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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 26th April, 2017.

 

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

 

 

1030   APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Geoff Cox and Christopher Elmore.

 

 

1031   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

1032   MINUTES -

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 1st March, 2017 were approved as a correct record.

 

 

1033   ANNOUNCEMENTS -

 

The Mayor made the following announcements:

 

During his term of office he had continued to attend civic functions, both inside and outside the Vale of Glamorgan, including, charity events, Dow Corning Science Week and the Junior Wales Rugby Festival.  He thanked the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress and Councillor Margaret Wilkinson for attending 100th Birthday parties.

 

It had been a great pleasure to welcome The Leadership Café Management Committee to congratulate them on their outstanding UK Award.

 

The Mayoral Office also officially welcomed Her Majesty’s new Lord Lieutenant for South Glamorgan, Mrs Morfudd Meredith. He thanked the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress for hosting this event at short notice.   

 

Fundraising for the Mayor’s charities had continued, with a successful St David’s Day Concert, the very memorable and enjoyable Whiskey Tasting Event and a marvellous Mayor’s Ball.  His Charity Cookbook had sold over 150 copies, with orders still coming in.

 

The Llandough Hospital Orchard had now been officially launched and would be accessible to all patients to enable them to enjoy the outdoors, the wildlife, trees and plants by allowing them to escape the confines of a traditional hospital ward.  A fruit orchard with local indigenous trees would be created that would eventually be able to be cultivated and harvested, as well as pathways and nature routes accessible for all so they could enjoy the wildflower meadows and local wildlife.  The Orchard would also be open to all in the local community providing an ideal space for exploring nature. 

 

Dr Rhys Jones, ecologist, researcher and wildlife environmentalist was the Ambassador of the Orchard and would offer his expertise and knowledge of the site through official walks through the Orchard space. The Mayor was very proud to have made this project one of his Mayoral Charities, and he wished to thank everyone who had supported the fundraising so far for their support and generosity.

 

The Leader referred to his own role as having been enjoyable, sometimes frustrating but always a privilege.  He thanked Members both in terms of those who had supported him and those who had undertaken the opposition role within the Council. 

 

The Leader referred to 15 Members of the current 47 as not standing for re-election.  He referred to the many years’ experience of Councillors such as Maureen Kelly Owen and Audrey Preston.  Councillor Eric Hacker had been a ‘stalwart’ and a true ambassador for the Council.  He referred in particular to his friendship with Councillor Janice Birch over many years.  He wished to pay particular tribute to Councillor Jeff James, who he referred to as having given a lifetime of public service. 

 

In concluding, he thanked Councillor Egan for the role he had played both as Deputy Leader and (during the current Municipal Year) as Mayor.  Finally, he wished all those seeking re-election the best of luck.

 

 

1034   PETITIONS -

 

The following petitions were received:

 

(i)         Petition regarding a request for a late night bus service from Cardiff Central to the Vale of Glamorgan (to Penarth, Dinas Powys and Barry at specific times) (submitted by Councillor Franks).

 

(ii)        Petition opposing the demolition of St. Paul’s Church Community Centre, Penarth (submitted by Councillor Franks).

 

 

1035   USE OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR’S EMERGENCY POWERS (MD) -

 

The following use of the Managing Director’s Emergency Powers was reported:

 

(a)       High Street Relief Scheme 2017/18

           

Authority to accept Welsh Government grant funding (provisional grant allocation of £563,398.51 with £5,825.71 administration costs) for Discretionary Rate Relief in 2017/18 pending a report to Cabinet.

 

(Scrutiny Committee – Corporate Performance and Resources).

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To inform Council.

 

 

1036   REVIEW OF THE COUNCIL’S CONSTITUTION / OFFICER DELEGATIONS (MO) -

 

Since the formal introduction of the Council's new Executive arrangements in May 2002, the Constitution had remained under review and would continue to be so on an ongoing basis.  Under Section 2.4 of the Constitution, the Monitoring Officer had a duty to monitor and review the operation of the Constitution to ensure that the aims and principles contained therein were given full effect.

 

The Council's Financial Procedure Rules provided (in Section 16.16.1) that

 

"16.16.1         Data Protection

 

(a)       The Head of Strategic ICT shall have overall responsibility for data protection, assuming the role of the Council's Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO).

 

            ……….

 

(c)        The Head of Strategic ICT shall be responsible for maintaining the Council's Data Protection Notification.  Chief Officers shall promptly notify him / her of any additions, amendments or deletions to the Council's Data Protection Notification for all personal data held in their areas of responsibility. "

 

The Head of Strategic ICT would be retiring from the Council at the end of April 2017 and it was intended that the Head of Finance would assume the above Data Protection responsibilities (including the role of SIRO).

 

In moving the recommendation, the Leader referred to the Head of Strategic ICT as contractually employed until the end of April but as being on leave until that point.  As such, he moved that the words ‘…. with immediate effect’ be added to the end of the recommendation.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T responsibility for Data Protection issues as set out in Sections 16.16.1(a) and (c) of the Financial Procedure Rules contained in the Council's Constitution be transferred to the Head of Finance and the Financial Procedure Rules and Constitution be amended accordingly with immediate effect.

 

Reason for decision

 

To confirm responsibility for the above Data Protection matters given the pending retirement of the Council's Head of Strategic ICT.

 

 

1037   HOUSING BUSINESS PLAN 2017 (REF) -

 

In moving the report referred from Cabinet on 3rd April, 2017, the Cabinet Member for Housing and Social Care and Health referred to the following.

 

Average 2017/18 rents were £90.77 calculated on a 52 week basis (equivalent 50 week average rent would be £94.40). Rents were assumed to increase by inflation plus 1.5% annually until 2018/19, when the increase would revert to inflation plus 1%. These assumptions were in line with WG Policy on Social Housing Rents.

 

The Plan was able to afford a new build and regeneration scheme of £28.02m in the first 5 years to 2021/22, and a further £177.65m in years 6-30.

 

All other revenue income and expenditure was based on the 2017/18 budget.

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Housing Business Plan 2017 attached at Appendix A to the report be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the use of Article 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution (Urgent Decision Procedure) be noted, in order that a draft copy of the Housing Business Plan 2017 could be sent to the Welsh Government on 3rd April, 2017, with the proviso that the final version would be sent following Council approval on 26th April, 2017.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To obtain approval for the Housing Business Plan 2017.

