THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
Minutes of a meeting held on 7th December, 2011.
Present: Councillor J. Clifford (Mayor); Councillors Ms. M.E. Alexander, Mrs. S.M. Bagstaff, R.J. Bertin, Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, J.C. Bird, Mrs. J.E. Charles, P. Church, G.A. Cox, R.F. Curtis, Mrs. P. Drake, S.C. Egan, Ms. V.L. Ellis, C.P.J. Elmore, A.M. Ernest, J.F. Fraser, E. Hacker, A.D. Hampton, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, K. Hatton N.P. Hodges, H.J.W. James, T.H. Jarvie, G. John, F.T. Johnson, Mrs. M. Kelly Owen, G.C. Kemp, Mrs. K.A. Kemp, Mrs. A.J. Moore, N. Moore, C.L. Osborne, Mrs. M. Randall, Mrs. S.I. Sharpe, J.W. Thomas, R.P. Thomas, R.L. Traherne, Mrs. D.M. Turner, S.T. Wiliam, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson, A.C. Williams, C.J. Williams, Miss. S.J.C. Williams, M.R. Wilson and Ms. M. Wright.
677 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -
These were received from Councillors Ms. B.E. Brooks, Mrs. A.J. Preston and E.T. Williams.
678 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
Councillor S.C. Egan declared an interest in Agenda Item 5 on the basis of a family member involvement and left the meeting during consideration of this item.
679 MINUTES -
The minutes of the meeting held on 28th September, 2011 and the Extraordinary Meeting held on 19th October, 2011 were approved as a correct record.
680 PETITION -
The following petition was submitted and passed to the relevant Director:
(i) Petition from residents requesting the installation of a zebra crossing or pedestrian controlled crossing just past the junction of Plassey Street and Glebe Street, Penarth and the enforcement of the existing parking regulations (submitted by Councillor P. Church).
681 NEW BYELAWS: ACUPUNCTURE, TATTOOING, SEMI-PERMANENT SKIN-COLOURING, COSMETIC PIERCING AND ELECTROLYSIS (REF) -
The Licensing Committee on 4th October, 2011 had considered a report on the above. Local Authorities were responsible for the regulation and control of businesses carrying out the procedures of acupuncture, tattooing, semi-permanent skin colouring, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis. Existing byelaws which applied to tattooing, acupuncture, ear piercing and electrolysis received the Common Seal of the Council in January 1985. The Local Government Act 2003 amended the existing regulations to include cosmetic piercing and semi-permanent skin colouring in the list of activities which local authorities had powers to regulate. In recent years, the practice of skin piercing and semi-permanent skin colouring had become increasingly common. In recognition of the medical risks attached to such procedures, the Welsh Government had developed new model byelaws, which were required to be approved by the Council.
(1) T H A T the Council adopt the provisions of Part VIII of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 across the Vale of Glamorgan and that the provisions come into force on 1st February 2012.
(2) T H A T the new consolidated byelaws for the control of acupuncture, tattooing, semi-permanent skin colouring, cosmetic piercing and electrolysis as contained at Appendix A to the report be formally adopted.
(3) T H A T all current byelaws relating to acupuncture, tattooing, ear piercing and electrolysis be revoked.
(4) T H A T the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services be authorised to carry out the necessary procedure and apply to the appropriate Minister at the Welsh Government for approval and confirmation of the new byelaws.
(5) T H A T the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services be authorised to seal and date the byelaws on behalf of the Council.
682 CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST OCTOBER, 2011 (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1455, 5th October, 2011, be approved.
683 INNOVATION QUARTER: HYDRAULIC PUMPHOUSE, BARRY WATERFRONT (REF) -
During discussion of this item, Councillor Egan moved an amendment to the effect that the budget surplus be used to consult with the people of Barry regarding the future use of the Pumphouse and also be used in respect of assisting organisations in preparing / submitting funding applications regarding the future use of the building.
At that point, and upon request by the required number of Members, a recorded vote took place in respect of Councillor Egan's proposal, with voting taking place as follows and it being
RESOLVED - T H A T the Motion be lost.
For the Motion
Against the Motion
Ms. M.E. Alexander
Mrs. S.M. Bagstaff
Mrs. M.E.J. Birch
Mrs. P. Drake
Mrs. V.M. Hartrey
Mrs. A.J. Moore
Mrs. M Randall
Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson
Mrs. J.E. Charles
Ms. V.L. Ellis
Mrs. M. Kelly Owen
Mrs. K.A. Kemp
Mrs. S.I. Sharpe
Mrs. D.M. Turner
Miss. S.J.C. Williams
Ms. M. Wright
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1495, 2nd November, 2011, be approved.
