COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 8th July, 2014.
Present: Councillor C.P.J. Elmore (Chairman); Councillor K.J. Geary (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, N.P. Hodges, Ms. R. Probert, R.P. Thomas, R.L. Traherne and C.J. Williams.
Representatives of the Town and Community Councils:
Councillors S.C. Egan (Barry Town Council); Mrs. S. Hodges (Barry Town Council); M. Marsh (Llantwit Major Town Council); M. Cuddy (Penarth Town Council); A.R. Robertson (Dinas Powys Community Council); P. King (Llandough Community Council); G.S. Smith (Llanmaes Community Council); J. Marks (Michaelston le Pit with Leckwith Community Council); C. Tutton (Pendoylan Community Council); Mrs. G. Rawson (St. Nicholas and Bonvilston Community Council), M. Garland (Sully and Lavernock Community Council) and C. Frost (Wenvoe Community Council).
181 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –
These were received from Councillors Ms. B.E. Brooks, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, R.F. Curtis, H.J.W. James and M.R. Wilson (Vale of Glamorgan Council); Councillors J. Harris (Cowbridge with Llanblethian Town Council); M. Hurst (Llandow Community Council), Mrs. J. Parry (Peterston-Super-Ely Community Council), Mrs. A. Barnaby (St. Athan Community Council) and Mrs. A. Thomas (Welsh St. Donats Community Council).
182 MINUTES –
AGREED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 19th March, 2014 be accepted as a correct record.
183 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
No declarations were received.
184 POLICE MATTERS –
Inspector Mark O’Shea attended the Committee to provide an update on Police matters over recent months and commenced by advising that thirteen new Police officers had recently been recruited which included two transferees from other forces. In the past year the force had 1,873 reported crimes which was below the target for the year of 2,388. There had been 177 reported violent crimes which again was below the target of 183. There had been 87 house burglaries which South Wales Police would be attempting to reduce and 29 reports of stolen vehicles which was below the target of 31. The Committee was informed that the Vale of Glamorgan was one of the best performing areas in South Wales.
Inspector O’Shea further advised the Committee of the work that had been carried out by the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit which included the Pulse street based team which held clinics on a monthly basis and had made a DVD highlighting the consequences of anti-social behaviour. A summer programme which had included beach safety had also highlighted the dangers of such activities as 'tomb stoning'. Awareness training had been carried out with regard to hate crime, disability and bike marking which had been set as a priority in order to reduce bicycle theft in the Vale of Glamorgan area.
A new officer had been assigned to contact hard to reach groups in the Vale of Glamorgan area with regard to providing education about hate crimes a number of posters had been displayed across the Vale of Glamorgan and events had taken place in Barry, and Penarth. The Reassurance Engagement Vehicle (TREV) had been used for community activities across the Vale of Glamorgan and a Community Engagement Officer had been employed to engage with rural communities. A Police Officer to tackle anti-social behaviour issues had carried out anti-social awareness training.
The Committee was informed that the majority of violent crime occurred in private homes and during the period 12th April and 11th May 2014, 47 violent crimes had been reported. The Police were working collaboratively with the Licensing Authority carrying out enforcement work in an operation entitled Operation Raven across the Vale of Glamorgan, which tackled anti-social behaviour and crime.
Inspector O’Shea informed the Committee that South Wales Police were the best performing force in the UK in relation to victim satisfaction. The target for detection rates was 63.5% and South Wales Police were currently performing at approximately 50% and the force was targeting persistent offenders when they were released from prison. The Committee was informed about various other ongoing operations which targeted violent crime, an investigation into a care home and various drug operations across the area.
There were several drug operations currently ongoing across the area, targeting heroin and MKat dealers. It was confirmed that the majority of dealing now took place from home addresses, rather than on the street, which was being targeted by the drugs team and operations. The officer further confirmed that there had been an increase in cocaine and crack cocaine dealing in Barry and in poly drug dealing. Successful enforcement action had led to the fragmentation of drug dealing groups. Due to the ease of availability of production equipment there had been an increase in smaller cannabis operations which were run by local criminals dealing to friends and associates and these were being targeted by the drugs team.
