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Matter for which the Chairman had decided was urgent by reason of the need to approve the minutes from the last meeting.

 

Agenda Item No.

 

CABINET

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 28 November, 2014.

 

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

 

Also Present: Councillors, P. Clarke, E. Hacker, B. Penrose, I. Johnson, K. Mahoney.

                                           

C2541           MINUTES –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 17 November, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

C2542          DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations of interest were received.

 

C2543          EXPRESSION OF INTEREST TO WELSH GOVERNMENT FOR VOLUNTARY MERGER (REF) –

 

The Community Liaison Committee on 19 November, 2014 considered the above report.

 

Cabinet at its meeting on 17th November, 2014 had approved the preparation of an Expression of Interest (EOI) in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council and resolved that that EOI  be submitted to a future meeting of the Cabinet prior to submission to Welsh Government by 28th November 2014. The Cabinet had also referred the report to the Community Liaison Committee for its information.  At the Community Liaison meeting the Leader of the Council, ( with permission to speak) informed Members that an extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet had been arranged for Friday 28th November 2014 in order for Cabinet to consider the Expression of Interest for submission to WG. Committee was further informed that should approval be granted for the submission, it would subsequently be referred to the Council  meeting scheduled for 17th December, 2014.  This being in accordance with the Welsh Government prospectus which allowed for an EOI to be approved by Cabinet for submission and considered by Full Council shortly thereafter. 

 

In presenting the report to the Community Liaison Committee the Head of Performance and Development provided Members with the background to the report by advising that at a Full Council meeting on 29th September, 2014 consideration had been given to the response to the Welsh Government’s White Paper Reforming Local Government which proposed mergers of Councils including that of the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Council.  At that same meeting the Council had  also considered the Welsh Government’s associated document ˜Invitation to Principal Local Authorities in Wales and Submit Proposals for Voluntary Merger’ which invited Councils to submit, by 28th November, 2014, bids for voluntary mergers which would allow them to merge sooner than Welsh Government’s legislative timetable otherwise allowed for.  The resolutions  from that Council meeting being reported as follows :

 

That Council notes the issues set out in this report for its consideration and   indicates its views.

That this Council confirms its previous resolution to resist a forced merger with Cardiff City and County Council and believes that the Vale of Glamorgan County Borough is a sustainable Council in its own right and urges Welsh Government (WG) to allow the Vale of Glamorgan Council to continue as a stand-alone Council.

 

That should this position not be agreed by WG or that indications from WG confirm that they will not give such an undertaking, delegated authority is given to the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader to enter into pre-emptive negotiations for a voluntary merger with other Councils that share the same values and cultures as we do here in the Vale of Glamorgan.

That WG be contacted to confirm what arrangements and financial support are available to this Council for proceeding with an early adopter approach.

 

That the Leader agrees to keep all other Group Leaders informed of the progress or otherwise of the above resolutions.

That a further report be presented to Cabinet and any subsequent Council meeting, including an extraordinary Council meeting if deemed necessary.   

 

That delegated powers are granted to the Managing Director, in consultation with the Leader, to respond to the Welsh Government White Paper on the Council's behalf.

 

The Head of Service further informed Committee that in view of the developments to date, including discussions with a variety of partners on the options available to the Council, it was now considered that rather than pursuing a stand-alone course of action the Council should aim for a voluntary early merger with Bridgend Council.  Of note also was the fact that for authorities merging voluntarily there would be no elections in May 2017 with sub-ordinate legislation providing for the term of office for  existing Councillors to be extended to May 2018.  In October 2017 the Shadow Authority and Shadow Council for those merging authorities would be established consisting of the full body of serving Councillors on the Constituent Councils, the functions being to prepare for the creation of the new authority as specified by a specific order.  For Councils not pursuing a voluntary merger the timetable differed and was detailed in paragraph 5 of the report.

 

In considering the best way the Head of Service referred to two separate but related issues that had needed to be discussed which were:

 

Why should we apply for an early, voluntary merger rather than await the legislative process?

Why should the Council merge with Bridgend rather than as set out in the White Paper with Cardiff Council?

 

The Head of Service stated that as recognised by the Council’s Reshaping Services Change Programme a voluntary merger offered a unique opportunity to radically transform the Council’s approach to public service delivery to create an organisation that was able to understand and influence the needs of its communities and was able to adapt and innovate in order to deliver joined up solutions.  Welsh Government had also stated in their prospectus for voluntary mergers, which was attached as an Appendix to the report, that extensive Welsh Government support would be made available for Councils progressing voluntary mergers.  To date, recent discussions with Welsh Government had indicated that dedicated Welsh Government teams would work jointly with Councils whose bids were accepted. 

 

In determining whether the Council could continue as presently constituted rather than merging both the Leader and the Head of Service advised that it was becoming increasingly apparent that the dire future predictions of public expenditure had had a direct bearing.  From discussions on an earlier agenda item at the meeting namely the Reshaping Services Programme, Members were informed that all Council services were currently being subjected to assessment to determine what approaches could be taken in response to substantial budget cuts.  From this information an early conclusion had been reached that many services would be simply not viable as currently constituted if cuts of the scale currently envisaged were imposed.  Therefore, in a number of cases collaboration with another Council’s  service would provide the necessary resilience and quality of service. 

