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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 18th February, 2014.

 

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, P.G. King, R.A. Penrose, G. Roberts and A.C. Williams.

 

 

854     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 21st January, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

855     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

856     TREASURY MANAGEMENT (S151O) -

 

The report sought to provide the Scrutiny Committee an interim appraisal of the Council’s Treasury Management operations for the period 1st April, 2013 to 31st December, 2013.  Also submitted for the consideration of the Scrutiny Committee was the proposed Treasury Management and Annual Investment Strategy for 2014/15.

 

Subject to the Scrutiny Committee’s comments the matter would then be forwarded to Cabinet and thereafter to Full Council for approval.

 

The Scrutiny Committee was reminded that the Welsh Government provided the Council with a General Capital Funding Grant and the Council was also advised that the level of borrowing that the Welsh Government was prepared to fund via the Revenue Support Grant Settlement.  In the event of the Council wishing to borrow in excess of this level to increase its capital expenditure, then it could stop.  However, it would either have to find additional costs of borrowing through savings in other services or increases in Council Tax. 

 

In order to manage the increased flexibility, Part 1 of the Local Government Act 2003 required local authorities to have regard to the Prudential Code, which had been developed by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy as a professional code of practice.  The key objectives of the fully revised Prudential Code were set out in paragraph 4 of the report. 

 

In addition to the above in March 2012 the Council also adopted the CIPFA Treasury Management in the Public Services: Code of Practice 2011 Addition (the CIPFA Code), which required the Council to approve a Treasury Management Strategy for the start of each financial year.

 

The above codes of practice and relevant legislation required the Council to set out its Treasury Management Strategy and to prepare an Investment Strategy.  The Welsh Government issued revised Guidance on Local Authority Investments in April 2010 that required the Council to approve an investment strategy before the start of each financial year and stated that authorities may produce a single strategy document, covering both the requirements of the CIPFA Treasury Management Code and Welsh Government Guidance. 

 

Set out at Appendix 1 to the report was a proposed Treasury Management and Investment Strategy for 2014/15.  It was noted that the Treasury Management Strategy itself covered a rolling period of three years and was intended to link to the Medium Term Financial Planning process.  The Investment Strategy covered the next financial year.  The document also included a number of statutory Prudential Indicators that may be used to support and record local decision making.

 

As for the proposed Strategy for 2014/15, as at 31st December, 2013 the Authority had placed the majority of its investments with the 'Debt Management Account Deposit Facility’ (DMADF) of the Bank of England.  It was noted that the DMADF deposit were guaranteed by the UK Government.  Scrutiny Committee was informed that there were signs of improvement in the market although the economies of many countries were still under pressure.  It was therefore considered prudent at this time to make no changes to the existing investment counter parties/credit rating limits.  This approach was likely to result in the Authority’s investment options for 2014/15 being with the UK Government which included DMADF, Treasury Bills and Other Local Authorities.  As always priority would be given firstly to the security and liquidity of the investment.

 

In addition to the above matters the Council would also continue to use credit ratings from the three main rated agencies Fitch Ratings Ltd., Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor’s to assess the risk of loss of investment.  The lowest available credit rating would be used to determine credit quality.  In addition, regard would be given to other available information of the credit quality of banks and building societies.

 

In regard to the interim report, it was indicated insofar as the Council’s Treasury Management operations entered into for the period 1st April, 2013 to 31st December, 2013 were concerned, all activities were in accordance with the Council’s approved strategy on Treasury Management.  Set out below were details of the monies  borrowed / repaid during this period:

 

Loan Type

Opening      Balance

      Received

         Repaid

Closing Balance

 

01/04/2013

 

 

31/12/2013

 

          £’000

          £’000

          £’000

           £’000

PWLB

91,524

0

2,219

89,305

 

 

 

 

 

Other Long Term Loans

6,002

0

0

6,002

Temporary Loans

100

0

0

100

Totals

97,626

0

2,219

95,407

 

  • Loans borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) are intended to assist Local Authorities in meeting their longer term borrowing requirements.  The above loans are all at fixed rates of interest. The rate paid on each loan is largely dependent upon the original duration of the loan and date taken out.
  • Other Long term loans represent those non-PWLB loans that are repayable at least 1 year or more from the date they are advanced.  The bulk of this debt is represented by two market loans of £2,000,000 and £4,000,000. The balance of this debt is local bonds. These total £2,100 and are made up of small individual sums that are invested with the Council for a number of years by members of the public.  
  • Temporary Loans represent those loans that are borrowed for a period of less than one year. They are borrowed on notice.

