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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 3rd December, 2013.

 

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

 

 

Also present:  Councillors R.F. Curtis, N. Moore and R.A. Penrose.

 

 

630     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE –

 

This was received from Councillor A.G. Powell.

 

 

631     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 5th November, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

632     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

633     CALL-IN – VEHICLE BASED TELEMETRY (VEHICLE TRACKING) –

 

Councillor R.A. Penrose had requested a call-in to the Scrutiny Committee for the reason being "to defer purchase of the vehicle based telemetry system at present, pending more detailed analysis of our Authority’s Fleet Management Programme, (including acquisitions, vehicle telemetry, replacement policy, analysis of number of vehicles required, fuelling procedures, method of fuelling acquisition, need and location of repair workshop etc.)".  In presenting the call-in Councillor Penrose advised on the background to the request in that at earlier meetings of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) discussions had been held around acquisition costs and delays on acquiring vehicles.  Several questions had been asked particularly in relation to vehicle telemetry with the response being at the time that the Council did not have such a system in its fleet.  It was also considered by the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) that fleet management could be the subject of a task and finish exercise.  Councillor Penrose stated that he would request the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) to consider a deferment of the decision pending the setting up of a sub-committee to look into the matter.

 

The Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services, in presenting the report, stated that over a number of years the Council had reduced the numbers of front line staff supervision which had made monitoring of performance levels of mobile workers more difficult.  With the current high fuel and vehicle costs and the need to improve operational efficiency to a maximum it was imperative that the Council operated with a minimum number of vehicles necessary to deliver its services in the future.  This goal was not likely to be achieved without the assistance of a real time electronic vehicle use monitoring system. The Cabinet Member also highlighted that at agenda item 5 on the Committee’s agenda vehicle telemetry was reported as a savings proposal and any delay would reduce any potential savings that were urgently required. The Director of Visible Services and Housing would also be bringing further reports to Cabinet to include a new policy on "home to work transport" and other transportation savings.  

 

The Director advised that in view of the Council’s forthcoming budget pressures it was considered the appropriate time to install telematics to ensure that any inefficiencies were reduced to an absolute minimum.  The systems were accurate, relatively low in cost and they also tended to be modular which meant that the level of monitoring of feedback required could be varied depending on the service requirements.  In addition to fuel savings it was envisaged that the telematics system would improve driver behaviour, resulting in vehicle reduced maintenance costs on items such as brake parts.  It would also greatly improve continuity and delivery times with all vehicle locations being displayed on a digital map of the Vale in real time. The utilisation of individual vehicles would be able to be closely monitored and the fleet numbers reduced if the level of utilisation was below relevant business parameters for the vehicle / service type concerned.

 

The system would initially be fitted to all vehicles within the Directorate of Visible Services and Housing (240 in number) with other Directorates invited to join the network when the system was fully operational.  The system that had been chosen was web based but also displayed information on a wide range of devices including Blackberry, IPhone, IPad, Windows Mobile or Android.  There were a number of benefits to the system which included providing added security for lone workers and ensuring compliance with the working time directive. 

 

The cost of adding vehicles to the system would be £260 in the first year and £210 per annum thereafter per vehicle.  Telematics companies suggested that fuel savings alone from such systems could realise between 10% - 20%.  For the Vale Council a fuel savings estimate of 15% had been used in the calculation which equated to a saving of £120,000 per annum. 

 

During the consideration of such a system the Director advised that the Trade Unions had been consulted and were supportive of the introduction subject to it being appropriately managed and a new "home to work transport" policy being introduced before the units were installed on vans. The Director also referred to an Audit report concerning responsive building maintenance which was critical of the officers’ management of the "Optitime" mobile working system used in Building Maintenance. He advised that the Optitime system was declared as being fit for purpose by the auditors, but that the vehicle telemetry system would be used to supplement the current controls provided by this existing system. It would not replace this system as its functionality and purpose was designed to control vehicle use and not to manage appointments and other building maintenance operations.  He further referred to the recent savings that had been made by Neath Port Talbot Council and that the Corporate Management Team would be speaking to the consultancy firm that had assisted that Council.  He stated that he was looking to propose a review of the Council’s wider fleet operations during the early part of 2014, which he advised would be likely to inform a future report on this subject to Cabinet. The telemetry system was needed he advised, to provide the necessary data for any consultancy company to assess the savings that may be possible.