 

(2)       To meet Welsh Government’s submission deadlines.

 

 

1038   NON-DOMESTIC RATES: HIGH STREET RATES RELIEF SCHEME 2017-18 (REF) -

 

The Leader outlined the recommendations from Cabinet of 24th April, 2017.

 

The relief was aimed at High Street retailers in Wales and included those retailers that had seen an increase in their rates as a result of the 2017 revaluation undertaken by the Valuation Office Agency.

 

There were two levels of support available; Tier 1 which was the lower level of support up to a maximum of £500 and Tier 2 which was the higher level of support up to a maximum of £1,500.

 

In order to ensure maximum take-up, whilst minimising the administrative burden for ratepayers and Local Authority staff, where qualifying businesses could be identified then any entitlement would automatically be awarded without the need of an application.

 

The remaining businesses who might qualify for assistance would be sent an application form in order for the Council to determine their eligibility.

 

An exercise had been carried out to extract data from the Council’s business rates system and the estimated number of business ratepayers who might potentially qualify for relief under the scheme was 711.

 

It was recognised by the Welsh Government that there would be a small number of ratepayers whose properties had a rateable value of £12,000 or above who were in receipt of Transitional Relief. These properties would qualify for Tier 1 relief. In addition, there might also be a small number of ratepayers whose properties had a rateable value of £12,000 who were not in receipt of Transitional Relief and who were on the very upper threshold of the Small Business Rates Relief taper and hence received no relief. These ratepayers would also be eligible for Tier 1 relief.

 

The various types of businesses eligible for relief would be occupied High Street properties such as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments.  More detailed eligibility criteria were shown in the Welsh Governments Non-domestic Rates High Street Rates Relief Guidance at Appendix A.

 

Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson was concerned that some businesses might be slightly worse off and he asked whether the Leader was aware if there would be any such cases.  He also sought an indication as to how many businesses would have benefited from the scheme.  He did not expect the Leader to be able to answer at the meeting and asked that he do so in due course.

 

The Leader reminded Members of the need for the Council to adhere to the relevant guidance.  Transitional arrangements did apply in certain cases.  He confirmed he would provide the information requested in due course.

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the High Street Rates Relief Scheme for 2017-18 be adopted in accordance with the provisions contained in Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

 

(2)       T H A T relief be awarded to all qualifying businesses as in accordance with the Non-domestic Rates High Street Rates Relief Guidance issued by the Welsh Government at Appendix A to the report.

 

(3)       T H A T entitlements automatically be awarded to those qualifying business that can be identified through records held by the Council.

 

(4)       T H A T entitlements be awarded to the remaining businesses that may be eligible following receipt of a valid application form.

 

(5)       T H A T the use of Article 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution (urgent decision procedure) be authorised in respect of resolution 1 above.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1-5)    To enable a scheme to be adopted using discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 for the provision of High Street Rates Relief for qualifying business
premises within the Vale of Glamorgan area for the period 1 April, 2017 to 31 March, 2018.

 

 

1039   SHARED REGULATORY SERVICES: REVIEW OF JOINT WORKING AGREEMENT (REF) -

 

In moving the recommendations of Cabinet of 24th April, 2017, the Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services alluded to the following.

 

In April 2015, Bridgend County Borough Council, the City Council of Cardiff, and the Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Council signed a Joint Working Agreement for the provision of regulatory services across the three Council areas. The document created the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) and the Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee.

 

At the time of creating the Joint Working Agreement, some of its provisions were conceptual in nature and over the last 18 months, it had become evident that some aspects of the agreement required amending to allow the more effective operation and management of the service. Some of the changes proposed in the report were administrative in nature, while others advocated a change in the current operating practices. The changes had been considered by the officer Management Board for the Shared Service, all three Section 151 officers, and agreed as appropriate by the Joint Committee. The proposed changes were set out in paragraphs 7-11 of the report.

 

Given the size of the Deed of Variation which included as a schedule the Conformed Agreement (i.e. the JWA with the track-changed amendments in line with the Deed of Variation), the Deed of Variation excluding the Conformed Agreement was attached at Appendix A to the report, with a complete copy of the Deed of Variation including the Conformed Agreement being available in the Members’ Room for consideration.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the proposed changes to the Joint Working Agreement between the partner Councils for the provision of Regulatory Services as set out in the Deed of Variation be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Head of Legal Services in consultation with the Senior Responsible Officer with responsibility for the Shared Regulatory Service to approve administrative changes to the Joint Working Agreement in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services as long as there is no extension of delegations to the Shared Service or additional financial implications.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       Amendments to the Joint Working Agreement would improve the functioning and governance of the Shared Regulatory Service.  Such changes required ratification by each Council.

 

(2)       To authorise minor administrative changes to the Joint Working Agreement without seeking ratification by Cabinet and Full Council.

 

 

1040   VALE OF GLAMORGAN PUBLIC SERVICES BOARD: WELLBEING ASSESSMENT (REF) -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute Number C3488, 6th March, 2017) as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution, in order that the Wellbeing Assessment be endorsed for approval by the Public Services Board on 9th March, 2017, be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To enable the report to be referred to the Public Services Board on 9th March, 2017.

 

 

1041   WELSH GOVERNMENT NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK CONSULTATION: CORE EVIDENCE AND PROJECTS (REF) -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute Number C3491, 6th March, 2017) as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution, in order to enable the response to be submitted for Welsh Government’s Call For Evidence by the closing date on 7th March, 2017, be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure a response was sent in respect of the Call For Evidence prior to the closing date on 7th March, 2017.

 

 

1042   SCHOOL ADMISSION ARRANGEMENTS 2018/19 (REF) -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute Number C3525, 24th April, 2017) as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution, to ensure that the statutory requirement to determine the policy by 15th April, 2017 was met, be noted. 

 

Reason for decision

 

To meet 15th April, 2017 deadline.

