ENVIRONMENT AND REGENERATION SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 17th May, 2016.
Present: Councillor Mrs. A. Moore (Chairman); Councillors A.G. Bennett, Mrs. P. Drake, G. Roberts, S.T. Wiliam and M.R. Wilson.
Also present: Councillors L. Burnett, G. John, P.G. King and E. Williams.
36 ANNOUNCEMENT -
Prior to the commencement of the meeting the Chairman welcomed Councillor M.R. Wilson to the Committee and congratulated Councillor P.G. King on his appointment as Cabinet Member for Building Services, Highways and Transportation following their appointments at the AGM.
37 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -
These were received from Councillors G.A. Cox, Mrs. M. Kelly Owen and A.G. Powell.
38 APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN -
Councillor Mrs. P. Drake was elected Vice-Chairman for the current Municipal Year.
39 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
Councillor M.R. Wilson declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 6 - School and College Transport Policy in that he was an employee of the Cardiff and Vale College and had dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak only during any debate in connection with Cardiff and Vale College.
40 SERVICE PLANS 2016-20 - REGENERATION AND PLANNING AND VISIBLE SERVICES AND TRANSPORT (MD) -
The purpose of the report was to present the Regeneration and Planning and Visible Services and Transport Service Plans 2016-20 for consideration to the Committee. A revised version of the Regeneration and Planning Service Plan had been forwarded to Members prior to the meeting.
The Head of Service for Regeneration and Planning in presenting his departments service plan advised that in response to proposals for improvement in the Council’s most recent Annual Improvement Report by the Wales Audit Office, the Council had reviewed its Performance Management Framework to enable better demonstration of the contribution made at all levels of the organisation to priority outcomes. In line with the new Corporate Plan and Performance Management arrangements the Service Planning process for 2016/17 had been revised as below:
Self-assessment activities required under the Local Government (Wales) Measure for the previous year had been incorporated into the Council’s Annual Self-Assessment report that had been approved by Cabinet on 8th February, 2016.
The Self-Assessment report to Cabinet had been referred to all Scrutiny Committees in March 2016, with Committees being requested to confirm that they were content that the information contained in the report was an accurate reflection of performance in the previous year and that the actions for improvement identified were relevant to be carried forward to Service Plans for 2016/2017.
In previous years, the self-assessment formed part of the Service Plan. This year, the self-assessment had been reported separately to all Scrutiny Committees in order to inform our Improvement Objectives, the 2016/17 Service Plans as well as the annual work programme of Scrutiny Committees.
15 Service Plans were being created at Head of Service level reflecting the new senior management restructure. By doing so and by reporting the self-assessments separately, Service Plans had become more concise, focused and forward looking documents.
Service Plans would also reflect the new Corporate Plan well-being outcomes, objectives and actions relevant to each service.
Service Plans were being presented to Scrutiny Committees during April and May 2016 by Directors and Heads of Service following approval of the Corporate Plan 2016-20 by Council during March 2016.
The current approach to the monitoring and reporting on Service Plans would be replaced with quarterly reports against each of the Corporate Plan well-being objectives linked to the four well-being outcomes. This would enable Members to focus on scrutinising progress towards achieving the Council’s well-being outcomes. Services will continue to report performance data quarterly to the Council's Performance Team. The Performance Team would then use the information to produce the more focused well-being Outcome Reports.
The new Service Plans specifically identified how each Head of Service would contribute towards achievement of Corporate Plan Wellbeing Outcomes by asking two questions:
"Which well-being objectives does the service contribute to and what actions will we be taking this year to achieve these?"
"How will we manage our resources to achieve these actions and support our service?"
Informed by the self-assessment, the Service Plans also comprised a brief overview of the issues facing the service against each of the corporate health perspectives (Risk, Customer Focus, Resources- workforce, finance, assets, ICT). The plans also included an action plan for how resources would be used to support the delivery of well-being outcome actions as well as managing risks, collaboration and engagement activities.
