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CABINET

Minutes of a meeting held on 21 September, 2015.

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

Apologies: Councillor N. Moore. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Leader in the Leader’s absence for the majority of the meeting; however the Leader attended for the last item before the meeting concluded.
    

C2900        MINUTES –

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 7 September, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

C2901     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

No declarations were received.

C2902        CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST MAY, 2015 (REF) -

The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on 21 July, 2015 considered the above report of the Managing Director.

 

The report showed actual expenditure for the month of May 2015 and was matched by a similar figure in the profile to date column, thereby showing no variances.  Members’ attention was drawn to Appendix 1 to the report which included requests for unspent committed expenditure that had been slipped from the previous financial year to the current financial year.  Such request had been approved by Emergency Powers on 16th June, 2015.  

The Head of Finance indicated that some schemes may not spend their full year’s allocation during the current financial year.  Relevant officers would be required to provide explanations for any shortfalls and this would be reported at the earliest opportunity to Cabinet.  

Appendix 2 to the report provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes with a budget over £100,000.  Where a budget shown in Appendix 1 was more than £100,000 but was made up of several schemes that individually were less than £100,000, these schemes were not included in Appendix 2.

The report also set out for the Committee’s consideration changes to the 2015/16 Capital Programme in relation to the following matters:

  • Modular Building Resiting – it was requested that the following schemes be amalgamated in order to enable a more co-ordinated approach to the procurement and relocation of Ysgol Dewi Sant demountable classrooms to Llangan and Fairfield.  The total budget for the amalgamated scheme would be £817,000 and the scheme name would be Modular Building Resiting Ysgol Dewi Sant:

-    Ysgol Dewi Sant Demountable Relocation – £200,000;

-    Modular Building Resiting – £500,000;

-    Llangan Classroom Base – £117,000.

 

In respect of Social Services it was requested that the Hen Goleg Works Schemes also be amalgamated in order to enable a more co-ordinated approach to procurement and delivery of a number of related schemes at the site.  The total budget for the amalgamated schemes would be £246,000 made up of the following elements:

  • Hen Goleg Damp Proofing – £97,000;
  • Hen Goleg Car Park Redesign – £46,000;
  • Hen Goleg Clock Tower – £103,000.

The Committee also considered the following schemes in respect of Development Services:

  • Gileston Road and St. Athan Crossroads – Emergency Powers had been used to approve the inclusion of £36,000 in the Capital Programme for the works to Gileston and St. Athan Crossroads.  This scheme would be funded from S106 monies.
  • Barry Community Water Sports Facilities – Emergency Powers had been used to approve the inclusion of £106,000 in the Capital Programme for the Barry Community Water Sports Facilities Scheme.  This scheme would be funded from S106 monies.
  • Marketing and Disposal of the Innovation Quarter Southern Development Site, Barry, the Waterfront / Nell’s Point, Barry Island – Emergency Powers had been used to approve the inclusion of £50,000 for each of the schemes identified above.  These schemes would be funded from Capital Receipts;
  • Culverhouse Cross to St. Athan Bus Priority Scheme – a grant award of £76,000 had been approved by the Welsh Government for the continuation of the Culverhouse Cross to St. Athan Bus Priority Scheme.  Accordingly, it was therefore requested that the 2015/16 Capital Programme be increased by this amount.

In regards to Resources – Emergency Powers had been used to approve the inclusion of £100,000 for the marketing and disposal of part of Cowbridge Livestock Market.  This scheme would be funded from Capital Receipts.

Having regard to the above, it was

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the following changes to the 2015/16 Capital Programme be endorsed and forwarded to Cabinet for approval:

  • Modular Building Resiting - Amalgamate the following schemes relating to the re-location of demountables, with an amended budget of £817,000, which will be called Modular Building Resiting Ysgol Dewi Sant

-    Ysgol Dewi Sant Demountable Re-location £200,000
-    Modular Building Resiting £500,000
-    Llangan Classroom Base £117,000.

  • Hen Goleg Works - Amalgamate the following schemes relating to Hen Goleg with an amended budget of £246,000

-    Hen Goleg Damp Proofing £97,000
-    Hen Goleg Car Park Redesign £46,000
-    Hen Goleg Clock Tower £103,000.

  • Culverhouse Cross to St. Athan Bus Priority Scheme – Increase the Capital Programme by £76,000, funded by a grant from Welsh Government.

Reason for recommendation

To allow schemes to proceed in the current financial year.

 

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

RESOLVED – T H A T the following changes to the 2015/16 Capital Programme be approved:

  • Modular Building Resiting - Amalgamate the following schemes relating to the re-location of demountables, with an amended budget of £817,000, which will be called Modular Building Resiting Ysgol Dewi Sant

-    Ysgol Dewi Sant Demountable Re-location £200,000
-    Modular Building Resiting £500,000
-    Llangan Classroom Base £117,000.

  • Hen Goleg Works - Amalgamate the following schemes relating to Hen Goleg with an amended budget of £246,000

-    Hen Goleg Damp Proofing £97,000
-    Hen Goleg Car Park Redesign £46,000
-    Hen Goleg Clock Tower £103,000.

  • Culverhouse Cross to St. Athan Bus Priority Scheme – Increase the Capital Programme by £76,000, funded by a grant from Welsh Government.

Reason for decision

To allow schemes to proceed in the current financial year.

C2903        ANNUAL TURNOVER REPORT – APRIL 2014 – MARCH 2015 (REF) -     

The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on 21 July, 2015 considered the above report of the Managing Director.

 

The report provided a detailed insight into employee turnover rates within the Council, for the above period using the themes within the Workforce Plan and had been provided in response to Members’ request for an analysis of employee turnover in the Council.  The purpose of the report was to provide clarity of employee turnover which had been assessed on the basis of the number of employees leaving the Council as a percentage of the total number of staff (headcount) employed by the Council.  The report compared the turnover figures between April 2013 to March 2014 and those between April 2014 to March 2015, to assist performance monitoring of turnover over both periods and to draw meaningful comparisons.  The report had also been restyled to include further analysis of the reason why people chose to leave the employment of the Council following Members’ requests.

The Head of Human Resources referred to the table of figures set out in the report and for the above period which indicated a slight increase from 8.64% to 9.08% in comparison to the same period in the previous year.  Corporate turnover had increased from 9.30% to 9.87% and turnover in Schools increased from 8.00% to 8.38% in April 2014 to March 2015, in comparison to the same period in the previous year.  A comparison of employee turnover from the previous year and the main reasons for measuring and analysing levels of employee turnover were set out in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the report.  

In referring to turnover by Directorate, the Head of Service indicated that levels of employee turnover had increased in all Corporate Directorates and in Schools over the period April 2014 to March 2015, in comparison to the previous year’s period.  This was with the exception with the Directorate of Learning and Skills, where the percentage of leavers had decreased in comparison with the same period in 2013/14.  The majority of employees from the former Directorate of Corporate and Customer Services were transferred to the Resources Directorate in July 2014 and this helped explain the disproportionate increase in turnover for the Resources Directorate from 2013/14, as 11 leavers came from the Directorate of Corporate and Customer Services.  The highest proportion of employee turnover in relation to the size of the Directorate in both reporting periods continued to be Development Services (40 leavers from an average headcount of 245 employees).  The next highest proportion of employee turnover was in Resources – 46 leavers from an average headcount of 377 employees.  The table set out in paragraph 13 of the report showed the turnover rate by Directorate and with a further, more detailed breakdown of each Directorate into services could be found in Appendix 1 to the report.  Appendix 2 to the report also showed the same breakdown of Directorates, but focused just on voluntary resignations.  

The Head of Service referred to turnover by leaving reason, which had increased marginally from 285 between April 2013 and March 2015 to 288 during the same period in 2014/15.  This had helped to facilitate restructuring where necessary and to mitigate the need for redundancies.  In terms of redundancies, he indicated that the number of redundancies had increased from 14 to 42 in the same reporting period, however, he indicated that this was to be expected and projected within the Medium Term Financial Plan, and was inevitable given known challenges.  The department had and would continue to have to provide an efficient service whilst managing a reductions in public services finances.  He also reminded Members that the Council had a positive approach to managing change, which helped to mitigate, avoid and reduce the incidents of compulsory redundancies.  This was supported by the Council’s Redeployment Procedure which gave Council employees, whose jobs were at risk of redundancy, educated support to find alternative employment within the Council.  The aim was to maintain job security for employees and retain the knowledge, skills and experience gained from employees who were already employed by the Council.  Consequently, during the reporting period there were seven redeployment trial periods, six of which were successful.  From 1st April 2015, to date, there had been 13 redeployment trial periods, with 11 of these resulting in the employees being successfully redeployed.  Two trials were currently ongoing.  

As for dismissals, retirement and end of temporary contracts, the Head of Human Resources indicated that all of these had decreased over the comparative reporting period.  The TUPE figures took account of the transfer of a cleaning team in Housing and Visible Services, to an external contractor in August 2014.  Set out in paragraph 20 of the report were the reasons for leaving with a more detailed breakdown, including, more specific reasons that made up the leaving categories set out in Appendix 3 to the report.  

He indicated that exit interviews would continue to play an important part in identifying the reasons why people chose to leave employment with the Council.  Exit questionnaires were sent to all leavers, along with a pre-postage paid return envelope, however, there was no obligation for leaving employees to complete the exit surveys and only a small proportion of these were consequently returned.

During the reporting year, he also indicated that 11.5% of the Corporate voluntary leavers chose to complete exit interviews / questionnaires.  These replies had been used to analyse and report on the reasons why these people chose to leave the employment with the Council.  Further analysis of these responses was set out in Appendix 4 to the report.  He also indicated that in future an online version of the exit questionnaire would be trialled alongside the existing process to try and improve the level of responses behind why employees chose to leave the Council.

In referring to turnover in a wider comparison, the Head of Service indicated that the CIPD Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey (2013) reported an overall turnover rate of 9.4% in the public sector and 11.9% across all sectors in the UK.  The next survey was due to be published later in 2015.  In addition, XpertHR benchmarking research (2013) on labour turnover rates found the mean average voluntary resignation turnover rate for UK employees was 10.6%.  Also information published by the Local Government Data Unit and Welsh Local Government Association, the average turnover rate in local authorities in Wales was 10.8% (2013/14).  The turnover rate within the Council for 2014/15 fell below the above comparisons with an overall turnover rate of 9.08%.  Current research from the Hay Group suggested that employee turnover across all sectors was expected to rise to approximately 18% by 2018.  

In summing up, the Head of Service indicated that the Council’s work in relationship to staff engagement, had in the last six weeks 62 staff engagement sessions covering 1,600 staff had been held.  Four separate workshops would be held in the future and would be helpful in informing the Council of its approach towards staff retention issues.  The four workshops would focus on communication, training, engagement and the expectation from managers.

A Member thanked the Head of Service for producing a comprehensive and informative report.  However, he felt that the voluntary exit interviews needed to be made more integral to Council processes.  He also congratulated the HR Division for establishing the Leadership Café which he considered to be a strong and supportive initiative for staff.  He also considered the current turnover rates as an indication of general staff satisfaction within the Council.  General discussion ensued with Members expressing different views regarding whether the Council’s current turnover rate i.e. was a matter of concern or was it reasonable, given the number of change / transformational initiatives ongoing within the Council, which were almost certain to unsettle staff who then may look elsewhere for alternative employment.  The discussion also touched upon issues relating to recruitment to vacant positions and measures that had been taken by the Council to address issues relating to specific service areas.  It was confirmed by the Head of Service that where an individual left under voluntary reasons, it was incumbent upon Service Managers to look at the organisational needs of the Council before making a decision to recruit to fill the vacancy.

The Chairman, in referring to the Leadership Café, enquired of the Head of Service who the initiative was open to and whether all employees within the employment of the Council were aware of training that was available during their employment.  In response, the Head of Service indicated that the Leadership Café was open to all staff and not just for managers, but for all members of staff who were interested in leadership.  Access to the Leadership Café was on a first come first serve basis and the subject areas covered were related to management development programme and succession planning.  In regard to the matter of availability of training to employees, he referred to the Council’s Organisational / Training Development Officer who assessed Personal Development Review appraisals’ training requirements, to align training opportunities to the individual.

A Member of the Committee referred to the percentage figure in relation to voluntary leavers and enquired of the Head of Service how this compared to the Welsh average.  In response, the Head of Service indicated that he would reply in writing to the Members providing the relevant information.  

Having regard to the above, it was

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position in regard to employee turnover within the Council be noted and that the report be referred to the Cabinet for consideration.

Reason for recommendation

In acknowledgement of corporate objectives and to inform Cabinet of employee turnover rates.

 

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

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the information be utilised for workforce planning purposes as alluded to in the report.

Reason for decision

To note the contents of the report.

C2904        REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2015 TO 31ST MAY, 2015 (REF) –

The Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) on 13 July, 2015 considered the above report of the Director of Social Services.

 

The purpose of the report was to advise the Scrutiny Committee of the position in respect of the revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 31st May, 2015.  In addition, the report also highlighted progress made in delivering the Social Services budget programme.

As it was very early in the financial year, the current forecast for Social Services was a balanced budget.  A table and graph setting out the variances between the profiled budget and actual expenditure to date and the projected position at year end was attached at Appendix 1.  

For Children and Young People’s Services it was currently anticipated that there would be a £300,000 underspend within the budget at year end.  The key issue for this service continued to be managing demand for the Joint Budget for Residential Placements for Looked After Children, however, it was forecast to outturn with a £100,000 underspend by the end of the year.  Work had been ongoing to ensure that children were placed in the most appropriate and cost effective placements, however, it was noted that it was very early in the financial year and that due to the potential high costs of each placement the outturn position could fluctuate with a change in the number of children looked after.  There were also potential underspends within Children’s Services of £65,000 on staffing and £135,000 on alternative means of provision and accommodation costs required for the current cohort of children.