684 REVIEW OF THE CORPORATE PLAN 2010 - 14 (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1507, 16th November, 2011, be approved.
685 TREASURY MANAGEMENT (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1508, 16th November, 2011, be approved.
686 INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2012/13 (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1510, 16th November, 2011, be approved.
687 FINAL HOUSING BUSINESS PLAN 2011 (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1515, 16th November, 2011, be approved.
688 21ST CENTURY SCHOOLS: REVISED STRATEGIC OUTLINE PROGRAMME -
RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C1523, 16th November, 2011), as set out in Article 13.09(a) (ii) of the Council's Constitution, to enable a revised Strategic Outline Programme, Band A programme of projects, to be submitted to the Welsh Government by 18th November, 2011 be noted.
689 QUESTIONS PURSUANT TO COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE 8.2 -
Due notice had been given of the following questions:
(i) Question from Councillor N.P. Hodges
1. Could you tell me the minute number and date that Cabinet decided on the name Ysgol Nant Talwg?
2. Could you tell me the minute number and date that Cabinet decided on the policy that the names of politicians were not suitable for the naming of schools in the Vale of Glamorgan?
Reply from the Leader
1. Cabinet did not determine the name. In fact, the name Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg was included in the Instrument of Government for the new Welsh Medium Primary School which was received from the Federation of Governors and which was approved by Cabinet on 29th November 2011, Minute Ref: C1542.
2. The Cabinet has no official policy on the naming of schools and, therefore, there is no minute number.
Councillor Hodges asked a supplementary question which, amongst other topics, included a reference to the benefits of federation.
In response, the Leader asked Councillor Hodges to clarify his question. The Leader referred Councillor Hodges to his comprehensive reply to Councillor William’s question on 6th July, 2011. In response to a reference by Councillor Hodges to the use of Gwynfor Evans' name, the Leader indicated he had nothing against commemorating politicians, citing the bust of Gwynfor Evans in the Central Library. He reiterated the fact that it was the view of Cabinet that it was not appropriate to name schools after politicians.
(ii) Question from Councillor R.J. Bertin
Who is responsible, how did the idea come about and how much did it cost to install those new bollards at Thompson Street, Barry?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration
I think the first point to make is that the works to Thompson Street Public Realm have been funded by the Barry Regeneration Area Partnership Board and the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis. This is a Welsh Government project and not a Council project. As such, it has been necessary to take account of two Welsh Government Documents; Creating Sustainable Places and Technical Advice Note or TAN 12. These documents make it very clear that any significant improvements to the Public Realm must include an element of Public Art. As a result it would not have been possible to effect the improvements to the Public Realm in Thompson Street without Public Art.
The second point to note is that I have heard people say that the money should have been used for other things. As you should know, as a Councillor of some experience, it is simply not possible to move the money allocated for Public Art for Thompson Street into, for example, the Council’s Social Services Budget or the School’s Budget. The money belongs to the Welsh Government’s Barry Regeneration Area and it is allocated by the Minister for specific regeneration projects following recommendation by the Board. I hope that you will have made this point to local people when discussing the Thompson Street Public Art.
Thirdly, as a result of Welsh Government Guidance the Council has developed its own Public Art Policy. This is not new. Indeed it has been in place since 2003. If you look carefully around Barry you will see examples of Public Art. There are the Dominos on the Thompson Street Footbridge. There is the Pavement Art in Holton Road, which cost in the region of £30,000. This work was of course effected during the Coalition’s time in Office when I think you were still a member of the Labour Group. As such, I can only assume that you welcomed this work. There is also Public Art, in the shape of Graffiti Art, as part of the refurbishment of Iolo Park, which is, I think, in your Ward. Again, I assume that you are happy with this work.
The fourth point to make is that Public Art is bespoke and by and large completely unique. It sometimes reflects the history of a town or city and it is sometimes there to draw attention to a street, to encourage people to stop and look. There is Public Art all over Europe and the UK and in my view it is part and parcel of successful towns and cities. In view of the fact that it is bespoke, it is inevitably more expensive than something that is mass produced, but surely this is worth it if it makes the street scene special and completely unique. My personal view is that, regardless of the various policy documents, Public Art is something that should be encouraged. It would seem a great pity for Barry not to have any Public Art when other towns and cities in Wales are embracing the idea. And then when do you stop when it comes to Public Realm Improvements ? Do you say that it is too expensive to have trees? Perhaps you should not even have different colours and textures for the pavements. Why not just have tarmac? I think that this would be very sad indeed. Thompson Street is a very special street, not just because of the people living there, who surely deserve the best, but also because it is the street that links the Town Centre to the Waterfront over the Thompson Street Footbridge. If we are to emulate Cardiff, Bristol and other successful towns and cities then Public Art is an important element in making areas special and attracting investment. It is certainly considered important in Cardiff and, as such, I feel that it should most definitely be considered important here in Barry.
