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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 19th March, 2013.

 

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

 

 

997     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 19th February, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

998     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

999     FUTURE OF THE FORMER ST. CYRES SITE IN DINAS POWYS – CONSULTATION REPORT (MD) –

 

Further to the decision of Cabinet in October 2012, that the land be declared surplus to requirements and that consultation regarding future uses for the site be undertaken with the outcome of the consultation being reported to this Committee in order that recommendations there from could be forwarded to Cabinet, consideration was given to the results and conclusions of the consultation process as appended to the report.  477 Vale residents had responded with residents generally being in favour of a mixed development on the site.  Members accepted that the concerns of residents in relation to the local infrastructure, specifically the road network, would need to be taken into account in any future plans for the development of the site.  The Corporate Consultation Officer referred members to paragraphs 12 to 16 which outlined the findings from the consultation process which had shown the most popular suggestions to be

  • improved sporting/leisure facilities
  • housing
  • educational facilities
  • green space/allotments
  • a new medical centre.

Members also noted that another popular suggestion related to the proposal from Dinas Powys Baptist Church to occupy part of the site to accommodate both church services and community related facilities.  Mr. Brian West was in attendance and, when invited by the Chairman, indicated that he would like to address the Committee on behalf of the Baptist Church.  He referred to the fact that the Church had utilised the site previously and was keen to return.  He drew attention to the current economic climate and to the wish to reach out to the community to give support in various ways in such difficult times through, for example, the provision of workshops for adults to improve their skills and facilities for children.  He stated that the Church would be quite prepared to work in collaboration with any other bodies in shared accommodation if required.

 

A local Member then spoke, beginning by congratulating those involved in organising the consultation process for the open and inclusive way in which that process had been conducted.  He indicated that he, his fellow local members and the Community Council were keen to see certain facilities developed for the residents of Dinas Powys and that the availability of this site presented that opportunity, also making reference to the need for a permanent home for the Baptist Church.  He spoke of the popularity of the Football Club within Dinas Powys and the need for the Club to improve its facilities in order to progress through the league, the shortage of hockey facilities throughout the Vale, the desire for the provision of allotments and the pressing need for a new Health Centre.  He referred in particular to the desirability that provision be made for a new health centre on the site given the possibility that the funding he understood to be currently available could be withdrawn if no progress was made in developing the same within 12 months given developers had failed for many years to identify a suitable site.  Later in the meeting, he indicated that the Community Council had discussed the possible provision of sport/leisure facilities on the site with certain sporting organisations and that there was potential for grant assistance to be accessed through those organisations.  He also drew attention to the recognition given in the consultation to the provision of additional housing and emphasised the need for infrastructure improvements to be effected first.

 

Discussion then ensued on the comments made above, including the need for an assessment to be made of the viability of the various proposals in order that a “wishlist” for the development of the site could be drawn up and consideration given to the methodology for the implementation of the same.  Members recognised that such work should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity and accepted the points made during the consultation process and the course of the Committee’s deliberations.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T, following consideration of the results of the consultation, the findings as appended to the report be noted prior to their being further considered by Cabinet on 8th April, 2013.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to take on board the points raised above during their further consideration as to the way forward.

 

(3)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to instruct officers to approach key parties identified in the conclusions of the consultation process as appended to the report to gain a greater understanding of the viability of their plans for the site.

 

(4)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to approve a further piece of work to assess the viability of accommodating the favoured options identified in the conclusions of the consultation report as appended to the report in a mixed development on the former St. Cyres site in Dinas Powys.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that the Committee and Cabinet are aware of the views of local residents and their desired outcomes.

 

(2&3)  To ensure that the needs of local residents are catered for in the development of the site.

 

(4)       To ensure that the views of local stakeholders obtained during the consultation are used to inform any plan for the development of the site.

 

 

1000   PRESSURES ON THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BUDGET (DDS) –

 

In September 2012 this Committee had requested a report on the budget pressures resulting from the financial performance of the Employment Training Service (ETS) which now formed part of the Economic Development Unit.  The Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic Projects circulated details of those areas which fell within his remit, drawing attention in particular to the four teams operating under the auspices of Economic Development and to the fact that, since Economic Development was not a statutory requirement, functions were largely dependent on the availability of income and grant funding.  

