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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - County Hall, Durham. View directions

Contact: Jackie Graham  03000 269704

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors D Boyes, J Chaplow, B Kellett, H Liddle, J Makepeace, J Robinson, A Savory, A Shield, H Smith and A Willis



Substitute Members


Councillor J Nicholson for Councillor S Shield


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


A Vision for County Durham 2035 pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Additional documents:


The Board received a report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships that presented the proposed new County Durham Vision to overview and scrutiny members as part of the final third phase of the consultation process (for copy see file of Minutes).


The Head of Strategy gave a detailed presentation that highlighted:-


·        Why we needed to change

·        Building on our success – examples of the increase in employment, economy, reducing carbon emissions, improving recycling

·        Area Action Partnerships (AAP) success

·        Recognising Partners

·        Recognising still a long way to go

·        Over 24,000  responders to the consultation so far

·        What was important to those who have responded –

o   Economy

o   Children and Young People

o   Health and Wellbeing

o   Tourism

o   Housing

o   Towns and Villages

o   Communities

o   Transport

·        Proposed Ambition and Objectives –

o   More and Better Jobs

o   Long and Independent Lives

o   Connected Communities


The Head of Strategy informed the Board that the proposed Vision was as follows:-


‘Our vision for 2035 is that County Durham is a place where there are more and better jobs, people live long and independent lives and out communities are well connected and supportive’


A short promotion video was shown on the vision and the Chair thanked the Head of Strategy for her presentation.


Councillor Bell referring to page 11 of the report highlighting tourism, said that a strong message through his AAP was to broaden the offer for tourism across the whole of the County, as it was felt that the current offer was too Durham centric.


The Chair asked that the comments via Economy and Enterprise Overview and Scrutiny Committee also be reflected relating to the Dales and the East and West of the County.


In response the Head of Strategy confirmed that the Director of Transformation and Partnerships had presented the vision at the Teesdale AAP and the comments had been noted.  In relation to Newton Aycliffe, there had been comments received about looking at the East of the County and in particular the countryside and how the natural environment would be affected.


Referring to page 13 of the report, Councillor Maddison asked if there would be a focus around technology to inspire new ways of working in care homes, for example.  The Head of Strategy said that technology had also been picked up during the feedback on the vision and could be strengthened.  Data comparators would also be explored.


In terms of the video, Councillor Rowlandson found it to be rather old fashioned and was informed that this was developed in house for consultation purposes only to support the images shown.  The Head of Strategy advised that it was not being proposed to use this in it’s current form for the launch.


Councillor Crathorne asked how the County would help support and develop the small villages and encourage regeneration, especially those colliery villages that had declined over the years.  The Head of Strategy said that this had been a message throughout the AAPs and that it was a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Statutory Guidance on Overview and Scrutiny in Local and Combined Authorities pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Additional documents:


The Board received a report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships that provided information on the new statutory guidance on overview and scrutiny in local government and combined authorities published on 7 May 2019 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and to consider the Council’s response (for copy see file of Minutes).


The Head of Strategy informed the Board that the Council’s overview and scrutiny arrangements were already robust and effective. It could be demonstrated that much of the new guidance was already incorporated into the scrutiny work carried out.  She went on to highlight the four principles of scrutiny, which were already embedded in the overview and scrutiny guidance:-


·        Provide constructive ‘critical friend’ challenge;

·        Amplify the voices and concerns of the public;

·        Be led by independent people who take responsibility for their role;

·        Drive improvement in public services


The guidance covered six areas – culture, resourcing, selecting committee members, power to access information, planning work and evidence sessions.


The Head of Strategy advised of the actions required further to the new guidance and a report would be discussed at the Constitution Working Group prior to submission to Cabinet and full Council.  This included training for officers when presenting reports, training for members around finance and questioning, a quarterly update to Council, scrutiny to be sighted on North East Combined Authority (NECA) working and the reporting of thematic overview and scrutiny work programmes to COSMB.


Councillor Wilkes said that in order to ensure the independence of the leadership of the scrutiny committees there should be political balance rules for the election of chairs and vice-chairs and he suggested that a secret ballot would work.  He referred to budget proposals and said that having an independent chair would ensure they had the proper consideration.  He went on to say that all councillors should be considered for these roles and that there were a number of councillors who were more than capable of carrying out the role of chair or vice-chair.  He reminded members that scrutiny should be non-political.


Councillor Clarke agreed that having feedback from NECA and what was being considered relevant to this area would be helpful.


Referring to page 46 of the report which set out that an independent mindset was fundamental in the approach to carrying out this work, and that the scrutiny chairs should work pro-actively to set the work programme, Councillor Hopgood felt that this could not be achieved when one party had overall control.  She said that it was important to look forward towards 2035 in line with the County Durham Vision, and not backwards.


With regards to the point made about a secret ballot, Councillor Martin agreed that this would prevent members from having to toe the party line and make independent decisions on who was best for the role of chair and vice-chair.  He questioned how this was independent when the decision on who to elect to the positions of chairs and vice-chairs at full Council had already  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


County Durham Partnership update pdf icon PDF 270 KB


The Board considered a report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships which updated Members on issues being addressed by the County Durham Partnership (CDP) including the board, the five thematic partnerships and all area action partnerships (AAPs). The report also included updates on other key initiatives being carried out in partnership across the county (for copy see file of Minutes).


Councillor Tinsley commented that there were good results within the primary schools that should be sustained throughout the secondary education.  He also expressed the importance of retaining young people in the local area and asked that the partnership focus on this.


Councillor Bell commended the work of the AAPs and in particular the information shared in relation to foodbanks, mental health and other groups in the Teesdale area.  He also commented that should young people be leaving the area for employment it would make the unemployment figure look better than what it actually was.



That the content of the report be noted.


Year End 2018/19 Customer Feedback pdf icon PDF 1 MB


The Board considered a joint report of the Corporate Director of Resources and Director of Transformation and Partnerships, which presented the Customer Feedback: Complaints, Compliments and Suggestions report for 2018/19 (for copy see file of Minutes).


The Chair was pleased to see the reduction in complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman due to the robust systems in place.


With regards to the way in which people were kept up to date with cases, Councillor Clarke asked if Heads of Service looked at queries in the first instance and allocated cases according to workload.  He added that it was important to get things right at the early stages of a complaint which would prevent it escalating.  The Chair agreed that this could be frustrating for the complainant.


The Customer Relations Team Manager responded that there had been some challenges around communication and timelines but the service had been pro-active using the portal to track the journey of a complaint.  This helped drill down the statistical data.  She added that the majority of problems were around some letters distributed in relation to contaminated waste however the service continued to work with crews to address the problems.


The Chair commented that the increase in some results in the report was similar to issues with the way some crime figures were recorded due to different reporting mechanisms.


Councillor Tinsley said that it would be useful to have comparators for other authorities to ascertain how we were performing.  The Chair said that this would be difficult due to the different types of health issues and the rurality of the county.  He thanked the officer for an excellent report and for addressing concerns previously raised by the Board.



That the content of the report be noted.




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Durham County Council
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County Durham
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