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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 25th June, 2013.

 

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

 

Also present

 

 

126     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE –

 

This was received from Councillor P.G. King.

 

 

127     MINUTES –  

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 4th June, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

128     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman declared an interest in the Agenda Item – South Wales Programme Consultation as members of the Cardiff and Vale Community Health Council and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Stakeholder Reference Group respectively.  Councillor G. Roberts also declared an interest as a member of the Cardiff and Vale Community Health Council.  As such, the Members concerned had a personal, but not prejudicial, interest in the matter and, therefore, were able to participate in the discussion and any vote. 

 

 

129     REVENUE MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH APRIL 2013 (MD) –

 

Council, on 6th March 2013 approved the Revenue Budget and Housing Revenue Account budget for 2013/14.  Reports monitoring expenditure would be submitted to the Committee on a regular basis.  The forecast at present was for the Council to have a balanced Revenue Budget and Housing Revenue Account Budget.

 

As far as the Education Budget was concerned, it was projected to balance at the end of the year.  Any savings identified during the year would be available to redirect into the School Investment Strategy or other reserves.  Provision had been made within the budget for the annual cost of financing the School Investment Strategy of £600,000.  This sum would be transferred to the School Investment Strategy Reserve.  The report contained for Members’ information details relating to grant-related expenditure within the Education budget. 

 

Social Services was again anticipated to result in a balanced budget.  However, pressures would continue within the Children and Young People’s Services and Adult Services with regard to Children’s Placements and the Community Care Packages budget respectively.  Both Visible Services and Development Services were also forecast to result in balanced budgets.

 

Members raised a number of queries in respect of the report relating to:

 

·               the level of match funding from the Council required in respect of the Grant for the Education of Gypsy and Traveller Children, the Schools Effectiveness Grant and the Welsh Education Grant

·               clarification regarding the level of administration costs relating to the School Uniform Grant Scheme and confirmation as to whether the Scheme operated on an annual basis.

 

The Head of Financial Services undertook to provide clarification regarding the above to all Members of the Committee.  In answer to a query from a Member regarding possible ways of reducing the effect of the volatility of certain elements of the Social Services budget, he confirmed that the Social Services Budget Recovery Plan was the main means of seeking to address this aspect.  He acknowledged the need for expenditure to be contained, wherever possible, within the year (particularly in respect of funding packages / placements). 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the Council’s 2013/14 Revenue Budget be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To facilitate Member awareness of the projected revenue outturn for 2013/14.

 

 

130     CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH APRIL 2013 (MD) –

 

The report for April 2013 showed no variances within the budget.  Profiled expenditure had been requested from Project Managers and would be updated in the next report.  Members were asked to note that Appendix 1 to the report did not include requests for unspent committed expenditure to be slipped from 2012/13 into 2013/14.  A request for such slippage would be included within the Closing Down report presented to a future Cabinet meeting.  For all schemes where it became evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent, relevant officers would be required to provide an explanation of the shortfall to the earliest available Cabinet meeting. 

 

The Head of Financial Services was asked whether the figures of £690,000 in respect of the Learning in Digital (Wales) Grant reflected the actual figure available for those schools opting to participate or the total figure available.  He undertook to clarify the position and inform all Members of the Committee accordingly.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the Council’s 2013/14 Capital Programme be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To allow schemes to proceed during the current financial year.

 

 

131     SOUTH WALES PROGRAMME CONSULTATION (MD) –

 

The five health boards providing care for people in South Wales and South Powys had launched a formal eight week public consultation about the future of four hospital services.  The consultation document was attached as Appendix A to the report. The South Wales Programme public consultation outlined options for the future provision of consultant-led maternity and neonatal care, inpatient children's services and emergency medicine (A&E) for the people of South Wales and South Powys. 

 

The consultation ran from 23rd May to 19th July and the Council would need to consider its response to the consultation as there would be implications for local residents.

 

Frontline doctors, nurses, midwives, therapists and paramedics had worked together over the last 18 months to look at the challenges facing the affected services and the proposals to concentrate them on four or five hospitals across the South Wales area. The aim was to create a network of healthcare services for South Wales and South Powys, which provided as much care as locally as possible when safe to do so.

