COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 29th January, 2013.
Present: Councillor C.P.J. Elmore (Chairman); Councillor K.J. Geary (Vice-Chairman); Councillors R.J. Bertin, Ms. B.E. Brooks, Mrs. C. Curtis, N.P. Hodges, N. Moore, R.P. Thomas and R.L. Traherne.
Representatives of Town and Community Council:
Councillor S.C. Egan (Barry Town Council); Councillor S. Hodges (Substitute - Barry Town Council); Councillor M. Cuddy (Penarth Town Council); Councillor J. Harris (Cowbridge with Llanblethian Town Council); Councillor H.L. Baker (Ewenny ); Councillor P. King (Llandough Community Council); Councillor M. Hurst (Llandow Community Council); Councillor A.J. Pope (Llanmaes Community Council); Councillor M. Marsh (Llantwit Major Community Council); Councillor G. Marks (Michaelston-le-Pit Community Council); Councillor C. Tutton (Pendoylan Community Council); Councillor J. Parry (Peterston-Super-Ely Community Council); Councillor R. Dowling (St. Georges and St. Brides Super Ely Community Council); Councillor G. Rawson (St. Nicholas and Bonvilston Community Council); Councillor A. Foyle (Welsh St. Donats Community Council); Councillor I. Moody (Wenvoe Community Council); Councillor E. Jervis (Substitute - Wenvoe Community Council) and Councillor R. Ball (Wick Community Council).
784 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –
These were received from Councillors H.J.W. James, Ms. R.F. Probert and M.R. Wilson (VOGC); and from Councillors J. Teague (Llanfair Community Council), D.M. Pugh (Penllyn Community Council) and M. Garland (Sully and Lavernock Community Council).
785 MINUTES –
AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd October, 2012 be accepted as a correct record, subject to it being noted that the Chairman had omitted to submit Councillor Curtis’ apologies for absence at that meeting.
786 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
No declarations were received.
787 POLICE MATTERS –
The Chairman welcomed Acting Inspector Darren Grady to his first meeting of the Committee. Acting Inspector Grady referred initially to various operations which had taken place over the Christmas period to tackle matters such as retail theft and the continuing drink drive campaign which had resulted in quite a number of drivers appearing before the courts. He thanked officers of the Council within Trading Standards and Civil Contingencies for their assistance in dealing with the issue of horses in the area of Sully and Penarth. He referred also to a pilot scheme being undertaken in Barry and the Rural Vale in relation to Victim Satisfaction which was showing almost 100% satisfaction rates and stated that the consideration was being given rolling that pilot out across Wales. Statistics showed a 4.9% reduction in all crime in the South Wales area which was the lowest crime rate in 30 years. Acting Inspector Grady stated this had been achieved despite reduced resources within the police through working in partnership with Council and the Voluntary Sector.
In response to questions in relation to “rogue traders” in the Barry area, Acting Inspector Grady indicated that there had been a number of incidents, that investigations were underway and that he would, if required, arrange for the local press to publicise the matter. When asked about the new role of Police Crime Commissioner, Acting Inspector Grady stated that the Service felt very positive about the role the Commissioner would play.
AGREED – T H A T Acting Inspector Grady be thanked for his presentation and that the information received be noted.
788 FIRE SERVICE STATISTICS FOR THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN FIRE SERVICE AREAS –
The Chairman welcomed Philip Pinches, the Head of Road Safety, to his first meeting of the Committee. At the commencement of his presentation Mr. Pinches had asked whether the format in which the statistics were presented was satisfactory. No Member offered any adverse comment.
Mr. Pinches then took Members through the statistics as contained within the report for the period April to December 2012 in respect of the Vale. He indicated that, generally, there were no major concerns within the Vale except for Penarth where the statistics showed that the number of dwelling fires had increased as had the number of dwellings which had experienced fire which had no smoke detectors. Mr. Pinches confirmed the need to target resources in Penarth more effectively had been fully recognised. In response to a question as to whether a pattern of incidents could be identified, he indicated that type of properties affected included HMOs, single occupancy dwellings and generally properties within the more socially deprived areas. When asked about the impact of the recent flooding in the Vale, Mr. Pinches stated that householders were offered general advice to mitigate the risks of flooding and that there were contingency plans across South Wales to deal with such matters. A representative in attendance from the Rural Vale expressed appreciation of the way in which the Fire and Rescue Service had dealt with recent flooding in his particular area.
AGREED – T H A T Mr. Pinches be thanked for his presentation and that the information received be noted.
789 MANUAL ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROVISION –
Mr. Alan Sinclair, the Council’s Affordable Housing Enabler, had circulated the above Manual to those representatives of the Town and Community Councils in attendance. Copies would be sent out separately to all Members of the Vale Council. By way of background, he explained that he had been appointed to this new role 2 years ago, that he concentrated predominantly on the Rural Vale and that his role was in simple terms
to highlight the problem of the lack of affordable housing
to “do the rounds” in communities and at local events in the area
to speak to landowners
to deal with developers, and
to make affordable housing a reality.
