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VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 17th December, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor Howard Hamilton (Mayor); Councillors Richard Bertin, Janice Birch, Rhiannon Birch, Bronwen Brooks, Lis Burnett, Philip Clarke, Geoff Cox, Claire Curtis, Rob Curtis, Pamela Drake, John Drysdale, Kate Edmunds, Stuart Egan, Christopher Elmore, Christopher Franks, Keith Geary, Eric Hacker, Val Hartrey, 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, Rhona Probert, Gwyn Roberts, John Thomas, Rhodri Traherne, Steffan Wiliam, Margaret Wilkinson, Christopher Williams, Edward Williams and Mark Wilson.

 

 

709     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors Jonathan Bird, Keith Hatton, Audrey Preston, Ray Thomas and Clive Williams.

 

 

710     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

The following Members declared an interest in the Agenda Items shown.  Given the nature of his interest, Councillor Howard Hamilton, Mayor, left the meeting for the duration of that item (with Councillor Fred Johnson, Deputy Mayor, taking the Chair for that item). 

 

Name of Member

Agenda Item / Nature of Interest

Councillor Richard Bertin

Agenda Item No. 5: Expression of Interest to Welsh Government for Voluntary Merger – Personal, but not prejudicial, interest as an employee of Cardiff City Council.

 

Councillor Rhiannon Birch

Agenda Item No. 5: Expression of Interest to Welsh Government for Voluntary Merger – Personal, but not prejudicial, interest as an employee of Cardiff City Council.

 

Councillor Rob Curtis

Agenda Item No. 9(d): Initial Capital Programme Proposals 2015/16 – Local Authority Appointed Governor – Oakfield Primary School.

 

Councillor Howard Hamilton

Agenda Item No. 9(d): Initial Capital Programme Proposals 2015/16 – Minor Authority Representative – Oakfield Primary School.

 

Councillor Gwyn John

Agenda Items No. 9(d) and 10(b): Initial Capital Programme Proposals 2015/16 – Local Authority Appointed Governor – Llantwit Major Comprehensive School.

 

Councillor Peter King

Agenda Item No. 5: Expression of Interest to Welsh Government for Voluntary Merger – Personal, but not prejudicial, interest as an employee of Cardiff City Council.

 

Councillor Stefan Wiliam

Agenda Item No. 9(d): Initial Capital Programme Proposals 2015/16 – Local Authority Appointed Governor – Ysgol Bro Morgannwg.

 

Councillor Edward Williams

Agenda Items 9(d) and 10(b): Initial Capital Programme Proposals 2015/16 – Local Authority Appointed Governor – Llantwit Major Comprehensive School.

 

 

 

711     MINUTES – 

 

The Minutes of the meeting held on 29th September, 2014 and the two Special Meetings held on 12th November, 2014 were approved as a correct record.

 

 

712     ANNOUNCEMENTS –

 

The Mayor made the following announcements:

 

(i)        He reminded Members of the invitation to attend the Mayor’s Christmas Reception following the meeting.

 

(ii)       He thanked all those who had bought tickets for, or donated to, the Mayor’s Christmas Raffle.  A total of just over £800 had been raised for the Mayor’s Charities.

 

 

713     PETITION –

 

The following petition was received:

 

Petition from residents of Rhoose calling on the Council not to "downgrade Rhoose Library from a professionally run service to one run by a community group" (submitted by Councillors Philip Clarke and Jeff James).

 

 

714     EXPRESSION OF INTEREST TO WELSH GOVERNMENT FOR VOLUNTARY MERGER –

 

In introducing this item, the Leader indicated that the purpose was:

 

(i)        To inform the Council of the use of the Urgency Decision Procedure under Article 13.09 of the Constitution in respect of Cabinet Minute C2551, 28th November 2014.  This related to the submission of the Council’s Expression of Interest in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council to Welsh Government by the end of 28th November 2014. 

 

(ii)       To consider the proposals from the Executive in relation to Cabinet Minute C2551, 28th November 2014.  This related to the above Expression of Interest and it being referred to Full Council for ratification. 

 

The Leader then reminded Members of the background to this matter.

 

The Council at its meeting of 29th September, 2014 considered its response to the Welsh Government (WG) White Paper "Reforming Local Government", which was published in July 2014 and proposed mergers of Councils, including that of the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Councils.  At the same meeting, the Council also considered WG’s associated document "Invitation to Principal Local Authorities in Wales to submit proposals for voluntary merger", which invited Councils to submit by 28th November 2014 bids for voluntary mergers which would allow them to merge sooner than WG’s legislative timetable otherwise allowed.

 

It was acknowledged at the above meeting that, although the Council's preferred option was to continue as a Council in its own right, WG might not allow this to happen.  In order to resist a forced merger, it was consequently agreed by the Council to undertake pre-emptive negotiations for a voluntary merger with Councils "that shared the same values and culture" as the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  To this effect, delegated powers were granted to the Managing Director, in consultation with the Leader, to undertake negotiations.

 

In view of subsequent developments, including discussions with a variety of partners on the options available to the Council, a further report was brought to Cabinet on 17th November, 2014.  That report proposed that, rather than pursuing a "stand alone" course of action, the Council should aim for a voluntary early merger with Bridgend Council, and the reasons for that stance were outlined in the report.  Cabinet approved the preparation of an Expression of Interest to that effect, to be considered by Cabinet by the WG deadline of the end of 28th November, 2014, and to be subsequently ratified by full Council at its meeting scheduled for 17th December, 2014.     

 

Appendix A attached to the report to Council contained WG’s prospectus for Council mergers, "Invitation to Principal Local Authorities in Wales to Submit Proposals for Voluntary Mergers".  It required Expressions of Interest to be submitted by 28th November 2014.  WG intended to respond by 5th January, 2015.  If Expressions of Interest met with WG approval, formal Merger Proposals would be required by 30th June, 2015. 

 

The Council's Expression of Interest, as submitted to WG, was attached at Appendix B to the report to Council and was structured along the lines of the WG guidelines.  It had been drawn up jointly with Bridgend Council, who had submitted the same document to WG. 

 

The purpose of the Expression of Interest was to declare to WG an interest in an early voluntary merger of the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend Councils to take advantage of a range of opportunities to shape their own futures. 

 

The case for embarking on a voluntary merger, the risks of doing so and the mitigating factors, were described in detail in the report to Cabinet on 28th November, 2014 (the report also being included with the papers for Council on 17th December, 2014.  It was considered that there was a convincing argument for a voluntary merger.    

 

It was considered there were strong reasons supporting a Vale / Bridgend merger.  The above report indicated that there were fundamental disparities between the Vale and Cardiff which would make it difficult for a merger on equal terms to happen.  Those disparities were essentially about size (Cardiff Council was roughly three times the Vale’s size) and about the nature of the communities the Councils served:  Cardiff was a densely populated urban conurbation and capital city with all that that entailed, while the Vale’s character focused on a significant rural area, small district towns and villages and coastal towns. 

 

A merger with Bridgend would be seen as an "exceptional" case by the WG as the new Authority would straddle the boundaries of two Health Boards and would not conform with existing EU Convergence area boundaries.  Those issues were addressed in Section 10 of the Expression of Interest.

 

Statements of support for the voluntary merger of the Vale with Bridgend had been received from the following organisations:

 

·         South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

·         Vale Centre for Voluntary Services

·         Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations

·         Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

·         Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

·         Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales and the Chief Constable for South Wales

·         Valleys to Coast Housing Association.

 

Reflecting the resolutions of Council of 29th September 2014, the Leader confirmed that he had kept the other Group Leaders informed of progress regarding this matter.  He had understood Group Leaders to be of the same view regarding the Expression of Interest.  However, he understood the position that Councillor John Thomas, as Leader of the Conservative Group was now obliged to take from a "political" point of view. 

 

Illustrating the fact that circumstances had changed since this matter was originally considered by Council, the Leader referred in particular to the following.

 

The fact that strict observance with the Welsh Government’s preferred option was not a definitive pre-requisite (A point allowed for in the Welsh Government’s "Invitation to Principal Local Authorities in Wales to Submit Proposals for Voluntary Mergers").

 

Along with certain other Leaders of Welsh Local Authorities, the Leader had attended a meeting of the Welsh Government’s Public Accounts Committee, which was chaired by the Conservative AM, Darren Miller.  The agenda for that meeting had contained a letter addressed to Mr. Miller and the Public Accounts Committee, dated 6th November 2014, making it very clear that the Minister wished Local Authorities to seek to end uncertainty for their staff and the wider public by urgently considering how best they could come together with neighbouring Authorities to deliver services on a more strategic and sustainable basis.  The Minister had made it clear that the “status quo†was not an option.  Indeed, he had stated that there was an onus on Local Authorities to indicate by the submission date of 28th November 2014 whether they were prepared to progress with options for voluntary mergers.  The letter had continued by stating that it was the Welsh Government’s objective to see new voluntary merged Authorities in place by April 2016.

 

The Leader formally moved ratification of the Expression of Interest, this being duly seconded by the Deputy Leader. 

 

In speaking to the item, Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson considered that, to a certain extent, the debate was "redundant", given the fact that the Expression of Interest had already been submitted.  He was glad that the Leader had kept the other Group Leaders informed of developments.  However, he expressed his disappointment that Full Council had not had an opportunity to consider the matter prior to the submission date of 28th November 2014, as had been the case in Bridgend Council.  He referred to the need to consider what had changed since the Council had previously rejected a merger with Cardiff Council and (in his view) "reluctantly" agreed to consider a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council, should the option of remaining a stand-alone Authority not be feasible.  It appeared to him that arguments in favour of the Council remaining a stand-alone Authority had been superseded by arguments in favour of a merger.  He did not consider the points raised at Cabinet in November, when this matter had been discussed, to be either persuasive or convincing in terms of the merits with Bridgend. 