Reference was also made to external interests at an average rate of 5.6068% and amounting to £4,007,776 which had been accrued on loans for the first nine months of 2013/14.  The Council had also made the following investments for the period 1st April, 2013 to 31st December, 2013 details of which were set out below:

 

Borrowing

Institution

Opening Balance

    Invested

     Returned

Closing Balance

 

01/04/2013

 

 

31/12/2013

 

          £’000

       £’000

       £’000

          £’000

Local Authorities

 

16,000

28,000

(24,000)

20,000

Debt Management Account Deposit Facility

74,450

1,072,275

(1,070,300)

76,425

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

90,450

1,100,275

(1,094,300)

96,425

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest at an average rate of 0.2697% and amounting to £200,239 had been accrued from these investments for the first nine months of 2013/14.

 

Discussion ensued in regard to the Council’s debt payment to the Public Works Loan Board.  The Head of Finance indicated that historical loans had been obtained by the Council in past years and utilised to fund the Council’s Capital Programme.  No new Public Works Loan Board loans had been secured and as indicated in the report the strategy was to continue to pay down the debt on the remaining balance.  In response to a question from the Committee in relation to paying this debt back earlier, the Head of Finance indicated that this was possible but the Council would be required to pay a premium for any early settlement of the outstanding loan.

 

The Committee also made reference to the parameters controlling short term lending and the interest accrued from these investments with one Member of the Committee querying whether a better rate than the figure cited in the report may be obtained by using investments in money market funds.  The Head of Finance indicated that the Council was required to adhere to the Capital Finance and Accounting Regulations when investing in money market funds.  This meant that the investment was treated as capital expenditure.  He also alluded to the fact that officers had written to the Welsh Government regarding the regulations applied to Unitary Authority Councils in Wales with a view to these being changed.  However, this had not been positively received.  The Chairman in response to the latter comment intimated that the Welsh Government should be asked to look again at this issue and he suggested that himself in liaison with the Head of Finance write to the Welsh Government on this matter as soon as practicable. 

 

Having regard to the above and related issues it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Treasury Management interim report for the period 1st April to 31st December 2013 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed 2014/15 Treasury Management and Investment Strategy be endorsed and any comments forwarded to Cabinet.  Thereafter it will be referred to Council for approval including the following specific resolutions as set out in the Strategy Action Plan:

  • The Authorised Limit for External Debt be set at £174,000,000 for 2013/14, £187,000,000 for 2014/15, £205,000,000 for 2015/16 and £221,000,000 for 2016/17.
  • The Operational Boundary for External Debt be set at £156,000,000 for 2013/14, £164,000,000 for 2014/15, £181,000,000 for 2015/16 and £196,000,000 for 2016/17.
  • The Section 151 Officer be given delegated authority within the total Authorised Limit and Operational Boundary as estimated for individual years to effect movement between the separately agreed limits for borrowing and other long term liabilities.
  • An upper limit is set on its fixed interest rate exposures for 2013/14 of £147,000,000, for 2014/15 of £152,000,000, for 2015/16 of £168,000,000 and for 2016/17 of £183,000,000 of its net outstanding principal sum on its borrowings / investments.
  • An upper limit is set on its variable interest rate exposures as an absolute value for 2013/14 of +/-£154,000,000, for 2014/15 of +/- £154,000,000, for 2015/16 of +/-£151,000,000 and for 2016/17 of +/- £148,000,000 of its net outstanding principal sums on its borrowings / investments.
  • An upper limit of £30,000,000 is set for total principal sums invested for over 364 days for 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.
  • The amount of projected borrowing that is fixed rate maturing in each period as a percentage of total projected borrowing that is fixed rate for 2014/15 be set as below:

 

 

Upper Limit

Lower Limit

Under 12 months

20%

0%

12 months and within 24 months

20%

0%

24 months and within 5 years

30%

0%

5 years and within 10 years

30%

0%

10 years and above

100%

0%

  • The Prudential Indicators set out in paragraph 4.1 and 4.2 in this Strategy be approved.

