Top

Top

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 21st February, 2012.

 

Present:  Councillor J.F. Fraser (Chairman); Councillor E.T. Williams (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. P. Drake, K. Hatton G. John, Mrs. K.A. Kemp, Mrs. A.J. Moore, N. Moore, A.C. Williams and Miss. S.J.C. Williams.

 

Also present:  Councillor R.L. Traherne.

 

 

901     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor Mrs. A.J. Preston.

 

 

902     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 24th January, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

903     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

904     SICKNESS ABSENCE REPORT APRIL TO SEPTEMBER 2011 (REF - MIN. NO. C1591) -

 

Cabinet had accepted the report and absence outturn as appended to the report on 18th January, 2012 and had referred the same to this Committee for consideration.  The Head of Human Resources drew attention to the statistics contained within the report and its appendix which demonstrated that corporately the Council was within target of 0.45 of a day.  The Council continued to exercise regular performance management of its sickness absence and was able to update Members by reporting that statistics were now available for the period April to December 2011.  Those statistics showed that the actual figure was 6.03 days compared to a target of 6.75.  Based on the above, he was hopeful that the statistics would outturn within target by the year end.  He also referred to the revised Management of Attendance Policy which had been approved in respect of schools and the fact that training sessions with Headteachers and Governing Bodies had been organised.  In response to a question as to the number of schools which had already signed up, he agreed to forward that information to Members of the Committee, drawing attention at the same time to a collective grievance having been lodged by a trade union in respect of the introduction of the aforementioned policy.

 

It was noted that the figures reported in October 2011 showed that this Council was second in rank order of lowest number of days lost per full time equivalent. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the current position be welcomed and managers and staff congratulated for the continuing improvement.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To recognise the efforts made.

 

 

905     WELSH GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION - SHARED PURPOSE - SHARED DELIVERY (CX) -

 

The Welsh Government (WG) had issued the above consultation document as appended to the report and had requested responses by 30th March 2012.  The new Guidance was intended to integrate local service planning, streamline partnership working and strengthen the strategic role and accountability of the Local Service Board (LSB).  The Guidance was intended to replace existing statutory guidance deriving from a number of pieces of legislation as shown in paragraph 3 of the report.  The WG had identified the outcomes Wales should work towards and the priority areas for action in the Programme for Government which could only be achieved through multi-agency working and, according to the draft Guidance, needed to be reflected in single integrated plans produced by LSBs. 

 

WG was of the view that the LSB should:

  • Agree strategic priorities for multi-agency working to support the agenda set out in Programme for Government and respond to clearly evidenced local needs.
  • Achieve improvements by ensuring appropriate systems are in place and that managers and frontline staff across agencies are working together effectively and that agreed priorities are reflected in individual organisations' corporate plans.
  • Ensure partnership and delivery structures are fit for purpose and accountable.
  • Challenge where there is underperformance or coasting and implement changes that reflect evidenced best practice to improve outcomes for the local population.
  • Review and report annually on progress; to the public, Welsh Government, democratically elected members, and LSB member organisations.

The consultation document also detailed what should be included in a single integrated plan.  It was noted that Chapter 3 of the Guidance set out the WG proposals for strengthened accountability and covered performance management, scrutiny and inspection and audit. 

 

In the section on scrutiny, reference was made to the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 which gave new powers to local authority scrutiny committees to scrutinise other public service providers in their area in addition to Council services.  The Measure also contained provision for setting up joint scrutiny committees with other Councils.  Whilst the consultation document recognised the importance contribution of scrutiny, at this stage the detail was unclear and guidance on the Measure was awaited. 

 

Given the lack of detail within the consultation documentation, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the content of the consultation documentation be noted.

 

Reason for Recommendation

 

In recognition of the current position.

 

 

906     REVISED SERVICE PLANS (CX) -

 

Members were informed of the work being undertaken to revise the format of service plans in response to the following recommendation in the Council’s 2011 Improvement Assessment:

 

“Establish a transparent programme for the development of outcome focussed measures moving from reporting arrangements that focus primarily on performance indicators and on the completion, or otherwise, of an action.”

 

The revised service plan format would address the key questions specified in paragraph 7 of the report.  Revised draft service plans for the three pilot areas (namely Visible Services, Public Protection and Customer Relations) would be submitted to the relevant Scrutiny Committee during March 2012.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position be noted.