The officer apprised the Committee of the number of reported burglaries in Barry with 9 in the Castleland and Dyfan areas since April 2014. Multiple offences had occurred in Barry in areas such as Holton Road and Merthyr Dyfan Road. 30% of dwelling offences occurred at unsecured properties with an increase occurring over the summer period which was linked to the hot weather. There was a robust burglary plan in place, which involved forensic operations and a data base which linked with CCTV systems and was used for crime reporting with the mapped CCTV systems able to pinpoint the location of these crimes. At a local level the Police analyser had been linked with the national footwear database aimed at detecting more crimes, particularly burglaries.
With reference to public engagement work, he informed the Committee that PCSOs had taken part in a football match in July 2014 against Communities First at the Colcot Sports Centre in Barry and a marked bicycles initiative had taken place in Palmerston Primary School at which bikes had been issued with security stickers and registered on the National Bike Register. In addition to this a Cadoxton Youth Project had taken place on 3rd July 2014 and in Penarth a drug dealer had been apprehended in Victoria playing fields. A speed scoping exercise had taken place at Llangan Primary, officers had taken part in a carnival fun day and the Royal visit in Llantwit Major and individuals had been arrested for shoplifting and burglary in both Llantwit Major and St. Athan.
Following the update a Member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council asked whether the Police were able to identify the main suppliers / wholesalers of cannabis coming into the area. Inspector O’Shea informed the Committee that there were large scale operations on a national level and sometimes these operations involved international organised crime, which would be on an industrial scale, and that any information received by South Wales Police would be fed in at a local level and to national crime agencies. Furthermore, there had been an increase in local level activity in relation to the distribution of drugs to small circles of individuals which was being focused on by the drugs teams and operations.
Following the update it was
AGREED – T H A T Inspector O’Shea be thanked for attending and providing Members with an informative update.
185 REQUEST FOR CONSIDERATION FROM BARRY TOWN COUNCIL – THE WILLIAMS COMMISSION REPORT (MD) –
Barry Town Council had requested in a letter dated 14th April 2014, a copy of which was attached to the report at Appendix A, that the item be placed on an agenda for the next meeting of the Community Liaison Committee.
The Williams Commission on Public Governance and Delivery was set up by Welsh Government and reported in January 2014, making a number of recommendations. Among those recommendations was that Town and Community Councils should be merged to form larger authorities (as was also recommended for Unitary Councils). Since January 2014 the report has been the subject of discussion within political parties in Wales, but Welsh Government had not formally responded to it. It was understood that Welsh Government would shortly be setting out its response and issuing a White Paper on changes to be made to local government. Until this response was published the report had no formal status and remained simply the views of the Commission
The Member for Barry Town Council expressed concern with regard to statements that had been made by Welsh Government in response to the Williams Commission report before their official response, and to the fact that Town and Community Councils had not been consulted on the report. The Member stated that it was clear that the report specified that 22 local authorities were unacceptable and that there would be definite implications for Town and Community Councils. This would also therefore have implications for the Charter between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Town and Community Councils within the Vale. The Member queried what would happen with the Charter and expressed concern about the future of joint working and the impact on the provision of direct services to the public. The Head of Improvement and Development agreed that the Williams Commission report would have significant implications if its recommendations were made statutory; however Welsh Government’s intentions were not yet known and therefore the Vale of Glamorgan Council was unable to formulate a programme of actions at present.
Another Member from Barry Town Council further stated that they felt there had been a missed opportunity in that Town and Community Councils across the Vale had not been asked for their input into the Williams Commission report and that their views should have been requested. This was duly accepted by both Vale Council members and Town and Community Council members. The report had also highlighted that more responsibilities should be given to Town and Community Councils with some Members commenting that some responsibilities may be difficult for smaller community councils to take on. There was also the view that Town and Community Council’s and the Vale Council could be 'swallowed up' by a merger with Cardiff.
The Member from Penarth Town Council informed the Committee that following on from meetings with One Voice Wales and the Minister, the views of Town and Community Councils were being taken more seriously with One Voice Wales’ Policy focusing on collaboration between Town and Community Councils as they disliked the idea of mergers.
