Minutes of a meeting held on 24th July, 2012.


Present:  Councillor M.R. Wilson (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. P. Drake (Vice-Chairman); Councillors H.C. Hamilton, H.J.W. James, P. King, R.A. Penrose and G. Roberts.


Prior to the meeting, Members of the Committee had visited the Contact Centre and received a presentation from the Head of Customer Services.





These were received from Councillors K.J. Geary and K. Hatton.



203     MINUTES -


RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 26th June, 2012 be accepted as a correct record.





No declarations were received.





Cabinet had, on 18th April, 2012, received the above report and referred the same to this and to the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information.  In introducing the report, the Senior Highways Maintenance Officer referred to the fact that the backlog of highway resurfacing had almost doubled since 2009/10, the main cause being a national under-investment in highway repairs over the past 20 years further exacerbated by the severe winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11.  Members noted that despite the recent investment by the Council, details of which were contained within the report, the value of the Council’s Three Year Highway Maintenance Resurfacing Plan had increased year on year with the 2011/12 Plan standing at a value of £4.17m.  The production of a new Vale of Glamorgan Highways Asset Management Plan was underway which would contribute to the annual report to be submitted to the Welsh Government.  The Vale of Glamorgan Footway Condition project had also commenced, the report on which would provide a comprehensive understanding of footway condition and would allow the Welsh Government and, more importantly, officers within the Council to prepare accurate and timely footway repair and refurbishment schedules.  It was further noted that on 31st January 2012 the Welsh Government had approved £4m. of revenue grant for the 2012/13 financial year.  That funding was for a 22 year period and was being provided to allow local authorities to free up their own resources for prudential borrowing.  The allocation for the Vale of Glamorgan for 2012/13 was £151,813 and the funding provided over the 22 year period would enable the Council to prudentially borrow £6.7m. over the three year period 2012/13 to 2014/15.  In response to a question as to any correlation between the type of surfacing used and the classification of roads, the officer responded that it depended.  As regards the possibility of obtaining sponsorship from major retailers / developers in respect of maintenance, the officer responded that a previous effort to obtain sponsorship had been unsuccessful.  In conclusion the officer confirmed that the Council was on course in relation to the submission of its footway condition data which would feed into the Council’s highway asset plan.  


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position be noted.


Reason for recommendation


To have regard to the information provided.





The Operational Manager (Customer Relations) took Members through the revised format of his Service Plan.  He explained that the aim of the new layout was to facilitate navigation through the Plan and bring to the fore the key aims and strategic direction of the Service over the forthcoming year.  Members were unanimous in their view that the revised format was to be commended.  The Head of Performance and Development indicated that consideration was being given to producing Directorate wide Service Plans as opposed to individual Services and that further information would be provided in that respect later in the year.


The objectives for the Service were shown on page 5 of the report.  In response to a question, the Head of Service advised that each objective was of equal import (with the exception of objective 4 relating to elections, the implementation of which was required by legislation).


Reference was made on page 5 of the Plan to the pace of change within C1V likely to remain high during 2012/13 with the transfer of more Council services and the introduction of integrated working with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB).  In response to a question, the Head of Service stated that, as regards the transfer of more Council services, it was necessary to identify the individual elements within services where transfer was appropriate.  He continued by stating that, for example, he was currently working with Children’s Services and would be taking on Council house rents.  When asked to expand upon the use of technology as a driver for change, the Head of Service indicated that he was currently working with the Web Development Team to improve the access to and provision of services for all customers.  The Contact Channel Strategy contributed to the Welsh Government’s aim that citizens could chose the methods of access to services most appropriate to their needs and preferences.  The Head of Service confirmed that, whilst “self-service” was the cheapest option, customers must be afforded a choice.  As regards the use of social media, he understood that a Social Media Policy had been agreed and that the use of social media was something C1V, as a customer services provider, would need to look to exploit during the coming year.


When asked why the target in 2012/13 for first contact resolution was 70%, the Head of Service responded that was considered to be a realistic target given that currently resolution was 66%.  The point was made that there was a need to log the type of queries being received by C1V in order to analyse the same and investigate whether there was a more pro-active method of providing the information being sought.  The Head of Service indicated that queries were logged and available to other Heads of Service if required.  Further questions were asked in relation to response times.  The Head of Service referred to the corporate standards set in that respect (5 days for e‑mails and 10 days for letters).  When the point was raised that the public might consider a week or two weeks a long time to wait, the Head of Service agreed to raise the issue with other officers and to produce statistics in relation to his own service on the actual time taken for onward dissemination to the Committee.