 

The Head of Service also advised that of importance was the fact that should the other Council mergers proceed but the Vale continue as currently constituted it would then be one of the smallest Councils in Wales which could reduce its influence on critically important matters such as taking forward the City Region Agenda. This this would mean that the interests of residents and businesses could lack effective representation.  Should an Expression of Interest for voluntary merger be submitted to WG their initial response would be known in January 2015 and should the  response be a positive one it would introduce a welcome certainty into planning for the future.  In contrast, if the Council decided to simply await future developments there was a danger that continuing in limbo would jeopardise the Council’s ability to function effectively.

 

Since the report to Council on 29th September, 2014 there discussions had taken place with both Bridgend and Cardiff Councils on the issue with it being considered the best option for the way forward to be for a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council as this would provide the best outcome for both the Vale and Bridgend.

 

The Head of service subsequently highlighted some of the reasons for a Vale / Bridgend merger as outlined below

 

Bridgend and the Vale Council areas are of a similar size. Bridgend has a population of over 139,000 and the Vale just under 127,000. The resultant new Council would have a population of circa 266,000, which is large enough to benefit from economies of scale and provide resilience, and compares favourably with the populations of the other proposed merged Councils.

 

The similarity in size between Bridgend and the Vale is more likely to lead to an equitable distribution of resources across the area of the new Council than would be the case should the merging councils be significantly different in size and consequently influence.  In addition, where the size of merging councils is similar, a new Council is more likely to adopt best practice from whichever of its predecessor Councils demonstrates it (or indeed use best practice from elsewhere). Where a single large Council dominates, there is a significant risk that the practice that is adopted is the one carried out by the majority from the dominant Council and this quite frequently will not be the most effective and efficient means of delivery.

 

A merged Bridgend/Vale Council, whilst sufficiently large to be sustainable, will not be so large it becomes too distant from the citizens it serves. It will not be necessary to institute elaborate sub-structures for service delivery to try and preserve some sense of place and make service delivery sensitive to the needs of the local population. The size will also mean the Council will be able to innovate and yet be agile enough to implement that change quickly.

 

There is also likely to be, in view of the similarities with Bridgend set out below, significant commonality in the nature of the challenges, opportunities and problems experienced and the nature of service delivery and key policies. This bodes well for driving through efficiencies in service delivery. It is also likely to assist in preserving the identity of the area as well as promoting regeneration activity, formulating and implementing planning policy, and delivering transport services.

 

The nature of the areas of Bridgend and the Vale is similar in that both have significant rural areas, small distinct towns and villages, coastal towns and administrative centres and share a heritage coast. In terms of population density the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend both have about 500 people per sq.km.

 

The Vale has 53 km of coastline, of which 19 km is Heritage Coast that connects with the Heritage Coast within Bridgend.  It has a very similar housing need to Bridgend, and the town centres of both the Vale and Bridgend face competition from new forms of retailing and the draw of the capital city of Cardiff.  Both Bridgend and the Vale Councils also generate significant commuter traffic by road and rail into the capital city and day trip traffic to areas such as Barry Island, Porthcawl and the coastal strip.

 

There are particularly strong links between the population in the western Vale with Bridgend, in terms of access to services including health, retailing and recreation.

 

A merged Bridgend/Vale Council would still be within the Cardiff “travel to work†area and the merger could assist in transport/highway planning for the existing Bridgend and Vale areas. The Vale of Glamorgan railway line links Bridgend through the Vale to Cardiff. Bus Services similarly also link Bridgend and the Vale to Cardiff.

 

With the advent of the Cardiff Capital City region, the importance of transport, economic development and infrastructure is already being driven forward at a regional level, and the Vale merging with Bridgend is not, as a consequence seen as disadvantageous. Indeed, the commonality of issues between Bridgend and the Vale could be viewed as a strength and a key opportunity.  The new merged council would also need to work with Cardiff, and this resultant collaboration could be more beneficial than just a merger of Cardiff with the Vale.

 

With regard to education, the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend are in the Central South Consortium, together with Cardiff, RCT and Merthyr. Consequently, there are strong links between the Councils in education.  Performance and prospects for improvement following the last full Estyn inspections of the Vale and Bridgend were judged by Estyn to be of the same level adequate).

 

Bridgend and the Vale are in the same Police Basic Command Unit (BCU) and consequently a merger of the Vale and Bridgend councils would facilitate joint working with the police on community safety and related issues.  Discussions are already in place to examine the benefits of merging the Vale and Bridgend Community Safety teams.

 

With regard to integration programmes for Social Services and Health, merger with Bridgend would mean that the new local authority area would straddle 2 Health Boards, Cardiff and Vale UHB and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (ABM) UHB. It is acknowledged that this may pose some challenges but it is not foreseen that managing relationships with 2 Health Boards will be especially onerous. It should be noted that major hospital services are already planned on a regional scale through the South Wales Programme; that significant numbers of Western Vale residents depend on the provision of hospital and some other health services in Bridgend, which is covered by ABM UHB;  and that for community and primary health services (the most important relationship for adult social care), both Cardiff/Vale and ABM UHBs operate a locality structure within which the Vale and Bridgend have locality status. Consequently, a merger of Bridgend and the Vale should not pose insurmountable difficulties either for the new Council or the Health Boards. Indeed, it will offer opportunities to learn and share best practice on a wider scale than would be achieved from working within a single Health Board.

 

A significant opportunity would exist in that whilst Bridgend has transferred its housing stock, the Vale still owns its stock and operates a Housing Revenue Account. The new Council would thus be able to address its housing problems either directly with using its own stock or through a strong range of Housing Associations.