 

Since transferring to the Development Services Directorate, the operation of the ETS programme had been fundamentally reviewed.  The review of the programme had identified a poor organisational structure to deliver the outcomes needed in that the overall establishment was too large and complex, there were a number of projects operating which added very little to the required outcomes and generated a low level of income and the team had not been resourced efficiently to address the contributions to outcomes, employment opportunities and links with employers.  The Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic Projects indicated that improvements made by linking the team to the Business Support team had already proved fruitful, as indicated in paragraph 8 of the report.  Proposals were also underway to merge the Business Support team with the Training Service under a single manager, consultations with the trade unions in this respect having been constructive.  He added that the restructure would be followed by a move to the Business Service Centre (BSC) which was more centrally located for clients and was a more cost effective option than the current premises.  Overall, savings of £100,000 per annum were annum were estimated which, together with improved income potential, would go a long way to close the current deficit.

 

After congratulating the Operational Manager on the steps taken to date, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To be aware of the situation.

 

 

1001   SERVICE PLANNING 2013 – 2017 (MD) –

 

The Head of Performance and Development drew attention to the new service planning arrangements had been reviewed to reflect the new senior management restructure.  There would now be just 8 Plans in total providing a strategic overview of each Directorate.  Members had been notified of the revised format through a report to the Scrutiny Committees in February 2012 The new service planning template had been approved by the Council’s Corporate Management team in August 2012 and the Council had agreed with the Wales Audit Office to use the revised plans as supporting evidence in meeting its obligations for self assessment under the Local Government Measure.  The Head of Service accepted that the 2 Plans for consideration by this Committee were lengthy and indicated that consideration would be given to reducing the same when the Plans were prepared for the following year.  Members noted that, following a review of existing service performance measures, proposed measures for 2013/14 would be presented to all Scrutiny Committees during July 2013 along with end of year performance reporting.

 

Attention then focussed on the 2 Plans referred to above as outlined below:

  • Corporate and Customer Services –

 

By way of introduction, the Head of Performance and Development referred Members to the contents page, reiterating that performance indicators (PIs) had been omitted at this stage given the need to wait for the year end figures.  In response to a comment that the targets within the Action Plan were vague, he replied that detailed PIs were to follow.  He confirmed that the target audience for the Plan was not the general public but Members, Chief Officers and staff and the Regulators.  He further confirmed that the efficiencies and savings as set out on page 7 of the Plan were required to be made.  During the course of subsequent discussions, attention was drawn to the replacement of Ffynnon during 2014/15, the associated challenges and the need for close monitoring of the project.  Reference was also made to the introduction of a wireless guest network during 2013 and the introduction of a Mobile Device Management solution which would assist secure access to corporate data from the Council’s smart phones, further details of which were shown on page 13 of the Resources Plan.

  • Resources –

 

Individual Officers were in attendance to take Members through the various services which comprised the Resources Directorate. 

 

The Head of Financial Services drew Members attention to the Service Overview as shown on page 3 of the Plan which illustrated the range of services within the Directorate, and reminded Members that his remit lay with Financial Services and Strategic Property.

 

The Head of Legal Services referred Members to page 15 of the report which outlined the comprehensive legal support provided and to page 30 which detailed the role of the Monitoring Officer (together with the other Statutory Officers in the Directorate).  She also drew attention to the actions for which she was the officer responsible. 

 

The Head of Strategic ICT referred, inter alia, to the ongoing technology refresh across the Council as shown on page 13 of the Plan and the key challenge to the service of delivering sustainable, affordable and more efficient ICT services whilst reducing the environmental cost in the current economic climate (page 23).  He also commented on the actions shown on page 47 and to the performance evidenced together with the ongoing review of the ICT Strategy (page 54).

 

In introducing his service area, the Head of Human Resources commented on the contents of Objective 2 (pages 19 et sec), namely “to ensure that Council services are supported by the appointment, retention and deployment of skilled, flexible and engaged employees” and to the accompanying actions in the action plan.  Following a question the Head of Service clarified the timescales for the staffing and management review and indicated that the actions in the Service Plan were congruent with the outcomes of the Corporate Workforce Plan as endorsed by this Committee on 11th December, 2012. 