 

The Leader, with the permission of the Committee, advised that the Minister had asked for an update from all Local Authorities in Wales as to where they were with regard to fleet management.  Reports in the press projected that Local Authorities in Wales could save, over three years, a total of £81 million although he was not entirely sure of the robustness of this information.  The Minister had also asked for the responses by the end of December.

 

In considering the call-in some Members requested that the Committee should also receive a presentation on the system to which it was accepted that a presentation could only be made following any tendering process.  A recommendation was subsequently made to defer the decision following a further review, however the majority of Members considered that as the Director had advised that further reports would be presented to Cabinet and that the Corporate Management Team were to receive a presentation from a consultancy firm shortly, any deferment would be counter-productive. The Council also needed to make efficiency savings and the system was required to address these savings.  Following a vote the recommendation to defer was not accepted and it was subsequently   

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the decisions of Cabinet be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the need to reduce on going transport costs and that further reports were to be submitted on the subject and other transportation savings in January 2014. 

 

 

634     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2014/15 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The Council was required, under statute, to fix the level of Council Tax for 2014/15 by 11th March 2014 and in order to do so would have to agree a balanced Revenue Budget by the same date.  To be in a position to meet the statutory deadlines and requirements for consultation as set out within the Council’s Constitution, much of the work on quantifying the resource requirements of individual services needed to be carried out before the final Revenue Support Grant (RSG) settlement was notified to the Council.    The Council’s provisional settlement had been announced on 16th October, 2013.  The final settlement was likely to be received in December 2013.  The Council’s Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) represented the Welsh Government’s (WG) view of the relative resources required to provide a standard level of service in each local authority in Wales and its primary use was to allocate RSG to these authorities.  For 2014/15 the Council’s provisional SSA was £214.384m.  

 

The Council had also been advised by the WG of its 2014/15 allocation in relation to RSG (£118.834m) and National Non Domestic Rates (£38.941m).  Together, these sums constituted the Council’s Aggregate External Finance (AEF).  This represented a cash reduction of 4.5% (£7.4m) for 2014/15 and was a larger reduction than the 4% projected in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP). 

 

The Council would also receive a sum provisionally set at £1.236m via the Outcome Agreement Grant (OAG) for 2014/15.  This grant was an unhypothecated grant (i.e. not earmarked for particular services).  It was noted that the Council was not necessarily guaranteed to receive the full amount of the OAG.  The amount for 2014/15 would be determined by a rating score of the Council’s performance in achieving its 2013/14 Outcome Agreement targets.

 

There were transfers into the RSG settlement for 2014/15 as follows:

 

Council Tax Reduction Scheme Administration Subsidy - £177k. This was previously received as a direct grant from the Department for Work and Pensions.

 

It was the Council's contention that WG had not included all the required adjustments to make the AEF comparative between years and that there was an actual cash reduction to the Council of 4.9%.  As part of the consultation process on the provisional settlement, the Leader of the Council was responding to WG on this issue.  Pay and price inflation results in a much higher decrease in real terms. The September Consumer Price Index stood at 2.7%.

 

WG had provided an indicative settlement figure for 2015/16 which showed a further cash reduction of 1.63% (£2.6m).  The MTFP was based on a cash reduction of 4%.   WG had not given any indication as to the level of settlement for 2016/17, however the MTFP was based on a further 4% cash reduction.  The assumptions made in the MTFP would, therefore, be reconsidered by the Budget Working Group (BWG) as part of the final budget proposals.

 

The following table compares the amended original budget with the projected outturn for 2013/14.

 

 

2013/14

2013/14

Variance

 

Amended

Original

Projected

 (+)Favourable

Directorate/Service

Budget

Outturn

 (-) Adverse

 

£’000

£’000

     £’000

Visible Services

 

 

 

Environment and Visible Services                  

18,393

18,290

                     +103

Parks and Grounds Maintenance

3,477

3,580

                    (103)

Building Services

0

0

                           0

 

 

 

 

Development

 

 

 

Planning and Transportation

           5,329

         5,329

                           0

Leisure

           4,085

         4,085

                           0

Economic Development

950

950

0

 

 

 

 

Grand Total

32,234

32,234

                          0

 

The projected outturn for this Committee was a balanced budget when compared to the amended original budget.

