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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 5th November, 2013.

 

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

 

Also present: Councillor G. John.

 

 

551     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors E. Hacker (Vice-Chairman), Mrs. C.L. Curtis and Mrs. M. Kelly Owen.

 

 

552     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 8th October, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

553     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

554     PARKWOOD LEISURE’S CONTRACT WITH THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL –

 

A Request for Consideration of Matter had been received from Councillor Mrs. P. Drake as detailed below:

 

'As we are coming up to the end of the first year of the contract entered in with Parkwood Leisure to operate the Leisure facilities within the Vale, I would like to request an up-date and report on how the contract is running, what problems and issues, if any, have been experienced and what benefits has this contract brought to the Vale of Glamorgan in awarding this contract.'

 

Councillor Mrs. Drake, in presenting her request, stated that as the Council was now one year into the contract she had considered it opportune for a report to be presented as outlined above. 

 

The Operational Manager for Leisure and Tourism Services, prior to presenting his report, introduced to the Committee two representatives from Parkwood Leisure namely Ms. Colleen Bevan, Area Director, and Mr. John Demaid, Area Manager who had also been invited respond to any Member questions. The Operational Manager commenced by advising that the contract with Parkwood provided the potential for the Council to become the only council in Wales that did not require a revenue subsidy to operate its portfolio of leisure centres over a ten year period from August 2012. The first year had proven successful for both the Council and Parkwood leisure and although there had been a number of minor issues, those had been expected in the handover of such a complex operation across six sites. The service had seen physical improvements to the buildings, a growth in new activities and an increase in usage in key areas.  The initial £1m. of improvement work in Barry and Penarth Leisure Centres and the additional improvement works at Llantwit Major Leisure Centre had all been completed. These works had significantly improved the quality of the product at the Centres.

 

Members were advised that direct comparisons in terms of performance indicators required in the contract were difficult to ascertain after only one year as there had been little comparative data as most of the indicators were not recorded when the service was operated directly by the Council.  In terms of usage statistics Penarth, Barry and Llantwit Major Leisure Centres had all endured reductions in service provision when improvement works were being carried out on the buildings.  However, in considering the number of refurbishments and improvement works that had taken place reference was made to the new reception area at Barry, the cafe in Penarth and Appendix A to the report provided detailed information by Parkwood Community Leisure in respect of the first year’s performance.  Three new fitness suite developments had been undertaken at Barry, Penarth and Llantwit Major and a significant increase in the number of people using the gyms had been experienced, with an additional 2,000 members signing up for a monthly package in the 12 month period.  The four larger Centres had also hosted successful open days which had enabled customers to see the changes that had been made and try taster sessions of activities aswell as the opportunity to enrol on a range of courses.  Investment in equipment had been made for all the centres and new activities introduced into the programmes such as spinning, street dance, cheerleading, body pump and bokwa.  The 'Learn to Swim' programme that had been operated by the Council had been hugely popular and was considered extremely important by Parkwood to continue with its success.

 

In conjunction with the Sports Development Team, Sport Wales and Swim Wales, Parkwood had revamped both the school swimming programme as well as its own Aquazone Learn to Swim programme.  This had been devised in order to provide opportunities for as many children as possible to attend swimming lessons within the Authority to date there were currently over 1,200 children that were enrolled on lessons each week. 

 

The launch of Cafe Vita and the introduction of a new cafe at Barry Leisure Centre and a small catering outlet at Penarth Leisure Centre had resulted in positive feedback from customers and enhanced the fantastic facilities on offer.  The introduction of the 'Camp Adventure' brand had also been promoted, with on average 15 children per session at Penarth, Barry and Llantwit Major by the end of the summer holidays.  It was anticipated that these activities would grow. Parkwood had also formed partnerships with Cardiff City, Tennis Wales and the Cardiff Devils who would assist in delivering sessions in the Vale of Glamorgan centres. 

 

The Area Director reiterated the importance of the positive relationship with the Vale and took the opportunity to personally thank the Operational Manager for his guidance and support in the development of their partnership working.

 

Members made reference to performance in relation to 5.1 - the number of participants in activities at the leisure centres, it being noted that there had been a decrease of approximately 4,000 in 2013.  The Operational Manager advised that some facilities had had to be closed when works were being undertaken, as well as the fact that a new point of sale facility had been introduced.  Data capture also needed to be looked into further as in some instances usage was recorded as opposed to actual attendance numbers.  In his view it was generally known that visitor numbers were on the increase and that the way performance indicators were collected needed to be reviewed.  The Operational Manager also reiterated the positives of partnership working with Parkwood in that the contract had guaranteed that all the facilities were to be open for a minimum of 10 years and although the contract allowed for some slight variations in response to a concern by a Member no closures had been considered within the contract. 