 

Reason for Recommendation

 

To inform Members of the revised service plan format, thereby meeting the Auditor General for Wales' recommendation as outlined in the 2011 Improvement Assessment letter and improving the effectiveness of scrutiny of the Council's performance.

 

 

907     REVENUE MONITORING: 1ST APRIL TO 31ST DECEMBER 2011 (DFICTP) -

 

The projected outturn for the 2011/12 Revenue Budget was for a balanced budget as was the case with the Housing Revenue Account.  Details were contained within the report of anticipated net overspends in Economic Development and Leisure which had increased by £250k. due to the delay in implementation of the Leisure Centre Partnership.  It was noted that the increase would be met from Policy savings.  Attention was drawn in particular to the situation within Social Services where it was projected overall that there would be a net overspend of £2.9m. in the current financial year.  Attention was drawn to the fact that, whilst the position had improved this month by £248k., the overspend on Community Care packages could increase further by year end if the value of additional packages approved exceeded the value of packages that reduced.  Members were again reminded that the Director of Social Services, together with a multi-disciplinary project team and project board were committed to address the situation. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the Authority’s 2011/12 amended Revenue Budget be noted. 

 

(2)       T H A T the Director of Social Services take the necessary action to bring expenditure in line with the base budget.  

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

 

(1)       That the Members are aware of the projected revenue outturn for 2011/12.

 

(2)       To bring Social Services expenditure in line with the base budget

 

 

908     CAPITAL MONITORING: 1ST APRIL TO 31ST DECEMBER, 2011 (DFICTP) -

 

Details of financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st December 2011 were appended to the report.  Officers would submit a report to Cabinet relating to those schemes where it was evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent in the current financial year, as outlined below:

  • Castleland Renewal Area – £165k. to be carried forward into 2012/13
  • Section 106 Penarth Heights highway works - £62k. to be slipped into 2012/13.

In response to questions relating to the current position in respect of the refurbishment of the Flying Start building and Ty Iolo, the Head of Accountancy and Resource Management undertook to provide the required detail to Members of the Committee.

 

Appendix 2 to the report provided non-financial information on schemes with a budget of over £100k.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the Authority’s 2011/12 Capital Programme be noted.

 

Reason for Recommendation

 

To allow schemes to proceed this financial year.

 

 

909     TREASURY MANAGEMENT (DFICTP) -

 

Members accepted that all activities in relation to the Council’s treasury management operations between 1st April and 31st December, 2011, had been taken in accordance with the Council’s approved strategy.  Details were presented within paragraph 12 of the report of the monies borrowed and repaid during that period.  External interest at an average rate of 5.63% had been accrued on those loans for the first nine months of 2011/12.  Paragraph 14 of the report showed the investments made by the Council in that same period.  Members noted that interest at an average rate of 0.26% had been accrued.

 

As regards the strategy 2012/13, Members noted the proposal that the current prudent approach be continued, the first priority being the security of the investment and the second, its liquidity.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Treasury Management interim report for the period 1st April to 31st December 2011 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the adoption of the Treasury Management in the Public Services: Code of Practice 2011 Edition be endorsed.

 

(3)       T H A T the adoption of the revised Treasury Management Policy on pages 10-13 in Appendix 1 be endorsed.

 

(4)       T H A T The proposed 2012/13 Treasury Management and Investment Strategy be endorsed prior to its consideration by Cabinet and submission thereafter Council for approval including the following specific resolutions as set out in the Strategy Action Plan:

  • The Authorised Limit for External Debt is set at £164,000,000 for 2011/12, £167,000,000 for 2012/13, £169,000,000 for 2013/14 and £172,000,000 for 2014/15.
  • The Operational Boundary for External Debt be set at £149,000,000 for 2011/12, £151,000,000 for 2012/13, £153,000,000 for 2013/14 and £155,000,000 for 2014/15.
  • The Director of Finance ICT and Property be given delegated authority within the total Authorised Limit and Operational Boundary as estimated for individual years to effect movement between the separately agreed limits for borrowing and other long term liabilities.
  • An upper limit is set on its fixed interest rate exposures for 2011/12 of £139,000,000, for 2012/13 of £140,000,000, for 2013/14 of £141,000,000 and for 2014/15 of £142,000,000 of its net outstanding principal sum on its borrowings / investments.
  • An upper limit is set on its variable interest rate exposures as an absolute value for 2011/12 of +/-£144,000,000, for 2012/13 of +/- £144,000,000, for 2013/14 of +/- £139,000,000 and for 2014/15 of +/- £137,000,000 of its net outstanding principal sums on its borrowings / investments.
  • An upper limit of £30,000,000 is set for total principal sums invested for over 364 days for 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15.
  • An upper limit is set of 100% on net debt expressed as a percentage of gross debt for 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15
  • The amount of projected borrowing that is fixed rate maturing in each period as a percentage of total projected borrowing that is fixed rate for 2012/13 be set as below:

 

 

Upper Limit

Lower Limit

Under 12 months

20%

0%

12 months and within 24 months

20%

0%

24 months and within 5 years

30%

0%

 5 years and within 10 years

30%

0%

10 years and above

100%

0%

  • The Prudential Indicators set out in paragraph 4.1 and 4.2 in this Strategy be approved.

Reasons for Recommendations

 

(1)       To present the Treasury Management Interim Report.

 

(2)       To endorse the adoption of the Treasury Management in the Public Services: Code of Practice 2011 Edition. 

 

(3)       To endorse the adoption of the revised Treasury Management Policy.

 

(4)       The Treasury Management and Annual Investment Strategy is prepared as required by the Local Government Act 2003.

 

 

910     LOCAL GOVERNMENT (WALES) (MEASURE) 2011 (DLPPHS) -

 

The purpose of the Measure was to make provision to strengthen the structures and working of Local Government in Wales at all levels and to ensure that local Councils reached out to, and engaged with, all sectors of the community they served.  The key elements of the Measure had been highlighted in the report to Cabinet on 8th June, 2011.  Notwithstanding the above, the Welsh Government (WG) had only recently issued Draft Statutory Guidance regarding the Measure, the consultation period ending on 30th March, 2012.  It was noted that all Members of the Council had already been sent a copy of the draft Guidance under separate copy.  The various components covered within the Guidance were now enshrined within the Measure and attention was drawn to the fact that guidance on certain elements was still awaited. 

 

The Draft Statutory Guidance was issued under the following sections of the Measure:

  • Section 6(1) - Guidance in relation to timing of Council meetings, in general terms the expectation being that meetings should be held at times, intervals and locations convenient to the majority of Members.
  • Section 7(4) - Guidance in relation to training and development of Members of a local authority.  The new Democratic Services Committee, the establishment of which was a requirement of Section 16 of the Measure, would have overall responsibility for deciding what was to be regarded as reasonable training and development strategies. 
  • Section 16(2) - Guidance in relation to the discharge of functions by the Democratic Services Committee.  Each Council would be required to designate one officer to the new statutory post of “Head of Democratic Services”. 

The Council was also required to establish a Democratic Services Committee to:

  • carry out the function of designating the Head of Democratic Services
  • keep under review the provision of staff, accommodation and other resources made available to the Head of Democratic Services in order to ensure that it was adequate for the responsibilities of the post
  • to make reports, at least annually, to the Full Council in relation to the above matters.
  • Section 56(6) - Guidance in relation to exercise of functions by Councillors, the arrangements under that section providing for a Non-Executive Member to exercise functions in relation to the electoral division for which the Member had been elected or to the Member’s official membership of an outside body.
  • Section 62(4) - Guidance in relation to taking account of the views of the public, the scrutiny function being regarded by the WG as helping to build and represent democratic capacity.  The Guidance also covered suggestions regarding how local authorities might improve public awareness of, and public engagement in, the scrutiny process and the promotion of its work.  That section of the Guidance also covered the expansion of the Councillor Call for Action (CCfA) and included ways in which engagement with the Third Sector might be enhanced.
  • Section 63 - Reference of matters to Scrutiny Committees and Councillor Call for Action.  As alluded to above, the Measure introduced new powers for Councillors which, in essence, widened the existing CCfA provisions.  
  • Section 75(2)(a) - Guidance in relation to appointment of Scrutiny Committee Chairs.  Section 66 basically required political balance to be applied to the allocation of Chairmen of Scrutiny Committees. 
  • Section 76(1)(a) - Guidance in relation to co-option on Scrutiny Committees.  The WG considered the contribution of co-opted members on committees to be able to significantly strengthen their effectiveness.  The draft Guidance recommended that the number of such co-optees on the Scrutiny Committees should not exceed one third of the total membership.  Other than existing statutory provisions, no new co-optees appointed would be able to be granted voting rights.
  • Section 85(1) - Guidance in relation Audit Committees.  Each Council was required to appointment an Audit Committee.

