THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
Minutes of a meeting held on 13th December, 2017.
Present: Councillor Janice Charles (Mayor); Councillors Julie Aviet, Vincent Bailey, Jonathan Bird, Bronwen Brooks, Lis Burnett, George Carroll, Christine Cave, Millie Collins, Geoff Cox, Robert Crowley, Pamela Drake, Vincent Driscoll, Stewart Edwards, Ben Gray, Owen Griffiths, Stephen Griffiths, Anthony Hampton, Sally Hanks, Nic Hodges, Hunter Jarvie, Gwyn John, Dr. Ian Johnson, Gordon Kemp, Peter King, Matthew Lloyd, Kevin Mahoney, Kathryn McCaffer, Neil Moore, Michael Morgan, Jayne Norman, Rachel Nugent-Finn, Andrew Parker, Bob Penrose, Sandra Perkes, Andrew Robertson, Leighton Rowlands, Ruba Sivagnanam John Thomas, Neil Thomas, Steffan Wiliam, Margaret Wilkinson, Edward Williams, Mark Wilson and Marguerita Wright.
540 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –
These were received from Councillors Rhiannon Birch and Anne Moore.
541 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
No declarations were received.
542 MINUTES –
The minutes of the meeting held on 27th September, 2017 were approved as a correct record.
543 ANNOUNCEMENTS –
The Mayor made the following announcements:
During her term of office to date she had attended a great many civic functions, charity events and concerts, both inside and outside the Vale of Glamorgan. It had been a great honour to be involved in Diwali Celebrations throughout the Vale, and also to open and speak at the first Vale of Glamorgan Governing Conference. She had been delighted to accompany the Lord Mayor of Cardiff to present the 24th Understanding Disability Awards for promoting positive attitudes towards people with a learning disability. She had extended her congratulations once again to Palmerston Primary School, Barry, which had been presented with a Highly Commended award in the School category.
The Mayor’s role as Armed Forces Champion continued and she had been honoured to accept, on behalf of the Council, an ‘Armed Forces in Wales Award’, a well-deserved award to all who had contributed in going that step further to realise the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant and support the aspiration to achieve mutual understanding between the Armed Forces and the Community within which they lived and served.
She had welcomed to the Parlour visits from The Cub Scouts and Guiding Association, Staff from Families First and Atal Y Fro. She also thanked all those who had contributed to her Civic Service and made it such a memorable day, not only for herself, but for guests and everyone who attended.
Fundraising for the Mayor’s charities had continued and she wished to thank everyone who had supported the fundraising so far. During her Mayoral year, over 20 local charities had benefitted from fundraising opportunities and exposure. The Mayor was delighted to hear that one of her own charities, Baby Basics, would receive a new book for each Moses Basket given to a family in need.
She congratulated the new Youth Mayor and Deputy Youth Mayor, Niclas Want and Daley Chapman, who she felt would both be excellent ambassadors for the Youth of the Vale of Glamorgan.
The Mayor had witnessed the Oath of Allegiance to welcome New Citizens of the United Kingdom and also hosted the British Empire Medal Ceremony, together with Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant.
On Christmas Day she would be undertaking visits to Vale Nursing Homes. Finally, the Mayor wished all present a very Merry Christmas and peaceful and happy 2018.
The Leader, given his portfolio included Member Development, stated that he was delighted to inform Members that the entire mandatory elements of the Council’s Member Induction Programme had now been completed. This had involved a total of almost 350 individual attendances and he wished to place on record his appreciation to all Members of the Council and those officers responsible for facilitating and / or delivering the Development Sessions.
544 USE OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR’S EMERGENCY POWERS (MD) –
The following use of the Managing Director’s Emergency Powers was reported:
(1) To approve the request of the Leader of the Conservative Group that Councillor Leighton Rowlands replace Councillor Marguerita Wright on the Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee with immediate effect.
(b) To approve the request of the Leader of the Labour Group that Councillor Neil Moore replace Councillor Anne Moore on the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee with immediate effect.
(Scrutiny Committee – Corporate Performance and Resources)
RESOLVED – T H A T the report be noted.
Reason for decision
To inform Council.
545 REVIEW OF THE COUNCIL’S CONSTITUTION: OFFICER DELEGATIONS (MO) –
In presenting the report, the Deputy Leader (as Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Legal Services), indicated that there was a small typographical error in the report in that reference to the “Head of Business Management and Information” should, in fact, read “Head of Business Management and Innovation”.
The Constitution remained under review 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 Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee approved the harmonisation of Animal Licence Conditions across the Shared Regulatory Service Local Authorities' region in order to avoid the need for repeated reports to be brought to the Joint Committee on every occasion that amendments to the licence conditions were required. The Joint Committee subsequently resolved that the Head of Shared Regulatory Services be authorised to make any further amendments that may prove necessary over time to animal-related licence conditions.
The above resolution, although approved by the Joint Committee under their delegated powers, required an amendment to the Council's Constitution to incorporate the additional delegation to the Head of Shared Regulatory Services.