 

Acknowledging that some parts of the two Authorities’ shared boundaries and similar characteristics, Councillor Johnson nevertheless referred to areas such as Penarth and Maesteg as being very dissimilar in terms of geography, economy or culture.  He suggested that the Council had undermined its position by reacting to "bullying" by the Minister.  He queried how savings would be found under a merger, given that front-line services would still be required, as would local management teams.  He felt it ironic that the same Cabinet meeting that had agreed the Expression of Interest, had also approved the Council’s involvement in two other collaborative arrangements, neither of which included Bridgend.

 

Given the Council’s level of reserves, he considered the Council to be capable of operating without the need for a merger with either of its neighbouring Councils.  He considered there to be a need for a full open debate regarding the future of local government in Wales and felt that the people of the Vale of Glamorgan should be able to have their say on how local government was organised and delivered for them.

 

Councillor John Thomas, Leader of the Conservative Group, referred to the Notice of Motion to Council in March 2014 rejecting the Williams Commission proposal to merge the Council with Cardiff Council on the grounds that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was a viable and successful Authority which could continue in its present form.  He pointed out that this had been accepted almost unanimously by Members.  On 29th September 2014, whilst the Leader had again alluded to his wish for the Council to stand alone, Councillor Thomas considered he had wavered slightly in terms of his stance.  He felt that Councillors were being bullied by Welsh Government generally with regard to local government reorganisation.  He also held the view that the Leader had been bullied and had caved in to pressure from the Minister.  He reminded Members that he had made the point in the last Council meeting that he felt negotiating with Bridgend would weaken the Council’s case to remain a stand-alone Authority.  In concluding, he expressed his view that, should the Minister approve the Expression of Interest going forward, that would signal the days of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s existence being limited. 

 

Councillor Mahoney reiterated his long held desire to see less Local Authorities generally.  However, he suggested that if a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of a merger with Bridgend was to be undertaken, then a similar exercise should be undertaken with regard to Cardiff, in order that a meaningful comparison could be made.  He felt that the matter should be put to the people of the Vale of Glamorgan for consideration. 

 

Councillor Traherne felt the Leader had made a fundamental error of judgement and “demolished†any argument that the Vale Council was capable of continuing as a stand-alone Authority.  He felt the progression of an Expression of Interest had resulted from the Leader giving in to "bullying" on the part of the Minister. 

 

Councillor Traherne referred to the fact that only three pairs of Authorities had submitted Expressions of Interest.  As such, he suggested that there would be a need for the Minister to introduce legislation, but to there being no mandate on the part of the Minister to do so.  His hope was that the Minister would reject the Expression of Interest submitted by the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend Councils. 

 

Councillor Traherne felt that the section of the Expression of Interest relating to health and social care failed to anticipate how difficult it would be to manage relationships in two Health Boards, particularly given the fact that the closer integration of social care and health in Cardiff and the Vale was well underway.  He also alluded to the section regarding European Union Convergence banding and to Bridgend being a Convergence Area which received significant European structural funding.  Conversely, the Vale of Glamorgan was in a competitive area and, as such, received relatively little such funding.  He felt it unlikely that the Welsh Government would put at risk West Wales and Valleys Convergence funding arrangements.

 

In concluding, Councillor Traherne felt that the proposed merger with Bridgend represented an "unnecessary distraction" from the work the Administration should be concentrating upon in terms of reshaping services and balancing the Council’s budget.

 

Councillor Clarke considered there to be no case for the Vale Council to continue as a stand-alone Authority.  However, he suggested that insufficient information had been provided to the public in terms of the benefits of the merger.  He suggested that a merger with Cardiff Council would mean lower Council Tax levels for Vale residents, whereas a merger with Bridgend Council would mean higher levels.  He considered that a merger with Cardiff Council would be the best option.

 

Councillor Egan, Deputy Leader, felt it was important to dispel suggestions that difficulties would arise in terms of interaction with two separate Health Boards.  He alluded to the South Wales Programme, which had resulted from services being unsustainable in their present form.  There was already a crossing-over in terms of the two Health Boards, given that residents were both coming in to, and coming out of, the Cardiff and Vale Health Board Area for services. 

 

Councillor Egan reminded Members that the proposed merger with Bridgend would not rule out any other collaborative ventures.  He suggested that the Vale Council had been at the forefront of collaboration and joint appointments.  He referred to a recent meeting at which the Minister had made it perfectly clear that, generally, Authorities would not be allowed to continue in a stand-alone capacity.  He fully supported the proposed merger with Bridgend and was unable to support a merger with Cardiff as he was of the firm belief that the latter would result in a "takeover" of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  The current proposals were being progressed in the best interests of the people in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Councillor Gwyn Roberts indicated that, regrettably, he was unable to support the proposed merger with Bridgend.  He felt that such a merger would be of detriment to the people of Penarth, including his own Ward.  He suggested that the Expression of Interest could well prove to be futile, as he was of the view that the Minister was likely to reject the proposal and, instead, embark on his own, different, course of action.  He felt that, as some point in time, local government in Wales would need to take a decision to be the "driver of the local economy".  He was also of the view that this would require the existence of Councils and cities large enough to feature on the world stage. 

 

Councillor Hodges referred to the fact that there was no similar major reorganisation being proposed in England.  He suggested that Wales might again be being used as a "social experiment".  Referring to the Williams Commission Report having recommended the continuation of three stand-alone Local Authorities, Councillor Hodges felt that the Vale Council should be looked at in the same way.  He considered the Minister to have adopted bullying tactics and to recently having suggested that there might, in fact, be even less Local Authorities than envisaged in any of the options in the Williams Commission Report.  Councillor Hodges also referred to the fact that the Expression of Interest had already been submitted to the Welsh Government prior to its consideration by Full Council.

 

Councillor John, Leader of the Llantwit First Independent Group, felt that the "dream" of the Council continuing as a stand-alone Local Authority was unrealistic given the overall circumstances prevailing.  He referred to the last Local Government reorganisation in 1996 and to the previous South Glamorgan County Council in existence prior to that time as having not worked in the best interests of the whole of the former South Glamorgan area.  Whilst the comments earlier in the meeting regarding the varying level of Council Tax might be relevant at the present time, he pointed out that, obviously, would not necessarily remain the case.  Indeed, his understanding was that Cardiff Council would be implementing the maximum allowable increase in Council Tax for 2015.  In concluding, Councillor John referred to the Llantwit First Independent Group as being in support of the Expression of Interest and he felt that proposal would be the best means of seeking “fair play†for the people of the rural Vale. 

 

Councillor Penrose, Leader of the Independent Group, referred to the Group as generally of the opinion that there were, indeed, too many Local Authorities in Wales.   The majority of the Independent Group was in support of the merger with Bridgend.  He suggested that some of the points made by certain Group Leaders at the Council meeting had not been put forward during the meeting of all Group Leaders.  Whilst supporting a more detailed assessment of the feasibility of merging with Bridgend, he also assumed the Council would similarly analyse the benefits of a merger with Cardiff. 

 

Councillor Rob Curtis felt the Leader had appropriately progressed the previous resolutions of Council regarding this matter.  He was of the view that the "stand alone" option was not a realistic one.  Given that Cardiff was approximately three times the size of the Vale of Glamorgan, he was of the view that any merger with Cardiff would see an emphasis on expenditure on Cardiff itself.  He considered the merger with Bridgend to represent a much better "collaboration of equals".

 

Councillor Bertin felt the reality to be that the Vale Council could not exist as a stand-alone Authority.  He felt that mergers, in general terms, made sense and would effect savings.  He believed it was better for the Council to seek to merge voluntarily than be forced to do so.  He was of the view that Bridgend was, indeed, a more similar Authority to the Vale of Glamorgan, but felt that any final decision should be the subject of a Public Referendum for the residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.  He supported the Expression of Interest as submitted and could not support any suggested merger with Cardiff Council. 

 

Councillor Lis Burnett expressed her full support for the Expression of Interest, despite her own Ward adjoining Cardiff.  She felt the Expression of Interest to be designed to provide for the most effective prioritising of budgets and management of services.  Referring to existing collaborative activities with Councils, including Cardiff, she also stated that she sought the benefits of greater regional collaboration.  She felt there to be a lot of similarities between the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend.  She had recently attended a meeting of South East Wales Cabinet Members for Regeneration, Economic Development, Planning and Transportation.  She referred to the meeting as having demonstrated a real willingness on the part of those present to work together regionally and to look to take forward major projects collectively.

 

Councillor Jeff James felt that nothing had changed since the Council had previously formally recorded its wish for the Council to remain a stand-alone Authority.  Whilst there had been references during the debate to the local government arrangements in existence prior to 1996 and to there being various similarities between the Vale and Bridgend, Councillor James referred to the greater levels of deprivation existing in Bridgend.  He did not consider Members had been given a proper opportunity of considering such a significant change of stance on the part of the Council.  He felt that Members had been presented with a "fait accompli".  He suggested that there was no real political support within Welsh Government for taking forward the Williams Commission proposals.  As such, he suggested that the Minister, Leighton  Andrews, had been brought in to "browbeat / bully" Authorities.  He was surprised that the Leader had taken the course of action to pursue a voluntary Expression of Interest.  He was concerned that such a decision had been taken prior to the Council being able to debate the matter fully.  He questioned the evidence suggesting that Bridgend was a better option than Cardiff, being of the view that there was insufficient evidence to support such a significant decision.  He also alluded to the potential for political changes within Welsh Government during the overall reorganisation process (i.e. as a result of the Welsh Government elections in 2016). 

 

Councillor Drysdale acknowledged the need for a comprehensive Cost Benefit Analysis of the proposed merger with Bridgend to be undertaken.  This would clearly form part of the further work to be done if the Expression of Interest was accepted and led to the preparation of a Full Business Case.  He also pointed out the need to pursue general collaborative arrangements on a regional (and, even national) basis.  The main aim of the Administration was to achieve the best outcome for the people of the Vale of Glamorgan.  Councillor Drysdale pointed out that, whilst an initial Expression of Interest had been submitted, should this proceed to the development of a Full Business Case that, in turn, would require further consideration. 

