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COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 28th January, 2014.

 

Present: Councillor C.P.J. Elmore (Chairman); Councillor K.J. Geary (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. B.E. Brooks, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, R.F. Curtis, N.P. Hodges, H.J.W. James, Ms. R.F. Probert, R.P. Thomas and R.L. Traherne.

 

Representatives of Town and Community Councils: Councillors S.C. Egan (Barry Town Council); Mrs. N.C. Thomas (Cowbridge with Llanblethian Town Council), M. Marsh (Llantwit Major Town Council), M. Cuddy (Penarth Town Council); A.R. Robertson (Dinas Powys Community Council), H.L. Baker (Ewenny Community Council), P. King (Llandough Community Council), M. Hurst (Llandow Community Council),  J. Teague (Llanfair Community Council), G.S. Smith (Llanmaes Community Council), C. Tutton (Pendoylan Community Council), Mrs. J. Parry (Peterston Super Ely Community Council), Mrs. G. Rawson (St. Nicholas and Bonvilston Community Council) and Mrs. E. Jervis (Wenvoe Community Council).

 

 

793     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors R.J. Bertin and M.R. Wilson (Vale of Glamorgan Council), Councillors D.M. Pugh (Penllyn Community Council), M. Garland (Sully and Lavernock Community Council), I. Moody (Wenvoe Community Council) and R. Ball (Wick Community Council).

 

           

794     MINUTES –

 

AGREED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 16th October, 2013 be accepted as a correct record.

 

 

795     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

Councillor K.J. Geary declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 5 – Annual Report – Section 106 Legal Agreements 2012/13 and Update for 2013/14 and Item No. 6 – Greenlinks Community Transport Service in that his daughter, Mrs. Emma Reed, Operational Manager – Development Services, had been party to Agenda Item No. 5, was the author of the report in Agenda Item No. 6 and would be presenting these items to the Committee. Having sought advice from the Monitoring Officer on these matters, Councillor Geary had been advised that this did not constitute a personal interest under the Members’ Code of Conduct and as such, he could speak and vote on these items.

 

 

796     POLICE MATTERS –

 

Inspector Chris Owen referred to an increase in shoplifting and reported a 90% arrest and detection rate for these crimes and thanked the Vale’s CCTV team for their work in this area.  Inspector Owen also reported that it had been a busy Christmas and New Year period, during which there had been an increase in residential burglaries in the Gwent and Cardiff area and confirmed that Police had recovered items of stolen property.

 

There being no questions on these matters, it was

 

AGREED – T H A T the Vale CCTV Team be thanked for their work.

 

Reason for decision

 

To acknowledge the work of the Vale CCTV Team, as noted by Inspector Owen.

 

 

797     ANNUAL REPORT – SECTION 106 LEGAL AGREEMENTS 2012-2013 (REF) –

 

On 17th June 2013 Cabinet referred this report to the Community Liaison Committee for information. 

 

Members were informed about progress on Section 106 (Planning Obligation) matters that had arisen in the last financial year (April 2012 - March 2013).

 

The Council had the power to enter into legal agreements with developers under Section 106 (S106) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, to seek contributions from developers to mitigate negative development impacts and facilitate development which might otherwise not occur. 

 

In accordance with the Section 106 protocol, this report summarised the Council’s progress on negotiating, monitoring and implementing planning obligations through section 106 agreements, for the last financial year.

 

Planning Applications subject to S106 agreements

 

In the 12 months between April 2012 and March 2013, a total of 12 planning permissions had been issued, which had been subject to section 106 legal agreements.  Attached as an appendix was a list of legal agreements with a value of £511,873.

 

In the previous financial year, 2011/12, a total of 18 planning permissions were signed with a financial value of £10,263,858.68, which was principally due to the major Barry Waterfront redevelopment, which represented a £8,093,600.00 financial obligations package.

 

The financial contributions secured through these legal agreements would be used to provide or enhance facilities off site, such as sustainable transport facilities, public open space, community facilities and more.  Attached as an appendix to the reference was a further updated version of the list as at 28th January, 2014.