Members were also informed that under Section 25 of the Constitution – Officer Delegations (within the Social Services Directorate), reference was made to the Head of Business Management and Innovation. As a result of restructuring changes the Head of Business Management and Innovation title has now become the Head of Resources Management and Safeguarding. All reference to the Head of Business Management and Innovation in the Constitution should, therefore, be amended to refer to the Head of Resources Management and Safeguarding.
Finally, a number of changes were proposed to the delegations resting with the Section 151 Officer and Deputy Section 151 Officer. In summary, these were as follows:
“5. Authority to implement the provisions of the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit schemes, including the backdating of claims and the acceptance of late claims in appropriate cases” – replace “Council Tax Benefit” with “Council Tax Reduction”.
“6. Authority to write off any Housing Benefit and / or Council Tax Benefit overpayments which are irrecoverable” – replace “Council Tax Benefit” with “Council Tax Reduction”.
“27. To determine applications for student awards in accordance with Council policy” – delete this delegation as the Council no longer administers Student Awards.
“34. To operate the two new discretionary rate relief schemes – New Developments Scheme (NDS) and the Open For Business Scheme – attached at Appendices A and B to the report to Cabinet on 24th February, 2014, in consultation with the Leader as Cabinet Member for Finance – delete this delegation as these schemes have now ceased in operation.”
“35. To operate the Retail Rate Relief Scheme and Revaluation Rate Relief Scheme, in consultation with the Leader as Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources” – these schemes have now ceased in operation. Reword delegation to read “To operate the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and High Street Rate Relief Scheme, in consultation with the Leader as Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources”.
RESOLVED – T H A T the changes to Officer Delegations as set out in paragraphs 4 to 7 of the report be approved and the Constitution be amended accordingly.
Reason for decision
To update the Officer Delegation Scheme to reflect current structures and legislative provisions.
546 INDEPENDENT REMUNERATION PANEL FOR WALES (IRPW) DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT 2018/19 (REF) –
The Democratic Services Committee, on 18th October, 2017, received a report advising that the IRPW had recently issued its draft Annual Report 2018/19. The draft report contained several proposed changes to the IRPW’ s Remuneration Framework, including a small increase in the Basic Salary for all Members and some "significant changes" in respect of Town and Community Councils. The consultation period ended on 29th November, 2017 and the IRPW would then consider any responses submitted from consultees prior to the production of its final Annual Report in February 2018.
In line with its previous approach in the year of a Council Election, representatives of the IRPW had visited all 22 Local Authorities in Wales. The visits were designed to provide the IRPW with an opportunity to discuss issues with a cross-section of Members and Senior Officers. A number of Members and Officers met with the Panel when they visited the Council on 5th September, 2017.
The full draft Annual Report could be found at http://gov.wales/irpwsub/home/publication-reports/financial-year-2018-19/?lang=en
The draft Panel Determinations included:
a proposed increase of £200 in the Basic Salary to £13,600. No increase was proposed for Senior Salaries, but all postholders would be entitled to the increase in the Basic Salary element (Determination 1);
the removal of the relatively short-lived provision which the Panel introduced in 2016 providing for Local Authorities to pay two levels of salary for Executive Members and Committee Chairmen;
reference to very few Members utilising the provision in the Remuneration Framework to reimburse costs of care;
the Panel was of the view that "there are still major issues to be addressed with Community and Town Councils which we will be raising with individual Councils and their representative organisations. However, as a start to this process we are proposing to introduce grouping Councils according to level of income or expenditure. We propose that mandatory payments be made to senior Members in those Councils in the highest group." (Determination 45);
Determinations 44, 46, 51 and 52 (which relate to Town and Community Councils) also included different provisions to those currently applying.
As far as remuneration of Care Costs was concerned, the draft IRPW Annual Report provided relevant Authorities with two options:
(1) The details of the amounts reimbursed to named Members; or
(2) The total amount reimbursed by the Authority during the year but not attributed to any named Member.
It would be a matter for each Authority to decide which of these options for publication it considered appropriate. The Democratic Services Committee considered that take-up of the provisions might be improved generally if the total of Care Costs was, indeed, published on a “pooled” basis
The Council's Members' Allowances Scheme (as contained in the Constitution) reflected the fact that the Council had resolved to abide by the determinations of the IRPW as set out in its Annual Report each year.
The Democratic Services Committee had recommended to Council that consideration be given to incorporating in the Council’s Members’ Allowances Scheme provision for the total of any care costs claimed by Members to be published as the total amount reimbursed by the Authority during the year, but not attributed to any named Member.
Councillor Hodges, as Chairman of the Democratic Services Committee, informed Council that the above recommendation had been agreed unanimously by the Committee. He suggested that the care provisions to which it related might well apply to a number of current Members and, over time, any Member of the Council.
