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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 4th September, 2012.

 

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

 

 

273     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore (Vice-Chairman), Councillors E. Hacker and A.G. Powell.

 

 

274     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 17th July, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

275     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

276     ANNOUNCEMENT –

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to congratulate all involved in the National Eisteddfod at Llandow for its tremendous success in particular to the staff in the Directorates of Development Services and Visible Services and Housing.

 

 

277     IMPROVEMENT PLAN 2012/13 (MD) –

 

The draft Improvement Plan 2012/13 was presented to Committee by the Operational Manager (Corporate Policy and Communications) and contained performance and improvement information in respect of all the Directorates and the Corporate Plan priorities.  The plan had been circulated prior to the meeting and was also available on the Council’s website.  It was a document which primarily looked back over 2011/12, and contained details of the improvement objectives which had been agreed in May 2011. The information contained within the Plan was based on departmental service plans which had been discussed by Scrutiny Committees in January to March 2012.  It was highlighted that the performance information would be used by the Wales Audit Office to assess the Council’s capacity to improve and was of critical importance to the reputation of the Council.  Although the Plan was substantially complete, further minor amendments would be required following changes to performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit and from proof-reading. 

 

In considering the report it was highlighted that with regard to reference no STS006 (page 41) (the percentage of reported fly tipping incidents cleared within 5 working days) the Welsh average was reported at 91.36 whereas the Council’s performance was actually 100%. Members commented that in their view the target of 30% for the number of new affordable units provided during the year as a percentage of all new housing units provided was too ambitious in the current economic climate ( page 42 ref no PLA006). However, the Director of Development Services advised that the target had been set as laid down in the LDP with 30% affordable housing for some areas of the Vale and 35% in others.  Reducing the target would mean it would not fit in with the LDP and it was a target to be aimed for.  A query was raised with regard to  the designation of a local nature reserve ( page 43)  and the reported delays with key partners with Members requesting that further information in relation to this matter be e-mailed to them. Consideration was also given to include details of the partnerships and collaborative working that was being undertaken throughout the Council with particular reference to the Xfor service being made. The Operational Manager agreed to include the same in the final document.  

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Improvement Plan for 2012/13 be endorsed and referred to Cabinet and Full Council.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that actions are taken to improve the performance of the Council.

 

 

278     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST JULY 2012 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The revenue budget and projected outturn for 2012/13 were shown at Appendix 1 to the report.  It was noted that the Highways Maintenance and Engineering Design and Procurement budget was currently showing a £32k. favourable variance to the profiled budget, which had been mainly due to a slight underspend on premises costs.  For Waste Management there was currently a £43k. favourable variance, mainly due to tonnages to landfill dropping as the food waste and co-mingled recycling programmes increased in popularity.  Under Grounds Maintenance the adverse variance of £43k. reported was due to an overspend on new machinery as new legislation had come into force for Hand Arm Vibration.  The favourable variance of £38k. for  the Support section had been agreed to be held for any cost pressures within Visible Services that may arise throughout the financial year.

 

With regard to Economic Development and Leisure, the accountant present advised that the partnership agreement with Parkwood had been finalised on 1st August 2012 and the Dyffryn project was progressing with the view to transfer taking place. The Planning and Transportation section was currently showing a £184k. favourable variance to the profiled budget which was predominantly due to income from planning fees for major schemes which were now in advance of the profiled estimate.  It was noted that the timing of any receipt would impact on the budget variance although it was anticipated that the division would outturn on budget. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st July 2012. 

 

In considering the report Members referred to the delay in signing the partnership agreement with Parkwood and were informed that the Managing Director had agreed to fund the delay costs from central budgets which amounted to approx £300,000.  Members suggested that information of this sort should be contained within the detail of the report in the interests of openness and transparency. As a result of delay costs incurred for the Parkwood transfer, Members queried whether delays in the transfer of Dyffryn to the National Trust would also result in a similar penalty. However, the Director advised that the contract for Dyffryn was different to that of Parkwood and no delay costs were envisaged.

 

In considering the appendices to the report Members made the following comments :

  • it was noted that a further report on the issues of St. Paul’s Church was shortly to be presented to Cabinet
  • with regard to information that had recently been circulated to Members on the Merrie Harrier gyratory Cardiff bus lane a fuller breakdown of the issues was further requested to be emailed
  • clarification be sought as to whether cross common bridge was included in the capital budget regarding substandard bridges and that  Members be emailed accordingly. 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T any funding issues, whether taken from reserves or found from within other Council budgets, are reflected in the detail of any future reports.

 

(2)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2012/13 revenue and capital monitoring for the period 1st April 2012 to 31st July 2012 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In order that Members are kept fully informed of the financial position.

 

(2)       In light of the monitoring role of the Committee.

