COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 26th April, 2016.
Present: Councillor G. John (Vice-Chairman in the Chair); Councillors Mrs. C.L. Curtis. R.F. Curtis, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, N.P. Hodges, Ms. R.F. Probert, R.L. Traherne, C.J. Williams and M.R. Wilson.
Representatives from Town and Community Councils: Councillors C. Thomas (Cowbridge with Llanblethian Town Council), A. Robertson (Dinas Powys Community Council), H. Baker (Ewenny Community Council), P. King (Llandough Community Council), G. Smith (Llanmaes Community Council), G. Marks (Michaelston le Pitt with Leckwith Community Council), N. Thomas (Penarth Town Council), C. Tutton (Pendoylan Community Council), J. Parry (Peterston Super Ely Community Council), G. Rawson (St. Nicholas and Bonvilston Community Council), M. Garland (Sully and Lavernock Community Council), N. Craddock (Welsh St. Donats Community Council) and C. Hawkins (Wick Community Council),
Also present: Councillor L. Burnett (Vale of Glamorgan Council).
1049 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -
These were received from Councillor C.P.J. Elmore (Chairman); Councillors Ms. B.E. Brooks, R.P. Thomas (Vale of Glamorgan Council) and Councillors W. Bellin (Colwinston Community Council), J. Teague (Llanfair Community Council) and N. Harmer (Wenvoe Community Council),
1050 MINUTES -
AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 26th January, 2016 be accepted as a correct record.
1051 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
The following declarations were received:
Councillor G. John, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, R.F. Curtis, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, N.P. Hodges, P.G. King, C.J. Williams and M.R. Wilson declared an interest in respect of Agenda Item No. 6, Re-Shaping Services Programme in that they were Members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Town/Community Members and were able to speak and vote due to dispensations received from the Standards Committee.
1052 POLICE MATTERS -
Chief Inspector Mark Hobrough of South Wales Police was in attendance and provided the Committee with an update in relation to Police matters around the Vale.
In commencing his report he advised that five positive warrants had recently been issued in respect of small to medium drugs factories in the Barry area. In referring to the night time economy he advised that there had been good police presence for all key areas and with cooperation from licensed premises security potential trouble makers were being moved out from these areas utilising section 35 dispersal powers. With regard to crime figures in Vale of Glamorgan the total number had risen by 2% by comparison to the previous year but this was hugely accounted for by there being a 20% increase in reported violent crime and a 30% increase for sexual offences. Although on the face of it concerning, this was not necessarily a negative thing. This is because victims of domestic violence and sexual crimes were evidently gaining confidence in South Wales Police to report such matters which were no doubt going unreported previously. Also a positive visible presence of officers outside late night economy premises meant that any assaults were being dealt with promptly and effectively therefore giving victim care, apprehending offenders and making the area safer. The Chief Inspector also discussed a number of work streams currently ongoing to instil further confidence and reassurance for victims of domestic abuse.
Reassuringly physical crimes in respect of property had reduced with burglaries down 14% and vehicle offences were down by 1%. General thefts were down by 13%. Although there had been a 2% increase in crime the position he stated, in his view, remained a positive one overall.
In referring to Ward specific issues the Chief Inspector referred to additional initiatives that were taking place and advised Members of the Cardiff City FC 5-aside work that was being undertaken for teenage boys who had previously been known to the police. The Vale had had a team entered and it had been a very successful event and specifically of note was the fact that only one young boy had since returned to crime, at this time. A Neighbourhood Watch group had been established at Highlight Park Barry, and at Castleland three males had been arrested for over 40 incidents of criminal damage including damaging the Mural through some good community work and detection from PCSO’s and neighbourhood police officers. A problematic family with antisocial behaviour issues had been evicted from the Gibbonsdown area and Romilly School had adopted a Junior PCSO scheme which was trying to educate parents in relation to not parking outside schools. At Llantwit Major, a Vale friendship group continued to meet and was highlighting the issue of rogue traders.
