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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 16th October, 2012.

 

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

 

 

435     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor K. Hatton.

 

 

436     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 11th September, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

437     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

438     PROPOSALS FOR ST. CYRES COMPREHENSIVE, DINAS POWYS SITE AND ADJACENT GRAZING LAND SITE (REF) -

 

Cabinet, had on 1st October, referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.  The Committee was informed that approval had been sought to declare the former St. Cyres Comprehensive, Dinas Powys site and adjacent grazing land surplus and to undertake consultation to evaluate the potential future uses of the site.  In presenting the report the School Organisation and Access Manager advised that in July 2011 due to a declining number of pupils on roll, St. Cyres Comprehensive School had confirmed that from September 2012 the Dinas Powys site would no longer be required.  Parents were informed that from September 2012 all children would be accommodated on the Penarth site of the school.  In March 2012 the St. Cyres Comprehensive School Governing Body published a Statutory Notice to change category from Foundation Status to Community Status and the Welsh Government approved that change of status from 24th July, 2012. 

 

To date, the school buildings had been boarded up at a cost of approximately £22,000 to prevent unauthorised access and the electricity and gas services had been disconnected.  The buildings had been secured but there was still a risk from break-ins, vandalism and anti-social behaviour although regular inspections were being carried out.  The site was no longer required by the Learning and Skills Directorate to meet the educational needs of the area and as such a decision was required to determine the future use of the site.  The Social Services Department had expressed an interest but no specific requirement.  No other department had made any expressions of interest or representations for the site or the buildings.  The recommendation as detailed within the report was therefore to enter into a Vale wide consultation process for 6 weeks.  However, Members were advised that following further discussions prior to the Committee meeting the consultation period had been extended to ten weeks commencing 5th November to 11th January, 2013 with a view to reporting back to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on 22nd January, 2013 and to Cabinet.

 

During consideration of the report Members expressed the need to ensure that consultation included engaging with residents in Dinas Powys.  The officer advised that the consultation would take a number of formats i.e. via the internet, the Vale Contact Centre and the possibility of drop-in sessions in the Dinas Powys area.

 

Having fully considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the outcome of the consultation be reported to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) as soon as available.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of the contents of the report.

 

(2)       To allow the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) to consider the proposals following the consultation process.

 

 

439     PUBLIC SECTOR EQUALITY DUTY (MD) -

 

The report apprised Members of the Council's responsibilities under the public sector equality duty (general duty) and specific duties for Wales, arising from the Equality Act 2010 which includes a new public sector equality duty as at 5th April, 2011.  This general duty required the Council to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations.  In addition the Council must also comply with specific duties in Wales designed to help performance of the general duty and to aid transparency.  The specific duties in Wales cover objectives, strategic quality plans, engagement, assessing impact equality information, employment information, pay differences, staff training, procurement, annual reporting, publishing, Welsh Ministers' reporting, review and accessibility.  The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has produced eight guides on the specific duties which can be downloaded from its website.

 

On 14th March, 2012 the Council had adopted a strategic equality plan which could be found on the Council's website and contained details on specific duties as outlined above.  A summary of the Council's Strategic Equality Plan was attached at Appendix A to the report.  The Strategic Equality Plan was a live document and would be the vehicle for containing all the information about equality work that the Council undertakes and would be updated on a regular basis.  Training for Members on the Public Sector Equality Duty was offered on 1st February, 2012, 10th July, 2012 and 17th July, 2012, and other sessions held on 3rd and 11th October, 2012.  Members had also been sent copies of the Welsh Local Government Association's publication Role of Overview and Scrutiny in Assessing Equality Performance.  The Public Sector Equality Duty also required that an Equality Impact Assessment be undertaken at a formative stage of policy and decision making.  Members queried whether Equality Impact Assessments would also need to be undertaken for all service areas.  The Head of Performance and Development advised that assessments would be undertaken depending on the issue at hand.  It was noted that the Council had its own corporate resource to assist with this process. 

 

Having fully considered the report and its implications it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T Members responsibilities under the Public Sector Equality Duty Legislation be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To have regard to the legislation when making decisions/recommendations on Council matters.