 

The Leader considered it delusional to work on the basis that Local Government Reorganisation was not going to happen.  He reiterated the changing circumstances since the original Williams Commission Report had been issued.  It was clear to him from conversations with various Ministers that Local Government Reorganisation would happen. 

 

The Leader strongly disputed the suggestion from certain Members that he had been "bullied" by either the Minister or anybody within the Welsh Labour party.  He reminded Members that he had been amongst the first people in Wales to stand up and disagree with certain of the Williams Commission proposals. 

 

He did not accept that a case for a proposed merger with Bridgend had not been made.  If the Council was to merge with another Authority, he considered Bridgend to be the obvious partner.  Notwithstanding this, collaboration with many other partners, including Cardiff Council, would continue as would consideration of a regional approach to matters where appropriate.  He felt there to be a general agreement amongst Members that Cardiff was a less appropriate partner for the Council. 

 

The Leader confirmed the point made by Councillor Drysdale in that detailed information and analysis would follow should the Expression of Interest be allowed to progress by the Welsh Government.

 

The Leader did not accept the submission of the Expression of Interest as representing an error of judgement on his part.  He referred to various other Local Authorities as having been willing to adopt a similar approach, but having been unable to do so due to the lack of a partner authority willing to co-operate.  Nevertheless, he was of the opinion that the vast majority of Local Authorities were prepared to take some action in respect of reorganisation.

 

The Council already worked with both the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University and the Cardiff and Vale University Health Boards.  Ongoing involvement with both Health Boards would not represent a problem. 

 

He reminded Members of the action taken by Cabinet at its meeting on 17th November 2014 and to the fact that no Member had sought to call-in the matter for consideration by the relevant Scrutiny Committee.  This was despite the fact that the programming of meetings had allowed for a call-in had one been submitted.

 

Upon being put to the vote, the recommendations contained in the report before Council were approved and it was

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the use of Article 13.09 of the Council’s constitution (urgent decision procedure) to submit the Council’s Expression of Interest in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council to Welsh Government by the end of 28th  November, 2014, be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the submission to Welsh Government of the Council’s Expression of Interest, as attached at Appendix B to the report to Council, in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council be ratified.

 

 

715     SENIOR MANAGEMENT RESTRUCTURING (L) –

 

With the exception of the Managing Director and the Principal Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer, all officers present left the meeting for the consideration of this item, given their interest as members of the Council’s Senior Management Structure.  In attendance were Mr. Jon Gay (Hay Group) and Mrs. C. Bradbury (Geldards Solicitors).

 

In summarising the report, the Leader referred to the previous fundamental review of the Council’s senior management structure implemented on 16th April 2012.  The aim of the review was to reduce the costs and numbers of senior managers across the Council, whilst ensuring a sustainable Senior Management Structure going forward.

 

The main features of the subsequent restructure were the:

 

·         Deletion of the role of Chief Executive

·         The creation of a combined Managing Director / Director of Resources role

·         The allocation of Section 151 responsibility to the Head of Finance 

·         The allocation of Monitoring Officer responsibility to the Head of Legal Services.

 

It was agreed that the effectiveness of the combined role of Managing Director / Director of Resources would be reviewed in July 2015 in the light of experience.  For that reason, the arrangement for the Section 151 Officer responsibilities was also on an interim basis until July 2015.  The designation of the Head of Legal Services as the Council's Monitoring Officer on a permanent basis was approved by Council on 26th June 2013.

 

Following the decision of the current Managing Director to retire, it was necessary to review the current arrangements for undertaking the Head of Paid Service role. 

 

The Managing Director, in consultation with the Leader, had instigated commissioning arrangements for independent external advice to conduct a review, in line with the resolution of the Special Council meeting of 2nd September 2014.  Council had further resolved that outcomes from the review be referred for decision by Council on 17th  December 2014.

 

Hay Group was appointed to carry out the review, the focus of which was on the arrangements with regard to the Head of Paid Service and any immediate consequence on the Council’s other senior roles.  The Hay Group report was attached at Appendix A to the report to Council.

 

In carrying out the review, Hay Group met with a number of stakeholders and a summary of their views was included in the report.  The report also identified the current role of the Managing Director and arrangements elsewhere in the public sector.

 

Hay Group had identified five main options with regard to the Head of Paid Service post going forward:

 

·         Option 1 – Status Quo, continue with a joint Managing Director / Director of Resources

·         Option 2 – Revert to the previous structure, Chief Executive plus a Director of Resources

·         Option 3 – Continue with the Managing Director role, delete the role of Resources Director and rationalise reporting arrangements for Resources Heads of Service

·         Option 4 – Appoint a Joint Chief Executive with no other changes

·         Option 5 – Appoint a Joint Chief Executive and a Director of Transformation / Resources.

 

The report before Council considered the benefits of each option and identified further opportunities for Option 3 following the appointment into the post of Managing Director.

 

The recommendations set out concluded that, should it not prove possible to appoint a Joint Chief Executive in the short term, Option 3 would be the preferred option.  If there was agreement on the merger of the Council then Hay Group’s recommendation would be Option 5.

 

Cabinet, on 28th November 2014, approved the submission to Welsh Government of an Expression of Interest in a voluntary merger of the Vale of Glamorgan Council with Bridgend Council.  Council had ratified the Expression of Interest on 17th December 2014 (i.e. immediately prior to the consideration of this agenda item).  The Welsh Government expected to provide their response to the Expression of Interest around 5th January 2015.  Should the Welsh Government agree, the next stage would be to develop the full Merger Proposal which, again, would need Welsh Government approval before a merger could proceed.  The Council was likely to know whether Welsh Government approved the Merger Proposal by Autumn 2015.  Legislation and statutory orders would be in place early in 2016 and the vesting day of any new voluntary merged council would be 1st April 2018.

 

Consequently, it was currently uncertain whether a voluntary merger would eventually proceed, even if agreement was given to proceed to the development of a full Merger Proposal.  In light of this, it was suggested that with regard to Options 4 and 5, a potential joint Chief Executive post would initially be limited to a maximum of one year.  Whilst an initial appointment could be made on a restricted competition basis, if Members wished, under legislation that would be time limited to 12 months.  On expiry of that period the post would have to be advertised externally.  This could increase the period of uncertainty for the Vale regarding officer leadership.  Bridgend might not wish to share a Chief Executive during this critical period as it could dilute their management capacity.

 

Any arrangements for sharing a Chief Executive would need to be clarified.  This would include the willingness of parties, selection process, responsibilities of the post, reporting / governance structure, pay, apportionment of costs and contractual employment matters.  The proposal would also have to be agreed by both Councils. If this option was chosen, a further report would need to be brought to Council to approve the final arrangements.

 

Option 1 for a combined Managing Director / Director of Resources was a cost neutral option but was likely to lead to a deficit in leadership and change capacity in what would be increasingly challenging times ahead.  The combined current salary for this post was set at a fixed point of £127,133.

 

The existing job descriptions for the Managing Director / Director of Resources roles were attached at Appendices B and C to the report to Council respectively.  Under Option 1, the job description for the combined post of Managing Director / Director of Resources would need to be an amalgam of these separate job descriptions.  Some duties would need to be amended to reflect recent changes, such as the removal of the Returning Officer responsibility (remuneration for this aspect was separate to the substantive salary).  However, it needed to be noted that the arrangement for the Head of Legal Services to be designated as the Returning Officer was for a two year period to 13th  November 2016 and would be reviewed by that date.

 

The substantive role of the Director of Resources included the Section 151 responsibilities.  Under the current arrangements, the role of Section 151 Officer was being carried out by the Head of Finance, for which a supplement to reflect the additional responsibilities was being paid.  This was due to the inadvisability of the Head of Paid Service and Section 151 Officer roles being combined into a single post.  If Option 1 was the preferred way forward, permanent arrangements would subsequently need to be made for the Section 151 duties which would have been removed from the Managing Director / Director of Resources role.

 

To revert back to two full-time separate posts for the Chief Executive and Managing Director, as set out in Option 2, would be a costly option, although it would increase leadership capacity.  The salary scale for the Chief Executive was previously set at £132,468 to £146,412.  The Hay Group report mentioned that Members could consider reducing this.  The salary scale for the Director of Resources was £97,581 to £107,855.

 

The job description of the previous Chief Executive was attached at Appendix D to the report to Council and would form the basis for the new job description, amended to take account of changes.  The job description for the Director of Resources would be similar to that in Option 1 above and based on the job description at Appendix C.  A variation of this option would be to either maintain the Director of Resources substantive role as the Section 151 Officer or to delete this requirement from the role.  The main advantage of the former was that the supplement for additional responsibility would no longer be payable.  The disadvantage was that it would significantly limit the potential field of eligible candidates for the Director of Resources due to the legal requirement for the Section 151 Officer to be a fully qualified accountant.  In their report at Appendix A, Hay Group recommended that the Section 151 role was retained by the Head of Finance.  The Head of Performance and Development currently reported to the Managing Director / Director of Resources.  In Option 2 the post would report to the Chief Executive.

 

With regard to Option 3, it was proposed that the number of Heads of Service reporting directly to the Managing Director was reduced to three, but that the precise nature of this arrangement be deferred until the new post holder was appointed.  This would enable the new Managing Director to have an input into the restructure.

 

This arrangement would provide additional capacity to the Managing Director role and offer a development opportunity and increased accountability for senior managers.  There would be some additional costs due to the increase in responsibility for one of the Head posts but, as set out in the Hay Group report, depending on the Managing Director appointment, there could be an opportunity to mitigate these.

 

As Option 3 represented a new role, a Profile had been prepared by Hay Group and was included at the end of the Hay Group report at Appendix A.  A draft job description for initial consideration by the Senior Managements Appointment Committee could be based on this Role Profile.  The Profile was based on the Managing Director being "freestanding" and not the Section 151 Officer.  This improved governance arrangements and also widened the field of potential candidates that otherwise would be restricted to qualified accountants.  The Hay Group report suggested that the salary for this post be maintained at the current level of the Managing Director at £127,133.