 

The management structures of Bridgend and the Vale Councils are close in size and have similar cultures.

 

The Vale Council also already had established relationships and joint working with Bridgend which would assist in a merger.  Bridgend and the Vale shared a single internal audit service which had proved successful. The Vale’s Civil Parking Enforcement role was provided by officers working for Bridgend, and the Vale’s CCTV service was in the process of being transferred for delivery by Bridgend. The Vale and Bridgend, in addition to Cardiff, were also involved in a joint Regulatory Services merger.

 

The Leader of the Council stated that in relation to a merger he had originally been of the view that the Vale of Glamorgan should stand alone.  However, since having had discussions and having been at various meetings with WG Ministers, it had been confirmed that Local Government Re-organisation would be taking place whether Councils ˜liked it or not’. As a result, he had therefore considered that a voluntary merger should be pursued based on the reasons outlined above.  The Council could  consider merging voluntarily with other neighbouring authorities i.e. Cardiff and RCT however, with Bridgend also being a  sister authority and for the reasons outlined above, those contained within the report and the fact that the Vale Council had already established a number of collaborative arrangements with Bridgend, a merger with Bridgend was considered the preferred option.  Similarly, Bridgend had advised that their Council would also prefer to merge with the Vale.  The Leader further informed the Committee that he had also been in discussions with the Cardiff and Vale UHB and the Police Commissioner who were happy for the Vale to pursue this course of action. 

 

At this point, the Leader advised that the Williams Report had been written on the basis of the current regional health footprint but that  having spoken to Health Authority colleagues there was a South Wales Programme which was currently looking at hospitals on a different basis. It was also important to note that a number of residents in the Western Vale actually attended the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.  The reason he stated that the health boundaries had been considered important by the Williams Commission and should be worked around was due to the fact that the Health service had undergone boundary changes themselves just before the report was commissioned and he had been informed that it had been considered inappropriate for Health boundaries to be changed again so soon after.. 

 

In response to a concern that Bridgend was predominantly a Labour Administration and the Vale alternated on a regular basis between parties, it was also accepted that Cardiff and RCT were predominantly Labour and politics aside the reasons for merging with Bridgend were sound.  Giving the response to a question, a Member of the Committee as to the issue of elections not being held until 2018 and that this would allow Members of the current authorities’ terms of office to be for six years as opposed to four years and as whether this was democratic, the Leader advised that the Council’s had no involvement in this, it was purely the Welsh Government’s requirement.  A number of Members on the Committee actually also informed the Leader that they lived in the Western Vale and would attend Bridgend Hospital as opposed to Llandough and Cardiff.  Representatives from the Town and Community Councils advised that they were aware that Community Councils in the Western Vale also appeared to have a closer affinity with Bridgend.

 

Reference by Members was also made to the number of Elected Members for the residents of the Vale and that under the reorganisation proposals a new Council would be required to have a maximum of 75 Members.  In referring to this the Leader advised that with regard to the current arrangements, Cardiff currently had 75 Elected Members and the Vale had 47, whereas Bridgend had 54 which was more similar in structure to the Vale.  A Community Council Representative further reiterated the role of Town and Community Councils and the similarity in numbers with Bridgend as opposed to Cardiff where there were only a small number of Community Councils.  Reference was also made to the current Charter that had been agreed with the Vale Council and its Town and Community Councils and the need for this to be preserved.  Following a question as to whether Bridgend Council also had an agreed charter with its Town and Community Councils the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer agreed to make enquiries and report back to Members in due  course. 

 

The majority of the representatives of the Town and Community Councils and Vale elected Members present at the meeting, expressed the view that having heard all the reasons for and against exploring a merger with Bridgend Council the case in favour  was more than evident.  The reshaping services agenda was also an important factor here and Bridgend had a similar makeup to the Vales with regard to Town and Community Council arrangements.  An Elected Member of the Vale Council also advised that having had dealings with Cardiff Council on a number of occasions themselves these had been somewhat negative and they would personally prefer to pursue a merger with the Bridgend Authority.

 

In response to a further question as to whether the Council knew how Welsh Assembly funding was to be shared for such a merger, the Leader advised that this detail had not yet been provided to Councils.

 

Following the debate and having fully considered the report and the evidence and views presented it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T Cabinet be informed of the Community Liaison Committee’s support for a merger with Bridgend Council.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the contents of the report and the evidence, information and discussion at the meeting. 

 

----------------------------------------------

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the Community Liaison Committee be thanked for their comments.

 

Reason for decision

 

To note the contents of the report.

 

C2544          COUNCIL TAX BASE (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) -               

 

Approval was sought to agree the Council Tax Base for 2015-16.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED – T H A T pursuant to this report and in accordance with the Local Authorities (Calculation of Tax Base) Regulations, the amount calculated by The Vale of Glamorgan Council as its Council Tax Base for the year 2015-16 shall be :-

 

·             For the whole area: 55,980

·             For the area of Town and Community Councils:

 

Barry

18,882

Pendoylan

343

Colwinston

278

Penllyn

982

Cowbridge with Llanblethian

2,522

Peterston-Super-Ely

552

Dinas Powys

3,584

Rhoose

2,719

Ewenny

426

St. Athan

1,351

Llancarfan

462

St. Brides Major

1,118

Llandough

912

St. Donats

195

Llandow

424

St. Georges & St. Brides-Super-Ely

240

Llanfair

372

St. Nicholas & Bonvilston

523

Llangan

386

Sully & Lavernock

2,481

Llan-maes

237

Welsh St. Donats

311

Llantwit Major

4,019

Wenvoe

1,029

Michaelston

219

Wick

377

Penarth

11,036

 

 

 

Reason for decision

 

To set the Council Tax Base in order that it could be submitted to the Welsh Government and used by Councils and levying bodies to set precepts.

