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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 11th December, 2012.

 

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

 

Also present: Councillors N. Moore and E. Williams.

 

           

643     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 13th November, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

644     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

645     CORPORATE PLAN 2013 – 17 (REF)

 

Cabinet had, on 19th November, approved the draft Plan and the proposals for consultation and referred the report to the Scrutiny Committees for comment.  The draft Plan and the report had been forwarded to all Members of the Scrutiny Committees under separate cover.

 

Having considered the contents of the Corporate Plan, the view was expressed that, whilst the contents of Page 13 (“Regeneration”) of the Plan were laudable, more references to job creation could be included within the document. 

 

A further view was expressed that the inclusion of a new Health Centre in Dinas Powys should be an aspiration of the Corporate Plan. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the Corporate Plan be noted and that Cabinet be requested to consider the inclusion of further job creation proposals and also the establishment of a new Health Centre in Dinas Powys within the document.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure the Council had an effective and up to date Corporate Plan which reflected the work being undertaken across the Council to improve the quality of life in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

           

 

646     PROGRESS REPORT ON THE COMMUNITY STRATEGY AND PARTNERSHIP ARRANGEMENTS IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (MD) –

 

Members were apprised of the progress made by the Local Service Board (LSB) and key partnerships in delivering the Community Strategy and notified of some of the activities being undertaken through the partnerships.  The Autumn edition of the Corporate Partnership Team newsletter, which highlighted the key activities of the different partnerships, was appended to the report as was the Annual Report (2011/12) of the LSB.

 

Attention was drawn to the fact that the LSB had already produced an integrated strategy and established performance management arrangements.  Work was currently being undertaken to develop an Information and Engagement Strategy and, to assist with that work, a Business Intelligence Group (BIG) had been established with support from the Local Government Data Unit.  In addition, Vale Viewpoint (the new Citizens Panel) had been established to assist with consultation.  In addition to the partnership newsletter which was produced twice a year, work had also started to improve the website and to ensure that information on partnership pages was relevant and consistent and demonstrated the linkages between different partnerships.  In relation to the key partnerships, the LSB recognised that structures would need to be reviewed from time to time to ensure they were appropriate.  For example, the Children and Young People’s Partnership had now evolved to encompass the new Families First arrangements.  The Regeneration Partnership was critical to ensuring that the opportunities through Communities First and Barry Regeneration funding were maximised and also focused on the needs of rural areas.  Members noted that the Learning and Skills partnership had focused on reducing NEETs and removing barriers to employment, learning and work.  Health and wellbeing was being promoted through the Public Health and Wellbeing Partnership and through an Integrated Health and Social Care Programme Board with colleagues in Cardiff. Those bodies had replaced the Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Partnership that had been previously established.

 

The aforementioned Annual Report provided a good account of key achievements in the first year of the Community Strategy and future challenges.  It was structured around the ten priority outcomes which provided the framework for the Community Strategy.  The LSF had organised an event in October which had been attended by a wide range of stakeholders from the public, voluntary and community sectors, the purpose of the event being to gather information on some of the projects being undertaken in partnership in the Vale and to participate in workshops on some of the challenges.  Paragraph 14 of the report indicated the key achievements in the Annual Report which had been raised at the event.  Attention was also drawn to the fact that in some areas performance was plateauing and that there was a strong emphasis placed on management performance and analysing data so that there would be a strong evidence base to underpin and inform activities.  Paragraph 16 of the report indicated the key challenges and activities for 2012/13 as highlighted in the Annual Report. 

 

As regards Welfare Reform, an external stakeholder group had been established with representation from a range of organisations which would need to work together to plan for the implications of welfare reform.  It was noted that that group would complement work being undertaken by the Council’s internal officer group and contribute to the Welfare Reform Task and Finish Group established by this Committee. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the achievements in delivering the first year of the Community Strategy, and the challenges and key actions for partnership working be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having considered progress with the Community Strategy and work undertaken by the partnerships.

