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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 12th February, 2013.

 

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

 

Also present:  Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson.

 

 

849     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 15th January 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

850     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

Councillor Mrs. C.L. Curtis declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 4 in that she was a trustee of the Gibbonsdown Centre and would leave the room if the item was to be discussed.

 

 

851     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2012 TO 31ST DECEMBER, 2012 (DDS & DVSH) -

 

Following a request by the Chairman for the item to be deferred to the next meeting of the Committee on 28th February, 2013, where all responsible officers could be present, the Scrutiny Committee 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Revenue and Capital Monitoring Report for the period 1st April, 2012 to 31st April, 2012 be deferred for consideration on 28th February, 2013.

 

 

852     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT BY SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) - NATIONAL STRATEGIC INDICATORS, PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURES, SERVICE IMPROVEMENT DATA (MD) -

 

The report provided the Committee with details of annual performance results in relation to waste management, environment and transport, planning, building control and sport and recreation for the year ended 31st March, 2012.

 

The benchmarking data had recently been released for the national indicators collected by the data unit which could be used to highlight achievements and areas for improvements for Council services. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report contained a report summarising the Vale's performance against national indicators for the year ended 2011/12.  Appendix 2 contained a table detailing the 10 authorities of South East Wales and their individual performances against the corporate resources indicators in respect of how many top, middle and bottom quartile performances were achieved.  Councils had also been listed in order of how many top quartile performances they had achieved for 2011/12. 

 

In referring to indicators in the bottom quartile the Committee considered the following:

 

Performance Indicator

Response

WMT/007: “the percentage of local authority municipal waste received at all local authority household waste amenity sites that is prepared for reuse, recycled or of source segregated bio waste that is composted or treated biologically in another way”.

The Director advised that there would be considerable difficulty in raising the indicator unless a new site was established in the western Vale.  The indicator was directly linked to the site at Llandow which had access difficulties.  However, another possibility that could be considered was joint working with a neighbouring authority or a partnership arrangement with the private sector.

 

THS/011a: “Percentage of principal (A) roads that are in overall poor condition.”

Under investment coupled with periods of severe weather over recent years had had an effect on the condition of the Council’s principal roads. This was now being addressed by the Local Government Borrowing Initiative and the Council's own 'Big Fill' scheme.  The Director indicated that he hoped future figures should show an improvement as a result of the investment made.

 

300,000 had been set aside for the Big Fill initiative with a further £300,000 required in the next financial year. 

 

Members were pleased to note that guarantees were provided by contractors for work undertaken and further noted that these took the form of three or five year agreements. The Director advised that officers were always looking at new ideas and concepts in highway treatments to make funding go further.

It was requested that a report be presented to a future Committee regarding resurfacing work and the materials used. 

LSC/002: the number of visits to local authority sport and leisure centres during the year where the visitor will be participating in physical activity, per 1,000 population

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was envisaged visitor numbers would increase with the transfer of Leisure Centres to Parkwood and that this would be shown in future figures.

 

In response to a query on the coastal path the Operational Manager for the service area agreed to forward the link to all Members following the meeting

 

PLA/007: “the number of additional housing units provided during the year on previously developed land as a percentage of all additional housing units provided during the year”.

 

 

 

 

 

The department was confident that

this was currently a dip and an  increase in performance would be seen when the Barry Waterfront came on line.

 

Members also noted that there was an error in relation to PLA/006, the figure for 2011/12 performance was in fact 22.6 with the quartile position therefore being 3. 

 

 

Having fully considered the report and its contents it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the performance results be noted and the further report as requested above be presented to the Committee in due course.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the Committee's monitoring arrangements and the progress made to date.

 

 

853     LOCAL FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGY (REF) -

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee to ensure the views of the Scrutiny Committee were obtained as part of the consultation process.  The Council had a duty to produce a strategy in line with the national strategy and guidance. The general requirements and responsibilities of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 had been detailed in a Cabinet report of 8th June, 2011. 

 

The number of flooding incidents seen across the U.K. had been on the increase each year and to address the situation and protect communities in the future a series of fundamental changes had been made to legislation relating to flooding.  The Flood and Water Management Act of October 2011 designated each local authority as the Local Lead Flood Authority (LLFA) and placed new responsibilities on local authorities to develop, maintain, apply and monitor a strategy for local flood risk management in their areas.  This also included sources of flooding, ordinary water courses, surplus water run-off and ground water.  The flood management responsibilities for main rivers however, remained with the Environment Agency.  The Act also provided the Environment Agency with a strategic responsibility for supervising the management of flood and coastal erosion risk whilst placing the local leadership role with local authorities directly.  Approval from local authorities as LLFA’s would be required in order to erect a dam, weir or other life obstruction to the flow of any ordinary water course, erect a culvert or alter a culvert in a manner that would be likely to affect the flow of an ordinary water course.