 

 

1043   QUESTIONS PURSUANT TO SECTION 4.18 OF THE COUNCIL’S CONSTITUTION -

 

Due notice had been given of the following questions:

 

 

(i)         Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

What are you doing to ensure that our more able and talented young people fulfil their potential at School?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education

 

The provision of top class education facilities for all our children has played a major role in pushing up achievement across the Vale so that we are now placed 2nd in Wales and aim to be the best.  Investment of well over £80 million over the past five years has meant that children across the Vale are now being educated in schools that are truly fit for the 21st Century, PLC and LLC being two examples and we plan to do more with our commitment to invest even more, which includes the provision of top class secondary schools in Barry.

 

At an individual pupil level there is an expectation that all pupils should be challenged and targets should reflect high expectations for future achievement of all pupils. Targets for more able pupils would therefore be set at higher level.

 

Individual pupil targets are aggregated into cohort and school level targets.  Targets are agreed with schools’ challenge advisers, who monitor and track the extent to which all pupils are on track to achieve their targets during the course of the academic year. 

 

Through benchmarking and the All-Wales Core Data, the performance of individual schools is compared with similar schools and this includes the performance of more able pupils. 

 

We are working in partnership with the Welsh Government and schools to support our most academically able young people through the creation of the Seren Network. The Network has been established to increase the proportion of young people from Wales making successful applications to top universities. Through a series of events, workshops and master classes the most academically able students in the Vale have received the motivation and support they need to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence required to successfully apply for places at the most prestigious universities

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Traherne referred to the Chief Inspector of Schools, Mr. Rowlands as having stated publicly that schools had focussed on a performance measure which required pupils to get five GCSEs at Grades A* to C (encouraging schools to focus on the borderline between C and D grades) and to the Strategic Director of Estyn as stating that the focus on this particular performance indicator had stifled the progress of more able learners.  He asked the Cabinet Member whether she considered that Estyn’s findings were relevant to schools in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The Cabinet Member considered the issue for the Vale of Glamorgan was what the Council was doing to ensure its pupils that were more talented and able reached their full potential and that was the question being looked at and which would continue to be measured going forward.  It was also relevant to recognise that not all talent was “academic”.  In fact, looking at the Vale Bursaries that had been established, at least three of those winners were in school at the time of their award.  One had recently contacted her to let her know his work was now being showcased at the Tate.  In terms of the Council’s 21st Century Schools Programme, the sports facilities that were being delivered would also help our most sporting abled young people.  The Council was actually benchmarking against the best in the United Kingdom now, not just against the best in Wales.

 

 

(ii)        Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

I understand that domiciliary care providers have requested a further increase in fees for financial year 2017/18 in order to meet the requirements of the National Living Wage, pension auto-enrolment and travel time directives.  I have a number of questions:

 

Is there any clarity regarding a potential increase in revenue to the Council for Social Services from the Welsh Government?

 

Have you set fees for domiciliary care providers for financial year 2017/18 and if so can you tell members the percentage increase?

 

If you have not yet set fees for financial year 2017/18 when do you intend to do so bearing in mind that we are almost three weeks into financial year 2017/18?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Social Care and Health

 

On 5th April, the Director of Social Services sent a letter to providers setting out a proposed uplift in the Council’s 2017/18 rates for purchased community care services.

 

As you are aware, this year’s fee setting has taken place in a context where there are significant budget challenges, both for social services specifically and also for the Council as a whole.  As a consequence, we have been obliged to make very difficult decisions about all areas of expenditure to remain within budget this year.  This meant that the only feasible option regarding increased fees for purchased services was to match the base line budget increase for social services as a whole - i.e. 1%.

 

We are aware that the independent sector is seeking additional remuneration at a much higher level because of the difficult circumstances they face, including issues regarding recruitment and retention of staff.  Discussions and negotiations are on-going.

 

We know that Welsh Government has agreed additional funding for social care in the current financial year. 

 

Firstly, the Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, announced in January 2017 “an extra £10 million of new funding to help ensure the social care sector is strong and sustainable for the future”.  She has also stated that this funding will help meet the extra costs associated with introduction of the National Living Wage.  To date, we have received no further information about the level of funding that has been allocated to the Vale, how we can access this money or its intended use.  We are pursuing the matter and hope to have some news soon. 

 

Secondly, Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford, announced on 27th March 2017 that the Welsh Government will invest an additional £20 million in social care in 2017-18. Again, there is no specific information available about the level of funding that has been allocated to the Vale, its intended use or the timeframe.  We are again chasing up the information.

 

As you will appreciate from what I’ve just told you, it is not possible at this stage to make any specific plan about how far the additional finance can be used to fund services purchased from providers and requests for increases in fee levels.  However, I can assure you that this will be given serious consideration when we know definitely the intentions of Welsh Government.  At that point, we will resume as a matter of urgency negotiations with providers as part of our normal processes for setting fee levels.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Traherne thought Members would be aware that the Independent Sector provided 96% of the domiciliary care commissioned by the Council in the Vale of Glamorgan.  It was therefore essential in his view that the Sector was able to run its businesses in a satisfactory manner and that the providers should not be squeezed too hard.   

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that the Council recognised the significant contribution that social care providers make to ensuring the welfare and well-being of vulnerable people in its community.  This Administration has always sought to maintain positive working relationships with them and to support them as best it could, within the resource envelope available.   

 

As always, the Administration had been willing to discuss the implications with providers, both individually and collectively.  Officers had been negotiating with those who had come forward.  The Council was grateful for this constructive dialogue, which it intended to continue, in respect of fee levels but also its joint commitment to improving the quality of care for its citizens in need of support from social services.

 

 

(iii)       Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

I understand that there were 36,259 fly tipping incidents in Wales during 2015 -16, an increase of 14% on 2014 - 15.  This would appear to reflect the situation in the Peterston Ward where barely a week seems to go by without a fly tipping incident.  Are you able to tell Members how much it has cost the Council to clear up fly tipping in the Vale of Glamorgan during the financial year 2015 – 16.

 

Reply from Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services

 

Each incident of fly tipping is not individually priced as, in accord with other Councils, we record and report every occurrence to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in a set format through performance management software used to monitor fly tipping across Wales.

 

On this system estimated expenditure is attributed to each incident so NRW can capture an estimated cost of fly tipping.

 

In 2015/16 fly tipping costs in the Vale of Glamorgan were estimated by NRW to be £13,057.00 (Source: Stats-Wales, WG), the third lowest in Wales and our lowest cost since 2006.