Baruc Ward in Barry had been identified for speeding initiatives and Llandough Hospital would officially move patients from Whitchurch to the hospital during the forthcoming week. The Police Force was optimistic that they could deal with any incidents following the move.
Another significant initiative in relation to violent crime was referred to as the TRICK scheme where police adhere to the principles of the scheme which help and support victims of crime. Following a recent survey the force was now ranked sixth out of the 43 Police forces in dealing with victims of crime.
Following a further query from a Member, as to whether he could advise how much of the crime could be prevented by residents actually taking the initiative and ensuring that their properties, cars etc were secured. The Chief Inspector replied that some crime was avoidable and that it was the intention of the division to undertake an awareness raising session over the forthcoming months reminding people of the need to ensure their property was secured safely especially in relation to securing windows in warm months.
In response to a question in respect of PACT meetings he stated that such meetings were advertised in the local papers but that the force would be looking at other methods of providing information to the public which would commence with the Court Ward by introducing a newsletter on a regular basis. A Member raised concern as to the apparent increase in rogue traders undertaking email and telephone scams. Chief Inspector Hobrough, stated that living in the times we were, there had been an increase in such crime and confirmed a high tech unit was based in Bridgend. In referring to organised crime groups he advised that the Association of Police Officers was currently looking into the issue across the county. The Chief Inspector further stated that dealing with organised crime was a priority for South Wales Police and regular monitoring of such activity was undertaken. He however, took the opportunity to reassure Members that there was not a large amount of organised crime groups acting within the Vale although there was a significant amount at international level which needed to the tackled.
The Penarth Town Council representative queried what the proposals were in relation to the Travellers parked on the Cliff Tops in Penarth with the Chief Inspector advising that this was being monitored on a regular basis. At this point a Vale of Glamorgan Committee Member advised that the Council had recently taken court action which had resulted in the Travellers being requested to leave the site at 6.00 p.m. that evening.
In conclusion, the Chairman thanked Chief Inspector Mark Hobrough for an informative report and advised that the Committee looked forward to receiving further updates at future meetings.
1053 CONSULTATIONS WITH REGARD TO PLANNING APPLICATIONS (MD) -
The report had been prepared in response to queries raised by Llanfair Community Council. They had requested that the issue be placed on the agenda for consideration as the Planning Department had advised that they would no longer be sending out paper copies of plans in the future.
Llanfair Community Council had also referred to the lack of broadband connection in some of the rural areas of the Vale of Glamorgan and the difficulty that may be experienced in respect of downloading plans and details from the Council’s website.
Penarth Town Council had also sought clarity with regard to the process for requesting paper copies of plans.
The Head of Regeneration and Planning advised that in order to ensure that Town and Community Councils were focussed on applications which were of most concern to them, as quickly as possible and in order to cut down on unnecessary paperwork, the default method of consultation had been changed to email with an attached link to relevant plans and documents on the Council’s online register. The Vale of Glamorgan Council had advised Community Councils of this change of process in November 2015 and a copy of the relevant letter was attached at Appendix 1 to the report for the Committee’s information.
The report also highlighted that to date since the process had been in operation, i.e. the beginning of January 2016, only two requests had been made directly for plans at the time of writing the report. The Head of Service further advised that the Planning Act 2015 had imposed a requirement on all statutory consultees to provide a substantive response to planning application consultations within 21 days and had indicated that response times were being monitored through a yearly performance report.
The time taken to provide paper copies of every planning application and for the postal service to deliver the copies to Town and Community Councils could be considerably reduced via an email option. Therefore, the alternative method of speeding up the process of notifying Councils of planning applications and allowing them to comment on proposals swiftly had been considered. However, the Head of Service stated that the Department recognised that some applications were larger than others and that opportunities would be made available in such instances for Town and Community Councils to contact the Department and request information in hard copy.
