final stages of the upgrade programme would be undertaken later this year and would provide a modernised crche and nursery, new children’s play barn, re-branded café and refurbished changing rooms.

Thornaby Library would also benefit from a major refurbishment by the Council in 2008, which would be further complemented by the arrangements to significantly increase its shop frontage on the new retail mall (subject to planning permission). In addition the Library would be the location for the Council’s new Access to Services, effectively a one stop shop which would provide face to face help with Council queries such as Council Tax and Housing Benefits. It was anticipated that the improved services would be launched in autumn / winter 2008.

Members were advised that following completion of the £25m regeneration of the Town Centre in summer 2009, it was expected that significant progress would have been achieved on the new link road which Thornfield were obliged to procure under the terms of the Development Agreement. The link road would provide a new access / egress into the Town Centre and could act as a catalyst to attract further development to the area. This would not only further enhance the area, but serve to complement the redeveloped Town Centre and the Mandale housing regeneration scheme, which was successfully delivering 800 new homes, signifying a total investment of £60m which included £1m to improve linear park, an existing area of open space and linking the scheme to the wider Thornaby area.
Consideration was given to a report relating to Carbon Management.

At the Cabinet meeting on 22 November 2007 Members noted that the Council had been accepted onto the Local Authority Carbon Management Programme and that there was a “case for action” with the associated reductions in carbon emissions and financial benefits. It was further resolved that officers progress to the next stage of the programme and develop a strategy and implementation plan for consideration by Members. Members of Cabinet were provided with details of the key parts of the plan and how the Council could reduce its carbon emissions by 25% over five years. It shows that through the implementation of a series of projects significant savings can be made in both emissions and in financial terms. A key part of the programme is the ability to demonstrate that all of these measures will have a payback period of five years or less, making this an “invest to save” plan.

It was advised that the programme included the Councils administration buildings, leisure facilities, libraries and other public buildings, schools, fleet and business travel as well as street lighting. The initial stages of the programme were based around short term gains or “quick wins” in order to make an early impact and to ensure the revolving loan budget was replenished quickly.

Underpinning the programme would be an awareness campaign developed in-house and which would involve all service areas and staff. It was advised that already over 40 carbon savers had been recruited across all service areas whose roles were to identify possibilities for energy savings and to help disseminate the energy saving messages.

It was also advised that being involved with this programme provided the Council with the opportunity to bid for funding from the Salix finance company, a not-for-profit organisation established by the carbon trust with £20m of government funds to invest in energy efficiency measures.
Consideration was given to a report that introduced the draft 3rd edition of the Single Equality Scheme.

The first edition was agreed by Cabinet in November 2006, with a revision to meet the requirements of the Gender Equality Duty being approved by Cabinet on the 12th April 2007. Members were provided with a copy of the draft Single Equality Scheme; changes to the scheme were highlighted in the document.

It was advised that the statutory revision of the Race Equality Scheme was due by the end of the current financial year. This had now been carried out, with new actions being included in the Council’s Race Equality Action Plan as a result, in addition to those with a timescale beyond April 2008 being rolled forward from the existing plan. Actions in the Disability and Gender Equality Action Plans had been rolled forward as well, although services had been encouraged to develop additional action points as a result of their equalities related activities during the current year. It was noted that only the revised scheme and revised Race Equality Action Plans had been submitted to Cabinet for approval as no significant changes had been made to the existing Disability and Gender Equality Action Plans.

Members were advised that there was a significant raft of legislation relating to equalities which could be found summarised on page 13 of the Scheme, with more detailed discussion of recent key legislation included on pages 14 to 16. Equalities legislation was continually changing and developing with a number of new initiatives on the horizon. The Equalities Review, Discrimination Law Review Green Paper and Commission on Integration and Cohesion report had all been published since the last edition of the scheme was approved and in response a new Equality Bill was expected later in the year to introduce, amongst other things, a single positive equality duty. It was noted that the draft Single Equality Scheme had been prepared to anticipate as far as possible the new requirements and ensure the Council remained compliant with all equalities legislation.

Members were informed that progress against the second edition of the Single Equality Scheme had been good with six monthly monitoring results showing that of the 78 targets in the Disability Equality Action Plan, 25 had been met, 46 remained on target and only seven had slipped. Of the 60 targets in the Race Equality Action Plan, 14 had been met, 44 remained on target and two had slipped with the 58 targets in the Gender Equality Action Plan showing 16 met, 40 on target and only two slipped. Remedial actions had been identified to address areas of slippage and performance at year end would be reported to Cabinet in due course.

It was explained that Community consultation and engagement was crucial in the ongoing development of the Single Equality Scheme. Data had been collected from BVPI, MORI and Viewpoint surveys and had been used to develop the Scheme originally and the revision of the Race Action Plan was informed by a “Tell Us What You Think” event at ARC in September. It was noted that the event was a great success.