 

The substantive post of Resources Director included the Section 151 responsibilities and if this post was deleted, arrangements for the Section 151 Officer post would need to be made.  It was suggested that this be taken forward once the appointment to Managing Director was made.  As previously indicated, the Section 151 role was currently being undertaken by the Head of Finance on an interim basis until 31st July 2015.

 

The recruitment and selection of a replacement for the Head of Paid Service would be undertaken by the Senior Management Appointment Committee.  However, in line with the Council’s constitution, any recommended appointment would need to be ratified by Full Council.

 

The salary for the Head of Paid Service within each of the Options 1 to 3 recommended by Hay Group was set out in the report.  Terms and conditions would be in line with the Joint National Committee (JNC) for Chief Executives in Local Authorities.

 

Estimated costs of the Options 1 to 3 were set out below, at the minimum and maximum of the grade.  The estimates included salary costs and any supplementary payments for additional responsibilities such as the Section 151 role.  The costs included employers’ national insurance and pension contributions.

 

 

Min of Scale

Max of Scale

 

£’000

£’000

Option 1 – includes costs of Managing Director and supplement for S151 role

183

183

 

Option 2 – includes costs of Chief Executive, Director of Resources and supplement for S151 role

 

321

 

354

Option 3 – includes costs of Managing Director, supplement for S151 role and supplement for an additional higher level Head of Service

 

196

196

The costs of Option 1 also represented the costs of the current arrangement.  With regard to Option 2, should the Section 151 role be incorporated into the Director of Resources post, the supplement would not be payable and costs would reduce by about £12.6k.  The Council could also consider reducing the salary for the Chief Executive post.  Reducing it to the salary level of the Managing Director post would save between £7k and £26k per annum, including employer oncosts, at the bottom and top of the grade.

 

With regard to Options 4 and 5, costs would depend on the nature of the arrangements relating to the Head of Paid Service, including salary and apportionment of costs.  Assuming a cost to the Vale of 50%, a very provisional estimate was £110k for Option 4 and £250k for Option 5.  It was noted that Option 4 might require additional capacity to be provided and the cost of this was not included.

 

Depending on the appointment to the role of Head of Paid Service, further savings from a subsequent senior management restructure might be able to be made and some of these were mentioned in the Hay Group report, particularly in respect of Option 3.

 

The Council had a statutory responsibility to designate one of its officers as the Head of Paid Service and ensure that such officer was subject to reasonable terms and conditions as Council saw fit.  The recommendations within the report sought to ensure that this statutory responsibility was fulfilled.

 

The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 required a Council to publicly advertise posts where it wanted to appoint a Chief Officer and pay an annual remuneration of over £100,000 (unless the appointment was for a period of no longer than 12 months).

 

The Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 inserted a new section 143A into the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.  The section gave the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) powers to make recommendations in relation to any policy in a Council’s pay policy statement which related to the salary of the Head of Paid Service, or any proposed change to the Head of Paid Service salary.  Any Council which proposed to change the salary of the Head of Paid Service (except one which was commensurate to a change affecting the Council’s other staff more generally) must consult the IRPW about the proposed change.  The Council must then have regard to the IRPW’s recommendations on the proposal.

 

The IRPW had been contacted on the proposal and, although their response had not been received in time for inclusion in this report, it was subsequently tabled so that Members could take the response into consideration into coming to its decision.  The IRPW had indicated that it had no objection to Option 3.  However, they had requested that the matter be referred back to them in the event of the Council agreeing an alternative option.   It was important to note that the role of the IRPW was limited to making a recommendation; Council were not obliged to follow it.  However, a decision not to follow such a recommendation would be subject to scrutiny, including by external regulators, such as the Wales Audit Office.

 

In summing up, the Leader indicated that the report had also been shared and discussed with officers from the Wales Audit Office, who had indicated that they were content with the proposals.

 

Any decision to appoint to the post of Head of Paid Service by the Senior Management Appointment Committee following the recruitment and selection process would need to be ratified by Full Council.

 

Councillor Franks thanked the Leader and the Managing Director for the briefings previously provided and for also tabling the letter from the IRPW for Members’ consideration.  In referring to the report, it was his understanding that the recommendation contained certain "safety nets" and understood the difficulties regarding the need to expedite matters, but also to exercise caution within reason.  He asked the Leader if there had been any discussions held with Bridgend Council concerning the legal and practical obstacles in relation to the proposals set out in the report since the last briefing provided to Group Leaders. 

 

The Leader, in response, thanked Councillor Franks for his comments regarding the briefings provided to the Group Leaders and indicated that talks had since been held with representatives from Bridgend Council regarding the possibility of a joint appointment.  However, he reminded the Council of earlier discussions held regarding the possible merger with Bridgend and to the fact that any ongoing discussions would be subject to the Minister’s approval of the Expressions of Interest submission.  He further reminded Members that, in the event of agreement being reached and subject to the approval of the Council’s Expression of Interest as stated in the recommendation, the final agreement to the arrangements for a joint appointment would be referred back to Council for approval.  In the event of the joint appointment not being possible, Option 3 would be implemented without the need to bring the matter back before Council. 

 

Councillor Chris Williams, in referring to the current pay arrangements of the Managing Director, considered that these arrangements had provided good value for the Council and queried why any successor to the Managing Director would be paid more than £100,000.  At this juncture the Leader sought Council permission to waive Standing Orders to allow the advisor from the Hay Group to respond to the question.  Standing Orders were waived and Mr. Gay indicated that the proposed salaries were necessary to attract the right quality of candidate.  In addition, the proposed pay structure took account of comparable pay grades of the Council’s existing Directors.

 

Councillor James indicated that he had difficulty linking the proposed recommendations with the earlier debate on the merger.  He considered that any Member defending the Expression of Interest had made it clear that no final decision would be made by the Council before all the evidence had been identified and submitted to Council for further consideration and decision.  However, before such evidence was available for Council to consider, Members were now being asked to agree to a joint appointment; he considered this to be tantamount to agreeing to the merger between the two Councils. 

 

In acknowledging the concerns of Councillor James, the Leader indicated that the report clearly indicated that any such appointment would be a temporary arrangement for a 12 month period.  In that time the Council would be in a better position to gather relevant information and submit a formal business case for merger to the Minister.  He intimated that the report in itself did not "set anything in stone" and it allowed the Council flexibility without the need for an external recruitment and selection exercise, given the current uncertainty surrounding the future of Local Government.

 

Councillor King sought clarification from the Leader and enquired what the current situation at Bridgend was in terms of their Head of Paid Service.  The Leader indicated that Bridgend currently had a Chief Executive.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T, given both Bridgend and this Council had now ratified the submission of the Expression of Interest in a voluntary merger, then should the Welsh Government give a positive response on progression to the full Merger Proposal, the appointment of a shared Chief Executive be explored, subject to Bridgend Council’s agreement.

 

(2)       T H A T a subsequent further report be brought to Council for final agreement to the arrangements for any joint Head of Paid Service post before proceeding.

 

(3)       T H A T if for any reason a shared Chief Executive is not possible, Option 3 be approved and the Senior Management Appointment Committee make arrangements for recruitment and selection to the post of Managing Director.

 

(4)       T H A T the role profile included in Appendix A to the report be used as the basis for preparation of the job description and person specification for the post of Managing Director referred to in Recommendation (3).

 

(5)       T H A T the salary for the post of Managing Director referred to in Recommendation (3) be set at £127,133 and subject to Joint National Council for Chief Executives in Local Authorities terms and conditions.

 

 

716     CABINET PORTFOLIOS (L) –

 

Following the appointment by Council on 12th November 2014 of Councillors Bronwyn Brooks and Anthony Powell as the Authority’s Member representatives on the Regulatory Services Joint Committee, the Leader had transferred various responsibilities from his portfolio to Councillor Brooks, as Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety. 

 

In addition to the above, additional information was tabled in respect of certain other changes to Cabinet Members’ portfolios (the only actual title to change being the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services now becoming Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools.

 

RESOLVED – T H A T it be noted that the revised Cabinet portfolios were as follows: 

 

Councillor Neil Moore - Executive Leader and

Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources

 

·     Managing Director’s Office

·     Community Consultation

·     Community Strategy

·     Complaints Monitoring

·     Consultancy Services

·     Corporate Image and Communications

·     Customer Care

·     Democratic Services

·     Employee Relations

·     Employee Training

·     Employment Land and Buildings

·     Equalities

·     Financial Services and Budget 

·     Human Resources Strategy

·     Housing Benefits and Rent Rebates

·     Improvement Plan, Action Plans and Monitoring

·     Information and Communication Technology

·     Land and Property Management

·     Legal Services

·     Member Development

·     Members’ Services

·     OneVale and E-Government

·     Organisational Development and Motivation

·     Performance Monitoring

·     Recruitment and Retention

·     Registration Service

·     Risk Assessment

·     Sickness and Absenteeism

·     Strategic Policy and Corporate Plan

·     Sustainable Development

·     Town Twinning

 

 

Councillor Stuart Egan - Deputy Leader and

Cabinet Member for Adult Services

 

·     Adult Services

·     Adult Training

·     Adults Advice and Assessment

·     Catering

·     Adult Community Care

·     Community Education

·     Elderly Persons’ Homes

·     Family Support

·     Health Liaison 

·     Home Care

·     Library and Information Service

·     Lifelong Learning

·     Mental Health Services for Adults

·     Services for Adults with Disabilities / Impairment

·     Special Needs

·     Vale Consortium for Education and Training (VLN)

·     Voluntary Sector Inclusion – for Adults

 

     "Such other executive functions as are set out in the Constitution, as the Leader may allocate to each portfolio from time to time."