The fifth point to make is that Public Art is very subjective. I fully admit that I do not like some Public Art. However, when I have been critical other people looking at the same piece have been much impressed. Surely this will always be the case with any art but as long as it makes an impact, is unique and special, then it is doing its job.
To answer the specifics:
The process of commissioning Public Art is set out in the Council’s Strategy for Integration of Public Art in the Public Realm. This process is based on good practice and is more or less common across the UK. In most cases an “Arts Agency” is appointed. It is necessary for the “Agency” to have considerable experience in commissioning Public Art within the Public Realm. The overall project is explained to the Agency and an outline brief is then produced and the Agency selects a shortlist of potential Artists. An Arts Panel is formed consisting of Members and a number of Officers from the Council depending on the project. The Artists then present their ideas to the Panel and an Artist is selected. The Artist then works up a number of proposals which are submitted to the Art Panel. The preferred scheme is then selected by the Panel and the Artist produces the Public Art. Depending on the project, extensive public consultation is often effected. For example, the Wall Art that is proposed for Thompson Street is very much a community based project that has involved primary schools, young people, residents and a local historian.
Insofar as the bollards are concerned each bollard is a unique sculpture made by the Lead Artist, Walter Jack Studio. The inspiration for these designs came from Barry’s maritime history and from the idea that Thompson Street itself has had an exciting and multi-layered history. The material speaks of winches and dockside machinery, whilst the forms have some of these same connotations. Some of the designs imply movement, with the cog rolling up and down the rack as you move from one bollard to the next. Elsewhere the cog seems more like a flower head as the red colour takes on a different connotation. The variations within each design create both continuity and variety as you travel along this important route which, as I indicated earlier, links the Town Centre with the Waterfront Area.
The budget cost for the bollard scheme is £30,000. The unit cost per bollard, which includes design, manufacture and installation costs is around £1,200. The unit cost, which includes manufacture and installation, of the “standard” type of bollard which appears elsewhere in the Town Centre is around £220. The difference is explained by the design requirements and the quality of the materials and surface finishes, and of course by the fact that the Public Art Bollards are bespoke and completely unique.
Whilst welcoming the regeneration of the area, Councillor Bertin asked whether the Cabinet Member would join him in recognising the expenditure as “a waste of money”.
The Cabinet Member indicated he considered the bollards to represent excellent value for money, to be unique and to have already made an impact. He reiterated the importance of Public Art within a regeneration area and also alluded to a recent media article which was supportive of the scheme. A number of people had also commented to him that they liked the artwork.
(iii) Question from Councillor R.J. Bertin
I am sure that all members of this Council would support the employment of injured ex-service personnel in this Council. I understand that there is a possibility of providing such employment and at no cost to the Council within the Youth Service. Will the Cabinet Member and also our Armed Forces Champion please inform us why there has been a delay in employing someone from the Poppy Factory?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Human Resources and Equalities
First of all I would like to thank Councillor Bertin for giving me the opportunity to tell all other Members exactly what the Poppy Factory is. The Poppy Factory in 2011 announced its plans to help 500 wounded, sick and injured ex-service personnel from the British Armed Forces to work in mainstream employment over the next five years. The Poppy Factory makes all the poppies for the British Legion. They intend spending up to £15,000 for one year for private companies or local authorities to employ someone who is, or has been, sick or injured due to serving their country.
The Council are keen to work closely with the Poppy Factory because of this and promote equal opportunities for all our disabled ex-service personnel. As part of this, the Poppy Factory gave an excellent presentation at the Civic Offices in October of this year. The meeting was hosted by myself as Cabinet Member for Equalities. It was very well-received by Heads of Service and members of the local business community. We were, however, alerted by an English local authority that there were a number of reported employment and equality issue implications which needed to be considered. Having done this I am happy to say that the issues have now been resolved and we look forward to recruiting ex-service personnel under the Poppy Factory initiative in the next few weeks. This will initially be in the Youth Service but we hope to extend this partnership in the new year. That being said, anybody else, including business people in the Vale of Glamorgan who might be interested as well, I have leaflets available for you to take away.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say how proud I am that the Vale of Glamorgan Council is being talked about with high regard amongst all armed forces communities throughout Wales, England and Scotland. We have also been contacted by Whitehall, Military Headquarters to ask how we have achieved such excellent partnership with so many bodies involved with the armed services.