The Council was currently consulting widely on proposed Improvement Objectives for 2016/17 and these would be reflected within relevant Service Plans once approved by Council in April 2016. The proposed Improvement Objectives and associated actions for 2016/17 reflected the four well-being outcomes in the Corporate Plan, ensuring that the Council was focusing on the areas in need of the most improvement. Underpinning the Service Plans the Directorate would also be developing Team Plans.
Appendices A and B within the Service Plans contained the Services Improvement Action Plan for 2016/17 which identified planned service actions, intended outcomes and key milestones, relevant performance measures to demonstrate progress, the responsible officers, timescales for completion and the anticipated resource requirements for planned actions.
During the discussion, a Member considered that the Council should be promoting and encouraging the use of electric vehicles and asked whether the Council was considering promoting the establishment of charge points on new developments. It was also considered important to promote the development of electric vehicles at petrol stations in order to encourage usage. In response the Head of Service advised that although the Department could encourage and promote such facilities it would however, not be in a position to impose this requirement as it would require national guidance and regulation. Although the Head of Service advised he was currently aware that one local supermarket provided the facility the Council could only encourage developers at this stage.
In staying with the theme in relation to sustainability and environmentally friendly considerations, a Member also queried why air quality monitoring and such issues were not addressed in the Plan. It was subsequently considered that a recommendation should be referred to Cabinet that air quality monitoring was addressed within the Service Plan. Aware that this issue may be within the remit of the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee it was accepted that the recommendation be referred to Cabinet for consideration.
In response to a query regarding work on the Esplanade the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education advised that work was being undertaken in relation to the need to understand any constraints and that consultation was to be undertaken during the current financial year within the locality. General renovation work is already planned including painting, the complete renewal of the seating area, planned replacement of any faulty lights and addressing issues in relation to the Cliff Top car park. There also needed to be a dialogue with residents in the area as to what they considered was required. However, that conversation could not take place until the risks and the layout were understood. A letter had also been received from Penarth Town Council to discuss a way forward which would be dealt with once the background work had been completed.
In referring to the issue of the Barry Island Link Road, (ref ERO3) a Member queried the latest completion date with the Cabinet Member responding that the developers were continually referring to a summer completion. The Chairman also reminded the Committee that the Consortium had been invited to attend a Scrutiny meeting but had declined.
Following on from the above discussion the Head of Visible Services and Transport highlighted a number of areas from the plan as outlined below:
During the year the department would be reviewing all local bus services as outlined under reference ER9. Under ER10 - work with Welsh Government to deliver improvements to Five Mile Lane this was being jointly delivered by the two teams from Visible Services and Regeneration. With regard to ER15 to continue to implement conversion of non LED to LED lighting a report had been requested by the Scrutiny Committee and had been referred from Cabinet and was to be considered later on the agenda. For ER16 - finalise the Waste Resource Action Programme with Welsh Government. It was envisaged that this may have implications for the way in which the waste service was operated in the future throughout the Vale of Glamorgan. The Head of Service also highlighted the work being undertaken in relation to flood alleviation schemes under ER18. Appendix B to the report referred to integrated planning in the service area with the Head of Service highlighting the reference at CP1 being the action to deliver the changes necessary to Visible and Transport Services to achieve savings of £2.62 million this year and a further £2.4 million next financial year.
Following the presentation of the overview of the report discussion ensued as below:
Ref and Question
ER3 - Further the feasibility study to get buses over the Cardiff Bay Barrage including further consideration of a Cosmeston Park and Ride facility.
It being noted that further collaboration with Cardiff Council to ensure they were progressing the feasibility to provide bus services along this corridor. The question was put as to whether a ferry service could be developed from Penarth Marina to Cardiff and whether this could be included in the City Deal Project.
The Cabinet Member advised that as Chairman of the Cardiff Bay Advisory Committee she would request a report to the Advisory Committee to consider transport links.
ER13 - Lifeguard provision provided in accordance with the arrangement with the RNLI at Barry Island, Llantwit Major, Southerndown and Ogmore by Sea beaches.
A Member queried why Penarth was not included.