 

With regard to the relevant service areas the following was reported:-

 

Highways and Engineers – The projection was an adverse variance of £82k.  The Premises and Repairs budgets were projected to be overspent by £372k, being partly due to the ongoing projected overspend on repairing potholes and Street Lighting Energy costs.  It was anticipated that the expenditure on potholes would reduce at some stage, however, this would be heavily dependant on the weather over the winter months. The projected overspend on street lighting energy costs was due to anticipated savings not yet being made.  This overspend would be offset by the use of £150k from the Visible Services Reserve for additional expenditure on potholes and another £150k to offset the street lighting energy overspend.  There was also a projected adverse variance of £220k as a result of a shortfall in income due to a delay in the rollout of car park charging.  Again £220k of reserves was to be used to offset this position.  Both the Street Lighting energy costs and Car Park charging would be the subject of reports to Cabinet, by the Director of Visible Services and Housing, in the near future.  Transport costs had a projected adverse variance of 10k, partly due to the increased cost of a newer fleet.

 

Waste Management – It was projected that the Waste Management section would have a favourable variance of £33k.  Employee costs were projected to have a favourable variance of £86k due to vacant posts.  Income had decreased by £218k due to the reduction in the Sustainable Waste Management grant from Welsh Government.  This had been offset by reducing the budget for the purchase of food waste bags by £180k for this financial year, various other small overspends also totalled £15k.

 

Support – It was estimated that there would be a £152k underspend compared with the budget. This budget would be used to meet pressures that arose throughout the financial year and would also be held to offset the pressures above.

 

Parks and Grounds Maintenance – Overall the Grounds Maintenance section it was anticipated would have an adverse variance of £103k.  The main reasons for the projected overspend were additional expenditure and the end of the HLF grant for Victoria Park causing an overspend of £43k, projected expenditure of £35k at Rhoose Point for which there was no budget, a projected £18k overspend on Bowling Greens due to high utility costs and other small overspends that total £7k.

 

Building Services – The Service was expected to outturn on target.

 

Planning and Transportation – The year end projected outturn for this service showed a balanced budget.  Although there was an anticipated increase in transport costs of £312k for the provision of the Cardiff Airport Express Service, this expenditure would be matched by income of the same amount from Welsh Government grant funding for the service.

 

Leisure – The projected outturn for this service showed a balanced budget. There were additional costs for supplies and services, however, these would be matched by an increase in grant income.

 

Economic Development – The projected outturn for this service showed a balanced budget.  Although there was a projected £36k overspend within Employment and Training Services, this would be offset by Communities First Management fees.

 

The report also highlighted that £650k was to be provided for Environmental and Visible Services works at Cross Common Road Bridge and approval for this funding had been requested in the Initial Capital Programme Proposals 2014/15 report.  The scheme was to be funded from an underspend on the net cost of capital included in the Policy budget.

 

The Cabinet had approved the Budget Strategy for 2014/15 on 29th July 2013 and, as in previous years, required all Directors to make the following provisions:

 

"Supplementary estimates would only increase the base budget if Council had given specific approval to this effect. Increases met by virement within a year would not be treated as committed growth.

 

Directors should find the cost of increments and staff changes from their base budget unless the relevant specific approval had been given for additional funding.

 

The effect of replacing grant from outside bodies that had discontinued would not be treated as committed growth. In addition, before any project or initiative that was to be met either wholly or partly by way of grant may proceed, the exit strategy must be approved.

 

Certain items of unavoidable committed growth would continue and these included the effect of interest changes and the financing cost of the Capital Programme, increases in taxes, increases in levies and precepts charged by outside bodies and changes to housing benefits net expenditure.

 

Services would be expected to identify and achieve recurrent efficiency and other savings, including (but not restricted to) those identified in the Interim Medium Term Financial Plan.

 

It was envisaged that the costs of service development would need to be met from within the respective Directorates."