 

 

647     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2013/14 (MD) –

 

Members were notified of the revised budget for 2012/13 and received the initial revenue budget proposals for 2013/14 as part of the consultation process.  It was noted that the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) represented the Welsh Government’s (WG) view of the relative resources needed to provide a standard level of service in each local authority in Wales and its primary use was to allocate Rate Support Grant (RSG) to those authorities.  The Council had been notified that its provision SSA for 2012/13 was £218.838m.  The Council’s provision RSG was £125.934m. and its share of Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) was £37.752m. which, together, constituted the Council’s provisional Aggregate External Finance (AEF).  The Council would also receive a sum provisionally set at £1.246m. through the Outcome Agreement Grant (OAG) for 2013/14.  Transfers in the RSG settlement were shown in paragraph 7 of the report.  Attention was drawn to the new responsibility being transferred to the Council, namely Council Tax Support £7.514m. which would be contained within the RSG. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report set out the necessary adjustments to the original estimate for 2012/13 which were required to be made. 

 

The following table compared the amended original budget with the projected outturn:

 

 

2012/13

2012/13

Variance

 

Amended

Original

Projected

(+)Favourable

Directorate/Service

Budget

Outturn

 (-) Adverse

 

£’000

£’000

     £’000

Learning and Skills

 

 

 

Education and Schools

90,967

90,967

                     0

Libraries

2,567

2,567

                     0

Lifelong Learning 

195

195

                     0

Youth Service

1,137

1,137

                     0

Catering

1,015

1,015

                     0

 

 

 

                           

Social Services

 

 

 

Children and Young People

13,966

13,966

                     0

Adult Services

33,573

33,573

                     0

Business Management and Innovation

293

293

                     0

Youth Offending Service

652

652

                     0

 

 

 

 

Visible Services and Housing

 

 

 

Environment and Visible Services                  

17,645

17,662

                   17

Parks and Grounds Maintenance

3,284

3,267

                 (17)

Building Services

0

0

                     0

General Fund Housing

           1,020

         1,020

                     0

 

 

 

 

Development

 

 

 

Public Protection

2,416

2,416

                     0

Private Sector Housing

1,520

1,520

                     0

Planning and Transportation

           5,044

         4,985

                 (59)

Leisure

           4,932

         5,100

                 168

Economic Development

856

892

36

 

 

 

 

Managing Director

 

 

 

Resources

             119

            119

                     0

Corporate and Customer Services

338

338

                     0

General Policy

22,017

21,767

               (250)              

Total

203,556

203,451

(105)

Met from General Reserve

(500)

(500)

          0

Grand Total

203,056

202,951

(105)

 

Further details relating to the above were contained within paragraphs 9 to 46 of the report. 

 

A summary of the overall base budget for 2013/14 was attached as Appendix 2 to the report.  The base budget had been arrived at by adjusting the 2012/13 budget for items such as inflation and unavoidable growth.  The Final revenue Budget proposals for 2012/13 included corporate savings targets for services to 2014/15 of £6.125m., further details of which were shown at Appendix 3 to the report.  Appendix 4 to the report showed a list of 2013/14 cost pressures as identified by Services.  It was noted that altogether those totalled £9.442m.  Those pressures excluded the cost of redundancies which it was suggested could be significant.  Also of significance were the implications of the Welfare Reform Agenda, further details pertaining to which were contained within paragraphs 61 to 70 of the report. 

 

Attention then turned to the Budget Review, the purpose of which was to ensure that a sustainable budget was achieved within predicted funding levels, that the budget was aligned to the Council’s priorities as set out in the Corporate Plan and that best value for money was being obtained.  The results of the Budget Review process would form the 2013/14 budget process and the outcome of the Review would be to put in place a four year financial strategy up to March 2017.  The 2013/14 Review was supported by cost Centre Analyses (CCAs) which provided details for each service area and was shown at Appendix 5 to the report.  Each cost centre had been awarded rating that measured its relative risk and corporate priority, details of which were shown in Appendix 6 to the report. 