 

The Operational Manager (Democratic Services) notified Members that there were 13 actions relevant to his service area.  He referred in particular to the ongoing commitment to develop and introduce protocols to increase public engagement and participation in the Council’s scrutiny process and at meetings.  He informed Members that progress was underway in terms of joint scrutiny and referred to the current discussions in regard to the Joint Education Service (page 58 of the Plan).  Mention was also made of the progress made in the delivery of an ongoing Member Development programme.  In conclusion, he drew attention to the funding allocated by the Welsh Government to promote webcasting within the Council, working towards provision for remote attendance of Members and facilitating websites in Town/Community Councils; the Head of Strategic ICT indicated that the Council already hosted a number of websites for local councils and that discussions were ongoing in respect of potential collaborative procurement of the necessary equipment to achieve savings.

 

The Head of Accountancy and Resource Management referred Members to Objectives 4, 5 and 7 of the Plan.  He drew specific attention to the role of the Business Process Re-engineering team in supporting the achievement of efficiencies across the Council, the position of the small teams providing procurement support and insurance function and the potential risks to both.  He referred to the formal collaboration with Bridgend Council in respect of the audit function and to the move towards a Single Fraud Investigation Service and to the associated challenges.

 

After thanking Officers for their attendance, Members

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the changes to service planning arrangements be noted and the Service Plans referred to above agreed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To take note of the revised format, to improve the effectiveness of scrutiny of the Council’s performance and to meet the recommendation outlined in the 2011/12 Annual Improvement Assessment.

 

 

1002   QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORTS –

 

Officers were in attendance during consideration of the PIs relating to matters which fell within their respective remits.

 

(i)         ICT – whilst no PI had failed to meet the target, the Head of Strategic ICT comments included his hopefulness that the actual performance in relation the percentage of ICT priority service desk calls resolved within the agreed timescales would improve.  He referred also to the actual figure in respect of days lost due to sickness absence probably being at their lowest ever.  In response to a query regarding the merit of the entry shown in the column headed “quarterly target” when no target had been set, the Head of Performance and Development undertook to ascertain why it contained the figure of 0.00.

 

(ii)        Customer Relations – as above, no PI had failed to meet the target.  The Head of Performance and Development indicated that he was hopeful that the sickness absence target would be met by the end of the year.

 

(iii)       Corporate Services – the Head of Performance and Development commented that although the average number of weekly unique visits to the website was down on the target, it was still an increase on the previous year's 3rd quarter.  He would await the end of year figures before commenting further. 

 

(iv)       Human Resources – the Head of Human Resources was hopeful that the target in relation to average days lost to sickness absence would outturn on target by the year.

 

(v)        Legal Services – in response to questions relating to L443Q and L446Q which showed actual performance to be 100%, the Head of Legal Services accepted the points made that details as to the caseload should be included in future report and explained that the deadlines for completion in both instances had been set by the Local Government Data Unit.

 

(vi)       Democratic Services – no questions were asked of the Operational Manager.

 

(vii)      Accountancy and Resources Management – no questions were asked of the Head of Accountancy and Resource Management.

 

(viii)     Finance and Property – the Head of Financial Services drew attention to the pleasing status in relation to the percentage of undisputed invoices paid within 30 days and, in response to a question as to whether the deadlines set for the actions to be completed within were national or local targets, confirmed that they were set locally.

 

A Member raised the matter of whether there was a need for Ffynnon training to be offered.  The Chairman stated that the matter should be revisited in the new municipal year.

 

Having discussed a variety of issues as outlined above, attention then turned to the matter of the measles outbreak which had occurred predominantly in the Swansea area.  Given the increase in incidents of such an infectious disease in areas not far removed from the Vale of Glamorgan, Members took the view that the issue of some form of publicity should be given consideration in the interests of safeguarding the local community and the relevant officers informed of Members' concerns.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position in relation to the above PIs be noted and any necessary actions taken.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To be aware of the position and take the necessary action.

 

 

1003   REVENUE MONITORING: 1ST APRIL, 2012 – 31ST JANUARY, 2013 (MD) –

 

The Head of Financial Services took Members through the report which showed a projected underspend on the Revenue Budget for 2012/13 of £105k. and that the Housing Revenue Account was predicted to outturn with a favourable variance of £279k. 

