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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 7th October, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore (Chairman); Councillor E. Hacker (Vice-Chairman); Councillors P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, Mrs. M. Kelly Owen, P. King, A.G. Powell and S.T. Wiliam.

 

Also present: Councillors . L. Burnett, R.F. Curtis, G. John and Dr. I.J. Johnson.

 

 

483     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor G. Roberts.

 

 

484     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 2nd September, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

485     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

486     ANNOUNCEMENT -

 

The Chairman informed Members that following the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee and the decision of Cabinet that a blue plaque be erected at Barry Island a recent ceremony had taken place in September 2014 with ex-staff from Butlins Holiday Camp when the Blue Plaque had been installed in memory of the camp.

 

 

487     'XFOR’ ENVIRONMENTAL ENFORCEMENT SERVICES TRIAL - 30TH JULY, 2012 - 20TH MAY, 2013 (REF) -

 

Cabinet had, on 28th July, 2014 received a report in relation to the trial and had referred the matter to the Scrutiny Committee for information.  Prior to the presentation of the report the Chairman advised that the issue of XFOR was a recognised priority by the Committee which it had itself added to its work programme for consideration.

 

Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson had also made a request for consideration of matter for a report to be presented on the one year environmental protection trial, to advise "on the trial and its impact upon dog mess and litter prevention".

 

The Director of Visible Services and Housing in presenting the report stated that  XFOR had commenced enforcement patrols in the Vale, in respect of litter and dog fouling, on the 30th July 2012 and had continued 'no tolerance' enforcement work with varying staffing levels for approximately 10 months.  The trial had however, ended prematurely on 20th May 2013, with XFOR having issued 1,665 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) of £75 to residents and visitors guilty of the offences of littering or dog fouling.  Details of XFOR's activity over the trial period were provided as detailed  below:

 

 

 

Litter

Dog Fouling

 1

No. of fixed penalties issued 

1,655

10

 2

No. of fixed penalties paid

1,196

6

 3

Amount Collected (£)

£89,716

£450

 

 

Although XFOR had initially commenced the service with a total of four Enforcement Officers plus one Administrative Officer, they had experienced some staff turnover problems and at times only operated with two Enforcement Offices plus an Administrative Officer.  At the end of the trial they were operating with a staff level of two Enforcement Officers only, which had resulted in reduced numbers of FPNs being issued.  XFOR needed to issue a minimum of 50 FPNs per week, in order to support their business model. This had resulted in targeting the most prevalent and easy to detect offences of 'smoking related' litter.  Whilst assurances at the time had been  given by XFOR's senior management that once their officers had reached the minimum number of FPNs they were available to carry any patrols as directed by the Council, there remained a disproportionate focus on smoking related litter in high footfall areas such as town centres, Llandough Hospital car park and retail parks. However on occasions XFOR had supported patrolling areas such as playing fields or designated residential areas when requested to do so by Council officers. To have been fully cost effective over the 12 month trial XFOR would have needed to issue approximately 3,000 FPNs.  From Table 1 above it could be seen that they issued 1,665 in the 10 months they operated.  XFOR's decision to reduce their resources operating within the Vale was also not adequately explained at the time and was clearly at odds with their need to recover their costs. Of the 1,665 FPNs issued, 72% were paid, discharging the offender's legal liability to prosecution.  Approximately 7% of fines issued were taken through Court for non-payment and this process had involved a considerable amount of officer time.

 

Committee was informed that the Council employed three officers on a permanent basis with responsibility for environmental enforcement but however, even with a significant change in focus, the Director stated that the Council’s own staff were unlikely to ever reach the enforcement ticketing levels of a private organisation set up specifically for such a purpose.  The Director further advised that there was no doubt that the trial and its related publicity had significantly raised awareness amongst residents and visitors of the consequences of littering in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

The trial itself had ended on 20th May, 2013 and a Keep Wales Tidy Local Environment Survey for the Vale of Glamorgan carried out on 31st October, 2013 to 14th November, 2013 showed

 

·         the then Cleanliness Indicator (CI) for the Vale of Glamorgan as 70.9.  This being the highest recorded by KWT since their surveys began and notably above the all Wales figure of 67.6 and a significant improvement on the figure of 66.9 achieved during 2012;

·         dog fouling affected 7.8% of streets in the Vale, an improvement on the figure of 11.6% from 2012 and a figure that compared very favourably to the then all Wales figure of 13.8%;

·         graffiti had dropped from 11.6% in 2012-13 to 5.8% in 2013-14, taking it below the then all Wales figure of 11.9%.

