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Agenda Item No.

 

CABINET

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 11 August, 2014.

 

Present: Councillor N. Moore (Chairman), Councillor S.C. Egan (Vice Chairman); Councillors: L. Burnett, R. Curtis, C.P.J. Elmore and G. John.

 

Apologies: Councillor B.E. Brooks.

 

Also Present: Councillors, N.Hodges, B. Penrose, P. Clarke, and I. Johnson.

                                           

C2426           MINUTES –

                                                                                     

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 28 July, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

C2427          DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

The following declarations of interest were received -

 

Councillor N. Moore.

Agenda Item No. 9 – Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for School Non - Attendance

 

Reason for Declaration –

A Local Education Authority (LEA) appointed Governor at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School and Palmerston Primary School. As an LEA Governor, his personal interest did not equate to a prejudicial interest and therefore he was able to speak and vote on the matter.

 

Councillor L. Burnett.

Agenda Item No. 9 – Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for School Non – Attendance

 

Reason for Declaration –

A Local Education Authority (LEA) appointed Governor at St. Cyres Comprehensive School. As an LEA Governor, her personal interest did not equate to a prejudicial interest and therefore she was able to speak and vote on the matter.

 

 

 

 

Councillor R. Curtis.

Agenda Item No. 9 – Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for School Non - Attendance

 

Reason for Declaration –

A Local Education Authority (LEA) appointed Governor at Oakfield Primary School. As an LEA Governor, his personal interest did not equate to a prejudicial interest and therefore he was able to speak and vote on the matter.

 

Councillor S. Egan.

Agenda Item No 5 & 6 – Review of Library and Information Services In the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Reason for Declaration –

 

His wife was employed at Barry Library

 

Agenda Item No. 9 – Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for School Non - Attendance

 

Reason for Declaration –

 

He was a Minor Authority Governor of St Helens Junior School

 

Councillor C.P.J. Elmore.

Agenda Item No. 9 – Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for School Non - Attendance

 

Reason for Declaration –

A Local Education Authority (LEA) appointed Governor at Barry Comprehensive School. As an LEA Governor, his personal interest did not equate to a prejudicial interest and therefore he was able to speak and vote on the matter.

 

Councillor G. John.

Agenda Item No. 9 – Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for School Non - Attendance

 

Reason for Declaration –

A Local Education Authority (LEA) appointed Governor at Llantwit Major Comprehensive School. As an LEA Governor, his personal interest did not equate to a prejudicial interest and therefore he was able to speak and vote on the matter.

 

 

 

 

C2428          CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST MAY 2014 (REF) -

 

Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) considered the above report of the Managing Director.

 

The report for May 2014 showed no variances within the budget.  As reported to the last meeting of the Committee the profiled expenditure had been requested from Project Managers and would be updated in the next report.  Members were advised that Appendix 1 to the report did not include requests for unspent committed expenditure to be slipped from 2013/14 into 2014/15 and, as indicated in the last report, any requests for slippage would be included in the Closing Down report presented to a future Cabinet meeting.

 

For all schemes were it was evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent during the year, the relevant officers were required to provide an explanation for the shortfall and this should be taken to the earliest available Cabinet. 

 

In respect of Learning and Development Directorate – Llanfair School Extension – Emergency powers had been used to approve the inclusion of a further £41,000 of S106 monies into the capital Programme for a classroom extension at the school. 

 

In regard to Visible and Housing Services – Cowbridge Bowls Club – a report to Cabinet on 9th September 2013 (Minute No. C2016 refers) agreed that the playing surface of the Bowling Club be replaced subject to a financial contribution of £12,000 being received from the Club in part payment for the works.  This payment had now been received and the balance of the works would be funded from the Visible Services Asset Renewal Budget.  This contribution was set out in Appendix 1 as part of the Park and Ground Maintenance Asset Renewal budget. 

 

In relation to Development Services – S106 Schemes – Emergency powers had been used to approve the inclusion of S106 monies into the Capital Programme as follows:

 

          Various Play Areas                                          £39,000

          Windsor Road Jct with Pill Street Penarth         £10,000

          Dochdwy Road Bus Shelter                              £15,000

          Hensol / Pendoylan Traffic Calming                  £22,000

 

Matters relating to Barry Island Regeneration – Cabinet would be requested to vire £64,000 from the Visible Services Asset Renewal budget to the Barry Island Regeneration Scheme.  Welsh Government had provided £3.3m of grant funding for the scheme in 2013/14.  Work on site was delayed due to severe weather conditions through the winter months and would continue into 2014/15.  The Welsh Government could only provide the grant for 2013/14 expenditure.  It was agreed with Welsh Government that other works, already identified to be funded from Council monies, could be claimed against the grant thus releasing Council funding in 2014/15 which could be used for the completion of the works.  Work had been brought forward from 2014/15 Visible Services Asset Renewal Programme and undertaken during 2013/14 and was claimed against the grant in 2013/14.  This therefore released funding for 2014/15 to be transferred to the above scheme to allow the completion of works.  This virement had been set out in Appendix 1 to the report.  As for the Renewal Area – Cabinet on 24th February 2014 had previously agreed that the Renewal Area Grant, once approved by the Welsh Government, could automatically be included in the 2014/15 Capital Programme.  Notification had since been received from Welsh Government that the allocation for 2014/15 would be £677,981.  This sum had therefore been included in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)      T H A T the position with regard to the 2014/15 Capital Programme be noted.

 

(2)      T H A T the virement of £64,000 from the Visible Services Asset Renewal budget to the Barry Island Regeneration Scheme be noted and the matter be referred to the Cabinet for approval.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)      To monitor progress in regard to the Council’s Capital Programme.

 

(2)      To update the Capital Programme.

 

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Cabinet having considered the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources)

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the virement of £64,000 from the Visible Services Asset Renewal budget to the Barry Island Regeneration Scheme be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

To update the Capital Programme.

 

C2429          REVIEW OF LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (REF) –

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) considered the above report of the Leader.

 

Cabinet, having considered at its meeting on 28th April 2014 proposals that had been put forward by the Library Review Group following a fundamental review of the service, had subsequently referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration.  Cabinet had also agreed in principle the proposed library strategy, set out as an appendix to the report, and had  resolved that final approval of the strategy be made by Cabinet at a future meeting after considering the comments and any recommendations from the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).  Delegated powers had been given to the Chief Learning and Skills Officer in consultation with the Leader to implement individual proposals within the Library Development Plan after considering the results of further consultation and any specific equality impact assessments where relevant.

 

Prior to the consideration of the report by the Committee the Chairman advised how he intended to conduct the meeting.  He commenced by stating that as members of staff potentially affected by the proposals had a direct personal interest in the issues to be considered, following advice from the Monitoring Officer, it had been considered inappropriate for staff to speak at the meeting.  The Scrutiny Committee itself also had no role in considering staff related issues as these would be dealt with via the statutory process that was in place.  Staff had, however, been advised that they could attend the meeting to hear the debate and that if they wished to raise any service generic issues to do this through the Trade Union representatives.  The Chairman had requested that invitations be extended to the Trade Unions to attend the Committee meeting and to make representations on service generic issues if they so wished.  Copies of the representations from the Unison Trade Union that had been received and determined by the Monitoring Officer as falling within the Committee’s Term of Reference tabled at the meeting.

 

Prior to the meeting the Chairman had also requested that a statement be placed on the front of the agenda for the meeting that members of the public (not employed or related to an employee of the library service) who would like to address the Committee on the proposals be requested to contact the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer by Friday 16th May, 2014 to discuss arrangements.  To date the Chairman stated he had received requests to speak from the Unison Union, a member of the public (Mrs. G. Davies) and from Elected Members who were not members of the Committee.

