SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)
Minutes of a meeting held on 17th January, 2012.
Present: Councillor C.J. Williams (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M. Kelly Owen (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. M.E. Alexander, J.C. Bird, R.F. Curtis, G. John, Mrs. A.J. Preston, Mrs. S.I. Sharpe, R.P. Thomas, M.R. Wilson and Ms. M. Wright.
Also present: Councillors A.D. Hampton (Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning), Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, H.J.W. James (Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation) and R.L. Traherne (Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration).
786 MINUTES -
RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 2nd December, 2011 (Extraordinary) and 6th December, 2011 be approved as a correct record.
787 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
Councillor J.C. Bird declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7, the Vale of Glamorgan Local Development Plan: Deposit Plan in that he had made an application for a candidate site. Councillor Bird withdrew from the meeting when this item was being considered.
788 LOYALTY CARD INITIATIVES FOR TOWN CENTRES -
Mrs. Patricia Griffiths of the Penarth Greening Group and Mr. P. Chappell, Creative Rural Communities had been invited to the meeting to advise on loyalty card initiatives for Town Centres. Mrs. Griffiths stated that the aim of the group had been to raise awareness of climate issues and to consider ways to encourage residents to live a more sustainable life. The Group had been established approximately three years previously and could be contacted via the website address http://www.gpgpenarth.org.uk/.
Following consideration of various initiatives the Group had established the Shop in Penarth card (SIP) scheme. This card, available from participating local businesses within the area, where people could receive discounts and special offers as well as the chance to win vouchers in a monthly lottery. One of the major key issues for such a scheme was to ensure that it was heavily publicised. It has its own logo and was promoted during the food festival week in Penarth with 5,000 leaflets being printed. The Group received a significant amount of assistance from local professional people, a local artist as well as all the businesses that were involved. The range of shops involved extends from a local bakery to a monumental mason. The scheme was introduced in September 2010 to support the local economy, to encourage loyalty amongst customers and to help keep Penarth shopping areas alive and attractive. The scheme also helps cut carbon emissions because people are not using their cars to shop out of town.
In the first year, 30 local businesses took part in the scheme and over 1,500 cards were sold. Following the results of two independent evaluations showing considerable support among retailers and local people the SIP was re-launched in December 2011 with 50 participating retailers and an easy to follow leaflet with a map and an additional bonus of five £10 vouchers to be won each month. All cards purchased up to the end of November 2012 are valued until 31st December, 2012. All the money raised from the sale of cards goes back into the scheme, the cost of the cards printing, publicity and the vouchers all comes from SIP sales. On occasions, there are specific GPG events at which SIP is promoted and it is run and organised by volunteers. For the most part, businesses that promote eye catching offers tend to do better than others but all businesses benefit from the publicity that is generated through the scheme. Each month GPG nominate a particular SIP business for a green award for something it has done that is either in keeping with GPG's aims to raise awareness about climate change or because it had done or contributed to something of particular benefit to the community. It had also been good to note that many of the businesses appreciate working together under the SIP umbrella and it provided a way of raising issues of common interest.
In presenting the scheme Mrs Griffiths also referred to 10 reasons why people should shop locally:
Local shops sell a wide range of products at affordable prices more of which are sourced locally.
Shopping locally can save money if you take account of travel, parking and customer time.
Shopping locally strengthens communities.
Shopping locally retains the distinctiveness of our towns and local shops respond more quickly to needs of the communities they serve.
Shopping locally helps the environment, less CO2 emissions from travelling out of town.
Shopping locally creates jobs and puts more money back into the local economy.
Local independent shops invest more in our communities for example support for charitable and community events.
Local shops are for everyone, most people can get to their local shops. It is important for the elderly, vulnerable and those without cars.
Shopping locally is more than just a trip to the shops, it is a chance to meet friends and keep in touch with the community.
A vibrant local shopping area sees other services for example post offices and libraries.