 

Having regard to the above, it had therefore been proposed in respect of the 2014/15 Budget Strategy that Directors be instructed to prepare initial revenue budgets for 2014/15, in accordance with a timetable agreed by the Director of Resources.  Preparation should be on the following basis:

 

·         Capital charges, central accommodation costs and central support costs to be estimated centrally;

·         Services to prepare baseline budgets on current service levels as set out in the 2013/14 final revenue budget report;

·         Budgets to be broken down subjectively and objectively in as much detail as deemed appropriate by the Director of Resources;

·         Budget reports to include revised estimates for 2013/14;

·         Full account to be taken of the revenue costs, other than debt charges, of new capital schemes coming into use.

 

As a result of the reduction in the provisional settlement, the Authority would now have to identify additional savings to those originally approved for 2014/15.  It had also been necessary to revisit the cost pressures facing services in order to build up a complete and up to date picture of the financial position of the Council.  The updated list of cost pressures for this Committee was shown in Appendix 2 to the report.  These were not shown in any order of priority.

 

When approving the Budget Strategy for 2014/15, Directors had been asked to consider bringing forward the implementation of future years' savings ahead of the scheduled date.  This message was reinforced by Cabinet when approving the MTFP, where Directors were also asked to identify additional areas for savings.

 

The 2013/14 budget included approved savings targets for the years 2014/15 to 2016/17.  Directors had assessed future year savings in order to establish those that could be brought forward to supplement the 2014/15 savings.  In doing so, regard had been given to those savings which were time bound and could not be accelerated.  Details of the approved areas for savings for 2014/15 for the Committee, together with proposals for savings to be brought forward were attached at Appendix 3 to the report.  The savings did not include the cost of potential redundancies.

 

A summary of the overall base budget for 2014/15 was attached at Appendix 4 to the report.  This had been arrived at by adjusting the 2013/14 budget for items such as inflation and unavoidable growth, but did not include identified cost pressures or savings.  These were shown as a note to the table and were further detailed in Appendices 2 and 3 respectively.  The total cost pressures for 2014/15 for the services within the remit of the Scrutiny Committee were £167k.

 

Once the base budget for 2014/15 for the Council as a whole had been established, it would  then be compared to the funding available to identify the extent of any shortfall.  With a provisional AEF of £157.775m and Council Tax at a current level of £53.567m, total available funding would be £211.342m.  When compared to a base budget of £221.196m, this would result in a funding shortfall for 2014/15 of £9.854m.  This shortfall was mainly attributable to the reduction in funding from WG, an increase in pay and price inflation and the requirement to fund committed growth.

 

If all identified cost pressures were funded for the whole of the Council, this would increase the shortfall to £15.838m.  If all proposed savings were achieved for the whole of the Council, the shortfall would be reduced to £8.539m as shown in the table below.

 

Projected Budget Shortfall 2014/15

 

 

£000

Funding Available

 

Provisional AEF

157,775

Council Tax

53,567

Provisional Funding Available

211,342

 

 

Base Budget

221,196

 

 

Provisional Shortfall Against Base Budget

9,854

 

 

Assume all Cost Pressures funded

5,984

 

 

Provisional Shortfall with Cost Pressures funded

15,838

 

 

Assume all Savings Achieved

(7,299)

 

 

Provisional Projected Shortfall for 2014/15

8,539

 

This level of shortfall was unprecedented.

 

Further work would be undertaken by the BWG when formulating the final budget proposals for 2014/15, which would include a review of the use of reserves, a possible increase in Council Tax, a review of all cost pressures, possible savings and the current financial strategies, in order to achieve a balanced budget.  The BWG would also look at the impact on the 2015/16 budget.

 

It would be extremely difficult in the short term to meet all of the budget shortfall through further savings next year.  This may require consideration of the use of substantial levels of reserves in 2014/15, thus allowing a more thorough review of options for savings and their implications, alternative methods of service delivery and collaborative ventures.

 

The General Fund Reserve as at 31st March 2014 was projected to stand at £11.858m.  The 2014/15 base budget proposal included the use of £1.5m from the General Fund reserve.  Cost pressures for 2014/15 include £500k for a reduction in the use of reserves, in line with the existing financial strategy.  A further reduction of £500k was also scheduled for 2015/16.  In light of the unprecedented funding shortfall, this strategy needed to be reviewed.  At this stage, it was proposed that a use of reserves to a maximum of £3.5m could be used in 2014/15.  The Section 151 Officer believed that the minimum balance on the General Fund Reserve should be no less than £7m.