In considering the report the following question and answer session subsequently ensued:
The quality of some of the downloaded plans was not good.
Difficulties in scheduling meetings
A quality check was undertaken when the information was scanned into the system but as the majority of plans were received electronically there was some issue with quality although paper copies could be asked for.
The Cowbridge Town Council representative advised that their Council had recently purchased a large screen and projector in order to display planning applications but that on occasions there was not enough detail in the plans to make a decision.
The Head of Service referred to the fact that under Welsh Government guidance local authorities could not refuse to consider planning applications and while the plans may not be perfect in detail, they have to be accepted. On a number of occasions when local neighbouring Councils had refused applications as a result of poor quality, when taken to appeal all of these appeals had been upheld.
In response the Penarth Town Council representative advised that on occasions when this was an issue for Penarth Town Council the Chairman and Vice had delegated authority to consider applications and refer comments to the Vale.
The Chairman advised that in Llantwit Major, as soon as the planning applications were received, the Clerk forwarded applications via email to all Members of the Council and a Planning Committee meeting was called.
In referring to the consultation period of 21 days the Head of Service stated that the Council had made representations to Welsh Government, at the time of consultation on the Planning Act 2015 but these had not been taken on board.
A Member raised disappointment that Town and Community Councillors although invited were not able to discuss any issues at site visits.
The Head of Service stated that site visits were arranged for Vale of Glamorgan Councillors, not Town and Community Councillors and that the visit was purely to look at the site as all discussion and comments would be made at the Planning Committee. The Vales’ Planning Committee also had the facility for public speaking where members of the public, Town and Community Councils etc. could register to speak on a matter.
The Chairman in conclusion thanked all the Members of the Committee and the Head of Service for the interesting debate that had taken place and advised that should a Member / Town and Community Council have any further queries in relation to this service provision to contact the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer in the first instance, following which it was subsequently
AGREED - T H A T the report be noted.
1054 PROGRESS WITH THE RESHAPING SERVICES PROGRAMME AND COMMUNITY ASSET TRANSFER GUIDANCE -
The Head of Performance and Development commenced his presentation by referring to the Reshaping Services Aims and Objectives as follows:
Aim - To reshape the Council to enable it to meet the future needs of citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan within the context of unprecedented financial challenges.
to identify alternative ways of delivering services which provide better outcomes for citizens and/or more efficient means of delivery
to meet future financial challenges while mitigating the impact of cuts on service users
to develop the Council and its partners to ensure they are able to meet future challenges.
In referring to the Service Specific Projects, Corporate Projects and Programme Activity, which had been reported to Cabinet on 14th December, 2015 these were detailed as follows:
Service Specific Projects
Additional Learning Needs & Inclusion
Social Services Budget Programme
Town and Community Councils
Effectiveness of Spend
Communications and Engagement
With specific reference to the Town and Community Council Project Update the Head of Service advised that expression of interests from Town and Community Councils had been received and meetings were progressing to discuss opportunities in more detail with individual Town and Community Councils who had expressed an interest to do so in various aspects. Asset lists had also been provided to all Town and Community Councils where interest existed with the request that all Town and Community Councils be asked to contact the Council to discuss any aspects that they wished to pursue.
The TCC Project Team had also developed an updated Community Asset Transfer guidance which had been approved by Cabinet on 11th April 2016 and had been based on Welsh Government guidance with input from Glamorgan Voluntary Services, Town and Community Council Project representative and One Voice Wales. The Head of Service stated that the Council had received a number of enquires relating to CATs from a mix of both community organisations and Town and Community Councils. It was intended that the updated CAT guidance attached at Appendix A to the Cabinet report, which was included within the agenda papers for the meeting, be used to manage all future requests to ensure consistency of approach in this area. The three stage process consisted of:
Expression of Interest
Full Business Plan
The guidance provided criteria, templates, sources of information and criteria for applicants and contained details of :
Key principles: community need, supporting Council aims and objectives, transparency in decision making and sustainability in the future operation of assets.