A local retailer present at the meeting advised that she had sold 256 cards which had been extremely well received by her customers and that she fully appreciated their loyalty. She took the opportunity to urge all Communities to consider initiatives that would suit the local environment and local retailers within their area but also referred to the fact that out of town developments had a knock on effect to local businesses in particular as they did not charge parking fees and could provide adequate parking facilities that local retailers could not. Parking was an issue in Towns and discussion then took place in relation to parking enforcement. The Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation advised that the police had withdrawn the traffic warden service over 18 months previously, but that the Vale was working with other local councils in trying to establish a Civil Enforcement package which was shortly to be reported to the Cabinet.
Mrs. Griffiths, also requested that the Council and local Town Community Councils consider providing support for street markets in their areas in particular for Penarth as she was of the opinion this would assist with the total shopping experience in communities. With regard to Penarth itself there were a number of cafes, the seafront, a significant number of shops and restaurants but it was considered that a street market could further enhance the provision. The Penarth Greening Group were also interested in the Big Blue Bike Company which was a company which provided cycles for visitors which although in some regard was a novelty factor could have significant benefits for publicity for the area. Mrs Griffiths urged all Town and Community Councils to also consider other ways that they could further enhance their localities.
Phil Chappell, Creative Rural Communities informed the Committee of the involvement his service had had in relation to other types of schemes. One initiative being the Llantwit Major cheque book scheme and Council staff had worked closely with the Chamber of Trade in Llantwit Major with a budget of £7,000 to try to introduce such a scheme. However, there had been limited take up and the scheme had not proved a success but where local retailers were fully involved e.g. Penzance more success was evident. He informed Members that in his experience and through research, loyalty schemes led or facilitated by local authorities were the least successful and that ownership should sit with local traders or groups. Many of the best schemes were emerging from green groups such as the transition towns movement.
Some Members referred to the possibility of retailers undertaking similar loyalty schemes in the High Street area of Barry to which Councillor R.F. Curtis recommended that Cabinet be requested to encourage a local campaign and investigate partners who would work with shopkeepers and the Barry Chamber of Trade to set up such a system. However, during the debate other Members considered that the comments made by the Creative Rural Communities officer as detailed above and the need to ensure that a significant number of local businesses took part in any project would be essential to any success. However, following a vote the motion was lost.
It was subsequently
RECOMMENDED - T H A T Mrs. Griffiths of the Penarth Greening Group and Mr. Chappell of Creative Rural Communities be thanked for attending the meeting and providing the Committee with detailed overviews of various initiatives.
Reason for recommendation
In recognition of the work undertaken by the PGP, CRC and local retailers
789 COUNCIL SUPPORT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE SEEKING EMPLOYMENT (REQUEST FOR CONSIDERATION - COUNCILLOR R.F. CURTIS) -
Councillor R.F Curtis had requested that the matter be considered by the Scrutiny Committee for the following reasons:
"Youth unemployment, particularly if over a long period, can have a devastating impact on the individuals concerned. Studies have shown that it increases the likelihood of later unemployment, lower wages, poor health and being involved in vandalism and crime.
Youth unemployment can blight the future of our young people and costs the country billions. I want to explore whether the Council and our partners in the third sector and local businesses can increase the supply of good quality apprenticeships for local young people.
Sadly, the number of 16 to 24 year olds in Wales claiming unemployment benefit has increased nearly fivefold since the recession. The annual cost for an individual jobseeker in Wales can be as much as £16,000.
Good quality apprenticeships can give young people the skills and confidence they need to enter the workforce.
Therefore, what is the Council doing to encourage and support local businesses and the third sector to develop and offer high quality apprenticeships?
Now that the Council has committed itself to reaching the Welsh Quality Housing standard, and the refurbishment of thousands of Council properties and that entails, what are we doing to ensure that the Council and contractors take on new apprentices?"
Appendix 2 to the report provided the Committee with details of some of the current activities across the Council that were aimed at supporting young people into employment. The Director of Learning and Development advised that the list was not exhaustive and did not fully detail the extensive range of vocational qualifications that were being delivered to school pupils as part of the 14 - 19 learning network initiative which involved every secondary school across the Vale of Glamorgan. It was also noted that whilst the emphasis had been on preparing young people for the world of work the challenges that had been created by an economy in decline were significant and the lack of suitable jobs within the local area was of major concern.