Councillor Mahoney was unsure as to whether some people considered there to be some form of stigma attached to any claim for Care Costs. His view was that, as with all other expenses, such costs should be identified individually. He suggested that the Council appeared to be moving away from the publication of such information in an open and transparent manner. He also referred to a recommendation in the draft IRPW Annual Report which, if contained in the final Annual Report, would provide for an additional £200 on the existing Basic Salary for existing Members in an Authority of the size of the Vale of Glamorgan Council. However, the Deputy Leader pointed out that the reference before Council was purely in relation to the issue of Care Costs.
RESOLVED – T H A T the Council’s Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2018/19 be published in a way that includes provision for the total of any Care Costs claimed by Members to be published as the total amount reimbursed by the Authority during the year, but not attributed to any named Member.
Reason for decision
To encourage the take up of Care Costs where appropriate.
547 COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME (REF) –
RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C160, 4th December, 2017, be approved.
Reason for decision
To enable the Council Tax Reduction Scheme to be approved by Council by 31st January, 2018 and be in place for implementation from 1st April, 2018.
548 PROPOSED REFINEMENT OF CHIEF OFFICER APPRAISAL SCHEME (REF) –
Prior to consideration of this item all officers, with the exception of Rob Thomas, Managing Director, Jeff Wyatt, Operational Manager (Democratic Services) and Jeff Rees, Principal Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer left the meeting for the duration of the item.
RESOLVED – T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C163, 4th December, 2017, be approved.
Reason for decision
(1) To update the Scheme and clarify the operational arrangements following recent discussions with the Wales Audit Office.
(2) To comply with the requirements of the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) Regulations 2014 in relation to Chief Officer remuneration.
549 A4226 FIVE MILE LANE IMPROVEMENT SCHEME – AWARD OF CONTRACT FOR MAIN WORKS (REF) –
RESOLVED – T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C102, 9th October, 2017) as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution, be noted.
Reason for decision
In order that the works contract may be awarded immediately following the completion of the stand still period, as set out in the Public Contracts Regulations, and in order that works could progress in accordance with the prescribed programme.
550 LIDW2 GRANT / WIDE AREA NETWORK UPGRADE 2017 (REF) –
RESOLVED – T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C111, 23rd October, 2017) as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution, be noted.
Reason for decision
To enable the Council to access the funding within the timescale available.
551 ACTIVE TRAVEL - RESULTS OF CONSULTATION FOR THE INTEGRATED NETWORK MAPS AND EXISTING ROUTE MAPS UPDATE 2017 (REF) –
RESOLVED – T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C127, 6th November, 2017) as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution, be noted.
Reason for decision
To enable all necessary maps to be submitted to Welsh Government within the deadline.
552 QUESTIONS PURSUANT TO SECTION 4.18 OF THE COUNCIL’S CONSTITUTION –
Due notice had been given of the following questions:
(i) Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson
Will the Cabinet Member make a statement about the tragic case of Elsie Scully-Hicks and the process for ensuring that any mistakes are not repeated?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Leisure
The Director of Social Services e-mailed all Elected Members following the conviction of Matthew Scully Hicks for the murder of his adopted daughter, Elsie Scully-Hicks.
The Regional Children Safeguarding Board, as the relevant statutory body, has commissioned an independent Child Practice Review into the tragic death of Elsie. This is a multi-agency process to consider what lessons can be learned and the review itself, once concluded, will be in the public domain. We will obviously take the findings of the Child Practice Review extremely seriously. It would not be appropriate to comment further until this process has concluded.
Referring to Members often being told of the importance of Corporate Parenting, Councillor Dr. Johnson indicated he had not been informed of the case and its consequences and had found out about the Council’s involvement through press coverage. He asked the Cabinet Member how it could be ensured that Councillors were kept informed of public safety cases at an earlier, appropriate moment.
The Cabinet Member considered that such issues were always difficult matters in terms of what information was provided but that, perhaps, it was a matter that could be looked at in the future. However, as far as this particular case was concerned, he had nothing further to add to what he had already said.
(ii) Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson
What is the timetable for developing proposals for car park charging as part of the Council’s Income Generation Strategy, with particular reference to town centre car park charging in Barry?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport
Our officers are currently working with specialist consultants to develop a car parking strategy for the Vale of Glamorgan and this work is programmed for completion early in the New Year.
The scope of the study covers both off-street and on-street parking throughout the Vale area and includes enforcement arrangements and consideration of controlled parking zones, such as residential parking and arrangements for town centres.
Councillor Dr. Johnson referred to the fact that, in September 2015, Councillor Thomas had submitted a petition opposing town centre car parking charges and questioned whether it was not “rank hypocrisy” for the Administration to be looking at the matter again so soon after opposing such.
The Cabinet Member reminded Councillor Dr. Johnson that it was a strategy that was being considered, not necessarily car parking charges. The strategy would need to consider not just the possibility of charging issues, but the management of parking within the Vale’s town centres and he was sure that residents and businesses in Councillor Dr. Johnson’s Ward would appreciate how difficult it was under normal circumstances to actually park vehicles.