(3)       T H A T the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee in consultation with the Head of Finance be permitted to write to the Welsh Government suggesting that there was a need for a review of the application across Wales of the Capital Financing and Accounting Regulations.

 

Reasons for the recommendations

 

(1)       To present the Treasury Management Interim Report.

 

(2)       The Treasury Management and Annual Investment Strategy is prepared as required by the Local Government Act 2003.

 

(3)       To seek a review of the Capital Financing Accounting Regulations and the application of the same across Wales.

 

 

857     REVENUE MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2013 TO 31ST DECEMBER, 2013 (MD) -

 

The projected outturn for 2013/14 Revenue Budget was forecasting a favourable variance of £1.185 million.  As regards the Housing Revenue Account, the forecast was for an estimated balanced budget.  Details were contained within the report of the financial position under the following headings and as summarised below:

 

Directorate of Learning and Skills -

 

Overall the Education Budget was projected to balance as at the end of March 2014. 

  • Schools -  

The delegated budget relating to schools was expected to balance. 

 

  • Strategy and Performance -  

This budget was predicted to outturn an adverse variance of £18,000.

 

  • Service Strategy and Regulation -  

This budget was predicted to outturn with a favourable variance of £18,000.

 

  • Education -

Education was projecting to transfer £145,000 to reserves as part of the Voluntary Early Retirement and Redundancy Scheme.

 

  • Libraries -  

There was currently a £50,000 favourable variance.

 

  • Youth Service -  

This budget was anticipated to outturn on target.

 

  • Lifelong Learning -  

There was currently a £20,000 favourable variance against the profiled budget and was anticipated to outturn on target at the year end.

 

  • Catering -  

There was currently a £12,000 favourable variance against the profiled budget and was predicted that it would outturn on target by the year end.

 

 

Social Services

 

  • Children and Young People’s Services -  

It was currently anticipated that there would be a £217,000 overspend by the year end.

 

  • Adult Services -  

The current forecast at the year-end was for an overspend of £685,000.  However, action was being taken to review all processes to address the shortfall.  However, there were potential underspends elsewhere within the service of circa £525,000 which could be used to off-set the above overspend.  Taking account of the underspends within the service area this resulted in the Adult Services’ budget anticipated to currently incur an overspend of £76,000.  It was noted that with the level of savings required for 2014/15 and 2015/16, budgets were being re-examined during 2013/14 with a view to their possible realignment as part of the consideration of new models of service delivery.

 

  •  Business Management and Innovation -  

This service showed a favourable variance of £118,000.  However £84,000 of the underspend would be allocated to Adult Services.

 

It was indicated that areas of savings had been identified for the current financial year which were £293,000 over the required targets.  This saving could be used to off-set the overspends identified above and a balanced budget was currently projected for the year end.  However, a major issue which could affect the service between now and the end of the financial year was the impact of winter pressures.  This could not yet be quantified but would be monitored closely and reported to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

Visible Services and Housing

 

  • Highways Maintenance and Engineering Design and Procurement -  

This service was showing a current adverse variance of £116,000. 

 

  • Waste Management -  

This service was currently showing a favourable variance of £110,000.

 

  • Grounds Maintenance - 

This service showed a current favourable variance of £30,000.

 

  • Support -  

There was currently a nil variance.

 

  • General Fund Housing -  

This service showed a favourable variance of £304,000.  However, due to the factors referred to in paragraph 26 of the report and the possible risks associated with the same it was projected that this budget would outturn at £200,000 underspent at the year end. 

 

  • Housing Public Sector Housing (HRA) -  

This service showed a current favourable variance of £219,000.  However, due to the fact as outlined in paragraph 27 of the report it was predicted that this budget would outturn with a favourable variance of £107,000.

 

 

Development Services

 

  • Public Protection -  

There was currently a favourable variance of £80,000.

 

  • Planning and Transportation -  

This service showed a favourable variance of £5,000.

 

  • Leisure -  

This service was currently projected to outturn with a balanced budget by the year end.

 

  • Economic Development -  

There was currently a favourable variance of £5,000 with the service projected to outturn within target by the year end.