The lifeguard programme arrangement existed at the locations identified in the report but not at Penarth.
ER15 - Purchase of new vehicles. New environmental friendly vehicles purchased as necessary in accordance with service needs.
The purchase of electrical vehicles was an expensive operation and the Department would continue to ensure that they were purchasing the most economical, effective and environmentally friendly vehicles although of note, was the fact that electric vehicles were not in sufficient mass production at present for use as technical vehicles.
ITVT1 - Further promote the use of Oracle to manage service complaints and service requests.
A Member sought assurance as to why this was not currently in place and what was the specific issue.
The Visible Services and Transport Department was currently considered to be the main user of the system and the reason for the action was due to the fact that the Department was probably the highest receiver of complaints and compliments. The department always considered how best it could improve on information and the use of new technology and how it could best serve its customers was important. The Head of Service stated that it was her intention to consider a dash-board type facility (in conjunction with the Customer Complaints Officer) for Members information which would show details of complaints and compliments received.
ITV3 - Purchase of an Asset Management System for the Leisure Service.
A Member sought clarification in respect of this action.
For Members clarification this was an ICT system for Parks and Grounds Maintenance and was not related to the contract with Legacy Leisure.
ER16 - Introduce revised enforcement policy to reduce litter, fly tipping and dog fouling offences.
A Member sought clarification in respect of this action.
There were existing resources in house that delivered fixed penalty notices together with an educational arm to educate people. However, the intention is to work with a partner to assist in relation to environmental crime and a report was due to be considered by Cabinet in this respect in the forthcoming weeks.
In response, the Member advised that in their view the more vigilant the Council was the more likely ER19 (Obtaining Seaside Awards for Jacksons Bay and Cold Knap, Barry) would be achieved.
In referring to awards the Committee was also advised that a decision was imminent for 19th May 2016.
At this point Members also took the opportunity to congratulate officers on the work undertaken with the Beach Huts to date. Committee was subsequently advised that 12 Beach Huts had been let for the next year on an annual rental and that a local business had offered to assist with key collection and drop off.
ER18 - Flood Alleviation Schemes –
A question was raised as to whether these were on track and whether there were any foreseeable problems.
The Department had been successful in obtaining funding for the schemes and subject to receiving all the relevant permits, it was anticipated that the work would be undertaken during the current financial year. It being noted that for Llanmaes the public meeting stated in the report as 16th May was actually due to take place in June 2016 it was suggested that the Service Plan be amended accordingly.
Following a lengthy discussion in relation to both Service Plans it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the Service Plans be endorsed.
(2) T H A T Cabinet be recommended to include air quality monitoring in the appropriate service plan.
(3) T H A T the Visible Services and Transport service plan be amended to reflect that the public meeting referred to above was due to take place in June 2016.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) In order that the Plans can be confirmed as the primary documents against which performance will be measured.
(2) To allow Cabinet to consider the addition in order to appropriately reflect improvement priorities.
(3 For clarification purposes.
41 STREET LIGHTING ENERGY REDUCTION STRATEGY UPDATE AND NEXT STEPS (REF) -
Cabinet had referred the report on 25th April 2016 to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration. The Chairman also confirmed that the issue was an item on the Committees work programme. In presenting the report the Head of Service commenced by advising that in 2014 Cabinet had resolved “That the implementation of a street lighting strategy based on the principal of reduced energy consumption with part-night lighting reduced for all appropriate areas of conventional street lighting as an initial measure and as reported as Option 6 of the report be agreed.”
The current report before the Committee advised that the part-night lighting programme, under Option 6, had now been completed and the report also provided an update on the carbon and financial savings that were achieved and issues encountered as a result of the part-night lighting scheme. The report also detailed various options aimed at working towards full LED lighting along with possible changes of the operation for current and future light units aimed at obtaining a balance between carbon and financial savings, the views of residents and the appropriate illumination of the highway network. The Scrutiny Committee were therefore requested to consider the report, the options identified and to refer any comments to Cabinet before it made a final decision.