 

The Act also required the development of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) where practicable in all new developments.  The introduction of such national standards was aimed at reducing the risk of flood damage and improving water quality.  The Act established the need for a SuDS Approving Body (SAB) which with the approving body's consent new developments would not be permitted to commence construction.  Visible Services currently held the drainage function for the Council and was also recommended to be the SAB for the Council.  The SAB process was fee generating with the hope that the fees would support further resources as and when required.  However, further guidance on the national standards for design, construction and maintenance of SuDS was yet to be issued for consultation.  Each LLFA would be required to collect, collate and maintain a drainage asset register recording the ownership, condition and maintenance records of such assets.  The aim of the register was to protect flood mitigation measures and help inform maintenance regimes minimising flood risk in priority areas in the Vale of Glamorgan.  As an LLFA the Council also had a responsibility to investigate all surface water flooding and take appropriate action including commissioning surveys and investigations into the causes, advising third parties on mitigation and to undertake work to resolve flooding issues. 

 

An executive summary of the draft Local Flood Risk Management Strategy was attached at Appendix A to the report with a full version being available in the Council's Members' Room and the Council’s website.  The document was sub-divided into three parts: Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, Volume 2 Strategic Environmental Assessment and Volume 3 Habitats Regulation Assessment.

 

It was noted that the Welsh Government had provided initial funding of £90,000 in 2011/12 and a further £90,000 in 2012/13.  The funding had been provided to support the initial implementation of the Flood and Water Act requirements and to support the development of a Local Flooding and Coastal Erosion Strategy.  Welsh Government highlighted that the cost of mitigation measures could be significant and could not be implemented by current available funding. There was an expectation on local authorities to have to afford additional expenditure in future budget setting and to give consideration to additional charges, levies and partnership arrangements wherever possible.  Although national and European funding may be available the report highlighted that it would be insufficient to afford all mitigation measures required across Wales.  Therefore, funding would be allocated strictly on a risk-based priority by the Welsh Government to deliver long term investment plans.  The Council would be in a position to bid for any available funding streams in 2013/14 if the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy was approved by the Cabinet and endorsed by Welsh Government prior to 1st April, 2013. 

 

The Director urged Members to consider the document and to identify any areas within their Wards that they felt may need further consideration. He advised that he would be happy to receive any individual comments from members as part of the consultation process; alternatively members could provide comments via the Council’s web site.  Following the consultation a further report would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.  All Council strategies would be provided to Welsh Government and this would enable a more strategic approach to be taken on flood risk management funding decisions in future. Members noted the significant responsibilities of the legislation and the duties required by the local authority and were particularly concerned that the resources may not be available to deliver the Strategy.  They referred to a number of areas throughout the Vale where problems currently existed and although they were pleased that a strategy was being addressed the long term financial implications for the Council was of significant concern.   It would also be important to ensure that the sharing of expertise with neighbouring authorities and consultants was encouraged.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the discussions above be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration and information.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To outline the Committee's concerns to Cabinet.

 

 

854     FEES AND CHARGES - COUNTRYSIDE SERVICES (DDS) -

 

The report detailed the proposed charges to be levied at Cosmeston Lakes, Porthkerry Country Park and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre which were contained in Appendices A. B, C and D to the report. The suggested implementation date of April 2013 was also recommended.

 

The Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic Projects presented the report outlining that for Cosmeston Lakes Country Park the prices had been held in many cases or increased to broadly reflect inflation.  For Porthkerry Country Park these had largely been held or increased to reflect inflation.  With regard to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre charges for educational sessions had been increased reflecting the fact that the sessions lasted up to a full day as opposed to the country parks where the basic session was for a few hours.

 

Car park charges were also proposed to be increased in order to maintain a proportionate contribution towards the costs of maintaining the broader facility. 

