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VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 26th June, 2013.

 

Present:  Councillor Margaret Wilkinson (Mayor); Councillors Richard Bertin, Janice Birch, Rhiannon Birch, Jonathan Bird, Bronwen Brooks, Lis Burnett, Philip Clarke, Geoff Cox, Claire Curtis, Rob Curtis, Pamela Drake, John Drysdale, Kate Edmunds, Christopher Elmore, Christopher Franks, Keith Geary, Howard Hamilton, Val Hartrey, Keith Hatton, Nic Hodges, Jeff James, Hunter Jarvie, Gwyn John, Fred Johnson, Dr. Ian Johnson, Maureen Kelly Owen, Peter King, Kevin Mahoney, Anne Moore, Neil Moore, Andrew Parker, Bob Penrose, Anthony Powell, Audrey Preston, Rhona Probert, Gwyn Roberts, John Thomas, Ray Thomas, Rhodri Traherne, Steffan Wiliam, Clive Williams, Christopher Williams, Edward Williams and Mark Wilson.

 

 

137            APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Stuart Egan and Eric Hacker.

 

 

138            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations of interest were received.

 

 

 139           MINUTES -

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 8th May, 2013 and the Annual Meeting held on 15th May, 2013 were approved as a correct record.

 

 

 140           ANNOUNCEMENTS –

 

The Mayor made the following announcements:

 

(i)         Since taking up office, she had represented the Council on two twinning visits.  Firstly, to Mouscron, Belgium for the Festival of Masks and, more recently, to Fecamp, France, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the twinning of Rheinfelden and Fecamp.

 

(ii)        She had met with her three nominated charities and was planning a number of fundraising events.

 

(iii)       She had represented the Council at the funeral of Mr. Des Leddington, who was a former Mayor and Councillor of the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council.

 

(iv)       She had sent congratulatory letters to the following recipients of Queen’s birthday honours:

 

            Margaret Everson OBE

            Graham Charles Crimp MBE

            Keshav Singhal MBE.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services made the following announcement in respect of the road traffic accident that had occurred outside Rhws Primary School on 20th June 2013:

 

"Members will be aware of the accident that took place outside Rhws Primary School last Thursday. I feel it appropriate to update Members on the Council’s response, both on the day and since, in relation to support being provided to Rhws Primary School and the wider community.

 

I would firstly like to pay tribute to Karin Williams, the School Crossing Patrol Officer who selflessly protected children on the crossing as the incident was taking place and suffered severe, but thankfully not life threatening injuries due to her bravery.  Karin has worked for the Authority for over 10 years and is a well known figure in the community.  She is a past recipient of the School Crossing Patrol Officer Award run annually by the Council for the Western Vale area.

 

I pay tribute to the response of the emergency services, the acting Head Teacher of Rhws Primary School, Jan Morgan, for her incredible leadership of the school on the day of the incident and since and to the governors of the school who I know have been there to support staff and pupils since the accident.

 

My thanks also go to all the staff at the school who Police have praised for dealing with the walking wounded and to our own officers who co-ordinated the Council’s emergency planning procedure for such incidents. I am pleased to inform Members that our processes for dealing with such incidents worked as well as possible in such difficult circumstances.

 

My primary focus last Thursday was for the injured, four adults and five children in total, and to support pupils, staff and the wider community following the incident.

 

In relation to support for the pupils at the school on the Thursday, Educational Psychologists were deployed as soon as the incident occurred, to work with the pupils assessing their needs and reactions to the accident, this work is ongoing.  In the long term CAMHS along with Educational psychologists will be working together to provide further support in the coming weeks and over the summer holidays if needed.           

 

A Health and Safety Officer and the Head of Strategic Planning and Performance arrived at the school as emergency services were at the scene to offer additional support to the school.  Helen Jennings, Head Teacher of Llanilltud Primary School, was asked to attend the school as an experienced Head Teacher to provide additional support to the school’s leadership team. I would like to place on record my thanks to Helen for the speed in which she attended the school and the support she gave.  Educational Psychologists continue to work with the school providing support to pupils.

 

Transportation Officers, including the Operational Manager for Transportation and her staff including the Authority’s roaming School Crossing Patrol Officer, were on site Thursday afternoon, Friday morning and afternoon to provide additional support for traffic management when children were leaving and entering school.  Additional support continues to be in place and is being monitored.

 

The University Health Board and the Council’s Emergency planning have worked together to deliver an adult counselling service including the development of a leaflet to offer support to parents, family members and others if needed following the accident. A further meeting is to be held on 16th July for a further update on the situation and to ensure support over the summer holidays for adults.

 

I would like to reassure all Members that throughout Thursday the Chief Learning and Skills Officer, the Chief Superintendent and I worked closely together to co-ordinate the emergency response, providing support to the school, the injured, pupils and liaison with the media, including a joint press conference held here with me and the Chief Superintendent.  

 

I attended the school on Thursday, meeting with the acting Head Teacher and the Chair and Vice Chair of Governors reassuring them the Authority will provide all the support the school needs.  A review has already taken place within the Learning and Skills Departmental Management Team and myself of how the incident was handled and a further review will take place with the Managing Director, the Leader, myself and other senior officers in the coming weeks.

 

This sort of incident is thankfully rare and from briefings I have received was a total accident.  From a safety perspective the school is served by a 20mph Zone, Speed Bumps, traffic controls and a Zebra Crossing along with a school crossing patrol officer, the accident was not linked to the safety measures in place at the school.

 

We can always learn from such incidents but as I said previously I can assure Members that support was put in place quickly from the across the Council and again I pay tribute to all those affected by last Thursday and to the community of Rhoose who have shown what a united community the village is."

 

Councillor Hunter Jarvie referred to the fact that Collette Paul, Deputy Chief Constable, had been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal.  The mayor indicated she would send a letter of congratulation. 

 

 

141            PETITIONS –

 

The following petitions were received and passed to the relevant Director:

 

(i)         Petition requesting 20 mph default speed limit in Penarth on all residential roads (submitted by Councillor Gwyn Roberts).

 

(ii)        Petition requesting the introduction of a 20 mph speed limit through the village of Peterston-Super-Ely (submitted by Councillor Rhodri Traherne).

 

 

142            PRESENTATION BY THE SOUTH WALES POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER, RT. HON. ALUN MICHAEL, J.P., FRSA –

 

Members received a presentation from the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Alun Michael, J.P., FRSA, outlining his role and inviting questions from Members.

 

The presentation included the following elements:

 

·               duties of the Commissioner

·               Oath of Office

·               historic and comparative precept levels

·               strategic priorities

·               crime reduction in the context of legislative requirements

·               crime and disorder reduction plan

·               development priorities

·               information regarding recorded crime figures

·               detection rates

·               victim satisfaction levels.

 

Matters raised by Members during the question session included:

 

·               The implications of lengthy closures on motor ways following serious accidents.

·               A suggestion that the Commissioner visit Cadoxton House to view the various facilities now in place there.  He indicated he would be happy to do so.

·               The importance of conveying information regarding the split of roles / responsibilities between the Police and the Local Authority.

·               The effectiveness of PACT meetings, with the Commissioner referring to having experienced a mixture in terms of their effectiveness.

·               Domestic violence and abuse and the importance of identifying ways of early intervention and assistance.

·               The importance of partnership working and keeping Members informed of developments.  The Commissioner indicated he was happy to talk to individual political groups as well as to Councils. 

·               CCTV provision.  The Leader referred to the possibility of CCTV provision for the Vale of Glamorgan being co-located with the facility in Bridgend and to the Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) having been invited to visit the facility.  He hoped that, if he was available, the Commissioner might be able to join Members on the visit as well as visiting the existing CCTV provision in Barry.  The Commissioner offered Members the opportunity, in conjunction with the visit to the Bridgend facility, to view the Public Response Centre. 

 

The Leader thanked the Commissioner for his interesting and informative presentation and for taking questions from Members.

 

 

143            REVIEW OF INTERNAL EMPLOYMENT RELATED APPEALS PROCESS (MD) –

 

Employees currently had a right to appeal the outcome of a dismissal decision for reasons related to conduct, capability or redundancy.