 

C2545          COUNCIL TAX UNOCCUPIED DWELLINGS 2015 – 16 (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) -

 

Approval was sought for the policy to be adopted for Council Tax on unoccupied dwellings for 2015-16.

 

The Welsh Regulations prescribed three classes of dwellings for which Welsh Local Authorities had discretion to consider the discounts allowable: -   

 

Unoccupied furnished dwellings

 

The regulations prescribed two classes of unoccupied and furnished dwellings for which Welsh Local Authorities had discretion to consider the discounts allowable of between 10% and 50% -

 

Class A related to dwellings with a restriction on occupancy by law which prohibited their use for a period of at least 28 consecutive days in any 12 month period;

 

Class B related to dwellings that had no such restriction on occupancy.

Unoccupied unfurnished dwellings

 

The regulations prescribed a class of unoccupied and unfurnished dwelling for which Welsh Local Authorities would have discretion to consider the discounts allowable up to a maximum of 50% -

 

Class C related to long term (more than 6 months) unoccupied and substantially unfurnished dwellings. 

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED – T H A T a 50% Council tax discount be allowed in 2015-16 in respect of class A, B and C dwellings.

 

Reason for decision

 

The Council was required to determine its policy on discount on unoccupied dwellings each year. 

 

C2546          PRECEPT PAYMENT DATES 2015-16 (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) -

 

Approval was sought to agree the precept payment dates for 2015-16.

 

The Council as billing authority was required to notify Precepting Authorities by 31 December, 2014 of the proposed precept payment dates for 2015-16.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T payment due to the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales be paid in 12 equal instalments on the last working day of each month.

 

(2)      T H A T payment due to Town and Community Councils be paid in 3 equal instalments on the last working days of April, August and December 2015.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1&2)  The dates were determined to optimise the Council’s cash flow in line with the regulations. The Council was required to determine its precept payment dates each year and inform the authorities concerned in line with the regulations.

 

C2547          SICKNESS ABSENCE REPORT – APRIL 2014 TO SEPTEMBER 2014 (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) -       

 

Cabinet was updated on the half-yearly sickness absence information for the period 1 April, 2014 to 30 September, 2014.

 

The report set out the half-yearly sickness absence information for the period 1 April, 2014 to 30 September, 2014 and covered both corporate employees and those employed directly by schools. The outturn figures had been measured against the agreed targets for the financial year.

 

The report also included details of comparative sickness absence figures for the same period in the previous year, 1 April 2013 to 30 September 2013, to assist performance monitoring of sickness absence over the two years and to draw meaningful comparisons.

 

The sickness absence for employees who were in Corporate and Customer Services for quarter 1 had been included in the relevant Directorate to which they transferred as part of the recent Directorate review. This allowed for meaningful comparisons across the whole of the financial year 2014-15 and onwards. Further information could be found in Appendix A attached to the report.

 

A summary of sickness absence within each Directorate was set out below and a further breakdown of absence within each Service area was included at Appendix B attached to the report.

 

 

April to Sept 2013

April to Sept 2014

 

 

Directorate

Average days / shifts lost per FTE

Average days / shifts lost per FTE

Half-year target

Revised annual target

Social Services

5.42

6.31

5.46

10.92

Development Services

3.07

2.96

2.66

  5.31

Visible and Housing Services

6.93

6.42

5.87*

11.74*

Resources

3.21

4.00

4.29*

  8.57*

Learning and Skills

3.41

4.04

3.39*

  6.77*

Totals - excluding Schools

4.79

5.19

4.45

  8.90

Schools

3.27

3.53

 

 

Totals - including Schools

4.05

4.35

4.45

  8.90

 

A representation of the top three reasons for absence by Directorate was set out in Appendix C attached to the report.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T the report and the sickness absence outturn provided in Appendix A attached to the report be noted.

 

(2)      T H A T the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for information.

 

(3)      T H A T Directorate targets be revised to include the percentage of staff who have transferred following implementation of the Corporate and Customer Services restructure as set out within Appendix A attached to the report.

 

(4)      T H A T sickness absence figures be reported to Cabinet every 6 months or earlier if required.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)      To note the sickness absence outturn provided in Appendix A attached to the report.

 

(2)      To enable the Scrutiny Committee to maintain a continued focus on the management of sickness absence throughout all services of the Council.

 

(3)      To reallocate the overall corporate sickness absence targets across relevant Directorates to reflect the changes of staffing levels following the Corporate and Customer Services restructure.

 

(4)      To provide Members with the opportunity to review sickness absence in relation to the Management of Absence policy, monitor progress and compare outturn against set targets, on a half-yearly basis.

 

C2548          SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES: DAY OPPORTUNITIES STRATEGY 2014 – 2017 (AS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)    

 

Approval was sought for the Day Opportunities Strategy 2014 to 2017 as attached at Appendix 1 to the report in respect of Adults with Learning Disabilities.

 

The Day Opportunities Strategy for Adults with Learning Disability had been developed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Learning Disabilities Service in partnership with Cardiff Council, service users, carers and the third and independent sectors.  Attached at Appendix 1 to the report, the strategy provided the Council with a coherent approach to planning, developing and improving.