 

The reasons given for change were that patients were not getting access to the best care and services did not meet clinical standards.  Senior doctors were not available at nights and weekends, and there were not enough doctors to provide these services in all hospitals and although a UK problem it was worse in Wales. 

 

Feedback from an extensive 12-week engagement exercise with public, staff and stakeholders undertaken in the autumn of 2012 had informed the options that were now being consulted upon.  The results of the engagement showed that there was an understanding of why services needed to change and a majority supported the ideas for change.  People would like services to be provided in as many hospitals as they safely could.  There were also concerns about the impact on the Welsh Ambulance Service, on people living in deprived areas, on access and travel times and on public transport.

 

As part of the engagement it had been explained that three hospitals were considered to be fixed points because of the range of services they provided and the size of the population they covered; University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, Morriston Hospital, Swansea and a new hospital to be built near Cwmbran which would be a Specialist and Critical Care Centre.

 

Feedback from the public and clinicians during the engagement was used to develop six benefit criteria against which all options were assessed; safety, quality, sustainability, access, equity and strategic fit.

 

At the time of the engagement exercise there were six possible scenarios for the location of these services.  After consideration of issues such as access and equity and the impact on the Welsh Ambulance Service and other hospitals in South Wales, two had been ruled out. Those options also got the lowest scores against the above benefit criteria.

 

The four options now being consulted on for the future of these services were:

 

·               Option 1: UHW, Morriston, Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC), a new hospital which was planned to be built near Cwmbran plus Prince Charles Hospital

·               Option 2 UHW, Morriston, SCCC plus Royal Glamorgan Hospital

·               Option 3 UHW, Morriston, SCCC plus Prince Charles and Princess of Wales

·               Option 4 UHW, Morriston, SCCC plus Prince Charles and Royal Glamorgan.

 

The options had been assessed against a wide range of factors, including their impact on travel times, especially for people living in the most deprived communities; the number of doctors needed, the impact on the Welsh Ambulance Service and a high-level assessment of how much they would cost. The option which had emerged from the process as having the least impact on all the factors the South Wales Programme had considered, and was, therefore, the best fit, was option three – concentrating these services on five hospitals: UHW, Morriston, SCCC, Prince Charles and Princess of Wales hospitals.  Concentrating these services in a smaller number of hospitals meant there would need to be a corresponding move of other services.

 

As part of the consultation discussions would take place with interested groups and fora about the proposals, as well as a range of formal public meetings held to ensure a wide range of views would be heard. 

 

It was anticipated that the analysis of the consultation responses would be completed by September when it would be shared with Community Health Councils (CHC) within the South Wales programme area.  Each CHC would then formally respond to its respective Health Board, indicating whether it agreed to the proposals or if it was not satisfied they would be in the interests of health services in its area.  Health Boards would meet in October to make a decision. 

 

Any resource implications for the Council arising from the proposals would need to be considered as part of the Council's response to the consultation.

 

In drafting a response to the consultation due regard would be given to the Corporate Plan 2013 -17 which included the following two outcomes.

 

·               Community leadership - Citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan can easily access efficiently managed services that are focused around their needs, have confidence in how decisions are made and are proud to live in the Vale.

·               Health, Social Care and Wellbeing - Citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan are healthy and have equality of outcomes and, through appropriate support and safeguards, the most vulnerable members of our community maximise their life opportunities.

 

A draft response would be considered by Cabinet on 15th July 2013.

 

Thirteen Members attended a briefing session on 4th June. A presentation was given by Paul Hollard (Director of Planning) and Estelle Hitchon (Assistant Director of Strategic Communication) from the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and this was followed by an opportunity for Members to raise questions and discuss the issues.  Information on the proposals had been circulated to all Members.