Councillor Curtis had also requested that a speaker be invited from Welsh Government to advise the Scrutiny Committee on the Welsh Government's Young Recruits Programme. The Director for Learning and Development in presenting the report stated that this was a scheme which was not available to the public sector organisations in Wales but was available for private and third sector partners. He also made reference to the potential to involve contractors delivering programmes such as the Welsh Quality Housing Standard and as part of the tender process for this scheme, potential contractors had been asked to clarify how they would promote local employment and the delivery of the project. The Vale of Glamorgan Council also had established arrangements to seek to promote employment opportunities for major contracts were awarded and delivered. This applied to the Cowbridge School building project and was being pursued as part of the Penarth Learning Community project.
The Welsh Government Young Recruits Programme also offered the potential for additional support for this area of work and arrangements were put in place to ensure contractors involved in major projects were briefed on the scheme and where possible within procurement and contracting regulations encouraged to become involved to support the Council's commitment to promote employment of young people. Welsh Government representatives had indicated their willingness to attend a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) to explain the scheme in further detail.
Having considered the report it was
(1) T H A T the offer from the Welsh Government representatives to attend a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) to explain the Welsh Government Young Recruits Programme be accepted.
(2) T H A T the Council continues to take part in future years in the apprenticeship week event.
(3) T H A T the Chairman of the Committee writes to the Welsh Government and Westminster urging them to make it simpler for employers to take on apprentices within their organisations.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To apprise Members.
(2) In order to highlight the schemes.
(3) To request that the Welsh Government and Westminster adopt simpler procedures.
790 ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, PENARTH (DEER) -
Councillor C.J. Williams and Councillor M.R. Wilson had requested that the matter be brought before the Committee for consideration as detailed below:
Councillor Williams request "Penarth Gymnastics Club has vacated the Pier Pavilion to allow for its development. As a result, they are currently housed in an industrial unit in Barry which has high rental costs of approximately £20,000 a year. If they do not hear very soon if another venue at lower cost can be found for them in Penarth, they will have to commit themselves for a further year in Barry with attendant costs.
They desire a return to the proposed venue for their Club in Penarth, sharing St. Paul's building with the Boxing Club. The Clubs having jointly commissioned a survey on the condition of that building, which has indicated a repair cost much lower than the Vale of Glamorgan Council's figure when the Boxing Club was made to leave that building because of health and safety issues. However, there have been no recent negotiations with the Vale of Glamorgan on these figures or progress to undertake the repair. Without further urgent discussions and support from the Vale of Glamorgan Council, it will be impossible for both Clubs to proceed with the necessary grant applications to restore this building.
Councillor Wilson's request was for “an update on the physical state of St. Paul's Community Centre”.
The report contained within the agenda outlined that the most recent meeting of the representatives of Penarth Gymnastics Club and Penarth Boxing Club had been held with Council Officers on 18th October, 2011. Following that meeting a further meeting had been arranged for 22nd November, 2011 between Nick Chandler representing the Clubs, the Council's structural engineer, Mr. Gareth Bissett and the Operational Manager for Leisure and Tourism, Mr. Dave Knevett to discuss the differences of opinion that existed in terms of the scope of the work and the likely costs to restore St. Paul's into a useable space for both Clubs. Directly following that meeting the Council's Major Projects Team had appointed a conservation architect to undertake a study of the building and to meet with both Mr. Chandler and Mr. Bissett to independently ascertain the likely scope of works required and the estimated costs of works required. The Operational Manager advised Members that following completion of that report a further report would be presented to Cabinet outlining options for the building.
With regard to the resource implications it was stated that there was presently no funding specifically allocated for the restoration of the facility. A funding mix involving potential 106 funds from the Penarth Heights Development, a grant from Sport Wales and funds from the Council's own resources had previously been suggested as a possible solution if the cost of the repairs required were considered viable.
