Full Cabinet – 29 September 2015
PRESENT:- Councillor Waltham in the chair.
Councillors Briggs, Hannigan, Poole, Reed, Rose and C Sherwood.
Councillors Ali, Armiger, Carlile, Davison, Ellerby, L Foster, Glover, Godfrey, Gosling, Longcake, Marper, Mumby-Croft, Ogg, Perry, Vickers and Wilson also attended the meeting.
Simon Driver, Will Bell, Nolan Bennett, Jenny Couch, Frances Cunning, Mick Gibbs, Denise Hyde, Becky McIntyre, Karen Pavey, Lesley Potts, Helen Rowe, Mike Wedgewood, Peter Williams and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.
The meeting was held at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.
1153 DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS AND PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of interest.
1154 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 14 July 2015, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.
1155(7) OUTSTANDING ACTION FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which contained a schedule of outstanding issues on which cabinet had requested reports to future meetings.
Resolved – That the report be noted.
1156 (8) FOXHILLS SPORTS GROUND – The Chief Executive submitted a report in connection with the Foxhills Sports Ground. In April 2012, the council had granted a licence to a junior football club for Foxhills Sports Ground. This was in response to a request from the club and was in line with the council’s responsibilities for the provision of sport and play facilities to its local communities. The decision complied with the council Community Asset Transfer Policy.
On 29 August 2012, a fatal incident occurred at the site relating to an unsecured swing barrier. On 25 March 2014 a jury reached a verdict of accidental death at a coroner’s inquest. In September 2015 the council was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to discharge a duty imposed upon it. This was the first time that North Lincolnshire Council had been the subject of such a prosecution.
As part of his sentencing His Honour Judge Jeremy Richardson QC requested that the council discuss this issue at the first relevant committee and that his sentencing remarks be circulated to all elected members. Although the judge recognised that he had no powers to impose such a sanction, due to the tragic consequences of this case, the council felt it only right and proper to comply with that request.
An innocent man lost his life. The council pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and issued sincere apologies to the family. Those words would no doubt seem hollow but nevertheless they were genuine and from the whole organisation.
As a result of the tragic accident, the council undertook a review of not just the swing barrier in question, but all swing barriers under its control and its approach to health and safety in general. The council had also reviewed how complaints from members of the public were received and processed. The junior football club had made the council aware that they were changing the layout of the barriered gate so that it now opened away from vehicles entering the inner car park. The gate had been adapted to provide a means by which it could be locked when in the open position and they had also introduced their own written system for use with the barrier gate.
In addition, the council issued safety reminders to all employees in relation to the operation and securing of all swinging barrier gates. A review into processes and procedures surrounding the installation, inspection, use and maintenance of all council owned swing barrier gates had been undertaken and that review had resulted in a number of measures being taken as detailed in paragraph 3.4 of the report. The council had also changed the way of communicating key health and safety information, the safety culture and complaint handling. These changes are continuously being monitored.
A civil court case was now pending. In order not to compromise that case the council’s insurers had been consulted on the production of this report and the desire to comply with Judge Richardson’s request. The comments of the insurers were detailed in paragraph 7 of the report.
Resolved – (a) That cabinet notes the improvements made to health and safety since the tragic accident of 29 August 2012, (b) that cabinet re-emphasises the sincere apologies that have been made to the family of Mr Matthews, and (c) that following completion of the civil court case this matter be referred to the Corporate Scrutiny Panel for consideration of the health and safety issues.
1157 (9) GREATER LINCOLNSHIRE DEVOLUTION PROPOSAL – The Chief Executive submitted a report informing cabinet of the submission of the “Greater Lincolnshire a Place to Grow….. faster than anywhere” proposal for devolution of central government powers.
The government had promoted the concept of devolution in its election manifesto. Since the election local government had been encouraged to look at the opportunities that spending and policy decision making at a more local level could bring. Informal advice had been clarified by the Treasury in their spending review document “A Country that lives within its Means.” This set the date of 4 September 2015 for local areas to submit expressions of interest in taking the devolution debate forward in their areas.
There had been joint working between North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire Councils in putting forward a shared view of the key issues in this debate. The main features were to focus primarily on economic growth in the first instance, to be ambitious on skills and employment, and to ensure that infrastructure and strategic planning and related interventions were at the forefront. This process in particular concentrated on key asks and was to be constructed in a way that enabled it to be scaled up – e.g. health and social care. This development work had been used to take forward the Greater Lincolnshire proposal and to widen the brief to include significant other public sector partners as well as the 10 other local councils in the Greater Lincolnshire LEP area. This work culminated in the submission of an expression of interest to the Treasury on 4 September to be considered for further negotiations towards a devolution deal.