In respect of Adult Services it was currently anticipated to outturn £300,000 over budget at year end.  This was due to a projected overspend on community care packages of £300,000 as a result of increased demand for services, particularly for frail older clients.  Whilst every effort would be made to improve this position, it could not be guaranteed that this position would not deteriorate further by year end and this budget was extremely volatile and there was a continued increase in demand for services.  The Annual Deferred Income Budget for 2015/16 had been set at £715,000 and as at 31st May, 2015 income received to date was £57,000 as an over-recovery.  The year end projection for this was to break even against budget.  

In terms of capital expenditure, Appendix 2 detailed financial progress on the capital programme as at 31st May, 2015.  The report outlined that in respect of the Hen Goleg works, a request had been made to amalgamate the following schemes in order to enable a more co-ordinated approach to procuring a delivery of a number of related schemes at Hen Goleg.  The total budget for the amalgamated scheme would be £246,000 which was broken down as follows:

  • Hen Goleg Damp Proofing - £97,000
  • Hen Goleg Car Park redesign - £46,000
  • Hen Goleg Clock Tower £103,000.

Appendix 3 provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes.

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

2015/2016 Budget Programme

The Directorate was currently required to find savings totalling £3.568m by the end of 2019/20.  A year by year analysis of this target was shown in the following table.  At present there was a surplus of £186,000 which was as a result of the foster carer recruitment project which was being developed in addition to the required savings targets.  This surplus could be used to mitigate any increase in savings to be found in future years.

 Year  Savings Required
£000
 Savings Identified
£000
 In Year Surplus/ (Shortfall)
£000
 Cumulative Surplus/   (Shortfall)
£000
 Savings Brought Forward    34  34  34
 2015/16  1,465  1,541  76  110
 2016/17  1,133  1,209  76  186
 2017/18  320  320  0  186
 2018/19  320  320  0  186
 2019/20  330  330  0  186
 TOTAL  3,568  3,754     


Appendix 4 provided an update on the individual areas of savings.

A Committee Member queried the impact on the budget as a result of pressures and demands usually seen at this time of the year.  In response, the Head of Adult Services stated that it was too early to predict.  He also stated that during 2014/15, the situation had been helped by a number of grant funded schemes and he assured Members that mechanisms were in place in order to identify any rise in demand.

In terms of the Reshaping Services Programme, a Committee Member queried as to what impact this was likely to have on the contract arrangements for domiciliary care.  The Head of Business Management and Innovation advised Members that the service was looking at a number of ways that savings within domiciliary care could be achieved.  Particular attention had been placed around the cost pressures of the service and the way that services would be commissioned.  One particular option was around the use of the third sector and Members noted that third sector organisations were very interested and keen to work in partnership with the Council in a number of areas.  Members were advised that other local authorities had used block contracts, which in some instances, presented an inherent difficulty and that the approach used by the Council around spot contracts was more flexible.  

At this point the Director of Social Services stated that in relation to domiciliary care there were concerns in terms of possible increase in demand and also a reduction in resources.  This would be in addition to increased costs such as the implementation of the National Minimum Wage / Living Wage which was likely to affect this service area more than others.  He went on to advise that the service had been reluctant to change quickly how services were commissioned and that savings in this area had been delayed.  However, this would need to be tackled and the Council would need to look at savings within this area in more detail.

With reference to the Flying Start projects, Members were advised that authorisation to continue the work had been required from the Welsh Government which had now been received.  Welsh Government understood that issues affecting this programme were outside the control of the Council.

Having considered the report the Committee

RECOMMENDED -

(1)    T H A T the position with regard to the 2015/16 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

(2)    T H A T progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme be noted and be referred to Cabinet for information.

Reasons for recommendations

(1)    To ensure Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2015/16 Revenue and Capital Monitoring relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

(2)    T H A T Members are aware of the progress made to date on the Social Services Budget Programme.

 

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After presenting this item, the Deputy Leader thanked Officers for all their hard work and continued efforts during such a difficult time.

Cabinet, having considered the recommendations from the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health)

RESOLVED – T H A T the progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget programme be noted.

Reason for decision

To note the contents of the report.

C2905        ANNUAL REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL SERVICES 2014-15 – CHALLENGE VERSION (REF) -

The Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) on 13 July, 2015 considered the above report of the Director of Social Services.

 

The Director of Social Services presented a copy of his Annual Report for 2014/15.  He stated that for the second year in a row, through a workshop, Members of the Committee had had the opportunity to have dialogue with officers and to raise any issues and recommend changes.  This was an approach that was welcomed.

The Annual Report gave the Director an opportunity to provide people in the Vale with a rounded picture of Social Services - based on evidence drawn from a wide range of sources such as what users and carers say, key performance indicators and measurements of progress against the overall goals of the Council.

The Report was written for a wide range of people, including service users and carers but also Elected Members, the Council’s own staff, and a range of partners and providers who helped deliver services.  It was used by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) as evidence for their annual evaluation of the Council and to guide their inspection programme in the Vale of Glamorgan.

In planning how the Director would deliver the services over the next four years, a Service Plan for the period 2014 - 2019 had been put in place which provided an overview of the Directorate’s improvement work.  Approved by Cabinet on 13th April, 2015 this outlined what the Directorate was trying to achieve; why this was important; how it would be achieved; how we would monitor progress and what success would look like.  The outcomes and priorities for 2015/16 contained in the Plan were a simple part of the Annual Report.  

The Director’s Annual Report was important for the people of the Vale of Glamorgan, Members of the Council and partners, both statutory and in other service sectors.  It outlined the current context within which Social Services were operating and detailed proposed priorities for improvement.  A Challenge Version of the Director’s Report was attached at Appendix 1.  

As in previous years, each Head of Service in the Directorate had also provided an Annual Report, including an assessment of how well each Division was doing in different service areas and priority objectives for improvement 2015/16.  These were attached at Appendices 2, 3 and 4.  They were published separately but at the same time as the Director’s Report.  All the reports represented the views of the Director and other managers in Social Services, they were not Council policy at this stage.  Social Services end of year performance information was attached at Appendix 5.  

Circulating the Challenge Version was intended to allow key stakeholders an opportunity to comment and make observations before the Report was finalised, ensuring that it accurately reflected the position of Social Services.  Attached at Appendix 6 was the Challenge Feedback Form.  

The Report was set within the context of:

  • increasing demand for health and support
  • managing the impact of the U.K. government’s austerity measures on public sector finances, which meant ongoing cuts to budgets for the foreseeable future
  • efforts to focus more of the Directorate’s work on supporting people to remain as independent as possible.

The priority objectives contained in the reports would be delivered within the financial constraints set by the Social Services Budget Programme, which was approved by Cabinet and reported regularly.  

The final reports would be presented to Cabinet for approval of the priority objectives and then circulated widely.  They would be made available via the Council’s website.

A Committee Member sought clarification around the drop in the number of visits by the Complaints Officer.  In response to this, Members were advised that the main reason for this was that mediation had allowed for quicker resolution of complaints.  Should members of the public not be content with the Directorate’s response, at any stage they were able to pass on their complaint to the Ombudsman.

With regard to implementation of the Welsh Government’s “More Than Just Words” initiative, the Head of Business Management and Innovation explained that the aim of this was to strengthen the use of the Welsh language among frontline health and social services.  She stated that the provision of Welsh was improving and that a lot of resources were available in Welsh should a person choose.  The service could respond in writing through Welsh and, as part of a person’s assessment, the service would ask a person’s preferred language.  This meant that the service knew exactly who its Welsh speakers were.  

In answer to a Member’s question regarding the promotion of services in Welsh, the Committee was informed that all leaflets and service information was available in Welsh.  Members were asked to note that the Family Information Service, for example, kept a record of all child-minders that were able to speak Welsh.

In response to a Member’s query regarding an update on Dementia resources, the Head of Adult Services advised that the Vale of Glamorgan was one of the lead Authorities within Wales in this area of work.  A post had been created within Rondell House in order to look at how services could be improved and the Directorate had been able to acquire funds from the European SPIDER Project which had been used to develop the service.  In addition, a Cardiff and Vale Dementia Task and Finish Group had been created to look at dementia services.

A Committee Member enquired as to the progress with regard to a query raised at the previous Committee meeting, around the number of health assessments completed for Looked After Children.  In response, the Committee was advised that comparative data for Cardiff Council and the Vale Council had been distributed to Members.  This had highlighted that the performance of both Authorities was below the Wales average.  In order to look into this issue further, the Head of Children and Young People’s Services stated that she would be meeting with colleagues from the Local Health Board.  

Having considered the reports the Committee

RECOMMENDED -

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

(2)    T H A T the Committee agrees with the improvement priorities for Social Services as set out in the Director’s Annual Report for 2014/15 - Challenge Version.

(3)    T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

Reason for recommendations

(1-3)    To provide Elected Members with an opportunity to contribute to the challenge process for the Director’s Annual Report 2014-15.

 

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Cabinet, having considered the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health)

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the report be accepted and the comments of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) be agreed.

Reason for decision

To accept and agree the contents of the report.

C2906         IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES AND WELLBEING (WALES) ACT 2014 (REF) -

The Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) on 13 July, 2015 considered the above report of the Director of Social Services.

 

The Committee received its 4th monthly update in respect of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 and the approach being taken in regards to its implementation.  

The Social Services and Wellbeing Act would come into force in April 2016 and the Committee had requested regular updates on the progress being made in readiness for implementing the requirements of the Act in the Vale of Glamorgan.  Scrutiny Members last received an update on 15th June, 2015.  This included information about the second tranche of public consultation regarding regulations and codes of practice for specific aspects of the Act, issued on 8th May and closing on 31st July.  Details of this tranche were set out in the appropriate web links contained within the report.

Officers had attended a briefing session managed by Welsh Government on second tranche regulations and code of practice in June.  This would help inform the Council’s consultation response.  As reported last time, the Vale of Glamorgan Social Care Development and Workforce Plan (SCDWP) had been submitted to Welsh Government.  It included a summary introduction on behalf of both Cardiff Council and the Vale Council.  The Director of Social Services in Cardiff was the nominating regional lead for workforce issues relating to the implementation of the Act.  As required to qualify for the Welsh Government SCDWP grant, a new Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Regional Social Care and Workforce Development Partnership was to be established.  Welsh Government required that by September, and update on the progress being made to deliver this.  

Consequently a workshop was to be held on 23rd July to which social care providers from across the region were invited.  The purpose was, in part, to secure agreement among partners regarding:

  • the opportunities the new Partnership would offer the industry, carers and service users
  • how the service would work together as a region
  • how the service would work as a Partnership
  • what being a member of the Partnership may mean.

In addition, a Board was to be established to oversee the operation of the Partnership.  The role of the Board would be to ensure that:

  • the Partnership was fit for purpose
  • the Partnership was planning for the future
  • there were appropriate governance and accountability arrangements in place, that ensured plans were properly devised, agreed, implemented and monitored.

Key providers had been asked to take on the role of representing sectors of the industry on this Board.  The Glamorgan Voluntary Services was working in partnership with the Council to co-ordinate a workshop event intended to raise awareness of the Act and its implications.  Two half day briefing sessions had been arranged on 9th July and invitations had been sent to staff within the Authority, third sector and health board.  After the event, workshops would be held on the following areas of the Act:

  • Community and Wellbeing Outcomes, prevention and early intervention
  • Assessing and meeting the needs of individuals
  • Care and support for adults and children
  • Working in partnership.

These workshops would be facilitated by members of the Social Services Management Team.  

The Chairman, in referring to the briefing sessions held on 9th July, queried whether the invitees were surprised by the scope of the new Act.  In response, the Director of Social Services stated that most delegates welcomed the idea of having a constructive dialogue around how their needs were to be met in the future.  All delegates did voice some form of concern in respect to the implications for resources available.  

The Chairman went on to query whether there were any thoughts raised in respect to the new assessment framework.  The Head of Adult Services stated that an important part of the Act was the requirement for local authorities to only provide a service in cases when they were the only organisation or agency that could do so.  He also stated that there would be a need to move resources away from long term care and support in order to enhance resources provided to preventative and intervention services.  He indicated, however, that the evidence was not fully clear as to whether this approach would be fully successful.  

In querying the take up of the briefing sessions, the Committee was advised that over 100 individuals had attended the sessions which included a number of representatives from the Glamorgan Volunteer Services and also a very good representation from the Vale Council such as the Director of Learning and Skills.  Members were further advised that the next workshop to be held on 21st July was aimed at looking at the second tranche of the regulations and codes of practice associated within the Act which was in relation to partnership working.  For this, senior leaders from the Cardiff and Vale Councils and also the University Health Board would be in attendance along with representatives from the Voluntary Sector and the Care Council for Wales.  

A Committee Member enquired whether there was any update in respect of the Action Plan submitted to Welsh Government.  In response, the Committee noted that an updated Action Plan would be submitted to Welsh Government in September which would include progress around what actions had been taken and what actions remained to be completed.  

RECOMMENDED -

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

(2)    T H A T the Committee continue to receive regular updates about implementing the Act.

(3)    T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for information.

Reason for recommendations

(1-3)    To ensure that Elected Members are kept informed about fundamental changes in the policy and legislative framework which underpins the work of Social Services.

 

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Cabinet, having considered the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health)

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

Reason for decision

To note the contents of the report.

C2907         GENERAL PLANNING MATTERS (REF) –

The Planning Committee on 3 September, 2015 considered the above report of the Director of Development Services.

 

The Committee received a report to inform Members of the changes to planning fees from 1st October, 2015, as a result of the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications and Site Visits) (Wales) Regulations 2015, including a new refund system.

The report also sought authorisation for an increase in the fees payable for pre-application enquires in line with the increase in general planning application fees and an amendment to the scheme for delegation to include all applications that are recommended for refusal of planning permission.

The Welsh Government had informed the Council that from 1st October, 2015, the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications and Site Visits) (Wales) Regulations 2015 would come into effect, which introduced various changes to the fees payable for planning services.  The Minister had stated that higher planning fees must be accompanied by an increased focus by local planning authorities (LPAs) on improving their statutory planning services.  Local Development Plans must be prepared and kept up to date and planning decisions made in a timely way.  