A Member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council stated that the Vale Council should work in collaboration with Town and Community Councils to formulate a joint response / approach to the Williams report. The issue of Town and Community Councils not being able to vote at Community Liaison Committee meetings was also raised, with the Chairman informing Committee that any agreement or dissent via a show of hands was always conveyed to Cabinet in the minutes of the meetings as appropriate.
A Member asked whether the Vale of Glamorgan Council was carrying out any work on a voluntary merger in light of the Williams report and stated that they had hoped this was not the case particularly as there were forthcoming Welsh Assembly elections and that unitary authorities should not be bound with regard to issues surrounding mergers. The Chairman advised that at a recent Council meeting the Council had clearly indicated that it did not wish to merge with Cardiff. He could also confirm that the Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council had been involved in neither public nor private discussions with Cardiff in relation to a voluntary merger and that this would not happen and furthermore, that the Leader was the first Leader in Wales to oppose the Williams Commission report for many reasons and that any discussions would not be happening with Cardiff County Council or with Welsh Government.
At the conclusion of the debate it was suggested that Cabinet be requested to undertake further dialogue with Town and Community Councils in respect of the matter as they had felt they had not been included in any debate on the issue.
Following consideration of the report, it was subsequently unanimously,
(1) T H A T the report of the Williams Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery as it related to Town and Community Councils and Barry Town Council’s response to the Report be noted.
(2) T H A T the above views of the Community Liaison Committee be forwarded for their consideration.
(3) T H A T Cabinet be requested to approach Town and Community Councils in the Vale of Glamorgan to seek their views on the implications of the Williams Commission Report with a view to supporting a joint approach.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) In view of the contents contained therein.
(2&3) In order that an exchange of views can be maintained.
186 REQUEST FOR CONSIDERATION FROM PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL – THE LOCALISM ACT (HDS) –
The Committee received a report with regard to the provisions of the Localism Act as it relates to Wales.
The Localism Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 13th December, 2010. Attached to the report at Appendix A was a paper prepared in January 2011 by the Members' Research Service of the National Assembly for Wales. The purpose of the paper was to provide a guide to Welsh-related provisions in the Bill.
The Act received Royal Assent on 15th November 2011. Many of the provisions of the Act do not apply in Wales. However, as set out in the Appendix to the report, the Act gives the National Assembly for Wales legislative competence in respect of three matters:
Local referendums on proposed Council Tax levels
Planning applications and enforcement
The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and Housing Revenue Account Subsidy (HRAS) system in Wales.
The Act also contained two Wales-only provisions conferring a power for Welsh Ministers to decide the timing of Council Tax revaluations in Wales and the power for Assembly Ministers to give directions to Welsh Local Authorities who fail to produce new budget calculations after having their Council Tax capped.
A number of provisions applied to both Wales and England, these include:
Ensuring that Councillors are not prevented from taking part in decisions where they have expressed a view on related issues ("predetermination")
Requiring Local Authorities to publish Senior Pay Policy Statements
Repealing duties for Local Authorities to promote understanding of local democracy and make schemes for handling petitions
Requiring ballots on all proposals for Business Rate Supplements and enabling Local Authorities to give discretionary business rate discounts
Changing the way local housing authorities may discharge the main homelessness duty under the Housing Act 1986.
At the time of the Bill, certain provisions required a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM) in the National Assembly. These included the Local Authority pay accountability provisions, the repeals relating to local democracy and petitions and the homelessness provisions. Further explanatory text regarding the clauses which were relevant to Wales were set out in sections 2-4 of the Appendix to the report.
The Member from Penarth Town Council stated that in England the Localism Act impacted on rights such as future procedures for planning and also Pre-Scrutiny and Scrutiny Committees in relation to planning functions, this report highlighted certain aspects and information contained within the Localism Act with regard to pre-determination, planning and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) all of which he felt were very important. He thanked officers for the report and for highlighting the aspects that related to Wales.
During the discussion the Chairman took the opportunity to thank the Town and Community Councils who had made requests for consideration for matters to be debated by the Committee stating that the Community Liaison Committee provided a forum for Town and Community Councils to debate such issues and that they had several issues in line for future meetings. A Member queried whether the phrase 'hand back' contained within 3.3 of Appendix A was the same as 'claw back' in respect of the Housing Revenue account with the Democratic Services Officer advising that they would contact the appropriate officer and respond to the member accordingly.