 

In terms of the number of incidents, the largest increases were in Cardiff (increase of 2,309 incidents) and Swansea (increase of 1,625 incidents). The largest percentage decreases were in the Vale of Glamorgan (41 per cent) and Wrexham (33 per cent).

 

Across Wales the proportion of fly-tipping incidents involving household waste increased to 71 per cent in 2015-16, from 67 per cent in 2014-15 and estimated fly-tipping clearance costs in Wales have risen from £1.8 million in 2014-15 to £2.1 million in 2015-16.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Traherne was sure the Cabinet Member would be aware that there were many more fly-tipping incidents in the Vale than the figures that he had just given.  He referred to a great deal of fly-tipping as taking place on private land and on public land away from the highway (and that these figures were not collated by the Council).  He asked whether the Cabinet Member could inform Members how many people had been prosecuted by the Vale of Glamorgan over the last five years for fly-tipping.

 

The Cabinet Member did not have the figures to hand but he would provide them in due course.  However, he assured Members that, whilst the evidence suggested that the Council did not have a major fly-tipping problem when compared to many other Local Authorities in Wales, it was accepted that it must remain vigilant and take action to deter those who could see the Vale as a fly-tipping opportunity in the future. To this end the Council would be organising a series of anti-fly tipping initiatives utilising 3GS, its environmental enforcement partners during 2017/18, as part of its environmental enforcement programme for the year.      

 

(iv)      Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

It would appear that almost every school in the Vale of Glamorgan is struggling to set a balanced budget in view of reductions in funding.  One primary school head teacher has stated publically that the school will be struggling to place a teacher in front of every class.  How has the Vale of Glamorgan Council managed to get this so very badly wrong?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education

 

Schools, and indeed Councils, across the nation have increasingly been placed under financial pressure as austerity continues. In addition to cost pressures and inflation this Council has seen cuts in funding over the past five years of over £16million.  However, we have prioritised funding for education and alongside the major capital investment in schools as mentioned in my earlier answer, we have protected schools by funding above the Indicator Based Assessment (IBA) for every year of the current administration.

 

Welsh Government requires each Local Authority to compare its total budget for education to its Education Indicator Based Assessment (IBA) and report on reasons for the difference.  That report was included in the Final Revenue Budget proposals considered by Council in March 2017.

 

For 2017/18, as in each of the previous four years of this Administration, we have funded education above the IBA. This year, to the tune of £3 million. A stark contrast to the situation we inherited of four years of underfunding and an IBA deficit of £979K

 

We have worked collaboratively with schools over the last financial year to review the schools funding formula so that the distribution of funding across schools is equitable.  The new allocation principles were unanimously approved by the Schools Budget Forum on 18th January, 2017.

 

When the Schools Budget Forum met to consider the revenue budget for the current year it put on record its recognition that as much funding as possible has been allocated to education from the Council’s limited budget.

 

It was, however, agreed that the Chair of the Budget Forum, in collaboration with the Leader of the Council (who was present at the meeting) would write to the Cabinet

 

Secretary to outline concerns over the total funding situation and to identify specific budget pressures schools are facing.

 

Officers in the Learning and Skills Directorate continue to work closely with schools, supporting them with financial advice and guidance and where necessary assisting them to develop budget recovery plans.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Traherne asked whether the Cabinet Member could tell him why the Service Level Agreement between the Vale Council and Peterston-Super-Ely Primary School in regards to Human Resources had increased by a “staggering” 42%.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated she would provide a written answer.

 

(v)       Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne

 

As the Cabinet Member for Housing and Social Care and Health, it would seem to me that you should have been ideally placed to mastermind an innovative and new strategy for ‘Accommodation with Care for Older People’. Why is it that the Council has made so very little progress in addressing this vitally important issue?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Social Care and Health

 

This Administration has every reason to be proud of its record in developing responsive and integrated social care, housing and health services on behalf of older people in the Vale of Glamorgan.  I welcome this opportunity to describe some of those achievements. 

 

1.     The Council and its Housing Association partners provide over 1300 units of accommodation dedicated to the use of older people (out of 7,000).  We have undertaken a massive programme of refurbishment to ensure that these are attractive homes with up to date facilities, including elimination of bed-sits, scooter stores, broadband access and Telecare. 

 

2.     In terms of providing specialist accommodation, we have an excellent track record.

  •  There are now 42 units of Extra Care in Golau Caredig.
  • Step down/Step up specialist properties are now in use at Redlands, Penarth – with two more being added in Cowbridge to serve the Western Vale.
  • In Ty-Dyfan, Barry, a new residential care setting provides a bridge between hospitals and home through intensive reablement.

3.    We have focused too on developing preventative services that help older people to remain within their own homes, despite physical or cognitive frailty.

  • Our Single Point of Access provides free information, advice and assistance.
  • We have created an Integrated Discharge Service which has helped us to reduce significantly delayed transfer of care from acute hospitals, with a Discharge Coordinator and Occupational Therapist who can assess individual housing needs and help create appropriate packages of care.
  • Our Joint Equipment Store can provide and collect equipment and adaptations from households with an identified need.
  • The integrated reablement service has staff from across a range of professions and organisations working closely together without boundaries.

4.   Councillor Treharne will be well aware of the very good work done by the Council to develop its own residential and domiciliary care services, while supporting a fragile independent sector to do the same.

 

I could go on.  However, we are not complacent.  As in all sectors of social care, housing and health, there are considerable challenges from increasing demand.  Older people, especially the very old, will make up a growing proportion of our population in the years ahead.  Between 2019 and 2026, the projected percentage increase in population of people 84plus is 36%; for the whole population, it is 1%.

 

This is why we have just completed a comprehensive Population Needs Assessment with our regional partners and why we have started producing a service development plan in response.  This will commit social care, housing and health to even more integration in providing effective help and support to older people.  For example, this will be done through:

 

  • Ensuring that new building developments are fit for a population which is growing older and that they will provide a variety of housing options to meet different needs.
  • More joint commissioning and strategic use of the Integrated Care Fund.
  • Piloting inter-generational projects in communities to make them more supportive and aware of issues such as dementia.
  • Making best use of community resources and assets such as GP surgeries and healthy living hubs.