 

Members of the Committee raised a number of issues / concerns during the discussion, which could be summarised as follows:

 

·               the fact that there had been an acknowledgement of a shortage of doctors but that the document did not seem to address the issue

·               a suggestion that a reduction in Accident and Emergency facilities and the creation of a Centre of Excellence would further reduce the number of consultants in Wales

·               the lack of any consultation meeting in Penarth

·               a suggestion that, whilst certain services might be improved within the Vale of Glamorgan, there would be no benefit for people in north and west areas of the overall area covered

·               the need for an improvement in Accident and Emergency provision throughout the area and the need to 'join up' primary care and accident and emergency provision

·               the timescale involved, which meant that the proposed Centre of Excellence was not planned to commence until 2018 and the prevailing economic climate which, it was considered, could impact on that very proposal

·               the need for significant co-ordination between the Health Boards involved

·               the risk of the proposals requiring additional managers to manage the process

·               the impact of the proposed relocation of the Royal Gwent facility to Cwmbran, which would impact on residents of Caerphilly and neighbouring areas in terms of additional travelling time.  The possibility that such residents would simply switch to using, and adding to the already overcrowded facility at the Accident and Emergency provision within the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff

·               the fact that transport connections to the University Hospital of Wales were not necessarily replicated elsewhere

·               the role which Sewta (South East Wales Transport Association) would need to play in terms of transport

·               the possibility that, given the economic climate, none of the options outlined might actually be delivered

·               the importance of the whole estate and transport links being taken into account when planning changes to services.

 

In addition to the specific issues set out above, a discussion ensued as to the need, in the opinion of the Committee, for wider consideration of the issue by Members to be facilitated.  Various options for such were considered and, as a result, the preference of those Members of the Committee present was for a Special Council meeting to be arranged prior to consideration of this matter by Cabinet on 15th July 2013.  It was noted that, as part of the consultation programme, an event was taking place in the Civic Offices on 8th July 2013 and, with this in mind, the most opportune way of enabling further consideration would be for a Council meeting to be held on the same evening, if that was practicable. 

 

Members of the Committee indicated that they wished such a Council Meeting to be called under the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 3.1, which required five Members to formally sign a requisition calling for such.  The Head of Democratic Services undertook to facilitate the official requisition of the request and, subject to the receipt of a formal requisition, the arranging of the Special Council Meeting.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T, subject to formal receipt of a request from the requisite number of Members, the Head of Democratic Services facilitate the holding of a Special Council Meeting ; the meeting to take place on 8th July 2013 if practicable.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure Member awareness of the proposals and allow Members an opportunity to discuss the options and inform the Council’s response.

 

 

132     STAFF SURVEY PROGRESS UPDATE REPORT (MD) –

 

There were a number of pieces of work currently taking place that had been designed to address the issues surrounding employee engagement identified by the most recent survey of Vale of Glamorgan Council staff.

 

The results of the 2011/12 staff survey were initially reported to Cabinet in July 2012.  Following this, a Staff Engagement Action Plan was created and a Working Group established (consisting of the Head of Performance and Development, the Head of Human Resources, the Training and Development Manager and the Corporate Consultation Officer). This Action Plan was then presented to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) in September 2012.  Following the Committee's comments this was revised and presented and approved in November 2012.

 

Initially, the Action Plan was to be pursued as part of a staff engagement strategy under development within HR. However, due to the significance of the issues identified, this was then incorporated into the Workforce Plan.

 

The Action Plan captured the work that was being undertaken corporately to address the issues highlighted in the report.  In addition, the results of the staff survey had been widely circulated internally and so were likely to have informed a number of smaller departmental projects.

 

The key issues that had arisen from this year's survey included:

 

·               While internal communications were generally considered to be effective, there were staff working in some areas of the Council that did not feel that they had access to sufficient information about the organisation to carry out their roles effectively.

·               There was a need to ensure consistency across the organisation regarding staff opinion on the learning and development opportunities available to them.

·               There was a need to ensure consistency across the organisation regarding staff experiences of the PDR process.

·               A large minority of respondents did not feel they were adequately consulted about changes within the organisation.

·               A significant minority of respondents did not feel they received recognition for doing good work.