In conclusion, the Head of Service commented that target dates for the completion of elements of the objectives in the Action Plan would be reviewed and refined throughout the year and that Members would receive updated information on a quarterly basis.


After thanking the Head of Service for taking Members through his Service Plan, it was


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the draft Plan be accepted and the revised format commended.


Reason for recommendation


Having regard to the content of the Plan and to its clarity of presentation.





(i)         Customer Relations


·         Action Plan Monitoring:


In respect of those actions which had slipped, the Head of Service commented on certain of which as follows:


-         CR/A036 – this would be revisited and its viability re-examined

-         CR/A072 – delay due to resource availability

-         CR/A078 – this would be progressed as soon as possible

-         CR/A087 – now completed

-         CR/A089 – project recommenced.


Discussion ensued in relation to CR/A090 (CL2) – develop libraries in the Vale as public contact points – when the possibility of utilising Town Council offices for the same purpose was raised.  The Head of Service confirmed that he was keen to exploit any opportunity to deliver services locally.


·         Performance Report:


L468Q – the Head of Service indicated that consideration was merited in amending the current description to reflect the percentage to the Welsh Language line being abandoned since, in practice, every enquirer who called the Welsh language line was answered in Welsh.  In response to a question as to what percentage of calls were in Welsh, the Head of Service replied that it was approximately 1%.


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress reports be accepted.



(ii)        Chief Executive


·         Action Plan Monitoring


In respect of those actions which had slipped, the Head of Service commented on certain of which as follows:


-         CE/A104 – since the Single Equalities Scheme had been superseded by a Strategic Equalities Plan, the objectives contained within that Plan would be incorporated into all Service Plans

-         CE/A105 – the revised Equalities Policy Statement would be submitted to this Committee once completed.


Discussion ensued in relation to CE/A011 – deliver year two actions of the Vale Arts Strategy – which had been overtaken by events in that there was now an integrated service entitled Arts Connect covering various Councils within the area.


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Arts Development Officer be requested to update Members of the Committee on the current position.


·         Performance Report:


The issues raised during the consideration thereof in respect of sickness targets were discussed further during the course of the meeting and are recorded below.

RECOMMENDED – THAT the progress report be accepted.



(iii)             Human Resources


·         Action Plan Monitoring:


In respect of certain of those actions which had slipped, the Head of Service commented as follows:


-         HR/A009 – the collective dispute was ongoing; a report on the matter would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration and thence the Scrutiny Committee.

-         HR/A052 – the Head of Service was hopeful the action would have bee completed by the end of the 2nd quarter.

-         HR/A054 – the Head of Service indicated that the Strategy would be launched in the current financial year.


·         Performance Report:


The Head of Service commented that, in relation to L799Q (sickness absence) where the target had fell outside that set by less than 10%, the Division encompassed 40 members of staff.  Members were of the view that % figures were not as helpful in monitoring performance as actual staff figures.  The Operational Manager (Democratic Services) indicated at that juncture that, since the Ffynon system could not generate that information, it fell to the service populators of Ffynon to input that information themselves in order to give Members the full context.  The suggestion was also made that the information supplied should relate to full-time equivalents across the services in order to facilitate comparison throughout the Council.  Reference was also made to the fact that the PI relating to the number of staff leaving the service included for example, those on temporary or short-term contracts, which again, it was considered, neither reflected the context nor facilitated comparison throughout the Council.


Discussion ensued on the current position in relation to equal pay.  The Head of Service confirmed that approximately 85% of claims had been settled and that further external legal advice on the remaining 15% was expected imminently.  



(iv)       Legal Services


·         Action Plan Monitoring:


All actions had been completed.


·         Performance Report:


All targets had been met.


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress reports be noted and P.I. L446Q deleted for the reason specified within the report.



(v)        Democratic Services


·         Action Plan Monitoring:


In respect of those actions which had slipped the Operational Manager commented as follows:


-         DS/A041 (CL6) – interviews were scheduled to commence in the Autumn of 2012.

-         DS/A009 – work was ongoing with the aim of achieving, at minimum, Level 2 although the feasibility of attaining Level 4 given the nature of the service was questionable.  Members’ initial suggestion that it be reduced to a more realistic level was withdrawn given that Level 4 was a corporate target.


·         Performance Report:


L252A – carried over to 2012/13 for the reasons set out in the report.

L810Q – failure to achieve target attributable to the long term absence of one member of staff.  The Operational Manager referred to the fact that the target set had been based upon the Division’s previous low level of sickness absence and that the figure across the remainder of the Division was well within target.


RECOMMENDED – THAT the progress reports be accepted.