Supplemental

 

Whilst accepting a great deal had been achieved, Councillor Traherne’s concern was that the Council lacked a clear strategy going forward for accommodation with care for older people as the current Administration had not made it a corporate priority.  He hoped that a new Administration would, indeed, make it a corporate priority.

 

The Cabinet Member did not accept the point regarding it not being a priority and she referred to the Administration as having done more than the previous Administration.  It was, however, fair to say that the Council’s strategy for accommodation with care was set out in a wide range of documents.  The Council had produced some of them (such as the Local Housing Market Assessment or the Commissioning Strategy for Older People).  Others were regional documents generated within the work of the Regional Partnership Board, such as the Market Position Statement.  She believed that everybody should work together in setting out an explicit strategy for this key area of work to help guide future decision-making.

 

(vi)      Question from Councillor Adam Riley

 

I understand that during the week beginning 6 March waste collections across the county were thrown into chaos by the breakdown of seven refuse collection vehicles on a single day.  Could the Cabinet Member confirm the ages of each of the refuse vehicles currently in service and provide a statement concerning the reliability and maintenance of the Council’s fleet of refuse collection vehicles?  

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services

 

I am surprised to receive this question as I believed that our officers had dealt with your refuse and recycling collection service queries via e mail at the time. As has previously been explained we suffered an unprecedented amount of unconnected refuse collection vehicle failures over a two day period in early March 2017, which caused the collection delays. The issues on separate vehicles included a blown turbocharger, a broken hydraulic pipe, an antilock brake system fault, a power take off fault, a broken road spring and an electrical fault. An investigation concluded that none were a result of inadequate maintenance or failures of our staff or systems.

 

I would point out that waste collections were not ‘thrown into chaos’ although it is recognised that as a precautionary measure we advised residents that, at worst, we would be operating one day behind schedule during the week of 6th March 2017.

 

Within two working days the waste department had caught up with all collections with the exception of two waste rounds. All wastes were still collected on that particular week across the Vale.

 

Members will be aware of the significant financial challenges facing this Council. The waste department has achieved over £2m of savings since 2010 and it continues to rank amongst the highest performing services in the Council and indeed in Wales. This is demonstrated by the Council’s Public Opinion Survey 2016/17 (February 2017), where residents rate satisfaction with the Council’s green waste service at 98%, its food waste service at 98%, its comingled recycling facilities at 97% and general waste collections at 91%.

 

Despite the ongoing efficiency challenges, the Council still maintains its status of the 3rd most cost effective waste service in Wales (Source: WLGA 2015/16).  This represents expenditure of £133.30 per household per annum in 2015/16 (£2.56 per household per week).

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the the refuse collection date for Rhoose as being Tuesday but to more often or not recently, somewhere in the Ward, residents not having part of their recycling collected until at least the following day Councillor Riley asked whether the Cabinet Member considered that the people of Rhoose Ward were unreasonable in expecting the Council to collect their recycling and refuse on the scheduled day.

 

The Cabinet Member stated he was not saying that.  He felt the big issue at the moment to be the fact that there was a huge amount of green bag waste going out, particularly over this last period, and given factors such as restrictions on drivers’ hours, there were bound to be some problems.  However, in overall terms, there were very few issues.  He reminded Members that the Vale of Glamorgan Council had the second highest collection rate (of 65%) in Wales.  If Councillor Riley had any issues he only had to contact the Council. 

 

The Council currently operated 26 refuse collection vehicles; of these 21 were owned and 5 were hired.  Vehicles were generally depreciated over a 7 year period, though could be kept for slightly longer if their operating costs were still within acceptable margins.  There were currently 5 vehicles in operation that were over 7 years old and a number at 6 years old and there were 12 new refuse collection vehicles on order, with delivery expected in two phases during September 2017 and January 2018.      

 

The matter was in hand, albeit the Council would have to consider at some point the future of collections.  The Council had continued with a co-mingling approach, but the Welsh Government would prefer waste separation.  He felt the Council was doing an excellent job and he congratulated the staff for doing so.

 

 

(vii)     Question from Councillor Adam Riley

 

I have been told many times recently by residents that this council wastes money on building cycle lanes which cyclists do not use.  I have also spoken with cyclists who tell me that the reason they do not use the cycle lanes is that the debris on the cycle lanes is potentially damaging to their cycles and the cycle lanes are not swept sufficiently regularly to keep them clear of debris. Given the obvious benefit to well-being of cycling what is this council going to do to encourage cyclists to make proper use of these cycle lanes?  

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Building Services, Highways and Transportation

 

I am not aware of any significant concerns about the cleanliness of our cycle ways and I am certainly not aware that such problems could be affecting their use. I would however be more than happy to arrange inspections if you have any specific examples that can be brought to my direct attention.    

 

There are however different categories of cyclists and the main reasons more confident cyclists do not use shared use cycle routes is due to the speed that they travel and their ability to pass through junctions quicker on road.

 

Under Welsh Government’s Active Travel initiative, those who don’t currently walk or cycle to facilities regularly are encouraged to do so, enabling a modal shift from the car and encouraging a healthier lifestyle. This involves publishing network maps for walking and cycling and where practicable, improving infrastructure to encourage cycling and walking. 

 

I am sure you will appreciate that we cannot make people cycle, though we always seek to create and maintain the appropriate infrastructure to encourage a whole range of cycling activities.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Riley asked whether the the Cabinet Member thought that it made financial sense to spend large amounts of public money on expensive assets like cycle lanes but then not sweep them to the level that rendered them fit for purpose.

 

The Cabinet Member did not regard it as a waste of money to spend the money on creating cycle lanes, nor did he accept the premise that they were unusable because they were not swept enough. 

 

(viii)    Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

Planning applications to improve prefabricated Hawksley bungalows in Barry were first tabled in 2012, but those works have not yet been completed.  What is the reason for this delay?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Social Care and Health

 

A planning application was submitted in 2012 in preparation for the refurbishment of the remaining 17 Hawksley bungalows owned by the Council.  It was intended this work would be delivered through the framework contract delivering WHQS.

 

As part of the delivery of WHQS tenants had expressed a preference for internal works to be delivered first prior to the external works programme and subsequently the external works were delayed at these properties whilst the internal WHQS programme was progressed.