 

The planning obligation requirements secured this year had also included ‘in-kind’ obligations such as on site affordable housing, on site public open space and recreational facilities, and public art.

 

Implementation of Planning Obligations

 

Between April 2012 and March 2013 the Council had received financial and in-kind obligations in respect of a number of previously outstanding planning agreements, including interest payments where applicable. The Council’s Section 106 account currently held £2,213,336.69, with £406,938.86 having been spent this year through implementation of S106 projects.

 

Following the annual monitoring report for 2011/12, Members had raised concerns about the time taken to implement S106 spend and at their meeting on 5th November 2012 Cabinet had resolved to endorse an updated protocol for the implementation of S106 obligations. When financial obligations were received, the relevant service areas were notified and Member consultation undertaken at the same time so that ideas for spend could be identified at the earliest opportunity.

 

The Committee was further informed that the figure for S106 obligations for the 2014/15 financial year was approximately £3m.  The Operational Manager for Development Services present at the meeting advised the Committee that although the Council were only obligated to consult with officers and Elected Members as part of the Section 106 protocol, the views of the Town and Community Councils would be welcomed with regard to how the S106 funds could be spent within the local communities and could be taken into account as part of the planning application consultation process. 

 

The Operational Manager for Development Services had advised that she would be happy to request that the relevant officer consider arranging training on S106 agreements.  The representative from Penarth Town Council asked should training be made available if this could also include the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

 

The representative from Dinas Powys Community Council queried whether S106 agreements applied only to private developments or whether the Council would also be subject to S106 agreements, with particular reference made to the former St. Cyres School site in Dinas Powys.  The Operational Manager advised that the Council would also be subject to the same S106 obligations as private companies and made reference to the S106 obligations in place for Penarth Heights.  Reference was made to the St. Cyres site and once it had been sold, the developer would have to make financial contributions under the S106 agreement. 

 

It was noted that the representative from Llandough Community Council requested an update on the status of the S106 application for Llandough Hospital, with reference to the footways, cycle routes and the 20 mph zone along Penlan Road.  The Operational Manager stated that they knew that work was progressing on the feasibility study for a 20 mph zone along Penlan Road and that the local Member would have been consulted on this.  The Chairman requested that the local member and Councillor King be updated accordingly.

 

With regard to Section 106 agreements, the Chairman requested that any training for S106 include the clerks of the Town and Community Councils, it was agreed that this should be built into the action plan for the Charter between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Town and Community Councils. 

 

The representative from Llanfair Community Council requested an update on the status of The Herberts application advising that this had been ongoing for a number of years.  The Operational Manager informed the Member that there were some land issues involved with this application and that she would progress the issue with the project officer for this application and update Llanfair Community Council accordingly.

 

The representative from Cowbridge with Llanblethian Town Council advised that there had been issues with a S106 agreement and queried whether the Council was obliged to consult with Town and Community Councils in reference to S106 agreements.  The Operational Manager stated that the current protocol only required consultation to be carried out with the local Elected Members and internal departments but reiterated her early suggestion that it would be useful if Town and Community Councils put forward suggestions with regard to S106 agreements when considering planning applications.

 

Having considered the reference, it was subsequently

 

AGREED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Annual Report – Section 106 Legal Agreements 2012-2013 and the update for 2013/14 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T training for Town and Community Councillors on Section 106 Agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) be requested to be arranged via the Directorate of Development Services.

 

(3)       T H A T clerks of the Town and Community Councils be invited to a future meeting regarding Section 106 issues and that this be progressed via the action plan for the Charter between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Town and Community Councils.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To apprise the Community Liaison Committee of the progress made on S106 matters between April 2012 and January 2014.

 

(2)       To further inform the Town and Community Councillors on S106 and CIL matters.

 

(3)       To ensure that clerks to the Town and Community Councils had a good understanding of S106 agreements.

 

 

The Chairman of the Committee vacated the room at this stage and the Vice-Chairman took the Chair.