Members were minded to recall that the Welsh Government consulted on these proposals in October 2014, and the Council objected to the proposals to introduce a refund scheme (Planning Committee Report 15th January, 2015 referred).  Members were advised that they should also note that the Minister for Natural Resources had written to the Council regarding the fee increase. A copy of this letter was attached to the report at Appendix A.

The Regulations introduced a number of changes to the fees payable for planning services, including the right to a refund if an application was not determined within a specified timeframe. The main changes to the regulations are set out below.

Fee Increase

The Regulations introduce an increase in fees by approximately 15%. To put this into context, in the Vale of Glamorgan planning fees for the last 3 years had been as follows: 2014/15 – £970,682, 2013/14 – £644,319, and 2012/13 – £759,202. Therefore, based on last year’s fee income, a 15% increase would equate to £145,602 per annum. The report present to Committee stated that this was welcomed as it was long overdue and was essential to continue to deliver an effective Planning Service for the Vale of Glamorgan.

Fee Refund

The Committee was informed that Planning application fees may be refunded if the LPA failed to determine the application within specified times, namely 8 weeks after the determination date for household applications (i.e. 16 weeks from the validation date), and 16 weeks after the determination date for all other applications (i.e. 24 weeks from the validation date). Refunds were payable where an extended time period had not been agreed by the agent / applicant or where the applicant had not exercised their right to appeal to the Welsh Ministers for non-determination.

Members were advised that this had significant implications for the Council’s Development Management function as it was not uncommon for planning applications to exceed the statutory timeframe for determination. The main causes for delay in determining planning applications within the statutory time frames were summarised as:

  • Awaiting submission of further details from applicants / planning agents;
  • Awaiting internal and external consultee responses;
  • Reporting to Planning Committee including deferments for site visits; and
  • Negotiating to improve schemes, including design, layout, impact on neighbours, s106 matters etc.

Members were further advised that in light of this new threat to resources, the Council would need to take immediate steps to prevent circumstances where a refund is payable. There were ways in which the Council could address some of these matters which involved changing practices to minimise these delays, examples of which were:

  • Officers would need to ensure that requests for the ‘Extension of Time’ for determining applications were made where necessary in a timely manner. In such circumstances, the determination period was extended and allowed the Council more time to determine the application without the threat of a fee refund.
  • To avoid delays awaiting information, where the applicant refuses to agree to a formal extension of time for determination, applications may need to be refused on the grounds of insufficient information to demonstrate the proposal complies with planning policy. It may also be necessary to introduce or renew service level agreements with consultees to ensure timely responses are given.
  • It may be necessary for Officers, in discussion with Members, to anticipate site visits for major applications in advance of Planning Committee meetings to avoid deferments.  

Negotiations would need to be carried out quickly and efficiently to enable time for the agent / applicant to amend their proposals or agree to the Council’s requirements in a timely manner. Matters that would usually be resolved during the life of an application may be controlled by condition if they did not go to the heart of the development.

The report also recommended amending the Council’s delegated powers for planning decisions to include all applications that were recommended for refusal, to prevent the need to report to Planning Committee those applications which were, in any event deemed to be unacceptable. This could avoid having to pay a refund where an applicant refuses to extend the time period for determination of the application and the matter would (under the current system of delegation) have to be reported to Planning Committee because of the type of application.

The Committee was advised that, in practice Officers already strived to determine applications within time and it was extremely rare for decisions to exceed the determination period other than in situations that were outside the control of the Council. Therefore, it was disappointing that the Welsh Government had chosen to introduce such punitive measures to impede Local Planning Authorities who were already facing significant financial challenges at a time when expectations on service delivery were higher than ever. Furthermore, given the disproportionate emphasis on ‘speed’ of decision making, it was unlikely to improve the quality of proposals and could potentially lead to the approval of development that was not ‘bad’ enough to refuse since negotiations would take too long to achieve a higher standard.

Fees for Approval of Condition Details

The Regulations also introduced fees payable for applications for approval of discharge of conditions, subject to refund if the LPA failed to determine the application within specified times. The fee was payable per application (which may include details for 1 or more planning conditions relevant to an application) at a rate of £95 pounds or £30 for householder applications.  The report presented to Committee stated that this was welcomed.

In 2014 the Council approved 1042 planning applications, of which 574 were householder applications. Assuming only 1 submission of conditions details per application this could equate to an annual fee income of £98,990 and £17,220 respectively (the report stated that it should be noted many household applications did not require any discharge of conditions details).

Other matters covered by the Regulations

Fees for deemed applications were to be payable to the LPA rather than half to the LPA and half to the Welsh Ministers.

A fee was now payable for a revised application for approval of reserved matters where those reserved matters had previously been approved.  Under the 1989 Regulations, such an application was exempt.

Where applications were made which related to land in the area of two or more LPAs, a fee is payable to each LPA, rather than under the 1989 Regulations where the fee was payable to the LPA in whose area the largest part of the land was situated.

Pre-application Fee Increase

To be consistent with the increase in Planning Fees, it was proposed to increase the fees charged for pre-application advice by 15% from 1st October 2015 as follows:

Major Developments:

•    Written Advice only – increase from £360 to £414 (or 1% of the appropriate planning fee, whichever is greater)
•    Written advice with a meeting – increase from £720 to £828 (or 1.5% of the appropriate planning fee, whichever is greater)

Minor Developments:

•    Written Advice only – increase from £240 to £276
•    Written advice with a meeting – increase from £360 to £414

Where the Council did not currently charge for pre-application advice (e.g. householder applications) this was not proposed to change. However, the discretionary charge of £50 for a site visit will increase to £57.50.

In 2014/15 fees for pre-application enquiries raised £28,908, therefore the 15% increase would have accounted for £4336.20 last year.

Following presentation of the report, Members raised concerns which are summarised as follows:

 Concern/Query Raised  Response Provided
 Members should try to be more proactive in requesting site visits for applications in order to try and prevent the planning process being delayed and therefore the possibility that applications may not be determined within specified times.   
 A more thorough pre-application process would be required in order to try and prevent the refund of planning fees.  Requests for the extension of time for the determination of planning applications could be made.
 The public interest was not being served and an increase of planning fees by 15% could not be justified.  Welsh Government sets the fee increases and that the last increase was in 2007; this increase was long overdue. The 15% increase would potentially be unpopular with developers; however, Welsh Government did not seem to be able to instigate a yearly increase.
 Concerns were expressed in terms of the impact of waiting for responses from statutory consultees which could delay the planning process and potentially lead to fees needing to be refunded.  Statutory consultees are required to provide representations on applications; and waiting on responses could lead to delays in the process. Welsh Government may in the future assume that if a consultee did not respond within the 21 day consultation period there was no objection to the application. The LPA could agree a time extension in order to prevent the need to refund fees.
 Council’s Planning departments were facing progressively greater challenges as not only did targets need to be met, but there was also the possibility of fees being refunded if certain deadlines weren’t met.  The Planning department was looking to put warnings into their systems to flag up deadlines within the process and it was also looking to streamline processes in order to meet targets.
 Was there a time limit on the discharge of conditions?  16 weeks.

   
Following consideration of the report, Planning Committee

RESOLVED -

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

(2)    T H A T it be recommended that Cabinet increase fees for pre-application advice by 15% in line with the Welsh Government fee increase for planning applications.

(3)    T H A T Cabinet be requested to recommend to Council that the current scheme of delegation be amended to include all applications which are recommended for refusal of planning permission.

(4)    T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet and Full Council for information and approval.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To inform Planning Committee of the changes to Planning Fees and the introduction of a refund penalty for Local Planning Authorities from 1st October, 2015.

(2)    To ensure the fees payable for pre-application advice are increased in a consistent way with planning application fees, and to ensure the delivery of an effective planning service.

(3)    To avoid having to refund a planning fee for an application which is considered to be unacceptable but would exceed the determination date if it were necessary to report to Planning Committee,

(4)    To inform Cabinet and Council of the changes to Planning Fees and the introduction of a refund penalty for Local Planning Authorities from 1st October, 2015 to seek Cabinet’s approval of the fee increase for pre-application enquiries and to seek Council’s approval for a change to delegated powers.

 

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Cabinet, having considered the recommendations of the Planning Committee

RESOLVED –

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

(2)    T H A T pre-application advice fees be increased by 15% in line with the Welsh Government fee increase for planning applications.

(3)    T H A T it be recommended to Council that the current scheme of delegation be amended to include all applications which were recommended for refusal of planning permission.

(4)    T H A T the report be referred to Council for information and approval.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To note the contents of the report.

(2)    To ensure the fees payable for pre-application advice were increased in a consistent way with planning application fees, and to ensure the delivery of an effective planning service.

 

(3)    To avoid having to refund a planning fee for an application which was considered to be unacceptable but would exceed the determination date if it were necessary to report to Planning Committee.

(4)    To inform Council of the changes to Planning Fees and the introduction of a refund penalty for Local Planning Authorities from 1 October, 2015 to seek Council approval of the fee increase for pre-application enquiries and approval for a change to delegated powers.

C2908        GENERAL PLANNING MATTERS (REF) –

The Planning Committee on 3 September, 2015 considered the above report of the Head of Regeneration and Planning.

 

(a)    Welsh Government Consultation Secondary Legislations for Development Management -

 

(Urgent by reason of the deadline for comments to be submitted to Welsh Government)

The Committee received an urgent report to update Members on the Welsh Government (WG) consultation on Secondary Legislations for Development Management and to recommend an appropriate response to those consultations.

As part of the implementation of the proposed changes to the Planning System in Wales, which will be introduced through The Planning (Wales) Act, a consultation paper had been released seeking the views of interested parties with regard to the above.  

The consultation sought the view of the Council on subordinate legislation needed to implement the following sections of the Planning (Wales) Act 2015:

  • Non-Validation Appeals (s.29)
  • Decision Notices (s.33)
  • Notifications (s.34)
  • Consultations etc. in Respect of Certain Applications for Approval (s.37)
  • s.217 Appeals (s.48)
  • Statutory pre-application fees (s.18)

The consultation paper was not seeking opinions in respect of the primary legislation included in the Bill as this had already been approved by the National Assembly for Wales, and received Royal Assent in July.

The consultation paper, a copy of which was attached to the report at Appendix A, included a set of specific questions to which the Welsh Government was requesting views. The closing date for replies was 11th September 2015.

The proposed responses to the consultation papers point out concerns regarding the bureaucratic way in which the proposed changes had been drawn up and possible flaws in the reasoning of Welsh Government in the way in which they envisage the proposals working.  It also acknowledges certain improvements to the system such as removing the requirement to appeal to the magistrate’s court in respect of notices served with regard to untidy land.

The issues raised were addressed individually in the consultation response attached to the report at Appendix B.

Following presentation of the report, Members expressed the following views:

  • It was very difficult to achieve the standardisation of the Planning process in Welsh Councils.
  • Concerns were raised in relation to the proposed changes to decision notices, in that they could complicate the Planning process.
  • The 21 day consultation period for statutory consultees may be insufficient for them to provide responses on applications, particularly for Town and Community Councils.

Following consideration of the report, Planning Committee

RESOLVED -

(1)    T H A T the content of the report be noted and the response to the consultation be agreed and sent to Welsh Government.

(2)    T H A T the matter be referred to Cabinet for information and that should Cabinet have any additional issues it wishes to raise that these be forwarded to Welsh Government.

Reasons for decisions


(1)    To allow the Council to respond to the consultation.

(2)    To inform Cabinet of the views of the Committee when responding to the consultation and to allow any further comments of Cabinet to be forwarded to the Welsh Government.

 

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After presenting this item, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration noted that the consultation response had already been sent to Welsh Government by the deadline of 11 September, 2015 and that additional comments by Cabinet would be forwarded to Welsh Government separately.

Cabinet, having considered the recommendations of the Planning Committee

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the response to the consultation attached at Appendix B to the report be agreed as sent to Welsh Government.

Reason for decision

To enable the response to be sent to Welsh Government.

C2909        GAMBLING ACT 2005 STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES (REF) –

The Licensing Committee on 1 September, 2015 considered the above report of the Director of Housing and Visible Services.

 

Committee was requested to endorse the revised Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Principles.  

The Gambling Act 2005 gave effect to the Government’s proposals for reform of the law on gambling.  

The Act placed a duty on the Council to develop a Statement of Principles that promoted the three licensing objectives:

  • Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, or being used to support crime
  • Ensuring that gambling was conducted in a fair and open way
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited.

The draft Statement of Principles would be subject to extensive consultation with members of the trade, responsible authorities, current licence holders and Elected Members.  A copy of the amendments to the Statement of Principles was available at Appendix B to the report.

There would be a nine week consultation period.

The Statement of Principles would take effect on 31st January, 2016.  The Statement must be published, available at Council buildings and notices placed in a local newspaper four weeks in advance of the effective date, which would be 3rd January 2016.

Having considered the report, it was

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the Council’s proposed Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Principles as attached at Appendix A to the report be endorsed for consultation.

(2)    T H A T the proposed Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Principles be referred to Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) for information.

(3)    T H A T the Licensing Committee be provided with feedback from the consultation prior to the final draft Statement of Principles being recommended to Council for approval.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To ensure a comprehensive and workable Statement of Principles was in place and that the Vale of Glamorgan Council complies with the requirements of the Gambling Act 2005.

(2)    To enable the Scrutiny Committee to consider the proposed changes.

(3)    To ensure Cabinet is aware of all feedback from the consultees as part of the decision-making process.

 

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Cabinet, having considered the recommendations of the Licensing Committee

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the Council’s proposed Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Principles as attached at Appendix A to the report be endorsed for consultation.

(2)    T H A T the Licensing Committee be provided with feedback from the consultation prior to the final draft Statement of Principles being recommended to Council for approval.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To ensure a comprehensive and workable Statement of Principles was in place and that the Vale of Glamorgan Council complies with the requirements of the Gambling Act 2005.

(2)    To inform Members of the results of the consultation.