 

The use of reserves to fund recurring expenditure could only be countenanced as part of a specific strategy to achieve a balanced budget in future years.  The consequence of such actions would be to increase the level of savings required in 2015/16 onwards.

 

In terms of the role of the Cabinet Budget Working Group, this Group would be holding a series of meetings with the relevant Cabinet Members and officers to consider the budget proposals.  Any recommendations from this Group would be submitted in order that Cabinet could make its final budget proposal by no later than 24th February 2014; before making its recommendation the Cabinet Budget Working Group would consider the comments made by all the Council’s Scrutiny Committees.

 

The reports stated that the Cabinet’s final budget proposals would be considered by Council on 5th March 2014.

 

In considering the report Members in referring to the use of reserves were aware that the Section 151 officer would advise that it would not be prudent for the Council to have less than £7 million in its reserves and thus with the current budget reported  this would mean a figure of £8.35 million would be left in reserves.  Members also queried the proposals for potential savings by the reduction of street lighting and increased car parking charges to which the Director advised that further detailed  reports on both would be submitted for consideration in the New Year.  Following this response a further report on the proposals for the double shifting of vehicles was also requested by the Committee.  It was noted that difficult times and decisions were ahead for the Council and the Director of Development Services referred to a review within his directorate being undertaken which was to consider more flexible ways of working.

 

Members referred to concerns in relation to supported bus services and planning enforcement with the Director’s response that the department would be considering options to utilise more community buses and, as for planning enforcement, this was a non-statutory function and he would be undertaking a review of the service currently in place.

 

Having considered the report and in view of the budget pressures facing the Council the Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the amended budget for 2013/14 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the initial revenue budget proposals for 2014/15 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the Scrutiny Committee’s responsibility for monitoring the budget.

 

(2)       In view of the budget pressures facing the Council.

 

 

635     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2014/15 (DDS AND DVSH) -

 

Appendix A to the report provided the Committee with the full details of the progress on schemes on the Capital Programme within its remit as at 30th September 2013.

 

The report referred to the following particular areas of:-

 

Flood Risk Management – £750,000 had been approved as part of the 2013/14 Capital Programme for various schemes to address flooding and drainage issues. The Highways and Engineering department had proposals for a number of schemes to be delivered from this funding.  Whilst a small number of schemes were progressing including Llancadle, Old Wick Road and highway drainage improvements, the full details of these proposals would be the subject of a separate report by the Director of Visible and Housing Services.

 

Cross Common Road Bridge – It had been requested that the Capital Programme be increased by £650,000 to address the outcome of a feasibility study which was considering options for the future of Cross Common Road Bridge.  This would be funded from a revenue contribution and a report detailing this feasibility study would be presented to Cabinet shortly.

 

S106/Belle Vue Park – £10,000 had been requested to be included in the Capital Programme for Section 106 funding, awarded to a project at Belle Vue Park. This entailed the replacement of an original water drinking fountain in the park, improve recycling facilities and a contribution towards an outdoor gym.

 

Cabinet had previously agreed that further information would be provided where schemes had a value of over £500,000 and showed a variance of 20% or more between actual spend and the profile.  The following scheme had met this criteria:

 

Vehicles Renewal Fund - Expenditure was slightly behind profile due to second hand vehicles being purchased in year and some items of expenditure being delayed pending the outcome of decisions regarding future revenue services.

 

The Welsh Government (WG) had announced the provisional 2014/15 General Capital Funding on 16th October 2013.  The 2014/15 capital settlement represented a £246,000 (4.7%) increase in funding over the previous year’s allocation; however because this amount included the reinstatement of £280,000 transferred to supported borrowing for the Housing Revenue Account in 2013/14, the actual position for the Council was a reduction of £34,000 which represents a 0.61% cut.  The indicative amount provided by WG suggested that capital funding will be maintained at this level for 2015/16.  This has been reflected in the proposed Capital Programme 2014/15 to 2018/19.

 

Whilst the indicative amounts had been utilised in 2014/15 and 2015/16, for the purposes of this programme, the assumption of a 10% cut each year had been assumed in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.  In line with the financial strategy, the Council would mitigate the deteriorating situation by looking to progress only those schemes which were deemed to be a key corporate priority, whilst also seeking to gain assurance that such schemes were delivered on time and within budget.