Examples assets that could be considered for transfer: public toilets, playing fields, community centres and bowling greens.
Exempted assets: where these are required for the delivery of essential services, are generating an income stream for the Council or have the potential to generate significant capital receipts.
CAT will be by way of lease or licence, with freehold transfers only considered in exceptional circumstances. (The Tenure offered will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but the Council will endeavour to meet the applicants’ funders’ requirements wherever possible and appropriate).
In referring to the next steps for the Town and Community Council Project the following was presented:
To continue meeting with larger Councils to develop specific proposals for further consideration
that the CAT and clustering guidance that had previously been presented be placed on the Council’s website with links to sources of further information for potential applicants
the ongoing development of the Council’s savings proposals
following the success of the seminar in December 2015 for Town and Community Councils, the development of further seminars to support Town and Community Councils would be held later in 2016 and would focus on lessons learnt to date and any future opportunities.
It was noted that the Reshaping Services Programme was a standard item on the agenda of Community Liaison Committees and the presentation was also tabled at the meeting for information.
The Chairman took the opportunity to advise that a number of requests had been made in relation to assets that he was aware of in the leisure service field and advised that any Council wishing to pursue this avenue should contact the relevant officers as outlined in the guidance. He reiterated that the opportunity was there for Town and Community Councils to consider whether they would wish to enter into a CAT, although the Council would need to ensure that due diligence was observed at all times.
A Committee Member from the Vale of Glamorgan was pleased to note that support would be provided to Town and Community Councils in completing Business Plans and he was aware that there were officers in the Vale that could provide training and assistance should Town and Community Councils wish to take up the opportunities.
In response to a query from a Member that it appeared to them that the Council was transferring its responsibility to Town and Community Councils, the Chairman reiterated his view that there were opportunities for Town and Community Councils. He referred to the opportunities for local organisations and community groups to take on services and said that local organisations were able to access and raise funds which the Vale of Glamorgan could not do. Examples, he stated, could be Bowling Clubs that may want to manage themselves, and services could then be maintained within the community as opposed to the possibility of those services being lost in the future. Other Members referred to the fact that to date a number of Community Centres were run successfully by local volunteers.
It being noted that further updates would be provided to the Committee it was
AGREED - T H A T the presentation and the update be noted.
1055 COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVE ON THE LOCAL SERVICE BOARD -
Councillor G. Smith had been appointed as the Town and Community Councillor Representative on the Local Service Board by the Community Liaison Committee in 2015 and had been requested at that time to provide a report to the Committee when appropriate on the role.
Councillor Smith commenced by advising that the Local Service Board was made up of a number of representatives of the major public sector and community organisations in the Vale of Glamorgan as below:
Vale of Glamorgan Council (Chair)
South Wales Police
South Wales Fire Service
Cardiff & Vale University Health Board
Glamorgan Voluntary Services
Cardiff & Vale College
Natural Resources Wales
Community Rehabilitation Company
Welsh Government (ad-hoc)
Town & Community Council Representative
The operating framework for the Local Service Board had been the delivery of the Community Strategy 2011-2021 and the 2014-18 Delivery Plan. The priority had been set as tackling poverty in relation to preventing poverty, helping people into work and mitigating the impact of poverty.
The Local Service Board operated as a consultative, non-decision making body. The topics that had been reviewed and discussed since June 2015 and Councillor Smith had taken up the position were outlined as follows:
Analysis of Poverty in the Vale (Statistical Group
Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme
Core Indicators Tracking
Creative Rural Communities
Delivering Change – Welsh Ambulance Service
Community Strategy Annual Report & Well Being of Future Generations Consultation Response
Well Being of Future Generations Act – implications for LSB
Vale of Glamorgan Council Corporate Plan & Budget Consultation
Financial Inclusion Strategy
Transition to Public Service Board
Local Health & Wellbeing Services
Vale of Glamorgan Council Corporate Plan.