 

In April 2014 one of the Hawksley bungalows became vacant and the opportunity was taken to conduct an in depth investigation into the structural condition of the steel frame.  During this investigation, it was found that the steel frame had deteriorated considerably and would need more work than was originally planned and put forward in the first planning application.

 

Structural engineers investigating the level of repair required found the most economical solution would be to remove the existing steel structure and replace this with brick and block cavity walls.  Additionally, internal works to bring the property up to WHQS requirements provided a whole new interior.  This property was then used as a pilot project to ensure the property layout and detailing worked for this type of building.  The first unit was completed and let in December 2015

 

The remaining units were then awarded to the framework contractor for the area who commenced work during 2016.  The contractor did not make adequate progress and failed to complete any of the properties within a reasonable timeframe.  Subsequently, 12 of the remaining properties were withdrawn from this contractor’s instruction and the remaining properties were tendered amongst the other framework contractors. 

 

Subsequently, of the original 17 properties, 10 have been completed with a further 6 to be completed by June 2017.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Johnson felt it to be a disappointing scenario that there had been “a building site” for three years.  He asked what steps had been taken to ensure that this did happen at any housing or building project in the future.

 

The Cabinet Member considered it to have been quite a unique situation and a lot more detailed works had needed doing.  It was down to the Council, when looking at the properties and carrying out structural surveys, to actually make sure the work carried out was now fit for purpose.  It was very unfortunate and she totally agreed it had been a “building site”.  However, she believed that the end results were looking good (as painful as it has been for the tenants, and, for that, she could only apologise for the amount of time it had taken).

 

 

(ix)      Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

What actions does the Council plan to take in response to the recently published report on ‘Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Wales’ by the National Assembly for Wales’ Equalities, Local Government and Communities Committee?

 

Reply from Cabinet Member for Housing and Social Care and Health

 

The Council has reviewed the report on the ‘Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Wales’ published by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.

 

It is important to note that, because the Vale of Glamorgan is not an asylum dispersal area, many of the recommendations made by the Committee (to the Welsh Government) to resolve the disparity between the experiences of, and opportunities provided to, asylum seekers and refugees in Wales, do not directly impact on the services which are currently provided by the Authority.

 

I do agree that the “two tier system” is, however, a real concern and has been identified as a source of discontent among the wider asylum seeking and refugee community by regional stakeholders in the Syrian Resettlement Programme (SRP) (the Board of which I sit on).  The Vale of Glamorgan Council has tried to mitigate the impact, where possible, by encouraging the community to assist families who arrive outside the SRP through charitable donations and other volunteering opportunities.

 

The report acknowledges that the pace of resettlement in Wales is dependent on both the preparedness of Local Authorities in the short term, and on the continued support of participants to achieve the aim of resettling 20,000 refugees by 2020.

 

The Authority has been working closely with the City of Cardiff Council to participate in the SRP as a Region, and we have established strategic and operational partnerships with key stakeholders to ensure smooth and effective delivery.

 

Since May 2016, four families have been resettled in the Vale of Glamorgan and six in Cardiff, in fulfilment of the initial pledge. Furthermore, as part of our ongoing commitment, Cabinet has recently approved recommendations to extend participation for an additional twelve months, and to maintain the same level of resettlement.

 

An integration and support services provider was appointed to deliver services in line with the Statement of Requirements and through a series of bespoke support interventions, and in conjunction with a network of volunteers, has successfully begun to integrate families into the receiving communities.

 

To aid long term integration, all families have enrolled with English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) classes and receive weekly tuition from the Vale Learning Centre, based within the Barry Library (which is located quite centrally to where the families are housed).  Plans are being developed to further enhance learning and to provide extra classes using additional funding which has recently been made available by the Home Office.

 

As part of a policy decision not to use social housing, the Authority has worked with

Rent Smart accredited landlords to find suitable housing. Periodic inspections are carried out in order to maintain the quality of accommodation, and to ensure that any tenancy issues are identified and resolved.

 

Feedback from our families has been very positive, and there is an increased sense of optimism about the future, despite the appalling circumstances that lead to their arrival.

 

If the Welsh Government accepts the recommendations made in the report, the Authority will work with them to plan a response which is both appropriate to the social and economic needs of the Authority, and in the best interests of the community.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Johnson sought clarification that the Council had so far received 4 families and the suggestion was that it would be receiving another 4 within the next 12 months. 

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that that was what was being planned.

 

(x)       Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

How many vehicle breakdowns were experienced by the waste collection department during the 2016-17 financial year, and on how many occasions have breakdowns resulted in delays to waste collection?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services

 

Unfortunately, we are unable to generate a report via our vehicle maintenance management database that identifies the number of refuse collection vehicle faults that resulted in refuse collection failures at the kerbside.  We do hold data on the amount of time that any vehicle is off the road for repairs but this would not correlate with waste collection delays as generally we use the remaining fleet to pick up any areas where collections have been missed for whatever reason. Whilst this becomes more difficult as the fleet size is reduced it is still possible on most occasions.

 

In one of my previous answers I have explained the unprecedented number of vehicle failures over a two day period in March 2017, and the effects this had, but this is a rare situation.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson (given the Cabinet Member’s reference to the purchase of vehicles and to co-mingling) sought further clarification regarding the purchase of vehicles. 

 

The Cabinet Member reiterated his comments contained in a reply to an earlier question.  Vehicles of a certain age (6/7 years old) were being replaced, but the future system might have to change (albeit he felt sure the majority of Members would prefer that co-mingling be allowed to continue). 

 

(xi)      Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

How many Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued by 3GS in each month from October 2016 until March 2017, and for what reasons? 

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services

 

There have been 263 fixed penalty notices issued by 3GS during the 6-month period October 2016 – March 2017.

 

15 were in respect of general litter, 192 for cigarette butts, 41 in relation to commercial waste, 3 in relation to dog fouling, 6 in relation to fishing, 5 for spitting and 1 for leaflet distribution. 

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether 263 fixed penalty notices in six months (equating to around 1.5 per day) was having any real effect on the litter problems.

 

The Cabinet Member reminded Members of the need for evidence in order to prosecute.  The figures excluded rescinded tickets or those issued in error.  Dog fouling, for example, was the most difficult of all to catch, particularly during the winter period and the dark mornings and nights.  More could be done if more people were prepared to report incidents.