C2910        CALL – IN GYPSY TRAVELLER ACCOMMODATION ASSESSMENTS (REF) -

The Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) on 2 September, 2015 considered the above report.

 

The report to Cabinet on 27th July, 2015 had informed of the duty on Local Authorities to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment by 26th February, 2016.  Cabinet had also received an update on the work of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Steering Group.

Cabinet had

Resolved

(1)    That the duty to produce an up to date Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment be noted.

(2)    That a further report be submitted to Cabinet outlining the outcome of the Assessment prior to its submission to Welsh Government.

(3)    That delegated authority be granted to the Managing Director and / or, in the absence of the Managing Director, the Director of Visible Services and Housing, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety, to invite and accept tenders, and to enter into contracts to be executed by the Head of Legal Services and / or the Operational Manager Legal Services.

The call-in referred to resolutions (2) and (3) and the reason for the call-in, submitted by Councillor K.P. Mahoney, being as follows:

“Given the Council’s past record of ignoring reports by outside organisations e.g. Fordham Report, why outsource?  Also, given the previous record of changing assessments of sites by the Housing Department without providing reasoned explanation for this, delegating to officers would be wrong.”

Cabinet had been informed of the duty on the Council to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) by 26th February, 2016 and was updated on the work of the GTAA Steering Group.

The Steering Group had been convened, made up of Members from the Council and partner organisations including the NHS, Police and education.

 

The Council’s Housing Strategy Team had prepared the tender documents which would allow a consultant to be employed by 1st September, 2015, giving three months to produce the GTAA by 1st December, 2015.  Once completed, the GTAA would be submitted to Cabinet for adoption before the Welsh Government deadline.

It was Councillor Mahoney’s assertion:

  • that the Steering Group should include Members of the Council and members of the public
  • that the Vale of Glamorgan Council. had no idea of how many gypsies lived in bricks and mortar and should have carried out a survey to establish the number
  • why was the Council issuing a tender to carry out work that it was capable of doing itself.

Councillor Mahoney asked Committee to recommend the following to Cabinet

  • That the Steering Group include Members of the Council and the public
  • That the GTAA be not put out to tender on the basis that only the Vale of Glamorgan Council can provide the required figures.

In response, Members were advised:

  • it was a duty on the Council to undertake the GTAA
  • information for the Assessment is not freely available
  • the Gypsy and Traveller groups were difficult to engage with
  • the Welsh Assembly guidance was very much about qualitative and quantitive data; whilst the Council had expertise that could provide the quantitive data, it had no expertise to provide the qualitative data
  • the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety had offered to be part of the Steering Group
  • the tender documents had been received but not opened
  • the tender would be quantitive and qualitative based
  • there would be an issue with pressure on staff time if the Assessments were prepared by the Council
  • that reports on this matter would be brought before Scrutiny Committee in the future.

Councillor Mahoney repeated, that in his view, the Steering Group should include Members of the Council and members of the public whereupon a Member suggested that Cabinet be requested to consider the inclusion of Councillor Mahoney together with one Member of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) on the Group.

 

In conclusion, the Chairman suggested that future reports on the matter be brought to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration which was acknowledged by the Head of Service.

Following which it was subsequently

RECOMMENDED -

(1)    T H A T the decisions of Cabinet on 27th July, 2015 be endorsed.

(2)    T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider the inclusion of Councillor K.P. Mahoney plus one Member of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) on the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Steering Group.

Reasons for recommendations

(1)    To ensure the Council complies with its statutory requirements under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

(2)    To enhance the Scrutiny process.

 

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Cabinet, having considered the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection)

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the report and the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) be noted, and that Councillor Bronwen Brooks be included on the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Steering Group given the relevance of the group to her role as Cabinet Member for Housing Maintenance, Building Services and Community Safety.

Reason for decision

To enhance the Scrutiny Process.

C2911        CAR PARK CHARGING PROPOSALS – PHASE 1 (REF) -

The Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) on 1 September, 2015 considered the above report.

 

Prior to consideration of the report the Chairman commenced by advising all present that the Committee had been aware for some time that car parking proposals were being developed and had requested under the Committee’s Work Programme that any report, when available, be brought before the Committee for consideration.  In view of the issue the Chairman had also requested that members of the public be afforded the opportunity to make representations on the matter, which had been duly noted on the Committee’s agenda for the meeting.

All present were informed that the Scrutiny Committee was a formal meeting of the Council to be dealt with in accordance with the Council’s Constitution and it was important to note that it was a meeting held in public not a public meeting.  The Committee was also able to make recommendations and suggestions to the Cabinet if it wished to do so.  The Chairman had also received two Call-Ins on the matter which she had refused on the grounds that the report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee for comment and consideration prior to any decisions of Cabinet being implemented. The Leader of the Council (with permission to speak) and the Director of Environment and Housing Services confirmed that that was indeed the position.  Furthermore the Chairman stated that the matter had already been on the Committee’s agenda as part of the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.

The Chairman also referred to a copy of petition that she had received which had been addressed to the Leader and the Gem newspaper and that she was aware that all Members of the Council had also received similar copies.

With regard to the format of the proceedings in respect of the issue, the Chairman advised of the following:-

  • The Director of Environment and Housing Services would provide an overview of the report with the Cabinet Members for Visible and Leisure Services, Regeneration and the Leader of the Council responding as appropriate
  • Three members of the public had also expressed an interest to make representations to the Committee, Mr. Alan John on behalf of the Chamber of Trade for Cowbridge, Mr. David Morgan a resident of Cowbridge and Mr. David Elliott on behalf of the traders of Barry.  Speakers had been allocated three minutes to make their representations but the Chairman stated that she would be happy to allow more latitude if required.
  • Elected Members of the Council who were not Members of the Committee would then be afforded the opportunity to make their representations prior to the Members of the Committee discussing the matter.

The Director commenced by advising that the Cabinet had considered the report at its meeting on 27th July, 2015 and had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration and comment.  At this point he also reiterated the Chairman’s statement that no decision would be implemented until the Committee had considered the report and their comments fed back to the Cabinet.  As background to the issue the Director advised that the Cabinet report of 25th February, 2013 had indicated a number of proposed savings which included

  • V1 Car Parking Full - roll out of town centre car parking income charges £340,000 saving for 2013/14
  • V7 On-Street Parking Meters - a new initiative to charge for on-street parking at several locations.  £100,000 for 2014/15.

The implementation of the proposed savings in relation to town centre car parking charges however had not been made, which had resulted in a shortfall in car park income of some £350,000 for the financial year 2014/15.  This had been funded by a one off budget transfer from the Policy and Central Energy Recharge Budgets.  It was anticipated that there would be a further shortfall in 2015/16 as a result of additional works required to update the original off-street / on-street parking survey report.  The delay in the implementation of charging would provide a part-year effect on the 2015/16 budget which would likely leave a further shortfall in car park income of some £250,000 to £300,000 for which a budget would need to be identified.  It was essential that the implementation of town centre car parking charges was addressed in order to ensure that the proposed savings were realised and that identified budget targets were met as soon as possible.  Given the increase in financial challenges facing the Council over the next three years, this was particularly critical as it was estimated that the Council would need to find savings of some £25 million.  

Paragraph 6 of the report detailed the current off-street seasonal parking charge regime that existed.  The Council currently charged for parking at a number of its coastal car parks but did not charge at its town centre facilities, nor did the Council charge for on-street parking within town centres.  The current coastal car parks where charges were being made included:

  • Harbour Road, Barry Island
  • Nell’s Point, Barry Island
  • Rivermouth, Ogmore-by-Sea
  • Brig-y-Don, Ogmore-by-Sea
  • Cymlau, Southerndown.

The daily charges for parking at the above coastal car parks were seasonal and varied depending on the individual car park and month of the year.  At present, vehicles displaying a disability badge parked for free in all the car parks. The current tariffs for each car park during the summer season were summarised on the report as below:

From 15th March to 30th September:

  • Rivermouth, Harbour Road, Cymlau, Nell's Point and Brig-y-don:

All day parking prices (8am - 11pm)
0 - 1 hour £1.00
1+ hours £5.00
Buses / coaches £10.00

Arriving after 4pm parking prices (4pm - 11pm)
0 - 7 hours £2.00
Buses / coaches £5.00

* Blue badge holders are exempt / Solo Motorcycles are free of charge

From 1st October to 14th March:

  • Harbour Road and Nell’s Point:

No Charge

  • Rivermouth, Brig-y-don and Cymlau:

All day parking prices (8am - 11pm)
0 - 12 hours £2.00
Buses / coaches £10.00

* Blue badge holders are exempt / Solo Motorcycles are free of charge

The above coastal car parks were subject to an off-street parking order referred to as “The Vale of Glamorgan Council (Off-Street Parking Places) (Civil Enforcement) Order 2013”; which enabled enforcement of parking charges to be undertaken via the Council's Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) Powers, the details for which were also contained in the report.

The existing town centre car parks at The Butts and Town Hall in Cowbridge and the Kendrick Road, Thompson Street, Wyndham Street and the Multi-storey in Barry were also included within 'The Vale of Glamorgan Council (Off-Street Parking Places) (Civil Enforcement) Order 2013', however, these car parks were currently identified as free with no legal provision to allow for charging and enforcement via CPE Powers at the present time.

The existing car parks located at Porthkerry Country Park and Cosmeston Lakes Country Park fell outside the scope of the report and the Director advised that a separate report would be presented to Cabinet in the near future in relation to the potential introduction of car parking charges at these Country Parks.

With regard to residents only parking schemes, the Council currently operated such a scheme predominantly in the town centre areas of Barry and Penarth, which was currently a free service.  Although there was a heavy demand from residents for the Council to extend the residents only parking facilities, the Vale had not supported this addition due to the large costs involved in any introduction.  It was, however, noted that many local authorities charged for the provision of residents only parking permits and officers would be investigating and reviewing the introduction of charging regimes for both future resident only parking permits and new residents only parking schemes as part of the Reshaping Services Programme.

The Capita report entitled “Off-street / on-street car parking study” had been commissioned in July 2013 was available within the Members’ Room which detailed off-street / on-street car parking for the following areas:

  • Barry Town Centre
  • Barry Charging Options
  • Cowbridge Town Centre
  • Cowbridge Conclusions
  • Car Park Charging Methods
  • Car Park Charging Examples and Comparisons
  • Car Sharing and Park and Ride.

An addendum report to the original had also been completed in June 2015 to review and update the 2013 report.

It was noted that the Capita report had identified that Barry had an abundance of parking with ample on-street parking for shoppers and residents close to the town centre.  The Capita report had concluded that introducing parking charges should result in Kendrick Road and Thompson Street car parks being used more as a short stay car park, with Wyndham Street car park continuing to be used as the main Barry shopper car park comprising of only a small number of long stay users.

The lower levels of the multi-storey car park would be used as a short stay car park for the shops nearby and the upper levels as free long stay parking.  

With regard to Cowbridge, the majority of parking spaces in Cowbridge Town Centre were provided in car parks.  A total of 1,100 spaces approximately with 700 of these spaces being surfaced car parks, with most being marked out.  400 spaces however were in unsurfaced areas that served as car parks.

Although it was noted that there appeared to be enough parking spaces for the demand, it was evident that some must be for suppressed demand for short stay parking.  

The addendum report to Off-Street / On-Street Car Parking Study covered

  • the review and update of the 2013 report
  • car parking charging methods
  • a charging structure
  • price sensitivity review.

The conclusions of the report generally indicated that the recommendations within the original December 2013 report were still valid.  However, it was recognised that there was the potential for regeneration of the Cowbridge Cattle Market / Butts area within Cowbridge and had made recommendations should these regeneration proposals be implemented in the future.

The review also considered the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology but identified that investment in such equipment and ongoing operational costs were likely to prove economically ineffective given the general small size of most car parks in Barry and Cowbridge.  The recommended option was therefore the introduction of coin with card payment pay and display meters as well as the option to pay by phone and ‘App’ systems which was currently available in the Council’s seasonal car parks.

The estimated implementation costs were provided in Table 3.1 of the report with it further being recommended that it would be an opportune time to review the use of cash in pay and display machines prior to the introduction of the new £1 coin in 2017 when machines would need to be adapted.  

The charging structure and tariffs for car parking had been reviewed and compared with comparable towns resulting in a recommended charging regime for the Vale’s town centre car parks.  This charging structure was in general aimed at discouraging all day parking and turnover of spaces in short stay car parks.  However, the report also recognised the need to support an element of long stay usage in both Barry and Cowbridge, identifying the car parks at Cowbridge Town Hall and the multi storey in Barry as where provision should be made for long stay usage.  

The Director, in advising the Committee, stated that the Capita report December 2013 and its Addendum June 2015 identified that there were significant benefits to introducing off-street parking charges in terms of managing and controlling turnover within an individual car park to obtain to optimum usage.  With regard to on-street parking, the report stated that, particularly for Barry, the set up costs would be significantly higher than those for off-street car parks irrespective of any charging structure.  This was due to the higher number of on-street parking spaces in Barry Town Centre as opposed to Cowbridge and the number of pay and display machines required.  The income from any on-street parking in both Barry and Cowbridge was also likely to be low when compared to the income that could be potentially generated from off-street parking in both areas.  As a result of this information and the probable outcomes identified in the Capita study, it was considered appropriate not to proceed with on-street parking charges at this time.  It was also considered to be beneficial to delay the consideration of any on-street parking charges until such a time that a charging regime for both future “residents only permits” and new “residents only parking” schemes had been considered.  This would enable the consideration of any parking redistribution which may occur within residential areas.  The Director stated that the matter of on-street parking would be subject to a future report to Cabinet.  

In order to control parking, the report considered that it was justifiable to take on at least one additional Civil Parking Enforcement Officer (CEO) on a permanent basis to control parking in Barry and Cowbridge Town Centre car parks, the cost of which would be off-set by the PCNs issued to enforce the new off-street parking restrictions implemented.  