The report contained further information in relation to the matter and indicated that the document had been developed in consultation with all 10 local councils in Greater Lincolnshire, the 6 Clinical Commissioning Groups and other key public and public: private sector bodies in Greater Lincolnshire. Attached as an appendix to the report was a copy of the proposal document which also contained a list of all the bodies that had agreed to it.
Resolved – That cabinet endorses the proposal and notes the future work detailed within it.
1158 (10) SEPTEMBER BUDGET REVIEW 2015/2016 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted his September 2015/2016 budget review. This was one of a series of reports produced during the year to update cabinet on the council’s financial position for the 2015/2016 financial year. It provided an opportunity to review how the council’s revenue plans and capital programme were progressing and consider opportunities and potential corrective action where necessary.
The report indicated that overall spending against the revenue budget for the day to day operation of services was within target. Where budgeted savings could not be delivered in full alternative funding sources had been identified to contain spending within the council’s budget. There was positive progress towards the achievement of £6.6m approved budget savings and there were changes to the capital programme, which included programme re-phasing and funding adjustments in connection with a number of projects. Cash balances and debt were being managed in line with the council’s planned treasury strategy and there was a need to consult in the future on the council’s budget plans.
The report considered in detail the revenue budget for 2015/2016 by directorate, the savings monitor for 2015/2016 the capital programme by directorate, treasury management and the financial plan for 2016/2020.
The report also referred to the need for the council to consult with interested parties before making its budget and council tax decisions in the future. The council’s community engagement plan ensured consultation was an integral part of its activities. It last consulted in 2013 covering the two year period 2014/2016 and needed to consider the approach it wanted to take now, the content of the consultation and the financial period on which to consult. The report contained further information in relation to this and other matters.
Resolved – (a) That cabinet notes the 2015/2016 revenue budget position at paragraphs 3.1 to 3.7 of the report; (b) that cabinet notes the positive progress made in achievement of budget savings; (c) that cabinet notes and agrees the re-phasing of the capital programme as detailed in paragraph 3.10 of the report; (d) that the latest position on treasury management be noted, and (e) that cabinet approves the consultation exercise on the budget in the form outlined in paragraphs 3.20 to 3.24 of the report.
1159 (11) PROPOSED ACTIONS TO SUPPORT A REDUCTION IN SICKNESS ABSENCE LEVELS – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report outlining proposed actions that would support a reduction in the current levels of sickness absence.
In 2014/2015, the council’s sickness absence level was 9.47 working days per fte and this had remained relatively static for the past 3 years. The national average for sickness absence in the public sector currently stood at 7.9 working days per fte. An initial reduction in sickness absence levels to 8 working days per fte would generate an indicative saving of £587,143 which in monitory terms would equate to approximately £120,000. The report detailed a number of possible actions that could be taken to support and achieve this.
The possible actions included the re-development of the performance management framework, the use of the absence management service through the current occupational health provider, renaming the sickness absence policy “attendance management” as a positive approach to increasing attendance rather than the negative approach of reducing sickness, the promotion of health and well being in recognition that maintaining healthy work places was vital for absence and illness prevention and utilising the redeployment policy in a more positive way.
The report contained further detailed information about these potential actions.
Resolved – (a) That approval be given for work to commence on the implementation of the proposals contained in the report, and (b) that formal consultation on the outlined proposals commence with staff and the recognised trade unions as soon as possible.
1160 (12) NORTHERN LINCS BROADBAND PROJECT – The Director of Places submitted a report updating cabinet on the successful completion of the Northern Lincs Broadband Project. This project began in 2012 and the aim was to deliver the government’s national broadband strategy. This was set out in a document published in December 2010 under the title “Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future.” The primary objective of the strategy was that by 2015, 90% of each local authority area could access superfast broadband.
The council had established a project team to deliver this national initiative and the council had submitted a bid for project funding to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in mid 2012. This application for £1,557,000 (subsequently increased to £2,119,000) to the Regional Development Fund (ERDF) proved successful. However, it also depended on the project delivering a programme of business support. The aim was to assist local eligible small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to maximise the benefits of operating online. The council had decided to deliver this support internally.
Business support had so far achieved a number of outcomes as follows –
- 164 businesses completing at least 12 hours of support against a contractual target of 160 businesses assists.