 

On another positive note Members were informed that the GP referral system had also proved successful in various localities and it was envisaged that visitor numbers would increase as a direct result of this initiative.  Parkwood was also keen to work with local schools in the community and were also seeking to work with the sports development team within the Council in this regard.

 

With regard to Cowbridge Leisure Centre the representatives advised that they had tried to complement the services currently on offer, some new equipment had been purchased and they had introduced new brands e.g. sway dance.  It was the intention of the Parkwood Group to also work and forge links with local groups in the community and reference was again made to the GP referral system in the area which was proving successful.  The social aspects of the referral scheme were also considered to be of significant.

 

In referring to the survey of customers and the statement that 95% of customers were satisfied with the overall service, how this information was obtained was queried, the response was that each site operated a customer comments box.  Parkwood were also in the process of sending out an annual survey for all customers to complete who utilised the facilities. 

 

The Parkwood representatives were also asked why no tariffs were displayed in the Leisure Centres with Committee being advised that the directories at the Centres were being revised and a standard approach to pricing was to be taken.  A new price list would be designed specifically for the Vale and would be placed on display hopefully for early in the New Year. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sport Development, with permission to speak by the Committee, stated that he was delighted with the way things were going between Parkwood and the Vale and he referred to a recent local authority conference in September 2013 where other local authorities were questioning what to do with their leisure centres.  To this end one local authority had requested to visit the Vale in the next few weeks to discuss how the partnership with Parkwood developed.  Parkwood managed over 90 centres throughout England and Wales and were professionals in their field.  He stated that he regularly visited all the Centres throughout the Vale over a period of time and had been particularly pleased when he had visited Penarth two weeks previously and noted the number of visitors and the significant age ranges that were attending the gym in the morning.  He advised that there were always improvements that could be made and that internal audit were reviewing the Council’s contract managing arrangements and any resulting recommendations would be addressed as part of the annual performance report on the Leisure Management Contract.  Councillor John also stated that in his view the partnership would go from strength to strength and he was optimistic for the future. 

 

Following the significant discussion of the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)          T H A T the improvements carried out at the Leisure Centres during the first year of the Leisure Management Contract be noted.

 

(2)          T H A T the first year report and performance data produced by Parkwood Community Leisure be noted.

 

(3)          T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receives a report on the performance of the Leisure Management Contract on an annual basis.

 

(4)          T H A T Councillor Mrs. Drake be thanked for bringing the Request for Consideration of matter to the Committee’s attention.

 

(5)          T H A T the representatives from Parkwood Leisure be thanked for their attendance and for responding to the questions of the Committee in such detail.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)          To note the significant physical improvements made to the leisure centres over the past year.

 

(2)          To note the good performance of the contractor in the first year of operation.

 

(3)          To enable the Committee to be regularly updated on the performance of the Leisure Management Contract.

 

(4)          In acknowledgement.

 

(5)          To offer the Committee’s thanks to all those in attendance.

 

 

555     WELSH GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION: DRAFT TECHNICAL ADVICE NOTE (TAN) 23 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for information.  It was noted that the report outlined the Council’s formal response to the consultation, which had been approved by Cabinet at its meeting on 9th September 2013.  The draft TAN sought to provide detailed advice to expand on the economic development policies set out in Chapter 7 of Planning Policy Wales (PPW) and, once finalised, would support PPW Chapter 7 and provide policy implementation advice for local planning authorities.  PPW set the context for sustainable land use planning policy within which local authorities’ statutory Local Development Plans were prepared and development control decisions on individual planning applications and appeals were made.

 

The main proposals which were being consulted upon were outlined in the report and the proposed response to the consultation was detailed at Appendix A to the report.

 

In response to a query by a Member as to the delay in reporting the reference to the Scrutiny Committee, the Chairman advised that she had considered that in view of the importance of the Draft Local Development Plan the October meeting consider that matter only, which had subsequently delayed the reference being reported.  Members, in accepting the Chairman’s response, reason for her decision and noting that the reference had been for information, subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Council’s formal response to the Welsh Government’ consultation on the Technical Advice Note 23 Economic Development be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the contents of the report.