 

In referring to Co-opted Members with voting rights who sat on the Committee, he stated that they had been advised that as the library service was not classified as an education matter under the relevant legislation, they would be able to speak on the matter only but not vote. However, if they had a personal interest in the matter they would also not be able to speak.  This was the same position for Observers on the Committee.

 

The Chairman apologised for his long statement prior to the debate but advised that he had considered it necessary in order to advise all present of the arrangements that had been made to date and how the meeting itself would be conducted.  He would allow sufficient time for representations to be made but requested that any speakers avoid duplication as the Committee was time limited and he wished to ensure that all voices were heard in order that Members of the Committee could hear all evidence prior to debate.

 

Finally, he advised that the order of proceedings would commence with the Leader of the Council in the first instance followed by the Chief Learning and Skills Officer, the Head of Service for Strategy, Community Learning and Resources, the Unison Union representative, the member of the public, Elected Members not on the Committee and then the Committee itself.

 

The Leader commenced by advising of the importance of the report for staff and the current and future users of the library service.  He stated that the report set out a number of important “proposals†to modernise services, to ensure that they remained a relevant and viable community resource whilst also recognising the reality of ongoing pressures on public finances.  He stated that the Cabinet was committed to the library service and the proposed strategy included investment in buildings and services.  The proposals within the report were a culmination of work by a Cabinet-led working group starting in September 2013 and ending in March 2014, the work of the group had been supported by a public consultation process in November and December 2013 and a number of staff focus groups.  The results of these processes were set out in appendices to the report.  The proposals sought to secure the future of all of the Vale’s libraries and broaden their appeal to a new generation of library users.  In some cases this would need to be through different and innovative models of service delivery.  The proposals had been approved in principle by Cabinet and further consultation would take place.  The report referred to 15 recommendations as set out between pages 6 to 9 of the document and that with regard to costings he had requested that further information be provided in due course. 

 

The Leader then made specific reference to recommendation 1 that “the Council develops a phased approach†to the proposals and with regard to recommendation 3 “charges for library services†the view was that these be  increased with immediate effect in line with the schedule set out at Appendix I. Cabinet had also agreed that  further work be undertaken on the development of other income generation and grant funding opportunities†and that in referring to recommendation 6  “Library opening hours across the Vale of Glamorgan†these be  adjusted to more closely track library user footfall thereby ensuring that the efficiency of the libraries is improved. He stated that the opening times referred to had been based on evidence which he had considered reasonable.  

 

The Chief Learning and Skills Officer took the opportunity to apologise to Committee and all present that the department had not been successful in all its attempts to communicate the proposals as it should have been.  It was evident that some staff had been given the impression that decisions had already been made when they had not and some would have been worried as a result.  The Chief Learning and Skills Officer then reiterated that she wished to take the opportunity to publicly apologise to those staff, stating that she was sorry the department had not got it right on this occasion but that she looked forward to further communication with staff in relation to the proposals in the future. 

 

The Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources advised that the focus of the review, which was set out in Appendix A to the report, had been to ensure that the Council was able to continue to deliver and improve a service that met the needs of current and future generations within reduced funding.

 

There were three main strands to the proposed Library Strategy:-

 

The first of these was the development of Community Libraries at Dinas Powys, Wenvoe, Sully and St. Athan.  The Review Group had looked into a number of different models which were currently in operation across the UK and concluded that the development of community libraries would help the Council sustain the library network in the Vale.  In many cases the move to community managed libraries had enabled libraries to remain open and had often resulted in increased opening hours together with innovative funding and development that might not otherwise be available or possible via local authority delivery.

 

The model of a community library that the Council would seek to develop in consultation with communities was one in which support would be provided by the local authority and the library would remain part of the statutory service.  Legal agreements would need to be established with the relevant community groups but the exact detail of the agreements could change from one community library to the next.

 

With regard to the use of volunteers in the Vale’s library services Members were reminded that this was already well established.  For example, there had been a successful home library service in the Vale run by volunteers for many years.  A more recent example was the recruitment of volunteers to help with digitising old photographs held by the library and brought in by residents.

 

The use of volunteers was more established in some other local authorities, particularly in England.  Warwickshire for instance had 13 libraries run by volunteers with as many as 50 volunteers available for each branch library.  Volunteers had different roles, some ran specific activities, others provided refreshments or got involved in fund raising activities.

 

Consultation with individual communities in areas where a community library was proposed would be critical to the success of the strategy and this had been included as an initial action in the Draft Library Development Delivery Plan.  It was important that there was a shared understanding of the benefits a community library could deliver and awareness of the successful community libraries already in operation in other areas.

 

The second main strand of the strategy related to maximising funding. The analysis shown on page 22 of the report showed the Council’s income generation levels to be comparatively low.  The strategy included proposals relating to increasing current charges and also introduced some new charges.

 

There were several other recommendations relating to the maximisation of funding, one of which was the introduction of Friends of Groups at each library which would have a focus on fund raising.  The Council was also proposing that it worked more closely with other Council services to ensure it made best use of library buildings and enhanced the services offered. Staff had also submitted suggestions for improvement and savings which were all considered by the Review Group.  Many of these related to income generation, some of which had been included in the Draft Library Development Delivery Plan although it had not been possible to include all of them in the report.

 

The third main strand of the Draft Library Strategy was a reduction in library opening hours.  Analysis of footfall showed that Council libraries were least busy at the start and end of the day.  Evening opening hours until 6, 7 and 8 p.m. were designed to give access to people who worked during the day and required access in the evenings but patterns of library use showed that comparatively few people made use of these periods and there had been occasions when no library customers had visited a library in the last hour of opening.  The first half hour suffered for the same effect.  The Review Group had sought to avoid closing libraries from whole days opting instead to reduce hours at either end of the day.  The proposed opening hours were shown in Appendix J to the report.

 

The current service was a successful and modern service but the Council needed to ensure that it was sustained and that it continued to adapt to meet needs in the future.  This would therefore require the Council to make changes to the way in which the service was delivered.  The Vale had seen a reduction in visitor figures over the last three years although this was not a factor that was peculiar to the Vale; it was a national trend which could indicate a change in the way people were accessing such services.  The Vale developed a 24 hour library ahead of many other local authority library services and it was proposed that the digital offering is extended in the future and widely marketed to widen access outside of library hours and to appeal also to non-library users.

 

The budget report for 2014/15 projected the Council would need to make a minimum of £20.909m savings over three years, of this sum £2.118m was the target for the Learning and Skills Directorate.  The saving figures quoted related to the total currently required for the three year period 2014/15 to 2016/17.  However, the level of savings required could change over the period depending on the Welsh Government revenue settlement, inflation and cost pressures; it was not considered likely to decrease. The estimated savings of £500,000 would contribute to achieving the Learning and Skills target.  Other services of the Council, excluding the Learning and Skills Directorate, had a total target of £18.791m over the same period.  This Committee was advised that this should also be considered in the context of the current budget for the Library Service.  Page 22 of the review report detailed the revenue expenditure on library services in the Vale which contrasted significantly with the overall funding the Council received to deliver its services.  Library expenditure was well above the Welsh and UK averages whereas the funding the Council received per capita to deliver services was well below average, with the Council ranking 20/22 in Wales in terms of external funding.  The draft strategy also proposed investment in the service of £250,000 for Llantwit Major Library, £88,000 for Penarth Library and expenditure on improving wi-fi in libraries.

 

Following the above the Chairman then referred to the guest speakers.