A Member of the Vale of Glamorgan Council asked whether there was an update on third party speaking rights at Planning Committee with the Chairman responding that a meeting of the Constitution Working Party was to be held on 17th July 2014 and that the Constitution was being reviewed in depth. He was not able to provide any further information on the issue but hoped that he would be able to do so in time for the next meeting of the Committee in October but that he would also raise the issue with the responsible Cabinet Member.
Following consideration of the report by the Committee, it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the contents of the report on the Localism Act be noted.
(2) T H A T Cabinet be requested to address the issue of third party speaking rights at Planning Committee as a matter of urgency.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To apprise the Committee of the provisions of the Localism Act with regard to Wales and to Town and Community Councils.
(2) To progress further discussion on the issue of third party speaking rights.
187 ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON COMMUNITY AND TOWN COUNCILS (HDS) –
The Committee received a report with regard to the draft Statutory Guidance issued for consultation purposes by the Welsh Government in regard to Access to Information in relation to Town and Community Councils.
Attached for the Committee's information and consideration was a copy of the draft Statutory Guidance issued by the Welsh Government. The document had been issued directly to Town and Community Councils on 12th May, 2014, with a deadline for responses of 4th August. Individual Town and Community Councils had the opportunity to submit any comments directly to the Welsh Government, however, the document was also submitted to the Community Liaison Committee in order that any 'generic' areas could be discussed.
Sections 55 - 58 of the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 required Town and Community Councils to have websites, to publish notices and papers electronically and to publish their Register of Members' Interests. In circulating the draft Statutory Guidance, the Welsh Government had invited any comments or questions, together with views as to whether the guidance is 'clear and useful'.
In anticipation of these legislative provisions, in March 2013 the Welsh Government provided grants to Principal Councils in Wales, partly to provide assistance of £500 per Council to Town and Community Councils for website development. The Vale of Glamorgan Council subsequently wrote to all Town and Community Councils in the Vale of Glamorgan formally offering them each the £500 grant. The letter made it clear that, under the conditions of the grant specified by the Welsh Government, the funding could only be spent on development of a website. Councils that already had a website at that time were not excluded from taking advantage of the grant provision. The letter clearly stated that the funding was tied into the fact that the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Bill, which was under consideration at the time, contained provisions which would require each Town and Community Council to publish certain information on a website. That Bill had now been enacted and the draft Statutory Guidance was directly linked to progressing this matter.
In the Vale of Glamorgan 23 of the 26 Town and Community Councils had accepted the offer of the £500 grant. The provisions contained in the Act apply irrespective of whether the grant offer was accepted. The intention of the Welsh Government was that the requirements of the Act as set out in Sections 55-58 would come into effect from May 2015. The specific requirements which Councils will be required to meet were referred to in the draft Statutory Guidance. The guidance also recognised the fact that the majority of Town and Community Councils in Wales already had a presence online and published information electronically.
The Committee was informed that Members Registers of Interests were currently listed on the Vale of Glamorgan website and that Town and Community Councils could look at these with a view to publishing their own Members Registers of Interests on their websites in a similar way.
Furthermore the Committee was informed that the requirements of the Act would come into effect from May 2015 however it was uncertain how they were going to be policed and enforced. The Committee was informed that the Statutory Guidance was an instrument for the delivery of the relevant sections of the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013. A Member queried the requirement of publishing agendas and was informed that Legislation required Principal Councils to publish agendas and relevant paperwork electronically. This was now being extended to Town and Community Council from May 2015. The Member further queried whether this would be the same for audited accounts for Town and Community Councils and was advised that a response would be obtained from the relevant officer and the Member informed accordingly.
With the permission of the Chairman the Democratic Services Officer informed the Committee of an upcoming meeting for Town and Community Council Clerks to be held on 16th October 2014 and Code of Conduct training for Town and Community Council Clerks and Members via One Voice Wales on 1st and 9th October 2014. Mr Paul Egan would be facilitating the training with both the Council’s Monitoring Officer and the Chairman of the Standards Committee in attendance.
The Clerks meeting had been arranged in response to an action in the Charter action plan and would be tailored to their requests.