 

 

556     QUARTER 1 VISIBLE SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2013/14 (DVHS) –

 

The representative from the Improvement and Development Team outlined the report by advising that the service plans for 2013/14 had been revised in accordance with proposals for improvement and were now designed to focus on the achievement of key objectives within each Directorate, which would in turn contribute towards the achievement of identified outcomes.  The quarterly performance reports had therefore been revised to reflect the new service plans and were designed to ensure that the Council reported performance in the context of progress against objectives.  A new framework had also been developed in Ffynnon to record performance information against the objectives. 

 

The revised performance report was structured as follows:

 

·               An overview providing a snapshot of the directorate's progress towards achieving the objectives contributing towards its service outcomes.

·               A brief evaluation of each service outcome outlining overall progress (including actions and performance measures) towards achievement.

·               Detailed progress for each service objective looking at all actions broken down into completed, on track, slipped and not started actions. Progress would be provided for all performance indicators using the traffic light system (red, amber and green).  A 'red' status related to measures that had missed target by more than 10%; 'amber' related to performance within 10% of target and 'green' to performance that was on or had exceeded target.

·               All areas of underperformance identified to also include a reason for the poor performance and proposed remedial actions.

 

It was noted that Visible Services was on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes with 69% of the actions currently either completed or on track.  Of the 12 corporate plan actions 83% (10) were either completed or on track for completion and 2 had not started but were to have.  Of the 7 improvement objective actions in its plan, 57% (4) were either completed or on track for completion and 3 had slipped.  Of the 12 performance indicators, 11 had either met or exceeded target and 1 was within 10% of the target.  In terms of notable performance, Visible Services had been nominated for a number of National awards, including a PR award for work on the “Big Fill†campaign and service improvement awards for highways, winter maintenance and street lighting from APSE and the WLGA. 

 

Remedial action was being taken to address areas of slippage and progress in procuring a regional interim contract with Viridor prior to commencement of Prosiect Gwyrdd in 2016 remained dependant on completion of the main procurement which was yet to reach 'financial close'. 

 

In response to a query in relation to the procurement process for Prosiect Gwyrdd, reference was made to two recent legal challenges to Cardiff Council as Planning Authority and Welsh Government.  Confirmation on the outcome of these challenges was anticipated in the forthcoming week and Members would be advised accordingly.  It was noted that should a judicial review route be pursued and Welsh Government decide to withdraw its 25% gate fee contribution the project would still be more viable than any landfill option in the long term.  

 

The Director also took the opportunity to advise the Committee that he was undertaking a staffing review in the Highways and Engineering section.  There had been a number of retirements in his section as well as the loss of an Operational Manager and although he wished the Operational Manager well in his future employment, it was unlikely that the post would be filled until March 2014.  He was therefore taking the opportunity to consider and review the structure within his Directorate with a view to achieving a sustainable structure for the next few years.  Further reports would be presented to Committee in due course. 

 

In response to a query regarding an Allotment Strategy, he envisaged that this would be reported to Cabinet and the Committee before the end of the current financial year. 

 

Reference was made by some Members to Blue Flag status with the Director’s response being that due to changes in water quality regulations it would be impossible for the Council to achieve Blue Flag status and as such he saw little point in trying to achieve the Beach Award due to the costs that would be incurred for little return. 

 

Having considered the report and noting that future reports would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)          T H A T the service performance results and remedial actions identified to be taken to address service under performance be noted.

 

(2)          T H A T progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2013/14 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)          To ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(2)          To consider the quarter 1 Visible Services performance results as at 30th June 2013 in order to identify service areas for improvement work. To meet the Auditor General, Wales' improvement proposal to ensure that:

·                intentions are expressed in a way which allows progress to be measured; and that

·                reporting arrangements consistently provide members with an evaluation of performance in the context of the objectives the council is aiming to achieve.

 

To enable the Council to demonstrate achievement of its objectives and identified outcomes.

 

 

557     SPORTS DEVELOPMENT ANNUAL REPORT (DDS) –

 

The report provided the Committee with details of the work and achievements of the Council’s Sports Development Unit during 2012/13.  Attached as an appendix was a copy of the Vale’s Sports Review document which addressed the following issues:

 

·               Vale vision for sport

·               The sporting landscape in the Vale

·               Fundamental skills for a life in sport

·               Developing vibrant community sport opportunities

·               Inclusion

·               A knowledgeable and motivated sporting workforce

·               Competitive opportunities and the performance pathway

·               Events to inspire participation.