 

Mr. Jamie Davis, Unison Trade Union representative, commenced by stating that he had no personal interest to declare and that the union was disappointed that no staff or relatives would be able to speak at the meeting. The Chairman at this point reiterated his earlier statement advising that he had made it clear why staff were not able to speak on HR issues at the meeting as there was a separate statutory process in place to deal with such issues that should not be compromised.  Staff had, however, been informed that they could make  representations through the Trade Unions in relation to service generic issues and could also attend the meeting to hear the debate, this advice having been received from the Council’s Monitoring Officer.  Mr. Davis then continued by questioning whether the proposals that had been presented were necessary to provide a sustainable service and stated that the original questionnaire that had been circulated had been misleading.  He referred to the replacement of skilled librarians and questioned the proposals to replace them with volunteers.  He also stated that in his view there would be a two tier library service and that the proposals put forward were proposals for closure. He had also heard that the consultation process itself was under review by the Audit department. Mr. Davis in conclusion urged the Committee not to accept the proposals as he considered that they were the easier options to accept.

 

Tabled at the meeting was also a list of representations that had been received from the Unison Trade Union which covered a number of issues as outlined below:

 

·            The use of volunteers as opposed to paid staff

·            The opening and closing times proposed

·            What will happen to the children’s activities book clubs etc. Will these cease ?

·            The Books 4u reservation service volunteers are not allowed to access the service therefor there would be a reduced service that Members could access

·            What are the relocation costs for St. Athan?

·            What are other library services in the UK doing to generate income?

·            How much are other departments in the Vale of Glamorgan Council saving over the same period?

·            Who will manage “Friends Groups activitiesâ€

·            Staff suggestions for saving money being ignored 

·            The use of £28k from S106 monies for the Wenvoe library

·            What would happen to the community groups beyond support support finishing in March 2016?

·            There were a number of ways that the library service was currently modernising itself e.g. children’s activities, computer lessons, community group meetings, Welsh lessons etc.  What other ways of modernising the service could be done that wasn’t already being done?

·            The Council had to make £20,909.000 efficiency savings with Libraries having to find £500,000.  What are the exact figures to show how efficiencies are to be achieved?

·            What are examples of community engagement?

·            What are the costings for each model community supported library / community managed library?

·            How much would it cost for training and support and would frontline staff be expected to assist?

·            Would volunteers be able to use the programmes that already existed and assist with access to life critical skills and Council services etc.?

·            Whether the Council would continue to provide IT support and equipment

·            The significant number of volunteers that would be required to provide a service, if this materialised, would the libraries earmarked for a change to a community led model cease to exist? 

 

Representations that had also been received from Councillor R.J. Bertin who was unable to attend the meeting were tabled for information.  Councillor Bertin’s e-mail stated that he agreed with recommendations 2, 4, 8, 9, 10 and 12 of the review report and that he strongly supported recommendation 13.  With regard to recommendation 3 he was in support of opening a coffee shop and a better stocked shop.  For recommendation 6 additional admin in his view was required and he suggested that the Llantwit Major revamp be put on hold.  He suggested the closure of the St. Athan Library to save money and that with regard to recommendation 15 to introduce a pop up library service a better option would be to allow existing staff to visit care homes instead.

 

Ms. Gill Davies, a member of the public with permission to speak, advised that she was not employed or related to an employee of the library service.  She was a retired teacher and a local resident of the Vale of Glamorgan.  In her view libraries were an important facility, particularly the library in Barry.  They were primarily used by people who lived within the Vale of Glamorgan including young people and the unemployed.  She hoped that the Council would maintain and develop library services for the future and that they did not make any unnecessary cuts.

 

Councillor C.P. Franks, not a member of the Committee, with permission to speak, stated that there was profound concern in the community regarding the proposal in relation to Dinas Powys in that the library would be downgraded.  He respected the fact that the recommendations were just proposals and noted that the Cabinet had already pledged that no library would close.  He had himself undertaken some research regarding the number of volunteers that would be required to provide such a service and referred to the Oxfam organisation that required 40 volunteers per shop plus the service of a full time paid officer.  He also queried the reason why some of the income generation that had been suggested by staff had not been developed.  He was concerned about DBS checks for volunteers and the possibility of volunteers being in the situation of handling cash.  In his view the fact that the use of volunteers would directly affect the staff that were in the service and the way in which the consultation had been handled had seriously undermined any public support for the proposals. In referring to the Medium Term Financial Plan of the Council as a key core document, the figure of £500,000 that was required to be saved had tripled since information provided in October 2013.  He requested that Cabinet consider undertaking a second public opinion survey and urged the Committee to ensure that Cabinet came back to the Scrutiny Committee before they made their final decisions. 

 

Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson, with permission to speak, and having no declaration to make in relation to personal or prejudicial interests referred in the first instance to page 21 of the report which stated that 96% of customers judged it to be a good service with visits listed as being in excess of 5,825 being more than the Wales and UK average.  In his view it was clear that people were currently impressed with the service.  He also referred to the issue of volunteers and that as a member of the Voluntary Sector Liaison Committee, he was very well aware of the number of volunteers currently within the Vale assisting various service areas.  In his view the opening time proposal for the Barry Library would have a serious impact in the Barry area.  The opening times would not suit a number of people, particularly those that were working outside of the area.  Income maximisation was also essential and that further work should be undertaken with regard to this aspect.  The question of long term sustainability was at the centre of the debate and with the additional pressure of trying to ensure that 50 volunteers were available in a pool for each library, there would in his view need to be a question raised regarding at what point would the Council itself step in to assist with the service.

 

Councillor L. Burnett, speaking with the Committee’s permission, advised that the level of cuts for the Council were unprecedented and unlike other Authorities that had already set out their proposals to close some libraries, the Vale Council had sought to try and protect the services now and for the future.  It was recognised that people also use audio and e-books and if the Council wanted to engage and remain current it had to consider suggestions for improvement in the current climate.  Councillor Burnett referred to the many efficiency savings that had to be made throughout the Council in various departments and to the good work that was currently being undertaken at the Pier Pavilion in Penarth which was in partnership with the Council.  The Council needed to look at things in a different way, and to consider different models of providing services, to consider the use of grant funding and supporting volunteers with the aim of all working together and engaging with communities.

 

Following the representations Members of the Committee then considered the evidence that had been presented.  The Chairman noted that the Committee had itself previously requested that an analysis survey be carried out and recognised that to some extent the report before Committee had provided some of this information.  The report, however, did not address certain aspects for example how to improve the performance of footfall or the ability to work closely with schools.  In his view there was too much emphasis on staff costs, not on what could actually be done, and some Members considered that one of the reasons why the library service was facing a £500,000 cut was that the Welsh Assembly Government RSG had not provided the Council with significant monies to provide such services and as a result the Council itself had an £8m shortfall. 

 

Members reiterated the fact that no one wanted to see staff members made redundant and some of the proposals that had been identified in the report were to ensure that a sustainable service for the future could be provided.  A Member referred to her support for the library service, it being noted that in the previous report that had been considered by the Committee (the Eagleswell Primary School Inspection Report) reference had been made to poor literacy and as such, it was essential to keep professional library staff to support schools.  In referring to DBS checks and the safeguarding issue in relation to volunteers it was accepted that these would have to be carried out.  The Chairman also referred to the donations from Barry Town Council to schools within the Barry area in the sum of £10,000 to provide fictional books within schools to encourage reading, and he too raised the importance for literacy within schools. 

 

Councillor C.P.J. Elmore, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, referred to a good example of collaboration within the library service at Y Bont Faen in Cowbridge and referred to a number of community initiatives that were ongoing that he hoped would continue.

 

The Leader reiterated the issue that schools should be working with libraries to support children in school.  In his view it would not be a two tiered service and that the service would still be Council led.  In response to the concerns that Audit had undertaken a review, he advised that he had asked a member of staff in the Audit Department to carry out a review of how some of the information was released before it was submitted to Cabinet.  This was important as not everyone had had the privilege of seeing some aspects of the report at the same time. 