In his presentation he referred to four housing associations working in the Rural Vale which had undertaken to maintain high standards of housing design and management and of community accountability, taking into account in their design the rural location of the houses that were being constructed and in liaison with Town and Community Councils. Referring back to the Manual, Mr. Sinclair stressed that it contained only guidance and that he would be pleased to attend any meeting of a Town or Community Council to discuss its contents, and any related matters further. Members subsequently agreed that, as a starting point, a copy of the Manual should be forwarded to the Clerk of each Council, by electronic means where possible.
Subsequent questions led to discussions as to ways in which suitable land for the provision of affordable housing could be identified and landowners encouraged to dispose of that land for that purpose. As regards the “affordability” of dwellings, that could be maintained by ensuring
that there were ongoing covenants in relation to the sale of the property requiring the 70/30% split to be retained for the benefit of future purchasers and to landlords being able to access grant funding to keep rents low. The need to update the Housing Needs Survey was also recognised..
Following further discussion on the above and related matters when Mr. Sinclair reiterated his willingness to attend meetings in the community, it was
AGREED – T H A T Mr. Sinclair be thanked for his presentation and, as indicated above, a copy of the manual forwarded to all Clerks.
790 WELFARE REFORM –
Mr. Clive Teague, the Council’s Head of Financial Services, gave a presentation on the above issue which would affect the population across the Vale. He took Members through the key headlines of the Welfare Reform Act, citing the reasons given for change as
simplifying the system and bringing together the claims and payment process
making claiming benefit more like being in work and increasing employment prospects
managing rising costs.
Mr. Teague spoke of the number of people claiming benefits in the Vale and the implications of the changes. He confirmed that a copy of the slide presentation which contained facts, figures and examples of the way in which claimants would be affected would be sent to the Clerks of all Town and Community Councils. The introduction of Universal Credit represented a sea change in benefits and would be the biggest change to the welfare system for 70 years. It was designed to bring about a cultural change in attitudes to work, to support people into work, to ensure the right support for vulnerable people and would be enabled by new technology. The major changes included
the limitation on benefit for under occupancy in the social housing sector from April 2013
the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with the Personal Independence Payment from June 2013
the gradual introduction of the universal credit from October 2013 starting with new claims from single persons out of work with no accommodation or children.
Mr. Teague concluded his presentation by referring to the replacement of the Council Tax Benefit with Council Tax Support from April 2013.
In response to subsequent questions, Mr. Teague indicated that concerned parties could contact the Council’s Benefit section for advice by several methods and agreed to forward contact telephone number(s) with his presentation to all Clerks. Arrangements were in place to keep Council staff fully aware of developments, a Local Stakeholder Group had been established and the DWP together with CAB, the Credit Union and other local organisations were liaising with each other and the Council.
AGREED – T H A T Mr. Teague be thanked for his presentation and that a copy of the presentation together with contact details be forwarded to the Clerks of all Town and Community Councils.
791 WELSH GOVERNMENT WHITE PAPER: A SUSTAINABLE WALES – BETTER CHOICES FOR A BETTER FUTURE (MD) –
The Head of Performance and Development, in presenting the above report, referred to the fact that the White Paper as appended to the report followed earlier consultations on the topic. The Welsh Government was proposing that a new duty would be introduced which would require specified public service organisations to embed sustainable development as their central organising principle. That duty would apply to the Vale of Glamorgan Council from 2016 and to Town and Community Councils from 2017. The Welsh Government was currently seeking responses to the five questions contained within paragraph 8 of the report and this Council’s draft response was set out in Appendix B to the report. Members were notified that the response had yet to be considered by the appropriate Scrutiny Committee and by Cabinet and that the deadline for the submission was 4th March, 2013. The Head of Service indicated that the Council was broadly supportive of the White Paper and was already going to considerable lengths to embed sustainability into its operations. He also drew attention to the proposal that the body established to support organisations to embed sustainable development as their central organising principle was intended to act as a critical friend rather than a regulatory body.
AGREED – T H A T the White Paper and the Council’s draft response be forwarded to the Clerks of all Town and Community Councils for information and to facilitate the submission from those Councils of individual responses thereto if deemed appropriate.
792 CODE OF CONDUCT TRAINING FOR COUNCILORS (MO) –
The Democratic and Scrutiny Officer briefly outlined the report, the purpose of which was to notify Members of the training that been offered to Councillors on various dates in May, October and November, 2012 when 55 individuals had attended. The overall feedback had been that the sessions had been well received.
There being no questions, it was
AGREED – T H A T the report be noted.