(iii) Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson
What is the amount of surplus Council Tax received in each of the past five financial years (including estimates for 2017-18), compared with the estimated amount that would be collected?
Reply from the Leader
I start by saying that the use of the word surplus is of course, misleading as it suggests we are over collecting. This Council over the years has been efficient in collecting Council tax owed, a situation we should all be welcoming, given the financial restraint that we are under and have been under for several years as a result of budgets set by Welsh Government.
In 2013/14 we estimated £53.567M from Council Tax and collected £56.359M, thereby exceeding estimates by £2.792M.
In 2014/15 we estimated £56.690M from Council Tax and collected £58. 880M, thereby exceeding estimates by £2.190M.
In 2015/16 we estimated £59.874M from Council Tax and collected £61.861M, thereby exceeding estimates by £1.987M.
In 2016/17 we estimated £62.840M from Council Tax and collected £65.175M, thereby exceeding estimates by £2.335M.
In 2017/8 we estimate collecting £66.166M from Council Tax and are projecting £67.766M, thereby exceeding estimates by £1.600M.
Can I just add that I would much prefer there to be a surplus at the end of the year, rather than a deficit, which would leave us with a lot more difficult situation to manage.
Councillor Dr. Johnson referred to the state of the economy and the fact that residents were “feeling the pinch” and had been for some time and he asked how the Council would ensure a better balance between what was estimated, and actually taken, in terms of Council Tax in order that it was the Council who “feels the pinch” rather than the people.
The Leader queried the rationale behind the question and considered that people were not feeling “any sort of pinch”, given that the Council collected more Council Tax than had been predicted. All Council Tax went into the overall budget and figures in recent years had been amended accordingly to account for the fact that more Council Tax had been collected than originally estimated. Given the potential effect of the new scheme of benefits which was forthcoming, he did not intend to make any alterations from the predicted projected figure. He reiterated the fact that all Council Tax receipts went into the budget and that, hopefully, it would go towards keeping down Council Tax levels next year. As such, he did not consider that anybody was “losing out”.
(iv) Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson
What benefits will accrue to the Vale as a result of participation in the Capital City Regional Deal?
Reply from the Leader
I would refer Councillor Johnson to the comprehensive report to Council on 9th February of this year, which sets out in considerable the terms of the Deal as well as the key initiatives that will bring benefits to the wider region as well as the Vale of Glamorgan. The headlines include improvements in connectivity, work on skills and innovation, a regional approach to regeneration and planning as well as supporting business and growth. The aim is to secure 25,000 jobs by 2036 and leveraging £4 billion of new investment.
Councillor Dr. Johnson referred to a press article indicating that only four of Wales’ top 300 businesses were located in the Vale of Glamorgan and suggested that problems with transport infrastructure had resulted in many people leaving the Vale of Glamorgan. He asked what concrete proposals the Council was going to implement to ensure that actual benefits would accrue.
The Leader reminded Councillor Dr. Johnson that City Deal was a regional initiative and not simply about the Vale of Glamorgan. The Vale was fortunate in that it had both the Airport and Enterprise Zone on its doorstep, both of which were owned by Welsh Government and quite likely to see some of the investment. The Council itself, had put forward proposals designed to produce benefits from a shared approach across the region in terms of promoting investments and increasing job prospects. Other aspects included raising the profile of the Enterprise Zone and the Airport as locations for investment. He acknowledged the need to promote the role of Barry and to continue regeneration of the town. There was also a need to continue to press for improved connectivity within the region and he was pleased to inform Members that progress was being made in raising the profile and the need to improve strategic access to the M4, as well as improving connections between Barry and Cardiff city centre. In concluding, he reiterated the fact that, when City Deal was being considered over recent years, he had been certain in his belief that its benefits would arise from a partnership approach across the region.
(v) Question from Councillor Miss. A. Collins
How does the Vale of Glamorgan Council intend to respond to the most recent consultation from Natural Resources Wales where they say that they are ‘minded’ to grant a permit to the Biomass Ltd site on Barry Docks?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Legal Services
The current Administration has consistently been opposed to the development of the Gasification Plant at Woodham Road, Barry and maintains that position.
I am advised that our specialist officers in the Shared Regulatory Service are currently reviewing the detail contained within NRW’s Draft Permit and Draft Decision Document with a view to responding formally on technical issues directly to NRW by the close of the consultation period on 22nd January, 2018.
As the regulators, ultimately it is a matter for NRW on whether to issue an Environmental Permit or not; however, SRS officers will raise any issues that give concern that relevant environmental standards may not be met.
Councillor Collins referred to many of the complaints from local residents during the consultation period as having been regarding the planning system. She asked the Cabinet Member whether he would hold an open and transparent investigation into the planning process within the Council to ensure that it was, and remained, “above board”.