 

 

 Councillor Bronwen Brooks – Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

 

·     Allocations

·     Building Maintenance

·     Community Safety (including Section 17 responsibilities)

·     Crime and Disorder Audit Strategy

·     Environmental Health and Pollution Control 

·     Emergency Planning

·     Health and Safety

·     Home Office Related Issues

·     Homelessness and Travellers (including sites)

·     Housing Investment

·     Housing Strategy

·     Identification of Housing Need and Accommodation

·     Licensing

·     Private Sector Housing

·     Pest Control –

·     Probation Service Liaison

·     Social Housing Responsibilities

·     Trading Standards

·     Specialist Services

·     Tenant Services

 

     "Such other executive functions as are set out in the Constitution, as the Leader may allocate to each portfolio from time to time."

 

 

Councillor Lis Burnett – Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

 

·        Barry Regeneration

·        Barry Waterfront and Barry Island

·        Building Preservation

·        Business Support and Innovation

·        Community Regeneration

·        Conservation Issues

·        Development and Planning Policy

·        Economic Development

·        Inward Investment

·        Local Development Plan

·        Marketing

·        Mineral Policy

·        Major Projects

·        Public and School Transportation

·        Road Safety

·        Rural Regeneration

·        St. Athan Enterprise Zone

·        Active Travel

·        Spatial Plan and Sub-Regional Issues

·        Tourism and Tourism Information Centres

·        Town Centre Management and Development

·        Transport Plans (Local and Regional)

 

     "Such other executive functions as are set out in the Constitution, as the Leader may allocate to each portfolio from time to time."

 

 

Councillor Rob Curtis – Cabinet Member for the Environment and Visible Services

 

·     Building Cleaning

·     Recycling

·     Engineering Design

·     Fleet Maintenance

·     Flood Risk Management and Coastal Protection

·     Grass Verge and Roundabout Maintenance

·     Highway Development

·     Highway Maintenance

·     Highway Structures, including Bridges

·     Public Toilets

·     Corporate Security

·     Street Lighting

·     Traffic Management

·     Highway Tree Services

·     Highway Waste Management

·     Waste Transfer and Disposal

 

     "Such other executive functions as are set out in the Constitution, as the Leader may allocate to each portfolio from time to time."

 

 

Councillor Chris Elmore – Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools

 

·     School Admissions

·     Education Advice and Assessment

·     Children Services

·     Children’s Community Care

·     Early Years Education Provision

·     Education Strategic Planning

·     Education Welfare

·     Governor Support and Training

·     Inclusion and Access

·     Mental Health Services for Children

·     Pupil Referral Unit (EBD unit and Amelia Trust unit)

·     School Funding and Support

·     School Improvement

·     Services for Children with Disabilities / Impairment

·     Special Educational Needs

·     Special Needs

·     Voluntary Sector Inclusion for Children

·     Youth Offending Team (YOT)

 ·    Youth Service

 

     "Such other executive functions as are set out in the Constitution, as the Leader may allocate to each portfolio from time to time."

 

 

Councillor Gwyn John - Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sport Development

 

·     Arts Culture and Heritage

·     Beach Management

·     Car Parks

·     Commons

·     Community Centres

·     Country Parks

·     Countryside Strategy

·     Events

·     Heritage Coast

·     Landscape Design

·     Leisure Management (including Sports and Leisure Centres)

·     Parks and Grounds Maintenance (Including Sports Grounds)

·     Play Areas

·     Sports Development

·     Public Rights of Way

·     Water Safety

 

·     "Such other executive functions as are set out in the Constitution, as the Leader may allocate to each portfolio from time to time."

 

 

717     PUBLIC SPEAKING AT PLANNING COMMITTEE (MO) –

 

In December 2013, the Welsh Government (WG) published a draft Planning Bill entitled 'Positive Planning for a Better Wales'.  An important part of the evidence gathering for the Bill was an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) report published in September 2012.  Amongst its many findings, the report recognised the critical role of Planning Committees in the land use planning system and recommended that the workings of Planning Committees be made as efficient and effective as possible.  In response to the IAG report, WG invited the Royal Town Planning Institute in Wales (RTPI Cymru) to draw together expertise to oversee a study into the operation of Planning Committees.  The recommendations were considered by WG and incorporated into the consultation paper on the draft Planning Bill with the Planning Bill introduced in October 2014.

 

There were elements within the consultation that the Council had already implemented, such as an effective scheme of delegation, customer care initiatives and Member Development.  However, a key element currently not in place related to public speaking at Planning Committee.  The Council's Corporate Plan included an action for "the development of a protocol for the public to give evidence at Planning Committees" (Action CL6).  

 

Following the issuing of a new draft Welsh Model Constitution, an elected Member Working Party had been established to draw up a revised Constitution for consideration by Council.  The Working Party had met on a number of occasions and had already agreed certain revisions to the existing Constitution, which had, in turn, been approved by Full Council.

 

The Working Party recently considered the Guide, which was attached as Appendix A to the report to Council, together with the Code, which was attached as Appendix B to the report (which incorporated the arrangements for public speaking at Planning Committee). The Code was due to be considered by the Planning Committee. 

 

The proposed arrangements for public speaking did not apply to Planning Committee site visits.

 

A specific recommendation of the Working Party concerning the Code was to adopt the following:

 

If the Planning Committee is minded to refuse or grant an application contrary to Officer recommendation, it should consider whether to defer the application to the next available Planning Committee, before making the final decision.  Prior to a substantive motion being voted upon which is contrary to Officer recommendation the following procedural motion will be voted upon - that Planning Committee defer the consideration of the planning application to the next available Planning Committee.  If a matter is not deferred which is contrary to Officer recommendation, the Chair should consider temporarily adjourning the meeting to afford Officers the opportunity to draft the reasons for refusal for consideration by the Planning Committee. (Paragraph 1.2.10 of the Code refers).

 

The purpose of a deferral in the circumstances detailed in the paragraph above was to allow Members of the Planning Committee to obtain further legal and planning advice on the proposed reasons for acting contrary to the Planning Officer's recommendation.  Accordingly, with effect from 1st February 2015 (and subject to the Code being adopted by the Planning Committee) the Council's Procedure Rules, insofar as they related to Planning Committee, would require to be amended to reflect the above-mentioned procedural motion.

 

Resource implications arising from the introduction of third party involvement would be monitored.  Any costs would need to be met from within existing budgets, but the changes were likely to result in longer Committee meetings and the need to consider adequate staff cover for Committees to ensure the process ran efficiently.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee ('the Guide'), attached as Appendix A to the report, be approved and take effect from 1st February, 2015.

 

(2)       T H A T the submission in due course to Planning Committee of the Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters ('the Code') attached as Appendix B to the report (which incorporates the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee) be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the Council Procedure Rules, insofar as they relate to Planning Committee, be amended to take effect from 1st February 2015:

 

           ·         To permit public speaking in line with the Guide; and

           ·         Subject to the Planning Committee's approval of the Code to incorporate the additional procedural motion referred to at paragraph 7 of the report.

 

(4)       T H A T the arrangements for public speaking at Planning Committee be reviewed 12 months after implementation.

 

 

718     MANAGEMENT RESTRUCTURE FOR THE CIVIL PROTECTION TEAM (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2507, 3rd November 2014, be approved and Article 12 of the Council’s Constitution be amended by adding "Civil Protection" to the functions and responsibilities of the Director of Visible Services and Housing.

 

 

719     REVIEW OF POLLING DISTRICTS, POLLING PLACES AND POLLING STATIONS (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2527, 17th November 2014, be approved.

 

 

720     TREASURY MANAGEMENT (REF) –

 

Responding to a query from Councillor Penrose regarding the Council’s decision to transfer its banking arrangements from the Co-operative Bank to Lloyds Bank, the Leader indicated he would ascertain from Councillor Penrose the exact nature of his enquiry in due course and respond accordingly. 

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2531, 17th November 2014, be approved.

 

 

721     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2015/16 (REF) –

 

Given the fact that the Mayor had declared an interest in this particular agenda item as a Minor Authority Representative on the Governing Body of Oakfield Primary School, the Leader moved that all the recommendations contained in the report, with the exception of those relating to the Barry Cluster (Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield) be accepted.  This was duly seconded by the Deputy Leader. 

 

Councillor Franks asked for clarification regarding any implications of the slippage alluded to in respect of Ysgol Dewi Sant.  The Leader confirmed that there would be no material effect, with it simply being a matter of the same level of expenditure slipping to be utilised the following financial year.

 

Councillor Franks also sought clarification regarding the substantial change in expenditure set out with regard to the Vehicle Replacement Programme. 

 

Council agreed that Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Director of Visible Services and Housing to respond to Councillor Franks’ query. 

 

The Director indicated that the proposed changes were connected to the ongoing Transport Review.  Given the Council’s intention to downsize the overall number of vehicles, it was considered prudent to await the outcome of that exercise before determining actual expenditure. 

 

At this point, Standing Orders were reinstated. 

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2534, 17th November 2014, with the exception of those relating to the Barry Cluster, be approved.

 

Having declared an interest in the recommendations relating to the Barry Cluster, the Mayor left the meeting during consideration of those particular recommendations (the Deputy Mayor taking the Chair for that item).

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2534, 17th November 2014, in respect of the Barry Cluster (Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield) be approved.

 

 

722     COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME 2014 (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2553, 28th November 2014, be approved.

 

 

723     DRAFT LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 2015 (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2564, 1st December 2014, be approved.

 

 

724     VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT FOR THE EXIT OF THE HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT SUBSIDY SYSTEM AND THE ASSOCIATED HOUSING BUSINESS PLAN 2014 (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2581, 15th December 2014, be approved, i.e. :

 

(1)       T H A T the Housing Business Plan 2014, as attached at Appendix 4 to the report and the Heads of Terms of the Voluntary Agreement, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Director of Visible Services and Housing, in consultation with the Head of Finance, the Head of Legal Services, the Leader and the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety to agree to the exit of the HRAS system once formal notification is received.

 

(3)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Head of Finance, in consultation with the Director of Visible Services and Housing, the Head of Legal Services, the Leader and the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety to agree to the final settlement amount.

 

(4)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Head of Finance, in consultation with the Director of Visible Services and Housing, the Head of Legal Services, the Leader and the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety to agree a change in the Treasury Management Strategy, in order to borrow the required settlement amount from Public Works Loans Board (PWLB).

 

(5)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Director of Visible Services and Housing, in consultation with the Head of Finance, the Head of Legal Services, the Leader, and the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety to agree any changes to the Business Plan if necessary before submission on 7 January, 2015 and thereafter.

 

(6)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Head of Legal Services, in consultation with Director of Visible Services and Housing, the Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety to finalise the terms of the Voluntary Agreement and execute the same.

 

(7)       T H A T the use of article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution (Urgent Decision Procedure) be authorised to enable the report to be presented to Council on 17 December, 2014, in order to meet Welsh Government deadlines.

 

 

725     CREATIVE RURAL COMMUNITIES: RURAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN LEADER PROGRAMME (2014-2020) (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C2467), 22nd September 2014, (as set out in Article 13.09(a)(ii) of the Council’s Constitution), in respect of the submission to Welsh Government of the draft Rural Local Development Strategy, be noted.

 

 

726     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2015/16 (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the use of the Council’s Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C2534), 17th November 2014 (as set out in Article 13.09(a)(ii) of the Council’s Constitution), in respect of increasing the 2014/15 Capital Programme for various schemes, to be funded from an increased revenue contribution in 2014/15, be noted.

 

 

727     QUESTIONS PURSUANT TO COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE 8.2 –

 

Due notice had been given of the following questions:

 

 

(i)         Question from Councillor Richard Bertin

 

Will the Cabinet Member for Community Safety please give us an update on the recent terror arrests in Barry?

 

Response from the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety (N.B. As the Cabinet Member had had to leave the meeting, the reply was, in fact, given by the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools.)

 

The Community Safety team were not given advance warning of the operation which took place on 4th December.  However, the Council was informed via the Community Safety Inspector for South Wales Police following the arrests that were made on the same day.  The local Chief Inspector also telephoned the Leader on the morning of the arrests (in confidence) in case there were any press enquires.

 

It is presumed that the department were not made aware due to the covert nature of the operation.

 

Police officers from the Safer Vale team were involved in reassurance work in the area after the arrests.

 

(ii)        Question from Councillor Richard Bertin

 

Can the Leader please inform us why all Members of this Council were not consulted prior to an approach being made with Bridgend Council for a merger?

 

(N.B. It was noted that, prior to the meeting, Councillor Bertin withdrew the above question).

 

(iii)       Question from Councillor Richard Bertin

 

With the latest estimate of 500 job losses being recently announced – do we yet have any indication where the jobs are likely to go in this Authority?

 

Response from the Leader

 

I am surprised that you ask this question as I think it would be both irresponsible and premature to consider this at this meeting.  Staff members are obviously anxious about their future and to ask me to give an indication to where these job losses are likely to be experienced is one that I could not, and would not, indicate at this time.  I would also remind you that we have an Avoiding Redundancy Policy in place and that will be used whenever, and wherever, possible.

 

I hope that there will be no compulsory job losses at any time and I will do my utmost and everything possible to ensure that any jobs can be achieved by retirements or amicable means, although I do accept that may not always be possible.

 

However, I will give a generalised response to your question.

 

The estimate of potential job losses was set out in the revenue budget report for Cabinet on 17th November 2014.  The report suggested that there could be up to 150 job losses resulting from the savings already identified over the next three years, and as set out in Appendix 3 of that report. Based on the savings identified, the spread of potential job losses is relatively even across the Council’s five directorates, although highest in the Visible Services and Housing Directorate (with up to 40 posts being lost over the three year period).  

 

The Cabinet report also indicated that a further 350 posts may need to be lost over the same three year period in order to achieve the £14 million savings which have yet to be identified.  This figure was based on an assumption that two thirds of the savings target of £14 million would need to be found by staffing reductions. The numbers could be higher or lower, depending on the type of staff and how the savings will be achieved.  It is expected that the Council’s Reshaping Services programme will contribute significantly to meeting the residual savings targets over the next three years.  Members will be consulted on the progress and outcomes of this programme.  I hope to keep job losses as low as possible.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Bertin asked whether the Leader would pledge to attempt to protect front line posts as much as possible and also sought clarification on the future of temporary and contracted posts. 

 

The Leader reiterated his earlier comments, particularly his desire to protect as many jobs as possible.  He reminded Councillor Bertin of the existence of the Council’s Avoiding Redundancy Policy, which would be used as appropriate.

 

(iv)       Question from Councillor John Thomas

 

In the Regeneration Section of the Council’s Corporate Plan at R6 Members will be aware that it states that the Council will work with our transport partners to promote and develop options to improve strategic highway and public transport improvements between Barry and Cardiff and the M4. (2013/14).  I am sure Members will agree that this is desperately needed.  Barry is the largest town in Wales and if it is to thrive then it must have reasonable strategic highway infrastructure.  Indeed this is critical to Barry’s Regeneration. 

 

At present during much of the working day the traffic using roads to Cardiff and the M4 from the east is as often as not stationary, and this situation is going to further deteriorate as more and more houses are built in this area.  To the north of Barry is the Five Mile Lane, which is well named.  It is completely unsuitable to serve the largest Town in Wales.  When you also factor in the fact that this lane is the route used by most people to travel to Wales’s one and only International Airport and the St. Athan Enterprise Zone – it is abundantly clear that it is not fit for purpose.  I understand that there is Welsh Government money available, the design of a new road is well underway but that work to remedy matters will not start until 2016.  It is somewhat unclear as to what is going on.  As such, are you able to update Council on the plans to upgrade 5 Mile Lane so that it is better able to serve the Regeneration of Barry, passengers using the Airport and businesses seeking to relocate to the Enterprise Zone?

 

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

 

I had hoped to bring a report to Council on this matter, but, at present, officers of the Council are continuing discussions with the Welsh Government to take forward the design of the scheme to a point at which a planning application could be submitted.

 

As I say, it had been the intention to report details of a scheme to Cabinet and Council before Christmas.  The report would have considered issues such as the proposed route and the actions and approvals necessary to take a scheme forward. However, ongoing discussions regarding how the scheme would be funded, and the risks to the Council associated with any funding offer, have delayed matters. As these discussions progress, I do anticipate reporting on this matter in the New Year and I am confident that I will be in a position to set out all relevant details for the consideration of Members. 

 

In closing, I would say that the 2016 start date referred to in the question is somewhat hypothetical and relates to a best estimate, if agreement can be reached on funding, programming and, of course, also relies on matters not wholly within our control ,such as land acquisition and consulting on, and considering, any planning applications.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Thomas asked whether the Cabinet Member would comment on his understanding that the Leader had been quoted as saying that improvements had never been made on this road as the Council was still arguing with the Welsh Government regarding funding.

 

The Cabinet Member responded that she was unaware of any such comments having been made.

 

(v)        Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

Ever increasing demand, budgetary pressures, the failures of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and the daily demands of dealing with increasingly complex and often exceptionally difficult issues mean that all our excellent staff in Children and Young People Services are under a great deal of pressure.  This is particularly so for our Social Workers.  How are they coping?

 

Response from the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools

 

I welcome Councillor Traherne’s very positive judgement about the quality of the staff in Children and Young People Services.  He is right also to highlight the scale of the challenges they face.  Members will be aware of the problems experienced across the UK in finding effective solutions to problems such as increasing dependence on agency staff, poor morale and emerging evidence about issues such as well-organised child sexual exploitation. 

 

As demonstrated in recent reports from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, this Council has responded very well to the challenges, both operationally and strategically. 

 

We are not complacent.  Like all local authorities, we do have recruitment hotspots in child care posts.  However, the Vale of Glamorgan benefits immensely from the fact that our social workers comprise a relatively stable and experienced group, committed to working effectively for this Council. 

 

We are intent on providing them with all the support that helps to increase practitioner resilience.  This includes:

 

·         clarity about roles and responsibilities;

·         the oversight and supervision provided by very good frontline and middle managers who ensure that staff have ready access to advice and guidance;

·         good training opportunities;

·         access to excellent legal advice;

·         good workforce planning; and

·         an organisation that respects and values their professional expertise.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to a recent BBC survey of Children’s Services, social workers’ caseloads across Wales, Councillor Traherne referred to it having been reported that one social worker in the Vale of Glamorgan had 37 active cases (which he understood was almost double the recommended number).  He asked whether the Cabinet Member could reassure Council that casework overload would not lead to mistakes which, in turn, could put at risk vulnerable children and young people in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

The Cabinet Member indicated he was unaware of the individual case referred to.  Had he been, he would have provided Councillor Traherne with a written reply.  However, he indicated he would not accept instances of excessive caseload and any such associated risk.  He assured Councillor Traherne that the Council would never put any individual intentionally at risk.  However, he would investigate the matter further and provide a written reply. 

 

(vi)       Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

Many elderly and frail people in Care Homes, often suffering from dementia, are vulnerable and it is clearly vital to ensure that their needs are being met in a dignified and caring manner.  Can the Cabinet Member explain how the Vale of Glamorgan Council ensures that high standards of care are maintained in Care Homes across the Vale, both in our own Care Homes and also in the Independent Sector?

 

Response from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services

 

Ensuring that people receive good quality care in all our service settings is an acknowledged priority for this Council.  The recent report by the Older People’s Commissioner demonstrates the particular difficulties involved in achieving and maintaining high standards in residential care homes for older people. 

 

We do not underestimate the need to be vigilant or the potential for abuse to occur.  However, I can reassure residents and their families that many local homes (across the public and private sectors) provide very good care. 

 

There is an exceptionally wide range of interventions in place (which Councillor Traherne, as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) would be well aware of), within Social Services and through independent inspection, to monitor and respond effectively to issues that can arise. 

 

All Care Homes are registered with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.  They have to meet national standards, in order to be registered, and maintain those standards, to continue operating.  All homes are subject to unannounced inspections by the CSSIW and their reports are available to the public.  In addition, there is regular dialogue between CSSIW and senior officers within Social Services in the Vale to discuss any service providers where there are issues of concern.  Appropriate and timely action is taken when required.

 

A respected third sector organisation, Age Connects, is supported by the Council to provide an advocacy service in all care homes across the Vale.  The advocates visit homes and talk to the residents and their families, enabling them to praise good practice and to raise any areas of concern.  Thus information is shared with the Council.

 

The Council also has a Provider Performance Protocol in place, which provides a clear structure for any intervention that might be needed on our part to maintain standards.  A range of agencies are involved in this process, including the Local Authority, CSSIW and the Health Board where appropriate.  Through this process, an agreed action plan is developed and monitored.  There have been occasions where agencies have agreed to stop all new placements in a care home until issues have been addressed.  We also make extensive use of the multi-agency arrangements for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to a comment from the Older People’s Commissioner in October 2014 regarding some home care residents becoming malnourished, Councillor Traherne asked whether the Cabinet Member could reassure Council that this was not occurring in the Vale of Glamorgan and that all residents in care homes were receiving a choice of nutritionally balanced meals. 

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that, whilst he would like to give such an assurance, he could not do so entirely.  This was due to the fact that all homes operated slightly differently, with changes of staff from time to time.  This could alter the nature of the food provided which, in turn, might well be wholesome food but, nevertheless, still not be eaten by certain residents. 

 

The Cabinet Member reminded Members of the inspection regimes which existed, together with the existence of advocates and social workers’ involvement which meant that any such occurrences were brought to the Council’s attention as early as possible.

 

(vii)      Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

On page 15 of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Corporate Plan under the Housing Section and Meeting Local Housing Need, Action H2 is to "develop a wide range of options for older people requiring support and prepare a feasibility study for the provision of an older people’s village. (2013/14)".  Has any progress been made in achieving this objective?

 

Response from the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety (N.B. As the Cabinet Member had had to leave the meeting, the reply was, in fact, given by the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools.)

 

An Accommodation with Care Group has been established to look at changing needs and expectations, alongside resource issues and demand pressures, in order to increase the range of options available to older people across all sectors.  This Group is considering a wide range of service developments, building on recent achievements such as the creation of an Extra Care facility in Barry (with the support of a £10 m Social Housing Grant) and the innovative use of an Intermediate Care Fund Grant which, in part, delivered enhanced facilities to be provided at  Redlands House, Penarth.  This Housing, Health, and Social Care inspired model has led to a range of accommodation options to include reablement, very sheltered and remodelled homes for older people. 

 

Monies generated from the sale of Gardenhurst (£1.2m) have been put aside to support future social care developments for older people, which could include an older people’s village, including use of Local Authority owned land and finding partners for any new provision.

 

The Wales Co-operative Centre is working with the Vale Council to ensure proper engagement with stakeholders, including older people, in developing new accommodation with care services.

 

An Older Person Housing Options paper is being developed for submission to Housing and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee in February, which will highlight Housing Market trends and an analysis of identified future needs. 

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Traherne asked whether there was provision for an older people’s village within the draft Local Development Plan.

 

Replying on behalf of the relevant Cabinet Member, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools indicated that he was unaware of any such provision.

 

(viii)     Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

What assessment have you made of the success of the Castleland Renewal Area?     

 

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

 

Success Outputs and Outcomes for the Castleland Renewal Area are included within the Development Services Plan.  Targets are set in this Plan for 2014/15 to measure the percentage of dwellings that have benefitted from assistance under the facelift programme, and the percentage of owners or occupiers who received assistance and felt the assistance has improved their living conditions.  These statistics are collected annually, but for 2013/14, 87.96% of people who have received assistance in the Renewal Area felt the assistance had improved their living conditions.

 

The completion of the Castleland Renewal Area Residential Face-lifting Programme during November 2014 marks the end of the first phase of this very popular project.  Officers are currently collecting information on the work completed to date and drafting a report to present to the Housing and Public Protection Scrutiny in Quarter 1, 2015/16.  The report will set out information on the outcomes and successes achieved to date in the area.  Informing this report will be data collected from customer satisfaction surveys relating to the Residential Face-lifting Scheme, information from resident surveys on residents’ opinion of the work completed so far, and the findings of a retrospective Health Impact Assessment recently completed that show an overall positive impact on the health of residents.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether any information existed as to whether the process would be rolled out to other parts of Barry. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools, on behalf of the relevant Cabinet Member, was unable to provide a reply other than to state his understanding that any such roll out would be determined by specific criteria.

 

(ix)       Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

What preliminary discussions has the Leader held about the 2016/17 budget?

 

Response from the Leader

 

I am sure that Councillor Johnson is familiar with the contents of the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan, which is produced annually.  The Plan attempts to match future predicted resources and expenditure, identify potential shortfalls and provide the financial framework for the next 3-5 years

 

The current version of the Plan incorporates the 2016/17 financial year and has been before Cabinet, Scrutiny Committee and Council.  It is also used as the starting point to develop the budget strategy for the next financial year.  Any assumptions relating to cost pressures, funding etc. are further reviewed and updated as further information becomes available. It, therefore, forms an integral part of the annual budget process, but is a living document.

 

We are all aware that the Westminster Government’s 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review heralded a marked reduction in the level of funding to be provided by the Welsh Government to councils in the form of Revenue Support Grant.  Further reductions were announced in June 2013, as part of the latest Spending Review to 2015/16, which reinforced the continuation of austerity measures in the public sector for the foreseeable future.

 

For the Vale of Glamorgan Council, the effect of this has been all too apparent, through the significant reductions in both the 2014/15 and 2015/16 final settlements received from Welsh Government when compared to the indicative figures previously supplied.

 

As approximately three quarters of the Council’s net budget is funded via Welsh Government, the ability to gauge the level of future settlements is undoubtedly a key consideration.  However, public sector funding for 2016/17 will be the subject of a further comprehensive spending review following the 2015 General Election.

This will determine the allocation of funding to Welsh Government, who will, in turn, decide on its distribution amongst the Welsh public sector, including local councils.

 

Discussions and meetings have been held between Members, officers and Welsh Government officials in order to best establish the position going forward.  However, in view of the impending spending review, Welsh Government has not been able to provide local authorities with any indication of the 2016/17 settlement at present.  As a Council, and through the various representative bodies available to us, we will continue to pursue this matter, with a view to providing some clarity and stability on future funding levels.  As and when things become clearer, these will be incorporated into our financial planning regime and help inform our direction of travel.   

 

What is obvious to me, however, is that we cannot afford to sit back and wait for these decisions to be made.  The message on reduced public sector funding is crystal clear.  As a Council we have a well-developed savings agenda which must be followed and can only be further enhanced through pursuing both our Reshaping Services programme and our efforts to seek a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the issue of National Insurance contributions, Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether the figure of around £2.5m in terms of cost growth had been the subject of any discussions with the Welsh Local Government Association and Welsh Government to ensure that the brunt of the reduction did not have to be met by taxpayers in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

The Leader reiterated his comments regarding all potential impacts of the budget being considered and that discussions with Welsh Government officials were taking place.  The level of growth in National Insurance contributions was yet to be identified, but it would be taken into consideration and reported upon as appropriate.  He also pointed out to Councillor Dr. Johnson that, as his questions had referred to the 2016/17 budget, no indications from Welsh Government were available regarding that particular year.

 

(x)        Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

One of the three Welsh Government standards for libraries in 2013-14 which this Council did not achieve was the percentage of staff with a formal qualification in library and information studies.  What has the Council done to reach this Standard in the current year?

 

Response from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services

 

Our priority in the Vale has been to provide front line staff who directly work with customers. We employ 0.41 frontline staff per 1,000 resident population, compared with the standard of 0.37.

 

We do not, however, meet the standard that 23% of library staff hold a professionally recognised qualification in library and information studies and are employed in identified professional posts.  In the period since 2011/12, 20% of our staff hold a recognised qualification and are employed in an identified post.  We have successfully supported staff to attain qualifications during this period, but these newly qualified staff cannot all be counted towards the standard.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether the potential towards community libraries and volunteers would have any impact on the Council’s ability to achieve the standard?

 

The Cabinet Member considered it to be difficult to answer the question at present, but referred to the Deputy Minister responsible for libraries as having carried out a review.  Consequently, circumstances might change in the future.  He also reminded Members that the Council’s consultation period on its library review had yet to be completed.

 

(xi)       Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

What assessment have you and officers made of the Intermediate Care Fund in assisting pressures in social care?           

 

Response from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services

 

As Councillor Johnson will be aware, we have adopted a very detailed programme management approach in the Vale, ensuring that the one-year finance made available by Welsh Government’s Intermediate Care Fund is used to best effect.  

 

Ten projects have been established with the funding provided, which focuses on meeting the needs of older people.  As the recent six-monthly progress report to Welsh Government demonstrated, all of the projects are making a good contribution to the overall aims of the programme.  They have:

  • encouraged collaborative working between social services, health and housing;
  • supported older people to maintain their independence and remain in their own home;
  • avoided unnecessary hospital admissions or inappropriate admission to residential care, as well as preventing delayed discharges from hospital.

One of the challenges in developing new services over a very short period is that they tend to become fully operational late in the financial year.  Evaluation of their impact, therefore, is very difficult and based on relatively limited information.  However, we know that the rate of delayed discharges for social care reasons has halved since April.  We have reconfigured sheltered accommodation in Penarth that now provide specialist units that assist older people to maintain and regain their independence in their own homes.  We are piloting integrated working across health, social care and the third sector through a Communications Hub that will reduce the number of referral routes and involve a multi-disciplinary team of health and social care specialists to direct service users to the right service first time.  This is resulting in shorter waiting periods at the Customer Contact Centre and improved redirection and co-ordination of referrals. 

 

Adult Services demand and financial pressures continue to grow, but at a lower rate than expected, given the increase in the number of older people in the Vale.  This may well indicate the positive work being done in the service to manage those demands.  Staff from all five organisations within the overall health and social care partnership have embraced willingly the need for service reform. 

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the Welsh Government having received £70m as a direct consequence of the Autumn Statement, Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether any representations had been made regarding funding being directed to the Intermediate Care Fund or for a renewal of the Fund from that funding to alleviate cost pressure on taxpayers in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that the Leader had written to a number of Ministers raising the point that funding for such innovative services, which the Council was now delivering with Intermediate Care Fund money, should continue.  The point had been made that given the provision of additional funding by the Westminster Government to the Welsh Government, that some of that additional funding should be utilised to continue with such projects.

 

(xii)      Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

What impact assessment has been made of proposals to introduce town centre parking charges in the Vale of Glamorgan?   
 

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

 

In July 2013, officers commissioned independent Consultants, Capita, to undertake a detailed study into off-street and on-street car parking in Barry and Cowbridge town centres, with a view to the Council introducing car park charging at a future date.  As part of this commission, Capita undertook and analysed comprehensive on and off-street parking surveys between the 13th to 21st July 2013 to review existing parking demand and supply in both Barry and Cowbridge Town Centres.  This information was also compared with similar surveys undertaken in 2003.

 

The report assesses in detail the availability of parking and considers the impact of parking charges within both Barry and Cowbridge Town Centres.  It also recognises that Barry and Cowbridge are two different towns from a parking perspective and that the setting of charges will have an effect on how car parks are generally utilised within both areas.  However, the Capita report generally identifies that there is benefit to introducing parking charges in terms of managing and controlling the turnover within individual car parks to obtain the optimum usage.

 

The full details of the Capita report will be made available and considered as part of a Cabinet report scheduled for early next year that will propose the introduction of charging in a number of car parks in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson asked what consultation would be undertaken with traders and residents in areas affected by car parks with a view to ensuring that a situation did not arise where additional income was generated from parking, but money was lost to the economy generally due to reduced footfall.

 

The Cabinet Member pointed out that the pilot project which had been undertaken and reiterated his comments regarding the full details of the report being made available to Members in due course.  At that time, a full opportunity for discussion would occur, together with the ability for the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) to consider the matter should a call-in arise. 

 

(xiii)     Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

The Cabinet Member said in May that she intended to present to the Cabinet in early Autumn a revised population household projection paper for the LDP.  When is that paper to be presented?      

 

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

 

Officers are continuing to work on both the responses to the LDP Deposit Draft and also to the Alternative Site consultation.  Part of this work involves changes to the LDP and its Background Papers to ensure that they consider the latest 2011 Welsh Government Household projections.

 

The number and variety of representations received to the LDP has meant that that the responses to the consultation and revised background papers will now be presented to Cabinet in late Spring 2015; this being in line with the timetable agreement that the Council has with the Welsh Government.  Members will, therefore, be able to consider all of the consultation responses and any suggested changes together at that time.  This way, housing will not be considered in isolation, but as an integral part of the LDP, which Members will appreciate also deals with other fundamental issues, such as jobs and infrastructure.

 

It is still envisaged that an Examination in Public for the Plan will be held later in 2015 when the LDP Housing Requirement Figure will be independently assessed by an Inspector, alongside all other linked and inter-related matters.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether there would be provision within the Local Development Plan for an older persons’ village. 

 

The Cabinet Member reiterated the point that the LDP process was following a timetable agreed with the Welsh Government and that that would include a review of all evidence and the bringing forward of such for inspection.

 

(xiv)     Question from Councillor Christopher Franks

 

Will you indicate the policy regarding the repair of pavements across the county?

 

Response from the Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services

 

The Council has a statutory duty under section 41 of the Highways Act (1980) for the management and maintenance of approximately 788 km of footway Vale wide. Regular highway safety inspections are carried out at pre-determined intervals to ensure they are safe to be used by all categories of pedestrians, including pushchairs, the elderly, wheelchair users and those with mobility impairment.  The inspection frequency is determined by the category of footway; for example, shopping areas and primary walking routes are inspected on a monthly basis, secondary walking routes every three months, while the remaining footway routes are inspected every six months  

 

During these inspections any defects such as broken / rocking paving slabs, potholes etc. that exceed the Council’s intervention level of 20mm are identified and categorised for repair according to severity.  The current repair response times are 24 hours for a Category 1 (dangerous) defect and 15 working days for a normal Category 2 defect.  These inspections are carried out in compliance with the National Code of Practice for Highway Maintenance Management.

 

For the past year, officers have also been undertaking an asset management survey of all footways in the County.  This survey will rank the condition of the Council’s footways against an all-Wales benchmark which is currently being promoted by Welsh Government.  The results of this survey will be available by April 2015, after which time a report will be tabled at Cabinet detailing the Wales-wide information.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks asked whether the Cabinet Member could provide an indication of the spend on pavement repairs within the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The Cabinet Member requested Councillor Franks to inform the Council’s C1V service of any concerns / defects regarding pavements.  As far as expenditure was concerned, he would provide a written reply.

 

(xv)      Question from Councillor Christopher Franks

 

How many jobs have been created as a result of the Enterprise Zone in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

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

 

You asked me the same question in September and, at that time, I advised that the Enterprise Zone is a Welsh Government initiative and this was, and remains, a question relevant to Welsh Government.

 

In September I said that I was surprised at this question, given that your Party has taken the matter to the Information Commissioner, complaining that statistics related to each Zone have not been released.  At the time, I suggested that as your Party had complained to the Information Commissioner that figures for each Zone were not available, you should await that outcome.

 

Earlier this month the Commissioner ruled on the matter and said that job figures for each Zone should be released.  The Commissioner has given the Welsh Government 35 days to release the information. 

 

It is difficult to see what is so complicated about this.

 

You ask for job creation figures as a result of a Welsh Government policy initiative and you are advised it is a matter for Welsh Government.  You seek the figures from Welsh Government, taking the matter to the Information Commissioner, who has now asked the Welsh Government to release figures.  The Welsh Government has been given 35 days to release the figures and your spokesperson says at the beginning of this month that he looks forward to receiving the figures.  Your spokesperson seems to understand that this is a matter for welsh Government, but, unfortunately, you don’t seem to.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks asked what would be done with the information once it was received by the Council and how it would help the economy of the area. 

 

The Cabinet Member referred to the Administration’s policy as evidence-based and  that the information would add to the knowledge base.

 

(xvi)     Question from Councillor Christopher Franks

 

What recent assessment has been made of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s procurement policies?

 

Response from the Leader

 

As part of a national public sector initiative, the Council took part in a "Procurement Fitness Check" in January 2014.  This process was undertaken by external consultants on behalf of Value Wales / Welsh Government in order to assess the organisation’s performance against a procurement maturity model.  Maturity was rated on a scale of 0 (non-conforming) to 4 (advanced).  The Council, along with 10 of the other 21 councils, achieved an overall rating of 1 – "Developing towards conforming".

 

In the two areas relating specifically to procurement strategy the Council was judged to be level 2 (conforming).   As a result of the fitness check, a series of actions are being put in place, including the development of management information to inform policy development.   As part of the Council’s work on the adoption of a new Constitution, the Council’s procurement strategy and associated policies / guidance are being updated and will be reported to Cabinet in early 2015.  This review will be documented as a "procurement code of practice" which is being developed as a policy for council staff to follow in order that procurement complies with relevant Financial Regulations / Standing Orders and relevant legislation.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the fact that every 1% of public procurement in Wales created approximately 2,000 jobs, Councillor Franks asked what additional actions were being carried out to ensure that the Council’s procurement policies would save it money and increase local spend.

 

The Leader again alluded to the ongoing review of the Council’s procurement strategy and associated policies / guidance and to the fact that this would be reported upon early in the New Year.

 

(xvii)    Question from Councillor Philip Clarke

 

The Welsh Government sent an invitation to Principal Local Authorities in Wales to submit proposals for a voluntary merger 18th September 2014.

 

Ref page 9

 

Expressions of interest should be submitted to The Welsh Government by 28th November 2014. These must include.

 

Ref Para 6

 

Evidence there has been initial engagement with the public, Local Communities including Town and County Councils staff, staff representatives and stakeholders in all Local Authority areas participating in the voluntary merger.

 

Could you please provide evidence to show that this directive has been complied with regarding initial engagement with the public?

 

Response from the Leader

 

The information which answers this question is contained in the Expression of Interest itself, which has been considered by Council this evening.  I would draw Members’ attention to Section 9 of the Expression of Interest, which details the initial (and I repeat – initial) engagement undertaken.  The stakeholders we consulted included, in addition to the public, our local public service partners, Elected Members, Trade Unions, the two Councils’ employees, Town and Community Councils and businesses.  I would also refer you to a very good meeting of the Community Liaison Committee, at which one Conservative Member for Dinas Powys Community Council had indicated during the meeting that he had been convinced by the arguments as put by myself for the merger.

 

If the Expression of Interest is successful and leads to a Merger Proposal, we will be conducting a comprehensive communication and engagement exercise, and an outline programme is included as Appendix B to the Expression of Interest, in line with the Welsh Government prospectus.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Clarke asked why the public had not been informed that a merger with Bridgend Council would probably result in an increase in Council Tax, whereas a possible decrease would occur in the event of a merger with Cardiff Council.  He also asked why the public had not been informed that a Bridgend merger would result in more Vale of Glamorgan Councillors returning to their seats, compared to the number should a merger with Cardiff occur.

 

The Leader considered Councillor Clarke to be wrong on both of his assumptions.  He pointed out that the current existing variances in Council Tax would not necessarily remain so, given, for example, the fact that he was aware of Cardiff Council’s intention to implement a 5% increase for 2015/16.  No individual Authority’s Council Tax level was going to stay the same.  All such matters would be required to be addressed as part of a harmonisation process. 

 

The Leader pointed out that current legislation provided for a maximum size of an Authority of 75 Councillors.  Consequently, unless that changed, there would be a difference in the overall number of seats lost across two Authorities, but a maximum size of 75. 

 

 

 

 

 

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