Local Ward Member, Councillor Sophie Williams had also been consulted and as detailed in the report had stated that “I do believe we should be doing everything we can to see if we can relocate the gym club, If we have the ability to do so at a reasonable and low cost. The work they do with young people in Penarth is second to none and if there is an opportunity for them to raise the funds personally to fix up St Pauls to a standard that is acceptable to the Council I would support them doing so. I do not believe it is the Council's responsibility to maintain private clubs, but we must offer support where we are able to do so.”
The Chairman advised the Committee that he had been approached by a Local resident with a request to speak on the matter which as Chairman he had agreed to. The gentleman Mr Alwyn Evans from Penarth was subsequently afforded the opportunity to speak.
Mr. Evans raised concern as to the limited progress in respect of the matter and stressed the urgency for the situation to be resolved for both clubs in view of the fact that they were paying a substantial amount of money to occupy other venues in the area. The St. Paul's building, in his opinion, had been left to deteriorate for some time and he considered that Section 106 monies should be utilised to provide a purpose built facility (community centre), for the benefit of the clubs. He asked that the Council consider expediting the matter as soon as possible in order to complete the negotiations and consider renovation of the property.
The Operational Manager advised that following the Committee meeting when the issue was last raised, the Boxing Club were provided with the opportunity to commission their own report on the building which had taken some time to complete and was now before the Council's structural engineers. A meeting had also been scheduled to take place within the next two weeks between officers and the clubs. The Operational Manager wished to reassure Members that the Council recognised the value the clubs provided within the area but that there were also other clubs in the area that the Council had to consider. In accessing Section 106 funding he advised that that community centres were required to be used by a variety of groups and not just for a minority which was the issue the Council had to consider fully. The decision to actually close the premises had been taken out of the hands of the officers within the Leisure Department on the grounds of health and safety. He envisaged that a further report would come back before the Council within the next six weeks.
Having considered the report and the representations made at the meeting it being the opinion of some Members that it would be beneficial to wait for the outcomes of the discussions with the clubs and the independent consultant's views on both reports on the premises, it was
RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the further report as detailed above be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.
Reason for recommendation
In order to apprise Members following the outcome of the independent consultants findings.
791 VALE OF GLAMORGAN LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN: DEPOSIT PLAN (REF - CABINET MIN. NO. C1574) -
The Head of Service presented the reference and the report which had been referred to the Committee by Cabinet on 4th January, 2012. Cabinet had been requested to consider approving the Deposit Plan as a basis for a statutory six week consultation exercise to commence in February 2012. Members were advised that the report and its contents had also been endorsed by the Planning Committee at its meeting on 5th January, 2012.
Following consideration by the Scrutiny Committee the document would be placed before Full Council on 25th January, 2012 as the production of a Local Development Plan was a matter for Full Council. Members were advised that a copy of the Deposit Plan had been placed in the Members Room was available on the Vale of Glamorgan Council's website and could also be viewed by the public at the Council’s Dock office..
The Head of Service stated that the report contained details of the background work that had been undertaken to date, an outline of the LDP Strategy and the various elements associated with it. A Sustainable Settlement Appraisal had also been undertaken. Since the Draft Preferred Strategy had been endorsed by Cabinet in February 2010 there had been a number of new issues which officers had taken into account when drafting the current Deposit Plan.
Firstly, in October 2010, the UK Government had decided not to progress with the Defence Training College proposal at St. Athan. Notwithstanding this decision, the UK Government maintained that St. Athan remain a key location for military and associated training activity. In addition, in September 2011, St. Athan had been designated as an Enterprise Zone, with a particular emphasis on the aerospace sector. The Deposit Plan embraced this new designation with St. Athan continuing to be identified as a Strategic Opportunity Area (Strategic Policy 2 refers).
Secondly, the regional role of the Airport in respect of it being an important transport hub together with it being an opportunity for inward business investment had been more fully recognised in the Strategy itself, and also through Strategic Policy 5. In addition, recent discussion with the Welsh Government had confirmed that land adjacent to the Airport was likely to be designated as part of the St. Athan Enterprise Zone.
