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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 19th June, 2012.

 

Present:  Councillor R.L. Traherne (Chairman); Councillors G.A. Cox, Mrs. C. Curtis, Mrs. P. Drake, P. King, Mrs. A.J. Moore, A.G. Powell and C.J. Williams.

 

Also present: Councillors L. Burnett, C.P.J. Elmore, N. Moore and J.W. Thomas.

 

 

54        INTRODUCTION BY CHAIRMAN -

 

The Chairman welcomed all present to the first meeting under his Chairmanship. He also thanked Councillor C. J Williams for his contribution as previous chairman to the work of the Committee. In his address the Chairman reminded Members of the range of powers for Scrutiny Committees contained in Part 4e of the Council’s  Constitution and informed them of the Leader’s recent memo to all Chairmen advising that Cabinet Members will attend meetings of Scrutiny Committee’s if requested to do so.  With regard to officer attendance at meetings the Chairman took the opportunity to thank both the Directors for their attendance noting that in the future Operational Managers and other officers may be in attendance to present reports.   

 

 

55        APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors P.J. Clarke and E. Hacker.

 

 

56        APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN -

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the ensuing municipal year.

 

 

57        MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meetings held on 27th March and 17th April, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

58        DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

59        OVERVIEW OF KEY ISSUES FACING THE SERVICE AREAS - DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT SERVICES AND DIRECTOR OF VISIBLE SERVICES AND HOUSING -

 

The Directors tabled a briefing note in relation to the key issues facing their service areas and expanded as detailed below.

 

Development Services

 

The Director of Development Services reported that his Directorate covered a range of services including statutory land use planning relating to policy, decision-making and building control, economic development, regeneration, countryside management and leisure services.  In addition, the directorate was also responsible for matters relating to Public Protection (environmental health, public sector housing and matters relating to emergency planning, licensing, trading standards and food hygiene). 

 

Key areas for the service were reported as follows:

 

  • Waterfront Barry – new developments had been approved and work was imminent.  This would, in time, provide for a new road to the Island through the development.  Phase 1 included the commercial area with a supermarket and other commercial uses. 
  • Local Development Plan (LDP) – this had been subject to consultation between February and April 2012 and officers were currently collating all responses.  However, following the recent local government elections the work undertaken to date had been requested to be reviewed by the new administration
  • Enterprise Zone – the St. Athan base and Cardiff Airport had recently been designated as an Enterprise Zone with the Vale having a seat on the Board. A map tabled at the meeting detailed the areas involved.
  • Urban Regeneration – Barry had been designated as a Regeneration Area with a total of £9.8m programmed over three years.
  • Rural Regeneration – work had progressed on the Business Plan 2 administered by the Council under the branding of Creative Rural Communities.
  • National Eisteddfod – this would be taking place at Llandow in August 2012 and officers were currently working together to ensure the event was a success which included traffic management, events planning, public transport and visible services.
  • Cosmeston Medieval Village and Country Park – a report was currently being prepared to consider options from fund raising to voluntary works through to the more long term aspiration of a group being formed in Penarth running the site themselves.  Archaeology at the site however remained unchanged and this was as always funded by the university.
  • Dyffryn House and Gardens – it was common knowledge that the Council was working with the National Trust to transfer the management of Dyffryn House and Gardens to the National Trust.  Minor contractual details were currently being explored. 
  • Leisure Centre Management – a decision had been made in March 2010 to procure a partner organisation to manage the Council’s Leisure Centre portfolio as a means of generating savings, significantly reducing costs and providing an opportunity to improve performance.  The expectation was that the transfer would take place in early July 2012.
  • Public Protection – a key issue continued to be the provision of private sector housing disability grants and the administration of such grants. 
  • Communities First – this service had recently been transferred to the directorate and cluster bid application would be submitted by 29th June.  For Members’ information the areas to be included in the Barry Cluster were shown on the plan that was tabled at the meeting with the themes for intervention being Learning Communities, Prosperous Communities and Healthy Communities.

Visible Services and Housing

 

In presenting his report the Director advised that the revenue budget for his service area was in excess of £25m..  The key issues for the service area were in relation to waste management and cleansing, parks and ground maintenance, highways engineering, fleet management and vehicle maintenance as detailed below:

 

Waste Management and Cleansing

  • National recycling and landfill diversion targets
  • Prosiect Gwyrdd
  • Joint recycling reprocessing contract arrangements
  • Review of bring sites
  • Review of public conveniences
  • XFOR – Private enforcement partnership arrangements
  • Town Centres – Rapid response cleaning units
  • General improvements in street cleaning operations to address main issues raised in the LEAMS (Local Environment Audit and Management System – 6% validation survey) report
  • Llandow Civic Amenity site
  • Efficiencies programme
  • RNLI beach management proposal
  • Customer satisfaction
  • External quality measurements
  • Budgetary management.

Parks and Grounds Maintenance

  • Allotment Strategy
  • Tree Management Strategy
  • Land management arrangements at Rhoose Point
  • Grass cutting schedules and standards
  • Joint working – sports clubs and community groups
  • Water management
  • Standards of formal parks
  • Outdoor play equipment
  • Barry Sports Centre
  • Jenner Park and its future
  • Vale in Bloom
  • Future land use – Cemetery Approach
  • Maintenance of School grounds
  • Customer satisfaction
  • External quality measurements
  • Budgetary management

 

Highways and Engineering

  • Potholes and highway resurfacing
  • Condition of footways
  • Coastal protection / flood risk management
  • Highways structures and their safety
  • Civil Parking Enforcement
  • Traffic management and highway safety schemes including Docks Link Road, Gilestone Old Mill, Five Mile Lane (Sycamore Cross)
  • Winter maintenance arrangements and grit bin installations
  • Street lighting / energy efficiencies
  • Off-street parking arrangements
  • Management of horses on the highway
  • Customer satisfaction
  • External quality measurements
  • Budgetary management

 

Fleet Management and Vehicle Maintenance

  • Efficiency improvements and improved performance management arrangements
  • Introduce a new policy on home to work transport
  • Market opportunities (24 hour working)
  • Improve vehicle utility
  • Reduce fuel use and carbon impact
  • Customer satisfaction
  • External quality measurements
  • Budgetary management.

The Director referred to waste management and cleansing as one of the major issues for the Directorate, it being noted that a joint project partnership (Prosiect Gwyrdd) had been established consisting of five local authorities ie Cardiff, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and the Vale to deliver the best long term environmental, sustainable and cost effective solution for waste after recycling and composting has been maximised. The Welsh Government had expressed that local authorities should jointly develop sustainable regional waste management and have set targets that need to be met.

 

Following discussion regarding the service areas reported it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Directors be thanked for their comprehensive and informative report, it being noted that the majority of the issues would be reported to the Scrutiny Committee in due course and considered further under the Scrutiny Committee work programme report detailed at agenda item 10.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members of key issues within the service areas.

 

 

60        REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2012 TO 30TH APRIL 2012 (DEER) –

 

The Committee were informed of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April 2012 to 30th April 2012 regarding the revenue and capital budgets within the remit of the Committee.

 

The Head of Service highlighted that there was currently a £10k adverse variance to the profiled budget for the Highways Maintenance and Engineering Design and Procurement service, which was mainly due to a slight overspend on staffing costs.  With regard to Waste Management the £14k. variance for that service was due to a current underspend mainly due to tonnages to landfill dropping as the food waste and co-mingled recycling programmes increased in popularity therefore saving on costly landfill disposal.  A £7k. favourable variance was also in operation for the Grounds Maintenance service area, which again was mainly due to a small underspend on the supplies and services budget.  A favourable variance of £10k. on the Support budget was reported as being utilised for any cost pressures within Visible Services that may arise throughout the financial year.  There were continued pressures on the service for Economic Development and Leisure with planned transfers for the Leisure Centres and Dyffryn scheduled to be made in the near future. The continued pressures on the Planning and Transportation service related to income and would be closely monitored.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th April 2012.  The report highlighted that for all schemes where it was evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent during the year, the relevant officers would be required to provide an explanation for the shortfall.

 

Reference was however made to the Alexandra Gardens Community Centre Rebuild which included at the Appendix detail of the £500k. budget for the scheme.  This sum had been based upon an estimate at the time of bid submission with £200k. being reported as being potentially made available from Welsh Government grant funding.  The design of the scheme had since been reworked and it was anticipated that it could be delivered for just over £400k.  The report highlighted that in order to provide a small contingency sum on the scheme it would be requested as part of the Closing Down report that available slippage on the 2011/12 capital demolition budget also be added to the £400k.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2012/13 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order that the Scrutiny Committee continues to undertake its monitoring role in relation to revenue and capital expenditure.

 

 

61        FUNDING ARRANGEMENTS – HIGHWAY ASSETS (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for information on 18th April 2012.  Approval had been sought to utilise funding from Visible Services’ reserves to continue to address the backlog of highway repairs, with Cabinet also being informed of other funding arrangements that would assist in addressing the ongoing problem.  The backlog of highway resurfacing had almost doubled since 2009/10 despite significant spending in this area over the period.  The main cause of this had been a national under investment in highway repairs over the previous 20 years. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report detailed the funding arrangements for highway resurfacing and repairs for the period 2007/08 to 2011/12.  The total budget for resurfacing and repairs stood at £2.411m. which included an additional one off budget of £900k. made available from departmental savings in the previous year.  Cabinet had been requested to agree to an additional funding amount from the Visible Services reserve of £150k and it was proposed that approval be granted for the use of £450k. for 2012/13 to ensure continuing improvement to the highway network.  The cost of the Three Year Highway Maintenance Resurfacing Plan had unfortunately continued to rise due to additional roads requiring attention and the pace of this deterioration being greater than that of repair.  The Plan had proved invaluable in ensuring that the relevant highways received the most appropriate forms of surface treatment and at the correct time.

 

On 31st January 2012, the Welsh Government approved £4m. of revenue grant funding for the 2012/13 financial year.  The funding was for a 22 year period and was being provided to allow local authorities to free up their own resources for prudential borrowing up to an expected aggregate total of £170m.  across Wales.  This was exclusively for capital highway improvement investment.  The allocation for the Vale of Glamorgan for 2012/13 was £151,813.  The funding provided over the 22 year period would enable the Vale of Glamorgan to prudentially borrow £6.7m. over the three year period 2012/13 to 2014/15. 

 

The Director in presenting the report referred to a pilot exercise that would be undertaken in the coming months where a number of repairs would be addressed over weekends in order that residents could actually see the work that was being undertaken and, where appropriate, provide officers with details of various potholes that require filling.  . 

 

Members raised concerns, in their opinion, to the quality of some of the work that had been undertaken by contractors.  The Director requested that in the future any issues in relation to the state of repair be referred to the Department immediately in order that the relevant areas could be inspected and any matters addressed accordingly.

 

Having considered the reference it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report and the arrangements for highway resurfacing be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the current and future positions for highway asset funding.

 

 

62        DRAFT SUPPLEMENTARY PLANNING GUIDANCE (SPG) ON UPPER HOLTON ROAD – RESPONSE TO PUBLIC CONSULTATION (REF) –

 

The draft SPG had been approved by the former Cabinet for public consultation at its meeting on 16th November 2011.  Following the approval a 10 week public consultation exercise had been undertaken.  Cabinet, on 11th June 2012 had referred the report to Scrutiny Committee as part of the consultation arrangements.

 

The SPG sought to establish specific design guidelines for the future development of the Upper Holton Road local centre as well as influencing the pattern of land uses within the stated area.  The consultation had produced a mainly supportive response with some objections and a summary of all responses was detailed at Appendix A to the report.  The objections received related to issues involving the use of financial assistance to improve the condition of commercial properties at the location and these had been passed on for consideration by the relevant officer dealing with a separate but related consultation exercise which had been running simultaneously.  As a result it had been acknowledged that this had created some confusion in responding to the appropriate consultation. 

 

Having regard to the response received, it had been recommended that the text of the document be changed to include some background context of how the guidance should complement the existing regeneration works already taking place within the Castleland Ward and, in particular, to more specifically highlight that as the area was being promoted for more residential uses, the introduction of further A3 uses was likely to be resisted. 

 

Members welcomed the draft guidance and were keen to note that the principles identified could also be utilised and applied to other areas throughout the Vale.  It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In light of public consultation and the responses received to date.

 

 

63        BARRY DOCKS LINK ROAD HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT – UPDATE JUNE 2012 (DVSH) -

 

Councillor Mrs. Anne Moore had requested that in view of the fact that the Vale of Glamorgan had been successful in its bid to SEWTA in relation to safety improvements on the Barry Docks Link Road, that an update on the scheme be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for information and that details of the proposed timescales for the work be made available.

 

Tabled at the meeting was a large plan of the extent of the advanced work which had been planned to commence on Monday 11th June 2012.  The key dates for the progress of the project were noted as follows:

 

Detail design                                   Completed by end of June 2012

Preparation of documents               Completed by mid-July 2012

Appointment of Contractor              Mid-July 2012

Construction                                    Completed by end of October 2012

 

A review of traffic signal options had been undertaken to consider the positive and negative issues relating to each and to obtain feedback from local Members.  The conclusions from the meeting noted that it was recognised that the free-flow northbound facility from Coldbrook Road East was desirable so as to limit likely queuing, that the U-turn manoeuvre would be negated with the provision of the right turn signalised facility from Coldbrook Road East.  The free-flow left off-slip into Argae Lane was desirable so as to assist with junction capacity and it was recognised that the signalised left and right turns out of Argae Lane would provide safer junction operation.  As such, the following actions were to be progressed:

  • model the two options to check on capacity and likely queue lengths
  • consider the traffic signal phasing to maximise the junction operation
  • commission a Stage 1 Highway Safety Audit for both options and
  • clarify / progress land acquisition.

Following the above a favoured solution had been identified.  The Council’s Traffic Management Team was currently modelling the two traffic signal options and a Stage 1 Road Safety Audit had been commissioned from Aecom Transportation.  The results of both were expected by mid June at which time a favoured solution would be determined.  On completion of the Stage 1 Safety Audit a further meeting would also be arranged with Members to discuss through the details of the preferred option. 

 

Councillor Moore took the opportunity to congratulate the officers for all the efforts that had been undertaken to address the issue and although noting that there would be disruption, welcomed the eventual outcomes.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report and progress update and timescales contained therein be noted and welcomed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognising the current position and proposed timescales for the improvement scheme.

 

 

64        SCRUTINY FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME 2012/13 (DLPPHS) –

 

The Scrutiny Committee were requested to confirm a work programme for the year 2012/13 which would inform the Annual Report which was to be presented to all Scrutiny Committees for approval in July and reported to Full Council later in the year.  The purpose of a forward work programme was to help ensure that non-Executive Councillors achieve organisational focus in the undertaking of enquiries by the scrutiny process, support and challenge the Council’s decision-making process and monitor and review progress in relation to the Council’s performance management framework.

 

Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the report detailed the monitoring and evaluation role of the Scrutiny Committee and specific reports that had either been requested by the Scrutiny Committee throughout the year or would be reported as and when available.

 

The Scrutiny Committee was also requested to propose a topic for potential review which would be suitable for a Task and Finish exercise to be undertaken by a small group of Members and officers from the relevant Scrutiny Committee.  Each Scrutiny Committee was being asked to make a proposal to be put forward to the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group, who would consider the topics and prioritise two from the proposed list, to be undertaken during the current municipal year.  The above process had been adopted in previous years and took into account the resources currently available specifically for scrutiny support within the Democratic and Scrutiny Services team.  Members were requested to e-mail the Scrutiny and Committee Services officer with any suggestions in time for the next meeting of the Committee it being noted that Cllr C J Williams had suggested at the meeting safer cycling sustainable travel.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the work programme for 2012/13 be confirmed as detailed in paragraphs 4 to 6 of the report.

 

(2)       T H A T Members of the Scrutiny Committee e-mail the Scrutiny and Committee Services officer with suggestions for a topic for review.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To confirm the Committee’s work programme for 2012/13 and to inform the Annual report.