 

The shortfall in the 2013/14 budget was £8.426m. assuming all cost pressures were met.  Future resource requirements had also been assessed having regard to the likely future revenue settlements and cost pressure information provided by services to 2016/17 as shown below:

 

Matching Predicted Resources to Expenditure

2014/15

£000

2015/16

£000

2016/17

£000

Total

£000

Real Term decrease in resources

   702

1,934

1,963

  4,599

Cost Pressures

6,173

4,644

4,272

15,089

Existing Corporate Savings Targets

(2,133)

       0

       0

(2,133)

Shortfall

4,742

6,578

6,235

17,555

 

The initial projects showed a cumulative shortfall of some £25.981m. by 2016/17 including the shortfall on 2013/14.  In view of the difficulty in predicting future levels of inflation and cost pressures, the above table needed to be treated with a degree of caution and the eventual position may be better or worse than stated.

 

The Review would further develop the above projections and would also examine the cost pressures to determine which would require funding. 

 

As a starting point to assist in dealing with the funding gap, the savings areas previously put forward by Directors to meet the 2013/14 and 2014/15 targets were being analysed with a view to their implementation with effect from April 2013. 

 

This would not be sufficient and it was proposed to request Directors to formulate additional options for savings, additional income, etc. over the next four years. 

 

In order to provide some guidance to Directors, it was suggested that a target be set for each Director.  Initially, it was proposed that each Director should identify savings equivalent to their pro rata share of the shortfall based on their controllable expenditure.  Over the four year period, this approximated to an average annually recurring reduction of about 6.5%.  Schools had been excluded from the target and would be looked at during the review.  The target sums were as set out below and were in addition to existing targets:

 

Annual Saving Target

2013/14

£000

2014/15

£000

2015/16

£000

2016/17

£000

Total

£000

Learning and Skills

1,141

   642

   890

   844

  3,517

Social Services

3,571

2,010

2,788

2,643

11,012

Visible Services and Housing

1,166

   656

   912

   863

  3,597

Development

   662

   373

   517

   490

  2,042

Resources

1,617

   910

1,262

1,197

  4,986

Corporate and Communication Services

   269

   151

   209

   198

     827

Total

8,426

4,742

6,578

6,235

25,981

 

An update of the progress on the Budget Review would be reported to this Committee in January 2013.  Comments of the Scrutiny Committee would be considered by the BWG prior to preparation of the final budget proposals for initial consideration by Cabinet and Council in February / March 2013.

 

Committee were advised of the decisions of other Scrutiny Committees to the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals, namely:

 

           Ø    Social Care and Health – 3rd December – the Committee asked that Corporate Resources be

                  informed of its concern that substantial cuts of the nature proposed in Paragraph 37 of the report

                  before it may negatively impact on the provision of services which indicated that annual savings

                  target within Social Services (in addition to existing targets) would be as follows over the 4 year

                  period:

 

                                  2013/14    2014/15    2015/16     2016/17     Total

                                  £000          £000           £000            £000           £000

                                  3,571         2,010            2,788            2,643         11,012

 

          Ø      Economy and Environment – 4th December – noted report but asked for a further report to

                  Committee in February 2013 with details of the Directors’ proposals for savings.

          Ø      Housing and Public Protection – 6th December – the Committee noted the budget proposals subject

                   to the following cost pressures being prioritised and referred to Corporate Resources for

                   consideration – welfare reform, housing / Council tax benefit; and general fund housing

                   homelessness.

          Ø      Lifelong Learning – 10th December – agreed report.

 

Committee were advised that the figure of £214m. as contained in Paragraph 64 of the report was a provisional figure.  A more up to date figure of £221m. had been more recently provided.  Furthermore, Paragraph 64 of the report referred to a figure of 15%.  It had recently been announced that the figure that would be used would be 10%. 

 

Having considered the content of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the transfer in 2011/12 of £180k. from Policy to Leisure Services to cover the additional costs incurred by Leisure Centres and Dyffryn House and Gardens be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the amended budget for 2012/13 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the comments of the other Scrutiny Committees on the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals be noted.

