Financial and performance management
A report looking back on the first quarter of the current financial year – April to June – revealed lots of positive issues in the performance management area.
Of 20 indicators reported to Cabinet, 85 per cent met their target.
In terms of the financial position, members were told in the three-month period the Council would have expected to spend £2,494,961 and it had in fact spent £4,220 over this target.
This was mainly due to adverse variances at Kidsgrove sports centre and income from waste services and car parking being below the amount budgeted for.
However, favourable variances helped the situation – in particular employee costs in relation to vacant posts and flexible retirements.
Contract for the sale of recyclable materials
The Council has been operating its new recycling service since July 2016 and this involves processing materials from kerbside collections so they can be sold – which in turn helps keep the costs of the service to residents down.
Arrangements were put in place for glass, paper and aluminium to be sold directly back into businesses which reuse these products.
For plastic, cardboard and steel cans, a 12-month deal was agreed while the Council developed a better understanding of volumes from the enhanced service.
This summer the Council went out for bids for a two-year contract with a possible extension of a further 12 months. Four bids were received and Cabinet has recommended D S Smith Limited, a large and well-known company in the recycling and reprocessing industry, is appointed.
It is expected the contract may yield up to £12,000 more per month for the Council than it has been receiving during the last year.
Bereavement services ground maintenance contract
A procurement exercise is to take place which will result in the appointment of an external company to provide grounds maintenance and burial works in the Council’s cemeteries, crematorium and closed churchyards.
This involves grave digging and preparation, grass cutting, tree maintenance, memorial safety and a host of other activities.
The total annual value of the work is currently £300,000 – which has reduced by £50,000 over the last decade.
The contract is to run from April 2018 for two years with the possibility of two further 12-month extensions.
Multi-functional device (MFD) contract
The Council will generate savings of around £50,000 through a new contract for multi-functional devices – which print, scan and fax – in its buildings.
The contract is to be awarded to Canon UK Ltd via the Crown Commercial Framework RM3781 Lot One.
Sport and Active Lifestyle Strategy
Cabinet has agreed to formally adopt this 10-year strategy which aims to encourage more people in the borough to become active and/or play sport.
It also identifies current strategic influences and priorities for the borough including an analysis of current and future demand.
Members were told how the strategy would need to be taken into consideration in key documents such as the Joint Local Plan for Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent if its five goals are to be achieved.
To increase and sustain regular participation in sport and physical activity.
To put in place sporting pathways that will enable people to achieve their full potential in sport.
To develop effective communication channels around available local opportunities for sport and active lifestyles.
To support and increase the numbers of people working or volunteering in sport.
To develop and maintain facilities crucial to the infrastructure for sport and active lifestyles.
Extensive consultation has taken place before the strategy was presented to Cabinet and there has also been lots of work going on to pinpoint demand and participation.
If the strategy and supporting action plan succeed then they could have a major impact on some of the health issues facing the borough which include lower life expectancy for both men and women who live in the most deprived areas, issues with high levels of teenage pregnancy and smoking during pregnancy as well as lower levels of physical activity in school.
A shorter version of the document will be created.
Dementia friendly swimming
The Council is to sign up to the Amateur Swimming Association’s dementia friendly swimming project to create a safe and friendly swimming environment for people with the condition.
Cabinet agreed that an action plan would be developed for this initiative at Jubilee2 – from within existing resources – which would be in conjunction with local partners.
This scheme has been successful elsewhere in the country and could include small changes such as providing staff with dementia awareness training, improved signage in the building to improve navigation, providing an allocated lane with extra support, additional swim aids and also familiarisation tours.
It was agreed that small things go a long way in supporting people with dementia.
Action could be taken to improve subways in Newcastle.
A scrutiny committee of borough councillors carried out an investigation into the routes to try and address ongoing concerns.
Cabinet agreed to thank the Scrutiny Committee for their work on this important issue and that their report be forwarded to Staffordshire County Council with the request that they consider the issues highlighted and having considered these, confirm to the Borough Council whether they will put an action plan in place to secure a regular, sustainable programme of maintenance and repair to the subways in the borough.
While subways are the County Council’s responsibility, the Borough Council sweeps the floors and voluntarily removes racist and offensive graffiti.