There had also been several requests for consideration from Town and Community Councils to be debated by the Community Liaison Committee which included LED street lighting, grass verges and Emergency Planning and these would be addressed at forthcoming meetings.
The next meetings of the Community Liaison Committee were also confirmed as follows
21st October 2014 at 6.00pm
27th January 2015 at 6.00pm
18th March 2015 at 6.00pm. .
Following consideration of the report, the Committee
AGREED – T H A T the draft Statutory Guidance be noted with regard to Access to Information on Town and Community Councils.
Reason for recommendation
To apprise the Committee and to facilitate the submission of any views the Committee might have to the Cabinet / Welsh Government.
188 SOUTH WALES FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE – COMMUNITY SAFETY PARTNERSHIP REPORT – PRESENTATION –
The Committee received a presentation from Fire Service Officer Garry Davies with regard to the Community Safety Partnership report for the year April 2013 to March 2014. Committee was informed that he was the regional contact for the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend areas and was informed that he was the Commander for Community Safety Partnership in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Fire officer Davies advised that the report was slightly different to the one that had been provided in previous years in that it had been tailored to the Vale of Glamorgan area and pertained only to incidents that had been attended by the four Vale of Glamorgan Fire and Rescue Service stations. He confirmed that in the future quarterly statistics and an annual report would be provided unless the Committee required them more often.
There had been an increase in total fires in November and December 2013 and an increase of 7 Accidental Dwelling fires from 2012/13. Mr. Davies informed the Committee that there had been an focus on activities such as alcohol consumption with regards to public safety aimed at reducing accidental dwelling fires. There had been no deaths in the Vale of Glamorgan due to Accidental Dwelling fires in 2013/14 and Mr. Davies confirmed that South Wales Fire and Rescue Service had been working with Safer Vale. There had been an increase from 7 to 20 of the number of injuries in Accidental Dwelling fires from 2012/13 and the Committee was advised that these figures included precautionary admittance to hospital as the service was trying to keep a better track on these types of incidents in order to provide a more rounded picture of individuals’ lifestyles with a view to reducing these types of incidents.
Mr. Davies confirmed that there had been a reduction in deliberate secondary fires (refuse) and that the service was looking at the way people put their rubbish out. There had been an increase in the number of deliberate secondary fires (grass) and Mr. Davies advised that this was largely due to the dry spell in the summer of 2013 and that 82% of fires across South Wales were deliberate. He confirmed that anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and fire incidents were now being looked at as one issue and that all deliberate acts of fire would now be classed as a crime as agreed by the Police Commissioner. The figure in the Vale of Glamorgan was not as high as other areas and attributed this to the work carried out in partnership with Safer Vale and that the grass fires were largely due to the hot weather.
Mr. Davies informed the Committee that the Road Traffic Accident education in the Vale of Glamorgan had been successful and that the MAST data analysis program had provided more in-depth data. The service was also educating people from different locations as many Road Traffic Accidents involved visitors to the area, for example from Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly areas, with the focus being on safer driving. He further confirmed that they had made links with the West Midlands Fire Service as incidents had also involved visitors from that area.
In summarising, Mr. Davies confirmed that there had been 6 fire deaths in the South Wales area, however none were in the Vale of Glamorgan. The Fire Service had carried out 1,587 home fire safety checks which involved providing individuals with safe ash trays, extension cables and bedding packs and educating those most at risk. The Fire Service was also heavily involved in domestic abuse and hate crime initiatives as well as a scheme to combat arson. 178 young people had passed through the Young Firefighters Scheme over the last 12 months. The Fire Service was involved with schools across the area and made Headteachers aware of security issues throughout the summer period. He informed the Committee that there would be a Vale open day on 26th July 2014 which included the Safer Vale team. The Chairman confirmed that all Town and Community Councils had received invitations for the open day and thanked Mr. Davies for his informative presentation. There being no further questions and following consideration of the presentation, the Committee
AGREED – T H A T the Fire Officer be thanked for an in depth informative annual report and that the contents of the presentation on the Community Safety Partnership report for 2013/14 be noted.
Reason for recommendation
To ensure that the Committee was apprised of the work carried out by the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service across the Vale of Glamorgan and South Wales.