 

 

798     GREENLINKS COMMUNITY TRANSPORT SERVICE (DDS) –

 

The Committee considered a report on the Greenlinks Community Transport Service and the new G1 bus service. 

 

The Greenlinks Community Transport Service currently operated three vehicles: a 13 seater accessible bus, a seven seater VW Sharan donated by NPower in January 2011 and a 9 seater accessible bus funded via a South East Wales regional transport services grant.  Both buses had been used to deliver local bus routes on both fixed and flexible routes and were generally driven by volunteers although the Service also had a paid driver who was used when the volunteers were not available.

 

The Service was generally operated between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday.  It provided a door to door service for passengers who had requested transport by 12 noon the day before travel.  The requests were considered by officers and the schedules for the vehicles were drawn up the day before travel to accommodate the most passenger requests.  Passengers were subsequently called in the afternoon before travel and were advised of their journey travel times.  Not all requests could be accommodated all of the time. The vehicles generally carried 2 or 3 people at any one time.  The two buses were also available for group bookings during the evenings and weekends.

 

Greenlinks currently had approximately 976 members, 62 group members and provided on average 600 - 650 passenger journeys a month.

 

On Thursdays, Greenlinks operated a G4 bus service which provided transport from Coastal towns and villages between Llantwit Major and Rhoose to Culverhouse Cross, Heath Hospital and central Cardiff.  This service was delivered using a Section 22 permit against a guideline timetable and regularly carried 8 or 9 people on either the 9 or 13 seater bus and was delivered as a flexible service and passengers must call in advance, (by 12 noon the day before travel), to request a seat on the bus.

 

The G4 bus service was delivered under the Section 22 permit and was able to accept concessionary (free) bus passes.  Greenlinks is a member of the Concessionary Fare schemes of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff Council and Bridgend Council.  Greenlinks received financial reimbursement for the use of concessionary passes from these Councils on a quarterly basis.

 

The Greenlinks service had previously piloted two fixed route services.  On a Monday, Bus Service G1 ran from Llantwit Major to Bridgend via Wick, St. Brides Major, Ewenny and Corntown.  Bus Service G7 ran on Sundays during the summer months from Cowbridge to Nash Point via Llantwit Major and Colhuw beach.  Both of these services operated on a set timetable and they were open to the general public.   Requesting a seat on the bus in advance was not required on these services.  Disappointingly, these services were poorly used.   The volunteer drivers found the experience demoralising as they were often driving around with an empty bus. 

 

Therefore the Monday Bus Service G1 was terminated in August 2013 and the Summer Sunday Bus Service finished in September 2013.

 

Over the last year the Committee was advised that a number of bus operators, both supported and commercial, had either reduced or cancelled bus services causing difficulties, in particular for residents of the rural Vale to access public transport. These cancellations were in the main due to the reduction of grants available to bus operators (i.e. fuel duty rebate grant) thus making some rural services unviable to operate.  For example, the Village Bus Group of Services catered for most of the rural Vale but the Operator decided to cease running it in July 2013.  The E11 commercial bus service operated from Cowbridge to Talbot Green but again the Operator decided to cease running it in September 2013.  In addition commercial bus services had also been reduced recently in and around Barry.  To part compensate for the loss of the Village Bus Group of Services, on 24th November 2013, the Council's Cabinet approved the introduction of a flexible bus service in the Western Vale for a trial period of up to four months between Llantwit Major, Cowbridge, Bridgend Town Centre and the surrounding rural villages.  This G1 Bus Service started operating on 20th January 2014 between 8:15 am and 6:15 pm and the leaflet advertising the Service was attached to the report at Appendix A.  Copies of the leaflet promoting the Service were also distributed at the Committee meeting.

 

All passengers who wished to use this new G1 Bus Service have to call in advance to request a seat on the bus, it being noted if no one requests a seat on the Bus Service, the bus would not run.  Passengers would be advised of their bus pick up times from agreed locations one working day prior to travel.  Requests must be received by 12 noon at least one working day before transport was required.  For example, if requests were received for the bus on a particular day to pick up from Llantwit Major (to go to Bridgend) and from Llandow (to go to Cowbridge), the bus would run with two people on it and go from Llantwit Major to Llandow to Cowbridge on to Bridgend.  If no one requested the bus on a particular day it would not run.