 

In addition to funding from the WG, the Council would finance part of the Capital Programme from its own resources, e.g. Capital Receipts and Reserves.  Set out in Appendix B to the report was the proposed 2014/15 to 2018/19 Capital Programme for services under the Committee’s remit. 

 

Capital bids had been invited for return by 30th September 2013 and the number of bids received was reduced from the high volume in the previous year. This reduction reflected that the Capital Programme had been set to 2017/18 following the budget review that took place as part of the 2013/14 budget process.  Departments were requested to rank their own bids in order of importance before submission, and bids from each Department were forwarded to the Corporate Asset Management Group (CAMG) for evaluation.

 

The Budget Working Group had prioritised bids based upon the recommendations of the CAMG which were shown in Appendix B.  The method of prioritisation used in the Council’s Capital Investment Strategy was set out in the report for information.  Only those schemes assessed as corporate priority 1 or medium risk and above were included. 

 

In addition to bids meeting the criteria for inclusion in the Capital Programme, there had been a number of changes approved by Cabinet since the final budget proposals in February 2013 that impacted on the Capital Programme, such as, amendments to the budgets carried forward and these changes were included. 

 

As in the case of the consideration of the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals, similar arrangements were in place for the Scrutiny Committees to pass their comments to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) who would, on behalf of all the Council’s Scrutiny Committees, formally respond to Cabinet by no later than 13th December 2013.  However, Scrutiny Committees were being asked to first consider the indicative Capital Proposals as set out in Appendix B.  If a change to the initial proposals was desired, the Scrutiny Committee was required to provide a reason for this need in order to assist the Cabinet and the CBWG in their deliberation when drawing up the final proposals.  The total net capital expenditure of the proposed programme for the whole of the Council over the five years was over £102m.  

 

Managers were asked to revisit the schemes listed in Appendix B and to confirm final cost and spend profiles prior to the final proposals being considered by Cabinet by no later than 24th February, 2014.  Cabinet’s final Capital Programme proposals would be considered by Council no later than 5th March, 2013.

 

If the schemes proposed for the whole of the Council were approved, the effects on the General Fund useable capital receipts would be as follows: 

 

General Fund Capital Receipts

          £'000

Anticipated Balance as at 1st April 2014

7,940

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2014/15

(2,656)

Anticipated Receipts – 2014/15

885

Balance as at 31st March 2015

6,169

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2015/16

0

Anticipated Receipts – 2015/16

0

Balance as at 31st March 2016

6,169

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2016/17

(2,237)

Anticipated Receipts – 2016/17

0

Balance as at 31st March 2017

3,932

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2017/18

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2017/18

0

Balance as at 31st March 2018

3,932

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2018/19

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2018/19

0

Balance as at 31st March 2019

3,932

 

In line with the overall strategy and specific suggestions proposed by the Budget Working Group (BWG), in order to resource the Capital Programme, reserves would be utilised over the period of the Capital Programme 2014/15 to 2018/19.

 

The Project Fund would be used to fund schemes assessed on an invest to save basis, and in certain circumstances business critical schemes may also be funded from this reserve with the prior approval of the Director of Resources.  A balance of £2m would be retained as a balance on this fund.  The projected usage of this reserve, for the whole of the Council, over the period of the Capital Programme was shown below:

 

Project Fund

             £'000

Anticipated Balance as at 1st April 2014

4,217

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2014/15

(1,754)

Anticipated Receipts – 2014/15

402

Balance as at 31st March 2015

2,865

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2015/16

(450)

Anticipated Receipts – 2015/16

100

Balance as at 31st March 2016

2,515

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2016/17

(400)

Anticipated Receipts – 2016/17

60

Balance as at 31st March 2017

2,175

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2017/18

(100)

Anticipated Receipts – 2017/18

60

Balance as at 31st March 2018

2,135

 

 

Anticipated Requirements – 2018/19

(0)

Anticipated Receipts – 2018/19

0

Balance as at 31st March 2019

2,135

 

The above forecast balances needed to be seen in the context of significant pressures for spending which had not yet been included in the Capital Programme.  These pressures included the backlog of school, highways and buildings improvements. 