- 2,974 hours of support provided.
- 475 businesses engaging in and participating in the programme in some way.
The project had exceeded its target for delivery of superfast broadband infrastructure. By January 2015 over 90% of properties (including business premises) in Northern Lincolnshire could access superfast broadband. The council had signed a contract for improved broadband infrastructure with BT Group in June 2013. This followed a procurement process using the BDUK National Framework. This had set a target of 92.5% of premises having access to superfast broadband by June 2015. This target had been achieved ahead of schedule in May 2015. By then 31,500 premises had been upgraded and 154 broadband cabinet enabled for fibre broadband. This fully met the project’s contractual target. The target set by DCLG in their contract with the council for 3,130 SMEs to have access to supervised broadband had also been met by May 2015.
The report contained further information about this matter including a number of other achievements of note which were set out in paragraph 2.8 of the report.
Resolved – That cabinet notes the successful completion of the Northern Lincs Broadband Project.
1161 (13) THE PROMOTION OF TOURISM IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – A report was submitted by the Director of Places which sought approval of an action plan for the promotion of tourism in North Lincolnshire.
At the meeting of cabinet held on 31 March 2015 a report by the Places Scrutiny Panel in relation to the Promotion of Tourism in North Lincolnshire was considered and approved. Cabinet asked officers to prepare an action plan in response to the recommendations contained in the panel’s report. This work had now been completed and an action plan was attached as an appendix to the report for consideration by cabinet. It also included additional actions to support the recommendations of the panel.
Resolved – That the action plan attached as appendix A to the report be approved and adopted.
1162 (14) CHANGING PLACES TOILETS CAMPAIGN – The Director of Places presented a report which considered how the council could positively contribute towards the Changing Places Campaign aimed at improving the provision of public toilet facilities for people of all ages with a disability.
Standard disabled toilets meet the needs of many disabled people, but not all. Changing Places is a national campaign aimed at improving the provision of public toilet facilities for people of all ages with a disability. Access to suitable toilet facilities for disabled people is potentially a key barrier to their social inclusion and participation. The campaign recognised that standard disabled toilets often fail to fully meet the needs of all those with a disability. People with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as people with other disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis often need additional facilities to enable them to use the toilets safely, comfortably and with dignity.
Changing Places toilets are equipped with additional facilities to standard disabled toilets. Details were included in paragraph 2.2 of the report. Additionally these toilets should be provided with clear signage suitable in meeting the particular needs of the various potential users of the facilities.
Currently, there were a number of confirmed facilities in North Lincolnshire that were known to fully meet the Changing Places standards. These were located in the following buildings –
- Ironstone Centre, West Street, Scunthorpe
- Sir John Mason House, De Lacy Way, Winterton
- Scunthorpe Community Wellbeing Hub, Alvingham Road, Scunthorpe
- Normanby Hall Country Park
This list was not exhaustive as other unconfirmed facilities could exist that had not as yet been registered for the Changing Places campaign. In addition, both the Epworth Community Wellbeing Hub located on High Street, Epworth and the Kaleidoscope – Action for Children building in Dunstall Street, Scunthorpe had facilities that although not quite meeting the space standards required for a Changing Places facility, are provided with the various fixtures and fittings that are specified.
The report referred to the British Standards (BS8300:2009) covering the design of buildings and the approach to meet the needs of disabled people which suggested providing Changing Places toilets in larger buildings and complexes as detailed in paragraph 2.7. A local resident had also initiated a national petition calling on the government to take steps to “ensure equality of access to disabled toilets for all by making the provision of Changing Places toilets mandatory in buildings mentioned in BS8300:2009.” To date, that petition had secured in excess of 1,700 signatures. The Leader of the Council recently met the lead petitioner and had pledged that the council would seek to positively support her campaign at a local level.
The Director suggested that the opportunities for the council to further support the Changing Places campaign were in the main via the following routes, local planning policy, future capital programme developments, retrospective installation of facilities in existing council buildings and further auditing and signposting. An action plan was attached as an appendix to the report which would help to progress this issue. It was also suggested that the issues raised in this report be considered by the Health and Wellbeing Board at a future meeting in the hope of securing the wider support of member organisations to improving the availability of Changing Places toilets across the area.
Reference was also made to the need to consult users of these facilities as part of the design process.
The report detailed further information including the resource implications of taking the matter forward.
Resolved – (a) That cabinet affirms the support of the council to the Changing Places campaign and the intention to take action locally to secure improvements in disabled toilet facility provision across North Lincolnshire, and (b) that the action plan attached at appendix 1 to the report be approved and progressed.