 

Such a right was a legal right under current employment law and was accommodated by the Council in the following polices and procedures :-

 

-           Disciplinary Procedure

-           Capability Procedure

-           Management of Attendance

-           Avoiding Redundancy Procedure.

 

For Council employed staff, including those on Chief Officer terms and conditions (but excluding the Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer and Section 151 Officer) dismissal appeals were currently determined by an Appeals Committee comprising six members (three of which were required for the Committee to be quorate).

 

The same Committee also considered stage three grievance appeals for all Council employed staff including those on Chief Officer terms and conditions (but excluding the Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer and Section 151 Officer).

 

Separate arrangements were in place in relation to the consideration of all dismissal and grievance issues for schools employed staff. Such matters were dealt with by the relevant Governing Body of the particular school in accordance with the law relating to the management of schools.

 

For Council staff (below the level of Chief Officer) the initial decision to dismiss for conduct or capability and consideration of second stage grievances was undertaken at Head of Service / Director level (prior to appeal to the Appeals Committee).

 

Confirmation of redundancy dismissals and related severance arrangements was undertaken by the Early Retirement / Redundancy Committee prior to any appeal to the Appeals Committee.

 

Separate dismissal and grievance appeals arrangements were in place for the Head of Paid Service, Section 151 Officer and the Monitoring Officer in accordance with existing legal and constitutional requirements.

 

Experience over the last two years had suggested that the appeals process for Council employed staff would benefit from review in order to make the process more efficient and reduce the incidence of delays. This, in turn would reduce the uncertainty for employees, managers and the wider organisation.

 

The importance of dealing with appeals as quickly as possible and the legal, service and relationship implications of delays was acknowledged.  The ACAS code of practice which forms part of employment law guidance stated that "Appeals need to be heard without unreasonable delay".

 

Dismissal appeals needed to be heard as quickly as possible in order to protect the legal and future employment interests of employees and also to avoid any disruption to service provision.  The need to reduce delays was equally important in relation to finalising grievance issues.

 

An employee's or employer's claim or defence in an Employment Tribunal could be potentially prejudiced by delayed appeals processes.

 

There were, of course a range of reasons for delays including the difficulties in arranging appropriate member representation at the Appeals Committee, the legal complexities associated with many appeals issues and the unavailability of the appellants / trade union representatives or witnesses.

 

On the basis of the above it was proposed that changes be made to the dismissal appeals process and final stage grievance process for Council staff (excluding those on Chief Officer and Chief Executive terms and conditions and schools employed staff) as set out below.

 

It was proposed that all appeals (as referred to in paragraph 18 of the report) should now be determined by a newly constituted panel consisting of the following:-

 

·               One Elected Member drawn from a pool of three nominees

·               The Managing Director or Service Director/Chief Learning and Skills Officer as nominated by the Managing Director and

·               The Head of Human Resources or substitute as nominated by the Head of Human Resources.

 

Determination of appeals would be by majority decision of the three participants involved, with delegated authority granted to the Managing Director or Service Director / Chief Learning and Skills Officer as nominated by the Managing Director.

 

The panel would be responsible for hearing the appeal, where possible within six weeks of the appeals registration unless delayed for good reason. If there is a delay then the Appellant will be consulted and informed of the reasons for the delay (and revised time frame) as soon as possible.

 

The pool of three Members (from which one Member would be drawn) would be determined as a result of nominations from the Group Leaders from the three largest political parties. Such nominees would continue until the next Annual General Meeting unless changes were agreed in the interim by Council, and thereafter will be determined at each Annual Meeting.

 

The determination of the Elected Member for each Appeals Panel would be based on the availability of the members concerned, but considered initially in the order of the size of the political group.

 

The involvement of a Service Director / Chief Learning and Skills Officer as a substitute for the Managing Director (and as nominated by the Managing Director) would be in situations where the Managing Director was not available due to absence or work demands or where the appeal presents a conflict of interest for the postholder concerned.

 

The involvement of the Head of Human Resources (or named substitute) would help ensure that the HR issues were considered as an integral part of the appeals determination.  A suggested protocol for the Panel was set out in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The changes would also address related concerns about the overly formal and legalistic nature of the current appeals process and the need to be able to hear appeals in an easier and less intimidating environment.

 

The decision to confirm dismissal decisions in relation to redundancy issues was currently taken by the Early Retirement / Redundancy Committee with subsequent appeals to the Appeals Committee.  On this basis, redundancy appeals were not included in the proposed changes.

 

The Appeals Committee would retain delegated responsibility for determining issues not covered in the scope of the above proposal. This would include appeal considerations for officers on Chief Officer or Chief Executive terms and conditions and all redundancy related dismissal appeals for Council employed staff.

 

The Appeals Committee would also continue to be convened to determine appeals covered within the scope of the above proposal, but only where the registration of the appeal was before 27th June 2013.  This would help ensure appropriate transitional arrangements for employees.

 

The proposal had been developed in consultation with the trade unions over a number of months and following consideration of a number of alternative options.  The proposal was generally supported by the trade unions on the basis that it would help to ease the problem of delays without undermining the overall integrity and impartiality of the appeals process.

 

The trade unions were also supportive of the reduced formality of the process and the fact that the proposed change would be part of a wider review of the disciplinary and grievance procedures over the next 12 months.

 

Relevant references to the appeals process in the grievance, disciplinary, capability and managing attendance procedures would then be amended accordingly.

 

It was proposed that over the next 12 months all parts of the disciplinary and grievance procedures be reviewed in full consultation with the recognised trade unions and in order to further improve effectiveness and efficiency.  This would include a review of timescales at all stages of the process, the use of dedicated resources for the investigation of disciplinary and grievance issues and the appropriateness of alternative approaches to dispute resolution.

 

Councillor John Thomas, leader of the Conservative Group, indicated that the Group was of the view that officers’ right of appeal to Elected Members should continue, albeit he understood the concerns expressed regarding delays within the current process.  As such, he confirmed the Conservative Group would not be supporting the proposed changes. 

 

Councillor Chris Franks, leader of the Plaid Cymru Group, indicated the Group was in support of the proposals.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the changes to the corporate appeals process for employee related conduct and capability dismissals and stage three grievance appeals for Council employed staff (excluding Chief Officers and schools employed staff) as set out in paragraphs 19 to 29 of the report, together with the specified delegated authorities set out, be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the changes referred to above take effect from 27th June 2013, except for the processing of appeals lodged before that date; such appeals to be dealt with in accordance with the transitional arrangements set out in paragraph 29 of the report.

 

(3)       T H A T the necessary changes be made to the Council's Constitution.

 

(4)       T H A T a wider review of the corporate grievance and disciplinary procedures be undertaken over the next 12 months in consultation with the trade unions and in accordance with the objectives as set out in paragraphs 39 and 40 of the report.

 

(5)       T H A T the Group Leaders notify the Head of Democratic Services of their nominated Members to comprise the pool of Members in line with paragraph 22 of the report.

 

 

144            CENTRAL SOUTH JOINT EDUCATION SERVICE: JOINT SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (MD) –

 

The Welsh Government was encouraging local authorities to establish joint scrutiny arrangements to support robust governance of the increased range of services delivered in partnership with other Councils or public, third sector or private organisations.  With this in mind, it was considered opportune to establish such arrangements in respect of the Central South Joint Education Service. 

 

For some time, Scrutiny Officers from the five constituent authorities (Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale of Glamorgan) had been in discussion regarding the potential establishment of a Joint Scrutiny Committee.  An officer funded by the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) was also involved in the project and had been engaged in the drawing up of suggested draft Terms of Reference and Working Principles.

 

In addition to facilitating scrutiny of the service itself, it was considered that there would also be an opportunity for both Members and officers to learn how to scrutinise a regional consortium and to develop practices and procedures that could be applied to other future partnership arrangements that the Council might enter into.  Arrangements would need to provide for scrutiny of education services allowing strategic issues affecting all five authorities to be scrutinised at a regional level, whilst still allowing issues pertinent to any one authority to be scrutinised at a single Council level.