 

In considering the report, local Members referred to the car parking charges at Porthkerry Country Park and the fact that in their view they were inappropriate particularly as no car parking charges were being made at Cosmeston.  Of note was the fact that visitors to Porthkerry only attended the facilities for a small amount of time as opposed to much longer attendance at the other parks. Members were advised that the instigation of car parking charges at Porthkerry had been in response to traffic management issues, in particular to ensure that emergency services were not blocked from accessing houses served via the park, and park users by inappropriate car parking. Income from car parking, charged only at peak times, is used to employ dedicated staff to manage parking.  In general Members agreed that the Council should consider other ways of addressing the traffic management issues at Porthkerry rather than setting car parking fees.

 

With regard to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre some Members considered that an increase in car parking charges was also unacceptable but were reminded that the revenue received was used to enhance the facilities at the site.

 

During discussions reference was also made to an error in Appendix C in that the proposed charge for ranger led walks (adult) at Porthkerry Country Park for 2013/14 should read £4.25.

 

Having fully considered the report and following a vote it was 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to review the traffic management arrangements in Porthkerry with a view to reducing or ending the car parking charges in Porthkerry Country Park.

 

(2)       T H A T notwithstanding recommendation (1) above the remaining fees and charges as contained within the Appendices to the report, together with the amendment to ranger led walks (adult) Porthkerry Country Park for 2013/14 of £4.25 be recommended to Cabinet for approval.

 

(3)       T H A T all charges set be the maximum cost with the Director of Development Services having the ability to reduce for promotions.

 

(4)       T H A T the above recommendations be referred to Cabinet for consideration for approval.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To consider alternative arrangements in light of the Committees concerns.

 

(2)       To reflect costs and market conditions.

 

(3)       To allow prices to be used as a marketing tool.

 

(4)       In order for the charges to receive approval.

 

 

855     CIVIL PARKING ENFORCEMENT - PROGRESS (DVSH) -

 

The Committee was updated with progress that was being made towards the Council obtaining civil parking enforcement powers.  Members were advised that Alpha Parking had undertaken a review of existing Traffic Regulation Orders, signs and lines with any discrepancies between the TROs, signs and lines having been addressed. Buchanan Order Management had been commissioned to produce hard copy plans to cover the whole of the Council's administrative area from map based schedules.

 

The Joint project team which comprised of officers from both the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Bridgend County Borough Council continued to meet regularly and Bridgend had recently appointed a Parking Manager, two supervisors and one administrative assistant for the project.  The Civil Enforcement Officer posts had been advertised with currently a total of 13 of the 15 vacancies having either been slotted in or an offer of employment made.  A second round of recruitment to finalise the remaining vacant posts was due to commence shortly.  Appropriate training would be provided following appointment and a Procedures Manual produced.  The Civil Parking Enforcement officers (CEO)  uniforms had been selected and were currently being procured.  All hand held equipment had been purchased in readiness for testing the system prior to the go-live date in April 2013.

 

Approval had been obtained from the Director of Visible Services and Housing in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services to give public notice of the Council's intention to introduce Traffic Regulation Orders to cover existing on-street and off-street parking restrictions and off-street car parks.  Members were advised that if any objections to the proposals were received these would be presented to Cabinet for determination.  Office accommodation for the Vale based CEOs had been identified at the Alps Depot, Wenvoe, with appropriate desks, lockers and computer equipment being installed in due course.  A Service Level Agreement had also been made with Denbighshire County Council as they would provide the back-office support in relation to the issuing of notices and collection of fines, the Agreement being for three years.

 

In response to a question relating to an appeals process for the service it was noted that an independent body would consider appeals. In referring to job adverts in the press Members stated that it had been an opportunity missed as articles placed had mainly referred to appointments with Bridgend County Borough Council.  The Director advised that the issue had already been raised and that future adverts would incorporate more information in relation to appointments within the Vale of Glamorgan area.  Members requested that the Council’s Corporate Management Team be alerted to such issues and that they be borne in mind when undertaking further collaborative initiatives.  It was noted that the enforcement service would be expected to operate on at least a cost neutral basis.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the report on the progress being made and the above comments of the Committee be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To provide Cabinet with the details of the report and the views of the Committee.

 

 

856     ANNOUNCEMENT -

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to remind Members of the following dates:

  • Leisure Centre site visits 22nd February, 2013, the arrangements for which would be communicated to Members of the Scrutiny Committee in due course.
  • Extraordinary Scrutiny Committee meeting at 6.00pm on 28th February, 2013 – agenda to include update on Prosiect Gwyrdd
  • Extraordinary Scrutiny Committee meeting with key stakeholders at 6.00pm on 9th April, 2013.
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