 

(xii)     Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson

 

Congratulations to Barry Town United on their promotion to the Welsh Premier League, whose benefits include live television coverage of matches and a large prospective international audience for club results as one of UEFA's national leagues. What will the Council do to ensure that Barry benefits from this exposure due to footballing success? 

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services

 

Firstly I would like to add my congratulations to Barry Town United on their promotion and much welcomed return to the top league in Welsh Football after some very difficult and challenging times.

 

As a Council we have looked to work in partnership with the reformed Football Club and have provided them support that has assisted with the progress they have made.  Jenner Park, since the introduction of the 3G pitch, has seen unprecedented usage, the refurbishment of the Jenner Suite has been utilised by the club and other groups, and works to ensure compliance with ground regulations for the Welsh Premier League have been completed.

 

Moving forward I am aware that the Club is already in talks with our senior officers about future opportunities and has been for some time preceding their promotion into the Welsh Premier League. A key part of these discussions revolves around the benefits that increased exposure of the club can generate for the whole area.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson sought confirmation that not just the facilities at Jenner Park, but also tourism and the promotion of Barry as a location, would be pursued.

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that would be the case.

 

(xiii)    Question from Councillor Kevin Mahoney

 

Could you please provide a breakdown of the activities of the contracted litter and dog fouling operatives throughout the Vale since the start of their duties including how many visits they have made to the Sully ward and a breakdown of tickets / fines that have been handed out in total for litter picking / dog fouling etc?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Visible, Leisure and Regulatory Services

 

I refer Councillor Mahoney to the answer I gave earlier.  263 fixed penalty notices have been issued by 3GS during the 6-month period October 2016 – March 2017. I have already provided a breakdown of these offences across the period Vale-wide. In terms of the Sully / Lavernock area there were 3 FPN’s issued, one for dog fouling, one for a commercial waste offence and one for cigarette litter.

 

A record is not kept of the number of patrols undertaken in any particular area. All that is currently recorded is the issuing of FPNs.

 

Supplemental

 

Whilst appreciating the difficulties of catching people in the action and having photographic evidence, Councillor Mahoney was unsure how it was easier to photograph someone dropping a cigarette butt, as compared to other litter or dog fouling.  He suggested dog fouling could be covered on a daily basis and offenders photographed incognito. 

 

The Cabinet Member pointed out that quite a lot of litter picks had been undertaken.  He chaired a Committee, which met monthly and where Keep Wales Tidy, the Youth Offending Service and voluntary groups worked together on litter picks (in Sully, Dinas Powys and Llantwit Major for example).  If Councillor Mahoney was aware of a particular area where he knew someone was going every day, he should let the Council know so something could be done about it.

 

 

(xiv)    Question from Councillor Kevin Mahoney

 

Given the £900,000 already given by the Vale to the lessees of the Penarth Pier. What meetings have been held between the Vale Administration and PACL since the latest crisis and reduction of opening hours of the pier in order to establish what exactly is going on, and what conclusions have been come to in this matter?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

I would refer the member back to the question raised at the last meeting of this Council where a similar question was asked (page 1544 refers).  As at that time, I can confirm that discussions have taken place with the management at PACL to consider the long term financial viability of the organisation, the latest of those discussions having taken place earlier this week.

 

Members may be aware that PACL has recently been awarded grant funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, which is to provide essential financial support to the organisation whilst it looks to develop a sustainable business model for the future.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Mahoney asked whether, as the landlords and in discussions with PACL it was not incumbent on the Council to encourage, if not insist, that PACL adopted an immediate policy of openness and transparency.  He felt the people of the Vale and the Council themselves wanted to help but that the problems which had occurred needed to be made known. 

 

The Leader reiterated his earlier reference to discussions with PACL in the past and currently.  He was unaware of any commitments or conditions attached to the £126,000.  The funding he understood was to be used to access external professional advice on all aspects of the business in order for them to go forward.  As a private organisation, in essence, they were fully meeting, as far as the Council was concerned, the conditions of their lease and, as such, the operation and management of the organisation was purely a matter for their Board, which was their controlling body.  He added that the £126,000 was from the Lottery system (and not Council money).  The Council could not insist they open their books (but hoped they would), but clearly would work with them to the best ability so that they could look to continue as a viable organisation. 

 

(xv)     Question from Councillor Kevin Mahoney

 

Whilst it is accepted that the Conservative and Labour groups on the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee voted to approve planning permission for the already under construction Biomass plant / incinerator located on Barry Dock in the heart of a residential area, there is currently no licence for it to operate granted by NRW.  Given the concerns expressed by many Councillors including myself and now increasing numbers of the public, has, or will, the Vale of Glamorgan Council be engaging independent environmental or biomass plant / incinerator experts of national renown and expertise to investigate the full implications of the effects of this plant on the surrounding areas and implications for residents health in order that formal representations can be put forward by the Vale to NRW before the granting of any such licence in order to protect the public interest?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education

 

As is often the case the question has been framed within a number of inaccurate statements and so I will first clarify the history and current situation. 

 

The original application for the erection of a new industrial building and the installation of a 9MW wood fuelled renewable energy plant in Barry Docks (a designated industrial area, not the heart of a residential area!) was originally received in 2008 and refused by Planning Committee on grounds relating to its impact on the character of the area, the amenity of residents by reason of noise, traffic and pollution and its potential impact on the important regeneration of Barry and the Waterfront.

 

A subsequent appeal to the Welsh Assembly Government was allowed by a Planning Inspectorin July, 2010 following a 3 day public inquiry. The decision and an award of costs of over £60,000 against the Council meant that the Planning Inspector was clear that he did not agree that the application should be refused permission and that in his view there was no good reason for refusing permission for the development.  The closing comment of the Planning Inspector was, and I quote:

 

 “I consider that, subject to conditions and controls under other legislation, the proposed development would not have an unacceptable impact on the living conditions of existing or prospective residents.” 

 

Now we can all posture about this, and many have, and use the current situation for political means, but the truth is that our decision to reject the original application was overturned and that cost this Council £60k.

 

A second application for a wood fired renewable energy plant was submitted on 12th January, 2015.  It is vitally important that everyone understands that this application sought to amend the development previously approved on appeal.  It should be noted that the application was for gasification with energy recovery waste facility (using only wood waste) and not an incinerator.  The application was approved at Committee on 30th July, 2015 (app ref 2015/00031/OUT) following a thorough and detailed airing of all the issues and with full regard to the previous clear decision of the Appeal Inspector. 