 

 

440     REVENUE MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2012 TO 31ST AUGUST, 2012 (MD) -

 

The report detailed the progress of revenue expenditure for the period above.  The projected outturn for the 2012/13 revenue budget was shown in comparison with the revenue budget at Appendix 1 to the report.  It was noted that the forecast for the Council was to overspend in the sum of £255,000.  There was an adverse variance on the Leisure Services budget of £255,000 which was partly due to timing issues whereby some staff costs such as those paid on timesheets were paid a month in arrears and as such when the centres transferred an additional month was paid (£55,000).  Income received via direct debits on a monthly basis partly covered a period in advance for a future month and likewise an adjustment had to be made to reduce income at the point of transfer (£95,000).  The remaining overspend of £105,000 had arisen as a result of general uncertainty prior to the start of the contract with Parkwood leading to a reduction in income, an increase in staff costs and additional work undertaken.  Further work would be undertaken to clarify the position and the funding for the adverse variance would be addressed in the revised estimates report to Cabinet in November 2012.

 

With regard to the relevant service areas, the following was presented to the Scrutiny Committee:

  • Directorate of Learning and Skills

Overall, the Education Budget was projected to balance at the end of March 2013, however, this would be after transferring £118,000 from Education Reserves, it being noted that any savings identified for the year end would be available to reduce the use of reserves or to redirect into the School Investment Strategy or other reserves.

  • Directorate of Social Services

There continued to be pressures on the Children's Placement Budget specifically from children with especially complex needs.  There was also pressure on the budget in respect of accommodation costs for all homeless young people.  Any increase in the number of children becoming 'looked after' by the Council could have a significant impact on the service.

 

With regard to Adult Services the budget was extremely volatile and could be adversely affected by outside influences, for example the introduction of the First Steps Initiative by the Welsh Government which capped charging for non-residential services to £50 per week.  Another factor that could affect the year end position would be the 2012/13 fee set in respect of personal care costs for residents placed by the Council in residential and nursing homes provided by the independent sector. 

  • Director of Visible Services and Housing

Highways Maintenance and Engineering Design and Procurement - There was currently a £26,000 adverse variance to the profiled budget, mainly due to a slight overspend on employee costs.  

 

Waste Management - The current underspend of £89,000, was reported as mainly due to tonnages to landfill dropping as the food waste and co-mingled recycling programmes increased in popularity therefore saving on costly landfill disposal.  

 

Grounds Maintenance - An adverse variance of £63,000 was attributed in the main on new machinery as new legislation had come in to force for Hand Arm Vibration.  

 

Support Services – The favourable variance of £48,000 budget was to be held for any cost pressures within Visible Services that may arise throughout the financial year.  As for Building Services, it was currently anticipated that this area would breakeven at the year end.

  • Directorate of Development Services

Earlier in the meeting, Members had been informed that there had been a shortfall in achieving the £1m efficiency savings following the leisure partnership agreement due to delays which equated to £333,000 in four months.  The budget had been amended and had been reflected in Appendix 1 to the report.  However, a further adverse variance on Leisure Services of £255,000 also referred to earlier would require further work as the figures were based on leisure services estimates.  A report would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet in November 2012. 

 

There was an adverse variance of £92,000 on Lifelong Learning Education and Training Services as a result of receipts from the Government Work Programme not achieving the target to date which was currently under review. 

 

With regard to the Planning and Transportation Division there was a favourable variance of £137,000 predominantly due to income from planning fees for major schemes.  The timing of the receipts would impact on the budget variance

 

Members raised concerns in relation to the £255,000 adverse variance in leisure services.  It was confirmed that this would be investigated further and clarified in the revised estimates report I November 2012. 

 

For Social Services, although aware that the budget was a volatile budget, the Head of Financial Services was asked whether any progress had been made with the WLGA in directly lobbying Welsh Government on fee capping.  It was noted that the Authority was still continuing to press the Welsh Government on the matter and other local authorities throughout Wales were in a similar position, although the cap had had a greater impact in the Vale.  Any information received would be reported to Members as soon as possible.  The impact of fees for private care homes was also a potential substantial risk for the Council and officers were working closely with the care homes which were fully aware of the budget issues.

 

With regard to the adverse variance of £63,000 for Grounds Maintenance, it was queried whether this money could be taken from the Equipment Reserve that currently existed.  The Head of Service advised that although there was a vehicle replacement reserve this money was allocated for a planned programme but he would look further into the issue and report back to Members.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to approve a virement from the Policy Budget to the Economic Development and Leisure of £333,000.