Thirdly, there had been extensive developments in national and regional policies, as well as progressive initiatives on topics such as climate change, design, sustainable development and affordable housing. There had also been additional statistics published in respect of the demographics for the Vale of Glamorgan, including new data on births, deaths and migration. The Deposit Plan had taken on board this new information, with additional objectives and refinement of the Strategic Policies to ensure compliance with the latest planning guidance and to reflect the Council’s own aspirations for managing development during the Plan period. In particular, Cabinet noted the change to the Housing Requirement Figure (Strategic Policy 3 refers). The Draft Preferred Strategy (December 2007) identified the need for 7,500 dwellings over the Plan period which equated to the Regional Housing Requirement Figure. However, this figure had now increased to 9,950 in the Deposit Plan and was derived from the latest 2008 Welsh Government Local Authority projections and the Mid Year Estimates for 2009/10.
In presenting the report the Head of Service advised that the structure of the Deposit Plan largely reflected the guidance contained in the Welsh Government's LDP manual as follows:
National, Regional and Local Policy Context
The Spatial Profile of the Vale of Glamorgan
Vision and Objectives
Managing Development in the Vale of Glamorgan
Managing Growth in the Vale of Glamorgan
Delivery and Implementation
The statutory consultation timeframes for the LDP was set out in the relevant national legislation compliance and had to be achieved. Members made a number of requests to include maps within the document to which the Head of Service advised that the plan followed a prescribed format and that at this stage it was not considered appropriate to provide a significant number of maps as this was the consultation stage. When the plan was finally adopted an interactive plan would be available with maps enclosed. Some maps were contained within the document which defined certain aspects but in the main the draft Deposit Plan followed the prescribed format and the legislation. The final version would be brought up to date with the relevant documents inserted. It was accepted that the current document was not the final version. The Head of Service also further advised that every single candidate site referred to in the report had received a Sustainability Appraisal. In response to a question that an empty homes policy should be contained within the report, the Head of Service advised that this was reflected in the document under the terminology of “windfall”.
The Chairman then raised concerns in relation to infrastructure and that in particular he could envisage that the traffic from the Waterfront from the 2,000 units would be considerable with the logical movement of such being through Dinas Powys. He put forward a motion that the Cabinet consider a Dinas Powys by- pass to address the matter and that they be requested to consider no more housing on the St Cyres site, which would also see an increase in traffic flow in the area, before the extent of the development at the Waterfront was known. Following the seconding of the motion considerable discussion took place regarding the matter. The Head of Service advised that although a Dinas Powys By-Pass was not prevented from being looked at for improvements, as an officer he could not recommend the suggestion being inserted into the LDP as there was no money available to support it. The Authority had to be sure it could deliver what proposals it made.
The Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation speaking with the consent of the Committee advised that such a recommendation could have a significant effect on the Penarth Learning Community Centre proposals. The Cabinet Member for Learning and Development also speaking with the consent of the Committee, stated that the potential to endanger the Penarth Learning Community was of concern and that the PLC was a Council policy that was in need of progress. Councillor M. Wilson expressed the view that the necessary infrastructure should be in place before any developments were considered at all. In response, the Cabinet Member (Planning and Transportation) advised that the Council had limited capital resources and the utilisation of Section 106 monies was a means to ensure benefits for the delivery of services for the Council.
Following discussion, as to the optimum way forward at this juncture, and in light of the Cabinet Members’ representations as detailed above and that the document was for consultation the Chairman subsequently withdrew his recommendation. A further recommendation was then put forward “that Cabinet be informed of the Committee’s concern that developments are progressing without the appropriate infrastructure in place” however, on being put to the vote the motion was not carried and it was subsequently
RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted
Reason for recommendation
It being noted that the document was to be presented to Full Council on 25th January 2012 for approval for consultation.
792 REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2011 TO 30TH NOVEMBER, 2011 (DEER) -
The Committee was provided with the details of the position in respect of the Revenue and Capital expenditure for the period 1st April, 2011 to 30th November, 2011.
The Revenue Budget and projected outturn for 2011/12 was shown at Appendix 1 to the report.