Paragraph 61 of the report referred to it being considered appropriate to implement the recommendations for an additional seasonal CEO for the six months from Easter to Summer at the earliest opportunity.  The report also referred to other alternative car parking charging methods which had been considered e.g. Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) and ANPR as methods of charging that the Council’s existing pay and display car parks and those proposed to be introduced as part of the report.  It was however noted that ANPR could not be used by local authorities until legislation provided.  The technology was currently being used in private car parks but was not available for local authorities.

The Capita report and Addendum identified two charging structures for either short stay or long stay parking in Barry and Cowbridge Town Centre car parks, which were considered comparable to other towns in South Wales.  Members were further informed that there were only two other local authorities in Wales that did not charge for car parking, namely Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.

Based on the above considerations and principles, it was recommended that the standard charge levels and tariffs as identified in table 2 below are introduced to encourage and promote short stay parking in Kendrick Road car park, Barry; Thompson Street car park, Barry, Wyndham Street car park, Barry; Butts car park Cowbridge and Town Hall car park, Cowbridge.

An analysis of the income generated from the proposed charging structure was referred to as table 3 below

 

     Barry Off-Street    Cowbridge Off-Street    Total
   Min  Mid  Max  Min  Mid  Max  Min  Mid  Max
 UPFRONT COSTS
(Funded from reserve)
                 

 Purchase of Machines,

signs & lines

 £38,000  £38,000 £38,000   £44,500  £44,500  £44,500  £82,500  £82,500  £82,500
 ANNUAL INCOME & COSTS                  
 Gross Income Excl VAT  £68,122  £87,263  £106,403  £80,340  £147,680  £215,020  £148,462  £234,943  £321,423
 Costs of operation  £16,558  £16,558  £16,558  £14,120  £14,120  £14,120  £30,679  £30,679  £30,679
 Projected Net Annual Income  £51,564  £70,704  £89,844  £66,220  £133,560  £200,900  £117,783  £204,264  £290,744


The Director, in conclusion, advised that the recommended charging structure was considered to offer affordable proportionate tariffs to meet the needs of the town centre environment whilst achieving the maximum income to offset the costs of operating, maintaining and enforcing the proper use of the car parks that the Council needed to address.  Income generated from car park charges and the level of parking in town centre car parks would however need to be reviewed annually and adjusted to ensure the optimum charging structure and usage of individual car parks was achieved in future years.  A further report would also be presented to Cabinet in relation to the potential for the introduction of car parking charges at Porthkerry Country Park and Cosmeston Lakes Country Park.  At this point, the Members of the Committee requested that any reports dealing with any proposed car parking charges be referred for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee prior to any approval being given.

The Operational Manager for Highways and Engineering also present stated that the Council could not sustain its current budget issues without implementing car parking charges.  The Department was also currently involved in part-night street lighting as well as looking at further ways to identify savings through the Council Reshaping Services Programme. For Members’ information, he took the opportunity to advise on two examples of spends to date, that over £150,000 had recently been spent on the Cliff Top Car Park at Penarth and approximately £40,000 on essential electrical works at Court Road, Barry car park.  These and other car park costs would continue in future years and funding was required in order to undertake appropriate maintenance.  He also referred to the investment that the Council was making, in particular to the proposals for the High Street / Broad Street district shopping centre, which were to include car parking facilities plus additional spaces for over 40 parking bays, new and improved pedestrian crossing facilities and improved facilities for cyclists.  In his opinion, the report for Phase 1 set out a clear and balanced view for consideration and that the charging regime proposed was intended to improve and assist accessibility to town centres.  Both of the town centres had good transport links and the concerns with regard to footfall would be monitored.

Further consultation would also be required to be undertaken in relation to the Road Traffic Orders that would be needed.  Following Cabinet approval of the proposals, the existing Orders would be required to be amended, with the Council having to give notice in the press of 21 days, with any objections being submitted as part of that process.  Should any objections be submitted, a further Cabinet report would also be required.

The Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services (with permission to speak) stated that ‘No one likes car parking charges but the Council has to face the reality of the situation it is in, in relation to its ever reducing budget.’  By way of background he advised that the issue had been discussed in 2013 and at that time opposition Members had advised that car parking charges needed to be introduced.  Also in 2013 Members had met with the Cowbridge Chamber of Trade who wished to see car parking charging in the Town Hall car park as a result of a number of commuters who regularly left their cars there for the whole day, which meant that visitors could not park to shop.  At that time the suggestion made was for was no parking charges for the first two hours, however, it was important to reiterate that the Council had to find some £25 million and the car parking charges would contribute to the cost of providing car parks.  

He further stated that there was no such thing as ‘free car parking’, that the Council was currently spending over £100,000 on their upkeep with an ever reducing budget  and that if the proposals were not accepted, it could mean that the Council may have to consider not providing car parking facilities as it was not a statutory function.
In response to a query regarding the length of time the report had taken to come before the Committee, he stated that officers had been considering a number of options.  Suggestions for alternative methods had also been considered.  

The Leader of the Council ( with permission to speak)  stated that ANPR, in his view, would be more appropriate but at this moment in time the Council was unable to introduce such a charging regime as Local Authorities were prohibited to introduce this method under current legislation.  It could however, be possible that the Council could set up an ‘arm’s length’ company to provide such a service which was an option that could be pursued. The Leader also reiterated the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services’ statement that the actual cost of providing car parks within the Vale was a considerable amount of money which it would not be able to maintain with diminishing budgets.  

The Consultant’s report also clearly advised that a car parking charging regime should be introduced and it was important to note that the Council was aware that there were a number of cars parked in Cowbridge and Barry on a daily basis with commuters commuting to various other areas e.g. Cardiff.  This therefore did not allow the opportunity for visitors to park their cars in and around the towns to shop and was causing considerable frustration in the areas as a result.  Other alternatives he suggested would be to increase the Council Tax to assist the Council with its reducing finances, however he reminded Members of the Reshaping Services Agenda that was currently taking place in order to consider the best ways of providing services and options for income generation.  

The Cabinet Member for Regeneration (with permission to speak) stated that she had heard lots of concerns regarding access in respect of the vitality and vibrancy of towns, and stated that the Cabinet worked closely with officers of different sections to deliver on this.  The Council had developed a Town Centre Framework, a Destination Management Plan and had also adopted a place development approach rather than a one size fits all.  The Cabinet Member took the opportunity to hand out for Members’ information, a copy of a graph detailing the financial position of local government in Wales as set out by the Wales Audit Office which identified that an increase in the provision of social care services and protection of education would result in other services having to be “squeezed”.  In her view, the Council currently had an excellent events programme, it had invested considerable money into tourism, appointed a Town Centre Manager, there was work currently ongoing at Holton Road renewal area and new town centre loan schemes had been introduced.  The Council had also worked closely with a group in Cowbridge regarding the Cattle Market development and the Creative Rural Communities arm of the Council was working closely within the rural Vale on local schemes which would, however, have to be match funded.  The Christmas lights provided throughout the Vale had also been judged as the best in Wales in 2014.

In conclusion, the Cabinet Member stated that the Council had considerable priorities to balance and that a number of these services were not statutory. It was understandable that it was not an easy situation for anyone and advised that she was aware that a number of Chambers of Trade were finding it difficult to keep going, she understood that in some recent meetings only three members of the Chamber of Trade were present.  However, she took the opportunity to reiterate the positive work that was being undertaken in the difficult financial climate and to the Council’s commitment with the investment of a Town Centre Manager.  As a result of the proposals there could be opportunities for other organisations to develop as well as increasing Active Travel.  She had recently attended a meeting with businesses in Cowbridge and took the opportunity to again offer her presence at future meetings with traders to talk about rejuvenating town centres and work together with that as a common purpose.

Following the presentations by the Cabinet Members and the officers the Chairman asked the first public speaker to come forward.  Mr. Alun John represented the Cowbridge Chamber of Trade and a copy of his representations had also been tabled at the meeting for Members’ information and to assist the debate.  Mr. John commenced by thanking the Committee for the opportunity to address the meeting advising that the issue of car parking was a contentious issue within the town and one that was discussed regularly at Chamber of Trade meetings.  He advised that in the past officers had been present at Chamber of Trade meetings to discuss the issue but that on the last occasion, the Chamber had been assured that prior to any decision being made they would be consulted and their opinions taken into account when and if a decision on any changes to the situation were to be made.  

The Chamber was therefore extremely disappointed that no consultation had taken place prior to the decisions of Cabinet on 27th July, 2015.  They had a number of concerns about the proposals, particularly as the shops and businesses in Cowbridge had seen a substantial drop in footfall over the last year.  He stated that a number of the shops were closing and many of the existing shops had struggled to survive.  They believed that the car parking situation should be approached holistically and that a number of issues had not been addressed during the making of such decisions.  These included displacement, the future of the Cowbridge Cattle Market site, private car parking, floored figures and inconsistency.

With regard to displacement, he stated that the businesses in Cowbridge employed a substantial number of people, many of whom were employed on shop worker or secretarial wages and would not be able to afford to pay the charges proposed, resulting in either a loss of staff who would be difficult to replace or forcing the existing staff to park in the side streets, making an already annoying situation for residents even worse.  The Chamber of Trade had however, been delighted that the Council had supported the proposals for the Cowbridge Cattle Market site but believed that any consultation and decision on car parking in the town as a whole should include proposals for that site as well as the Town Hall and the Butts.  

With regard to private parking, this was very much at the discretion of the owner and in referring to himself as a business owner, he stated that he would have to reassess his position in relation to the provision of car parking for the general public in light of the proposals if agreed. The Chamber of Trade not only believed that the figures reported in the report were flawed but that they were concerned with the inconsistency in the approach, in that the Council was proposing the introduction of car parking charges in Cowbridge and Barry and not Llantwit Major, Penarth and other areas of the Vale.

In concluding his representations, he stated that as a Chamber they were delighted that the Council was looking at ways to increase the turnover of vehicles in the car parks and to discourage the perceived use of the Town Hall car park for lift sharing and by sixth formers from the school.  However, they were concerned in their view by the premature introduction of car parking charges on the future of their businesses without prior consultation.

Mr. David Morgan advised that he was making his comments in respect of his professional planning and transportation background and as a resident of Cowbridge.  He advised that there was currently limited off-street parking in Cowbridge and that the car park should be intended for visitors and not for all day commuters parking.  He stated that Cowbridge was different from Barry and should be treated as a different case.  The pattern of shopping was different and the town centre was suffering badly with people parking all day and not using the town.  In his view the need to generate money should not prejudice the health of the town centre and suggested that one proposal could be for free parking for up to two hours.  There had been no consultation on the recommendations and no dialogue with residents and businesses or the Town Council within Cowbridge.  Consultation could, in his view, certainly be undertaken within the required timescales and that should be done without the proposals being provided as a fait accompli.  

Mr. David Elliott, representing traders of Holton Road and who was also a trader himself, advised that they had been talking to shoppers and the overwhelming consensus from over 1,500 local people was that they would not pay for parking and would take their custom elsewhere.  As a result the traders would suffer as well as local residents who would have to travel greater distances for goods and services.  He referred to the many major outlets that local traders had to compete with around the outskirts of Barry that benefited from free car parking, who offered the same or similar products and services as traders within the town.  He too commented on the lack of consultation, in particular the lack of consultation with traders.  He stated that the Council consulted with the community on numerous minor plans but that as this was a major and damaging plan, the community had not had a voice.    Independent traders from Barry and Cowbridge had also signed a petition and a letter against the planned parking charges and Cowbridge had also collected approximately 1,500 signatures in the last couple of weeks.  The constant battle of trying to encourage shoppers to the town, competing with out of town shopping and the internet and better shopping at other towns and cities would be further doubled by the introduction of car parking charges.  He stated that the traders would like to work with the Council and form a working group to formally discuss plans before implementation.  He referred to a recent news story in West Wales where all four ticket machines in Cardigan had been vandalised last month and business leaders had said that this had led to a ‘noticeable rise in footfall’.  The traders of Holton Road requested that genuine consultation takes place as they feel the Council has a duty to listen to the community.  

All three public speakers thanked the Committee and the Chairman for the opportunity to present to Members. The Chairman then referred to a further representation that had been received from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson who was unable to attend the meeting, the written representations had subsequently been tabled for information.  In the main the representations referred to car parking charges for the Barry area and to, in his view, the inadequate consultation with local residents and shop keepers.  He referred to previous car parking schemes that had been proposed over the years and would urge consultation takes place before proceeding.

Councillor Nic Hodges, a Member of the Vale Council, but not a Member of the Scrutiny Committee, was then afforded the opportunity to make his representations.  Councillor Hodges commenced by advising that although he visited Cowbridge on a regular basis he would, in the main, speak in relation to car parking charges for the Barry Town Centre.  He stated that Barry Town Centre did not have the range of shops to encourage visitors from outside the area and he did not see a considerable number of people from outside the area visiting Barry.  If anyone wished to just ‘pop in’ to Barry Island they could only do that for an hour and by the time they found a parking space and bought a cup of coffee etc., the time would be up.  He suggested that the car parking charge of £1 for up to an hour be increased for use for up to two hours.  He acknowledged that reference had been made to a future report in relation to country parks and he hoped that that would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration prior to any decisions being made.  Councillor Hodges called for a consistent approach in relation to car parking charges as many of the areas referred to in the report were governed by the vagaries of the weather.

During his representations the Chairman advised that when existing car parking charges were discussed in relation to Barry Island, with the Committee’s approval she had recommended that the one hour proposal be increased to two hours and it had subsequently been approved by the Cabinet.  In response the Director stated that as a direct result of that decision, the income received had been substantially reduced from previous years.

The Leader also, in referring to the petitions and letters that had been received, stated that he was aware that a letter had been sent but he had not personally received the one in relation to Cowbridge.  He reiterated the fact that a number of commuters currently took a number of the spaces on a daily basis thereby not allowing visitors the opportunity to visit the town centre.  Spaces were also being taken up by staff outside the shops and he questioned whether the shop owners would be happy to accept that when in fact they should be freeing up the spaces for shoppers to visit the stores.  In referring to a question as to why only Barry and Cowbridge were being addressed, the response was that these were the only car parks the Council had control over.  