 

(4)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider if the efficiency savings could be applied to all parts of the Council.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To fund the increased costs in respect of the Leisure Centres and Dyffryn House and Gardens.

 

(2)       To incorporate changes to the budgets.

 

(3)       Having regard to the comments of the other Scrutiny Committees to the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals.

 

(4)       To share the burden of efficiency savings.

 

 

648     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2013/14 (MD) –

 

Appendix A detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th September 2012.  Paragraphs 3 to 13 of the report gave details as to various changes in the 2012/13 Capital Programme as outlined in recommendation (2) below, the exception of the inclusion of a £42k. budget in the Capital Programme to fund the purchase of a second mini bus for the Council’s community transport initiative (approved by the Managing Director under delegated authority). 

 

Paragraphs 14 to 18 of the report detailed those variances between actual spend to date and profiled spend where schemes had a value of over £500k. and showed a variance of 20% or more:

  • Penarth Pier – delay in letting the works contract although it was anticipated that full spend would be achieved by year end
  • Barry Island Footbridge – an initial delay in commencing work on site but anticipated that full spend would be achieved by the end of the financial year
  • Dyffryn Gardens Refurbishment and National Trust Contribution – delays in the process had been incurred but it was anticipated that a full spend of both budgets would be achieved before the end of the financial year
  • Leisure Centres Refurbishment – works had now commenced and it was anticipated that a full spend would be achieved by the end of the financial year.

As regards 2013/14 Capital Programme, the 2013/14 capital settlement represented a 10% cut in funding over last year’s allocation but no further cut had been identified for 2014/15. 

 

Appendix B to the report set out the proposed Capital Programme for 2013/14 to 2017/18.  It was considered likely that further austerity measures could be introduced between 2015/16 and 2017/18 and, as such, a 10% cut each year had been assumed in Appendix B.  As part of a Budget Review covering the period 2013/14 to 2017/18, the Council would have to look to mitigate the deteriorating situation insofar as it is able by reappraising all schemes and looking to progress only those which were deemed to be a key corporate priority while also seeking to gain assurances that such schemes were delivered on time and within budget.

 

Committee were advised of the decisions of other Scrutiny Committees to the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals, namely:

 

        Ø       Social Care and Health – 3rd December – the Committee asked that Corporate Resources be

                  informed of its concern that the cumulative effect of the substantial nature of the cuts proposed in

                  the report may negatively impact on the provision of services.

        Ø        Economy and Environment – 4th December – noted report.

        Ø        Housing and Public Protection – 6th December – endorsed.

        Ø        Lifelong Learning – 10th December -  agreed report.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the initial capital budget proposals for 2013/14 be noted together with the comments of all other Scrutiny Committees be submitted to Cabinet.

 

(2)       T H A T the following changes to the 2012/13 Capital Programme be noted:

  • Sub-standard bridges - reduce the 2012/13 budget to nil and carry forward £250k. into 2013/14 and bring £250k. from the 2014/15 budget into 2013/14. This will require Council approval.
  • B4265 Toucan Crossing - include a £140k budget (funded by a £100k. contribution from the Ministry of Defence and a £40k. virement from the Highway Safety Schemes capital budget).
  • Traffic Calming Measures, Durell Street, Llantwit Major - include a budget of £11k. (funded from a S106 contribution)
  • Pont y Werin Cycleway - increase the budget by £25k. (funded from WG grant)
  • A48 Bus Stop Improvements - increase the budget by £25k. (funded from WG grant)
  • Railway Walk, Penarth - include a budget of £15k. (funded from WG grant)
  • Highways Making Better Use Study: Barry Docks Roundabout A4050 / A4231 - include a budget of £10k. (funded from WG grant)
  • St. Pauls Church - reduce the budget to nil and carry forward £250k. into 2013/14. This will require Council approval.
  • Disabled Facility Grants - reduce the budget to £1m. 
  • Coronation Street Green Space Improvements - include a budget of £31k. (funded from WG grant).