 

The Council had also recently received £36,900 grant funding from Sewta for the purchase of a fourth vehicle and for the replacement of the car.  Match funding was from Regional Transport Services Grant (RTSG) and from the Council's established transport budgets.  Both vehicles would be delivered in March 2014 and would be used to further develop the services Greenlinks operates.

 

The Members were also asked to note that on 27th January 2014, Cabinet had received a report on future funding mechanisms for the Greenlinks service and for public transport services generally.  A copy of that report was available on the Council's website.

 

The Committee were informed that 31 passenger journeys had taken place on one day of the trial and generally the service was receiving good passenger numbers and that the Minister for Economy, Science and Transport had confirmed that further funding for an innovative transport pilot would be made available to the Authority in the next financial year which was exciting and could offer an opportunity to use the Greenlinks service in other innovative ways.  The Operational Manager advised that if the G1 bus service trial was a success they would look to make the service permanent and to look at whether there were any other opportunities for services in other areas dependent on the number of volunteers and funding available. 

 

The representative from Llanmaes Community Council queried whether the hours of the service could be extended to fit in with school hours in the morning.  The Operational Manager advised that it was a limited service at the moment with only one paid driver and that the majority of the drivers were volunteers.  The operating hours for the service were from 8:15 am to 6:15 pm and the service was currently getting people to Cowbridge for approximately 8.45 am.  The service would not be catering for school runs as this was not the aim of the project.  The aim was to get people to work and to enable and facilitate transport between Llantwit Major via Cowbridge and Bridgend town centre and rural villages of the Vale of Glamorgan.  There was also a private bus service operating which parents could opt to use for those children attending the non-catchment school of Cowbridge. 

 

A Member queried the special holidays as stated on the promotional flyer for the G1 bus service and was informed that the service would not run on Bank Holidays or special holidays, for example the Queen’s Jubilee, as it was currently run predominantly by volunteers in order to keep costs down. 

 

After consideration of the report, the Committee

 

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

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise the Committee of the Greenlinks Community Transport Service, including the new G1 service.

 

 

799     PRESENTATION - CYD CYMRU INITIATIVE -

 

The Committee received a presentation on the Cyd Cymru Initiative given by a representative from the Energy Saving Trust.  The Committee was informed that the Cyd Cymru (Wales Together) Initiative provided an opportunity for individuals to change the way that they buy their energy and to address the issue of rising fuel prices.  Collective energy buying was similar to bulk buying products in order to get a better price and that customers grouped together as a 'collective' before approaching the energy suppliers and the more people that get involved, the more attractive the group is to the energy suppliers.  The initiative had been developed by Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils, had been supported by other local authorities and housing associations across Wales and had received support through the Regional Collaborative Fund.

 

The Committee was further informed that the first tranche of switch overs were very successful with an average saving of approximately £150 per household.  The representative from the Energy Saving Trust advised that registration was available to all households who pay their energy bill directly to an energy company, regardless of household income or property type.  There was no obligation or cost to register, the initiative would just require the individual to provide as much detail about the household energy use as possible. 

 

A second switching phase would be running from 27th January 2014 to 9th March 2014, after this an energy auction would take place with energy companies to establish the best prices for the individuals who had registered.   Following this, a personal offer would be made to those individuals registered and projected savings would be listed based on the information provided by those individuals.  It would then be for the individual to decide whether they would want to accept the new tariff offered and, if so, they would be assisted to make the switch, which would be facilitated by the Energy Saving Trust.  The desired outcomes for the initiative were that customers would save money by reducing their energy bills and there would be a reduction in households in fuel poverty. 

 

The Committee was also informed about a community fund which would be delivered by Cyd Cymru.  For every person that switched energy provider through the Cyd Cymru initiative, £5 would be paid to a community fund.  The fund would then be redistributed across Wales based on the percentage of people that took part in each area.  The Operational Manager for Property Services advised Members that having discussed the issue with the Leader, the most appropriate charity would be determined once the fund was known. 