A Member for Penarth stated that there was no car park in the town centre of Penarth run by the Council and she reiterated the concerns that staff and commuters regularly utilised spaces on a daily basis, advising that in Penarth some traders’ vans remained outside the businesses all day.  A bigger issue for visitors to Penarth was the inability to find a parking space and she suggested that a lack of available spaces was arguably a bigger issue than a small parking charge.

Following the presentation of the representations, the Chairman thanked all for their input and then asked Scrutiny Committee Members to consider the information before them.  Following a request as to when the proposal would be implemented if approved, Members were informed that this would depend on the objections process with an estimate being implementation later in the calendar year.  

A Ward Member for Cowbridge stated that short term parking charges would have an adverse effect on businesses in Cowbridge and that in his view many points had not been evaluated such as the effect of long stay parking displacement to residential streets.  He stated that he had been reassured that no decision had been made following Cabinet’s consideration in July until after the Scrutiny Committee had considered the report.  He advised that the Conservative Administration in 2005 had indeed agreed in principle to introduce car parking charges, however, following consultation those proposals had not been implemented.  Town centre businesses had been under considerable financial pressure over the years which, he stated, had been recognised by the Westminster Government who had considered the possibility of intervening and stopping Councils in England using car parking charges as revenue streams.  Although he stated his comments that he would make would relate to both Barry and Cowbridge, he would concentrate in the main in relation to Cowbridge.  The Member referred to the petition by the 74 businesses and referred to Mr. John’s representations about the current town centre trading situation, the lack of consultation, the need for support and the Chamber of Trade’s concerns that the proposed car parking charges would add to their difficulties rather than assisting them.

The Town Council had also not been consulted on the proposal and therefore would not be able to provide a view on the report which had only been available during the summer recess.  Although the report stated that no consultation had been undertaken with local Members as it was a Council wide matter, the report had long term implications for most wards although it was only Cowbridge and Barry Wards that were being immediately affected and that the local members for those wards should in his view have been consulted.  He did however, recognise that there was a problem with long stay vehicles reducing the turnover of spaces in the Cowbridge Town Hall car park and that this needed to be addressed but that, in his view, it was not necessary to be addressed with the charging regime proposed.  Also in the locality some residential streets already had problems with long term parking and residents were concerned that this situation would become dire with the displacement of long term parkers to residential streets.  

In referring specifically to the report and the Council website, the Member advised that the Capita report stated that 515 Council owned spaces were available whereas the Council’s website indicated approximately 800 public car parking spaces were available.  The report also referred to Town Hall long term and short term car parks but in practice there was no difference as the time of stay was not specified nor controlled.  The only proposals to increase car parking capacity in Cowbridge were those associated with the development of the Cowbridge Cattle Market site and the area around the Town Hall which Capita calculated would provide 21 more car parking spaces.  However, with increased housing provision (Darren Farm Development) under the LDP for Cowbridge and the surrounding area, the problem of parking congestion in his view would get worse.  The Member requested that further consultation be undertaken on the car park charging report taking in to account the responses that had been received before finalising any recommendations.  However, in his view, if the Cabinet were not minded to undertake this consultation the schedule of car parking charges should be reviewed with a number of hours of free parking being proposed to encourage visitors.  He had also been informed that Waitrose, having not been consulted on the proposals, had intimated that they had advised that if charges were introduced they would have to replicate similar charges in order to support their business.  

In response, the Leader advised that it was a difficult situation and the decision to introduce car parking charges had been agreed as part of the budget in 2013.  It was not going to be the only revenue stream but it was one that the Council had no option but to consider.  The upkeep of car parks had to be maintained and car parking charges would assist with ongoing maintenance issues and referred to the neighbouring Council of Cardiff who had made over £3 million in car parking charges in the current year.

The Vice-Chairman, in considering the report, stated that in his calculations over over 40% of the car parking spaces were taken up by staff rather than visitors in the town centres.  He too was concerned about the reference to no consultation being undertaken and requested information in relation to the consultation process.  The Director advised that there was no statutory requirement to consult although following the Cabinet decision if approved, a statutory consultation process would commence in relation to the Traffic Regulation Orders.  

In referring to the suggestion of not charging for the first two hours, the Director stated that this would have a considerable impact on the level of income that could be received.  The proposals would also assist visitors so that those who are commuting would have to pay all day or find alternative provision as one of the purposes of the charges was to encourage visitors and regeneration to the town.  

Members, although appreciating the amount of work that had been undertaken in putting together the proposals, stated that it was an impossible task for officers and the Council in the current financial climate.  A local Member for Barry further stated that in relation to Barry Island, the charging regime did need to be reviewed as all investment made in the area could be in danger of being undermined.  There was also the need to address parking in the residential areas.  The Director stated that the first stage had been to consider Barry Town Centre before further consideration in relation to Barry Island.  However, he confirmed that it was his intention to review the impact of the charges if implemented on the town centres and to feedback that information.  

A Member also questioned the issue of displacement and whether the parking regime would actually put people off visiting town centres.  They were concerned about the charging for the area as, in his view, charging in a town centre that was thriving may be a good idea but for town centres that required support this may not be the ideal way forward.  However, in order to achieve savings the suggestion of raising the Council Tax would mean that by not charging visitors for car parking there would be a detriment to the tax payer.  A number of Members were concerned as to the repeated reference to the lack of consultation and agreed that more in-depth discussions should have been held.  Further reference was made to the Welsh Government report 2015 on the impact on town centre footfall, with a view that town centre stakeholders should be involved in the local economy and provided with the opportunity to put forward their thoughts and suggestions.  

A local Ward Member for Penarth also stated that they were horrified to hear that people were parking free all day long and that employers were letting their staff park in the street as opposed to encouraging visitors to their businesses.  With regard to the car parking by the school children, this also needed to be looked into and that spaces should be available for those visiting the town centres.  

Although all Members were aware of the financial situation facing the Council, they were concerned that consultation had not taken place with local stakeholders ( e.g. Chamber of trade), traders and residents.

Thus, following full consideration of the report and the representations received and made at the meeting, it was unanimously

RECOMMENDED - T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider the comments made at the meeting by members of the public and the Scrutiny Committee, with particular regard to the issue of local consultation and that the management of car parking, the cost of its implementation, management and maintenance and car parking charges be reviewed in light of the ongoing reduction in Council funding.

Reason for recommendation

In light of the information discussed at the meeting and in order that the issue of car parking charges can be further looked at having particular regard to the matter of appropriate consultation.

 

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

Cabinet, having considered the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment)

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the comments and recommendation of Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) be recognised by Cabinet and this report be deferred for further work to be carried out by Officers.

(2)    T H A T Officers be requested to draw up a further report that looks at the possibility of Automatic Number Plate Recognition and an element of some free initial parking.

(3)    T H A T the further report will also take into account the comments made by Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment).

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To recognise the comments of Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment).

(2-3)    To explore further possibilities and consider the comments made by Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment).

C2912        IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 2: ANNUAL REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE 2014/15 (REF) –

The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on 9 September, 2015 considered the above report of the Managing Director.

 

The Head of Performance and Development presented the draft Improvement Plan Part 2 - Annual Review of Performance 2014/15, which contained performance and improvement information for Improvement Objectives agreed in April 2014.

Members were requested to endorse the Plan and to consider any areas of underperformance.  

The Part 2 Improvement Plan (attached at Appendix 1) was a document primarily looking back over 2014/15.  It contained key performance information which helped demonstrate progress towards achievements of the Council’s Improvement Objectives.  

Although the Plan was substantially complete, further minor amendments would be required following changes to performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit and from proof reading.  

Based on a self-assessment, it had been concluded that overall the Council had been successful in achieving the majority of the positive outcomes intended in the Council’s Improvement Objectives for 2014/15.  All of the eight Improvement Objectives set for the year were judged to have been achieved, these objectives being as follows:

Objective 1 - To improve employability of local people by facilitating learning opportunities, vocational and employment skills.

Objective 2 - To increase sustainability and stability of Looked After Children and Young People Placements.

Objective 3 - To support more people towards independence.

Objective 4 - To support and enhance the town centres of the Vale of Glamorgan for the benefit of residents, visitors and businesses.

Objective 5 - To reduce the number of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET).

Objective 6 - To reduce the time taken to deliver Disabled Facilities Grants for Children and Young People and to adults.

Objective 7 - To support and challenge schools in order to improve pupil attainment levels at Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.

Objective 8 - To improve the responsive repairs service for tenants.

A summary of the conclusions of the eight Improvement Objectives for the Vale was identified in paragraphs 9 - 16 of the report.

In referring to the Appendix, the report outlined that pages 85 - 92 detailed how the Council performed against the 2014/15 National Performance Dataset in comparison with the previous year and with other local authorities in Wales.  In total 46 national performance indicators in 2014/15 were reported and of these, 44 had data that could be compared with the previous year.  Key highlights included:

  • In total 8 indicators achieved the best possible performance in 2014/15. Of these 8 best performing indicators, 7 continued to maintain their best possible performance (either 100% or 0%) when compared to last year. The indicator that achieved its best possible performance in contrast to last year was EDU/002i, Pupils in school aged 15 that leave education, training or work-based learning without an approved external qualification.  During 2014/15, 0% of children left without any approved qualification whereas the previous year the 0.2% of children left without a qualification.
  • 49% (23) indicators showed an improvement (based on their PI value) during 2014/15. These had remained relatively static compared to last year. 14 of the 23 indicators this year have continued to show an improvement during 2014/15 when compared with the previous year.
  • 13 indicators showed a decline (based on their PI value) during 2014/15, the same number as the previous year. 5 of the 13 measures continued to show a decline during 2014/15.
  • For 4 indicators, performance had previously shown an improvement during 2013/14 but their performance during 2014/15 had remained static. However, 3 of the 4 indicators continued to maintain best possible performance of 100% (EDU/015a, EDU/015b, relating to final statements of SEN issued and SCA/019 relating to adult protection referrals where the risk has been managed). There were also 8 indicators that had previously shown improvement in 2013/14 (based on their PI value) that were now showing a decline in their performance for 2014/15. These related to EDU/006ii (pupils assessed receiving a teacher assessment in Welsh) had dropped from 9.2% in 2012/13 to 8.9% in 2014/15, SCA/002b (rate of older people supported in care homes), this figure had slightly increased from 14.74 per 1,000 population in 2012/13 to 15.70 per 1,000 population in 2014/15 (where an increase indicates that performance was worsening), SCA/020 (adults supported in the community) performance had only slightly dipped by 2.72% compared with the previous year, SCC/045 (reviews of looked after children (LAC) and Children in Need (CIN) carried out in statutory timetable) performance had only slightly dipped by 1.6% compared with last year, SCC/025 (percentage of statutory visits to LAC in accordance with regulations) had shown a very minor decline of 0.8%, PSR/004 (private sector vacant dwellings returned to occupation) there had been a 31.54% drop compared to last year, STS/005b (highways inspected for high or acceptable level of cleanliness) had seen a minor decline of 0.6% and THS/012b (non-principal roads in poor condition), had seen a very minor decline of 0.2%.
  • 8 Indicators during 2014/15 had shown no change in their performance when compared to 2013/14.

A breakdown of the Council’s performance in quartiles when compared to Wales was as follows:

  • 44% (20) indicators were in the upper quartile of performance, representing a 3% increase on the previous year where 41% (17) indicators were reported in the upper quartile for their performance.
  • 15% (7) of indicators were in the upper middle quartile (2nd) during 2014/15 compared with 7% (3) of indicators in the previous year (2013/14).
  • 20% (9) indicators were in the lower middle quartile for their performance during 2014/15, representing a 9% reduction on the previous year where 29% (12) indicators were reported in the lower middle quartile.
  • 20% (9) indicators had remained in the bottom quartile for their performance during 2014/15 which was the same as the previous year (2013/14). Of these 9 indicators, 7 were previously in the lower quartile for the performance during 2013/14, indicating that there had not been any significant improvements to enable these indicators to move out of the bottom quartile for their performance.

Members were further advised that the report had been presented to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) as the lead Scrutiny Committee due to the fact that the timetable for publication of the Plan had not allowed all Scrutiny Committees to consider the report.  It was noted however, that the majority of information contained within the Plan had been previously reported to all Scrutiny Committees as part of quarterly and end of year performance reporting and Service Plans.

A Committee Member commented that bearing in mind the period of austerity and pressures on resources, Managers and staff should be commended for the Council’s good performance.  The Committee agreed that officers and staff should be congratulated.

Further to this point the Committee, in referring to paragraph 7 of the covering report, felt that the wording of this paragraph could more positively reflect the good performances achieved.   The Head of Performance and Development was happy to amend this.  

At this juncture, Councillor H.J.W. James indicated that he had a dispensation granted by the Standards Committee to speak on matters relating to the Local Government Data Unit.

In referring to page 11 of the Improvement Plan, the Chairman requested more information and detail regarding the Vale’s ‘Clout Score’ (which related to Social Media) and specifically around how this was calculated and how it could be improved.  It was agreed that this would be considered at a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.

Having considered the report it was subsequently

RECOMMENDED -

(1)    T H A T the Improvement Plan for 2014/15 be endorsed, and referred to Cabinet and Full Council for consideration and approval.

(2)    T H A T Officers and staff be congratulated for the Council’s performance.

Reason for recommendation

 

(1)    To meet the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure to publish an annual review of Council performance and to ensure that action is taken to continually improve.

(2)    To offer the Committee’s thanks and appreciation to staff for the good performance achieved.

 

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

After presenting this item, the Deputy Leader noted that this result was a fantastic achievement that set the Council apart from other Local Authorities in Wales.

The Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services agreed with his colleague, stating that he was delighted that the Council was rated so highly during such difficult times.

Cabinet, having considered the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources)

RESOLVED – T H A T the Improvement Plan for 2014/15 attached at Appendix 1 to the report be endorsed, and Officers and staff be congratulated for the exceptional Council’s performance in being ranked as Wales’ top performing Local Authority.