Although the strategic option identified as Option 6 in the previous report had recommended to retain LED stock and part-night 70% of remaining stock at 12 midnight, after extensive consideration by the part-night lighting board, comprising officers from Highways and Engineering, Road Safety, Community Safety and the police, it had been only possible to part-night 65% of the conventional lighting stock, being some 7,400 units. In making this decision the Board had used a risk matrix to analyse the stock and a copy of that risk matrix and associated explanatory information was attached at Appendix A to the report for Members’ consideration.
The matrix had also included an assessment of highway and community safety impacts and wider social considerations. Whilst all part-night lighting decisions were well thought through, officers had however, received a number of complaints with the primary concern being overly dark areas in residential streets. As of 14th April 2016, 225 complaints and service requests had been received associated with the changes to part night lighting. Whilst the number of complaints was reported as relatively low for such a significant service change, it was evident that some of the issues raised were of concern and could require further consideration.
More of the existing conventional style lighting may be able to be changed to part-night lighting over time but the original figure did not include certain non-highway related hazards such as street lights close to areas of open water, where lights had to remain on. This was in part the reason why 65% had been achieved and not 70%. The projected full year energy saving from the part-night scheme was now £217k with 1,042 tonnes of Co². Whilst the financial and Co² savings were lower than the estimates detailed above, the implementation costs were considerably less than those predicted, meaning that the pay-back period had reduced from 0.9 years to 0.65 years.
Members were informed that at the end of 2015/16 there would be 10,789 conventional type street lamps remaining in the Vale. These would be a mixture of residential and main road units with a full LED replacement cost of approximately £4 million. The payback period for this level of investment was in the region of 13 years to 18 years which would be mostly due to the number of main road columns involved and the savings in changing these to LED being considerably less than those in residential areas. Although Members had previously agreed to the principal of a change to full LED street lighting over time the Head of Service advised it would not be prudent to suggest the utilisation of this level of reserves to replace the entire remaining conventional street lighting stock at this time. The payback period was too long and service resilience could be compromised. Instead it was proposed that a smaller amount of capital funding be utilised from the Visible Services and Transport reserve to change all the remaining conventional lighting in residential areas to LED.
Including a possible option to make no further changes to the current part-night lighting arrangements, other than the LED installations already earmarked within the capital programme, there were four possible options. A table indicating these was attached at Appendix C with a graphical representation of each option, compared to the budget available, attached at Appendix D. The various options detailed in the report were considered in more detail, as follows:
“Option 1 - "Consolidate the current part-night lighting arrangements and invest £100k per annum in 2016 / 2017 and 2017 / 2018 on LED replacement lamps". This option provides for financial savings of approximately £14k per annum but, as previously advised, this is insufficient to match the budget available for this period. Also, whilst the number of part-night lighting complaints has not been necessarily high, there is a need to review some of these complaints to ensure that the Council's position in terms of risk is properly managed. For residential areas only, this could mean that a small number of LED lamps may have to be installed to replace certain part-night conventional lighting units (this is more cost effective option than turning the conventional lights back on). This will require an element of funding and for the Part-night Street Lighting Board to be reconvened, so that each complaint can be technically considered on its relative merits. Until the Board sits to determine which, if any, part-night lights should be replaced estimating the increased cost of this option is difficult. As a guide, an additional £50k would enable a further 250 residential lighting units to be replaced on an individual basis.
The further savings in both carbon emissions and costs obtained from the £100k capital investment depend on the lamps that are to be replaced. In broad terms conventional street lights in residential areas that have not been subject to part night lighting realise the greatest savings, where in contrast strategic highway route street lighting that has been subject to part night lighting could increase revenue costs if changed to dusk until dawn full power LED lighting. As any lower level investment such as this should firstly be aimed at obtaining the highest possible savings, lights that have been subject to part-night lighting should not be changed first. This would not assist with the complaints received to date as all these have been from residential part-night lit areas. This particular option, whilst very positive when compared to the previous costs and energy consumption for street lighting, is not sustainable due to costs from 2016 onwards. Further variations of this option could include either dimming or part night-lighting the existing and any future LED lights. However the additional savings associated with these options are relatively low at £11k and £16k per annum respectively. The latter option is also likely to be very unpopular with those residents who reside in LED lit areas, who are now used to low energy all night lighting.