 

The report also highlighted various issues in respect of the following Directorates as outlined below and contained within paragraphs 5 to 31:

 

Directorate of Learning and Skills –

  • Overall the Education budget was projected to balance (after transferring £186k. from Education reserves)
  • Schools – the delegated budget was expected to balance
  • School Improvement – a projected overspend of £12k.
  • Access and Inclusion – Additional Learning Needs (ALN) was projecting an overspend of £269k.  Members noted that the ALN budget was an extremely volatile budget and that various options for offsetting any potential overspend were being investigated
  • Strategy and Performance – a projected underspend of £95k.
  • Provision had been made for the annual cost of financing the School Investment Strategy of £600,000 which would be transferred to the School Investment Strategy Reserve
  • In addition to financing the schools contribution to the early retirement/redundancy scheme, Education was projecting to transfer £68,000 from Education Reserves
  • Libraries – anticipated to outturn on budget

 

Social Services –

  • Current forecast for Social Services was for an underspend of £956k.
  • Children and Young People’s Services – predicted outturn was an overspend of £19k., an improvement of £104k.  Members were informed that there remained continuing pressures on the service, particularly in respect of accommodation costs for homeless young people.
  • Adult Services – predicted outturn was an underspend of £975k., an improvement of £449k.  Members were reminded of the continuing pressures on the Community Care Packages budget and its volatility.
  • Business Management and Innovation – a projected underspend £189k. which would be recharged to other areas of Social Services.

 

Directorate of Visible and Building Services –

  • Highways Maintenance and Engineering Design and Procurement – projected adverse variance of £75k.
  • Waste Management – currently anticipated to outturn on target
  • Grounds Maintenance – anticipated adverse variance of £37k.
  • Support – projected to outturn with a favourable variance of £125k. to offset overspends within the Directorate
  • Building Services – anticipated to breakeven at year end
  • General Housing Fund – expected to outturn on target
  • Public Sector Housing HRA) – predicted to outturn with a variable balance of £279k

 

Directorate of Development –

  • Public Protection and Private Sector Housing – both predicted to outturn on target
  • Planning and Transportation – predicted favourable variance at yearend of £59k. which would be used to fund overspend within the Directorate
  • Leisure – predicted adverse variance of £168k.
  • Economic Development – anticipated adverse variance of £36k.

 

Managing Director –

  • Policy – estimated underspend of £250k. which would be used to offset the overspend in Leisure.

 

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 outturn for 2012/13.

 

 

1004   CAPITAL MONITORING: 1ST APRIL, 2012 – 31ST JANUARY, 2013 (MD) –

 

Details as to the financial progress on the Capital Programme up to 31st January, 2013 were appended to the report.  The Head of Financial Services referred to paragraphs 5 to 15 of the report which contained explanations from the relevant officers on those schemes where it was evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent during the year.

 

In response to a query in relation to the Llancarfan demountables, the Head of Financial Services confirmed that the funding would likely be slipped into the next financial year and the scheme reassessed.  When a question was raised as to the current position in relation to the Penarth Heights highways works and specifically the changes to the sequencing of the traffic controlled junction at Barons Court which had been programmed for February / March 2013, a local Member responded that no progress had been made.  The Head of Financial Services undertook to ascertain the current position and e-mail that information to all Members of the Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T it be noted that the Scrutiny Committees had been requested to forward the following matters to Cabinet for consideration:

  • Penarth Learning Community – increase the budget by £80k. (funded from a revenue contribution from schools)
  • S106 Penarth Heights Highways works – reduce the budget to £1k. (carry £61k. forward to 2013/14)
  • Coldbrook Flood Management Scheme – reduce the budget to £150k. (carry forward £692k. WG / WEFO / Council funding to 2013/14 to be spent only once WG / WEFO approval is received) (also to be referred to Council for approval)
  • Vehicle Replacement Programme – reduce the budget to £1.982m. (carry forward £394k. into 2013/14)
  • Barry Comprehensive School Cycleway – reduce the budget to £258k.
  • Pencoedtre Park Improvements – reduce the budget to £272k.

 

(2)       T H A T the following matter be referred to Cabinet for consideration:

  • Data Centre – reduce the budget to nil (carry forward £450k. into 2013/14).

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To update the Capital Programme for 2012/13 and 2013/14.

 

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