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To allow full consultation on the future Capital Programme.

 

(2)       To amend the Capital Programme.

 

 

649     SICKNESS ABSENCE REPORT - APRIL TO SEPTEMBER 2012 (MD) –

 

Absence information for the period April to September 2012 (and for the same period in 2011/12) was shown in paragraph 5 of the report and demonstrated that the Council remained within target (by 0.16 days per employee) which reflected, inter alia, the continuing focus on absence management.  It was recognised, however, that sickness trends typically increased during the winter months.  Full details of the breakdown by Directorate and individual service areas were set out within Appendix A to the report.  The half yearly figures demonstrated that four out of six Directorates / service areas were within their half yearly target and continuing work was being progressed within the Directorates of Learning and Skills and Social Services to ensure that the annual sickness targets were achieved.  Members were reminded that two thirds of the current absence rates related to long term absence with the top two reasons being related to muscular skeletal problems and stress.  That was congruent with absence figures reported in the Annual Absence Management Survey Report 2012 as published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.  All staff who were absent for the above reasons were automatically referred to the Occupational Health Department and appropriate support offered.

 

As requested at a previous meeting, comparative absence figures from across the wider public and private sector as summarised below and shown in more detail in Appendix B to the report.

 

Organisation / Sector

Average days lost

per employee

Average working time lost per employee

Vale of Glamorgan

8.17

3.1%

Local Authorities in Wales

10.20

4.2%

Public Services

9.00

3.9%

Manufacturing / Production

7.10

3.1%

Private Sector Services

6.60

2.9%

Non-profit sector

9.30

4.1%

 

Attention was also drawn to the fact that the targets for 2012/13 had been set in anticipation of ongoing and significant service changes across the Council.  Members were reminded that the pace of change would increase over the next four years and that the retention of reasonable absence levels would remain a focus rather than seeking ongoing and possibly unrealistic reductions in such levels. 

 

Members noted that two thirds of the Council’s current absence rates were related to long term absence, with the top two reasons being related to muscular skeletal problems and stress.  A Member asked for a breakdown of the split between the two reasons.  This information was not available at the Committee, and Members were advised that the information would be provided.  Another Member commended the work in relation to absence management and the progress that had been achieved.  It was, however, suggested that this Committee continue to monitor absence levels.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the absence outturn figures and targets at Appendix A be noted and the comments of this Committee referred to Cabinet for consideration on 17th December, 2012.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To bring matters to the attention of Elected Members in line with corporate objectives and to provide realistic targets to maintain the Council’s focus on managing absence.

 

 

650     CORPORATE WORKFORCE PLAN 2013 – 17 (MD) –

 

The Corporate Workforce Plan, as appended to the report, had been drafted in accordance with Objective 8 of the Council’s Improvement Objectives for 2012/13, that is, to develop effective and sustainable workforce planning arrangements for the Council.  The Plan reflected the vision and service aims set out in the draft Corporate Plan as considered by Cabinet on 19th November 2012 with the Budget Review projections as considered at the same meeting.  The structure of the Plan aimed to facilitate a process for seeking to identify and address gaps between the workforce of today and the human resource needs of the future by following the sequential steps as set out below:

  • looking at the vision of the Council over the next four years
  • looking at the contextual issues and hurdles in achieving the vision
  • analysing the current workforce
  • considering the needs of the future workforce
  • undertaking a “gap analysis” between the “current” and “future” workforce
  • action planning on the basis of the above.

Appendix C to the report contained the Corporate Workforce Planning Action Plan and also reflected the common themes highlighted in each of the individual service workforce plans as set out in Appendix D which had been compiled following facilitated workforce planning workshops in each of the Directorates.  Since workforce planning was a dynamic and ongoing exercise, Members noted that the Plan would be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.  The outcomes for the Plan would help to inform and refresh the Council’s Human Resources and Training and Development Strategies.  It was also suggested that the Council’s Joint Management / Union Change Forum be asked to monitor the progress of the Corporate Action Plan as part of the regular monthly business activity. 