Option 2 - "Dim existing LED lights at midnight and invest £1.2m in 2016/17 and £100k in 2017/18 and 2018/19 in LED residential street lighting, with existing residential and main road part-night light units retained as 'part-night' but LED." This option provides the second greatest savings when reductions in maintenance and carbon tax are taken into account and this is detailed in appendices C and D. The pay-back period for the investment associated with this work is 7.04 years and this is shown at Appendix E. However, the Council could be challenged for taking a decision which leaves the current LED lights on through the night, albeit dimmed, whilst all new LED installations are part lit. This would be difficult to defend as there is no technical justification for this differential, the main reason being to avoid criticism from residents who currently live in LED lit areas. This option also doesn't fully address the problems currently being experienced with part-night lighting. For these reasons this option is not considered appropriate.
Option 3 - "Dim existing LED lights at midnight and invest £1.2m in 2016/17 and £100k in 2017/18 and 2018/19 in LED residential street lighting which are also to be dimmed at midnight." This option provides the third greatest savings when reductions in maintenance and carbon tax are taken into account and this is detailed in Appendices C and D. The pay-back period for the investment associated with this work is 7.54 years and this is shown at Appendix E.
This option is preferred as it provides considerable savings whilst also allowing for consistent and appropriate lighting levels to be achieved throughout the Vale. Existing LED units are able to be programmed to dim electronically at certain times of the evening / morning and to a range of power levels with no additional hardware required. The same will apply with all new LED units. The LED dimming calculations in the appendices are based on a half power option from midnight but this could be increased or decreased depending on the lighting circumstance. Complaints are likely to be less than all other options as there will be no unlit areas. It should not be forgotten that currently almost 50% of the Council's total street lighting stock is turned off at midnight. In any event complaints of poor lighting will be much easier to deal with, as increasing the lighting output from any column would be a simple matter of reprogramming the LED controls on a column by column basis via adjustments to the lantern controls.
Option 4 - "Part-night 70% existing LED lights at midnight and dim remaining LED lights at midnight, invest £1.2m in 2016/17 and £100k in 2017 / 2018 and 2018 / 2019 in LED residential street lighting which are also to be either part-night lit or dimmed." As identified within the costs comparison Appendices this option realises the greatest savings both in terms of energy costs and carbon emissions. It is however likely to be the most unpopular option with the public, especially with those residents who are currently residing in areas lit by LED street lamps.
The savings from this option are only £22k greater than option 3 in 2017 / 2018, though the implications to the public in terms of their required lighting levels are considered to be significantly greater. Whilst achieving the highest savings possible from street lighting continues to be the aim, it is felt that this option does not provide sufficient additional savings over option 3 to warrant the discord that the option would cause with the general public. At this stage it has therefore been discounted.
Options 2 to 4 above all assume that the considerable investment in LED lighting will result in a 25% saving in ongoing maintenance costs for street lighting as the expected life of an LED lantern is much greater than that of a conventional unit. The table below provides an extract of the expected costs of street lighting energy, maintenance and carbon tax over the next two financial years. As can be seen it is expected that the options 2 to 4 all provide a saving over and above that of the projected budget in 2017/18. The preferred option 3 estimates an additional saving of £134k. Any additional saving made may contribute to the overall Reshaping Services saving of £1.3million for Highways & Engineers however due to the volatility in energy prices this saving could change significantly. “
There had been some concern raised previously about the safety of LED lighting. However, the officer advised that it had been reaffirmed that the LED luminaires specified would be compliant with the ‘Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive 2002/96/EC’, which aimed to minimise the impact of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment on human health and the environment. The LED modules themselves were totally sealed and the lens was made from vandal resistant polycarbonate and due to the fact that LEDs did not have a filament lamp or glass enclosure they were largely impervious to vibration. LED luminaires also did not produce infrared or ultraviolet emissions and were used to protect foraging areas to preserve the habitat for bats.