 

(2)       T H A T the position with regard to the Authority's 2012/13 Revenue Budget be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the information in relation to the £63,000 Grounds Maintenance adverse variance as detailed above be e-mailed to all Members as soon as possible.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To fund savings not achieved.

 

(2)       Having regard to the information presented.

 

(3)       For Members' information.

 

 

441     CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2012 TO 31ST AUGUST, 2012 (MD) -

 

Appendix 1 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st August, 2012. 

 

For the Service Directorates the following was noted:

  • Director of Learning and Skills

Llancarfan and Gwenfo Demountables - the latest position in respect of the scheme was that one double demountable at Gwenfo Primary had been replaced with a new double unit. At Llancarfan, one previously hired demountable unit had been purchased, a second had been surveyed and deemed in good condition but needing some minor works. The third unit was to be purchased at the end of the financial year as works needed to be undertaken outside term time.  

  • Director of Social Services

Day Care Re-Configuration, Rondel House - works were required to transfer the servicing of the kitchens at Rondel House to a new electricity supply, and were anticipated to cost £50,000 on top of the existing budget (which was slipped from the previous year's budget to cover final costs on refurbishment works). It was proposed to fund £25,000 of the costs from a contribution from revenue budgets and the balance be transferred from the approved capital budget for the upgrade of Rhoose Road Respite Home, where it had been determined that it was not feasible to carry out the planned extension work within the budget available due to complications with drainage.   

  • Director of Visible and Housing Services

Structural Repairs of Eastern Shelter Public Convenience Block - Cabinet had (29th February 2012) approved the inclusion of a successful capital bid for £55,000 in both 2012/13 and 2013/14 for structural repairs to the public convenience block behind Barry Island's Eastern Shelter.  Officers had reported incidents of structural failure of the concrete structure of the Eastern Shelter, with sections of the concrete breaking up and falling onto public open space on the promenade. There was now a serious concern that the Eastern Shelter needed structural repairs and that unless works were undertaken soon it will be a risk to public safety.  

  • Director of Development Services

Pont y Werin and NCN88 - The South East Wales Transportation Alliance (SEWTA) had approved the transfer of £17,000 grant from the National Cycle Network route 88 budget to the Pont y Werin cycleway budget as well as awarding an additional £6,000 grant for the Oystercatcher element of the Pont y Werin scheme in order to reflect the true expenditure anticipated on this project.

 

Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) - Cabinet on 9th July 2012 (minute C1780) approved the inclusion of a Countryside Commission for Wales (CCW) capital grant towards various improvements to the rights of way network into the Council's Capital Programme.

 

Gibbonsdown Community Centre - under delegated authority, officers had approved the transfer of some £13,000 from the Barry Regeneration Partnership capital budget towards developing design and tender papers for the project to refurbish the community centre building.

  • Director of Resources

Miscellaneous Buildings Asset Renewal - within this allocation of £116,000 there was a sum of £18,000 which slipped from the previous year's Capital Programme for a replacement boiler at Wick pavilion. 

 

IT Equipment - Wide Area Network (WAN) - the allocation for this project, to roll out a replacement area network between the Authority's numerous networked sites was approved in 2011/12, part of which slipped into the financial year in order to complete the installations. A link between Llantwit Major Youth Centre and St Illtyd's Primary School was not identified as part of the original WAN contract but works now needed to be undertaken as an additional item, at a cost of £4,000. 

  • Variance between Actual Spend to date and Profiled Spend

Cabinet had previously agreed that further information would be provided where schemes had a value of over £500,000 and showed a variance of 20% or more between actual spend and the profile. The following schemes met this criteria:-

 

Disabled Facility Grants (DFGs) - costs were behind profile but it was expected that the position would have been rectified by the end of the year. There had been some temporary staffing difficulties in the Occupational Therapy team which had been addressed through a restructure of the team and recruitment is underway.

 

Castleland Renewal Area - expenditure on phases 2a and 2b was behind profile because of inclement weather and the fact that additional unforeseen works had to be undertaken.  

 

Coldbrook Flood Risk Management - detailed design had been completed on the major flooding scheme but contractor appointments had been delayed.  Highway Officers had also advised that the programme had slowed due to problems with obtaining consent from the Environment Agency to undertake works on Main River. 