 

He concluded by advising that it was not the intention of the Cabinet to close libraries but to consider best usage and proposals that would be sustainable for the future.  Any decisions made by Cabinet would also be referred to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration

 

The Chief Learning and Skills Officer advised that there were operational developments that would be needed in introducing a community library and that a considerable amount of work was still required to be undertaken.  The Lead Officer for the service, Mr. A. Borsden, advised that he had visited Warwickshire Council which had 13 community libraries and they had conducted an extensive piece of consultation that officers of this Council would like to mirror.  This had been based on each community’s need and had dictated what services would be put in place.  With regard to child protection issues, these would be addressed in the same way the Council currently dealt with its recruitment process and background checks would be undertaken as appropriate.  In referring to the Library management system he advised that this would be limited in use but the Council would assist with stock rotation, in providing a helpline with access to professional librarians.  He concluded by stating that the lessons learned from Warwickshire’s experience would be invaluable to the Council and pointed out that their new service was successful and had been in operation for over three years.

 

The Chairman was keen to learn the number of volunteers that would be required with regard to the proposals and whether there would be any drop off of volunteers.  In response the Lead Officer stated that a pool of 50 would be required per library, and the process would take six to nine months to recruit and train the new volunteers. 

 

In response to a query from the Chairman as to what timescale the Cabinet were working towards, the Leader advised that all options had to be considered.  The current process was just the starting point, and any future service needed to be sustainable.  The Cabinet had also promised that it would consult with staff, Trade Unions and the community as well as the Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Chairman and Members of the Scrutiny Committee thanked the officers and the Cabinet Members for their representations for putting the review into context and thanked the guest speakers for their representations.  In recognising it was a complex issue they also thanked the officer for the apology in relation to the consultation that had taken place to date and noted that further consultation would also take place.  However, the Committee recognised and expressed concern that the public consultation exercise had not fully explained the use of volunteers in the detail that it should have. 

 

The Chairman requested that any future information be presented to the Scrutiny Committee first prior to the Cabinet, however, the Leader advised that as the report was a policy decision, Cabinet would refer its decisions to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.  The Chairman also requested that a second public opinion survey be undertaken however, following considerable discussion in relation to the proposals, the Committee, aware that further consultation was to take place and having fully considered the report and the representations received subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)      T H A T the resolutions of Cabinet be noted.

 

(2)      T H A T the views of the Scrutiny Committee be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration, with Cabinet being recommended to progress recommendation (3) as detailed below, as soon as possible:

 

          “That charges for library services are increased with immediate effect in line with the schedule set out in Appendix A  of the report and that further work is undertaken on the development of other income generation and grant funding opportunities.“

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)      Having considered the representations at the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(2)      To encourage greater income generation for the service.

 

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During consideration of the item the Cabinet Member for Adult Services left the room and took no part in any discussions

 

Cabinet, having considered the recommendations from the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T the views of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) be noted.

 

(2)      T H A T recommendation (3) as outlined in the report, be noted and considered with Agenda Item No 6 Review of Library and Information Services in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1&2)  To consider the representations at the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).

 

C2430           REVIEW OF LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – LIFELONG LEARNING) -

 

Cabinet was advised of representations made to the Council in respect of the draft Library Strategy and approval was sought of the proposals outlined in the strategy.

 

The draft Library Strategy was considered by Cabinet on 28 April, 2014 (Minute No. C2284).  It was approved in principle and was referred to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for consideration. A commitment was made to making a final decision on the Strategy after considering the comments and any recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

A meeting was held with Library staff on 29 April, 2014 at which a number of questions were raised and addressed. This was followed up with a letter dated 15 May, 2014 which was attached at Appendix 2 to the report and included a summary of the questions and answers from the meeting. Staff were informed that a summary of all appropriate comments from staff would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration.

 

A number of staff submitted comments to their union and these were tabled for consideration at the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) held on 19 May, 2014. Questions directly relating to staffing issues were removed from the list for scrutiny since employment issues fall outside of the remit of the committee. The full list of comments and questions raised by staff through the unions was included in Appendix 3 as attached to the report.

 

A small number of comments and questions were also received directly from staff and those which were additional to the union representation had also been included in Appendix 3, as attached to the report.    

 

The Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) considered the draft Library Strategy at its meeting on 19 May, 2014. A reference from the Committee to Cabinet was included as a separate report previously on the agenda.

 

The Library Strategy had been revised in response to some of the representations made. It was recognised that there had been a communication issue with staff.  A recommendation was included in the report to establish a Staff Reference Group, the purpose of which would be to update and engage trade unions on progress with implementation of the Strategy. Some of the financial information included in the strategy had been updated and clarified.

 

The recommendation to develop community managed/supported libraries had been revised to include Rhoose as well as Dinas Powys, St Athan, Wenvoe and Sully. Following queries over the application of this model to Dinas Powys but not to Rhoose Library, the position was reviewed. The village libraries at St Athan, Sully and Wenvoe were initially considered for this new delivery model due to their comparatively small number of opening hours and associated service offering. Consultation with service users across the Vale revealed that 25% used more than one library for a variety of reasons. Further analysis of consultation responses revealed that 38% of respondents from Dinas Powys used other libraries, which was to be expected given the close proximity of Dinas Powys library to the two tier one libraries at Barry and Penarth. When this was considered in the context of the financial pressures facing the Council the future sustainability of Dinas Powys Library if operated under the existed arrangements was brought into question.  It was considered that the establishment of a community library at Dinas Powys could best safeguard the continuation of the library in the future.

 

The 2015/16 Budget Strategy considered by Cabinet on 30 June, 2014 set out a number of scenarios in relation to required savings which ranged from £20.8M to £35.5M over the period 2015/16 – 2017/18. Rhoose Library was not originally selected for the community library delivery model due primarily to its distance from the libraries at Barry and Llantwit Major (Appendix Bii). However, on reflection and in view of the increased pressure to identify further savings across the Council to respond to the scenarios in the 2015/16 Budget Strategy, it was now considered appropriate to apply the community managed library model to Rhoose Library which would otherwise be the only village library operating under the existing arrangements.  40% of consultation respondents from Rhoose indicated that they used other libraries.  This would result in the main libraries in Barry, Penarth, Llantwit Major and Cowbridge being operated directly by the Council and Dinas Powys, Rhoose, St Athan, Sully and Wenvoe being developed as community managed/supported libraries if feasible.

 

If, following consideration, Cabinet gave final approval to the Library Strategy, a Project Board would be established to manage its implementation. The purpose of the Project Board would be to:

 

  •  ensure appropriate engagement with stakeholders and staff in relation to the recommendations;
  • ensure effective communication about the development and implementation of the strategy;
  • ensure that proper plans are in place to demonstrate ˜readiness to deliver’ of individual recommendations, including stakeholder and staff engagement, prior to implementation;
  • ensure cross directorate support is identified and committed as appropriate to the delivery of the strategy;
  • monitor the implementation of the strategy. This purpose will be achieved through the consideration of the following:
  • a communication and engagement strategy and timetable;
  •  a regularly updated project plan based on the Library Development Delivery Plan.

 

During consideration of the item the Cabinet Member for Adult Services left the room and took no part in any discussions.

 

The Leader commented that he had received representations on this item from Councillor J. Thomas and a Mr S. Cooper and these were circulated at the meeting.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)            T H A T the implementation of the following recommendations which were contained in the revised Library Strategy in Appendix 1 as attached to the report be approved -

 

Recommendation 2:

 

The library service increases data collection to demonstrate how it contributes to the poverty agenda and that it uses data analysis to support applications for learning and development grants.

 

Recommendation 3:

 

 Charges for library services are increased with immediate effect in line with the schedule set out in Appendix I and that further work be undertaken on the development of other income generation and grant funding opportunities.