 

Committee were advised that, following consideration of the report, a Joint Trade Union response had been received, a copy of which was circulated at the meeting, together with a response from the Head of Human Resources, namely:

 

“I am pleased that the trade unions are in broad agreement with the draft workforce plan and I am grateful for their support and comments during the consultation meetings held in November 2012. In relation to the points raised in the note of the 6th December 2012 I would offer the following comments and suggested changes:-

 

 

Issue as raised by Trade Unions

Relevant Section

 

Responding comment and suggested amendment

1

Joint Trade Union Relationships

 

Concerns about the reference in paragraph 6.6 to:-

 

“our good relationships with the trade unions have helped us to manage change in a transparent, fair and sensitive way”

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Page 17

Paragraph 6.6

Second sentence

 

 

I am content to suggest an amendment to the paragraph to reflect the concerns as raised.

 

Suggested change to:-

 

“We have strived to develop good relationships with the trade unions to help us to manage change in a transparent, fair and sensitive way”

2

Clarity about the challenges we face

 

Concerns about the need to be clear and honest about the financial challenges we face in the section “setting the future in context”

 

 

Page 8-12

 

 

 

 

 

The reference to the financial challenges is set out very clearly in the section “Financial pressures across the public sector” (4.2 to 4.4) and in Theme i (a change in the numbers of directly employed staff” at pages 16 and 17).

3

 

 

 

 

 

Dedicated Joint Management/Trade Union working group

 

A suggestion that there is a need for a joint group to oversee and monitor the workforce plan

 

 

 

N/A

 

 

 

This is a useful suggestion which has been built into the covering report to this Committee (at paragraph 10).

 

In accordance with the above it is proposed that the Joint Management / Union Change Forum undertakes this role as part of their monthly agenda.

 

4.

 

 

 

 

Protection of Jobs and good working relationships

 

A suggestion that there is a need for a focus to be placed on the protection of jobs and good working relationships with the trade unions within the workforce plan.

 

N/A

 

The workforce plan aims to be transparent and clear about the financial challenges ahead and the implications for workforce numbers. It is important that this is done in an honest way without setting unrealistic expectations.

 

All of the actions in Theme i (1 to 6) aim to mitigate (albeit not avoid) the adverse workforce implications as does action 7 in (Theme ii).

 

The need for a focus on good working relationships with the trade unions is covered in Theme iii at pages 20 and 21 (and particularly in relation to the intended development of a partnership framework with the trade unions at paragraph 6.24

 

5

 

 

 

Commitment to working with management

 

As above

 

N/A

 

As above

 

 

 

6.

 

 

 

Health and Wellbeing of our members

 

A suggestion that the health and well-being of the workforce needs to be reflected within the plan

 

 

 

N/A

 

The focus on engagement and well-being is implicit in the Theme iii (at pages 20 to 21).

 

It is suggested that this is made more explicit by way of the following amendment at paragraph 6.17:-

 

“The contractual flexibility outlined in paragraphs 6.8 to 6.15 will need to be matched by contractual flexibilities  that help our staff maintain a work-life balance and HR policies that help to recognise and support their contribution, value, engagement and well-being at work”

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the comments of the Committee be referred to Cabinet on 17th December, 2012 for consideration, including the suggested minor changes as set out at 1 and 6 of the Head of Human Resources’ note.

 

(2)       T H A T, on the basis of the above, the adoption of the Workforce Plan as set out at Appendix A to the report be supported and referred for approval by Cabinet on 17th December 2012.

 

(3)       T H A T the Workforce Plan be reviewed annually and that it be monitored on a six monthly basis by this Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To help the Council meet its workforce needs over the next four years in accordance with the vision and objectives set out in the draft Corporate Plan. 

 

(3)       To ensure that the contents of the Plan are updated regularly and implemented.

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