As a result of recent legislation the Local Service Board would be overtaken by the establishment of a Public Service Board whose membership would consist of four statutory representatives, being Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff and Vale UHB, Natural Resources Wales and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Other invited groups would be all other participants on the Local Service Board including a representative from Town and Community Councils nominated by the Community Liaison Committee. This would all be guided by the Wellbeing and Future Generations Wales Act.
Councillor Smith advised that he had learnt a lot from his representation on the Board although he suggested that any position be rotated within the Community Liaison Committee in order that other Members could gain experience. He also considered that the appointment of a Deputy / substitute should be agreed should the appointed representative be unable to attend a meeting. It being noted that the first meeting of the LSB’s successor, the Public Service Board, was to take place on 19th May and in recognising Councillor Smith’s earlier comments, the Chairman asked the Committee if they wished to appoint a representative for the forthcoming meeting.
With no appointment being considered it was subsequently
(1) T H A T a report be presented to the July meeting in order for Members to consider the nomination of a representative on the Public Service Board.
(2) T H A T the report outlined in recommendation 1 above also contain consideration of the ability to nominate a deputy/substitute on the Public Service Board should the appointed representative be unable to attend.
(3) T H A T Councillor Smith be thanked for his presentation and for representing the Committee on the Local Service Board.
1056 INTEGRATED WEED / PEST CONTROL (REF) -
Following a request for consideration by Councillor R.F. Curtis as outlined below:
“Many scientists and ecologists are coming to the view that the reliance upon chemical methods of weed control is unsustainable and recognises the growing evidence that points towards the increased use of herbicide and pesticide is damaging to the environment.
Traditionally, local government have chosen herbicides and pesticides to control weeds and insects, but ever since the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring”, people have become increasingly aware of the potential damaging effect of introducing chemicals into ecosystems.
More recently, there have been health concerns about the most commonly used weed killer in the world, glyphosate, when the well-respected International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that glyphosate probably could cause cancer in humans.
I am aware that affordability will be an issue particularly as the Council struggles to meet budgetary savings, but equally the Council has a legal and moral duty to reduce impacts which may cause adverse effects to both human health and the environment.
Please refer for evidence to APSE briefing 15-33 “The need for integrated weed control”.
The Scrutiny Committee Economy and Environment had considered the request and had recommended that the presentation and report be referred to the Community Liaison Committee and the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) to apprise Members.
In presenting the report to the Committee the Council’s Parks and Open Space Officer, Adam Sargent also provided the Committee with a presentation of the work currently being undertaken in the Department. The officer stated that the Vale of Glamorgan Council managed its use of pesticides by following the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products and the Code reflected a number of laws and set out best practice as outlined below:
Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985
Control of Pesticides Regs. 1986 (as amended)
Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002
Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regs. (1992)
This Code reflects the following laws and sets out “Best Practice”:
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
The Code also provided clear guidance on training and certification, planning and preparation, working with pesticides, disposing of pesticide waste and record keeping. The Vale had current and future pesticide objectives which were outlined as below:
To stop the use of pesticides - wherever possible
To minimise / reduce use of pesticides
To use alternative methods - wherever possible
To continually assess methods.
Members were informed that the Council did not herbicide spray any lawned open spaces neither did they herbicide spray sport pitch markings with the exception of fine turf and cricket outfields, and did not spray for pests (green fly / black fly).
The Department was currently minimising or reducing the use of pesticides with the aim of utilising an integrated pest management system through legal controls, biological controls, cultural controls, mechanical and physical controls and chemical controls. Staff were preparing wild flower flower areas and herbaceous borders. With regard to the use of glyphosate, the Parks Department usage per annum for pesticides was around 150 litres approximately. Of this, approximately 80 litres were glyphosate based. Reference was made to the fact that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was approximately 33,500 hectares in size of which approximately 12% was farmed as arable land, which would equate to 4,020 hectares. Using the same dose rate of three applications per year, for each litre used by Parks, 377 litres were used elsewhere and this did not take into account private use of around 55,000 households.