A number of Members stated that having considered all the options in their view Option 3 was the preferred option. It was also mentioned by a few Members that part-nighting was a retrograde step particularly in relation to the feeling of safety although acceptance was shown at the savings and carbon reduction made as a result. Members had received a number of complaints in relation to part-night lighting and in the main safety had been considered the most important especially in their view where roads and pavements may not be lit as they should be. Although the new LED lights were directional lights Members were reminded that the department’s responsibility was to light the highways and pavements not people’s personal properties. A number of members of the public had complained that they could not see their keys to unlock their front doors but as Committee was reminded personal property was not the remit of the Council. The Committee was further advised that there was no proven link between street lights being turned off between 12 midnight and 6.00 a.m. and an increase in crime.
The Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services commented that it was important for Members to note that not all lights had been ‘switched off’ as discussions had taken place with various services i.e. ambulance service in order to assess safety issues and where it was agreed important for lighting to remain on.
Although recognising that Option 3 was the preferred best option the Head of Service advised that a procurement exercise was also required to be undertaken, with the aim to implement the preferred option in the early part of 2017.
Having considered the report it was subsequently
RECOMMENDED - T H A T Cabinet be advised that Option 3 was the Committee’s preferred option as it would be a more comprehensive strategy for the Council to follow.
Reason for recommendation
Having considered the report, the Options contained therein and in the interests of enhancing safety.
42 SCHOOL AND COLLEGE TRANSPORT POLICY (REF) -
Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee on 9th May, 2016 for consideration as part of the consultation process, the revised policy was presented in order to address ongoing financial pressures. By way of background the Head of Service advised committee that there were currently three distinct policies for mainstream school transport, additional learning needs school transport and post 16 college transport which were detailed at Appendix A to the report. Combining the three into one document would make it easier for Vale of Glamorgan residents to understand entitlement and the associated policies. This one document was attached at Appendix B and would it was advised make it easier for staff and Members as they would then only have one policy document to refer to.
The Council currently provided free transport to secondary aged pupils who lived 3 or more miles from their catchment school and for college pupils between 16 and 18 who lived 3 miles or more from their educational institution, as long as that institution was the nearest that offered the course they wished to study.
Colleges in the Vale, Cardiff and Bridgend provided a broad range of post-16 courses that met the needs of students who wished to access post-16 education in a further education setting. To reduce the amount of pupils who opted for courses in establishments where transport costs were extremely high introducing a geographical limit on applications would seem sensible. Limiting applications to only further education establishments in the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and Bridgend would potentially see a fall in the numbers opting for courses elsewhere and reduce the high transport costs that were associated with such students. The consultation on the revised Policy needed to be concluded by the end of July 2016 and a decision made before 1st October, 2016 to enable the Policy to be implemented from September 2017. Members were further informed that these changes would need to be consulted on with a number of interested stakeholders including colleges, schools and pupils receiving free transport as well as their parent/carers. In addition to the above, Welsh Government, neighbouring authorities and community councils would need to be made aware of the consultation process.
For clarification a Member asked the Head of Service to amend the document to reflect the fact that there was currently no Coleg Glan Hafren campus.
Following a query regarding numbers of students, Committee was advised that the £23,000 saving equated to 26 students but that the more accurate up to date figure was more likely to be half that as some students had actually dropped out of courses. The Head of Service further stated that the purpose of the policy was to provide fairness in that if there were any specific courses outside the three counties these would not be subsidised but that did not stop the pupil attending. However they would need to pick up their own travel costs. The policy would now only refer to subsidised transport for the colleges as contained within the report.