 

Whilst discussions were ongoing in terms of finalising the Terms of Reference and Working Principles, the Council was asked to consider the appointment of two Members to sit on the Joint Scrutiny Committee once established.  In doing so, Members' attention was drawn to the recent issuing by the Welsh Government of the Local Authorities (Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committees) (Wales) Regulations 2013.  Those Regulations governed the procedures which were to be followed by local authorities in establishing joint scrutiny arrangements and include the following provision:  

 

"........

 

5.-(4)   Each appointing authority must ensure that, as far as practicable, the members of a joint overview and scrutiny committee who fall within paragraph (1)(a) reflect the balance of political groups for the time being prevailing among the members of the appointing authority."

 

It was confirmed that reports regarding the work of the Joint Committee would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and Cabinet as appropriate. 

 

Councillor Hodges, whilst fully aware of the relevant Regulations, indicated that he had a number of concerns.  Following the Regulations’ requirements to, as far as practicable, reflect political balance within the Authority, would result in he, as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning), not being represented on the Joint Committee.  He alluded to the representation likely to prevail from the other Authorities and to the fact that the Joint Committee would comprise largely of Labour Members.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, whilst accepting Councillor Hodges’ frustration, reiterated the fact that the Regulations were in force and that the Council was obliged to reflect the political balance requirements in determining this matter.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T  it be noted that Councillor Rhiannon Birch would be the Labour Group representative on the Joint Committee and Councillor Andrew Parker the Conservative Group representative.  

 

 

 145           ALLOCATION OF SEATS ON COMMITTEES (MD) –

 

The Independent Group had recently increased in size from 3 to 4 Members as a result of Councillor Mahoney joining the Group.  As Councillor Mahoney had previously been allocated a "share" of seats on Committees despite not being part of a Group, the overall percentage of seats to which the Independent Group was entitled has not changed. 

 

As far as the Planning Committee was concerned, the Committee currently comprises 19 Members.  However, given the number of important issues which the Committee would be considering in the near future, in particular, the Local Development Plan, it was suggested that the Committee be increased to 21 Members, thereby allowing a greater involvement on the part of Members in such important matters.  Should the increase be agreed, the two additional seats would fall to the Conservative and Independent Groups. 

 

Members were asked to note that Councillor Jonathan Bird and Councillor Kevin Mahoney would be the additional representatives from the Conservative and Independent Groups respectively. 

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the size of the Planning Committee be increased from 19 to 21.

 

(2)       T H A T it be noted that Councillor Jonathan Bird and Councillor Kevin Mahoney would be the additional representatives from the Conservative and Independent Groups respectively.

 

 

 146           INDEPENDENT MEMBER SERVING ON THE COUNCIL’S STANDARDS COMMITTEE (MO) –

 

The appointment of independent members was governed by the Standards Committee (Wales) Regulations 2001 ("the Regulations").  Paragraph 20 of the Regulations provided that the term of office of a member of the Standards Committee who was an independent member of the Committee should be not less than four nor more than six years.

 

The Council had five independent members, one (Mr. A.G. Hallett) whose term of office would expire on 19th July 2013, three whose term of office would expire on 14th March 2015 and one whose term would expire on 15th September 2015.

 

Mr. Hallett was appointed to the Standards Committee on 20th July, 2009 for a period of 4 years and was currently the Chairman of the Standards Committee

 

The Welsh Assembly Government issued amendment Regulations in 2006 providing for a second term of office for independent members, given its view that the operation of the original Regulations preventing an independent member serving more than one term was unreasonably restrictive and was causing practical difficulties.

 

Apart from the lengthy process of recruiting independent members, a number of authorities had experienced difficulties in appointing members and many felt that the experience gained by such members over the first years following their appointment to the Standards Committee would be lost if authorities were required to appoint and train new members. 

 

The Council had exercised this power in the past in respect of the former Chairman of the Standards Committee, Mr. Samuel.

 

RESOLVED – T H A T Mr. A.G. Hallett be appointed for a further term of four years to take effect on the expiry of his current term of office.

 

 

147            NEW WELSH MODEL CONSTITUTION: APPOINTMENT OF WORKING PARTY (MO) –

 

The Council's existing Constitution (as, indeed, that of most Councils) was still largely based on the Model version issued by the (then) Welsh Assembly Government in 2001, with numerous updates having since been made to the Constitution in respect of specific issues.  However, the former Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors (Wales Branch) (ACSeS), now "Lawyers in Local Government", had commissioned the national law firm, Dickenson Dees, to produce a new "Model Constitution" for local authorities in Wales.  The new Model version had been circulated under separate cover to all Members.

 

Whilst the Council's current Constitution remained, in essence, "fit for purpose", ACSeS considered that the commissioning of a new "Model Constitution" represented an opportunity to improve on the format of the 2001 Model and, potentially, move towards a more simplified and "user-friendly" modular version.  The Model Constitution was not to be seen as a "one size fits all" Model, but a framework within which the Council could incorporate its existing arrangements.  Support for the Model Constitution has been received from both the Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association. 

 

Consideration of the existing Constitution and the drawing up of a revised version would entail a considerable amount of work and it was important that there is Member involvement in the process.  With this in mind, it was proposed that a Working Party be established, comprising seven Members (3 Members of the Labour Group and 1 from each of the other four political groups) to look at the various components of the existing, and Model, Constitutions and draw up a revised version for eventual consideration by the Council. 

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T a Working Party be established, comprising 7 Members (3 Labour and 1 from each of the other four political groups) to draw up a revised Constitution for consideration by Full Council.

 

(2)       T H A T it be noted that the Working Party will comprise the following Members:

 

            Labour – Leader, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

            Conservative – John Thomas, Group Leader

            Plaid Cymru – Chris Franks, Group Leader

            Llantwit First Independent – Gwyn John, Group Leader

            Independent – Bob Penrose, Group Leader.

 

 

148            IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART I (IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES 2013/14) (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1365, 17th June, 2013, be approved.

 

 

149            QUESTIONS PURSUANT TO COUNCIL PROCEDURES RULES 8.2 –

 

Due notice had been given of the following questions.

 

(i)         Question from Councillor R.J. Bertin

 

Given that the Welsh FA has ruled that the newly formed Barry Town Football Club will not be able to play in the Welsh Football League, will we now continue to work with Barry Town AFC to improve football in the Vale?

  

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sport Development

 

I have had several conversations with representatives of the proposed new Barry Town United Football Club.  Whilst both the club and myself remain bitterly disappointed and angry with the decision made by the FAW not to admit Barry Town into the Welsh League for next season, I am working with representatives of the club to appeal this decision and to look at ways we can strengthen our links with the club, which is committed to being a community-based organisation. 

 

I have been extremely impressed with the structure of the new Club and their ambitions for the future, in particular, the manager, Gavin Chesterfield.  There will be a report to Cabinet in the near future proposing a partnership with the new Barry Town Football Club regarding developing a partnership approach to the Centre of Development for young football players in the Vale of Glamorgan.  I believe it is more important than ever that we do work with the new Barry Town Football Club and try to provide an opportunity for our young people to play for a local team in the highest domestic league.

 

I would add that I have written to the member clubs of the Welsh Football League to support the appeal made by Barry Town for an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) and yesterday I wrote to the President of the Football Association of Wales asking him to review the decision, highlighting the impact the decision made by the Football Association will have on the young people in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Supplemental

 

Thanking the Cabinet Member for his efforts to date, Councillor Bertin asked that members be kept informed of all developments, given the importance of the matter to the people of Barry.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that the matter now lay with the Member Clubs of the Welsh League and whether they could exert any pressure by calling an EGM before the Welsh League Meeting.  He doubted this would be possible.  He pointed out that other political areas were fighting hard for Barry Town, at the Welsh Government and, he understood, Alun Cairns MP was doing the same.  He referred to the need to save a club from the hands of a person who, in his view, had no interest in football in Barry Town.  If the Welsh FA did not change this in the Welsh League Meeting then sadly the individual concerned would have “won†in terms of taking the club out of business and wondered where the FA of Wales would go from there.

 

(ii)        Question from Councillor R.J. Bertin

 

With a number of sites being considered in the Vale of Glamorgan to test drill for Fracking – Will the Cabinet Member please inform us what information has been issued by WAG on this matter?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

Any applications will require consultation with Natural Resources Wales and responses are awaited.  It is anticipated that Natural Resources Wales will be responding before the current applications are reported to Planning Committee.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Bertin asked whether Cabinet Members supported the process of fracking.

 

The Cabinet Member considered that to be immaterial.  At the moment there were no applications for fracking or for actual gas extraction, but purely to test ground conditions.  She believed on judging everything on a firm evidence base.

 

(iii)       Question from Councillor R.J. Bertin

 

Does the Leader support the proposed shake up of health in the area?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

I may have my personal preferences but that would be a matter for me, but as Leader of this Council I will discuss it with my Cabinet Colleagues when we meet to discuss it.

 

The proposals for the reconfiguration of some South Wales hospital services, which is a clinically-led document, are currently being consulted on by the NHS.

 

The proposals have been considered by the Council's Social Care and Health and Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committees.  Corporate Resources last night suggested that they would like an extraordinary meeting of Council on 8th July prior to the consolation meeting planned in this building between 7pm and 9pm and I understand that this is being considered.  It will depend if it can be accommodated.

 

I would also remind Council that the Cardiff and Vale UHB are holding a meeting on 8th July in this building in the Corporate Suite between 7pm and 9pm where you can listen to views and express some comments if you wish to.  I would also remind Council that responses will be issued from the Cabinet and that it is the responsibility of the Cabinet to consider all views expressed by both Scrutiny Committees.  The proposed Council response, if we have one in time, will be considered by Cabinet on 15th July or by having an extraordinary meeting of Cabinet or, indeed, by the use of the Managing Director's Emergency Procedures.  I cannot anticipate at this stage what the response will be since Cabinet have not yet met.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Bertin asked whether the Leader agreed the proposals were due to the Welsh Government failing to address the recruitment problems in the NHS in Wales and asked for the Leader’s thoughts on Labour AMs and MPs campaigning against their own party policy. 

 

The Leader referred to the consultation document being led by clinicians on the basis that the proposals would be best for the areas of Wales concerned and that all services could not be provided everywhere.  As such, the rationale was that it was better to locate services in distinct areas.  He did not personally consider the Welsh Government to be at fault.  It would be wrong to provide services that were not supported by clinicians, but this was a matter which would need to be taken account of as part of the consultation process.

 

(iv)       Question from Councillor R.J. Bertin

 

Will the Cabinet Member for Children's Services please give a statement on the proposals to cut a third of education services in Wales?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

 

As Members will be aware, Robert Hill’s report "The Future Delivery of Education Services in Wales" was published on Tuesday 18th June.  This is a significant report which is wide-ranging in its scope and detailed in its analysis of the opportunities and challenges we face. The report includes proposals for improving teaching and learning, strengthening school leadership, increasing school partnership, improving accountability and organising school improvement functions. It includes 85 proposals, separated into options that could be implemented in the short term and those intended for the medium term. Following publication by the Welsh Government the report is now the subject of consultation until mid-September.

 

The proposal to which Councillor Bertin refers is in the section of the report "organising school improvement functions": it is one of many options albeit that it has been the focus of media coverage and is clearly of considerable significance.

 

Under a heading of options for the short-term the report reads "to cut the number of local authority education services by a third by April 2014 either by voluntary mergers or the Minister for Education and Skills using his powers to

intervene following unsatisfactory Estyn inspections".

 

It has been clear for some time now that some local authorities are providing unsatisfactory education services.  The reports published by Estyn following their inspections of Local Authority Education Services for Children and Young People have reported on low standards, poor provision and weak leadership in almost a third of local authorities.  Whilst some Councils have made progress following critical reports others have disappointingly made little progress if any.  The Chief Inspector has highlighted that it is often the smallest authorities that struggle most to provide satisfactory services to children, schools and families.

 

Whilst this picture has, as I have just said, been clear for some time there is a frustration shared by many, myself included, that solutions to these challenging situations which are letting down the children and schools of Wales have been too slow in some cases.  For example, in our Central South Consortium I am not yet certain what arrangements have been put into place to ensure the necessary accelerated progress is secured for schools in Merthyr Tydfil following last autumn’s inspection.  If Robert Hill’s report with its clear proposed date for progressing a solution can increase momentum it must be welcomed.

 

You may also be aware that the report includes further options for the medium term concerning the development of slim-line local education authorities that will increasingly be the commissioners, rather than the providers, of services. This section of the report refers to the review of the delivery of public services in Wales which is currently underway and is expected to make recommendations about the future arrangements for delivering services across the whole of the public sector including, but not limited to, services provided by local government.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Bertin asked whether there was any indication now that Leighton Andrews was no longer Minister that the policy would continue.

 

The Cabinet Member referred to Huw Lewis being the new Minister for Education and Skills.  He hoped the Welsh Government’s agenda of Improving Standards and delivering an excellent service for education did not change.  He felt it must challenge schools to ensure they delivered the best outcomes for learners, and to this being a fundamental principle.  He did not accept the WG to have failed to deliver on this.  It was, in fact, the previous Minister’s agenda for the last 3½ years of improving standards.  The Minister had made clear, and he was sure the current Minister would, that it was not acceptable to have poor services of delivery from within local authorities.  The Leaders of all 22 authorities had made it clear that education was top priority.  That would not change from the WLGA’s perspective, would not change from the perspective of the current Administration and, he felt sure, would not change from the Welsh Government’s perspective.

 

(v)        Question from Councillor C.J. Williams

 

Does the Leader know how many and which Councils currently record Council Meetings?  Is there funding available for us to carry out audio recording of Meetings?  Does the Leader believe, as I do, that audio records of Meetings would enable greater openness and transparency and also clear up any confusion or accusations of "selective minute-taking" when Members are attempting to recall and agree details of meetings when minutes are eventually circulated a month or later after the actual meeting?   

 

Reply from the Leader

 

Unfortunately, I have not been able to obtain the information as to which Councils, if any, operate such a system. 

 

There is no funding available specifically for such a system.  However, Members will be aware that the Welsh Government made available a "one off" provision to local authorities in Wales for 2013/14 for the development of webcasting facilities and to begin planning for the possibility of remote attendance at meetings.  The conditions of the grant mean that the Council will be required to illustrate it has begun to webcast some meetings prior to the end of the financial year, although there has not been any decision which pilot meetings will be webcast at this time. 

 

Turning to the way in which minutes are produced within the Council, personally I do not believe that it would enhance the system that currently exists and there is no requirement to produce "Hansard" type minutes. 

 

I would remind Members of the detailed letter from the Head of Democratic Services to all Members dated 4th January 2013.  That letter set out clearly why the current "house style" is deemed to be appropriate and, indeed, consistent with good practice and in accord with the publication "Knowles on Local Authority Meetings – A Manual of Law and Practice", which is regarded as a recognised authority on the subject  area.

 

As far as the vast majority of Members are concerned, I am not aware of any suggestion of "confusion" or "selective minute taking".  Minutes are generally made available as soon as practicable after each meeting, albeit they are, indeed, included on a subsequent agenda for confirmation of accuracy, as required under the Council’s Constitution. 

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Williams asked whether the Cabinet would be looking at possible webcasting in the near future.

 

The Leader indicated he had covered that in his reply.  It was a requirement of the grant that some meetings be webcast and what needed to be considered was the costs involved, the practicalities of doing so and which meetings would actually be covered.

 

(vi)       Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson

 

Cabinet recently decided not to continue using the festival site near the Hood Road Goods Shed, which will instead be offered for sale as an office location, much to the disappointment of many people in Barry.

 

What plans does the Council have to increase leisure and tourism opportunities on the Waterfront, with particular regard to the Mole, and what is the timeframe and funding process for these developments?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

At the time of the application for the waterfront the Council tried its best to ensure that the Mole was included in plans so that we could look at the regeneration options in a comprehensive manner.  However, Associated British Ports (ABP) did not want to include their land in the scheme, which of course is their decision.  The Mole remains under the ownership of ABP and, as things stand, falls outside of the development proposals for the Waterfront.