A key development in the current year had been the roll out of a new Equality Impact Assessment Process. The process assessed all proposed policies and changes in service delivery for any possible negative impact against various groups in advance of their proposal to Cabinet. Any identified negative impacts could then either be addressed or amendments made to the proposals accordingly. This approach was embedded in the Council’s revised Constitution. It was advised that almost 50 officers from across the Council had been trained in carrying out Equality Impact Assessments and services had been encouraged to include the findings and action points from these assessments in their SIPs and BUPs where appropriate.

In addition, it was vital that the Council carried out equality impact assessments of its existing services, and a new Council Plan target had been developed to carry out 50% per year for the next two years. This would ensure that the Councils existing services were meeting its equality duties and was a key action for meeting level 3 of the Equality Standard for Local Government.

Members were provided with an update on various other training courses being delivered by the Diversity Team and were advised that they remained on target for training all first, second and third tier officers, as well as 10% of all other employees by April 2008, the target was included in the Council Plan.
Consideration was given to the minutes of the meetings of Area Partnership Boards.
Consideration was given to a report relating to a proposed revision to the select committee structure and terms of reference.

It was explained that as part of its discussions at its recent Away Day, the Executive Scrutiny Committee gave consideration to a number of Scrutiny Structure and Constitutional issues arising from its review of scrutiny activities over the past year; with a view to considering whether any improvements could be introduced into scrutiny arrangements for the future. Reference was made at the meeting to the existing terms of reference of the Executive Scrutiny Committee and Select Committees, as set out in Article 6 of the Council’s Constitution. Members were provided with a copy of the terms of reference.

Cabinet were informed that the Committee had noted the inability of the Adult Services and Health Select Committee in being able to fulfil its responsibilities for the scrutiny of Adult Services as a result of its workload being taken up entirely in scrutinising local health issues and the health service. It was therefore felt that given the likely development of this workload in accordance with regulations under Section 7 of the Health & Social Care Act 2001 and Section 31 of the Health Act 1999, there was no alternative other than to request Council to consider amending the Constitution to allow scrutiny responsibility for Adult Services to be removed from the Adult Services & Health Select Committee and transferred to the remit of the Corporate and Social Inclusion Select Committee. It was explained that the broad remit of this Committee; together with its emphasis towards social inclusion, offered itself to be the most appropriate Committee for assuming this responsibility.

In addition, the Executive Scrutiny Committee also considered its responsibilities to prioritise, develop and co-ordinate the scrutiny work programme, ensuring that there was efficient use of the Select Committees’ time, whilst being mindful of the emerging corporate priorities. The Committee had suggested that there was a need to introduce greater flexibility to allow Select Committees to respond to Council priorities where required, by extending their remits beyond their own thematic area so as to be in a position to be able to consider requests from the Executive Scrutiny Committee to carry out a scrutiny review of ‘any other matter considered to be appropriate that reflects the corporate priorities’. It was noted that this was considered especially important given the potentially increasing workload of Select Committees arising from new legislative requirements and referrals. A more flexible approach would help to create capacity within the work programme.

Members were provided with a document that highlighted the effects of both of the proposals together with the inclusion of responsibility for the Housing & Community Safety Committee in connection with the discharge of their crime and disorder functions under the Police and Justice Act 2006 approved by Council on 5th March 2008 (Cabinet-14th February 2008-Min 138 refers).
Cabinet were reminded that the Council Plan set out how the Council would contribute to community objectives. The plan was based on the objectives and outcomes already set in the Sustainable Community Strategy, but provided focus on the key objectives the Council needed to achieve authority wide, and which needed to be monitored by Corporate Management Team and the Cabinet.

The principle underlying the development of the Council Plan was that it should be a business plan for the organisation, focusing on key corporate priorities for change, rather than summarising all activities that the Council undertook. This approach was vital to ensure a clear focus on improvement, but meant that some significant service areas did not feature in the key objectives and outcomes. The focus of the plan shifted each year as the Councils key improvement priorities altered over time; it was a three year rolling plan which was updated on an annual basis.

It was explained that Service Improvement Plans supported the Council Plan by setting out how key priorities and objectives would be delivered, and their resource implications. The plans also included information about each service area and its achievements.

The 2008-2011 Council Plan contained two main parts. The first was a narrative explaining about the Borough, the Council, its achievements and future plans. This was supported by the second main part - an action plan which set out how the objectives and priorities of the Council would be delivered.

The objectives within the Council Plan had been updated following the development of the new Sustainable Community Strategy and consultation with local people and Councillors. The plan had been developed in partnership with:

• Councillors - through seminars on the budget and Council Plan and through “drop in” sessions for Members to discuss the plan with officers
• Corporate Management Team, Heads of Service and Policy Officers through joint working to develop the plan

It was noted that as an ‘Excellent’ Council Stockton had the freedom to use its Council Plan to meet the statutory requirement to prepare a (Best Value) Performance Plan. The Council Plan therefore formed the Councils Performance Plan for 2008/9. It would supplemented by an annex of best value performance indicator information and targets to be published at the end of June, once the data was available.

