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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 20th March, 2012.

 

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

 

Also present:  Councillors A.M. Ernest, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, G.C. Kemp, R.L.Traherne and M.R. Wilson.

 

 

1015   APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor Mrs. P. Drake.

 

 

1016   MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 21st February, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

1017   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

1018   AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WALES: ANNUAL IMPROVEMENT REPORT 2012 (REF - MIN. NO. C1613) -

 

Cabinet had, on 15th February, 2012, considered the above, noted the same and referred the report to this and the Audit Committees.  The Audit Committee had subsequently noted the comments of Cabinet and the Annual Improvement Report. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the contents of the report.

 

 

1019   REVENUE MONITORING - 1ST APRIL 2011 TO 31ST JANUARY, 2012 (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

 

·         Education Service - £109k. which would be met by contribution from Education Reserves

·         Children and Young People’s Services and Adult Services - projected net overspend of £2.9m. 

·         Planning and Transportation - projected overspend of £100k. which would be met from savings within Visible Services

·         Economic Development and Leisure - projected overspend of £170k. to be met from savings within Visible Services, it being noted that Cabinet had been requested to agree to the virement of £500k. to the service from Policy.  As regards Visible Services, the Waste Management budget was expected to outturn with a favourable variance of £100k. and that in relation to Support there would be a projected £170. favourable variance.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

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

 

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

 

(3)       T H A T it be noted that a budget virement of £500k. be made to the Economic Development and Leisure Service from Policy.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To be aware of the projected revenue outturn for 2011/12.

 

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

 

(3)       To fund the overspend resulting from the delay in implementing the Leisure Centre Partnership.

 

 

1020   CAPITAL MONITORING - 1ST ARPIL 2011 TO 31ST JANUARY 2012 (DFICTP) -

 

Details of financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st January, 2012 were appended to the report.  Officers would be required to 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.  Details pertaining to the following schemes were contained within the report as outlined below:

 

·         Foundation Phase Grant 2011/12, St. Brides Major Primary School - anticipated that up to £40k. of the works could potentially slip into 2012/13

·         Llangan Primary School new car park - £118k. to be slipped into 2012/13 

·         Day Care Reconfiguration at Gardenhurst and Hen Goleg

·         Housing Improvement Programme (HIP) – Appendix 1 updated to reflect the additional budgets referred to in paragraph 9 and an overall reduction of £15k. on the whole HIP budget

·         Road Safety Capital Grant 2011/12 – Appendix 1 updated to reflect the additional grant

·         Safe Routes in Communities 2011/12 – Appendix 1 updated to reflect the additional grant application

·         Barry Waterfront Park and Ride – Appendix 1 updated to reflect the additional funding

·         IT Equipment 2011/12– given the allocation of £50k. for a new WiMax network was no longer required for that purpose, expenditure on the current Internet Protocol Telephony budget would be increased by that amount.

 

Information was contained within the report of variances relating to the HIP (roof renewals) and the Vehicle Replacement Programme.  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 Council’s 2011/12 Capital Programme be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow schemes to proceed this financial year.

 

 

1021   3RD QUARTER PERFORMANCE MONITORING (DFICTP) -

 

(i)         Chief Executive

(ii)        Democratic Services

(iii)       Customer Relations

(iv)       Legal Services

(v)        Human Resources

(vi)       Accountancy and Resource Management

(vii)      Finance and Property

(viii)     ICT.

 

There being no questions in respect of any of the above quarterly monitoring statistics, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position in relation to the 3rd quarter performance monitoring in respect of each of the above be noted. 

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the information submitted.

 

 

1022   DRAFT SERVICE PLANS -

 

(i)         Legal Services

 

The Head of Legal Services introduced the draft Service Plan by highlighting the impact of both of the closure of the Barry Magistrates Court and the job evaluation exercise on the Service.  She stressed that control measures to mitigate the same had been built into the Plan.  She also drew attention to the fact that all Service and Improvement Plan Actions had been completed and targets met.

 

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

 

Reason for recommendation

 

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

 

(ii)        Human Resources

 

The Head of Human Resources indicated that the main priorities in the coming year would include the development of a Workforce Plan, the management of change and the development of a “post change” employee engagement strategy, and the implementation of a new equality based pay structure in accordance with the outcome of the job evaluation exercise. 

 

In response to a question relating to the implementation of job evaluation in schools, the Head of Service clarified that the major issue in schools related to equal pay rather than job evaluation.  Both the Head of Service and the Director of Finance, ICT and Property confirmed that a letter was being sent imminently to schools explaining that it was imperative that a settlement in relation to equal pay was agreed expeditiously.  An offer had been made whereby the Council would fund the payments centrally initially and the repayment period subsequently negotiated with individual schools.  Discussions were ongoing with Head Teachers and Governing Bodies to assist schools in managing the financial impact of the settlement.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the draft Service Plan and the clarification of the position in relation to schools and equal pay be accepted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To be aware of, and ensure effective monitoring of, the work of the Division and to reflect the views expressed.

 

(iii)       Finance and Property

 

The Operational Manager (Finance and Systems) introduced the draft Service Plan by referring, in particular, to the key service aims of promoting and further developing electronic service delivery/self service in Financial Services, implementing changes in benefits, delivering OneVale and putting ICT to its most effective use to support service delivery.

 

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

 

Reason for recommendation

 

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

 

(iv)       ICT

 

The Head of Strategic ICT drew attention to the fact that most of the Service Action Plans had been completed and that he was requesting authority to delete action number ICT/A050 – implementation of WIMAX to enable mobile home working – for the reasons specified in the Plan.  Mobile and flexible working was anticipated to be a major area of change over the coming three years and a three year programme to refresh the desktop estate would commence in 2012.  In response to questions, he confirmed that a further survey of Members on their ICT needs would form part of the induction process following the local government elections and that it was intended to offer a guest network in coming months.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the draft Service Plan be accepted and that action number ICT/A050 be deleted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

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

 

 

1023   LEISURE CENTRE PARTNERSHIP PROJECT - CALL-IN FROM COUNCILLORS N. MOORE AND M.R. WILSON (DEER) -

 

The Chairman invited Councillor Moore to introduce the issues raised in his call-in.  Councillor Moore expressed his ongoing concerns despite the conclusions of the Working Group and previous reports to this Committee.  His concerns included those outlined below:

 

·         that the press reports of there being cross-party support within the Working Group in relation to the tendering were untrue and should be retracted – the Operational Manager (Leisure and Tourism) responded that Councillor Wilson was not present when the recommendations within the report on that issue were agreed

·         a lack of real communication with users of the leisure centres – the Operational Manager indicated that information in relation to the Council’s seeking a partner organisation to manage the facilities and the impact thereof on staff, prices and customers (as appended to the report) had been displayed in the leisure centres and that a number of press releases had been issued

·         uncertainty as to future arrangements in relation to any contracts with current users, the continuation of medical referrals and usage by Armed Forces personnel – the Operational Manager confirmed that both the G.P. Referral Scheme and the free use of facilities by military personnel during periods of leave had been included within the tender specification, and that all prospective partners had been made aware of existing contracts with current customers

·         uncertainty as to the continuation of the current lessons run by instructors and concerns regarding the TUPE arrangements for those instructors – the Operational Manager indicated that those instructors who were Council employees would transfer in line with TUPE regulation.  The remaining instructors would not be subject to job evaluation and would be able to negotiate pay rates with the successful bidder.  He confirmed that all the bidders proposed to increase the number of exercise classes in recognition of the market

·         the basis of the acceptance of the tender on “price” rather than “quality” – the response given was that the evaluation criteria featured a 50:50 price versus quality ratio and, as such, that both had been given equal standing

·         concerns in relation to the capital costs, ongoing maintenance and replacement costs and energy prices – the Director of Finance, ICT and Property was then invited to respond.  She explained the premise behind bidders having been asked to submit both a base bid and a variant bid and that the variant bid was the favoured bid.  She indicated that significant savings would be made

·         clarification as to costs arising from changes in the law relating to services provided - the Director explained by way of example that were the law to change in relation to Non Domestic Rates (NNDR) exemptions that impacted on the contract, the additional cost would fall on the outsourcing organisation.

 

Discussion ensued at this juncture on the fact that other local authorities within Wales were committed to non direct management options or were investigating alternative methods of delivery.  Specific reference was made to Bridgend CBC having recently awarded a contract in that respect.  It was recognised that since Parkwood operated the Cardiff International Pool complex, the opportunity might exist for customers within the Vale to gain access to those facilities more easily.  The view was then expressed that, given the decrease in funding for leisure services over the years, the provision of the service through a partnership arrangement was the only realistic way forward in order not just to retain the facilities currently offered but to build upon and improve the same.

 

Councillor Wilson was then asked to address the outstanding concerns he had expressed in his call-in.  Councillor Wilson asked that, since his non-attendance at a meeting of the Working Group had been referred to in the report, it be placed on record that his inability to attend was attributable to work commitments.  He expressed his frustration at what he described as the lack of transparency and at being tied by legalities.  He referred also to concerns in relation to job evaluation and the fitness instructors and to the need to ensure that the Council remained in control of the service and provided the service required by its customers.

 

During the course of the consideration of the above, attention was drawn on behalf of the Penarth Youth Forum to the fact that the Forum had been required to move out the Penarth Leisure Centre.  Prior to this meeting, the Principal Youth Officer had indicated that likely alternative provision had been secured and Members requested a progress report on that matter at a future meeting.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the decisions as contained in Minute No. C1647 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T a full update on the position in relation to the Penarth Youth Forum be submitted to a future meeting.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1) To have regard to the views expressed and to make progress.

 

(2) To be aware of the current position.

 

(Note: Councillor Wilson spoke on the above matter with the consent of the Committee.)

 

 

1024   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 item of business on the grounds that It involves 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.

 

 

1025   DYFFRYN HOUSE AND GARDENS: NATIONAL TRUST - CALL-IN FROM COUNCILLOR M.R. WILSON (EXEMPT INFORMATION - PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) (DEER) -

 

At the request of the Chairman Councillor Wilson summarised the issues raised within his call-in in respect of the proposed partnership agreement with the National Trust.  He expressed concerns in relation to the future financial commitment the Council would be making by entering into the partnership agreement on the terms proposed, the position in which the Council would be placed should the National Trust withdraw from the lease, concerns in relation to staff and the TUPE arrangements, grants liabilities, responsibility for security of the site and issues relating to public rights of way. 

 

The Operational Manager (Countryside and Economic Projects) referred Members to Appendix 3 to the report which detailed potential risks, breaches and liabilities for the Council and the National Trust under the Agreement for Lease, the Lease and the Business Transfer Agreement.  He drew attention to the measures to mitigate risk contained therein.  As regards Councillor Wilson’s concerns relating to existing leaseholders on the site, he referred to the Cabinet report of 15th February 2012 where the position was fully explained.  As regards Cymraeg Vending, he reported that following negotiations Cymraeg Vending had agreed to surrender the lease to coincide with the start of the proposed lease to the National Trust in return for a compensation payment.  In relation to grants liabilities, the Operational Manager was able to confirm that the organisations concerned had no objections in principle with the proposals.  He stated that the general feeling amongst staff was positive and that the Council had been open and transparent with them throughout the process.  The Operational Manager was not aware of any recorded Public Rights of Way within the boundary, but noted that all Public Rights of Way, at any location, were afforded protection in law regardless of land ownership.

 

In response to a question, the Operational Manager indicated that, as stated in paragraph 8 of the Cabinet report, an external valuation of the property had determined that the proposed transfer by way of a 50 year lease to the National Trust for a peppercorn rent was not at less than the best consideration and that Section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 would be satisfied by the terms of the proposed transfer. 

 

Further concerns were expressed that the differing timescales relating to the break clause at 20 years in the proposed lease and the expiry of grant conditions at 25 years.  The Operational Manager indicated that the Council had successfully negotiated an increase to the 10 year break clause the National Trust originally requested and that, in the circumstances, a reasonable compromise had been achieved.  Furthermore, the agreement between the Council and the National Trust would protect the Council should a grant condition be breached by the National Trust.

 

Following consideration of the above and related matters, including the supplementary report of the Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration which addressed the specific points raised in the call-in, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Cabinet decisions as contained within Minute No. C1623 be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To have regard to the views expressed and to make progress.

 

(Note: Councillor Wilson spoke on the above matter with the consent of the Committee.)

 

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