 

Councillor Johnson has already raised his disappointment at the fact that we do not intend to use a parcel of land within a long term construction site to hold events.  Whilst he may be happy to convey such an image of the town to event and festival goers, we want to ensure that visitors to events enjoy the best of what Barry has to offer and that they want to come back.  Holding events within a construction site was, therefore, not really an option for me.

 

In terms of moving forward, Officers have met with the Consortium and ABP and have held discussions with various clubs about promoting the use of the water for events, sports and activity.  We also see this as a key issue in moving forward with the future regeneration of Barry and consider that an element of a bid for future funding will focus on the role of Barry in terms of tourism, visitor facilities and healthy lifestyles.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the new Welsh Tourism Strategy, Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether the Cabinet Member saw any opportunities, for example, of attracting cruise ships or anything of that nature which might be appropriate for developing the Waterfront in future.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated she had actually had a conversation in which it had been pointed out that Barry had actually got much greater capacity for holding large ships than Cardiff.  However, it was not something that had been a matter for specific discussion to date.  That said, the Council would look at any options in terms of bringing forward any tourism activities of the right level and quality to Barry.  She had also been reminded that, actually, the size of the locks in the Port was, in fact, an issue.

 

(vii)      Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson

 

Having raised this issue in my first two full Council meetings, I was pleased when the Welsh Government did a u-turn on the Council Tax Support Scheme and decided to follow Plaid Cymru’s suggestion and fund the gap for 2013/14 left by the 10% Council Tax benefit cut handed down by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats at Westminster.

  

This would have affected 11,000 households in the Vale of Glamorgan, more than 7,000 of whom would have been paying Council tax for the first time.

 

Could the Leader inform Council of discussions that he has had with the WLGA and Welsh Government regarding the operation of the Council Tax Support Scheme in 2014/15, and what this Council will do if the gap is not funded?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

I am not aware that the Welsh Government actually carried out any U-Turn in relation to this subject.  I am aware that Welsh Government were looking at the budgetary requirements and had not in fact made any final decision on whether or not to pass on the Westminster Con-Dems Governments Welfare Cuts.  I am aware that the £22m support to Councils where the Welsh Government took the full hit may have come at a late stage but I am certainly not aware that it was a Plaid Cymru suggestion as I am fully aware on speaking to several Welsh Government Ministers at the time that they were very mindful of the impact these cuts would have on both the residents and Councils within Wales.  I did take a considerable interest in the issue at the time and talked to many Ministers.

 

This intervention was very gratefully received at the time but it was made clear at that time that such support may not be sustainable in the long term and that it may well change in future years.

 

In covering the actual question and not the party political speech, I can confirm that the Council has recently received correspondence from the Minister suggesting that the Welsh Government may be able to provide further funding towards the shortfall in the next financial year, but due to the funding pressures it is facing, particularly in view of the Chancellors speech in Parliament today, when once again Local Government has taken a big hit, it will not be able to repeat the funding level provided for the current year from 2014-15 or beyond. 

 

The Welsh Government is proposing funding around 50% of the shortfall for 2014-15.  This is subject to current negotiations between the WLGA and the Welsh Government.  In that regard the WLGA are in discussion with the Welsh Government and they have agreed to set up a Finance Sub Committee to look at funding for next year and beyond (something that was lost last year but is now being reconvened).  I am a member of that Committee and will be looking at all issues relating to Council expenditure as will the other Council Leaders who are on the committee with me. 

 

It goes without saying however, that any funding for Council resources will have an impact on our own services in these difficult times.  Welsh Government however, does currently consider that it not be sustainable for local government to fund the localised council tax reduction scheme in the long term and this I am sure will be on the agenda during our discussions with the Minister, and I will be taking that forward.  However, clearly, if we do not have the funding, we have to find the cuts imposed by the Westminster Government from our own resources;  there is nowhere else.

 

(viii)     Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson

 

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Westminster have made a number of damaging changes to the housing benefit system, including for those under the age of 35 and the so-called bedroom tax which I have previously criticised, and which we know affects more than 300 households with a disabled resident.

 

Could the Cabinet Member update us on:

 

a.             The number of applications for discretionary housing payment since April 1 2013, and their success or otherwise, in comparison with the same period in 2012?

 

b.             The number of applications for homelessness since April 1 2013, in comparison with the same period in 2012?

 

c.             The amount and percentage of the budget for discretionary housing payments which have so far been allocated?

 

d.             How many households are currently eligible for the bedroom tax, compared with the number (i) when assessments were first carried out for bedroom tax and (ii) when the bedroom tax was introduced?

                                  

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

 

a.         We received 556 applications between 1st April 2013 and 21st June 2013 compared with 72 for the same period in 2012.

 

Of those considered, the percentage of successful applications in 2013 is 47% compared with 80% in 2012. 

 

The number of successful applications is 214, with unsuccessful applications 241 and 101 pending decision.  There are 14 appeals outstanding.

 

b.         During the period April 1st 2012 to 24 June 2012 there were 368 applications leading to 78 full duty decisions for which the Council were required to provide alternative permanent accommodation to discharge the duty.

 

During the period April 1st 2013 to 24th June 2013 there were 310 applications leading to 69 full duty decisions for which the Council were required to provide alternative permanent accommodation to discharge the duty.

 

The Council receives many more requests than those identified above. An important point is that we prevent around 83% of all enquiries identifying alternative housing options, managing to save tenancies or through general advice and assistance via our drop-in service, which is a vital service.  

 

c.         A sum of £48,136.18 has been paid out so far with a further £82,870.06 committed to future payments, giving a total of £131,006.24 either paid or committed to date.  This is 30% of the total budget. The total budget is £434k including a grant of £219k from the Department for Work and Pensions.

 

d.         Currently there are 1095 households affected, compared with (i) 1057 when the impact was initially assessed in 2012 and (ii) 1142 when the change was introduced in April 2013. 

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to a large number of unsuccessful Discretionary Housing Payments applications, Councillor Dr. Johnson asked what support the Council was providing to those who had been unsuccessful and, although it did not look like the Council was in that situation at the moment, what would happen if the budget was reduced.

 

The Cabinet Member stated that the Housing Options Team were working very closely with Shelter Cymru and, in fact, had received a letter recently from them congratulating the Council on the partnership and teamwork occurring and that it was being repeated across various agencies.  As mentioned earlier, 83% before they actually get to that final hurdle is dealing with an awful lot of applications.  In relation to future budgets, obviously, as the Leader had referred to in his previous answer, there were ongoing discussions with the WLGA and Welsh Government and, again, there was a direct impact from the cuts of the Westminster Government.

 

(ix)       Question from Councillor T.H. Jarvie

 

At a meeting of Cabinet on 22nd June 2011, it was resolved that steps be taken to market this site with a view to a privately funded development of extra care (and / or other suitable older persons’ / social care) residential use of the site.  Authority was given, inter alia, for the appointment of agents to assist with the marketing of the site.  There is understandable concern in Cowbridge over the state of the site generally, and the apparent lack of any progress as to its future.  Can the Leader please tell us what progress has been made since that resolution was passed two years ago?  Can he also tell us whether any discussions have taken place with Members or officers over the past two years with any prospective buyers, organisations or action groups concerning the future use of the site?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

You highlight the fact that your Cabinet in June 2011resolved to take steps to market the site, presumably as it was to be contained within your draft LDP.  It is also clear that from April 2011 until May 2012 when your Party were in control of the Council you did nothing.  To now ask us what we have done after doing nothing yourself, is ironic.

 

However, to answer your question, since the local elections were held in May 2012 and the new Labour-led Cabinet was established, the Council has been carefully considering the future of the Livestock Market site in Cowbridge.   I met with the Market Operators soon after the elections and also agreed to look into the future use of the site, in light of their request and bearing in mind our intention to renew your LDP proposals.