 

 

Managing Director

 

  • General Policy - 

This was projected to outturn with a favourable variance of £1.615 million. 

 

  • All Other Services -  

These were anticipated to outturn on budget.

 

The Committee having regard to the information contained in the report referred to comments made at previous meetings of the Committee in relation to the manner in which the Council managed its budgets and in particular to the favourable underspends.  The Committee expressed the view that consideration should be given to the feasibility of budget underspends being reviewed corporately.

 

Discussion ensued regarding the principle of Directorates retaining budget underspends for the use as reserves or for the purpose of expenditure for the purchase of equipment or maintenance.  The Committee considered that whilst it was not a criticism per se officers, they considered that the current system allowed such practices and should be reviewed with a view to underspends being 'clawed back' for reallocation to other services within the Council where budget pressures existed.  In response, the Head of Finance indicated that there was a need for a balance between allowing managers flexibility to operate their budgets  innovatively as opposed to 'clawing back' individual service budget underspends during the course of the financial year.  He considered the current arrangements to be an incentive for managers to manage their budgets effectively.

 

Further discussion ensued with specific underspends being referred to by the Committee i.e. Catering Services and Grounds Maintenance.  The Committee considered that any use of underspends for the purchase of equipment should be subject to an application process which required approval.  The Head of Finance acknowledged the points raised and indicated that it would be useful in the future if a central system for recording proposed expenditure in such circumstances was implemented.  A Member of the Committee made reference to the Capital Monitoring report which would be considered later in the agenda and in particular to an item contained within the report in relation to Vehicle Renewal Fund and a related request to carry forward the funding for the purchase of three new vehicles.  He questioned that if the service required to carry forward the funding to the next financial year did the service actually need the new vehicles in the first instance.  He also made separate reference to the Winter Maintenance Gritting Budget and the fact that very little gritting had been undertaken during the current winter due to the mild weather conditions and suggested that there was likely to be a budget underspend.  He considered that this was an example where the underspend would be better utilised for service delivery elsewhere in the Council.  In response to these two issues, the Head of Finance reminded the Committee that underspends were retained in reserves for use when high service demands were encountered in later years.  As for the purchase of the three vehicles alluded to by the Member, he gave the Committee an assurance that he would investigate the matter and respond to Members of the Committee and e-mail his findings.

 

At this juncture, the Chairman invited the Head of Performance and Development to comment on the matter and whether he considered the issues raised by the Committee as a corporate problem.  In response, the Head of Service indicated that it was a difficult issue and accepted the points being raised.  He suggested that the question that needed to be addressed was: were budgets and the use of the same delivering the Council’s priorities set out within its Corporate Plan and Service Plans.  As a way forward, he suggested that in the first instance that the matter be referred to the Corporate Management Team for further consideration.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the Council’s 2013/14 Revenue Budget be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of Finance be requested to raise the comments of the Scrutiny Committee regarding the use of budget underspends with the Corporate Management Team as soon as practicable.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the projected Revenue Budget outturn for 2013/14.

 

(2)       To draw attention to the Corporate Management Team of the Scrutiny Committee’s concerns regarding the current budgetary arrangements and the associated use of budget underspends.

 

 

858     CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2013 TO 31ST DECEMBER, 2013 (MD) -

 

The Head of Finance apprised the Committee on the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st December, 2013 were appended to the report.  Details were contained within the report under the following headings as summarised below:

 

Learning and Development

 

  • Redevelopment of All Saints Primary School -  

Request to vire the remaining balance of Pendoylan School Remodelling of £5,000 to fund the Council’s outstanding contribution to redevelopment works largely funded through a Welsh Government Grant.

 

 

Social Services

 

  • Flying Start Holton School Ladybirds -  

Request to increase Capital Programme for additional £65,000 grant funding from the Welsh Government towards the cost of the scheme increasing the budget for the scheme to £278,000 with it being noted that funding was only available in 2013/14.

 

  • Cartref Porthceri and Southway Home Upgrade -  

Request to combine the schemes to reflect the approach Property Services had adopted to tender for these schemes as one to ensure that the scheme was delivered as efficiently as possible.  The resulting budget would be £173,000.