 

The Strategy complied with the Welsh Government's 'Learning Disability Strategy - Section 7 Guidance', which set out the service principles and responses that local authorities should adopt across a range of issues affecting adults and older people with learning disabilities.  In 2007, in the 'Statement on Policy and Practice for Adults with a Learning Disability', Welsh Government confirmed a vision for the future of Learning Disabilities services based on a recognition that all people with a learning disability were full citizens, equal in status and value to other citizens of the same age.

 

The Strategy also took into account Welsh Government's policy statement, "Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action", which emphasised the need for local authorities to determine the priorities which it expected providers of social care to deliver to ensure that a public service ethos was at the heart of values for delivering services and to give adults and their carers who used services a stronger voice. The fundamental principles of the new statutory framework system were outlined below:

 

People - putting an individual and their needs, at the centre of their care, and giving them a voice in, and control over reaching the outcomes that helped them achieve well-being.

Well-being - supporting people to achieve their own well-being and measuring the success of this care and support.

Earlier intervention - increasing preventative services within the community, to minimise the escalation of critical need.

Collaboration - Strong partnership working between all agencies and organisations.

 

People could expect to receive support based upon the following values and principles:

 

Each person would participate in an individually designed, person centred and outcomes-led day opportunity.

Each person and their families/carers would have access to specialist information and advice relating to care and support and assistance in securing access.

People would be enabled to live their lives as independently as possible.

There would be improved access to preventative services, as appropriate, which could contribute to preventing or delaying people's needs for care and support or reducing the needs for care and support of people who had such needs.

 

In addition to social care and support, there were responsibilities for other parts of the Council in helping to provide wellbeing services and seeking opportunities for people with learning disabilities to access mainstream Council services.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)      T H A T the Day Opportunities Strategy 2014 to 2017 for Adults with Learning Disabilities as attached at Appendix 1 to the report be approved.

 

(3)      T H A T the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) for information.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)      To note the report.

 

(2)      To ensure that people with learning disabilities had available day opportunities that were grounded in an agreed service model, that enabled the Council to provide effective care and support within the resources available.

 

(3)      To ensure that the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) was able to exercise effective oversight of this key area of activity.

 

C2549          ESTABLISHING THE VALE, VALLEYS AND CARDIFF REGIONAL ADOPTION COLLABORATIVE (CS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH) -

 

The proposals for establishing the Vale, Valleys & Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative were contained in the cabinet reports on 18 November, 2013 and 14 July, 2014.  The recommendations of these reports were resolved by the Cabinets in Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil to allow for the development of the Regional Adoption Collaborative. The Vale of Glamorgan Cabinet did not make the recommendation in relation to the appointment of the Regional Adoption Manager and made an in principle decision to the Vale of Glamorgan acting as host local authority.

 

The report set out the results of the detailed work undertaken by the Councils to date on developing proposals for the Regional Collaborative.  The business case which supported the implementation of the Regional Collaborative and contained the proposed service delivery model was attached at Appendix 4 to the report. 

 

The policy and legislative background in respect of the development of the Regional Collaboratives set a very clear agenda for change, as detailed in earlier reports considered by the Executive.  In the business case, Welsh Government’s expectations for the establishment and operation of all Regional Adoption Collaboratives in 2014 were considered in line with legislation which made provision for joint arrangements in relation to an Authority’s adoption service. 

 

The anticipated timescale had presented a challenge in terms of developing an agreed service delivery model across the four authorities that best delivered the aims of the Collaborative in delivering an integrated, comprehensive service which would promote service priorities and ensure performance measures were met.  A number of proposed service delivery models were considered as set out in the business case.

 

It was proposed that the current model of delivering adoption services across the four local authority areas involved in this Regional Collaborative would change from four generic teams to services being provided by three co-located specialist teams. It was envisaged that the specialist focus would improve service delivery and outcomes, particularly in respect of the recruitment and assessment of adopters and increase placement opportunities for children requiring adoptive placements.  It would also ensure that, through the creation of a specialist team specifically for adoption support services, the function would be afforded the same priority as other service areas.

 

Reorganising teams and amalgamating staff in one location may result initially in short term disruption to service delivery.  However, it was intended that staff would retain their own caseload upon transfer to the host authority until the reorganisation takes place.  We believe that the immediate impact upon service delivery would be outweighed by longer term benefits and efficiencies as a result of collaborative working.

 

The proposed service delivery model and staffing structure in respect of the Collaborative had formed part of the consultation process and was based upon a detailed analysis of the service needs over a period of three years and likely projected future service needs.  A summary of the relevant data was contained in the business case.  The Regional Collaborative would be enhanced by the creation of two new posts, the Regional Adoption Manager and Business Support Manager. The ability to recruit to these posts would be a key milestone in establishing the Collaborative and the proposed transfer of staff.  This was reflected elsewhere in other Collaboratives in Wales which had already established similar regional management arrangements.

 

In deciding the number and type of posts required (both at a managerial and practitioner level), the need to streamline the number of managerial posts within the new structure was considered.  It was recognised that practitioners working in adoption generally had more experience than newly qualified practitioners and so they needed less supervisory oversight.  The proposed structure did not retain the Senior Practitioner posts which currently existed in two authorities; however, only two of these individuals were ˜in scope’ for transfer.  The rationale for this was outlined in detail in the business case but was derived from a lack of uniformity in the role across the four authorities and the potential for duplication with other roles within the structure.

