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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Council’s three-year plan promising thriving, healthier, safer and more ambitious Middlesbrough

The plan, which sets out the priorities of Mayor Chris Cooke, said the council would 'recover, reset and deliver' for residents

A three-year plan endorsed by executive members on Middlesbrough Council envisages the town becoming a “thriving, healthier, safer and more ambitious” place.

It also describes a desire to attract people to live, work, invest in and visit Middlesbrough.

The plan – in effect an overarching business plan – sets out four priorities of Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke which are:

  • Maximising economic growth, employment, and prosperity, in an inclusive and environmentally sustainable way
  • Helping residents to live longer and healthier lives, improving life chances and opportunities to thrive
  • Creating a safer environment where residents can live more independent lives
  • Changing how we operate, to deliver affordable and cost-effective outcomes for residents and businesses.
New mayor of Middlesbrough, Chris Cooke. Image: LDRS

It will be considered at a meeting of the full council on Friday 8 March.

A previous three year strategic plan was drawn up in 2021 under former mayor Andy Preston’s administration.

A report said Mr Cooke’s aims and ambitions were informed by and responsive to the views of the town’s residents, but warned that it would need to be delivered within available resources.

The report said the local authority was “midway through a corporate governance improvement journey” after an external auditor in July 2022 reported significant concerns over governance and criticised relations between members and officers.

The council was also previously subject to a ‘best value’ notice by the Government which was recently extended for another six months.

A survey of residents published last year found satisfaction levels with the council had declined with only 37% believing it provided value for money.

Success measures will determine the impact of the plan with progress reported to the executive every three months.

A foreword by Mayor Cooke and interim chief executive Clive Heaphy said Middlesbrough, which has a population of 144,000 people, faced lots of challenges.

It said: “As a council, we’re determined to work with local people, our partners and businesses to overcome them.

“We are also working closely with the government and other bodies to make changes to our culture.

“There are problems from the past we are determined to resolve so we can look to the future with confidence.

“We will recover, reset and deliver for the people of Middlesbrough.”

It said while there was lots of work to do, Middlesbrough was a “brilliant town”, hosting thousands of people on a regular basis, whether it be for football, live music, or cultural festivals.

The town was also home to innovative companies doing business on the world stage and award winning educational institutions and we “must use the talent, pride and positivity of our people to make the most of the opportunities that come our way”.

Aims included attracting and growing business to increase employment opportunities; improving attainment in education and skills; ensuring housing provision meets local demand; improving life chances by responding to health inequalities; protecting and improving the environment; reducing poverty; supporting adults to be independent for longer; improved transport and digital connectivity and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

Meanwhile, by demonstrating a cultural transformation within the local authority and a recovery of its financial position it was hoped to remove the best value notice – which places the council under increased scrutiny with the threat of statutory intervention – within the period of the plan.

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