 

Highway Resurfacing (Local Government Borrowing Initiative) - expenditure was behind budget as although works were progressing well on site, smaller sites had been completed earlier than planned which had reduced costs to date. 

 

Vehicle Renewals - The Council's Fleet Manager was reporting lengthy delays with delivery of newly procured vehicles which had meant that expenditure was not keeping in line with the planned profile.  Build times on some of the vehicles had been far greater than anticipated.

 

During consideration of the report the following information was requested to be e-mailed to Members as soon as possible:

  • Wick Pavilion – further details of the £18,000 for the replacement boiler;
  • Pont y Werin and NCN88 - breakdown of the contribution details for the Council and Crest Nicholson.

Councillor H.J.W. James registered his disappointment as to the decision that it was not feasible to carry out the planned extension work to Rhoose Road Respite Home with the budget available due to complications with drainage and that he would investigate the issue further himself.

 

Concern was raised with regard to the provision of repairs for various schemes throughout the Council service areas with Members being informed that the Council was constrained by funding and as such it was necessary to prioritise schemes.  The budget report to all Scrutiny Committees would in November detail how the process worked and clarify the position for Members. 

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T, notwithstanding the budget report requested above, the following be recommended to Cabinet:

  • Day Care Reconfiguration - Rondel House - increase budget by £50,000 funded from a transfer of £25,000 from the Rhoose Road Capital Budget and £25,000 contribution from revenue.
  • Pont y Werin and NCN88 - transfer £17,000 from NCN88 to Pont y Werin and increase the Pont y Werin by a further £6,000 funded from SEWTA grant.
  • That the IT Equipment budget be increased by £4,000 funded from the IT Fund.

(2)       T H A T the information requested to be e-mailed to Members be forwarded as above as soon as possible.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       For Cabinet consideration in view of the information contained within the report.

 

(2)       To apprise Members.

 

 

442     BUDGET PROGRAMME UPDATE - RESIDENTIAL CARE SERVICES FOR OLDER PEOPLE (DSS) -

 

The report had been prepared following a request from the Scrutiny Committee (Min. No. 515 refers) regarding the savings proposed to be achieved in respect of the reconfiguration of staffing structures in residential care and the reorganisation of day care services.  In order to remain within the allocated budget for Social Services, the Directorate had been required to achieve savings of £1.6m during 2011/12 and as such a range of measures had been identified within an overall budget programme. 

 

The plan included restructuring the staffing establishments within the residential care homes for older people directly provided by the Council or made available under the 25 year contract with Hafod Care.  The identified savings was £45,000 per home through the deletion of the deputy manager posts.  At the same time, the Directorate had also undertaken a review of staffing levels in each of the four homes, i.e. Cartref Porthceri, Southway, Ty Dewi Sant and Ty Dyfan. 

 

The Head of Service for Business Management and Innovation informed Members that residents were generally much older and had an increasing level of need especially as more of them were living with dementia related illnesses.  This had an impact on the staffing levels required within a home to meet national minimum standards.  Given the increase in the amount of care required by residents it was felt the staffing levels were not sufficient on all occasions to maintain the safe level of care.  As a result on an incremental basis staffing levels had been increased or the number of residents reduced leaving unused beds in homes.  Implementing Job Evaluation had also affected staffing costs although this had been funded corporately.  It was of note that as a result of an increase in legislative monitoring requirements and related changes in working practices, managers, deputy managers and senior care officers were dealing with more administrative tasks which included answering the phone, processing timesheets, ordering, processing invoices for goods and services and creating and maintaining records.  The initial review had therefore concluded that eliminating the deputy manager roles could be done only in the context of a wider review of staffing structures in the homes.  Proposals for change would be subject to consultation with staff and recognised Trade Unions within the next 3 months.

 

Members raised concerns in relation to unused beds but recognised the challenges the service faced.  There was a dilemma in relation to the fact that increasing numbers would mean increasing staff requirements whilst recognising that one of the main aims was to maximise efficiency.  The Chairman concurred that it was a delicate balancing act and important to ensure resources were maintained to front line services with a view to minimising back office administration.  Reference was made to the possibility of shared resources within the four properties with the Head of Service stating that the intention was to manage the homes as one service area.

 

Having fully considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure key developments in the delivery of frontline service is scrutinised by the Committee.