Reason for decision

To meet the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure to publish an annual review of Council performance and to ensure that action was taken to continually improve, and to provide thanks and appreciation to staff for the good performance achieved.

C2913        IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 2: ANNUAL REVIEW OF PERFORMANCE 2014-15 AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE 2014-15 (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – CORPORATE RESOURCES) -

Cabinet was presented with the draft Improvement Plan Part 2: Annual Review of Performance 2014/15, which contained performance and improvement information for Improvement Objectives agreed in April 2014. The report also outlined the findings of the Local Government Data Unit Wales in its report of Local Government Performance 2014/15.

The Council's Part 1 Improvement Plan for 2014-15 was agreed by Cabinet on 28 April, 2014; this was required by the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009. The Plan was forward looking, and set eight Improvement Objectives for 2014-15. The Local Government Data Unit Wales published annually a Local Government Performance Report which outlined the performance of Welsh authorities across a range of indicators.

The Part 2 Improvement Plan was a document primarily looking back over 2014-15. It contained key performance information which helped demonstrate progress towards achievement of the Council’s Improvement Objectives. The Plan also reported the Council’s performance against a range of services as measured by national performance indicators collected and published annually by Welsh Government and the Local Government Data Unit. A copy of the Part 2 Improvement Plan, referred to in the report as Appendix 1, was available online and in Member’s Room.

The report concluded that overall, the Council had been successful in achieving the great majority of the positive outcomes intended in the Improvement Objectives for 2014-15, despite challenging financial times. Eight of the Improvement Objectives set for the year were judged to have been achieved. However, the majority also remained long term strategic priorities for the Council and the success achieved in 2014-15 represented the start of what would be a long programme of initiatives to continually improve services for citizens of the Vale.

The report summarised the Council’s performance on the 8 Improvement Objectives and 46 national performance indicators. The performance of the Council was also considered in the Local Government Data Unit Wales annual report 2014-15. The annual report looked at a range of indicators and assessed the performance of individual authorities. The report indicated that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was ranked as the top performing Council (with the same number of top or upper quartile indicators as Ceredigion). By way of outline, the Council had been placed in the top group of authorities for 48% of comparable indicators. A total of 50% of the indicators were an improvement on 2013-14. A copy of the Local Government Performance Bulletin, referred to in the report as Appendix 2, was available online and in the Members room. A copy had also been placed on the Council's staffnet.

After this item had been presented, the Managing Director drew attention to Paragraph 27 of the report which contained the Wales wide analysis of Council performance across a range of indicators. The data showed that the Council was performing very well compared to other Councils, with a significant number of indicators in the top quartile. He added that despite budget pressures the Council was focusing on delivering excellent front line services.

This was a matter for Executive and Council decision

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the Improvement Plan Part 2: Annual Review of Performance for 2014-15, referred to in the report as Appendix 1, be endorsed and referred to Council for approval.

(2)    T H A T the publication of the Local Government Data Unit Wales report on Local Government Performance 2014-15, referred to in the report as Appendix 2, be noted.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To meet the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure to publish an annual review of Council performance and ensure that action was taken to continually improve.

(2)    To apprise Cabinet of the performance of the Vale of Glamorgan Council relative to other Welsh authorities during 2014-15.

C2914        ANNUAL REPORT - SECTION 106 LEGAL AGREEMENTS 2014 – 2015 (R) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -

Cabinet was apprised on the progress of Section 106 (Planning Obligation) matters that had arisen in the last financial year (April 2014 - March 2015).

The Council had the power to enter into legal agreements with developers under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which sought contributions from developers that mitigated negative development impacts and facilitated development which might otherwise not occur. The report outlined the difference between Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 contributions and provided an update on the Council's progress towards introducing CIL. In accordance with the Section 106 protocol, the report also summarised the Council’s progress on negotiating, monitoring and implementing planning obligations through Section 106 agreements, for the last financial year.

In the 12 months between April 2014 and March 2015, a total of 18 planning permissions had been issued which had been subject to Section 106 legal agreements. A list of these was attached at Appendix A to the report. A summary of income and spend on each Section 106 agreement between April 2014 and March 2015 was attached at Appendix B to the report, along with an update on progress since April 2015.

On 6 April, 2015, Regulation 123 of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Regulations 2010 (As Amended) came into effect which restricted the way in which Local Planning Authorities could use Section 106 agreements to pool financial contributions to deliver an infrastructure project. The Council kept up-to-date detailed records of all Section 106 agreements (which could be viewed on the Council’s website) and each time negotiations were entered into with developers, Officers checked that the pooling restriction would not be breached by a proposed development and associated obligations.

The report also detailed differences between CIL and Section 106 contributions as Members had sought further advice on the matter. CIL was a new charging system that could be applied to most forms of development to fund infrastructure improvements that supported the development of the authority area in accordance with the Local Development Plan. CIL would differ from Section 106 funding insofar as it could be pooled to deliver an infrastructure project that did not necessarily directly relate to the development from which it was sourced.

In terms of progress, on 21 February, 2011 Cabinet resolved to commence work on preparing a Community Infrastructure Levy for the Vale of Glamorgan. This had been done in tandem with the preparation of the Local Development Plan which was submitted to the Welsh Government in August 2015, with an anticipated adoption date of Autumn 2016. The Council intended to take immediate steps to finalise the evidence necessary to establish a draft charging schedule for CIL for the Vale of Glamorgan, with a view to adopting it as soon as possible.

This was a matter for Executive decision

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the progress made on Section 106 matters between April 2014 and March 2015 be noted.

(2)    T H A T the report be referred to Planning Committee, Scrutiny Committee (Economy & Environment) and Community Liaison Committee for information.

 

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To inform Cabinet of the progress made on Section 106 matters between April 2014 and March 2015.

(2)    To inform the Planning Committee, Scrutiny Committee (Economy & Environment) and Community Liaison Committee of the progress made on Section 106 matters between April 2014 and March 2015.

C2915        ACTIVE TRAVEL (R) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -

Cabinet was informed of the progress made in implementing the Direction from the Welsh Government (WG), which placed duties upon the Council to follow specific processes and procedures to deliver the requirements of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, and approval was sought to deliver the requirements of the Act, including a consultation process within the timescales set out in the report.

In September 2014, WG introduced the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 which made it a legal requirement for Local Authorities in Wales to map and plan for suitable routes for Active Travel. The Act required two maps to be produced: the existing route maps, the subject of the report, and the integrated network map. The existing route maps were primarily intended to inform the public of the safe and suitable routes for active travel. The public would need to have confidence that the routes on the maps are suitable for use; that the routes would not stop abruptly and generally that the routes met the standards set out in the Design Guidance. The maps were intended to give pedestrians and cyclists the information that they required in order to make a decision about how and where to travel. However, the existing route maps were also a valuable data source for local authorities in managing their active travel routes. The existing route maps had to be submitted to WG by 22 January, 2016 to comply with the Act, and the integrated Network Maps had to be submitted later at a time to be agreed with WG.

To enable the Council to deliver the requirements of the Act, Sustrans was commissioned to assist undertaking some of the work required and carried out audits on 73 potential active travel routes within the Vale of Glamorgan. Full details of all the routes assessed could be found at Appendix A attached to the report.

In order to meet the WG's deadline of 22 January, 2016 for submission of the final Active Travel Maps, it was necessary to commence this formal consultation no later than 1 October, 2015. The report proposed to consult with the Council's Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment), Community Liaison Committee and the Youth Cabinet as part of the formal consultation process following Cabinet approval of the report. The results of the consultation process and the final proposed active travel maps would then be presented to a meeting of the Council's Cabinet in January 2016.

This was a matter for Executive decision

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the Draft Active Travel Maps attached at Appendix A to the report be endorsed.

(2)    T H A T the requirements of the Act be progressed as set out in the report, including a formal consultation on the Draft Active Travel Maps commencing by 1 October, 2015.

(3)    T H A T the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment), Community Liaison Committee and Youth Cabinet as part of the formal consultation process.

(4)    T H A T a further report be presented to Cabinet in January 2016 outlining the results of the Consultation process and to consider the submission of the final Active Travel Maps to Welsh Government by 22 January, 2016.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To update Cabinet on the progress made, and for Cabinet to accept the results of the assessment of the 73 routes assessed, in accordance with the criteria for Active Travel walking & cycling routes.

(2)    To enable the Council to fulfil its legal obligations within the specified timescale.

(3)    To ensure that these forums are consulted, their views considered and that WG deadlines are met.

(4)    To allow Cabinet to consider the results of the consultation process and approve the final maps before 22 January, 2016.

C2916        RHOOSE POINT PUBLIC OPEN SPACE - OUTCOME OF CONSULTATION EXERCISE AND PROPOSED INTRODUCTION OF BYELAWS (VLS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -

Cabinet was informed of the outcome of a public consultation exercise undertaken in summer 2015 in relation to the introduction of byelaws for the public open space and lagoon areas at Rhoose Point and approval was sought to agree the draft byelaws and refer them to full Council for approval and making.

There had been concern over recent years amongst a number of Rhoose Point residents regarding various forms of anti-social behaviour on the development, particularly associated with the public open space and lagoons areas, some of which featured the non-statutory designation of 'Site of Importance for Nature Conservation'. Residents had asked that consideration be given to the introduction of byelaws for the area, with the ability to levy fines for certain levels of inappropriate or otherwise unacceptable behaviour.

Cabinet, at its meeting of 9 September, 2013 (Minute C2017 referred) approved a public consultation exercise to seek views on the introduction of byelaws at Rhoose Point. This consultation was undertaken between 27 January, 2014 and 1 March, 2014 and subsequently referred to full Council and Welsh Government for a bye-law application.

Since the Council decision, the Welsh Government had passed new legislation which allowed local authorities, in some instances, to enact byelaws without the need to have the byelaws confirmed by the Welsh Ministers. The new legislation required that another public consultation be undertaken and required the publication of an initial written statement to begin the process of introducing byelaws to the area. A consultation exercise conducted on this basis opened on 20 May, 2015 and closed on 7 August, 2015.

The outcome of the 2015 consultation exercise was attached at Appendix A to the report. The exercise concluded that the majority of respondents agreed that the proposed byelaws should be enacted. Although concerns were raised over prohibiting fishing altogether and suggestions to use a licence or permit system were made, the majority of respondents felt that the activity should be prohibited. Reasons such as littering and endangering wildlife were given in support of prohibiting this activity.

The introduction of new byelaws and the adoption of an enforcement strategy would allow designated Council officers to work with the Police and local community to deal with those people who persisted with certain prohibited activities. Enforcement of the byelaws was under consideration by officers of Visible Services. Cabinet would receive a further report on enforcement which would also consider dog control orders and other byelaws.

 

The proposed new byelaws (attached at Appendix B to the report) prohibited the following activities:-

  • Swimming;
  • Fishing;
  • Camping;

The next stage of the procedure was the publication on the Council's website of a second written statement that detailed the outcome of consultation on this matter and the decision of Council to proceed with the introduction of the byelaws. The publication of a notice of intention to make the byelaws was also required. The notice of intention to make the byelaws had to give at least 6 weeks' notice before the byelaws were made. Under the Council's constitution, byelaws could only be made by Full Council and therefore the matter of making the byelaws had to be referred to the next available meeting of Council.

This was a matter for Executive and Council decision

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the outcome of the 2015 public consultation exercise in respect of the introduction of byelaws at Rhoose Point be noted.

(2)    T H A T the introduction of byelaws prohibiting swimming, camping and fishing at the open spaces and lagoon areas at Rhoose Point, with the exception of a designated area for fishing that is provided, managed and policed by a bone fide fishing club that has entered into a service level agreement with the Council, be agreed to proceed.

(3)    T H A T a notice of intention to make the new byelaws be publicised and the following be recommended to Council:

  • That Council approve and make the byelaws relating to the public open space and lagoon areas at Rhoose Point under sections 12 and 15 of the Open Spaces Act 1906 in the form attached to the report at Appendix B, with the exception of Part 3 Paragraph 6 which should be amended accordingly to reflect resolution 2, above.
  • That the Head of Legal Services be authorised to seal and date the byelaws on behalf of the Council.

(4)    T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Director of Environment and Housing Services, in consultation with the Head of Legal Services and the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services, to take such steps necessary under the Local Government (Wales) Act 2012 and any statutory guidance under this Act to publicise and implement the byelaws

(5)    T H A T a further report outlining recommendations regarding enforcement of both these byelaws and other byelaws (including dog control orders) be presented to Cabinet in due course.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To advise Cabinet of the consultation outcomes.

(2)    To progress the introduction of the new byelaws, and to ensure that designated fishing areas are accredited and properly managed to reflect the concerns raised as part of the consultation exercise as outlined in the report.

(3)    To allow the submission of recommendations to full Council to make the byelaws as required by the Constitution.

(4)    To enable publicity and implementation of the byelaws.

(5)    To provide Cabinet with proposals for implementation of an enforcement regime.

C2917        RATIONALISATION OF CESSPIT EMPTYING (CESSPOOLS) AT CHANNEL VIEW (MARCROSS), CROFT JOHN (PENMARK) AND CHURCH TERRACE (ST MARY CHURCH) (VLS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -

Cabinet was informed of the general status of Council owned cesspools that served a combination of private and council owned properties and agreement was sought for arrangements of any ongoing debt, and proposals for charging at two particular locations; Channel View, Marcross and Croft John, Penmark.

The Council had a number of cesspits (cesspools) in its ownership which were originally constructed to serve council housing stock. Over time many of the houses had been sold and responsibility for emptying had been passed to the current occupants whilst ownership of the cesspool remained with the Council. Cesspools at Channel View (Marcross), Croft John (Penmark) and Church Terrace (St Mary Church) had all been emptied in default of Notice repeatedly since the mid-1990s. The latest continuous period of emptying in default of Notice commenced in the early 2000s at all 4 cesspools. Failure to empty the cesspools caused an environmental pollution issue and was detrimental to public health.