 

The proposed structure of the business support staff reflected the anticipated workload to be generated by the Collaborative and having regard to economies of scale resulting from co-location.

 

The financial and budgetary implications of the new service along with the proposals for premises, IT requirements and governance arrangements were set out in the business case. 

 

The key milestones to be achieved in implementing the Collaborative, including the steps which had been achieved to date, were detailed in the business case.  The timescales proposed to ensure that the essential elements of the Collaborative were operational remained challenging.  The commitment to ongoing consultation with staff and recognised trade unions throughout this process would mitigate against some of the risks, along with robust joint working and decision making arrangements between the partner authorities.

 

At the meeting the Cabinet Member for Childrens Services highlighted that recommendation 6 of the report referred to, the Cabinet Member for Social Services however, this should have read Cabinet Member for Childrens Services.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T the business case, service delivery model and implementation plan,  be approved and recommended to Council for approval subject to further consultation with the trade unions and staff, for establishing the Vale, Valleys, and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative based on the model set out and described in Appendix 1 attached to the report, with governance arrangements based on a Joint Committee model.

 

(2)      T H A T the Vale of Glamorgan Council be approved as the host (employing) authority for the Vale, Valleys, and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative.

 

(3)      T H A T the post(s) of the Regional Adoption Manager and Business Support Manager be established and advertised by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

(4)      T H A T a further update report be brought to Cabinet following conclusion of the consultation with affected staff and trade unions detailing any substantial changes to the resource, employment, and legal implications set out in the report.

 

(5)      T H A T the views of the Scrutiny Committees and recognised trade unions be considered along with the Council’s duties under the Equality Act 2010 and the Equalities Impact Assessment attached at Appendix 2 to the report.

 

(6)      T H A T delegated authority be given to the Head of Legal Services in consultation with the Managing Director, the Director of Social Services and the Cabinet Member for Childrens Services to agree and finalise a Partnership Agreement covering the matters set out in the body of this report, and to authorise signature of the Partnership Agreement by the Head of Legal Services.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)      To enable the Regional Collaborative to be established on an agreed basis in terms of cost, funding, income, savings, service level, structure and timing (of) and implementation of the Regional Collaborative to enable the creation of the shared service with appropriate governance mechanisms.

 

(2)      To enable the efficient and effective administration of the service in line with the Joint Committee governance model.

 

(3)      To enable the Regional Collaborative to be established in line with the timescales set out in this report and associated appendices and for the appointment of the Regional Adoption Manager and Business Support Manager to be undertaken.

 

(4)      To ensure that Cabinet continued to exercise effective oversight of this key function.

 

(5)      To consider the views of the Scrutiny Committees and recognised trade unions.

 

(6)      To enable completion of the final version of the Partnership Agreement.

         

C2550          INNOVATION QUARTER: MARKETING AND DISPOSAL OF IQ SOUTHERN DEVELOPMENT SITE (RIPT) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -     

 

Approval was sought for the Director of Resources to appoint marketing agents to market and dispose of the IQ Southern Development Site.

 

The Innovation Quarter was a 19-acre mixed use urban quarter located within Barry Waterfront that was being regenerated by the Vale of Glamorgan Council by way of a joint venture with the Welsh Government.  To date a number of development projects had been facilitated at the Innovation Quarter including the Premier Inn Hotel and Brewers Fayre Restaurant, West Quay Medical Centre, the Business Service Centre (with its 15 offices and workshops), the Skills Training Centre, and contracts had also been exchanged with a developer for converting the Hydraulic Pumphouse into 15 Live Work Units and commercial uses.

 

To further progress the regeneration of the Innovation Quarter it was proposed to market and dispose of the land shown indicatively edged red in Appendix A attached to the report as an opportunity for one or more of the following uses: Financial and Professional Services (Use Class A2), Food and Drink (Use Class A3), Business (Use Class B1), and Assembly and Leisure (Use Class D2) uses.  The latter D2 use class included cinemas and as members would be aware it was an aspiration of the Council to secure a cinema for Barry in accordance with the Council's Corporate Plan (2013 -17), which stated an aim was to "actively seek a new cinema for the town of Barry (2015/16)" 

 

An appropriate development scheme secured for the IQ Southern Development site would assist the delivery of the urban quarter vision for the Innovation Quarter, regenerate a brown-field site, boost the local economy and create jobs. 

 

At the meeting the Cabinet Member for Adult Services commented that he welcomed this report as he felt that there was  a danger that this particular parcel of land would be left undeveloped whilst the rest of the waterfront commenced development at pace.

 

He further commented that there needed to be more facilities made available for the residents of Barry and it was therefore important that this was progressed through the development of this important site.

 

The Leader mentioned that there had been discussions with staff from the Memorial Hall Barry as one of the options for the site was to provide a cinema. However, he further commented that the report allowed other interested parties to put forward alternative options for development, so if alternatives, came forward it would not to delay the development of the land.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T authority be granted to the Director of Resources to market and dispose of the IQ Southern Development Site located within the Innovation Quarter plan edged red on Appendix A as attached to the report for one or more following uses: Financial and Professional Services (Use Class A2), Food and Drink (Use Class A3), Business (Use Class B1), and Assembly and Leisure (Use Class D2) in consultation with the Leader, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation, Director of Development Services and Head of Legal Services subject to the consent of the Welsh Government.

 

(2)      T H A T authority be granted to the Director of Resources to appoint marketing agents to market and dispose of the IQ Southern Development Site.

 

(3)      T H A T authority be granted for the Head of Legal Services to prepare, execute and complete all legal documentation required to facilitate the disposal of the IQ Southern Development Site subject to the consent of the Welsh Government.

 

(4)      T H A T in marketing the site, under Resolution 1 above, particular emphasis be placed in attracting interest and potential bids for a new cinema and that the evaluation of the bids received reflect this emphasis. 

 

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

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)      To enable the marketing and disposal of the IQ Southern Development Site located within the Innovation Quarter subject to the consent of the Welsh Government.

 

(2)      To appoint marketing agents to assist with the marketing of the site.

 

(3)      To enable the disposal of the site.

 

(4)      To satisfy the Corporate Plan priority of the Council actively seeking a new Cinema for Barry.

 

(5)      For the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) to Consider the contents of the report.

 

 

C2551          EXPRESSION OF INTEREST TO WELSH GOVERNMENT FOR VOLUNTARY MERGER (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) -

 

The Council at its meeting of 29 September, 2014 considered its response to the Welsh Government (WG) White Paper Reforming Local Governmentâ€, which was published in July 2014 and proposed mergers of Councils, including that of the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Councils.  In the same meeting the Council also considered WG’s associated document “Invitation to Principal Local Authorities in Wales to submit proposals for voluntary mergerâ€, which invited Councils to submit by 28 November 2014 bids for voluntary mergers which would allow them to merge sooner than WG’s legislative timetable otherwise allowed.

 

It was acknowledged in the meeting that although the Council's preferred option was to continue as a Council in its own right, WG might not allow this to happen.  In order to resist a forced merger it was consequently agreed by the Council to undertake  pre-emptive negotiations for a voluntary merger with Councils "that shared the same values and culture" as the Vale of Glamorgan Council. To this effect delegated powers were granted to the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader to undertake negotiations.

 

In view of developments after 29 September 2014, including discussions with a variety of partners on the options available to the Council, a further report was brought to Cabinet on 17 November, 2014. 

 

It was proposed that rather than pursuing a stand alone course of action, the Council should aim for a voluntary early merger with Bridgend Council, and the reasons for that stance were outlined in the report.  Cabinet approved the preparation of an Expression of Interest to that effect, to be considered by Cabinet by the WG deadline of the end of 28 November, 2014, and to be subsequently ratified by full Council at its meeting scheduled for 17 December, 2014.     

 

Appendix A attached to the report contained WG’s prospectus for Council mergers, “Invitation to Principal Local Authorities in Wales to submit proposals for voluntary mergers.  It required Expressions of Interest to be submitted by 28 November 2014.  WG intended to respond by 5 January, 2015.  If Expressions of Interest met with WG approval, formal Merger Proposals would be required by 30 June, 2015.  The legislative timetable for voluntary mergers was as follows:

 

A first Bill introduced to the Assembly in January 2015 would include the power for the Welsh Ministers to merge Authorities who wished to do so voluntarily.

 

Authorities wishing to voluntarily merge must submit detailed expressions of interest by November 2014 and fully developed cases for merger (the Merger Proposal) by June 2015 to the Welsh Ministers for consideration.  The Authorities and Welsh Ministers would work together in considering the cases to enable Authorities to submit statements of confirmation of intention to proceed to voluntary mergers by November 2015.  The Welsh Ministers would, by February 2016, develop the necessary subordinate legislation for approval by the Assembly. 

 

There would be no elections in May 2017 to Authorities merging voluntarily.  Instead, the subordinate legislation providing for voluntary merger would extend the terms of existing Councillors to May 2018.

 

In October 2017, a shadow Authority and shadow Council for the merging Authorities would be established, consisting of the full body of serving Councillors on the constituent Councils.  Its functions in preparing for the creation of the new Authority would be specified by Order.    

 

Vesting day for the new voluntarily merged Authorities would be 1 April 2018.  First elections to the new Authorities would then be held in May 2018, based on new wards following an electoral review of the whole of the new Authority, with new Councillors assuming responsibility four days after the elections.  They would serve for four years, until a full round of Local Government elections took place in May 2022.  

 

The Council's proposed Expression of Interest to WG for a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council was attached at Appendix B to the report and was structured along the lines of the WG guidelines attached at Appendix A to the report and had been drawn up jointly with Bridgend Council, who would be submitting the same document to WG. 

 

The purpose of the Expression of Interest was to declare to WG an interest in an early voluntary merger of the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend Councils to take advantage of a range of opportunities to shape their own futures. 

 

The case for embarking on a voluntary merger, the risks of doing so, and the mitigating factors, were described above.  It was considered that there was a convincing argument for a voluntary merger, and the recommendation therefore was that Cabinet endorsed this conclusion.    

 

As to who the Council's merger partner should be, on balance it was considered there was strong reasons supporting a Vale/Bridgend merger.  The report indicated that there were fundamental disparities between the Vale and Cardiff which would make it difficult for a merger on equal terms to happen.  These disparities were essentially about size (Cardiff Council was roughly three times the Vale’s size) and about the nature of the communities the Councils serve:  Cardiff was a densely populated urban conurbation and capital city with all that that entailed, while the Vale’s character focused on a significant rural area, small district towns and villages and coastal towns. 