 

Recommendation 4:

 

A ˜Friends Group’ is established at Barry, Penarth, Cowbridge and Llantwit Libraries to increase opportunities for the library service to be further embraced by the community but also to raise funding and apply for external grants.

 

Recommendation 5:

 

 Library services work closely with other departments responsible for lifelong learning, arts and culture and explore opportunities to increase digital inclusion and education further.

 

Recommendation 7:

 

 The library service further develops and promotes e-books and other digital services to its members.

 

Recommendation 10:

 

 The book fund is reduced from £220,000 by £25,000 to £195,000 with effect from April 2015.

 

Recommendation 13:

 

 Upgrade and extend the library Wifi service during 2014/15.

 

(2)            T H A T subject to consultation with staff and the relevant trade unions, the Director of Learning and Skills in consultation with the Leader, be given delegated authority to implement the following two recommendations:

 

Recommendation 8:

 

The overnight security services provided at Barry Library is replaced with CCTV during 2014/15.

 

Recommendation 9:

 

Cleaning costs are reduced by 20% across all libraries in the Vale during 2014/15.

 

(3)            T H A T it be noted that the following recommendations had been agreed at earlier meetings of Cabinet and that arrangements for implementation were being made:

 

 Recommendation 11:

 

 Invest £250,000 during 2014/15 to upgrade and refurbish Llantwit Major Library to ensure the environment and service meets the needs of the community (Minute ref. C2297).

 

Recommendation 12:

 

Invest £88,000 in 2015/16 to address damp in Penarth Library (Minute ref. C2211).

 

(4)            T H A T it be noted that recommendation 15: the proposed ˜pop up’ library service in Barry developed in partnership with Barry Town Council, was launched in June 2014 (Minute ref. C2297).

 

(5)            T H A T consultation take place in the following communities on recommendation 1, the proposed establishment of community libraries:

 

·       Dinas Powys

·       Rhoose

·       St Athan

·       Sully

·       Wenvoe

 

(6)            T H A T consultation in St Athan would also include recommendation 14, the proposed relocation of the library.

 

(7)            T H A T consultation take place with library users on recommendation 6, the proposed reduction in library opening hours.

 

(8)            T H A T Equalities Impact Assessments be further developed in relation to recommendations 6, 7 and 8 during consultation in the communities identified above and with library users.

 

(9)            T H A T the responses to consultation about the establishment of community libraries, the relocation of St Athan library and the reduction in library opening hours be considered by Cabinet before a final decision is made.

 

(10)        T H A T the revised strategy be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) as part of the consultation process described above.

 

(11)        T H A T a Staff Reference Group comprising staff and union representatives be established with immediate effect.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)            To progress the recommendations under officer delegation.

 

(2)            To progress proposals in accordance with the Council’s Avoiding Redundancy Policy.

 

(3)            To note that these recommendations had already been considered and approved by cabinet

 

(4)            To note that the ‘Pop Up Library’ had commenced in Barry.

 

(5/6/7)          To seek feedback from library service users and communities on specific proposals put forward in the revised Library Strategy. 

 

(8/9)   To consider the response to the consultation and the impact of the proposals prior to making a final decision.  The requirement is for Cabinet to have due regard in substance and with rigour based on sufficient information which has been properly analysed.

 

(10)    To ensure appropriate consultation with Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) on the revised Library Strategy.

 

(11)    To engage staff and trade unions in the continued development and implementation of the revised Strategy.

 

C2431          COLCOT SPORTS CENTRE (LPCSD) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) –

 

At the meeting, the Leader brought forward the Colcot Sports Centre report to benefit the members of the public who attended to hear only this item.

 

Cabinet on 18 November, 2013 (Minute C2090 refers) considered a report of the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sports Development (which  outlined the outcome of a Cabinet site visit and officer briefing in April 2013).  The report considered the future use of the changing rooms and sports centre.

 

Cabinet resolved on the 18 November 2013, that a further report in relation to the current users of the Sports Centre and their future accommodation be presented at a future Cabinet meeting before the end of their temporary use.

 

Cabinet were advised in November of 2013 of the existence of a deed of covenant which restricted the use the Sports Centre.The original beneficiary of the deed of covenant was the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA).  The successor body to NPFA was the Fields in Trust (FIT). 

 

Under the terms of the deed of covenant, the uses that the property could be used for were restricted to "Sporting Purposes".  Officers from the Council had discussed the covenant with the Fields in Trust.  The FIT had stated that whilst a dance school could probably be acceptable in meeting the objects of the covenant (to be used for sporting purposes) they had raised some concerns about the eligibility of the Play Group.  However, FIT were happy to agree, on the basis of a variation of the terms of the covenant, that licences only (as opposed to leases) could be entered into with the two clubs/organisations and that any future licences were agreed with FIT going forward, in advance of any agreements being finalised.

 

The Council currently received £5.00/hour for the space utilised by Wendy Summerell School of Dance. They currently occupy the space for circa 16 hours per week.

 

Cylch Bethesda Playgroup currently paid the Council £59/month for the use of the Sports Centre.  This appeared to be based on a historical rental agreed with the then Alexandra Community Centre Management Committee. Cylch Bethesda operated all day, five days a week, during term time and  catered for about 24 children.

 

At the meeting the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sports Development commented that he had received a letter from  Miss N. Kinson of Cylch Bethesda who attended the meeting and gave him permission to read it out.

 

The Leader commented that he had also received representations from Local Ward Members; Councillors, C. Curtis and A. Powell which were read out at the meeting.

 

At the meeting the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services commented that the Welsh primary schools spoke highly of Cylch Bethesda and the services that they provided with limited funding.

 

 This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)            T H A T the renewal of the annual Licence for the Wendy Summerell School of Dance be approved and delegated authority be granted to the Managing Director, in consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sports Development to set an appropriate licence fee in accordance with the report. 

 

(2)            T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Managing Director, in consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sports Development to agree the renting of Colcot Sports Centre to other suitable users and to set an appropriate fee for such use.

 

(3)            T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sports Development to consider whether it is necessary for Cylch Bethesda to leave the sports centre and to determine the period of notice if applicable.

 

(4)            T H A T delegated authority be given to the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sports Development, to set an appropriate licence fee in accordance with the report, for the remainder of Cylch Bethesda's occupation.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)            In order to formalise the continued use of the Sports Centre by Wendy Summerell School of Dance and set a fee in accordance with market levels.

 

(2)            To make the sports hall available to other suitable community users.

 

(3)            To consider whether Cylth Bethesda should vacate the sports centre.

 

(4)            To set a fee in accordance with market levels.

 

C2432           MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL PLAN 2014/15 TO 2017/18 (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) -

 

Approval was sought for the draft Medium Term Financial Plan 2014/15 to 2017/18.

 

The budget strategy for 2015/16 was approved by Cabinet on 30 June, 2014 (Minute No. C2363). This established a baseline for services to prepare initial revenue budgets for 2015/16 based on the cost of providing the current level of service and approved policy decisions and including any net savings targets set. It also set out the timetable to be followed and required Directors to review savings already approved, with a view to implementing them ahead of the target date and to consider areas for further savings.

 

The purpose of the Medium Term Financial Plan was to link the Council’s strategic planning process with the budget process and to ensure consistency between them. It was a mechanism that attempted to match future predicted resources and expenditure, identify potential shortfalls and provide the financial framework for the next 3-5 years. It was not the budget setting process that allocated detailed budgets for services. Its purpose was to inform Members and to suggest a way of dealing with the future financial pressures facing the Council.  The draft Medium Term Financial Plan for 2014/15 to 2017/18 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

This Medium Term Financial Plan, therefore, attempted to:

·       Identify the main financial implications resulting from the increased pressure falling upon Council services, including pay and price inflation, legislative and demographic changes;

·       Estimate the reduced financial resources that would be available to the Council to meet these demands in light of the Minister's letter;

·       Match the predicted expenditure and resources and provide a framework to develop a financial strategy towards achieving a balanced budget for the next 3 financial years.

 

The draft Medium Term Financial Plan covered, for revenue, the period 2014/15 to 2017/18. An Executive Summary was included at pages 2 – 6 of the Plan, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report. With the exception of the Minister's letter, Welsh Government had not yet given any indication of local government funding levels for 2015/16 to 2017/18. However, the timeframe for the budget process necessitated use of the best available information at the time if a balanced budget was to be achieved by the statutory date. The assumptions made in the Plan were, therefore, based upon the contents of the Minister's letter and the subsequent views of key commentators (including the Welsh Local Government Association) as to the prospects for local government funding over the next few years.

 

Initial estimates presented the following picture which showed a projected savings target between 2015/16 and 2017/18 of £32m, comprising of £18m of savings already identified and £14m yet to be allocated. 

 

Matching Predicted Resources to Expenditure

2015/16

£000

2016/17

£000

2017/18

£000

Real Term Decrease in Resources

9,210

8,170

5,070

Cost Pressures

1,303

6,316

3,422

Identified Savings

(8,857)

(8,706)

(645)

Costs to be met within Schools

(362)

(371)

(380)

Additional Shortfall

1,294

5,409

7,467

 

The matching exercise indicated that there remained £1.3m of savings to be identified for 2015/16 and this was after already identifying £8.8m.  The achievement of the identified savings was by no means guaranteed, but failure to deliver this level of savings would significantly impact on the Council achieving its required financial strategy which would now be based on an estimated reduction of £32m by 2017/18.

 

As a result of the high level of savings required, there would be difficulties in maintaining the quality and quantity of services without exploring opportunities for collaboration and alternative forms of service delivery.  The only realistic option facing the Council in future years was to commence a programme of reshaping and transforming services.

 

To ensure that the budget set for 2015/16 continued to address the priorities of Vale residents and the Council’s service users, the budget setting process would incorporate in-depth, targeted engagement with a range of key stakeholders.  This would be a process of collaboration – with staff, trade unions, public sector partners, the voluntary sector, service recipients and the Vale’s communities (including its Town and Community Councils).   

 

A key outcome from the 2014/15 budget process was to re-examine the relative priorities between different services given the financial challenges which lay ahead and to reaffirm the specific financial strategies for Education & Schools and Social Services.  In light of the level of savings to be found by 2017/18, a further review would be necessary in order to ascertain whether it was viable to continue with these financial strategies.   

 

Other options which were recommended within the Plan for exploration as part of the 2015/16 budget process were:

·       Consider the results of the budget engagement process in determining priorities for future savings and service delivery

·       Review the appropriateness of the current financial strategies for Education and Schools, Social Services and Other Services

·       Review feasibility of increasing  the use of the General Fund Reserve as part of the financial strategy

·       Further reviewing the level of cost pressures with a view to services managing and reducing demand and mitigating pressures

·       Services funding their own residual cost pressures through reviewing their existing budgets and revised/alternative means of service provision

·       Services meeting their own pay and price inflation, superannuation increase etc through reviewing their staffing structure in line with changes to service delivery and workforce planning requirements

·       Reviewing the priorities for funding statutory and non-statutory services, including establishing minimum levels of services provision

·       Pursuing options for reshaping services including means of alternative service delivery in order to attempt to maintain the level of service while reducing the cost of provision.  This was considered further in a separate report on this agenda entitled Reshaping Services – A New Change Programme for the Council.

 

At the meeting, the Leader commented that with regard to paragraph 23 on Social Services in the report, he wanted to clarify for Members that the resultant use of the Fund would be £2.199M in 2014/15 as already approved and amended to £2.075M in 2015/16, £970K in 2016/17,  £650K in 2017/18 and £330K in 2018/19. The recommendation on the changed profile for use of the fund should be referred to Council. As a consequence, recommendation 3 would be amended below.

 

This was a matter for Executive and Council decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T the contents of the draft Medium Term Financial Plan for 2014/15 to 2017/18 as attached at Appendix 1 to the report be endorsed and referred to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for information.

 

(2)      T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Managing Director, in consultation with the Leader, to finalise the process and timetable for engagement with stakeholders regarding the budget.

 

(3)      T H A T Council be requested to approve the change to the Social Services Budget Programme to rephase the £970k Service Remodelling saving to £320k in 2017/18, £320k in 2018/19 and £330k in 2019/20 and agree the use of the Social Services Fund of £2.075M in 2015/16, £970K in 2016/17, £650K in 2017/18 and £330K in 2018/19.

 

(4)      T H A T Council be requested to agree the proposal to use a minimum of £4m of the General Fund Reserve between 2016/17 and 2017/18, but up to a maximum use which does not result in the balance on the reserve falling below a reasonable level as determined by the Section 151 Officer.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)      To facilitate the integration of medium term financial planning into the corporate planning and budget process.

 

(2)      To enable the engagement process to be progressed.

 

(3)      To amend the Social Services Budget Programme.

 

(4)      To provide adequate resources to fund future revenue budgets as part of the financial strategy.

 

C2433          RESHAPING SERVICES – A NEW CHANGE PROGRAMME FOR THE COUNCIL (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) –

 

Approval was sought for a œReshaping Services†strategy and associated change programme for the Council as outlined in Appendix 1 as attached to the report.

 

Central government’s austerity drive had created a period of unprecedented financial pressures in the public sector.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s budget had already been squeezed for 2014/15, with further substantial savings necessary in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18.  The latest draft Medium Term Financial Plan now estimated that this would equate to a reduction of over £10million in 2015/16 and £32 million in total over the next three years.  Failure to deliver the required level of savings would not be an option for the Council.   According to many analysts, a period of “permanent austerity†was now likely for Councils for the foreseeable future.

 

It was clear that the scale of the challenges to come would mean that “business as usualâ€, however well managed, would not be enough.  Continued incremental cuts to budgets would simply lead to a steady decline in the quality and availability of public services, dissatisfaction among those who use the services and poor staff morale.   

 

The challenge was therefore to consider alternative delivery models for services across the Council.  Only in this way can we hope to maintain a broad range of services and to an acceptable standard.   

 

However, given the Council's traditionally low funding base (20th out of 22 local authorities in terms of funding per head of population) the authority was well-versed in working together to find savings and had a long-established track record of achievement in this respect which should stand it in good stead in tackling future challenges.

 

A strategy encompassing the various models for service delivery and how it was proposed they were considered was set out in Appendix 1 as attached to the report.  The delivery of the strategy, which would be very challenging, would be done through the means of a comprehensive change programme involving the Council, its staff, our partners, service recipients and other stakeholders.

 

It was anticipated that the programme as outlined would be driven and largely conducted in house with existing staff.  However, additional external expertise would be required to advise in areas where in-house expertise is lacking, particularly in untried (for the Council) models of service delivery.  It was not possible at this preliminary stage to estimate what the costs would be, but it was anticipated they would be met from existing resources.

 

The latest draft Medium Term Financial Plan estimated that the Council would need to find savings of over £10 million in 2015/16 and £32 million over the next three years.  This would be a major challenge for the Council which this change programme aimed to help address.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T it be agreed in principle to institute a œReshaping Services†strategy and change programme.

 

(2)      T H A T the report be referred to all Scrutiny Committees for consultation, with Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) being the lead Scrutiny Committee.

 

(3)      T H A T the report be referred to the Vale Local Service Board, Community Liaison Committee and Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee for consultation.

 

(4)      T H A T engagement with Trade Unions on this report be instituted.

 

(5)      T H A T briefing sessions on the issues raised in the strategy be arranged for Cabinet, Corporate Management Team, senior managers, Scrutiny Committees and the Vale Local Service Board

 

(6)      T H A T a further report be presented back to Cabinet in the Autumn proposing a more detailed way forward and apprising Cabinet of comments received as a result of initial engagement with stakeholders. 

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1-6)   To enable the Council to respond constructively to significantly diminishing resources by developing alternative means of service delivery in partnership with stakeholders.  

 

C2434           FIXED PENALTY NOTICES (FPN) FOR SCHOOL NON – ATTENDANCE (CS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – LIFELONG LEARNING) –

 

Cabinet were apprised of Welsh Assembly policy to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for non-school attendance, to come into force in September 2014.

 

The revised School Attendance Policy was approved by Cabinet on 14 July, 2014. The revised policy advised School Governing Bodies not to authorise family holiday requests during term time except in exceptional and extenuating circumstances.

 

New Welsh Assembly legislation had empowered designated Vale of Glamorgan Council Education Welfare Officers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to the parents of children and young people who had unauthorised absence from school.  The issuing of FPNs would remain the responsibility of the Education Welfare Service (EWS) in response to requests made by headteachers, their nominated deputies and the Police.

 

In law, an offence occurred if a parent/carer failed to secure their child's attendance at school and that absence was not authorised by the school. A penalty notice was a fine of £60 which may be issued to a parent/carer as a result of their child’s regular non-attendance at school.

 

A penalty notice was £60 if paid within 28 days of receipt of the notice, rising to £120 if paid after 28 days (but within 42 days of receipt). If the penalty was not paid in full by the end of the 42 days the local authority must either prosecute parents/carers for the offence or withdraw the notice.

 

Prosecution proceedings (section 444(1) and (1A) of the Education Act 1996) would be for the offence of failing to secure attendance at school and not for non-payment of the fixed penalty fine. Withdrawal of the notice could only take place in very limited circumstances as set out in this code of conduct.

 

There would be no restrictions on the number of times a parent may receive a formal warning of a notice and it would be at the discretion of the EWS whether to issue a notice on one or both parent/carer.  

 

Penalty notices were considered in the following circumstances:

·       Where a minimum of 10 unauthorised sessions (5 school days) had occurred in the current term (these did not need to be consecutive);

·       Unauthorised absence from school due to a term time holiday and where there was a history of poor attendance;

·       Persistent lateness of more than 10 sessions in the current term i.e. arrived at school after the close of the registration period;

·       Where parent/carers had failed to engage with the school and/or the EWS in attempts to improve attendance but where court sanctions had not been instigated;

·       Where a pupil regularly came to the attention of the police during school hours for being absent from school without an acceptable reason.

 

FPNs would not be used as an immediate action e.g. on pupils found to be truanting during truancy operations.

 

There was no statutory right of appeal against the issuing of a penalty notice. Should a parent/carer wish to contest a notice then they may have submitted complaints to the EWS and/or face proceedings in the Magistrates Court under section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996.

 

At the meeting, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services commented that the proposed code of conduct issuing FPN’s was a change in policy by the Welsh Government and the Vale of Glamorgan was being instructed to implement the change in rediness for September 2014 and therefore the Council had to implement the policy change.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T the proposed Code of Conduct for the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices in the Vale of Glamorgan, as attached at Appendix 2 to the report, be approved.

 

(2)      T H A T the urgent decision procedure as set out in article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution be used in view of the need to implement National policy regarding Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for September 2014.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)      To ensure that full consideration was given to the proposed implementation of the Code of Conduct.

 

(2)      To secure implementation in schools in September 2014.

 

C2435           THE REVISED VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL AND MAINTAINED SCHOOLS PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT 2014-17 (CS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – LIFELONG LEARNING) –

 

Approval was sought to implement the revised Partnership Agreement 2014 -2017, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

Section 197 of the Education Act 2002 required local education authorities to enter into a partnership agreement with the governing body of each school maintained by the Council. The agreement set out how a Council and a governing body would carry out their respective functions in relation to a school.

 

There were 11 Statutory Functions, which would form the mandatory element of the Agreement. In addition, this partnership agreement contained a number of non-statutory functions, as recommended by the Welsh Government (Partnership Agreement Appendix 1 as attached to the report).

 

The revised Partnership Agreement up-dated the current Agreement to include a more accurate reflection of regional working through the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service.

 

The revised Partnership Agreement applied to all maintained schools.  However, in areas of governance, staffing and buildings development, a voluntary aided school (VAS) would have a distinctive relationship with the Diocesan Authorities. 

 

 This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the revised Partnership Agreement as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved for implementation in September 2014.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure school Governing Bodies were well supported to carry out their respective functions as well as sustain and enhance existing partnership working between the Council and school governing bodies.

         

C2436           SPORTS DEVELOPMENT (LPCSD) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) –

 

Approval was sought for the 2014/15 Local Authority Partnership Agreement (LAPA)  plan and to endorse the partnership with Barry Town United Association Football Club for a further year for the development of local football talent.  Attached at Appendix A to the report was the Vale Sports Review for 2013/14.   

 

The Council's Sports Development Team had enjoyed a highly successful year that had seen the Vale of Glamorgan ranked equal second in terms of participation for children and young people in Wales and ranked first for adult participation in sport. 

The Local Authority Partnership Agreement was a contract the Council had with Sport Wales for the delivery of key elements of the Sports Development Programme.  A significant amount of funding is provided by Sport Wales that supports various sports development initiatives including Dragon Sport, 5 x 60 Activity, Disability Sport, Community Chest and free swimming.

 

Attached at Appendix B to the report was  the LAPA plan for 2014/15. The Vale of Glamorgan 2014/15 LAPA plan had already been approved by Sport Wales and Cabinet's approval was now required in order to release funds.  All of the grants were funded entirely from the funding given to the Council by Sport Wales. 

 

Initiatives detailed in Appendix B for 2014/15 and included partnership working with Badminton Wales, Welsh Netball and Welsh Rugby Union to develop girls' rugby.

Approval was also sought to continue to fund a joint football project with Barry Town United Amateur Football Club which provided opportunities for talented local young footballers.  The scheme had been extremely successful during its first year of operation and in order to give the centre of development a real opportunity to establish itself, it was proposed that the Council continued to fund the facility element of the centre of development for a further year using the sports development dispensation for reduced rates included in the contract with Parkwood Leisure.  This would redue the higher charge of the artificial turf pitch at the Colcot Sports Centre to £20 per hour.    

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)            T H A T the significant amount of work undertaken in Sports Development during the past year be noted.

 

(2)            T H A T the Local Authority Partnership Agreement plan for 2014/15 attached at appendix B to the report be approved.

 

(3)            T H A T the partnership with Barry Town United AFC for the provision of a football centre of development be approved for a further year.

 

(4)            T H A T the  report be referred to the  Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information. 

 

(5)            T H A T congratulations be given to the Sports Development Team for all their hard work

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)            To note work undertaken by the Sports Development Team during the past year.

 

(2)            To allow grants to be released to partner organisations.

 

(3)            To continue to provide footballing opportunities for talented Vale of Glamorgan children and young people.

 

(4)            To allow the Scrutiny Committee to evaluate the work of the Sports Development Team. 

 

(5)            To acknowledge the hard work of the Councils Sports Development Team.

 

C2437           A4226 FIVE MILE LANE ROAD IMPROVEMENTS (RIPT) (SRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) –

 

Cabinet were apprised of  work undertaken to date in support of the Welsh Government to take forward the A4226 Five Mile Road Improvement scheme and approval was sought  to further develop the project.

 

The A4226 (Five Mile Lane) connected Barry at the Weycock Cross roundabout to the Sycamore Cross junction on the A48, and comprised an essential part of the highway network providing access to Barry as well as the St Athan and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone. Proposals to improve this stretch of road were contained in the Vale of Glamorgan Deposit Local Development Plan.

 

The Council had  previously received a Principal Road Grant from the Welsh Government to advance the Five Mile Lane Highway Improvement Scheme, and to date this work had involved the signalisation of Sycamore Cross junction, as well as initial design and feasibility work together with various environmental assessments relating to the development of a more comprehensive scheme.  Significant additional funding was required to complete the development and implementation of the scheme. The Welsh Government announced their commitment to the scheme in July 2013.

 

Since December 2013 Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) had been employed by the Welsh Government to develop the route design and a partnership approach with the Council was being utilised in taking the work forward.  Technical teams had been set up to consider highway design, land acquisition, funding, procurement and environmental issues. Initial environmental survey work had commenced to support the production of an Environmental Impact Assessment report and title searches regarding land ownership have also been undertaken.

 

Officers from the Welsh Government and the Council were utilising the Five Case Business Model as the basis for developing an Interim Business Case which would provide the detail of why the scheme needed to be delivered.  The document should be completed by September 2014 and it was intended that this document was reported to Cabinet so that formal approval to proceed with scheme delivery could be sought. At that time it was expected that the full terms of the proposed funding arrangement via the Welsh Government would be known and this would enable the risks associated with delivering the project to be assessed.  The expectation of the Welsh Government was that the Council would procure the works contract and management and  the delivery of the scheme.  The Five Case Model set out the

 

Strategic, Economic, Commercial, Financial and Management cases for the project. and the guidance was set out at:

http://wales.gov.uk/docs/caecd/publications/121001wiip5casemodel.pdf

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)            T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Director of Development Services in consultation with the Director of Visible Services and Housing and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation and the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Visible Services to procure additional surveys required to support the design development process and to procure any consultancy required in support of the land valuation, land acquisition process and the role of Employers Agent under a staged approach to help procure the main works contract subject to all funding for such purposes being agreed in advance by the Welsh Government.

 

(2)            T H A T a further detailed report be presented to Cabinet in due course, providing further information on the Business Case, with detailed design, planning application, funding, procurement and the delivery programme.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)            To enable the appropriate procurement of preliminary services to support the initial works and to agree the funding arrangements for the same.

 

(2)            To enable formal decisions to be made regarding the delivery of the scheme.

 

 

C2438           ACTIVE TRAVEL (WALES) ACT 2013 CONSULTATION ON DESIGN GUIDANCE AND DELIVERY GUIDANCE (RIPT) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)  -

 

Cabinet were advised  that the Council had received a consultation document from the Welsh Government (WG) setting out the design guidance for the provision of routes designed for walking and cycling, as well as Statutory Guidance for Delivering the Active Travel (Wales) Act that set out the processes and procedures to follow to deliver the requirements of the Act

 

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/transport/active-travel-design-guidance/?lang=en and http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/transport/active-travel-delivery-guidance/?lang=en The report also sought endorsement of the response issued to the Welsh Assembly Government’s Consultation questions as detailed in Appendix 1 as attached to the report.

 

The consultation document sought Local Authority views on the Guidance to be issued on both the design of walking and cycling schemes attributed to Active Travel routes and also sought Local Authority views on the processes and procedures to deliver the requirements of the Act.

 

Both sets of Guidance set out how WG expected local transport authorities to comply with this requirement.  They also set out the prescribed settlements that the WG have considered for Active Travel routes. 

 

The responses to the consultation were required to be received by the Welsh Government no later than 4 August 2014 with the responses taking the form of the completion of questionnaires on both the Design Guidance consultation and the Statutory Guidance for Delivery of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013.  These questionnaires had been completed and were included within Appendix 1 as attached to the report as the Council response to the consultation, issued in time for the 4th August deadline

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)            T H A T the contents of both the proposed Design Guidance and Statutory Guidance for Delivery of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 be noted.

 

(2)            T H A T the response to the Consultation Questions as outlined at Appendix 1 as, attached to the report which was issued to the Welsh Government prior to the closing date of 4 August, 2014 be endorsed.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)            To note the contents of both the proposed Design Guidance and Statutory Guidance for Delivery of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013

 

(2)            To endorse the Consultation response.

 

 

C2439          HOUSING NEED IN THE VALE (HBMCS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION) –

 

Cabinet were provided with details of the challenges in meeting housing need within the Vale of Glamorgan and asked to consider the potential opportunities offered by the anticipated borrowing headroom from the new Housing Revenue Account regime

 

It was universally accepted that the market housing would not provide the types and numbers of housing that were required to satisfy housing need. Intervention in the housing market to deliver ‘non market’ products such as affordable, accessible and supported housing was necessary to balance the market in terms of satisfying both known and latent need.

 

The Council’s Housing Strategy and Support team worked with registered social landlords through Welsh Government’s Social Housing Grant programme and/or Section 106 provision to bring affordable and accessible housing to the Vale.

 

The Homes 4U team based in the Civic Offices currently managed and monitored two registers that captured housing need in the Vale of Glamorgan:

 

A general register for ‘general accommodation needs’ based predominantly on bedroom number, need or age designation and;

  • An Accessible Homes Register (AHR); a register of housing need for those people who require an adapted or level access property.
  • The Accessible Homes Register gave preferential status to those on the list for any property deemed to be appropriate to the needs of the individual on the waiting list.

Attached at Appendix A to the report was a range of charts that detailed the categories of need in terms of the AHR in the Vale. Individuals' housing needs were assessed by an occupational therapist and categorised in terms of the following:

 

·       Green –  stable in existing environment with addition of small items of equipment and adaptation (e.g. £100 equipment, £1,000 minor adaptation) but client wishes to move for personal reasons (e.g. to be near family members)

 

·       Amber – existing difficulties ameliorated in existing environment but property not suitable for long term use

 

·       Red – the existing property endangering ability to remain in community, unable to look after personal needs to any degree, at risk of further deterioration due to environment.   

 

In March 2015 it was anticipated that all eleven stock holding Councils in Wales would exit the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system. Using the current accounting assumptions the Council would be in a position to consider new build options utilising the borrowing headroom available from the exit.

 

The exit from the HRA subsidy system was as a unique opportunity for the Council to consider how it could directly contribute to the Welsh Government’s objective of increasing housing supply. In terms of the Vale’s strategic priorities the additional finance could be a means by which a proportion of the need for accessible homes could be met

 

The Housing Revenue Account had a number of small unused garage sites across the Vale that could be suitable for bespoke developments. A feasibility study of such sites commissioned by officers would establish suitability for new build development, with a particular focus on accommodation for individuals with complex needs.

 

Welsh Government officials required Councils to submit new build proposals to them by the end of October 2014. A mix of affordable housing schemes and small accessible homes schemes would satisfy the Council’s strategic objective of ‘the Vale of Glamorgan residents having access to affordable, good quality, suitable housing.’

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)            T H A T the current housing need in the Vale of Glamorgan and more widely in Wales be noted.

 

(2)            T H A T the Head of Housing and Building Services be authorised to commence feasibility work to establish suitable sites to contribute to addressing housing need.

 

(3)            T H A T the Head of Housing and Building Services continue to work with partners to seek funding methods to deliver all types of affordable and accessible housing in the Vale.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)            To note the varying types of housing need challenges faced within the Vale and more widely in Wales.

 

(2)            To identify suitable sites for additional housing.

 

(3)            The Council’s potential borrowing headroom available through the Housing Revenue Account from April 2015 will only satisfy a limited amount of housing need within the area, therefore all other methods of funding must be considered.

 

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