Implementation of some of the Measure’s provisions would have resource implications at a time when Councils were under sever pressure to reduce costs.  It was anticipated that the final Guidance and Model Standing Orders to be issued by the WG would assist in clarifying the resources required to meet the requirements of the Measure.

 

Members were of the opinion that the only matter within the draft Guidance meriting comment at this point related to the timing of Council meetings.  Members expressed the view that the current practice within the Council of meetings generally being held in the evening should be continued, which, it was considered, would assist in fostering public engagement and encourage participation in the political process from a wider audience.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the draft Guidance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be notified of the Committee’s view that the only matter within the draft Guidance meriting comment related to the timing of Council meetings and that the current practice of, generally, holding evening meetings should be continued.

 

Reasons for Recommendations

 

(1)       To keep Members aware of draft guidance as it is issued.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet in formulating its response on the draft Guidance.

 

 

911     DRAFT SERVICE PLANS -

 

(i)          Chief Executive’s -

 

The Head of Performance and Development indicated that the overall activities of the service, together with the key objectives and aims for the next three years, were set out on the first two pages of the document.  There being no questions, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the draft Service Plan be accepted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To be aware, and ensure effective monitoring, of the work of the Division.

 

(ii)        Democratic Services -

 

The Operational Manager (Democratic Services) drew attention to two specific objectives and aims for the next 12 months, namely to contribute to, and facilitate, an effective Member induction / development programme from May 2012 onwards and to implement the provisions of the Local Government (Wales) (Measure) 2011.  There being no questions, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the draft Service Plan be accepted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To be aware, and ensure effective monitoring, of the work of the Division.

 

(iii)       ICT-

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T consideration of the draft Service Plan stand adjourned until the next meeting to allow the attendance of the Head of Strategic ICT.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To enable the Head of Service to respond to any issues raised.

 

(iv)       Accountancy and Resource Management -

 

The Head of Accountancy and Resource Management referred specifically to the fact that the Business Process Re-engineering now fell within his remit.  There being no questions, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the draft Service Plan be accepted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To be aware, and ensure effective monitoring, of the work of the Division.

 

 

912     EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC -

 

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

 

 

913     MATTER WHICH THE CHAIRMAN HAD DECIDED WAS URGENT -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the following matter which the Chairman had decided was urgent for the reason given beneath the minute heading be considered.

 

           

914     DYFFRYN HOUSE AND GARDENS: NATIONAL TRUST (EXEMPT INFORMATION - PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) -

(Urgent by reason of the need to consider the issues prior to the meeting of the Council on 7th March, 2012)

 

Councillor Mrs. K.A. Kemp had called-in the decisions of Cabinet as contained within Minute No. C1623 (15th February 2012) in order that the Committee might discuss the risks in the report.  Cabinet had considered the optimum way forward in respect of the transfer of the operation of Dyffryn House and Gardens to the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or National Beauty (NT) and had made seven resolutions regarding the same.  In introducing the item, Councillor Kemp asked for clarification of the risks, how to mitigate those risks and what progress had been made. 

 

The Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration referred to the substantive report to Cabinet on 15th February (as appended to the call-in request) and to several other reports on proposals in respect of Dyffryn House and Gardens and the NT to both Cabinet and Scrutiny. He also referred specifically to the Cabinet report on 8th June, 2011 when, inter alia, approval had been given to make payments to the NT and the Director of Finance, ICT and Property authorised to determine the optimum method of funding.  He drew attention to the content of Appendix 3 to the report which set out the risks and reminded Members that negotiations were ongoing.

 

The Director of Finance, ICT and Property then updated Members on matters relating to the method of funding and the current position regarding pension negotiations.  She stated that whilst other financial risks were associated with the Agreement for Lease, the Lease and Business Transfer Agreement,  sufficient factors would be built into the contract to mitigate those risks.  In response to a question, she indicated that whilst the Cabinet report had detailed most of the risks, negotiations were continuing and that the position was evolving as indicated above.

 

Discussion ensued on the limited timescale Cabinet proposed to adopt to progress the scheme when numerous issues had yet to be finalised.  Attention was also drawn to the fact that the call-in period in respect of this matter had not concluded.  Following concerns that it would be premature at this stage to refer the Cabinet decisions to Council for ratification, Councillor N. Moore moved that the matter be deferred pending the resolution of all outstanding issues.  The subsequent amendment, that the decisions of Cabinet be accepted, was duly proposed and seconded. Upon being put to the vote, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – THAT the decisions of Cabinet be accepted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To progress the proposals.

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook