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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 7th February, 2012.

 

Present:  Councillor C.J. Williams (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M. Kelly Owen (Vice-Chairman); Councillors, J.C. Bird, R.F. Curtis, G. John, Mrs. A.J. Preston, Mrs. S.I. Sharpe, R.P. Thomas and M.R. Wilson.

 

Also present: Councillors G.C. Kemp and R.L. Traherne (Cabinet Member).

 

 

866     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Ms. M.E. Alexander and Ms. M. Wright.

 

 

867     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

868     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING: 1ST APRIL TO 31ST DECEMBER 2011 (DEER) -

 

The report referred to the following service areas and the impacts on the profiled budget:

 

Visible Services Highways Maintenance & Engineering Design & Procurement -There was currently a £115k adverse variance to the profiled budget which was mainly due to the increased spend on pot-hole maintenance due to the condition of the highway..

 

Visible Services Waste Management - There was currently a £90k favourable variance to the profiled budget mainly due to tonnages to landfill dropping as the food waste and co-mingled recycling programmes were rolled out, therefore saving on costly landfill disposal. Also, officers had managed to renegotiate the contract for recycling treatment which would mean a lower spend than budgeted.

 

Visible Services Grounds Maintenance - A £9k adverse variance was reported due to the increased spend on utility bills and repair costs to buildings owned by grounds maintenance.

 

Visible Services Support – The service was reporting a favourable variance of £127k to the profiled budget.  The budget was originally to be used for any cost pressures within Visible services throughout the financial year. However the budget would now be held for the projected overspend within Leisure services

 

Economic Development and Leisure – An adverse variance of £276,000 was reported due to the delay in the implementation of the Leisure Centre Partnership.

 

Planning and Transportation - There was currently an adverse variance of £2k to the profiled budget.  It was anticipated that the overspend on the Mainstream Education transport budget (managed by the P +T  Division) of £54,000, would be met from the Education budget.  Although there continued to be cost pressures on the service it was anticipated that this would be met from existing estimates.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st December 2011 with specific reference being made to the Section 106 Penarth Heights Highway Works and the fact that the Authority had received the sum of £80,000 under a Section 106 Legal Agreement towards the highway works at the site.  The further Highway Contribution of £180,000 was due to be received but until it had the construction phase could not proceed further. 

 

Members queried the favourable variance of £127,000 under Visible Services Support with the response that this had been in the main achieved by changes to structures, the reduction of posts and combining a number of positions.  The Chairman referred to a recent statement in the press of the failure of high streets and the lack of business which had resulted in an 18% reduction across Wales and asked whether the Council could consider providing any Business Relief.  The Director stated that he had also seen the statement and would be taking a closer look at the detail as he was not sure that it was a fair reflection of the position for the Vale.  He would look into the matter and report back. The Cabinet Member with the consent of the Committee advised that in relation to business rates, the only relief that was permissible to offer was hardship relief. He also personally wished to see the threshold for Business rates raised to £12,000 as was the case in Scotland. 

 

Following consideration of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Revenue and Capital Monitoring report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a site visit be arranged for Members of the Committee to the Barry Island Adizone

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To apprise Members.

 

(2)       To view the facilities.

 

 

869     WELSH GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION - SHARED PURPOSE - SHARED DELIVERY (CX) -

 

The Welsh Government had issued a consultation document “Shared Purpose - Shared Delivery” and requested responses by 30th March, 2012.  The new guidance was intended to integrate local service planning, streamline partnership working and strengthen the strategic role and accountability of the Local Service Board (LSB).  The LSB was the overarching strategic partnership in the Vale and it was chaired by the Leader of the Council. Membership included senior representatives from key organisations operating in the Vale e.g. South Wales Police, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Cardiff and Vale College. 

 

The view of the Welsh Government was that LSBs should e

  • Agree strategic priorities for multi-agency working to support the agenda set out in the Programme for Government and respond to clearly evidenced local needs.
  • Achieve improvements by ensuring appropriate systems are in place and that managers and frontline staff across agencies are working together effectively and that agreed priorities are reflected in individual organisations' corporate plans.
  • Ensure partnership and delivery structures are fit for purpose and accountable.
  • Challenge where there is underperformance or coasting and implement changes that reflect evidenced best practice to improve outcomes for the local population.
  • Review and report annually on progress; to the public, Welsh Government, democratically elected members, and LSB member organisations.

The section on scrutiny referred to on page 17 made reference to the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 which gives new powers to local authority scrutiny committees to scrutinise other public service providers in their area in addition to Council services. However, guidance on the Measure had not yet been received and as such it was difficult to fully respond to proposals regarding the scrutiny of partnerships as contained in the consultation document.  Members considered that the scrutiny role was crucial to the process but that the detailed guidance was missing. Within the document reference was made to a Scrutiny Timebank system. The Clerk advised that this was a dedicated national resource for all Welsh Scrutiny practioners and Councillors which contained details of various reports that had been produced by Local Authorities. It was also a tool for sharing good practice and following the Local Government elections in May the TimeBank system would be rolled out to all Members.  . 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the consultation document be noted and Members be informed of the comments made by other partners in due course.

 

(2)       T H A T the guidance in respect of the Measure be presented to Members as soon as it was available.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members.

 

 

870     REVISED SERVICE PLANS (CX) -

 

Committee was informed of the work that had recently been undertaken to revise the format of service plans in response to a recommendation from the Auditor General for Wales in the Council’s 2011 Improvement Assessment. 

 

The recommendation being to:

 

“Establish a transparent programme for the development of outcome focused measures moving from reporting arrangements that focus primarily on performance indicators and on the completion, or otherwise, of an action.”

 

The development of outcome focused measures had been identified as an area for improvement in most Welsh Councils and represented a significant challenge in the current financial climate.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council had recently commissioned the Local Government Data Unit to work with three service areas to develop outcome focused performance measures as a pilot. The three service areas being Visible Services, Public Protection and Customer Relations.  Revised draft service plans for the three pilot areas would be reported to the relevant Scrutiny Committees during March 2012 with the approach being rolled out Council-wide thereafter.  It was noted that the Auditor General had a duty under Sections 17, 18 and 19 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 to report the outputs from Corporate and Improvement Assessments of all improvement authorities in Wales. 

 

Members welcomed the new format and hoped that it would be a much clearer process than the previous system and requested that consideration be given to the removal of jargon from all service plans to assist in transparency, not only for Elected Members but also for the public.  In response to a request to view the new format the Committee was informed by the Clerk that the Visible services piloted service plan was to be reported to the next meeting of the Committee in March 2012.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the Auditor General for Wales’ recommendation as outlined in the 2011 Improvement Assessment letter.

 

 

871     TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DLPPHS) -

 

Members’ views on the progress in relation to the tracking of recommendations as detailed at Appendices A, B, C and D attached to the report were sought.

 

In considering the report and signage issues Members raised concern in relation to the forthcoming Eisteddfod and the need for the Council to ensure that appropriate facilities were available for the event including repairs to potholes in the Llandow area.  Further discussion then ensued on the issue of potholes in general around the Vale of Glamorgan with the Director advising that a further report on the matter was due to be presented in March 2012.  The quality of pothole filling and the need to ensure that the work was sealed appropriately was also of concern as it had been noticed that the remedial work to many potholes had been inadequate as the resurfacing had been deteriorating within a short space of time.  Mention was also made of the utility companies who although had a duty to inform the Local Authority they would be carrying out work did not appear to be resurfacing to a good standard. It was considered essential that they be more closely monitored. The Director also took the opportunity to request that Members report any incidents directly to himself or the Head of Service as soon as incidents occurred.   

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the recommendations detailed below as completed be approved :

 

 

02 November 2010

Min. No. 598 - Town Centres - Loyalty Card Schemes - Request for Consideration - Councillor R.F. Curtis (DEER) - Recommended

(1)   That a report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee following the trial of the loyalty card scheme by the Penarth Greening Group.

(2)   That officers investigate whether schemes could be supported by Creative Rural Communities and other funding streams that may be available.

(3)   That the report requested in recommendation 1 above, when received, also be referred to the Community Liaison Committee for their consideration. 

 

 

 

(1)   Report presented on 1st November 2011 and further information requested (Min. No. 559 refers)

Completed

(2)   Please note comment above.

Completed

 

(3)   Presentation made to Committee on 17th January 2012.  Committee noted the information.

Completed

08 February 2011

Min. No. 875 - Revenue and Capital Monitoring for the Period 1st April 2010 to 31st December 2010 (DEER) - Recommended -

(3)   That a report regarding the projects identified with regard to the £3m. identified for projects within Barry be presented to the Scrutiny Committee following its submission to Cabinet in six months time.

 

 

 

(3)   Timetabled in the work programme.

Completed

05 April 2011

Min. No. 1093 - Trinity Street and Romilly Road, Barry - Proposed Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (REF) (Cabinet Min: C1257) - Recommended

(2)   That a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee three months post introduction of the experimental Traffic Regulation Order.

Cabinet received a report on 18th January 2012 which advised that officers would continue to monitor speed and accident data with the view that if there was a requirement in the future to undertake any traffic modelling work for the west end of Barry, the management of those streets and others in the vicinity would be reconsidered.

Cabinet subsequently resolved:

(1) That the report be noted.

(2) That no further action be taken at this time.

(3) That the report be referred to the Planning Committee.  (Min. No. C1592 refers.)