(vi)       ICT


·         Action Plan Monitoring:


In respect of those actions which had slipped, the Head of Service commented as follows:


-         ICT/A012 – for reasons previously outlined, Level 4 was not considered appropriate given the service area.

-         ICT/A041 - now completed with the contract awarded to O2.

-         ICT/A049 – a report would be submitted to Cabinet in September on the viability of the project.

-         ICT/A053 – due to staff shortages earlier in the year; now scheduled for implementation in September.

-         ICT/A054 – report to be submitted to Cabinet on 30th July regarding the award of the desktop hardware contract.


·         Performance Report:


L461Q – attributable to the loss of one member of staff which equates to 25%; hopeful that the position will improve.


RECOMMENDED – THAT the progress reports accepted and the following P.I.s deleted for the reasons outlined in the report:


L549Q and L832A.



(vii)            Accountancy and Resource Management


·         Action Plan Monitoring:


The Head of Financial Services indicated that the current arrangements for the joint audit service with Bridgend in place were based on secondment pending the completion of the legal agreement between the two authorities.


·         Performance Report:


L785Q – the Head of Service commented that there were 46 FTEs in Accountancy and Audit.

L797Q – the sickness issues which had resulted in the target being missed had now been resolved.

L789A – whilst work was ongoing to reach Level 4 in respect of the Equalities Scheme, the Head of Service suggested that there may be a need to review that target.


Particular attention was drawn to the Service’s achievement as regards the cumulative total of the Council’s efficiency savings met from improved procurement and officers thanked for their efforts in this respect.


RECOMMENDED – THAT the progress reports be accepted.



(viii)     Finance and Property


·         Action Plan Monitoring:


In respect of those actions which had slipped, the Head of Financial Services commented as follows:


-         FPA038 – due to be completed 2014/15 after being put on hold initially by the Welsh Government.

-         FPA048 – training to commence in September and efforts made to implement the module in house.

-         FPA051 – now completed.


The Head of Service also commented that certain of the targets, for example, those relating to the Council’s energy policy and the improvement of access to Council buildings were ongoing year on year.


·         Performance Report:


CFH/006Q – whilst performance had been shown as being within 10% of the target, the Head of Service indicated that the training issues had now been addressed and that performance in the current quarter was in excess of that in the 1st quarter of the previous year.


The Head of Service also referred to the significant achievement made in exceeding target in respect of the processing of benefits and collection of revenues.


RECOMMENDED – THAT the progress reports be accepted.


Reason for recommendations


Having regard to the content of the reports and the comments of officers at the meeting.





The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) considered the above report of the Chief Executive on 24th July, 2012 and the proposed response to the questions contained in the White Paper as appended to the report under the following headings:


·         Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales

          -         structure / membership (Q1 - Q5)

          -         powers / electoral reviews (Q6 - Q23)

·         Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011: Amendments

          -         Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales: Powers (Q24 - Q29)

          -         Area Committees (Q30)

          -         Audit Committees and Democratic Services Committees (Q31 - Q32)

·         Access to Information: Town and Community Councils (Q33 - Q34)

·         Electoral Issues (Q35 - Q37)

·         Local Government Ethical Framework (Q38 - Q44).


Members of the Scrutiny Committee considered each of the responses in the order presented above.  Specific comments as shown below were made in respect of the questions listed.


Questions 6 and 16.  Members agreed that the proposed response should be cross-referenced with the comments made at the previous meeting of the Committee in relation to Electoral Reviews: Council Size policy consultation document  Those comments had been referred to Cabinet following which the Leader had written to the Boundary Commission.  In that letter, the Leader had referred to the document being unrealistic and impractical and the comments of the Scrutiny Committee where Members had suggested that the Commission adopt a more rational approach.


Question 7.  The premise that police force areas remained co-terminous with preserved county boundaries was questioned, the point being made that preserved counties did not reflect County Council boundaries and were, therefore, an irrelevance.  Members agreed that Cabinet should be requested to consider making a submission that preserved counties be abolished and replaced by County Council administrative areas and renamed accordingly.


Question 18.  Members proposed that the first sentence of the response be amended to read 'In order for a Principal Council to provide the Commission with information relevant to the review, the Commission must submit a managed request to allow the Council to respond appropriately' that is, allow sufficient time for the information to be obtained prior to its submission to the Commission.


Question 20.  Members proposed that the response be amended to read 'In the interests of transparency, it is essential that the consultation scheme and the responses thereto are made available in order that those who responded are aware that their comments had been taken into account.