 

 

279     BARRY TO DINAS POWYS CYCLEWAY (DDS) –

 

Councillor C.J. Williams had requested that the matter be considered by the Scrutiny Committee in order that the Committee could consider the scheme as a priority following the feasibility study that had already been carried out.  He suggested that all necessary land purchases be made without further delay to enable the Authority to access funds from SEWTA to ensure that the cycle / footpath was created to minimise the threat of further fatalities to pedestrians and cyclists travelling between Dinas Powys and Barry.

 

The report highlighted that in 2010 the Council had been successful in securing £30k. from the South East Wales Transport Alliance (SEWTA) to undertake investigative and initial design and costing works on two cycle routes in the south eastern Vale, namely Railway Walk, Penarth and a proposed cycle route between Barry and Dinas Powys.  Both routes had been identified by Sustrans, the national cycle charity, as integral elements of the proposed National Cycle Network through the Vale of Glamorgan NCN 88.  A copy of the NCN 88 feasibility report prepared by Sustrans in June 2008 was available in the Members’ Room for information.  The routes identified had been investigated by officers from the Council’s then Visible Services Division and two reports identifying preferred routes, issues and outline costings had been prepared.  A copy of the Barry to Dinas Powys report had also been placed in the Members’ Room for information.  In summary, the report:

 

·        Identified a preferred off road cycle route between the Biglis / McDonalds roundabout on the eastern side of Barry and the western edge of Dinas Powys at the Southra Park estate

·        Identified Issues and options associated with the development of the route e.g. land ownership, flooding and the need to span a number of watercourses; and

·        Provided a cost estimate range of £614,000 to £783,000 (dependent upon preferred route and options) for the completion of the works. 

 

However, as indicated in the report, the Director advised that resources for the development of the route network were severely limited and completion would by necessity be gradual with design and implementation works occurring as and when resources were available.  There were land ownership issues and also funding issues with the next stages in progressing any scheme to be to gain acceptance from SEWTA for inclusion in the five year programme of works and for a detailed development of the scheme. 

Councillor Williams stated that he was encouraged by other Council works that had been undertaken and that he felt there was a genuine desire to further cycleway provision throughout the Vale, however the Council needed to make a number of priorities in order to be proactive. 

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be requested to make the necessary resources available to progress a bid to SEWTA in order that the Barry to Dinas Powys Cycleway project could be included in the Regional Transport Plan five year programme.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To progress the issue.

 

 

280     BARRY CLUSTER COMMUNITIES FIRST (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration, it being noted that the Welsh Government had requested that the future of the Communities First programme would require a new Cluster Programme based on the most deprived 20% of Lower Super Output Areas in Wales and this approach would need to commence in October 2012.  As such, bids had been required to be submitted for a new Cluster on or before 29th June 2012.  The proposed Cluster group for Barry would entail Castleland (1 + 2), Cadoc (1, 3 + 4), Court (3), Gibbonsdown (1, 2 + 4) and Buttrills (2), with it being noted that the population of the proposed Cluster would stand at just over 15,500. 

 

Following the recent Senior Management reduction exercise, the Communities First team would now be situated within the new Directorate of Development Services.  This was considered beneficial in that it allowed synergies to develop with a number of relevant initiatives and policies, not least the Barry Regeneration Area, housing renewal, new development opportunities and links with transport issues. 

 

Initial expressions of interest had been submitted to WG in April of this year and was in the form of a Cluster Indicator Request form which detailed the proposed LSOAs to form the Barry Cluster.  This will allow WG to issue a reference number for the Cluster and allow work to proceed on making a full submission.  Discussions have also been held on a regular basis with WG officials, not only specifically relating to Communities First but also in terms of linking the Barry Cluster proposal with the work being undertaken on regeneration.  The Council had been allocated Consultant support to assist in drawing up the proposal with the matter also being presented to the Local Service Board and the Council's Corporate Management Team in June 2012.  It was also noted that the application was being developed in collaboration with partners which maximised the opportunities to add value to existing service provision and initiatives such as Families First, with links established with health bodies and agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Careers Wales.

 

In regard to the programme detail itself, the programme was based on three themes, namely Learning, Prosperous and Healthy Communities.  A copy of the bid had been made available in the Council's Members' Room and included full details of the matters referred to in the report.

 

In considering the report Members agreed that the information should also be forwarded to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for consideration, however the Director advised that the information contained therein was a progress update report and that once the process had become more developed it would then be a matter for the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) to consider and he would make that recommendation to the Cabinet. 

 

Members welcomed the report but also referred to the fact that it was important that in developing the cluster, local residents were fully engaged.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress report be noted and a further update be presented as the bid was developed.

 

Reason for Recommendation

 

To apprise Members.

 

 

281     BARRY REGENERATION AREA (REF) –

 

The Cabinet had been apprised of the current position with regard to the above project at its meeting on 23rd July and referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration.  The Barry Regeneration Area programme had been launched by the Welsh Government in March 2010 with a total of £9.8m. of Welsh Government investment being allocated which was, however, reprofiled over four years following the UK Government’s Spending Review.  The current financial position was noted as investment in 2010/11 £3m., investment in 2011/12 £2.5m., anticipated allocation for 2012/13 £1.0m., anticipated allocation for 2013/14 £3.3m., although the anticipated allocations were subject to Ministerial agreement of the budget profile. 