 

 

Visible Services and Housing

 

  • Vehicle Renewal Fund -  

Request to carry forward £279,000 for the purchase of three new vehicles for the Cleansing Service with the vehicles now being purchased in 2014/15.

 

  • Emergency Contingency Budget -  

Request to vire £7,000 from the Housing Improvement Programme Emergency Contingency Budget to fund works relating to Parkland Walk, Barry Sewer Connections.

  

Development Services

 

  • Regional Transport Consortia (SEWTA) -  

Further funding of £41,600 had been awarded towards the costs of the Railway Walk Cycle Scheme.  The additional funding was allocated due to additional costs being incurred to cover a change of materials for surfacing of the footway/cycleway, along with additional consultation which led to a change in the surfacing, further design works and additional new costs to cover the Village Green application.  The total funding awarded for 2013/14 was £261,600 and it was requested that this additional sum be accepted and included in the 2013/14 Capital Programme.

 

  • Llantwit Major Crossings -  

Request to increase the Capital Programme by £5,000 for Section 106 funding works at Llantwit Major Crossings. 

 

 

Variances Between Actual Spend to Date and Profile Spend

 

  • WHQS Works -  

The period to December works on roof renewals were behind profile and a decision had been taken to delay roofing renewals until 2014/15 as internal works had been prioritised in 2013/14 and also due to the risk of tenant dissatisfaction regarding the carrying out of roofing works during the winter months.  It was also noted that alternative sources of funding were also being investigated for these works.

 

Having regard to the above it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the following recommendations be endorsed and be referred to Cabinet for approval, noting recommendation (2) was for referral to Council.

 

(1)       T H A T the following changes to the 2013/14 Capital Programme be approved: 

  • Redevelopment All Saints Primary - Request to vire the remaining balance of Pendoylan School Remodelling £5,000 to fund this scheme.
  • Cartref Porthceri and Southway Home Upgrade - Request to combine budgets for these schemes, the resulting budget will be £173,000.
  • Emergency Contingency Budget - Request to vire £7,000 for Parkland Walk Sewer Connection. 

(2)       T H A T the Cabinet be requested to recommend to Council the following changes to the 2013/14 Capital Programme:

  • Flying Start Grants - Holton School Ladybirds - Request to increase Capital Programme for additional £65,000 for additional grant funding allocated by WG towards the scheme.
  • Vehicle Renewal Fund - Request to carry forward £279,000 of funding for the purchase of three new vehicles for the Cleansing service.
  • Regional Transport Consortia (SEWTA) - Request to increase Capital Programme for additional £41,600 grant funding that has been awarded towards the cost of the Railway Walk Cycle Scheme.
  • Llantwit Major Crossings - Request to increase the Capital Programme by £5,000 for Section 106 funded works at Llantwit Major Crossings.

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To allow schemes to proceed in the current and future financial years.

 

 

859     UPDATE ON CORPORATE WORKFORCE PLAN 2013-17 (MD) -

 

The Scrutiny Committee was apprised of progress made in regard to the implementation of the above Plan with a detailed update in relation to each of the actions contained within the Plan which were set out in Appendix A to the report.  The Head of Human Resources indicated that the 30 actions contained within the Plan were spread over a period of four years and, as such progress could not, as yet be demonstrated in regard to all actions.  The Head of Human Resources gave an overview of developments in respect of the following actions:

  • Action 1:  A preliminary 'desktop' review of management/staffing structures across all service areas had been completed. This had been undertaken with the support of the Local Government Association. A more detailed review within two out of six of the Directorates would have been completed by the end of February 2014.
  • Action 3:  Preliminary discussions on terms and conditions had taken place with colleagues at the Council's Change Forum in order to agree areas of potential change/review to support employee flexibility and to help with the management of change.  More detailed discussions would now be progressed with the trade unions.
  • Action 4: A Council successfully secured the services of a new agency contract provider on 13th January following a recent tendering exercise. The new contract would help manage the use and costs of agency staff in line with the aspirations of the Workforce Plan. A report was on this was recently discussed at the Joint Consultative Forum.
  • Action 5: All Chief Officers had now attended refresher training in relation to managing change and in accordance with agreed protocols. This would help to support the strategic approach to staffing reductions over the next four years and in line with section 6.4 of the Plan. Such training would be repeated over the next few months.
  • Action 6: A review of redeployment practices for those at risk of redundancy had been undertaken based on "lessons learnt" from the successful programme of support given to those adversely affected by job evaluation. Pilot work was currently being undertaken with neighbouring public sector colleagues as part of a Welsh Government co-ordinated Workforce Intelligence and Career Transition Group.
  • Action 8:  A review of Flexible Working Policies had now been concluded under the terms of reference of the joint management / union working group. A report will be presented to Cabinet prior to the end of the financial year.
  • Action 14: The new Training and Development Strategy was approved by Cabinet on 8th April 2013. This would specifically help to provide a clear road-map in meeting the training and development needs as set out in the Plan.
  • Action 17: Labour turnover figures across service area were regularly reported to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee. More detailed work on this would now be undertaken within Human Resources as part of the terms of reference of the new Performance, Planning and Information Unit.
  • Action 18: Work had continued in liaison with both managers and trade unions to respond effectively to recruitment and retention issues arising from the completed job evaluation exercise. A number of potential 'risk' areas had now been reduced as a result of the work undertaken and the introduction of a 'market forces' policy.
  • Action 23: A programme of change management training was launched in March 2013. This would now be cascaded to all managers as part of the annual training plan in order to help equip managers to manage change and service transformation.
  • Action 24: A set of tools and protocols had been developed with the support of the Business Process Re-engineering team to help support managers in exploring partnership and collaborative working. This had undoubtedly helped to support progress in relation to the many current collaborative projects.
  • Action 27 and 28: An Equalities Data Set (EDS) had now been approved as part of the requirements of the Specific Duties for Public Authorities in Wales. The EDS was published on 1st April 2013 and will help provide a clear and analytical basis for the refinement of employment policies and the pursuit of a workforce which reflects the wider community.

In regard to a sustained approach to workforce planning the Head of Human Resources indicated that there was a need to maintain a focus on work force planning over the coming years and to ensure its congruence with wider financial and service planning matters.  To assist with this activity the following measures were being pursued in accordance with Section 8 of the Workforce Plan details of which were set out below:

  • A new Human Resources Strategy had been approved by Cabinet on 17th March 2013. The Strategy was approved on the basis of the outcomes of the Plan and will now help in the focusing of resources to support the delivery of the Plan.
  • A key part of the above would be the establishment of a Performance, Planning and Information Unit with Human Resources with effect from 1st April 2014.
  • Members will recall that the first Annual Workforce Planning Conference took place on 12th July 2013, as sponsored by the Local Government Association and Skills for Justice. This event would be repeated in 2014.
  • Supported workforce planning sessions have now been completed in all directorate management teams over the last two months in order to assess the workforce implications of the 2014/15 service planning process and refine individual service based workforce plans.
  • The above actions would, in turn help to refine the corporate workforce plan and customise the supporting Human Resources and Training and Development strategies

The Head of Human Resources also made reference to the Workforce Planning Map which was set out at Appendix B to the report which provided a reminder of the 'fit' of the above actions in the context of the Council’s overall workforce planning approach.  He also indicated that the Council’s Management / Trade Union Change Forum chaired by the Managing Director would continue to monitor the progress of the Plan as part of their regular monthly business activities. 

 

In referring to the report the Committee considered that the report lacked specific detail regarding service areas and resulting staff reductions.  Certain Members of the Committee considered that Elected Members should be adequately briefed on staffing issues and outcomes and whether reductions were occurring in a timely manner.  In response, the Head of Human Resources indicated that there was likely to be a reduction of circa 70 jobs in the following year although the impact on employees would be mitigated as a result of natural wastage, the deletion of vacant posts and other change management processes.  He also referred the Committee to Action 1 of the above Plan which was the main driver behind the staff reviews and alluded to reports that would be considered by the next meeting of Cabinet and Council in respect of the outcome of a review of the Senior Management and staffing arrangements relating to Corporate and Customer Services and the Resources Directorate.  A more detailed end of year report on the delivery of the actions contained within the Plan would be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee later in the year for consideration.

 

Having regard to the above it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the ongoing work to implement the actions set out in the Council’s Workforce Plan 2013-17 as set out in Appendix A to the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the need to monitor and review progress in meeting the actions set out within the Plan over the next four years.