1163 (15) HUMBER UTC OPENING – A report was submitted by the Director of Places providing an update on the recent opening of the Humber UTC. The proposal to develop and create a University Technical College (UTC) in North Lincolnshire and a subsequent bid had been submitted to the Department for Education in November 2013. In February 2014 it had been confirmed that the bid was successful and that the Humber UTC would receive funding.
The UTC is a state funded school for 14 – 19 year olds. The difference to a traditional 11 – 16 school is that it has a significant business input in its running and representation on its governing body. Students study traditional curriculum subjects including English, Mathematics and Science but also specialise in specific areas that prepare pupils for the world of work. The Humber UTC will specialise in Renewables and Engineering.
The council provided pre-start support to deliver initial project management to get the EFA Funding Agreement signed and also led the project to design and construct the new building. Despite an extremely challenging build programme, this prestigious project was successfully completed on time and within budget. The building is now fully operational and was handed over from Clugstons to the Humber UTC on 28 August 2015. Following appointments to the post of Principal and others, the UTC was now compliant with the readiness to open recommendations specified by the DfE.
Resolved – That cabinet welcomes the achievement by the council in helping to deliver the Humber UTC building on time and within budget, thereby allowing the new facility to successfully open as a fully functioning college in September 2015.
1164 (16) EMPLOYMENT UDATE – The Director of Places submitted a report updating cabinet on the latest council project aimed at supporting sustainable local employment. The report also updated cabinet on the latest Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) figures.
The council had worked on a number of projects to support those claiming out of work benefit back into sustainable employment. The latest project was the 40+ move on advisory service. This was a project funded through the flexible support fund by the Department for Work and Pensions and had been operating for two months. It had so far achieved a number of outputs as detailed in paragraph 2.1.
Figures released from the Department for Work and Pensions in September showed that North Lincolnshire continued to see a reduction in the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance. The figures set out in paragraph 2.2 of the report showed a reduction in those claiming JSA aged 18 – 24 from August 2011 to August 2015 by 68% and those aged 18 – 64 by 52% over the same period.
Resolved – (a) That cabinet notes the contents of the report, and (b) that cabinet continues to support work by the council in relation to the labour market.
1165 (17) FESTIVAL OF SKILLS AND OPPORTUNITIES – The Director of Places presented a report advising cabinet on the events taking place throughout the Festival of Skills.
The council was committed to raising skill levels in all its communities, allowing everyone to reach their potential working with the partners of the Community Investment Partnership. The annual careers event was now well established for years 10 and 11 of all secondary schools and is attended by over 1,600 young people. A successful “discover engineering” event had been held in November 2014 to raise the awareness of the engineering sector.
This year the council and its partners would run a host of events throughout October starting with the opening of the “action station” in Scunthorpe Town Centre. This would act as a “one stop shop for skills and opportunity”. The festival programme would conclude on 29 October with the BaE Apprenticeship Awards in the new training facility at Humberside Airport.
A full list of all the events taking place in the Festival of Skills event was attached as an appendix to the report.
Resolved – (a) That the contents of the report be noted, and (b) that cabinet supports the programme in the Festival of Skills.
1166 (18) BaE TRAINING ACADEMY – HUMBERSIDE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – The Director of Places reported on the progress and completion of the British Aerospace Systems (BaE) National Training Academy located at Humberside International Airport. The council had worked with BaE Systems Resource Group and Humberside International Airport to develop a national training academy at the airport. That academy should create over 150 new jobs within three years and BaE Systems would use it as their central hub to train apprentices for the maintenance and servicing of UK fighter jets.
The council had acquired an existing hangar (Hangar 9) to temporarily relocate BaE until the completion of a new hangar (Hangar 11), classrooms and training facility in July 2015.The council’s construction team had procured and built hangar 11 using Regional Growth Fund Support of 20%. The council had then entered into a long term ground lease with Humberside International Airport on commercial terms for the hangar 11 site. The hangar had been completed on 17 August and was now fully operational. Currently there were five jets in the hangar and students were now undertaking their training in this new state of the art facility. It was completed on time and within budget. BaE Systems had now arranged a launch event to take place on 29 October 2015.
Resolved – (a) That cabinet notes the contents of the report and welcomes the completion of the BaE Systems National Training Academy at Humberside International Airport, and (b) that cabinet notes the contribution made by the council in achieving the delivery of this key regeneration development.