The emptying service was only required for Channel View and Croft John as the ongoing issues at Church Terrace had been resolved following the provision of mains foul drainage by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water.

The cost of emptying would be divided equally between all residential properties served by a cesspool. Where a non-residential property (Penmark Village Hall) was connected to the Croft John cesspool a charge commensurate with the reduced sewerage loading would be applied. The report considered this the fairest allocation of costs as differing occupancy rates, demographics and general water consumption rates made a more detailed consideration overly complex and no fairer. Council tenants would pay a subsidised rate with the difference being met from the Housing Revenue Account. Both Croft John and Channel View cesspools had been relined at the Council’s expense, reducing the ingress of groundwater and hence emptying costs.

The properties would be invoiced in April based on the estimated emptying costs for the next 11 months (April - February). The estimates would be based on the actual costs for the previous 3 years. A reconciliation invoice would be issued in the following April, or as soon thereafter as possible, based on the actual emptying costs incurred for the year. Private residents would be offered the option of paying in a single lump sum or splitting the cost as monthly direct debit payments. Council tenants will be charged a subsidised emptying charge on a weekly basis.

The Council would be required to consult formally with its tenants regarding the additional charge and to serve the necessary 4 week variation notice in line with the provisions of the Housing Act 1985. Provision for this was also contained within the tenancy agreement. In line with variation of other service charges it was proposed that the new cesspit charge would become effective in April 2016 in line with the rent and service charge increase letter which would be issued towards the end of February 2016.

A total of £377,200.43 was provided for in 2013/14 and charged to the Highway Maintenance & Engineering budget, with an additional £34,050 costs incurred in 2014/15 and £27,820 estimated costs incurred in 2015/16. Both of these amounts had also been charged to the Highways Maintenance & Engineering revenue budget. The report recommended that all of these amounts be written off prior to the charging regime commencing in 2016/17. All future costs incurred emptying the cesspools, including technical salaries, would be recovered from the properties benefitting from the service. Provision of the emptying service by the Council would therefore be cost neutral.

After presenting this item, the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services commented that this situation went back to the 1980’s and had been an ongoing issue through the Borough Council and a number of previous administrations.

This was a matter for Executive decision

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the general situation regarding ownership and emptying of former council housing communal cesspools by the Council be noted.

(2)    T H A T the charging regime proposed for properties connected to the council owned cesspools at Channel View, Marcross and Croft John, Penmark be approved.

(3)    T H A T the Director of Environment and Housing Services be granted delegated authority to implement and manage the proposed emptying service for the Channel View and Croft John cesspools.

(4)    T H A T subject to the Head of Legal Services being satisfied that insufficient scope is available to recover in whole or part, the estimated £439,041 costs incurred in emptying the Channel View (Marcross), Croft John (Penmark) and Church Terrace (St Mary Church) cesspools in default from 2002 to March 2016, be written off.

(5)    T H A T the provision of a subsidy to Council tenants covering the ongoing cesspit emptying costs at Channel View and Croft John be authorised.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To inform Cabinet of the general situation regarding ownership and emptying of former council housing communal cesspools.

(2)    To allow the Council to recoup all future costs incurred providing an emptying service to Channel View and Croft John cesspools.

(3)    To allow the recovery of all future costs to the Council regarding emptying of the cesspools.

(4)    To comply with Financial Regulations and write-off non-recoverable costs in part or whole (if appropriate following the review by the Head of Legal Services).

(5)    To enable the Council to subsidise Council tenants in properties served by the Channel View and Croft John cesspools.

C2918        DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR QUARTER 1 2015-16 (HBMCS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEES – SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH, HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION) -

Cabinet was informed of the Council’s performance delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during quarter 1 of 2015-16, and the progress made on process changes.

The Council had a statutory duty to consider and approve applications for Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) where there was an identified need and the property could be reasonably adapted. Disabled Facilities Grants funded the adaptation of privately owned homes to allow residents to live as independently as possible in their own home for as long as possible.

The delivery time of Disabled Facilities Grants was a national performance indicator. The Council had previously acknowledged its performance in delivering Disabled Facilities Grants had to be improved, but despite this improvement in 2013/14, the Council remained in the bottom quartile of performance for Local Authorities in Wales. However, for 2014/15, the Council's performance continued to improve dramatically both in real terms but also in relative terms when compared to other Local Authorities. The Local Government Data Unit had recently published its Local Government Performance Report for 2014/15 and one of the indicators included within that Report related to the time taken to deliver DFG's. For 2014/15 the average number of days taken to deliver DFG's across Wales stood at 231. This compared to 199 in the Vale of Glamorgan. The Vale of Glamorgan was now (for 2014/15) ranked 8th in Wales and sat in the second quartile. For 2014/15, the Vale of Glamorgan showed the third fastest improvement in performance when compared against 2013/14 figures.

A detailed breakdown of the DFG service performance at the end of quarter 1 and DFG capital expenditure profile to 25 August, 2015 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. The continued improvement in Quarter 1 was in part due to the introduction of the framework contract and that the more complex cases had also gone through the process with the new framework contract.

There was an identified capital budget for the approval and payment of Disabled Facilities Grants. There was a predicted shortfall in the capital budget for DFGs as shown in Appendix 1 as attached to the report. It was envisaged that once the backlog of applications had been dealt with, the number of applications being processed would reduce to normal throughput levels. £900k per annum was included in the Council’s currently approved Capital Programme between the years 2015/16 and 2019/20 for DFG’s. However, there had been a steady increase in the number of applications being received which was a trend that was likely to continue. The report proposed that in order to properly plan for further applications and in order to meet demand, a further £200k be added to the DFG 2015/16 capital budget, to be funded by a contribution from the Policy revenue budget. This would ensure there was sufficient funding to complete this year's applications without creating a new backlog. A capital bid would also be made to ensure sufficient funding was identified in the Council's Capital Programme for future years.

After this item was presented, the Managing Director highlighted the graph in Paragraph 5 of the report that clearly showed the Council’s sustainable improvement over time from the lowest to the second quartile. He noted that the Wales Audit Office were going to present a report to the Council’s Audit Committee that addressed the growing demand and funding for DFG’s. He concluded that the Council would have to consider an appropriate budget setting based on the increased performance.

This was a matter for Executive and Council decision

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the report on performance for delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during quarter 1 of 2015-16 be noted.

(2)    T H A T the request to allocate an additional £200k to the Disabled Facilities Grants capital budget in the 2015/16 Capital Programme, funded by a contribution from the Policy revenue budget, be endorsed and this request be referred to Council for approval.

(3)    T H A T the report be forwarded to Scrutiny Committees (Housing and Public Protection) and (Social Care and Health) for consideration.

(4)    T H A T thanks be given to the department and staff for their ongoing hard work and commitment.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To note the Council’s performance for delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during quarter 1 of 2015-16.

(2)    To allocate an additional £200k to the Disabled Facilities Grants capital budget.

(3)    To inform members of the Council’s performance for delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during quarter 1 of 2015-16.

(4)    To thank staff for their hard work.

C2919        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.

 

C2920        HOME OFFICE SCHEME TO SUPPORT THE RESETTLEMENT OF AFGHAN AND SYRIAN INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES IN THE UK (HBMCS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION) -

Matter which the Chairman had decided was urgent by reason of the need to address the Home Office scheme to support the resettlement of Afghan and Syrian individuals and families in the UK

The plight of the Syrian people seeking refuge in the European Union was well publicised. Countries across the European Union were developing responses collectively and further work was being undertaken to understand what that would look like on a Country by Country basis. The national policy directive in terms of the United Kingdom's position was changing with a recent commitment from the Prime Minister to agree to support and resettle twenty thousand Syrians over the next five years. This increase in numbers signalled an expansion of an existing scheme, the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme (VPR). In recent months the Home Office has been working with Local Authorities across the United Kingdom to develop a local response to the VPR.

The VPR scheme also ran in parallel with the Government’s existing refugee resettlement programme 'Gateway' which was run in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR) Syria Humanitarian Admission Programme (HAP) and a number of local authorities. People relocated to the UK under the VRP scheme are in addition to those the UK resettles each year through "Gateway".

The current Gateway and Syrian VPR programmes in the UK were run in partnership with Local Authorities and the voluntary sector. The Home Office was seeking other Local Authorities, including those from the devolved administrations, to participate in the VPR scheme.

Individuals identified by UNHCR were allowed to bring their immediate family with them. This was limited to one spouse / partner (who must be over 18) and their minor dependent children (under 18 and not living an independent life). Those who were accepted under the VPR Scheme were granted humanitarian protection giving them leave to remain for 5 years with full access to employment and public funds and rights to family reunion comparable to refugees. At the end of the 5 years, if they had not been able to return to Syria, they might be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK. Settlement may be refused if a person was convicted of a criminal offence during their leave and would be refused if they posed a danger to the public, or to national security. Leave to remain could also be curtailed if such evidence came to light during the initial 5 year period. Settlement could be revoked if evidence emerged after it had been granted.

Local authorities who chose to participate in the scheme took the lead in working with other key local partners to ensure that arrivals were provided with suitable accommodation and the specific needs of these vulnerable individuals were met. As with the Gateway Refugee Resettlement programme, central Government would meet the costs of the arrivals in terms of orientation support, health (NB funding for additional health pressures for those resettled in Wales had not been identified by Welsh Government) and education costs for the first year from arrival. Staffing costs to cover administration of the scheme would also be met.

The Home Office asked that participating local authorities, in consultation with other statutory and voluntary bodies in their area, assess how much an orientation package would cost, recognising that the final figure might fluctuate between differing authorities due to local circumstances which may result in an increase or decrease in costs.

Coventry Council had been an early adopter of the scheme and saw its participation as core to its City's values.

The National Security Council had agreed a package of measures to offer to locally engaged staff in Afghanistan who would be made redundant as a result of the UK's military drawdown. Locally engaged staff who were in Her Majesty's Government’s employ on 19 December, 2012 (the date the Prime Minister announced the UK’s drawdown) and who had accrued 12 months service were eligible under the scheme. The offers made under this scheme were additional to the usual redundancy terms in local engaged staff employment contracts.

The package had three elements:

1.     Up to 5 years’ paid training or education in Afghanistan, or;

2.     18 months salary, paid in instalments, or;

3.     Relocation to the UK, but only for interpreters or equivalent grades in front line roles outside the wire in Helmand, with immediate family.

Local Authorities across the UK were being asked to participate in the programme when point 3 was the chosen option.

Participating Authorities would work with the Home Office to ensure that what was available in the locality fitted the needs of those that would be potentially relocated and would agree to approximate numbers that could be accommodated. Participating Authorities would be expected to provide newly arrived individuals or families with help to adjust to life in the UK.

Monmouthshire County Council had been the first Council in Wales to take part in the scheme, aligning its commitment to the scheme with the aims and objectives of its Armed Forces Covenant. It reported that the scheme had been a success and those resettled in the Monmouthshire area had adjusted well seeking both employment and educational opportunities.

Officers from the Council had attended a number of information sharing sessions with the Home Office on both programmes. Officers had the opportunity to speak to representatives from both Coventry and Monmouthshire Council on their experiences of participating in both projects. The feedback from both Councils on both schemes had been largely positive.

The schemes were very different in their content and the needs of the potential individuals and families that may be resettled within the area were very different. Welsh Government held a summit on 17 September, 2015 to discuss Wales' response to the crisis, the result of which would be the establishment of a Syrian Refugee National Task Force. Welsh Government would take a lead in establishing the task force with its structure and size being considered further. It was agreed the task force would have a co-ordinating role and act as a link to the Home Office in terms of on-going discussions.

On 6 August, 2015 the Head of Housing and Building Services at the Vale met with the Director of Communities, Housing and Customer Service at Cardiff Council to discuss how a regional approach could be adopted. The Vale as part of its budgeting process had set aside a two year funding pot to support asylum seekers/ refugees. It was agreed that subject to both Councils' Cabinet approval the Vale would use this resource to support both resettlement schemes and that a regional approach would be progressed.

This was a matter for Executive decision

RESOLVED –

(1)    T H A T the Council's participation in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme be supported.

(2)    T H A T the Council's participation in the Home Office Scheme associated with the resettlement of Afghan individuals and families, be supported.

(3)    T H A T the current limitations in terms of financial support for the Syrian Resettlement Scheme be recognised and clarity be sought from Welsh Government and HM Treasury on the necessary funding and long term support.

(4)    T H A T pursuant to resolutions 1 and 2 above, delegated authority be granted to the Head of Housing and Building Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Services and Community Safety to contribute to a regional and national approach to both these challenges whereby the Council works in partnership with neighbouring authorities, the Welsh Local Government Association, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and other key partners in Wales.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    Syrian families and individuals are in desperate need of help and support as a consequence of the conflict in Syria and are seeking resettlement in the European Union. The Home Office is seeking participation from Local Authorities across the UK.

(2)    The Home Office is currently seeking support from Local Authorities for the resettlement of Afghan nationals that have supported the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan. Participation in this scheme is in line with the principles of the Council's Armed Forces Covenant.

(3)    In England HM Treasury has made funding available for Local Health Boards to support Syrian families and individuals that may have complex health needs that resettle in the UK. Welsh Government has been silent on providing Local Health Boards with additional funding to support the Syrian resettlement programme however this may change as at the time of writing this report the First Minister had held a Summit the result of which was a commitment to the creation of a National Task Force to consider Wales' approach to the crisis. The mainstay funding associated with the Syrian Project is for a period of one year. The Welsh Local Government Association has raised the long term pressure on local authority services associated with the additional costs borne after the one year funding period ends with Welsh Government and HM Treasury and has asked for additional support in this area.

(4)    A regional approach to managing the project is required and appropriate in terms of capacity to deliver the project and existing support networks in the region. The Council has set aside two years of funding to allow the provision of support to asylum seekers and those seeking to resettle in the region. Cardiff Council, as one such partner has wide ranging experience and established community based support networks in the area. Both Councils currently share a Community Cohesion Officer that would also be used in part to support the work of both schemes.

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