 

 

860     SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROGRESS REPORT (MD) -

 

The report sought to apprise the Scrutiny Committee on work being undertaken across the Council to progress sustainable development since the previous report to the Committee in June 2013.

 

The aim of the proposed Future Generations (Wales) Bill (previously the Sustainable Development Bill) was to help tackle the generational challenges Wales faced in a more joined up and integrated way to ensure Welsh Public Services made key decisions with long term wellbeing of Wales in mind. 

 

In 2012 the Welsh Government consulted on a White Paper on proposals to legislate to put sustainable development at the heart of Welsh Government and organisations delivering public services in Wales.  The Scrutiny Committee noted that the Bill would  now be introduced in the summer of 2014 and would focus on the role that organisations delivering public services across Wales could play.  The proposals set out in the above Bill were to legislate to provide a clear focus on the challenges the public services were seeking to address and ensure that decisions recognised the connection between social justice, economic prosperity and the management of natural resources both now and over the longer term.  It was noted that the Bill was not a stand-alone measure but sat within a range of other activities e.g. the Tackling Poverty Action Plan and the Wales’ Commissioner for Sustainable Future would be facilitating a 'National Conversation' regarding the Bill.  The Head of Performance and Development alluded to the fact that the Commissioner had attended a Business Cabinet meeting in December and was keen to utilise mechanisms like Vale Viewpoint to assist with the 'Conversation'.

 

The Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG), would take the lead in ensuring that the Council complied with legislation and that sustainable development was promoted across the Council. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee was informed that sustainability was managed in the Council’s Performance Management Framework.  This ensured that sustainability was maintained within the Corporate Plan and the service planning process with performance targets set to measure performance which was monitored quarterly by the Council’s Scrutiny Committees.

 

In regard to the role of the SDWG this was to develop mechanisms to oversee projects to embed sustainable development as the Council’s central organising principles.  This group reported to the Council’s Corporate Management Team.

 

In addition to the above matter the Sustainable Development Action Plan provided a strategic framework for the SDWG to ensure sustainability was embedded in activities across the Council and focussed on proposed sustainability legislation, climate change, Green Dragon, carbon management and the review of the Council’s Staff Travel Plan.  A copy of the said Action Plan with updated progress was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

The Head of Performance and Development referred to the Council’s continued approach to ensure that sustainability considerations were at the forefront of a range of activities.  Recent developments to promote sustainable development were set out in paragraphs 9 - 21 of the report and related to the following matters:

  • Corporate Plan 2013/14
  • Space Project
  • reduction in energy use and carbon emissions
  • energy efficiency improvement installation
  • Local Service Board partners
  • Green Dragon Environmental Standard
  • staff information and raising awareness activities
  • the Cardiff Support for 'Cyd Cymru' (Wales-wide collective energy switching/buying scheme)
  • Vale Viewpoint (Citizens Panel)
  • Penarth Learning Community (an example of how a major Project could bring together a range of aspects of sustainability from engagement, environment, economy and social justice). 

The Chairman referred specifically to Action Sub-Reference SD11 and requested that the Committee receive an update progress report on the Space Project.  In addition, he also enquired of the progress in regard to the Council’s Travel Plan in particular, the number of staff who car shared.  In response, the Head of Performance and Development indicated that the current Travel Plan was being reviewed and a staff consultation exercise / survey was underway.  The results of the survey would be reported at an appropriate time later in the year. 

 

Discussion ensued which touched upon other supported travel plan schemes available to staff and the practicalities of the current car sharing scheme.

 

Having regard to the above it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T the progress in delivering the Sustainable Development (SD) Action Plan for 2013/14 be endorsed.

 

(3)       T H A T the Head of Performance and Development submit a further report in regard to the progress of the Council’s Space Project.

 

(4)       T H A T the Head of Performance and Development submit a further report on the Council’s updated Travel Plan once the staff consultation/survey was completed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure progress against meeting the actions contained within the Sustainable Development Action Plan for the period 2013/14 were adequately monitored and reviewed.

 

(3)       To apprise the Committee of progress in relation to the above Project.

 

(4)       To inform the Scrutiny Committee of the outcome of the staff consultation / survey exercise and the updated Travel Plan.