 

The Committee were also informed about the key dates and deliverables of the Cyd Cymru initiative, and that the initiative was being advertised via various engagement events throughout Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, including the Big Energy Saving Week from 27th to 31st January, with events being held in the Civic Offices during that week.

 

Following the Cyd Cymru presentation, the representative from the Energy Saving Trust afforded Members of the Committee the opportunity to ask questions about the initiative.  The questions and response are outlined below:

 

Question

Response

Would there be another opportunity to sign up to the initiative if individuals miss the March deadline?

There was likely to be another switching process, although this had not been confirmed as yet.  The Council had submitted a bid to the Welsh Government for further funding for another switch and was hoping to hear about the outcome in the near future.

Could the cheapest energy prices be guaranteed via the Cyd Cymru initiative?

The individuals that signed up for the initiative would be given a new tariff based on the collective offer and this would be the best tariff at the time.  Individuals could also switch providers on an annual basis in order to get the best deal.  The Cyd Cymru initiative was aimed at trying to change individuals’ habits with regard to switching energy suppliers.

Where would the £5 contribution to the community fund be paid from?

The £5 contribution would be paid by the energy supplier, not the individual.

People could be confused that it was the Council bidding as a collective rather than individuals.

Although developed by Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils, it would be individuals that registered for the initiative that would form a collective, not the Council.

Can individuals that are in debt with energy suppliers still switch via the Cyd Cymru initiative?

Individuals with less than £500 debt with an energy supplier could still switch, however individuals with more than £500 debt with an energy supplier could not.

What part are Cyd Cymru playing in the initiative?

Cyd Cymru are promoting the initiative via press releases, events and word of mouth such as the presentation given to the Committee today.

How much negotiation had been going on between the Energy Saving Trust and the various energy suppliers?

Energy costs had been increasing, on average, by approximately 10% year on year and the Cyd Cymru initiative was aimed at finding the right tariff for the individual at the time, somewhat like changing car insurance.  It was aimed at trying to embed long term behaviour with regard to changing energy suppliers.

How would energy companies react to this initiative?

It is hoped that energy suppliers would drop their prices in order to come up with the best tariffs.  In the first switchover customers had been given a fixed 12 month tariff, but individuals could switch after this period.

Would the Energy Saving Trust be using smaller energy suppliers, as only the big six energy suppliers offered the Warm Homes discount and would this be a problem for smaller companies?

As part of the initiative individuals would be made aware if they would lose the Warm Homes discount prior to making any decision to switch.

If an individual had switched energy supplier and missed the deadline to switch again, would it be likely, as part of this initiative, that they could end up on a higher tariff after the fixed period?

Most tariffs offered as part of the initiative would either be subject to a cancellation fee or not.  Options could include a lower tariff with a cancellation fee or a higher tariff with no cancellation fee.  It would be made clear to individuals that there was a 14 day “cooling off†period in which they could change their mind without incurring a penalty.

 

Would there be a Cyd Cymru event held in Llantwit Major?

An event had recently been arranged in Llantwit Major.  The representative from the Energy Saving Trust would advise the Community Council accordingly.

 

The Vice-Chairman thanked the representative from the Energy Saving Trust for the presentation and requested that Members and Town and Community Councillors support the initiative and also support the Greenlinks Bus Services.  Following this it was

 

AGREED – T H A T the Cyd Cymru initiative be noted and promoted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To advise the public of the initiative.

 

 

800     FIRE SERVICE STATISTICS FOR THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN FIRE SERVICE AREA –

 

The Fire Service statistics for the Vale of Glamorgan Fire Service were presented for information only and Members were informed that a Fire Officer would be present at the July 2014 meeting to present the annual Fire Service statistics for the area. 

 

Following receipt of the statistical information the Committee

AGREED – T H A T the statistics be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise the Committee on the latest Fire Service statistics for the Vale of Glamorgan service area.

 

 

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