 

In response to a query as to when the work would commence on the Cross Common road bridge it was noted that a report for Cabinet for the 16th December 2013 had been prepared with it envisaged that tenders be accepted early in the New Year.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2013/14 Capital Programme be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed Capital Programme for 2014/15 as detailed in Appendix B to the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  In acknowledgement of the budget proposals and budget pressures on the Council.

 

           

636     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2012/13: NATIONAL STRATEGIC INDICATORS AND PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURES (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The Council’s performance results against statutory national performance indicators (National Strategic Indicators and Public Accountability Measures) relevant to the Scrutiny Committee were presented for the year ended 31st March, 2013.

 

Under the Local Government Act 1999 the Wales Programme for Improvement and the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 the Council was required to secure continuous improvement across the full range of local services for which it was responsible and to collect a range of performance data which was submitted to the Welsh Government and the Local Government Data Unit. 

 

With regard to the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) a total of 8 indicators were reported as relevant in the following areas:

 

·         Planning (1)

·         Leisure, Culture and Sport (1)

·         Street Scene (2)

·         Transport and Highways (2)

·         Waste Management (8).

 

A detailed summary was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The following bullet points provided the background to each indicator not in the top quartile relevant to the Scrutiny Committee:

 

·         PLA006A The number of additional affordable housing units provided during the year as a percentage of all additional housing units provided during the year.  The Wales Audit Office had reservations about the robustness of data sourced nationally by Welsh Government for this indicator and had, therefore, decided to universally qualify it for 2012-13. This was because Welsh Government changed the definition of the PI at the very end of the financial year 2012-13. As a result of the changes, data from one year in arrears had to be submitted, meaning the 2012-13 figure was actually the figure for 2011-12.  Additionally, there had been problems with the data accuracy of the figures Welsh Government pre-populated across Wales. Whilst the data the Council submitted would have put it in the second quartile for the indicator in comparison for the rest of Wales, due to reasons outside of its control, it was not possible to trust these figures. The definition of the indicator had been clarified for 2013-14 and it was we hoped to be able to compare the figures on a national level at the end of the current financial year.

·         LCS/002b 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.   Performance for 2012/13 was in the bottom quartile. Performance for this PI was qualified by the WAO as data was not being calculated in accordance with usage rates guidance provided in the National Strategic Indicator definition.  The indication was that more people were using the facilities than were currently being recorded. 

·         THS/007 The percentage of adults aged 60+ who hold a concessionary bus pass.  Performance for 2012/13 was in the bottom quartile. Whilst eligible residents could apply for concessionary bus passes, the uptake was not great particularly as bus coverage in rural areas was generally limited.  As a result residents preferred to drive.  In addition, the Council did not wish to raise expectations by advertising concessionary passes when bus services were limited.

·         WMT009b The percentage of municipal waste collected by local authorities and prepared for reuse and / or recycled, including source segregated biowastes that were composted or treated biologically another way. Performance for 2012/13 was in the second quartile. This needed to be considered alongside WMT004b as less waste was landfilled, more was recycled and vice versa.  Again, some analysis of the national figures was required to establish how some authorities were performing well in one of these indicators and not in the other.

·         WMT004b The percentage of municipal waste collected by local authorities sent to landfill.  Performance for 2012/13 was in the third quartile. The Authority was investing collaboratively in Prosiect Gwyrdd which would vastly improve this figure.  The Council expected to be in the top quartile of performance by 2016/17 and expected the landfill figure to decrease drastically to around 5%.  Whilst improving performance against this indicator was seen as a more long-term process, an analysis of the current data had opened up some possible avenues of exploration to lead to more immediate improvement.  It was unclear why some authorities who were reporting lower recycling figures than us were also reporting lower landfill figures.

·         THS012 The percentage of principal (A) roads, non-principal (B) roads and non-principal (C) roads that were in overall poor condition.  This indicator was in the third quartile of performance and was continually improving.  It was possible to split the figures down into A, B and C roads as follows: A roads = 6.8% (18th in Wales), B roads = 5.9% (5th in Wales), C roads = 16.2% (16th in Wales).  This showed that improvement work should be focussed on A and C roads.  In respect of C roads, there was not going to be very much investment here due to the limited resources at our disposal.