The Cabinet Member understood the planning process to have been totally open, transparent and fully debated. He had not been personally involved, given that planning was a “quasi-judicial” matter and not a matter for the Executive. He was unable to give a guarantee to hold an enquiry of any sort. His understanding was that, on the first occasion, the Planning Committee had refused the application, which had subsequently been overturned on appeal. His understanding was that, given the Welsh Government officer who had conducted the appeal had indicated it had to go ahead as far as he was concerned, that the Council’s Planning Committee had had no option but to agree to the application.
(vi) Question from Councillor M.R. Wilson
Another quarter has passed with no demonstrable progress in relation to the operations of the Penarth Pier Pavilion. Could the Cabinet Member provide an update of developments in the last three months?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture
I would refer Councillor Wilson to the answer I provided at the last Council meeting. At that time I advised that I was eager to ensure that the Pavilion operates on a sustainable footing so that it can be enjoyed by residents and visitors well into the future. I advised that I attended the Pavilion with the Leader, the Managing Director and Head of Finance to meet with representatives of Penarth Arts and Crafts Limited (PACL) in August and a further meeting was held earlier this week with PACL when we discussed their current situation. At that meeting PACL representatives shared their current plans and challenges with us and I was able to offer my opinions and advice as to how PACL could face those challenges. We will be meeting again into the New Year and I will be looking to set up a further meeting for mid to late January.
Councillor Wilson suggested that many people, particularly in Penarth, considered the matter still to be very much a political “hot potato” and would really like a meeting facilitated by the Council at which members of the public could hear and come to understand the situation with regard to the Pier Pavilion. He asked whether the Cabinet Member would arrange a meeting in the form of an open forum with the view to reassuring people as to the future of the Pavilion.
The Cabinet Member stated that, at the last Council Meeting, Councillor Wilson had asked whether the Council would facilitate a public meeting and he had since given this matter some thought. He had also discussed this with PACL representatives earlier this week during the recent meeting. It was his view that such a meeting should be organised and led by PACL, and he went on to explain why.
PACL leased the Pavilion for a period of 125 years from June 2012. The lease permitted a use as a community venue for the provision of art galleries and public exhibition halls, and ancillary to that, use as a cinema, a café and / or restaurant.
The first principal covenant was to commence and carry out the works of repair and refurbishment to the Pavilion. This work had been completed and there was nothing for this Council to enforce at the current time. There were no covenants governing the manner in which the premises were managed, and indeed it would be highly unusual if there was as the lease dealt with the occupation of the property only and not the way it was managed.
At the meeting of 7th October, 2013 (Minute C2043) the then, Cabinet agreed a grant of £100,000 supporting the operation and management of the Pier Pavilion during the first 20 months of its operation, commencing on 1st September, 2013, payable by monthly instalments of £5,000 per month to defray the running expenses as set out in a business plan, to be paid against a maximum of 20 invoices. These payments finished in January 2016 and as a result the Council was not currently committed to any grant or financial support.
The Administration, however, understood the importance of the Pavilion as a visitor attraction and an important facility. It was also important as it was the Council’s building. That is why he continued to seek dialogue with PACL. The day to day running of the Pavilion and the links to the community and town of Penarth were, however, primarily a matter for PACL.
Were PACL in a position to organise a public meeting, then the Cabinet Member would clearly wish to be involved, but he thought it was important to understand that this was a matter for PACL. He suspected Councillor Wilson would agree with this position, as after all, the previous Administration which was responsible for providing a £100,000 grant package to PACL back in October 2013, had not seen fit to organise and hold any public meetings as part of that arrangement.
He also referred to his understanding that, at the meeting, PACL had had dialogue and invited discussions with Councillor Wilson, with a view to discussing finer details, should he wish to.
(vii) Question from Councillor L. Burnett
The reason given for removing the allocation of £47k from the Capital Budget to fund a feasibility study to for Penarth Esplanade says that “As the original scheme was not viable the budget was not required”. Could the Cabinet Member provide details of the “original scheme” as I am not aware of there being one?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning
The original intention under the previous Capital Programme had been to develop a scheme for the physical regeneration of the Esplanade and involve partners in considering options to maximise use of the Esplanade by visitors and businesses. The development of a scheme had been delayed as a result of the need to resolve parking issues on the Esplanade, the need to progress other key regeneration projects and the need to engage and consultant with local traders and partners. This fact and the fact that only £49k had been allocated meant there was no scope for progressing a comprehensive scheme as previously intended.
That said, I am committed to looking at the Esplanade, particularly with the renewed interest in the Penarth headland Link and issues surrounding the operation of the Pavilion. I am therefore committed to considering options and working with all partners on future possibilities to ensure that the Esplanade plays its part in attracting visitors to the Vale of Glamorgan. To this end I know that officers have already set up an internal working group to consider options for the Esplanade and how this Council can make progress on this key area.
Referring to the funding having originally been allocated to looking at constraints which would influence any future proposals, Councillor Burnett asked how the Cabinet Member proposed to take forward any new schemes if the £47k funding allocated for initial works had been removed from the budget and, as such, whether that meant, in practice, the cancellation of the future regeneration of Penarth Esplanade.