Completed

24 May 2011

Min. No. 59 - Progress Update on the Recommendations of the Penarth Town Centre Task and Finish Group Review (DEER) - Recommended

(2)   That a report on the Retailers Forum be presented to a future Scrutiny Committee meeting.

 

 

 

Reported to Committee on 1st November 2011 (Min. No. 559 refers)

Completed

6 September 2011

Min. No. 323 - Revenue and Capital Monitoring for the Period 1st April, 2011 to 31st July, 2011 (DEER) - Recommended

(2)   That a report evaluating the co-mingling service be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in approximately six months.

 

 

 

Added to work programme schedule to be presented to Committee March 2012.

Completed

Min. No. 324 - Request for Consideration of Matter - Potential Impacts of Extraction and Burning of Shale Gas (DEER) - Recommended

(1)   That an extraordinary meeting of the Committee be arranged in the Council Chamber, at a date to be determined by the Chairman, to hear evidence on shale gas extraction and that the film Gaslands be shown. 

(2)   That invitations to the extraordinary meeting be extended to key stakeholders and all Members of the Council.  

 

(3)   That a letter be forwarded to all Assembly Members and MPs, Welsh Government and the Local Government Association requesting guidance on the matter because of the significant sensitivities around such applications and the perception of potentially significant environmental impacts for the whole of Wales.

 

 

 

(1)   A meeting was held on 17th October 2011.

Completed

 

 

 

(2)   Invitations had been sent out via e-mail and post to key stakeholders for the meeting on 17th October 2011.

Completed

(3)   Letters sent as requested.

Completed

Min. No. 325 - 1st Quarter Performance Monitoring Reports (DEER) - Recommended

That the quarterly Performance Monitoring reports for the service areas be noted and officers be advised to ensure that the comments boxes are completed in future reports that were presented to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

Referred to all Heads of Service and included in PIs as requested.

Completed

04 October 2011

Min. No. 476 - Review of the Corporate Plan 2010 -14 (Ref - Min. No. C1411) - Recommended

That the comments and recommendations as detailed above be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

 

The comments were referred to Cabinet on 16th November 2011 with two out of the seven suggestions being accepted (Min. No. C1500 refers).

Completed

Min. No. 478 - Watch House Bay Water Quality (DLPPHS) - Recommended

(2)   That the report and the minutes of the meeting be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) for consideration.

 

(3)   That the Cabinet report referred to above be also presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.

 

(4)   That the Public Protection section continue to discuss further ways of improving the current situation with Welsh Water as detailed above.

(6)   That the above comments and recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

 

(2)  Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) at its meeting on 2nd November 2011 noted the position. (Min. No. 563 refers).

Completed

(3)   To be reported when available.  Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

(4)   Officers to pursue. 

Completed

 

(6)   Cabinet, at its meeting on 16th November 2011, endorsed the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations subject to recommendation (5) above being subject to consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member prior to information being disseminated to Members of the Council. (Min. No. C1502 refers).

Completed

17 October 2011

Min. No. 525 - Potential Impacts of Extraction and Burning of Shale Gas (DEER) - Recommended

(1)   That due to the level of public concern, the Scrutiny Committee writes to Westminster and Welsh Government and the WLGA to support calls for a moratorium on shale gas extraction until public concerns are allayed on the issue.

(2)   That the above recommendation be also referred to Cabinet with the request that they support the call for a moratorium.

Cabinet, at its meeting on 2nd November 2011 resolved

(1)   That recommendation (1) of the Scrutiny Committee be noted.

(2)   That the call for a moratorium be supported until such time as there was clear policy guidance from the Welsh Government in respect of shale gas extraction.

(3)   That the Welsh Government be called upon to provide such guidance without delay.

(Min. No. C1492 refers)

Completed

01 November 2011

Min. No. 559 - Vale of Glamorgan Retailers Forum and Town Centre Loyalty Card Schemes (DEER) - Recommended

(1)   That the Penarth Greening Group and any other groups (e.g. Creative Rural Communities) with similar interests be invited to a future meeting to discuss how to regenerate town centres using loyalty card schemes.

(3)   That the past minutes and agendas of the Retailers Forum be e-mailed to all Members of the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information.

(4)   That future minutes of the Retailers Forum when available be sent to the Members of the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information by e-mail.

 

 

 

(1)   Presentations received by Committee on 17th January 2012.

Completed

 

 

(3)   E-mailed to all Members.

Completed

 

 

(4)   Arrangements have been put in place by the  Operational Manager

Completed

 

 

(2)       T H A T the progress detailed in the appendices to the report as ongoing be accepted, it being noted that future reports would be presented in due course.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  In maintaining effective tracking of Scrutiny Committee recommendations.

 

 

872     SITE INSPECTION (DLPPHS) -

 

The report detailed the attendance of Councillors at the Hydraulic Pumphouse site on 2nd December 2011. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members.

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