·         STS005b The percentage of highways and relevant land inspected of a high or acceptable standard of cleanliness.  Performance for 2012/13 was in the bottom quartile. It was noted that whilst the Council was currently in 19th position in Wales, an improvement of only 3 percentage points would see it achieve the Welsh average. It was felt that the figure would improve if more inspections could be carried out, however resources were not currently available to progress this.  There was however, already some improvement in this PI; at quarter 2, as performance was reported at 96.5%.

·         STS006 The percentage of reported fly tipping incidents cleared within 5 working days.  The Council had been unable to submit a figure for this PI for 2012/13 as it was unable to accurately evidence performance. The issues that caused this had been investigated and a mid-year review of current figures was due to take place to ensure that there was no cause for concern this year.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the improvement actions that were currently being undertaken with the aim of improving the Council’s performance by the end of the current financial year.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance results presented be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgment of service performance in line with statutory requirements and the Council's Performance Management Framework and monitoring arrangements.

 

 

637     QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORTS – QUARTER 2 – DEVELOPMENT SERVICES –

 

Overall it was noted that the Development Services Directorate was on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes with 90% of actions currently either completed or on track with the details being provided under each objective.

With regard to the Corporate Plan, 93% of the actions were on track for completion.  Of the 44 actions within the Service Plan, 3 had been completed with 38 on track and 3 having slipped.  There were 3 actions relating to the Improve Objectives, of which 2 were on track and 1 had slipped.

 

In referring to Outcome Agreements, it was noted that there were currently no Outcome Agreement Actions in place for the Service as final guidance from Welsh Government had not yet been received.

 

In noting examples of exceptional performance, work on the Local Development Plan was highlighted with it being noted that all targets had been met. There had also been high levels of participation in the school sports survey, with the findings highlighting that 44% of children and young people in the Vale participated in sport and physical activity at least 3 times per week.  This performance ranked the Vale of Glamorgan second in Wales for participation.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Development Services Quarterly Performance for Quarter 2 be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

In view of the Scrutiny Committee’s monitoring role.

 

 

638     QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORTS – QUARTER 2 –VISIBLE SERVICES –

 

Overall it was noted that Visible Services was on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its Service Outcomes with 56% of actions currently either completed or on track.  The contribution to the Corporate Plan was well on track with 75% of the actions completed or on track for completion.  Of the 12 actions in the Service Plan, 3 actions had been completed, 6 were on track, 1 had slipped with 2 having not yet started.

 

The Department was also primarily on track to achieve the actions contributing to its Improvement Objectives with 57% of actions either completed or on track and of the 7 actions, 1 was completed, 3 were on track and 3 had slipped.  The report also identified how the department would bring any slipped actions back on track.

 

The Operational Manager for waste management advised that with regard to Prosiect Gwyrdd, the Project Board had recently agreed to move to financial close. The Chairman and Vice took the opportunity to advise the Committee in respect of a recent site visit to a similar plant to the one being established in Cardiff in Reading which had been an excellent visit and which had provided a more detailed insight into the facility to be used.  It was further noted that school visits to such venues would be welcomed by the company.  Members also took the opportunity to thank the Operational Manager for his hard work in respect of this Project.

 

In response to a query regarding car parking enforcement Members were asked to email their concerns directly to the responsible officer in Bridgend and he would supply the Democratic Services Officer with the email address for Members.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Quarterly Performance Report for Quarter 2 performance for Visible Services be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the Committee’s monitoring role.

 

 

639     PRESENTATION – CYD CYMRU –

 

The Committee received a presentation from Jane Wade, Operational Manager (Property) and Esther Tallent (Energy Saving Trust) in respect of the collective energy buy-in which had been developed and supported by stakeholders across Wales to help people take part in selective energy switching.  It was noted that selective energy switching was important as it allowed people to group together to negotiate better deals with energy providers at a time when the costs of energy are going up.  The Committee were reminded of the importance that the more people that could be grouped together the bigger the savings could be made.  It was reported that to date nearly 5,000 people had already signed up. In response to a query as to whether the initiative could assist businesses it was confirmed that the scheme was only for domestic properties.

 

Having considered the presentation it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T all Members be encouraged to "spread the word" about the initiative and that Councillor R.F. Curtis (Cabinet Member) be thanked for bringing the matter to Members’ attention.   

 

 

 

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