(iv) Question from Councillor R.J. Bertin
What steps are being taken by this Council to prevent another landslip on our coastline as was recently experienced at Porthkerry Caravan Park?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Visible and Building Services
Coastal erosion is a natural process and rock falls, similar to the recent incident at Porthkerry, are unfortunately fairly common along the Vale of Glamorgan coastline. All Elected Members were sent a copy of a briefing note in respect to this particular incident by the Head of Visible Services on 3rd November 2011. The responsibility to protect private land and property from the effects of erosion, whether this be by the sea or other environmental forces, lies with the private owners concerned.
The Shoreline Management Plan, which was approved by Cabinet, advises which specific sections of our coastline should be protected to safeguard coastal assets. Due to the significant costs of coastal defences these areas are very limited and do not include sections of open headland such as those at Porthkerry. Along with the Environment Agency, the Council has powers under the Coast Protection Act 1949 and the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, to “manage” coastal risk. Our main role in cases such as this is to assist in managing the erosion risk and this would generally involve raising awareness amongst the relevant landowners of the dangers of erosion on their land. This would also include advising beach owners of the risks posed to the public by rock falls caused by erosion.
(v) Question from Councillor J.W. Thomas
Can the Cabinet Member update Council on progress towards establishing the St Athan Enterprise Zone?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration
As I think Council is aware, I made the strongest possible representations to the Welsh Government that Barry should become an Enterprise Zone because I felt that this would be exceptionally helpful in building upon the work of the Barry Regeneration Area. This was not to be but nevertheless I was delighted when the Minister designated St Athan as an Enterprise Zone. My only reservation was that if this Enterprise Zone was restricted solely to the Aerospace Industry at Athan then it might not have the desired impact on the future prosperity of the Vale of Glamorgan and the wider region. I felt most strongly that it was very important that this Aerospace Enterprise Zone should include the Airport.
As such I wrote to the Minister for Business, Enterprise, Science and Technology, Edwina Hart, asking her to consider this proposal. I made a number of points:
I reminded her that the First Minister is on record as being concerned about the future prospects for Wales’ “One and Only International Airport”.
I said that this was most unsatisfactory as from an international perspective the Airport is the “Gateway” into Wales and importantly into our “Capital City” and one of her other Enterprise Zones, “The Cardiff Central Business District”. I said that, if this particular Enterprise Zone was to flourish, then it surely needed a successful international “air link”.
I raised the point that, whilst increasing passenger numbers is important, there is a huge opportunity to take advantage of the United Kingdom’s lack of capacity in regard to air freight. The airports in the South East of England are struggling to take any more air freight, and there is an urgent requirement to find regional airports to provide this service, particularly from emerging markets.
I also alerted her to a significant and well-funded private sector interest in developing a multi-use “Business Park” at the Airport. This “Business Park” proposal involves the use of private and public sector land and, if progressed, would provide employment, not only in the Vale of Glamorgan, but potentially much further afield.
Finally, and importantly, part of this emerging plan is to build a railway station at the Airport within walking distance of the terminals. This would be hugely helpful in encouraging increased passenger numbers and perhaps, as importantly, in providing onward transport for air freight.
I am pleased to say that I had a very helpful response from the Minister and she said that she would certainly consider everything that I had said in my letter.
The current situation is that there have been meetings between our officers and Welsh Government Civil Servants but we are still awaiting an announcement on the final shape and form of the Enterprise Zone. I very much hope that this announcement will come soon so that we can get on and provide an environment for the Aerospace Industry in South Wales that will lead to investment, employment and prosperity not only for the people of St Athan but also for the people of Barry, the Vale of Glamorgan and the Wider Region.
(vi) Question from Councillor J.C. Bird
Does the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration feel that the Vale of Glamorgan would be more prosperous if Wales was an "Independent Nation".
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration
The short answer is NO.
I say this in the main because it is clear that the Welsh economy has performed poorly since devolution. There are a significant number of studies out there which all indicate that the Welsh economy, and by implication the economy of the Vale of Glamorgan, has not been well served by the efforts of Ministers in Cardiff Bay. As an example, in April this year, a report from the Centre for Public Policy for the Regions noted that in Wales there was a slow but consistent deterioration in per capita GDP over the decade from 2001 as well as a fall in labour productivity. In terms of entrepreneurship the report noted that business start-ups had fallen year on year since 2003. This is all particularly disappointing in view of the amount of public money that has been spent on economic development. Sir Roger Jones, Former Head of the WDA, said in June this year “We have seen expenditure in excess of £100 million per annum that has produced next to nothing in the form of outcomes”.