For the Visible Services Highways Maintenance and Engineering Design and Procurement element of the budget it was reported that there was a £135k adverse variance to the profiled budget. This was mainly due to the increased spend on pot-holes due to the condition of the highway. With regard to
Visible Services Waste Management a £118k favourable variance was noted and reported as due to tonnages to landfill dropping as the food waste and co-mingled recycling programmes were rolled out and therefore saving on costly landfill disposal. Managers had also renegotiated the contract for recycling treatment which would mean a lower spend than budgeted
There was currently a £9k adverse variance to the profiled budget for grounds maintenance due to an increased spend on utility bills and repair costs to buildings owned by grounds maintenance. For Visible Services Support a favourable variance of £113k also existed and the budget was to be held for the projected overspend within Leisure.
Economic Development and Leisure – There was currently an adverse variance of £259,000 to the profiled budget due to continued cost pressures on the Leisure Centre budget.
Planning and Transportation – The adverse variance of £11k was reported as due to an anticipated overspend on the Mainstream Education transport budget (managed by this Division) of £54,000, which would be met from the Education budget. Members were however also informed that there were continuing cost pressures on the service but it was anticipated that they would be met from existing estimates.
Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th November, 2011 and the following information was presented by the Head of Service in relation to the following :
Coldbrook Flood Risk Management - The scheme had to be re-assessed following a reduction in support from WG and the profiled expenditure for the project had been re-worked in agreement with WG
Llanmaes Flood Management - It had become necessary to withdraw the capital budget as prospective grant funding from WG had not been forthcoming, due to a reduction in funding levels at WG. The Director for Environmental and Economic Regeneration would be taking a separate report on flood management schemes to Cabinet shortly.
Rural Local Regeneration Programme, Business Plan II - The budget, for £200,000, represented the cost to the Council over the full 3 year life of the rural regeneration grants regime and as such should be allocated in the Capital Programme over the 3 years. Officers at the Cowbridge Old Hall, who administer the scheme, have estimated the requirement for the Council's match-funding as £20,000 for this year (efforts are still employed in completing Business Plan 1 this year), a further £60,000 for 2012/13 and £120,000 for 2013/14. As such it had been requested that Cabinet and Council approve the re-profiling of the budget over this period.
Barry Island Footbridge - Approval had been received from the Department for Transport of £500,000 towards the construction of a new footbridge. A condition of the grant is that the money be spent before the 31st March 2013 so the bulk of the works can be undertaken in 2012/13, funded from this WG grant.
Leisure Centre Refurbishment - The £2 million allocation for major refurbishment works at leisure centre buildings had been on hold, pending the appointment of the new Leisure Management Partner, in order that they can be party to the discussions on planned works. As the appointment has not yet been made, there was now insufficient time for the budget to be spent by year-end.
Reference was also made to a Vehicle Replacement Programme where Cabinet had been previously advised that there had been delays in procuring vehicles for the All Wales Public Sector Framework Agreement which had resulted in delayed vehicle procurement and that some of the vehicles may not now necessarily be delivered by 31st March, 2012.
Having considered the report it was
RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Revenue and Capital Monitoring report for the period 1st April to 30th November, 2011 be noted.
Reason for recommendation
To apprise Members.
793 2ND QUARTER PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORTS -
The following performance monitoring reports had been presented to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration:
Leisure and Tourism
Strategy and Support
Planning and Transportation.
Reference was made to - L805Q, ( the average number of working days/shifts per full time equivalent Leisure and Tourism employee lost due to sickness absence) Members were advised that there were a significant number of long term sickness issues which were following the Council's Management of Attendance procedures.
Visible Services - WMT009Q, (the percentage of municipal waste collected by local authorities and prepared for reuse and/or recycled, including source segregated bio wastes that are composted or treated biologically in another way). Members queried what the Council was doing proactively in relation to this PI and requested that the information be forwarded to all Members of the Committee via e-mail.
(1) T H A T the quarterly performance monitoring reports and the comments detailed and referred to above be noted.
(2) T H A T the information requested in relation to WMT009Q be e-mailed to Members.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To apprise Members.
(2) In order to inform Members accordingly.
NB. During the course of the meeting, the Chairman reminded all Members present, on several occasions, of Members’ conduct at meetings and referred to the procedure relating to seating arrangements by non-members of the Committee as detailed in the Constitution.