 

The LAPA (Local Authority Partnership Agreement) was the contract the Council had with Sports Wales for delivery of key elements of the sports development programme.  A significant amount of funding was provided by Sports Wales which supported various sport development initiatives including Dragon Sport, 5 x 60 Activity, Disability Sport, Community Chest and free swimming.

 

The Operational Manager for Leisure and Tourism introduced the Sport and Play Development Manager to the Committee, who subsequently advised that the Council worked with a number of partners to provide the service. However, it was important to note that participation of boys in sport was significantly high for the Vale but more focus needed to be developed to engage females, particularly disabled females.  Workforce development was also a priority for the service, with the key focus to develop coaches for the future.  The service also helped support elite performers through the sports academy scheme and takes every opportunity that it can to make use of events like the Olympics and the Eisteddfod to inspire more participation in sport. 

 

In response to a query from a Member regarding the appointment of the new rugby officer for the Vale, who was employed by the Welsh Rugby Union, it was noted that the role would work closely with secondary schools.

 

Members noted the considerable work that had been undertaken in partnership and the sustainability opportunities that had been created for the future.  The local successes were applauded and the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sport Development, with the permission of the Committee, endorsed the work of the unit and the significant strides that were being made with limited resources.  

 

A number of Members of the Committee also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the work of the sports development team. 

 

Following which it was subsequently  

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)          T H A T the officers be thanked for a positive and well delivered report and that the significant amount of work undertaken by the sports development unit in the past year be noted.

 

(2)          T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continues to receive a sports development report on an annual basis.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)          To offer the congratulations of the Committee and in recognition of the work of the unit.

 

(2)          To apprise the Committee on sports development progress in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

558     QUARTER 1 DEVELOPMENT SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2013/14 (DDS) –

 

In noting the background to the report as outlined in an earlier report to the Committee, for the Directorate of Visible Services and Housing, it was noted that the Development Services Directorate was well on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes, with 87% of the actions currently either completed or on track.  Of 44 corporate plan actions in the service plan, 86% (38) were either completed or on track for completion, 5 had slipped and 1 had not yet started. There were 3 actions relating to the improvement objectives, 1 was on track for completion, 1 had slipped and 1 had not started.  Of the 43 performance indicators, 19 had met or exceeded target, 2 were within 10% of target, 6 had missed target by more than 10%, 12 indicators were new, for which no targets had been set and data was unavailable for full indicators.  The report also outlined, in terms of exceptional performance, that the leisure centre partnership with Parkwood Leisure had proved to be a huge success both in terms of reducing costs and improving the experience to the customer as a result of the implementation of improvements to all centres. 

 

A detailed report of the Directorate’s overall performance was provided at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

It was noted that work had progressed at pace in terms of delivering the Barry Regeneration Area programme for 2013/14 with over £3m budgeted for enhancements at Barry Island.  At the same time the Council had submitted a competitive bid for new regeneration funding under the Welsh Government Vibrant and Viable Places programme.  New developments continued to be instigated with the realisation of S106 planning obligations, through effective negotiation with developers.

 

In referring to the Appendices remedial action had been identified to progress service slippage. The Phase 3c tender relating to the Castleland Renewal Area had commenced and the programme of works would be implemented once accepted.

 

Work with partners continued in order to enhance and regenerate Penarth Esplanade ensuring sustainable links with the town centre and Penarth Haven.  To this end liaison continued with the developers of Beachcliff and also PACL in terms of the restoration of the Pier Pavilion. Officers had met with PACL to discuss transport options and discussions would also be held with the Town Council regarding the potential for working together on enhancements. In referring to the review of land holdings at Cardiff Airport Business Park this would be undertaken as part of the Council's input into the work of the Enterprise Zone and master planning process for the zone.

 

As part of a review of the local biodiversity plan, three new areas had been identified for the establishment of a rare plant throughout the county.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)          T H A T the performance results and remedial actions taken to address service underperformance for the Directorate of Development Services be noted.

 

(2)          T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2013/14 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)          To ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(2)          To consider the quarter 1 Development Services performance results as at 30th June 2013 in order to identify service areas for improvement work.

 

            To meet the Auditor General, Wales’ improvement proposals to ensure that:

 

·                Intentions are expressed in a way which allows progress to be measured; and that

·                Reporting arrangements consistently provide Members with an evaluation of performance in the context of the objectives the Council is aiming to achieve.

 

To enable the Council to demonstrate achievement of its objectives and identified outcomes.