 

In the Autumn of 2012 a local community interest group called the Vale Market Action Group (including local residents, local businesses, and representatives from the Town Council, Chamber of Trade, the Charter Trust and the Market Operator) approached the Council and requested time to complete a feasibility study to put forward ideas for the future of the site in order to retain the Livestock Market.   A consultant feasibility study has recently been received from the Vale Market Action Group identifying options and ideas for the future of the site with a view to retaining the Livestock Market.  The Council is presently giving the proposals set out in the study careful consideration.    

 

This Administration considers the site to be of immense importance to Cowbridge and the wider Vale as well as being an important Livestock Market with a heritage to boot.  This Administration includes and the team led by Councillor Burnett as the responsible Cabinet Member has been fully engaged with the Vale Market Action Group as I have been with the Market operator and much progress is being made.  In fact in a recent press release the Vale Market Action Group thanked the Vale Council for allowing them the opportunity to have this study prepared and they are continuing to work with us.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to local Members not having been invited to participate in discussions to date, Councillor Jarvie asked the Leader whether it was possible to ensure that when any substantive discussions took place between Council Members or officers and the Action Group or any other body interested with proposals for the site, the three local Members could be invited to such meetings.

 

The Leader stated that as far as the Action Group was concerned, it was a matter for them as to who to invite to their meetings and, in fact, the Council did not always have a presence.  It was not an affront to the local Members and he would talk to the Cabinet Member to see what could be done.

 

(x)        Question from Councillor T.H. Jarvie

 

After the 2010 General Election, the two parties which subsequently formed the Coalition Government published, in the interests of transparency, written details of their agreed programme. Can the Leader give us details of the agreement reached with the Llantwit First group after the local elections last year, whether it was agreed in writing, and if so whether it will ever be published?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

I would refer you to the answer I gave to Councillor John Thomas at a previous Council Meeting. 

 

We have no written agreement and never have had one.  We did not see the need having worked with Councillor Gwyn John and his colleagues in the past we knew instinctively that we would work for the best interests of all the people in the Vale.  As there is nothing in writing there isn’t anything to publish.

 

Perhaps you raise the question because you must be looking to Westminster for your inspiration.  After all, I would suggest that Messrs. Cameron and Clegg had to sign up to an agreement for their CON / DEM alliance because they have no trust in each other.  However, I am sure that the Lib Dems will soon be breaking their signed agreement as the ink is running dry as the election gets nearer.

 

On the other hand, we run our partnership coalition on Trust and a common understanding and discuss issues together.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Jarvie considered that the people of the Vale would welcome an assurance that there was no "hidden agenda" in the understanding between the two groups which would funnel any funding to Llantwit Major area that would not otherwise have gone there.

 

The Leader stressed there had been no added benefit to Llantwit Major above anybody else.  Everything was carried out on its merits and, indeed, the Administration had committed to building a school in Cowbridge, building a school in Penarth and building a school, hopefully, in the future in Llantwit Major clearly shows equality all round.

 

(xi)       Question from Councillor R.L. Traherne

 

In a recent report, Ofsted stated that thousands of bright children were being "systematically failed" by England’s non-selective secondary schools.  The report found that 27% of previously high attaining pupils had failed to achieve at least a B Grade in both English and Maths at GCSE.  Furthermore, based on observations of 2,000 lessons, visits to 41 schools and school performance data, the report found staff in some non-selective schools did not even know who their most able pupils were.  It is of note that Ofsted Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said that "the most academically able arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from primary school, but that things started to go wrong very early with low expectations.  They tread water. They mark time. They do stuff they’ve already done in primary school.  They find work too easy and they are not being sufficiently challenged".   Do you think that this may also be true here in Wales and importantly in our secondary schools here in the Vale.

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

 

Whilst the differences between the education services in Wales and England continue to grow, the challenge of ensuring effective transition from primary to secondary school and good progress in the first few years at secondary school appear to be common.  Here in the Vale I want to see students making two levels of progress in key stage 3, including those that have made good progress in primary schools: this does not always happen at present but is a shared ambition for the five councils in Central South Consortium for the future.  Progress in key stage 3 (ages 11 – 14) has been identified as an area for improvement and a Vale-wide strategy to increase attainment levels is presently being implemented.  Members will be aware from a recent meeting that I have brought forward a plan for improvement in key stage 3.

 

During the Autumn term headteachers from both primary and secondary schools met to plan improved transition arrangements from primary to secondary school and additional support is provided to pupils for whom the transition poses particular difficulties.  I am pleased to advise you that early indications are that in the current year progress on some key measures of attainment performance at key stage 3 has improved.  I should emphasise that this is provisional data which is subject to change.  The confirmed results will be reported to Members providing an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the key stage 3 strategy.

 

(xii)      Question from Councillor C.J. Williams

 

Is it now time to introduce 20 mph speed limits in all densely populated residential areas of the Vale?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

I am a strong supporter of 20 mph zones.  Nevertheless, I don’t normally respond to answering Council questions by asking a question of my own, but given the sweeping statement just made, I must ask why and on what basis?

 

To clarify, evidence from the introduction of such zones across the UK would suggest that they are most effective when they are part of a culture shift and a desire from the community, rather than by the imposition of speed bumps and other traffic calming measures. Therefore, I don’t think we can generalise by saying that all residential areas would be appropriate for the introduction of 20 mph zones.  Each case has to be considered on its merits, having regard to an analysis of data, the geography of the area and the views of all stakeholders.

 

As a result of local interest we recently engaged with residents and interested parties on the potential for Penarth and Llandough and will be considering the responses in more detail before deciding on the next course of action.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to having asked for a 20 mph limit for the whole of Dinas Powys several years ago as part of the Safer Routes in Communities Plan and to reference earlier in the meeting to Peterston, Penarth and Llandough Councillor Williams asked whether the Cabinet would discuss this matter soon.

 

Reiterating her earlier comment, the Cabinet Member indicated she would discuss any requests to consult over potential 20 mph zones.  What she would not do was impose 20 mph zones on any community that did not feel it appropriate.  Consultations had been undertaken as a response to requests from local communities, petitions had been submitted earlier in the meeting and she noted Councillor Williams’ concerns regarding Dinas Powys.  She considered such limits would not work unless they were part of what local people want in their community.

 

(xiii)     Question from Councillor C.P. Franks

 

You will be aware that bus services from Barry via Dinas Powys to Cardiff are being reduced shortly.  Given the significant changes to Cardiff Bus services will you indicate what discussions you have had regarding the impact on Vale residents of these proposals?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Transport and Planning

 

Cardiff Bus is due to implement a number of commercial changes to its bus network on 21st July 2013.  Cardiff Bus has notified the Council of these changes but are not required to formally consult the Council.  As they are commercial changes no formal discussions have been held with Vale residents.  However, I met Cardiff Bus on Monday, who have promised to send me full details of changes proposed and the likely impacts.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks asked whether the Cabinet Member regretted the reduction in Council support provided by Welsh Government for public transport which had resulted in bus service cuts.

 

The Cabinet Member referred to having to consider the knock on effect of any funding reductions.  She was concerned regarding reductions in public transport and took the matter very seriously.  She would monitor the issue and deal with it as best as possible.

 

 

(xiv)     Question from Councillor C.P. Franks

 

Since the reopening to passengers of the Vale of Glamorgan line to Bridgend there has been significant passenger use of the train services.  Will you indicate in what way is the Authority in partnership with Arriva Trains promoting the further growth in the use of the line?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Transport and Planning

 

Council Officers work closely with both Arriva Trains and Network Rail in respect of rail services in the Vale of Glamorgan.  In fact, only yesterday I attended a bus service launch event at Barry Town Railway Station where I met Arriva Trains Wales and was discussing the matters of bus service connectivity with the train service in the Vale of Glamorgan.  As one of the Council's representatives on Sewta I am also involved in securing a half-hourly service for the Vale of Glamorgan Line as well as having an involvement in the electrification of the Valley Lines.  On both of these issues I would hope later this year to provide an update to Members of the likely timescales for both of these important projects.

 

(xv)      Question from Councillor S.T. Wiliam

 

Has the Government made a decision regarding the possibility of lending the money that would enable the second road to the Island to be built?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Transport and Planning

 

We are looking at various delivery mechanisms to bring forward the construction of the link road to the Island.