The future is also fraught with difficulties and the situation in Wales is of course exacerbated by the fact that 25.7% of the population works in the Public Sector. In November this year the Institute of Public Policy Research has predicted that by 2020 there will be fewer people in work in Wales that in 2011. We in Wales will be unique in this respect with every other region in the UK having more people in work than at the present time.
So is this the time to go it alone? Would the Vale of Glamorgan be more prosperous if Wales was an Independent Nation? The answer has to be that the Vale of Glamorgan would be very much less prosperous. I say this in view of the record of the various governments in Cardiff Bay, in view of the very difficult times ahead and in view of the uncertainty that the prospect of independence would inevitably bring to business decision making. I am clear that independence would lead to a significant reduction in overseas and UK inward investment. I also believe that many companies, entrepreneurs, highly paid professionals and other wealth creators and investors, living and working in Wales, would relocate to England. This would result in very high levels of unemployment that would certainly exceed the projections of the Institute of Public Policy Research. In my view independence for Wales would be an unmitigated disaster and would have a severe and disastrous effect not only on the Welsh Economy but also on the Economy of the Vale of Glamorgan.
(vii) Question from Councillor Mrs. M. Randall
Can the Cabinet Member for Social Services tell the Council how the Directorate intends to fund the £3.7m overspend in Social Services?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Social and Care Services
I can assure Councillor Randall and all other Members that we regard tackling the serious overspend and pressures within the social services budget as a crucial task for this Council.
Whilst balanced budgets have been delivered in recent years, the current position is very worrying. As members are aware, the Directorate faces exceptionally difficult circumstances at present. It is having to:
· manage increased demand for services;
· absorb new requirements from the Welsh Government without new, and proper, funding;
· meet higher expectations; and
· find substantial budget savings.
The Council is having to make tough choices, balancing all these competing priorities in situations where safeguarding vulnerable people from harm and risk must be the key factor in our decision-making.
As Councillor Randall knows, the Leader and I took a very detailed report to Cabinet on 16th November in response to information about growing financial problems in Social Services.
This report described in full:
· the pressures on the Social Services Revenue Budget in the current financial year;
· the causes of those pressures; and
· the separate Budget Recovery Action Plans put in place for children’s services and for adult services.
In drawing up those plans, we ensured that officers had considered every realistic opportunity available to retrieve the current projected overspend. A multi-disciplinary project team and a project board to ensure urgent delivery of the recovery plans are already meeting on a fortnightly basis. Cabinet will continue to receive regular progress reports and ensure that action is taken promptly and effectively.
Councillor Mrs. Randall asked whether the Cabinet Member was able to inform Members how private sector care homes were going to be financed to the tune of an extra 13%.
The Cabinet Member referred to the report submitted to Cabinet on 28th November 2011. She indicated that part of the budget recovery plan initiative was already frozen for this amount of money to be paid to private care homes. She also apologised for having to cancel the last Social Services briefing. However, the meeting had clashed with a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) and she did not think it was fair that Members miss either meeting.
(viii) Question from Councillor Mrs. D.M. Turner
Is the Leader aware of the recent publication by Plaid Cymru of its “Penarth Voice” (issue 26). After making a series of misleading and inaccurate comments on the Council’s performance, Plaid calls upon the Local Government Minister Carl Sergeant to “Stop fiddling round the edges - reorganise the Vale out of existence”.
It is essential that when residents cast their votes at next May’s elections they know who and what they are voting for. In the case of Plaid a party that wants to get rid of, in the case of the Vale, one of the most cost effective and efficient Councils in Wales, to the detriment of our residents.
Will the Leader -
1. Condemn this ill-informed outburst.
2. Seek assurances from the Labour and Independent Group leaders on the Council that they share his view.
3. Write to the Leader of Plaid Cymru, Ieuan Wyn Jones, to urgently clarify whether “reorganising the Vale out of existence” is Plaid policy.
Reply from the Leader
1. I am aware of the leaflet and I am happy to condemn the proposals relating to the future of the Vale contained therein. It seems strange that they are proposing that Wales becomes an independent nation but are happy to destroy the independence of one of the best performing Councils in Wales, a Council that, when you consider the low levels of funding, consistently “punches above its weight”. I wonder if Plaid Cymru are suggesting that we merge with Cardiff or are they suggesting that we are dismembered and parcelled out between our neighbouring authorities? One can only hope that it is an “ill informed outburst” along the lines of that made by Plaid Cymru's Leader in Cardiff and not official Plaid Cymru policy.
2. I will seek such assurances from the two other Group Leaders and trust that they take a similar view to myself.
3. I am happy to write to Ieuan Wyn Jones as it is important that voters know what they will be voting for in May.