 

A merger with Bridgend would be seen as an "exceptional" case by the WG as the new authority would straddle the boundaries of two health boards and would not conform with existing EU Convergence area boundaries. These issues were addressed in Section 10 of the attached Expression of Interest.

 

In presenting this report the Leader tabled statements of support to the voluntary merger of the Vale with Bridgend from the following organisations;

 

·       South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

·       Vale Centre for Voluntary Services

·       Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations

·       Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

·       Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales and the Chief Consatble for South Wales.

·       Valleys to Coast Housing

 

He highlighted that a further written letter of support was forthcoming from Abertawe Bro Morganwg which would be added to the above statements of support.

 

The Managing Director confirmed that these statements of support would be incorporated into Appendix C of the report which would be amended to show that these documents had been received.

 

In addition the Managing Director provided an overview of the report for Members.

 

At the meeting the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sports Development, commented that the Vale of Glamorgan had strong links and connections with Bridgend and it was important to continue this bond as it would be beneficial to merge with a Council of a similar demography.

 

The Cabinet Member for the Environment and Visible Services commented that a merger with Bridgend would be a partnership of equals as the two Authorities were extremely similar.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing Building Maintenance and Community Safety commented that the proposed merger presented a unique opportunity to develop the future of the two Councils together with more equitable distribution of resources and made special reference to the work of community safety.

 

The Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation commented that the proposed merger was about the sustainability and improvement of public services which could only be achieved by working with the Council with a similar demography to the Vale and expressed her full support for the voluntary merger.

 

The Cabinet Member for Childrens Services re affirmed his support for the proposed voluntary merger.

 

The Cabinet Member for Adult Services commented that a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council would be the natural option as the Vale shared the same demographic make up as Bridgend such as the heritage coast, large towns and seaside resorts and therefore would be a good partner as it would allow for  two equals working together.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)      T H A T the Councils proposed Expression of Interest attached at Appendix B to the report in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council be approved for submission to Welsh Government.

 

(2)      T H A T the report be referred to full Council on 17 December, 2014 for ratification of the Councils proposed Expression of Interest in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council.

 

(3)      T H A T the use of article 13.09 of the Council’s constitution (urgent decision procedure) to submit the Councils Expression of Interest in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council to Welsh Government by the end of 28 November, 2014, be approved.

 

(4)      T H A T officers of the council be thanked for their hardwork in producing this detailed report.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)      To ensure that arrangements are put in place to safeguard the interests of the residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

(2)      To ensure that the Expression of Interest in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council received Council approval.

 

(3)      To  submit the Councils Expressions of Interest in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council to the Welsh Government by the end of 28 November, 2014.

 

(4)      To acknowledge the hard work of officer involved In producing the report

 

 

C2552          MATTER WHICH THE CHAIRMAN HAD DECIDED WAS URGENT

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the following matter, which the Chairman had decided was urgent for the reason given beneath the minute heading be considered.

 

C2553          COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME 2014 (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) –

 

Matter which the Chairman had decided was urgent by reason of the need to enable the Council Tax Reduction Scheme to be approved by Council by 31 January 2015.

 

Cabinet was asked to recommend to Council the re-adoption of the Council Tax Reduction National Scheme for 2015/2016 based on the prescribed regulations and reconfirmation of the Council’s discretions.                

 

As part of the UK Government's Welfare Reform Agenda, with the enactment of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the Council Tax Benefit scheme was abolished with effect from 31 March 2013.  The Local Government Finance Act 2012 enabled the Welsh Government to make regulations to establish a Council Tax Reduction Scheme in Wales.  From 1st April 2013, a new scheme called Council Tax Reduction was introduced.  The Welsh Government’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme ended on the 31st March 2014. For 2014/15 and subsequent years the Welsh Government made new regulations which replicated the existing 2013/14 regulations on which the national Council Tax Reduction Scheme was based. It recommended that the Council confirmed each year its adoption of the scheme and discretions. There were

two sets of regulations governing the scheme. 

 

The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Default Schemes) (Wales) Regulations SI 2012/3145, which established a single national framework scheme which would be imposed on any council that failed to adopt its own scheme;

 

The Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations SI 2013/3209, which set out the national requirements that each billing authority must satisfy and also enable additional areas of local discretion that authorities might wish to implement.   

 

This was a matter for Council decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

T H A T Cabinet recommended to Council:

 

(1)            That the Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations SI 2013/3029 (the Prescribed Requirements Regulations) and the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/66 be adopted.

 

(2)            That any amendments to Regulations made by the Welsh Government be reflected in the Scheme.

 

(3)            That the national scheme be adopted with the following discretions –

 

 

·       That the Council should continue to allow Extended Payments up to a maximum of 4 weeks.

 

·       That the Council should continue to disregard War Widow and War Disablement pensions in assessing income for Council Tax Reduction.

 

·       That the Council should continue to allow Backdated Reductions for a period up to 26 weeks.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1-3)    To enable the Council Tax Reduction Scheme to be approved by Council by 31 January 2015 and be in place for implementation from 1 April 2015.

 

C2554          EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

C2556           INNOVATION QUARTER: SAVILLS STUDY (RIPT) (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPH 14) SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) –

 

Cabinet was presented with the findings of a commercially confidential study undertaken by specialist property consultants Savills to provide an opinion on the feasibility and deliverability of a cinema and restaurant development at the Innovation Quarter within Barry Waterfront.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the Savills report and its conclusions as outlined in the Cabinet report be noted and agreed.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure Cabinet is made aware of the Savills report and its findings.