With permission to speak, Councillor Eddie Williams, not a Member of the Committee, asked whether the documents could be indexed when finalised as it would make it easier for people to use. Councillor Williams also took the opportunity to query that in light of the decision for Aston Martin to locate to St. Athan could the walking route from Eglwys Brewis to St. Athan be reconsidered as an unsafe school route which would then qualify for pupils to receive free school transport. The Head of Service advised that as the route had been assessed previously as accessible that pupils were not entitled to a free bus service although there was a service in that area that they could pay for. However, she did point out that should a parent request that a route be reassessed following any changes, they should contact Kyle Phillips, the Council’s Passenger Transport Manager. Following this response a Member raised the issue as to whether such a request could come from a local Councillor with the officer advising that it was important that requests were received from parents to ensure that the appropriate route from their house to the nearest appropriate school was assessed.
It was subsequently
RECOMMENDED - T H A T the decisions of Cabinet be endorsed.
Reason for recommendation
In order that one policy document can be used for all main stream, additional learning needs and college transport, that school transport provision for post 16 pupils can be maintained within current budgetary constraints and in light of discussions at the meeting.
43 PASSENGER FARES - SCHOOL TRANSPORT SERVICES (REF) -
Cabinet had on 9th May, 2016 considered the introduction of revised passenger fares on non-statutory school transport services provided by the Council and had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration. The Head of Service for Visible Services and Transport informed Committee that at its discretion and to reduce the number of cars going into certain schools and encouraging use of public transport from an early age, the Council provided fare paying school transport services. Pupils paid a daily fare to use the services, which catered for pupils who lived less than the eligible distance for free school transport from school.
In addition, again at its discretion, to minimise vacant spaces on buses the Council also sold, at a cost of £225 per annum, any spare seats on contracted mainstream transport to those pupils who did not qualify for free school transport and lived in the Vale of Glamorgan.
As the Council's School transport budget was subject to significant reductions and challenges during coming years there was a need to consider increases to the fares to ensure that the Council could still offer young people the opportunity to travel by bus to and from their educational establishment.
In 2015/16 financial year a budget of £267,039 contributed to eighteen fare paying school services. On average 500 pupils a day used the services. In the 2015/16 academic year 50 pupils opted to purchase a spare seat on a contracted mainstream school transport service at a cost of £225 per annum. This generated income of £11,250 for the academic year. Fare paying school services had, at present, a fare structure (see Appendix A) that was not standardised. Fares ranged from £0.50 to £1.40 for a single (the average charge being £0.80) and £0.70 to £2.20 for a return (the average charge being £1.40). Most services also offer an annual season ticket for £225 per annum, with one service charging £195 per annum. There were currently eighteen fare paying school services serving a variety of schools within the Vale of Glamorgan, seven of which had more than 40% of pupils entitled to free school transport travelling on them. To standardise fares the proposal was to charge set rates of £1 a single, £2 a return journey and £300 for an annual season ticket.
These charges would give pupils an easy fare structure to follow, reduce the amount of change drivers need to give which was a problem on many services and offer the opportunity for the purchase of a seat on a bus for a period of 1 year.
The Council also at its discretion, offered pupils the chance to purchase spare seats on mainstream school transport if the vehicle was not filled to its capacity with pupils who qualified for free transport. Currently, pupils not entitled to free transport could purchase a spare seat for £225 per annum.
The Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, with permission to speak, informed the Committee that the last time the prices had been reviewed was over three years ago. It was important to be aware that other local authorities did not provide post-16 services and that only 50% of the actual cost incurred by the Council was being charged. A number of Members also concurred that it was important to protect post-16 students and to note that although the amount of £300 for the cost of spare seats potentially could be seen as a large increase, the prices had not been reviewed for over three years with Members accepting that this was appropriate in the circumstances.
Following the discussion it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the proposals to standardise fares on school fare paying services and to increase the cost of purchasing a spare seat on a contracted school service as detailed within the report as detailed below:
Charges - £1.00 single fare
£2.00 return journey
£300.00 for an annual ticket
be agreed with effect from 1st September, 2016.
(2) T H A T notwithstanding the above, Cabinet be requested to approve that a review of such charges is undertaken on an annual basis as part of the fees and charges for Visible Services and Transport.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) In view of the contents contained within the report and the discussion undertaken at the meeting.
(2) In order that fare structures were considered to be reviewed on an annual basis.