 

It is also notable that the above application was considered having full regard to the relevant regulations when it was determined that no Environmental Impact Assessment was required.  This was confirmed in the case of the last application on 30th July, 2015 by Welsh Government.

 

The developer is currently seeking consent for the environmental permit from Natural Resources Wales, which is an entirely separate process with which the Council is not involved or consulted upon.  Therefore, I consider this Council would be wise to leave the relevant regulatory body to determine the developer’s licence in the knowledge that they are fully resourced for such applications, rather than wasting our ratepayers’ money on matters this Council has no control over.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Mahoney again asked whether the Council, since the developing of the planning application, had employed the services of an expert on the incineration biomass plants to represent the interests of residents. 

 

The Cabinet Member pointed out that, within planning, there was set Planning Policy and set Planning Guidance.  When it came down to environmental issues, they were passed on to Natural Resources Wales.  That is exactly what the Council was doing and there was no intention to waste money.

 

(xvi)    Question from Councillor Kevin Mahoney

 

Given the financial and iconic importance of Barry Island to the Vale of Glamorgan and the town of Barry why have the road works at the Whites Corner junction been allowed to carry on for at least 8 months now, including substantial periods of time (weeks and weeks), with not a soul working on the alterations, leaving a mass of traffic cones covering the junctions causing massive disruption to traffic and huge confusion to drivers who are confronted with a sea of cones almost obliterating the junction and it’s entrances and exits.

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Building Services, Highways and Transportation

 

Dealing with the Barry Waterfront Consortium and their appointed contractor, for the construction of the Waterfront link road as part of highway agreements for conversion of both the Paget Rd / Plymouth Road and Cosy Corner junctions to traffic signal control has proved challenging .

 

Council Officers have continually monitored and encouraged the Consortium and their Contractors to undertake and complete the construction of various aspects of the Barry Waterfront Development in a timely manner to improve the highway network and minimise inconvenience to residents and visitors. This has resulted in the new Waterfront link road being opened earlier than programmed, to one-way traffic before the Summer Holidays 2016 and subsequently to two-way prior to last Christmas. This has benefited residents and visitors of the popular Barry Island resort.

 

Regrettably, the performance of the Consortium’s Contractor undertaking the Section 278 Highways Agreement for conversion of both the Paget Rd / Plymouth Road and Cosy Corner junctions to traffic signal control has meant delays.  The Paget Rd / Plymouth Road were completed last Summer but the signals could not be turned on because they are linked to Cosy Corner signals which are not completed. The completion of works at Cosy Corner have been delayed from last Autumn to the end of the year, then to mid-March 2017 and the latest position is that the work will be completed during the first week in May.

 

What I can say is that were it not for the actions of this Authority (and its officers), work would not have advanced to the degree it has over recent years.

 

Supplemental

 

Whilst appreciating that there had been problems with the project, Councillor Mahoney considered that, when the public saw the site empty for week after week, they were entitled to ask what was going on.    As such, he sought an assurance that the contractors did not work on a Vale project again.

 

The Cabinet Member stated that, if it were so simple, he would certainly endorse that request.  However, it was not the Council’s project and that had been the problem. 

 

(xvii)   Question from Councillor Kevin Mahoney

 

Are you aware of the of the confusion and many near misses caused by the failure to properly mark out the junction of Plymouth Rd and the second new Barry Island road.  Not only is there a total absence of markings on the Plymouth road end but the whole junction itself seems to be misaligned from a driving perspective from the new housing estate direction through the junction to the other side emerging from under the railway bridge.

 

Reply from the Member for Building Services, Highways and Transportation

 

The Cabinet Member felt that, as someone who lived in the area, Councillor Mahoney would understand the layout and direction of travel.

 

This seems to be a re-run of your previous question.

 

I refer you to that answer, but also repeat that the Section 278 highways agreement for conversion of both the Paget Rd / Plymouth Road and Cosy Corner junctions to traffic signal control has been continually delayed by the Consortium and their contractors and is currently not complete. The Paget Rd / Plymouth Road layout was completed last summer but the signals could not be turned on because they are linked to Cosy Corner signals which are not completed.

 

For your further information, the junction is still the responsibility of the Consortium and their Contractor until successfully completed and is currently operating under temporary arrangements as an uncontrolled T junction with traffic from Plymouth Road having to give way to traffic on Paget Road.

 

This situation is not ideal and is not representative of the proposed final operation of the completed junction which will operate under traffic signal control when the newly installed signals are able to be turned on. Until that time and, as explained previously, the Council and its officers are continuing to liaise with the responsible parties to complete the works and rectify the situation at the earliest opportunity.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the road alignment, Councillor Mahoney asked whether a Highways Official or somebody could go along and examine it and see if they had any suggestions or observations.

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that would be possible.

 

(xviii)  Question from Councillor Kevin Mahoney

 

Do you feel that it is acceptable that any complaint / inquiry instigated by a Vale Councillor against the actions or behaviour of the MD of the Vale of Glamorgan County Council or other senior officers, has to be actually sanctioned and actioned by the MD himself / herself  before being assigned for investigation to a senior colleague of the very person that the complaint / inquiry is being made about rather than such an action being carried out by an independent party unconnected with the person / persons involved?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

I am happy and can confirm that any complaints or concerns against any senior officer (or any officer for that matter) within the Council are taken extremely seriously and progressed through the appropriate channels.  The procedure is one that has been in place for some time and in every situation is dealt with accordingly and, in my opinion, correctly.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Mahoney asked the Leader to confirm he was quite happy that no independent body examined any complaints, and that it was done “in-house with senior colleagues investigating each other”. 

 

The Leader confirmed that there were appropriate provisions in place to consider all such enquiries from Members and that they were acceptable.  However, perhaps Councillor Mahoney was not aware that the level of any enquiry (if one was necessary or appropriate) would depend upon the circumstances of the Member enquiry, the nature of complaint, the level of the officer within the management structure and the scale of the circumstances.  Each case was considered individually and structures were in place to escalate any enquiry if deemed necessary.  This was all set out in the Council’s Constitution. 

 

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