 

The schemes and priorities that were set out in Appendix 1 to the report had been given Ministerial approval in July 2011 and a comprehensive project list was set out at Appendix 2 to the report.  The Minister had recently written to the Leader asking him to nominate two Council representatives to join the Barry Regeneration Area Partnership Board and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation and the Director of Development Services had been nominated.  Cabinet had also been informed that Barry Town Council would be represented on the Partnership Board in the future. 

 

A key decision of the Partnership Board would be moving forward to use the remaining funding available in 2013/14 and making decisions relating to how the money would be invested.  The Welsh Government’s team was also seeking to make strategic links across Government and beyond to maximise the benefits of the nearby St. Athan Enterprise Zone.  The potential for a new campus for the Cardiff and Vale College on the Waterfront and other key programmes such as Communities First, Flying Start, Housing Renewal and the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

 

Members welcomed the contents of the report and all agreed that the momentum for the Barry Regeneration Area should continue.  Reference was also made to the Colcot Sports Centre and the outcome of the options appraisal.  The Director informed the Chairman that he would seek clarification as to when the options appraisal would be published.

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

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

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To advise Members.

 

 

282     ANNUAL REPORT – SECTION 106 LEGAL AGREEMENTS 2011 – 2012 (REF) –

 

The purpose of the report was to inform Members of the progress on Section 106 matters that had arisen in the last financial year April 2011 to March 2012 and had been referred to the Committee for consideration by Cabinet.  Members were informed that the report had also been considered at the Community Liaison Committee meeting held on 31st July 2012. 

 

The section 106 officer advised that in the 12 months between April 2011 and March 2012 a total of 18 planning permissions had been issued which had been subject to Section 106 Legal Agreements.  A list was attached at Appendix A to the report.  Section B provided details of the Council’s Section 106 account which currently held £1,524,498.90.  Members were informed that financial contributions secured through the Legal Agreements would be used to provide or enhance the facilities off sites such as sustainable transport facilities, public open space, community facilities and more.  When contributions were received consultation was then undertaken with the relevant service areas, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation, relevant Cabinet Members and local Ward Members to agree how the contributions can be best spent in accordance with an established Section 106 protocol.  On receipt of the financial obligations the relevant service area would be notified with options for spend considered before consultation was undertaken in accordance with the Council’s protocol. 

 

Committee was also reminded about the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Regulations 2010 which, once in place, would replace Section 106 Agreements in many respects, in particular in respect of financial contributions.  CIL would then become the main mechanism for providing infrastructure in connection with new developments.  Work had commenced on the Levy, which would take several years to prepare. 

 

During discussion Members referred to the lack of spend in a number of project areas and that progress in respect of these matters should be made as a matter of urgency.  The Director advised that pressure for spending was difficult for many reasons, in particular that contributions from some individual schemes were small and that the money did not go very far when used on its own.  Pooling contributions would be a way forward, although this could lead to delays.  Ensuring schemes from other service areas are developed was also time consuming given the need to deal with often conflicting priorities.  As a result developing and progressing Section 106 projects would take considerable commitment.

 

Members however, took the opportunity to congratulate officers on the income to date and noted the Members’ concerns in relation to the lack of expenditure.  With regard to a number of requests from Members regarding projects within their areas, they were reminded that consultation was undertaken at the planning application stage and that all Town and Community Councils should be advised that any comments they wished to make should be made at that stage in order that the views of the Town and Community Councils could be reported to the Council.  Members, in accepting the comments of the officers, advised that it would be beneficial if an awareness session could be arranged for Town and Community Council representatives and members of the Councils on the delays and the process for Section 106.

 

Councillor Clarke sought clarification as to the monies that had been received for the Rhoose development which had been spent within St. Athan.  The Principal Officer advised that this had been agreed due to the fact that although the money had been allocated for affordable housing, the developers could not attract the relevant numbers and thus the original application could not be delivered.  Councillor King referred to an issue at Llandough where the Community Council had been advised of a promise of money via section 106 funding for a play area.  Due to the fact the development had not commenced and the section 106 agreement had now lapsed the Director agreed to refer the request to the Operational Manager for Parks to consider when the Council’s budget was being set in November.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be requested to ensure that the Directors come forward with proposals as soon as possible in order to reduce the exceptionally large Section 106 Agreements’ outstanding balance waiting for appropriate schemes.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order that the schemes approved can be established from the monies received under the Section 106 Agreements.

 

 

283     1ST QUARTER PERFORMANCE MONITORING (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The following 1st Quarter performance monitoring reports were received:

 

·         Leisure and Tourism

·         Planning and Transportation

·         Strategy and Support

·         Visible Services

·         Sickness and Leavers (New Corporate Structure).

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the 1st Quarter performance monitoring reports detailed above be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In undertaking the scrutiny role.