Further work to minimise and reduce the use of pesticides was undertaken in the Highways Department with the use of the machinery Weed-IT, with a typical chemical reduction of 70% being made. Alternative methods were used wherever possible, for example mulch shrub beds, improved field husbandry, use of the mechanical sweeper, mechanical methods and independent fine turf analysis. In order to encourage best practice the Department monitored changes in legislation, attended events such as the Green Project, shared good practice and learning with other Welsh Local Authorities, ensured all staff were trained and competent, discussed with suppliers, read trade magazines and worked with the Amenity Forum.
The Amenity Forum had been formed as an independent body to bring together professional organisations with an involvement in the amenity horticultural sector. It was an industry led project to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides and the Forum was fully recognised as the voice for the sector on matters relating to weeds, pests and disease control in the amenity sector. 45 organisations were direct members representing manufacturers, distributors, contractors, Local Authorities and a range of other bodies. It promoted and encouraged proper and responsible use of pesticides and integrated methods for the control of pests, weeds and diseases.
The Council also used the Green Dragon Standard Ethos which was based on the ISO14001 European Environmental Standard. The Green Flag standard was also used.
In conclusion, the Parks Officer advised that both the Parks and Grounds Maintenance and Highways Sections believed the current approach to weed and pest control was effective, sustainable and caused minimum interference to the immediate eco systems. There was however, an acknowledgement that cost was a factor in the present working practices but there were however no plans to change the current operating procedures, but both Departments reassured the Committee that they would continually monitor changes in legislation, biological control advances and would modify methods accordingly. The Parks and Highways Sections were very aware of sustainability and climate change issues in relation to the use of pesticides. The current corporate priority was to achieve a quality of the environment through the promotion and use of sustainable practices and by making the best use of current and future resources.
In conclusion the Parks and Open Space Officer advised that the Council worked together with a number of organisations including communities and schools and would always continue to look at best practice. In response to a query he advised that the service also worked closely with Penarth Greening, other community groups and on allotment sites.
Councillor Rob Curtis, a Member of the Committee advised that he had requested the report be considered as it was very important issue that need to be discussed. The organisation APSE ( Association for Public Service Excellence) had recommended that all Councils should take an integrated role in weed and pesticide control. He had been pleased with the report that had been produced for Committee and the presentation by the Parks and Open Space Officer which had advised the Scrutiny Committee and reassured it that the Council was doing all that it possibly could to limit the use of pesticides. Councillor Curtis had been considerably concerned about the effect on wildlife through the use of chemicals and commended the number of methods that could be used in order to try to reduce the use of chemicals.
Following a further query as to what work was being undertaken e.g. with Welsh bee keepers, the Parks and Open Space Officer stated that the Council was aiming to work to ‘The National Pollinator Strategy’ and in particular had established bee-friendly herbaceous boarders in and around the Vale. Other management initiatives had also been introduced for example, the Council would only be cutting non-strategic verges after 17th July 2016. The Council was also aiming to work with indigenous mixes and colours where possible and that around the trees a column of approximately 30cms was now being left in order to encourage wildlife.
Following the conclusion of the presentation it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the Parks and Open Spaces Officer be thanked for a most informative presentation and for the ongoing work being undertaken within his service area.
(2) T H A T Councillor R.F. Curtis be thanked for requesting the matter be considered by the Scrutiny Committee and subsequently by the Community Liaison Committee.
1057 FIRE SERVICE STATISTICS FOR THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN FIRE SERVICE AREA -
The Fire Service statistics for the Vale of Glamorgan from April 2015 to December 2015 were presented to the Committee and detailed the figures for the whole of South Wales, for the Vale of Glamorgan area and individually for the sector areas of Cowbridge, Llantwit Major, Barry and Penarth.
AGREED - T H A T the Fire Service statistics be noted.