In line with guidance from DCLG on performance plans, full copies of the plan were provided to members, managers and key partners and the Government. A summary version of the Council Plan would also be prepared for all staff. The Council would also ensure that Council Plan was available in public places and that copies could be provided to the public when requested: full and summary versions would also be available over the Internet.

It was explained that this was the last year that Government would require a performance plan of this type (though the Council may continue to produce such a plan for its own use). The Local Government White Paper, “Strong and prosperous communities” and the ensuing Act introduced a number of changes to the national performance framework.

Members were advised that 2008/09 would be a transitional year for Stockton as implementation of the new performance framework began. The new framework had the Local Area Agreement at its heart. The agreement, which was currently being negotiated, would consist of up to 35 measures which would form a performance contract between Stockton and the Government. The measures had to be chosen from a “menu” of 198 measures known as the National Indicator Set or NIS. The NIS was still in development and Local Area Agreements were unlikely to be signed off before June 2008.

It was advised that at this stage, the measures that were likely to be included in the Local Area Agreement also needed to be included in the Council Plan to provide officers and members with a joined up local performance framework. The Council were able to indicate in the “success measures and outcomes” section of the action plans where there was likely to be a link to the Local Area Agreement and other measures in the NIS. In most cases THE Council were not able to provide targets as data was still being collected against emerging definitions and guidance and targets had yet to be negotiated with Government. The draft Local Area Agreement would be brought to Cabinet in May/June before submission to government and after that the Council Plan would need to be updated.

Cabinet were reminded that the service planning framework was reviewed in 2005 and a revised framework put into place to focus on changes and improvements and to bring service and resource (finance, human resources, ICT, procurement) planning closer together. SIPs included the key changes, improvements and priorities which would require significant attention from heads of service to deliver. Core business in each service was covered in business unit plans which sat beneath the SIPs.

It was noted that the service improvement plans supported the Council Plan and Community Strategy. Plans had been developed to cover all service areas. In some areas it had been sensible to develop combined SIPs covering more than one head of service’s remit.

Members of Cabinet were provided with copies of abridged versions of the draft SIPs, focusing on key elements of the action plans. Full draft SIPs had been placed on the Intranet to enable Members to consider them in detail. Once agreed, plans would be published on cd-rom and on the intranet with a set of hard copy plans lodged in the members’ library.
Consideration was given to a report relating to the Local Development Scheme and an update on the Employment Land Review Stage 2.

The Local Development Scheme was the project plan for the preparation of the documents that would comprise the Local Development Framework (LDF).

As part of the Annual Monitoring Report, the Council assessed its progress against the milestones identified in the LDS for the preparation of LDF documents and where there had been slippage, the LDS had to be revised accordingly. The revisions subsequently had to be agreed with Government Office for the North East (GO-NE) and the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) before the Council could formally adopt it.

It was explained that for Stockton, whilst progress since April 2007 had been good, it had become apparent that the timetable proposed in the Second Revised LDS (published in April 2007) could not be maintained and required revision.

Members of Cabinet were advised that the main changes were:
• Core Strategy would be submitted in September instead of May 2008.
• Preferred Options for Regeneration Development Plan Document and Yarm and Eaglescliffe Area Action Plans would now be published in September instead of May 2008 consultation purposes.
• The Environment DPD Issues and Options report would be published for consultation in January 2009 instead of January 2008.

Members were provided with a copy of the revised timetable.

It was advised that the Employment Land Review (ELR) was part of the evidence base for the LDF and would inform and support policies in the Core Strategy and Regeneration Development Plan Document (DPD).

Members were reminded that the Council completed Stage 1 of the ELR in autumn 2006. In Spring 2006 Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners (NLP) and Storeys: SSP (SSP) were appointed to undertake Stage 2. The work adopted a methodology advocated by a Communities and Local Government (CLG) guidance note and researched the local economy and the future employment land floorspace and land requirements.

Members of Cabinet were advised that Stage 2 of the study concluded that:

• For the LDF period (2007 - 21) Stockton Borough required 191.3 ha of employment land, an average take up of 13.6 ha per annum.
• For a 25 year supply 340.3 Ha of land was required. Given the time period of this projection this requirement was uncertain and would require monitoring.

It was noted that the above figures would be used within the Council’s Core Strategy and would also be used in Stage 3 of the ELR which would identify which sites should be allocated, through the LDF, to meet employment land demand and provide for economic growth. Stage 3 of the ELR was expected to commence in the near future.

Can't find it

Can't find what you're looking for? Let us know and we'll do our best to point you in the right direction