The Cabinet Member confirmed the Council’s commitment to working on this matter and that the intention was to talk to Welsh Government about the Headland Link and to progress the matter further. The Council would also be talking to stakeholders, including Penarth Town Council, and he referred to the need to consider parking arrangements along the Esplanade. Acknowledging that there was a considerable way to go, he gave an assurance that the Council would be looking at the issue.
(viii) Question from Councillor L. Burnett
At the last meeting of the Full Council the Cabinet Member stated he was “Committed to improving the provision of Playgrounds, outdoor gyms and sports facilities where demand exists” and that he will “do what he can”. He refused the opportunity to commit to numbers of play areas, outdoor gyms and sports facilities he would deliver saying he “would not make promises he could not keep”. Just weeks afterwards, the proposed Capital Budget rejected funding for a rolling programme of playground replacements in such places as Highlight Park, Celtic Way in Rhoose, St. Brides and Belvedere. Does the Cabinet Member remain as committed to improving the provision of playgrounds, outdoor gyms and sports facilities or does he not feel there is a need in these areas?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Leisure
Yes I do.
Referring to a statement in the response to a previous question on this matter alleging that the previous Administration had left upgrades and renewals of play areas and open spaces to their final year, and having checked and ascertained that works had been undertaken throughout the life of the Administration, Councillor Burnett asked whether the Cabinet Member would like to acknowledge and retract inaccuracies in his previous supplementary response.
The Cabinet Member indicated he did not.
(ix) Question from Councillor Mrs. S.D. Perkes
There has been widespread concern at the Council’s decision to stop contributions to Christmas meals for older residents - a decision that will affect over 1,100 people, but save only £3,519. More worrying though is the decision to cancel Council Tax help for the over 70s. Nearly 10,000 households in the Vale of Glamorgan will lose the £40 reduction in their Council Tax introduced by the previous Administration. As austerity bites even harder, will the Leader reconsider his decision and reinstate this vital support for our older residents?
Reply from the Leader
The potential funding for community-based activity such as Christmas Lunches in 2017/18 has been directed to the newly-established Strong Communities Grant Fund. The focus of the fund is sustainability as well as the need to demonstrate clear links to our Corporate Plan, the Reshaping Services programme and the Well-being of Future Generations Act. No awards are being made specifically for Christmas in 2017. That said, we have encouraged groups affected by this change to work with our Economic Development Team to look at ways in which services like this could be delivered on a more frequent basis, supporting vulnerable and isolated people throughout the year. I can confirm that, when we have been contacted with regard to funding, we have been directing groups affected to other potential funding sources such as Age Cymru that offer awards of up to £150 for social events at Winter time taking place between November 2017 and February 2018.
The provision of a Council Tax reduction of £40 per year for individuals over 70 was a local decision and introduced in 2013/2014 and this is one of the only Councils to provide this reduction. The only criteria for this award was age; therefore receipt of this reduction was automatic and not means tested. You will be aware that this Council is having to make difficult decisions with regard to how money is being spent due to the ongoing pressure on our budgets and the provision of a universal benefit in this way cannot be seen as the most effective use of the funding available to this Council.
I would confirm that my Administration is committed to providing support to those most in need in our community and will strive to do this with the assistance of communities and other organisations that work with us
Councillor Perkes asked the Leader whether he agreed that it was time for Local Authority Leaders to lobby Central Government to end the economic policy of austerity which was severely hurting the most vulnerable in society.
The Leader felt there to be a need to look at the reason for austerity and to the fact that the previous Government had left the “pot empty” and that huge savings had been made over recent years due to austerity. The Council itself had achieved savings of over £50m in recent years and, as such, he did not agree that the Council should be campaigning against austerity. However, he did believe that the Council should be funded more fairly by Welsh Government.
(x) Question from Councillor G.D.D. Carroll
It is recognised that the demand for car parking, both in the Council’s car parks and on its highway network, is increasing year on year and the availability of car parking can have significant impacts for our residents, businesses and visitors. Could the Cabinet Member advise how he is proposing to address this matter going forward?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport
I share the concerns of the local Member. I agree that, with increasing demand, we must ensure that we look holistically at our approach to car parking across all communities, for the benefit of all – residents, businesses and visitors. That is why, and as advised in my response to a previous question, we are currently in the process of developing a car parking strategy which will assist us in managing our on and off-street car parking capacity in the future.
This work is due to be completed in the New Year.
Councillor Carroll referred to certain parking issues arising across Llandough, but, in particular Penlan Road. He asked whether the Cabinet Member could provide an update on the works that the Council was undertaking in terms of installing double yellow lines on Penlan Road.
The Cabinet Member responded that his understanding was that the majority of the lining work had been completed and that only a small section towards the top of the hill remained, which should be completed in the near future.
(xi) Question from Councillor G.D.D. Carroll
Will the Cabinet Member please make a statement on the action the Council is undertaking to tackle fly tipping across the Vale of Glamorgan?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport
I would firstly advise that for the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 periods, this Council had the fourth lowest number of reported fly tipping incidents in Wales. Whilst fly tipping is therefore not considered to be a major problem in the Vale of Glamorgan, any such incidents are unsightly and extremely anti-social.