Questions 24 - 29.  Councillor James expressed the view that the proposals in respect of the Independent Remuneration Panel were overly prescriptive and that individual councils should retain discretion as to the allocation of allowances.  Following some discussion on the matter, including a suggestion that individual councils should be able to determine the allocation of allowances having regard to guidance on that matter from the Panel.  Committee agreed that Councillor James' view, namely that the Panel should not be able to prescribe a numeric limit on the posts or duties which may receive a particular payment, be recorded in the minutes as a minority view.


Question 30.  In accepting the response as proposed in Appendix C, Members had regard to the principle of decision making, and its implications, being consistent across the whole of the Council area, taking the view that the status quo should be maintained.


Question 34.  In noting the response, Members requested that the Clerks to all Town and Community Councils be reminded of this consultation and the date for the submission of their comments to the Commission.


Question 36.  Members recommended that the proposed response be strengthened, commenting that additional funding alone would not improve registration numbers and that the introduction of Individual Voter Registration was a matter for concern given the likely potential disenfranchisement that would result.


Question 37.  It was noted that a proposed response had been omitted from Appendix E.  The Head of Performance and Development agreed to seek the views of the Association of Electoral Administrators (Wales Branch) in this respect.


Question 39.  Whilst accepting that the local resolution of perceived breaches of the Code of Conduct was worthy of consideration, officers indicated that the further views of the Monitoring Officer were required.  During the course of discussion, reference was made to the fact that consideration by the Council’s Standards Committee of issues in respect of the Code related almost exclusively to Town and Community Councils.  The Chairman proposed that the issue be raised directly with those Councils during the review of the Charter.


The remainder of the responses contained in Appendices A to D were accepted.


RECOMMENDED - T H A T the above comments be referred to Cabinet for consideration in tandem with the report contained at Agenda Item No. 18(a).


Reason for recommendation


To inform Cabinet of the views of this Committee.



209     CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2011/12 (DFICTP) –


The report detailed the provisional financial position of the Council for the 2011/12 financial year.  Appendix 1 to the report amended the revised estimates to take account of certain accounting adjustments which were required to be made and set out at paragraph 7 of the report was a table comparing the amended estimates with actual expenditure.  Overall there was a favourable variance of £635k. on the general fund revenue account expenditure of £201.401m.  The main reasons for those variances were set out in paragraphs 10 to 50.  The Housing Revenue Account for 2011/12 showed a surplus of £2,755k. compared to the Revised Estimated surplus of £2,204k.  The overall result for Housing was a favourable movement of £551k. compared to budget.  Details were also contained within the report of the current position in respect of the Insurance Fund and Trading Operations. 


As regards Capital, the overall position on the revised 2011/12 Capital Programme was a net underspend of £11,884,000 once various underspends had been funded.  It was noted that some £8,400,000 of that figure related to unspent budgets for the proposed transfer of Dyffryn House to the National Trust which had been delayed.  Further detail in respect of the Capital Programme was contained within paragraph 59 of the report and Appendix 3 attached thereto.  Particular reference was made during the course of subsequent discussion on the Day Care Reconfiguration at Gardenhurst project, it being noted that a report would be submitted to Cabinet on the current position in due course.  In response to a question as to whether the allocation of £588,000 to fund pressures on the Council resulting from changes to the welfare benefit system was adequate, the Head of Service indicated that, whilst he could not be certain, it was useful to have a sum of money set aside.  The report also contained details as to the current position relating to the Council’s reserves as at 31st March 2012. 




(1)       T H A T the slippage figures shown in Appendix 5 to the report and the fact that the Urgency Decision Procedure set out in Article 13 of the Council’s Constitution had been utilised to approve the slippage be noted.


(2)               T H A T the remainder of the report and the financial measures taken and proposed be noted.


Reasons for recommendations


(1)       To note the amendments to the 2012/13 Capital Programme due to slippage and the use of the Urgency Decision Procedure.


(2)       To note the remainder of the report and the financial measures taken and proposed.





The Head of Service indicated that the projected outturn for the 2012/13 Revenue Budget was for a balanced budget, as was the case for the Housing Revenue Account.  He drew particular attention to the situation within Social Services where work was ongoing to achieve its savings target for 2012/13.  A report updating progress on the Social Services budget programme had been presented to Cabinet in June 2012 and a multi-disciplinary project team and project board which had been set up to oversee the plan would further develop and facilitate its delivery throughout the year. 


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the Council’s 2012/13 Revenue Budget be noted.


Reason for recommendation


To be aware of the projected revenue outturn for 2012/13.





The Head of Service drew attention to the fact that Appendix 1 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st May 2012.  He reminded Members that the Committee would receive regular monitoring reports throughout the year.


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the Council’s 2012/13 Capital Programme be noted.


Reason for recommendation


To be aware of the latest progress on the Capital Programme.