 

We are in constant dialogue with Welsh Government at official and Ministerial level to establish what can be done to bring forward the construction of the road into one phase.  Until these discussions are concluded, and Councillor Wiliam and others will appreciate that this is a very complex legal and financial issue, it would be premature to comment further, other than to say that during the last week progress has been very positive.  I would also refer Councillor Wiliam to the response of the Leader to the public question on this issue.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Wiliam asked, in the event of the funding not being forthcoming for any reason (and since the developer had stated that it would be willing to form a new agreement with the Council to start work on the second road) whether the agreement could be changed to facilitate that building.  He also asked whether the Cabinet Member would attend the public meeting organised for the following week.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that negotiation and exploration of any option available to bring forward construction of the road was continuing, but that was all that she was able, or prepared, to say.  Consequently, she did not consider it beneficial to have people brought to meetings unless there was something to actually say.  As soon as that was the case, Barry Island would be one of her first 'ports of call'. 

 

(xvi)     Question from Councillor S.T. Wiliam

 

Following on from a question I asked last year, what is the Council doing to return land on Barry Island to allotments?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services

 

Since your last question on allotments at Barry Island in March 2012, the Council has produced and consulted on a draft allotment strategy for the period up to 2017.  The final strategy is due to go before Cabinet for agreement later this year.

 

Due to a range of factors, not least the difficult financial position facing all Councils over the next few years, the strategy seeks a solution to meeting the current high demand for allotments recognising that this demand will not be met by the Council alone.

 

I am pleased to advise Councillor Wiliam that our officers are working with a number of community associations to increase allotment provision and have recently been approached by the Barry Island Community Allotment Association to provide assistance on land that they have recently acquired for allotments from Associated British Ports.  This land runs the length of Dyfrig Street and around Redbrink Crescent to the footpath that leads to Jackson’s Bay and comprises 20 plots.

 

As detailed within the strategy we are happy to work with other community associations or landowners to increase provision further. 

 

Supplemental

 

Thanking the Cabinet Member for the comprehensive answer, Councillor Wiliam asked whether he would give an assurance of transparency in the process of allocating allotments and the criteria for such. 

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that the necessary transparency measures would be taken but assured Councillor Wiliam that once the report was available, the opportunity would exist for the Scrutiny Committee to consider such.  He acknowledged the long waiting list for allotments and the pressure on such and referred to having to work with partners to try to deliver more allotment space within the tight financial constraints prevailing. 

 

(xvii)    Question from Councillor N.P. Hodges

 

Could you tell me the number of full time jobs that have been created as a result of the £9+ million of Barry regeneration funding?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

The Barry Regeneration Area Programme is a Welsh Government Programme to which the Council contributes.  Welsh Government is currently carrying out an evaluation of the programme and may be in a position to provide a figure in due course, but it’s important to note that the programme is far from complete, and it will take time to feel the full benefits of some investments. In some cases it will be almost impossible to scientifically measure job creation, although other outcomes such as physical and environmental improvement can more readily be measured.

 

By way of example, The Premier Inn development on the Waterfront was built on land owned by the Council with Welsh Government grant assistance, part of the ongoing collaborative approach to regeneration. In this case, 170 jobs were supported during development and more than 70 permanent jobs were created by the opening. However, in the case of, for instance, the lodge and playground developed at Porthkerry Country Park, there are broad community and educational benefits which are easily measured, but there could also be spin-off employment benefits such as in the cafe or broader tourism sector as a result of the improved environment.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Hodges asked, given it was virtually impossible to evaluate the number of jobs created, how the criteria for success of the level of regeneration funding could be assessed. 

 

The Cabinet Member pointed to the multi-faceted nature of regeneration.  She alluded to reports that had come from the Centre for Regeneration and Excellence Wales which took into account measures such as increased social and human capital.  Account needed to be taken of whether people were developing additional skills as well as actually entering the employment market.  There were a lot of both hard, and soft, measures and there were reports on the organisation’s website which would assist Councillor Hodges. 

 

(xviii)   Question from Councillor N.P. Hodges

 

When will all the amended planning conditions on the Nell's Point temporary car park and temporary events area be carried out?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

In relation to the Nell’s Point and main user car park and fence area, there were a number of conditions. 

 

Condition 1 required a start within 5 years.  In response, works have commenced on site.

 

Condition 2 required that any lighting be submitted and approved prior to implementation.  In response no lighting scheme is proposed.

 

Condition 3 required that prior to beneficial use of the site for car parks and events a management plan be submitted to indicate operation, hours of opening, traffic management, drainage and how noise and dust from any operation will be controlled or mitigated.  In response, officers are working to provide the Management Plan.  The works contract will run until mid July but an opening date for the site has not yet been agreed.

 

Conditions 4/5 requires the details of landscaping to be submitted and then, when agreed, implemented in the appropriate first planting / seeding season.   We are currently reviewing the landscaping options. Implementation may be this year if weather allows but we are generally beyond the normal planting season, which only runs until the end of the Spring.  It may, therefore, mean that landscaping will be implemented in the Autumn.

 

I hope this answers your queries, but if you require any further technical details, please feel free to contact the Council’s Project Managers or the Development Control Officers who would be more than happy to provide details.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Hodges asked the Cabinet Member whether she agreed that the process had been rushed and whether Members would be told of suitable events for the temporary area (which had a no alcohol plan).

 

The Cabinet Member clarified that it was the existing car parking space on Nell’s Point that had been used two days later.  There were currently no events planned, that being subject to further discussion.  She referred to the need to look at opportunities to hold events other than at peak times so as to actually increase opportunities for people to come to the Island.  She alluded to the Transport Festival being a success. 

 

(xix)     Question from Councillor S.T. Wiliam

 

What plans are there for the establishment of a Welsh language immersion unit in the Vale to enable children to transfer from English medium education to Welsh medium education?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

 

Welsh medium primary schools in the Vale seek to immerse children joining foundation phase classes in a curriculum delivered entirely through the Welsh language.  Transfer to a Welsh medium setting at an older age is less likely to be successful and no separate immersion unit is planned.  The vast majority of children admitted to Welsh medium primary schools in the Vale continue their education through the medium of Welsh, for example, in 2012 93% of children transferred from the foundation phase to key stage 2 and 98% transferred from key stage 2 to key stage 3.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to Cardiff having an Immersion Unit, Councillor Wiliam asked whether the Cabinet Member would give this matter full consideration in future and keep the Council informed accordingly.

 

The Cabinet Member was prepared to give consideration to the matter but would make no commitment, given funding implications alone.  He would investigate the option and keep Members informed if, indeed, any plan could be put forward at all.

 

(xx)      Question from Councillor C.P. Franks

 

In the March Council meeting I raised the issue of the new bus shelter serving the Crematorium on Port Road. To remind Members a newly constructed bus layby and stop has been provided for passengers which is not in use.  What was the cost of providing the shelter and layby?  You indicated that you were investigating why both the stop and layby were considered unsatisfactory by Cardiff Bus.

 

What has been the result of these investigations?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

The layby and shelter were provided by the developers of the Pencoedtre Housing Scheme at no cost to the Council.  Importantly, I advised Council in March that the construction of the layby meets all the safety requirements, having met the various staged Road Safety Audits at the time.  It is, therefore, regrettable that Cardiff Bus feels it cannot use the layby.  Council officers are still discussing the issue of the layby with Cardiff Bus and it is hoped that a satisfactory resolution will be reached in the near future, particularly as officers are due to meet Cardiff Bus representatives again this week. 

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks asked whether the Cabinet Member would exercise as much pressure as possible on Cardiff Bus to resolve the matter.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated she was happy to do so.

 

(xxi)     Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson

 

At Full Council on 5th December 2012, in response to a question that I asked about the pensioners’ bungalows on Walker Road, I was told by yourself that:

 

"As you are also aware the decision has been made to install additional doors in the six properties affected and this work will be undertaken as soon as the necessary funding becomes available".

 

More than six months later the necessary funding has not yet been made available and has apparently not been included in the 2013-14 budget, despite my request that you look into this.

 

Since that discussion there has been a fire within one of the residences and a fire in the neighbouring lane, both of which have scared the residents.

 

Could you give Council a promise that this work will take place during the 2013-14 financial year and a timescale for doing so?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

 

As Councillor Johnson is aware the installation of rear doors to these properties has been a long term commitment of Councillor Egan and, at the time, Councillor Margaret Alexander. I am pleased to inform Councillors Dr. Johnson and Hodges that the work is scheduled to be undertaken this calendar year and our officers will shortly be confirming the full details of the work programme with the tenants concerned.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson thanked the Cabinet Member for the response and asked that he be kept fully informed of progress.

 

The Cabinet Member undertook to do so.

 

(xxii)    Question from Councillor C.P. Franks

 

Many small voluntary organisations are fearful of significant cuts to funding next year. Charities in the Vale of Glamorgan have already lost the £60,000 annual Community Facilities Grant Programme Scheme which supported many organisations over the last 10 years relating to Kick Start.  Further the Communities First Trust Fund has not been launched this year.  Many organisations know that cuts are already underway with the prospect of more which are likely to start impacting over the next few years with the implementation of the various austerity measures.

 

How will the Vale of Glamorgan Council ensure that  third sector groups, vital to the delivery of services and the objectives of the Vale Community Strategy, are protected from the ongoing reduction in funding and the likely impact of further cuts under the forthcoming CSR?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

The third sector plays an important role in the delivery of services in the Vale.  This can be undertaken in a number of ways – by direct grant funding, by passporting grant funding from other government organisations and under contracts and service level agreements. 

 

The Council will obviously need to prioritise how it allocates and spends its resources, depending on its service priorities and the resources available to it in coming years.  The Council undertakes this by careful resource planning through the Budget Strategy / Medium Term Financial Plan and the annual budget process. 

 

Account will need to be taken of the likely level of resources over the UK Government’s recently announced Spending Review and how it intends to set its budget strategy.   Given the uncertainties it is impossible at this stage to give any guarantees on future funding.

 

 

150            QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC –

 

The following questions had been received and were replied to as shown below, in accordance with the protocol agreed by Council on 5th May:

 

(i)         Question from Mr. R. Bertin

 

The Council's annual Statement of Accounts identifies capital expenditure and how it is financed but the data before 2008/09 is not available on the Council's web page.

 

Can you please provide the information between 2004/05 and 2007/08?

 

A table within the Statement of Accounts identifies the capital receipts used but the source of those receipts and the annual balances are not identified.

 

I would be grateful if the Leader could provide the following information for each year commencing 2004/05?

 

1.         The annual balance of capital receipts.

2.         The amount of incoming receipts.

3.         The amount of outgoing receipts.

4.         The source and amount of each capital receipt for the year.

 

Reply from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources

 

[View Reply from the Leader]

 

 

(ii)        Question from Mr. R. Bertin

 

Will the Leader please tell us why it has taken so long to let the public know about the relief road plans?

 

Is the Council going to change its policy to allow the road to proceed?

 

Finally, just who is to blame for the delay in building this much-needed road?

 

Reply from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources

 

Thank you for your question which gives me an opportunity to set the record straight on matters relating to the road. .

 

You ask why it has taken so long to let the public know about the relief road plans.

 

The relief road plans have been well known for several years, indeed since the planning application for the Waterfront scheme was approved at Planning Committee.  The plan was that the road would get built as part of the waterfront scheme.  It was to be built in phases to connect to the Island and provide a new link to the Island through the waterfront site.   As you know we are trying to improve on this and are trying to bring the road forward.

 

You then ask whether the Council is going to change its policy to allow the road to proceed.

 

The Council's policy has always been that the road will be progressed and indeed it was negotiated as part of the Section 106 Agreement relating to the planning permission.  As a result, the requirement to build the road in phases was reached following intensive negotiations between Council officers and the Consortium and the Council had to bear in mind the viability of the scheme.   The Council also had to consider the timing and extent of other important requirements such as the provision of much needed affordable housing and a new school.  The stance taken by the Council in agreeing to the terms of all aspects of the S106 Agreement was also reviewed by the Independent District Valuer.

 

We all hope the road proceeds and at the moment the terms of the planning permission and the S106 Agreement mean that it is set to proceed in phases.  As an Administration, we are all working very hard to bring the delivery of the road forward so that it can be completed in one phase and early-on during the waterfront development.  We have been in lengthy discussions with Welsh Government and the Consortium and even today there have been two separate meetings on the issue. Indeed both I and Councillor Burnett met with the Welsh Government Minister yesterday and brought up the matter once again.

 

I can assure you that there is a real desire and wish on the part of the Council to bring the construction of the road forward.  I can also confirm that to date the meetings have been very positive.  I cannot say more than this at the moment, but I am hopeful that a review of all options will conclude that the road can be brought forward.  If it doesn't it won't be for the lack of trying on the part of the Council.

 

Your third question asks who is to blame for the delay.

 

I am not in the blame game.  We are where we are because of external circumstances and the situation relating to the viability of the scheme.

 

My responses demonstrate that there is a real will from the Council, Welsh Government and other partners to make this happen and we will do everything possible to try and ensure that the road can be brought forward.  Once I have news I can share, I will make a further statement.

 

 

151            SENIOR MANAGEMENT REDUCTION: RESIDUAL ISSUES: DESIGNATION OF MONITORING OFFICER / DEPUTY MONITORING OFFICER (L) –

 

(Prior to consideration of this item, the Head of Legal Services left the meeting.)

 

Proposals to implement the senior management reduction arrangements were initially approved by Council on 16th April 2012.  The restructuring arrangements were subsequently implemented from 1st June 2012 and over the last year had seen a significant change to the Council's senior management team and the associated achievement of required savings targets.

 

One of the issues that was not finalised at the time was the permanent designation of Monitoring Officer in accordance with Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.  This was deferred pending a review of capacity in the Legal Section and a review of other options for meeting this statutory requirement.   The Head of Legal Services was, however asked to cover the Monitoring Officer role on a one year interim basis (from 27th June 2012) and the Operational Manager (Legal Services) asked to cover the Deputy Monitoring Officer role for the same period.

 

The above arrangements were approved by Council on 27th June 2012 subject to review at the end of the year's period.  Interim arrangements for both the Monitoring Officer and Deputy Monitoring Officer had proved effective over the last 12 months and had ensured important continuity for the Council during a period of change.  As a result, it was proposed that that the existing arrangements for the designation of the Head of Legal Services as Monitoring Officer and the designation of the Operational Manager (Legal Services) as the Deputy Monitoring Officer be formalised by Council with effect from 26th June 2013 and in accordance with Article 12 (12.01) (c) of the Council's Constitution.

 

As part of the proposals at paragraphs 15 and 16 the officers would be required to undertake duties in addition to their substantive roles of Head of Legal Services and Operational Manager (Legal Services) respectively.  The grading implications of this were set out in the Part II report, which was considered later in the meeting.

 

The Leader confirmed that the Senior Management Committee had met earlier in the day and ratified the recommendations. 

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the designation of the Head of Legal Services as the Council's Monitoring Officer on a permanent basis, together with the additional duties as set out in paragraph 18 of the report, be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the designation of the Operational Manager (Legal Services) as Deputy Monitoring Officer on a permanent basis be approved.

 

 

152            EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

 

 

153            SENIOR MANAGEMENT REDUCTION: RESIDUAL ISSUES: DESIGNATION OF MONITORING OFFICER / DEPUTY MONITORING OFFICER (L) (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPH 15) –

 

Having considered the previous agenda item, Council received a report confirming the processing of salary allowances in respect of the designation of Monitoring Officer and Deputy Monitoring Officer, as set out in the report.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the payment of an annual fixed allowance to the Head of Legal Services, as set out in the report, in recognition of the permanent designation of her post as Monitoring Officer and the undertaking of additional responsibilities set out in the report at Part 1 of the Council agenda, be approved.

 

(3)       T H A T the payment of an annual fixed allowance to the Operational Manager (Legal Services), as set out in the report, in recognition of the permanent designation of her post as Deputy Monitoring Officer, be approved.

 

 

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