We have two dedicated officers in our waste management and cleansing team whose role it is to investigate all incidences of fly tipping on public land and these officers are supported by staff from 3GS, our Environmental Enforcement partner. When it does happen, fly tipping can be difficult to resolve, due to the act having to either be witnessed or evidence of the ownership of the waste having to be found (e.g. envelopes with addresses on). Prior to October this year, the enforcement powers available to Local Authorities were also limited.
I am, however, pleased to advise that, from October this year, Local Authorities in Wales have been granted new powers under the Unauthorised Deposit of Waste (Fixed Penalties) (Wales) Regulations 2017, to issue fixed penalty notices for fly tipping incidence of between £150 and £400. Such penalties can be issued for fly tipping on both private and public land and our officers are planning a number of campaigns in the New Year aimed at reducing our fly tipping further utilising these new powers.
Our officers are also exploring the use of new surveillance technology in conjunction with “Fly Tipping Action Wales”, who are part of Natural Resources Wales, to further aid our officers and partners in catching offenders. It is hoped that this new partnership and the technology that can be employed will assist our fly tipping campaigns during 2018 and beyond, enabling the Vale of Glamorgan Council to retain its position as one of the least fly tipped areas in Wales.
Councillor Carroll referred to a number of incidents which residents of Llandough had raised and he asked whether the Cabinet Member would provide an assurance that the Council would continue to maintain a tough and robust attitude towards fly tippers in the Vale of Glamorgan.
The Cabinet Member assured Councillor Carroll and Members generally that the Council would continue to be vigilant and, given the new powers coming into force, he hoped that the Council would improve even further on its current good record.
(xii) Question from Councillor V.J. Bailey
What consideration has the Leader of the Council given to the possibility of introducing an exemption from Council Tax for all care leavers?
Reply from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources
I can confirm that I am currently considering a process to support this exemption. I also thank you for your recent e-mail in which you ask me to consider this very same issue. The Council does have the discretion to make such an exemption and, as corporate parents, we all have a duty to ensure that these care leavers have the necessary support from the Council as they move on to independent living.
I have requested that a report be brought to Cabinet in the New Year to outline the proposals for such a scheme, which I hope can be incorporated into the 2018/19 budget.
(xiii) Question from Councillor V.J. Bailey
Will the Cabinet Member make a statement on progress with the Dinas Powys Bypass?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for neighbourhood Services and Transport
I am pleased to report that, following a new Administration being formed in May of this year, progress has at long last been made in making the case for a Dinas Powys by-pass scheme. That progress has been swift, with a report of the Draft WelTAG Stage 1 study looking at Improving transport options in Dinas Powys being presented to Cabinet on 31st July, 2017. This report was referred to Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee on 14th September, 2017 and then referred back to Cabinet for approval on 9th October, 2017.
Four options are currently being considered as part of the Stage 2 Study, namely:
• Do minimum
• Multi-modal option.
• By-pass and Multi-modal.
The WelTAG Stage 2 Study was awarded to Arcadis Consultants on 2nd November, 2017 following a competitive tendering process and Arcadis is now progressing with the transport survey work to consider all the agreed options. Traffic modelling will be required and progressed to inform the decisions of which options would prove most beneficial.
A report will be presented to Cabinet early in the New Year to clarify the intentions with the review groups that have been established to review the WelTAG work.
Further consultation will be carried out in Spring 2018, on the recommendations that come from the current work being progressed.
It is anticipated that the WelTAG Stage 2 Study will be completed by 31st March, 2018 and a report submitted to Cabinet for consideration at that time.
I know that the Cabinet and the four new Local Members for Dinas Powys will continue to work hard to promote the case for a by-pass in order to alleviate the traffic and congestion issues that have been associated with Dinas Powys for many years.
Councillor Bailey, referring to the strategic significance of the project, asked whether it would be brought forward as part of City Deal and also remain an absolute priority for the Administration.
The Cabinet Member confirmed it as a priority and reiterated the progress made since the election. He had also taken the opportunity to promote the by-pass as part of the City Deal and, notwithstanding that, the Council would also be raising the matter with Welsh Government at every opportunity.
(xiv) Question from Councillor V.J. Bailey
Following Natural Resources Wales’ confirmation that it is “minded to issue a permit” for the Biomass Plant, will the Council provide an update on how air monitoring would be undertaken if operations at the site were to commence?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Legal Services
From a consideration of the Draft Permit and Draft decision notice issued by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) it will be a requirement for the company to fulfil the requirements outlined in the “emissions to air” schedule.
Monitoring would need to be undertaken by a UKAS accredited external contractor using Continuous Emission Monitoring (CEM) equipment and would be installed at locations agreed by NRW. The monitoring equipment will have to meet recognised industry standards to ensure full compliance with the permit conditions.