The aforementioned Annual Report was appended to the report. Particular reference was made to page 3 of the Annual Report which contained details as to the key issues considered by this Committee over the last year as well as the statistical information which was shown on page 14.


RECOMMENDED – THAT the contents of the Annual Report for the period May 2011 – April 2012 be approved, subject to any further minor amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman, and presented to Full Council in September, 2012.


Reason for recommendation


To approve the Annual Report to allow it to be submitted to Full Council.





Members were informed of the progress in relation to uncompleted recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee from 2009/10 up until June 2012.  Having considered the report it was




(1)       T H A T the following actions be deemed completed:


16 March 2010

Min. No. 1030 - Provision of Bottled Water (DFICTP) – Recommended

(3)   That the findings of Cabinet and any recommendations be reported back to this Committee.

Action now superseded by recommendation (2) below.  Cabinet Member requested to progress the matter by e-mail on 9th August, 2012.


13 September 2011

Min. No. 371 - Capital Monitoring: 1st April - 31st July, 2011 (DFICTP) – Recommended

(2)   That a further report in relation to the Highway Maintenance programme and budget spend to date be submitted to this Committee.

The report was delayed due to an announcement by WG of a new prudential borrowing arrangement for highways.  The report, which included details of this borrowing arrangement, was considered by Cabinet on 18th April and by this Committee earlier in the meeting.


20 December 2011

Min. No. 746 - Customer Satisfaction Survey (DFICTP) – Recommended that the contents of the report be noted and that a Customer Satisfaction Survey of Council Members be undertaken.

The survey has been undertaken.  Given the low response level, the Head of Strategic ICT will submit a report for consideration at a subsequent meeting.


24 April 2012

Min. No. 1137 - The Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Council and its Services - Update on Progress of the Recommendations of the Task and Finish Group (DFICTP) – Recommended that the progress to date be noted and further quarterly update reports presented to the Committee.




Added to work programme schedule.


26 June 2012

Min. No. 82 - The Vale of Glamorgan School Investment Programme (2012/13 TO 2019/20) (CX) – Recommended that Cabinet be requested to authorise the Chief Executive / Managing Director to approve the submission of a business justification case for the completion of the next phase of Ysgol Dewi Sant by September 2012 to release Welsh Government Capital funding for this revised Band A project in consultation with the Leader and the relevant Cabinet Member.


Cabinet, at its meeting on 9th July 2012, resolved

that the Chief Executive/Managing Director be authorised to approve the submission of a business justification case for the completion of the next phase of Ysgol Dewi Sant by September 2012 to release Welsh Government capital funding for the revised Band A project in consultation with the Leader and relevant Cabinet Member.  (Min. No. C1754 refers)


Min. No. 83 - Interim Medium Term Financial Plan 2012/13 to 2016/17 and 2013/14 Budget Process (DFICTP) – Recommended that the above comments be referred to Cabinet on 9th July, 2012.

Cabinet, at its meeting on 9th July 2012, resolved the draft Interim Medium Term Financial Plan for 2012/13 - 2016/17 including the budget process and timetable for 2013/14 and the proposals for undertaking a budget review be accepted. (Min. No. C1755 refers)


Min. No. 86 - Committee Forward Work Programme (DLPPHS) – Recommended

(2)   That the priority topic for review to be submitted to the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group for consideration and determination be “Welfare Reform and the Implications of it to the Council”.



To be considered by the Group on 19th July, 2012.


Min. No. 87 - Proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill – Consultation Response (CMT) – Recommended

(1)   That the report referred to above be circulated to all Members of the Committee for information.


(2)   That it be noted that the latest sustainable development update would be submitted to this Committee for consideration.


(3)   That the views of this Committee on the proposed Bill be referred to Cabinet on 9th July 2012 for consideration prior to the end of the consultation period on 16th July.



(1)     E-mailed to all Members of this Committee on 12th July, 2012.


(2)     Added to work programme schedule.



(3)     Considered by Cabinet on 9th July, 2012 (Min. No. C1753 refers).


Min. No. 88 - Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales – Recommended that Cabinet be notified that this Committee would wish the Commission to be informed that, prior to developing these or any further proposals, an evaluation process which was accountable, sustainable and credible should be developed in order that any future proposals could be properly evaluated.


Cabinet, at its meeting on 9th July 2012, resolved that the Leader be authorised to prepare a response on behalf of the Council and take into account the comments of the Scrutiny Committee and the WLGA.  (Min. No. C1756 refers.)



(2)       T H A T the relevant Cabinet Member be asked to progress the item “Provision of Bottled Water”.


Reasons for recommendations


(1)       To note those actions completed.


(2)       To progress consideration of the matter.