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VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

Minutes of a Special meeting held on 22nd July, 2015.

 

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

 

 

280      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Keith Hatton, Maureen Kelly Owen, Rhodri Traherne and Stefan Wiliam.

 

           

281      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

The following Members declared an interest in the Agenda Item No. shown:

 

Name of Member

Agenda Item / Nature of Interest

Councillor Geoff Cox

Agenda Item No. 3: Request to Use the Project Fund to Construct a New Reception and Expand 6th Form Provision at Cowbridge Comprehensive School - Local Authority Governor of Cowbridge Comprehensive School, with a personal, but not prejudicial interest and, therefore, entitled to remain and take part in the discussion.

 

Councillor Hunter Jarvie

Agenda Item No. 3: Request to Use the Project Fund to Construct a New Reception and Expand 6th Form Provision at Cowbridge Comprehensive School - Local Authority Governor of Cowbridge Comprehensive School, with a personal, but not prejudicial interest and, therefore, entitled to remain and take part in the discussion.

 

Councillor Andrew Parker

Agenda Item No. 3: Request to Use the Project Fund to Construct a New Reception and Expand 6th Form Provision at Cowbridge Comprehensive School - Local Authority Governor of Cowbridge Comprehensive School, with a personal, but not prejudicial interest and, therefore, entitled to remain and take part in the discussion.

 

 

 

 

282      REQUEST TO USE THE PROJECT FUND TO CONSTRUCT A NEW RECEPTION AND EXPAND 6TH FORM PROVISION AT COWBRIDGE COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL -

 

Cabinet  on 29th June, 2015 considered a report regarding  seeking approval for the use of funding from the Project Fund to construct a new reception at Cowbridge Comprehensive School to improve pupil safeguarding on site and to expand 6th form provision.

 

The new Cowbridge Comprehensive School opened in September 2010.  Following close collaboration with the previous Head Teacher it was agreed that the school should have an open design.  The reception was located in the main teaching block at the rear of the site and was accessed across an open plaza used by staff and children during breaks and lesson changes.  In addition, once access was gained to the visitors’ car park, individuals could access all areas of the school site without having to report to reception.

 

The child safeguarding issues resulting from this open design were raised during the latest Estyn inspection of the school.  The school's existing procedures were currently managing the risks as far as practicable, but physical alterations to the buildings were required to reduce these safeguarding risks to an acceptable level. The school had already relocated the visitors' car park and the new reception would be adjacent to this.  Through this relocation of the reception area, it would be easier to monitor visitors’ access to the school site and remove the uncontrolled access for visitors through the plaza used by children during the day.

 

6th form numbers at Cowbridge Comprehensive had increased from 312 in September 2013 to 360 in September 2014 and were projected to be 406 in September 2015.  Due to increasing numbers of 6th form pupils there were inadequate study areas in the school, resulting in some pupils leaving site between lessons with the potential for a detrimental impact on their learning opportunities. The additional 6th form study area would provide a flexible space for pupils, allowing them to stay on site during the day and it was anticipated that learning outcomes would improve.

 

Following a full assessment of the existing site layout and child safeguarding issues, the school had appointed an architect to design a new reception block and extend the 6th form study area.  These designs received planning consent in March 2015. The estimated cost of the proposal was £300,000.

 

If funding was approved, the building work would be carried out during the 2015 summer holidays.   As Council approval was required to include the scheme in the Capital Programme, Cabinet had been asked to authorise the use of Article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution (Urgent Decision Procedure) to enable works to proceed immediately.

 

At the Cabinet meeting the Leader referred to paragraph 9 of the report and requested that it be amended to include that Cowbridge Comprehensive School would pay circa £50,000 per annum into the Project Fund to take into account interest payments.

 

Having considered the report, Cabinet on 29th June, 2015:

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the use of £300,000 from the Project Fund to construct a new reception at Cowbridge Comprehensive School and expand 6th form provision with repayment of this sum, and the appropriate level of interest, by the school over a 6 year period, be approved and the report be referred to a special meeting of the Council before the recess for approval.

 

(2)       T H A T the use of Article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution (urgent decision procedure) be authorised to present the report to a special meeting of Council before the recess and in sufficient time to enable the works to be undertaken during the 2015 school summer holidays.

 

(3)       T H A T the use of Article 13.09 in resolutions (1) and (2) above be reported to Council in line with article 13.09 (c) of the Council's Constitution.

 

Having outlined the report, as set out above, the Cabinet Member (Children’s Services and Schools) moved Recommendations (1) and (3) of Cabinet of 29th June, (and as set out above), this being duly seconded by the Deputy Leader.

 

Councillor Franks, whilst not seeking to oppose the proposals, sought clarification regarding a number of matters.  He suggested that £300,000 could be considered a limited amount in terms of the costs of education building.  As such, he asked for confirmation as to whether the proposals were robust.  Notwithstanding that comment, he also felt that it constituted a lot of money for the school to have to repay and asked the Cabinet Member whether he was confident that they could.  He also asked for clarification as to the level of reserves which the school currently had and, finally, for clarification as to the nature of the Project Fund. 

 

Councillor Bennett, similarly, indicated he was not wishing to oppose the proposals.  Howeever, referring to school developments / re-developments which would take place in Llantwit Major, he asked the Cabinet Member whether he would review the plans for such to ensure there would not be a repeat of the situation which had arisen in Cowbridge Comprehensive School.

 

In responding to the above, the Cabinet Member (Children’s Services and Schools) explained that the works alluded to by Councillor Bennett had been given careful consideration.  The works at Ysgol Y Ddraig had taken such matters fully into account.  As far as Llantwit Major Comprehensive School was concerned, he briefly outlined the plans regarding access arrangements and, again, confirmed that a similar situation would, therefore, not occur.

 

He pointed out that a description of the Project Fund was contained in the Closure of Accounts report which was the subject of a report to Cabinet on 13th July, 2015 and certain aspects of which were to be considered at a Special Meeting of Council immediately after this meeting.  He also pointed out that use of the Other Schools Loan Scheme would, in essence, leave that fund empty.  As far as the cost of the works was concerned, he referred Members to the "Relevant Issues and Options" section of the report before Council.  The cost and appropriateness of the works had been accepted by the Council’s Property Division.  The school would, in fact, be repaying the money over the six year period via the Sir Thomas Mansel Franklin Trust and a new Trust. 

 

Finally, the Cabinet Member indicated he did not have information to hand regarding the level of reserves held by the school, but could provide such in writing.  However, he pointed out that, in any event, the above repayment arrangements would have no impact on reserves.

 

Upon being put to the vote, it was

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the use of £300,000 from the Project Fund to construct a new reception at Cowbridge Comprehensive School and expand 6th form provision, with repayment of this sum, and the appropriate level of interest, by the school over a six year period, be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the use of Article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution (Urgent Decision Procedure) be authorised to present the report to a special meeting of Council before the recess and in sufficient time to enable the works to be undertaken during the 2015 school summer holidays be noted.

 

 

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