 

As alluded to above, the Head of Performance and Development confirmed that certain of the issues identified would be picked up as part of the much larger Workforce Plan.  This would include issues relating to Staff Engagement and the existing PDRs process.  A further report would be submitted to the Committee towards the end of the year.  During the discussion, it was suggested and agreed by the Committee, that the priority rating of 'Medium' in respect of recognition of good work be amended to 'High'. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the ongoing work to address the issues identified by the 2011/12 staff survey be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that appropriate action is being taken in response to the views raised by staff during the survey.

 

 

133     SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROGRESS REPORT (MD) –

 

Sustainability was managed within the Council's Performance Management Framework.  It was mainstreamed within the Corporate Plan and the service planning process, with performance targets set to measure performance which was monitored quarterly by Scrutiny Committees. 

 

The membership of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) had been revised following changes in Council structures. The role of the Group was to develop mechanisms and oversee projects to embed sustainable development as the Council’s central organising principle. Terms of reference had been amended to reflect a new focus for the Group and a new action plan drafted. The Group reported to Corporate Management Team.

 

The new Sustainable Development Action Plan provided a strategic framework for the SDWG to ensure sustainability was embedded in activities across the Council and would focus on proposed sustainability legislation, climate change, Green Dragon, carbon management and the review of the Council's Staff Travel Plan.

 

The recent White Paper from Welsh Government on proposals for a Sustainable Development Bill placed sustainable development at the heart of decision-making.  The Council would need to ensure that sustainable development was its central organising principle and this would be the subject of scrutiny by the Wales Audit Office.  The Council had responded positively to the consultation but had expressed some reservations about how the legislation might be implemented and compliance monitored.  The SDWG would take the lead in ensuring the Council complied with legislation and that sustainable development was promoted across the Council.

 

In 2012/13 the Council continued to ensure that sustainability considerations were at the forefront of a range of activities.  Recent developments to promote sustainable development included the following:

 

The Corporate Plan 2013-17 included a range of commitments which would promote sustainable development including: increasing the number of apprenticeships, establishing a Youth Council, reintroducing a mobile library service, promoting modal shift, implementing a Tree Management Strategy, private sector housing renewal, supporting community facilities and promoting community safety.

 

The aim of the Space Project was to maximise the use of the Council's property resources and this was identified as one of the Council's improvement objectives for 2012/13.  The project should also lead to a reduction in carbon emissions and the project team were taking account of sustainability impacts as they developed options for the use of the Council's property assets. 

 

There was a considerable amount of activity across the Council to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.  The membership of the Carbon Management Group had recently been reviewed to ensure there was membership across all Directorates.  The Group would report to the SDWG and take a lead in identifying projects to reduce carbon emissions. 

 

There had been a reduction of 11.05% in building-related carbon emissions for 2012/13 compared to 2011/12.  The rate of improvement was, in the main, due to the transfer of Leisure Facilities and Dyffryn Gardens part way through 2012 / 13.  With improved data collection and through implementing more energy efficient projects the target was to continue this improvement. 

 

The Council was continuing to deliver its commitments within the Carbon Management Plan.  The Salix finance arrangement had been used to deliver a number of improvements since it was agreed in June 2009 and to date the Council had spent £576,000 with a further £92,000 of projects agreed and awaiting installation and a further £40,000 worth of projects considered viable and awaiting agreement from budget holders.  The projects installed or awaiting installation were predicted to save the Council £226,000 per year in fuel costs and reduce emissions by 1,500 tonnes per annum.  The lifetime savings (which took into account the persistence factors of each particular technology) for Salix match funded measures was predicted to be £5 million and 33,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

 

To date, 78 energy efficiency improvement installations had been installed. This included 36 insulation installations, building lighting improvements, street lighting improvements, voltage optimisation, pool cover installation and power switch timers. Major projects being taken forward included LED lighting upgrades and lighting control improvements.