From a Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) perspective, the Shared Regulatory Service will continue to monitor levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) via its network of diffusion tubes.
In the event of a permit being issued, we will ensure our own monitoring positions are revised to take account of sensitive receptors near to the biomass plant.
Councillor Bailey was sure that many Members would be extremely disappointed that NRW were now minded to issue a licence before a consultation process. Given the desire to see the facility operate safety, he asked whether the Cabinet Member and Council would support the call which had come forward from the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee that NRW be contacted and asked for proper independent data monitoring and that NRW be asked to defer to the Vale to make such an appointment.
The Cabinet Member indicated he had been assured that the Council’s Shared Regulatory Service officers had the expertise to consider the issues and he reminded Members that officers had previously objected to the proposals on behalf of the Council. He again reiterated the fact that he, his Cabinet colleagues, his Conservative Group colleagues and, as far as he understood, all Members, were opposed to the development. He understood the strength of feelings on the matter and confirmed that the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee was to be considered by Cabinet the following week and he trusted that the Administration would, indeed, write to NRW requesting an independent expert to be monitoring the situation and reviewing all aspects of the licence.
(xv) Question from Councillor V.J. Bailey
Following several years of significant cuts to grants for bus operators, what steps are being taken by the Council to improve bus services across the Vale of Glamorgan?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport
At a time of year on year reductions to our settlement from the Welsh Government, accentuated by the impacts of inflation as well as other pressures and demands placed on Council services, the Council’s focus has been to maintain bus services on strategic networks serving main transport corridors, which is in accordance with the Bus Services Support Grant (BSSG).
The Council also has a budget set aside which is used to subsidise local bus services that are not seen as commercially viable by bus operators. This money is being spent on a number of more localised bus services. It is, however, increasingly difficult to fund local services, given the context of reductions in funding and increasing demand for Council services.
I am also aware that some commercial services are being streamlined in the New Year with a reduction in frequency. This is mainly due to buses struggling to get in and out of Cardiff during heavily congested periods and a lack of patronage. This is evidence of the difficulties associated with maintaining a sustainable network of bus transport.
Since October 2013 the Vale of Glamorgan has seen the loss of one bus service (Service 90) and the creation of a new service (321). This highlights that, even though the funding available has, in real terms, reduced, the number of available bus services has not. The Vale of Glamorgan has, compared to some other Local Authorities, a good core local bus service network.
In addition to Welsh Government grant and a local bus service budget, the Council also uses Section 106 monies to fund its own community transport service, Greenlinks. Greenlinks provides much needed transport links for passengers unable to access regular local buses. The Greenlinks service offers both non-regular journeys and registered services such as the G1, in the rural Vale and the G4, running to Culverhouse Cross. Membership of the Greenlinks service has almost
doubled in the past four years, with the number of vehicles that are used for the scheme also doubling and an increased patronage base with residents from across the Vale able to join the scheme. Greenlinks has developed to work with other partners such as Dinas Powys Voluntary Concern (DPVC) in order to provide transport links to the Health Centre at the top of Murch Road, is working with our
Social Services team to undertake transport to and from day centres and has even provided school transport for a period of time.
In relation to quality of buses, within South East Wales, operators have to achieve a gold, silver or bronze quality standard to receive operator Bus Service Support Grant payments – the higher the standard, the higher the payment. I am pleased to say the operators who run through the Vale meet the first two quality standards.
The Council is working with other South Wales Authorities on the Metro Scheme which will improve public transport links to and from Cardiff. Work on this has already been undertaken with the bus lane on Port Road which speeds up journeys from Barry to Culverhouse Cross. As the Metro plan develops, more improvements are envisaged which will improve public transport links for Vale residents.
Officers within the Passenger Transport Team continue to work with operators to eradicate any problems while maintaining service provision as best as possible for Vale residents.
As you may recall from the Scrutiny presentation that was given on 12th October, 2017, local bus operators Cardiff Bus and New Adventure Travel advised that funding and patronage on services was an issue throughout the industry. How this is addressed needs to be determined by bus operators, Local Authorities and Welsh Government alike.
With regard to local issues, again you will recall from the presentation, that the bus operators who were present stated they have a great relationship with officers from the Vale and they work together to try and improve and enhance services where possible.
I would say while improvements can always be made, we have a better service than many other Councils in Wales and must appreciate and use the current local bus network that we have to help retain current service frequencies and routes.
Referring to the reference to patronage and declining passenger numbers, Councillor Bailey, nevertheless, referred to residents in his Ward facing an absurd situation of having a bus to take them to work but no bus to take them home at the end of the day. As such, he considered the facility to not represent a “reliable commute” and people would not, therefore, use it. He asked whether the Cabinet Member would work with him going forward to attempt to bring back a reliable commuter service to his Ward in order that residents of Highlight Park could get home from work at the end of the day.
The Cabinet Member confirmed that officers were exploring any options which were available, but that funding remained a major problem with Welsh Government as recently as this week warning of possible additional funding cuts.