 

The Council had invested in new technologies with a view to reducing its street lighting energy consumption. To date, 534 lower wattage LED lanterns had been installed, 325 lower wattage white light lanterns had been installed, 1,439 street lights had been dimmed between the hours of midnight and 6.00am and a further 1,000 street lights had been dimmed between 10pm and 6am.  During the past three years annual cost savings of approximately £46,445 (based on current energy prices) had been achieved via various energy reduction initiatives that also included converting all belisha beacons to LED, the use of solar powered bollards and converting a significant number of illuminated road signs to LED.  This had resulted in a total carbon saving of 234 metric tonnes per annum.  With regard to 2013 /14 financial year, there were programmes in place to install more LED lighting and the dimming of a further 1,000 streetlights between 10pm and 6 am.

 

All services had continued to work to maintain an appropriate level of the Green Dragon Environmental Standard.   In 2013/14 arrangements would be reviewed to reflect changes in structures and location of services.

 

Work had begun to develop a Climate Change Adaptation Report.  A workshop was held with colleagues from Bridgend County Borough Council and risk assessments had been undertaken across all directorates to identify the impacts of climate change on services.  These assessments were being used to inform the development of the adaptation report.

 

Local Service Board partners had worked together to identify opportunities for co-location, asset management and reducing energy use against an agreed target of 3% per annum.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff and Vale UHB, Cardiff and Vale College, South Wales Fire Service and South Wales Police had calculated that in 2011/12 they produced a combined total of 24, 898 tonnes of carbon emissions from their buildings in the Vale. This would provide the baseline for monitoring combined performance each year, also taking account of changes in floor space and how services were provided.   Figures for 12/13 would be available in July.

 

One of the ten priority outcomes in the Community Strategy 2011-21 was 'Vale residents and organisations respect the local environment and work together to meet the challenge of climate change'.  Progress against this priority outcome was being monitored and included activities on energy reduction and awareness raising.

 

The Council was a signatory of the Welsh Government Sustainable Development Charter and each year had to set a challenge.  The current challenge was to reduce our carbon emissions.  The Council would also feature as a best practice case study to support the forthcoming Sustainable Development Bill.

 

Work had continued to provide information and raise awareness of sustainability issues through press releases, Core Briefs and Staffnet.  A network of energy champions had been developed in the Civic Offices to encourage people to recycle and reduce energy use.

 

All services contributed to the promotion of sustainable development.  A wide range of outcomes had been achieved in 2012/13 and these were detailed in Appendix B to the report.  The new Service Plans for 2013/14 also included a strong commitment to promoting sustainable development and Appendix C to the report detailed a small selection of some of the actions that would be undertaken in 2013/14.  These reflect the commitments in the Corporate Plan and would help ensure that the Council was:

 

·               Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society

·               Achieving a sustainable economy

·               Living within environmental limits

·               Promoting good governance.

 

The draft improvement objectives for 2013/14 would also contribute to promoting sustainable development and recognise the need to promote waste reduction, reduce landfill and increase recycling, improve citizen engagement and tackle the effects of climate change with a particular focus on local flood and coastal risk management.  Details of the improvement objectives were also included in Appendix C to the report.

 

During the discussion on this item certain Members suggested the need for more specific information in terms of how the activities outlined in Appendix C to the report would be actually delivered and a suggestion that certain of the aspirations could be 'smartened'.  In response, the Head of Improvement and Development alluded to the fact that more detailed information would be found within Directorates’ Service Plans and Team Plans.  Directors were committed to the various targets which, in turn, were monitored by the relevant Scrutiny Committee(s). 

 

A suggestion was made that the Committee might receive a report outlining the progress which had been made in the previous seven years (i.e. since the Sustainable Development Initiative had been underway).  However, it was acknowledged that it would be difficult to comprehensively capture all work undertaken during such a long period.  The Head of Improvement and Development undertook to provide further progress reports on the current Action Plan and also confirmed he would be willing to consider the inclusion of any other elements suggested by Members. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the actions taken across the Council to promote sustainable development be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the draft Sustainable Development Action Plan 2013/14 be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T a progress report on the Action Plan be submitted to the Committee in six months time.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Members are aware of progress regarding sustainable development across the Council.

 

(2)       To allow the Sustainable Development Working Group to proceed in delivering the Sustainable Development Action Plan for 2013/14 and that actions continue to be taken forward to progress sustainable development.

 

(3)       To maintain Member awareness of progress.

 

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