 

However, the Director stated that the most common litter issue facing the Vale of Glamorgan area as a whole was still the presence of smoking-related litter, predominantly cigarette ends.  Smoking related litter (SRL) was encountered on 73.8% of the streets surveyed although this was nevertheless below the all-Wales level on 86.9%.  Confectionary litter was found on 45.6% of streets and drinks litter on 26.2%.  Fast food litter was recorded on 17.5% of streets.  The report also highlighted that the Council was currently in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council for the provision of Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) and had just recently completed one year of this partnership arrangement.  One future option it was suggested could be to utilise CPE staff to issue enforcement notices for environmental crimes in relation to parking offences.  Such an arrangement had recently been introduced in Wrexham County Borough Council. 

 

However, such an arrangement would be likely, to reduce income as the frequency of environmental crimes was generally less than that of parking contraventions.   Bridgend County Borough Council officers were also not supportive of this approach which it was said could also mean that any staff engaged in this 'dual' role may have to be directly employed by the Vale of Glamorgan.  Members were reminded that all CPE staff were currently employed by Bridgend County Borough Council.

 

Committee was further advised that a report detailing the costs and income of the CPE partnership during its first year was shortly to be considered by Cabinet.  The option of 'dual' the roles of a number of staff within this service would be considered in light of the financial position to date and any projections for the future.  This could then be compared with the range of private provider options available. The report in referring to future options for consideration detailed the following :

 

(i)         Do Nothing - By reverting to the enforcement services offered by Waste Management and Cleansing prior to the commencement of the trial;

 

(ii)        Procurement of external enforcement - Carry out a formal procurement exercise to obtain contracted enforcement support to carry out littering and dog fouling and possible duty of care, inappropriate placement of residual  black bin bags enforcement work;

 

(iii)       Expanding the existing Waste Management and Cleansing's Enforcement establishment to provide the additional enforcement activities provided externally during the trial.

 

(iv)       Utilising CPE officers to enforce Environmental crimes in addition to Road Traffic legalisation.

 

The Cabinet Member for Visible Services and Housing, with permission to speak, advised of his concerns about utilising the Council’s Enforcement Officers as it was possible that they could have difficulty in issuing such notices in the same area that they lived and worked and he stated that it may be considered more acceptable for private contractors to undertake the role.  In relation to the issue of dog mess, he would also be raising the matter with the Youth Cabinet to see if they could come up with any ideas to assist.  The Director confirmed that it was apparent that if the Council’s own staff were employed, research indicated that there were not as many notices issued as if a private organisation was involved.  One of the main issues being that the private sector could offer incentives to workers plus it did not have the terms and condition issues that the Council would have.

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson, with permission to speak, stated that education was key in order to progress the message, cleanliness of the streets was the main aim and he queried whether Keep Wales Tidy (KWT) were also available for the current year.  In response the Director advised that up to date KWT figures were not currently available but assured Members that he would present the information when available. 

 

The Cabinet Member also advised that he would be campaigning to urge traders to consider redesigning how they provided their food to the public in particular if they used cardboard cartons as opposed to polystyrene this would be more acceptable as cardboard was bio-degradable.  Members considered that designing things 'out’ was a good idea.

 

In further considering the report some Members expressed the view that in their opinion the XFOR trial had been extremely successful and further queried with the Director and the Cabinet Members the use of in-house staff as opposed to the private sector.  The Director advised that Enforcement Officers for the Vale were compliance officers who worked to an Enforcement Policy and in the main their duties included dealing with duty of care notices, notices for properties in multiple occupation and as such they could not be considered as a direct comparison with XFOR as the duties and work were different.  In his opinion, the private sector were also best placed as they could issue performance related pay incentives and other incentives that the Council could not plus they could operate under different terms and conditions than  the Council.  Considerable research therefore showed that the private sector could undertake the role in a more beneficial manner for the Council than the Council’s own staff could.

 

Members suggested that in the future consideration should be given to 'blitzing an area’ on a regular basis and queried whether there was any current legislation that could be used to assist by placing the responsibility on property owners etc. for litter. The Director in response advised that there was legislation that could be utilised and action could and was taken by the Council but it was not an easy process, he however, also found that in most circumstances the issuing of warning letters appeared to be sufficient.  The suggestion of blitzing an area was considered to be a good option and that a further report would be brought back to the Scrutiny Committee in relation to future options for such a service for Members’ consideration. 

 

In further consideration of the report a Member raised a query in relation to the terminology used in paragraph 24, that the service was cost prohibitive.  The Director advised that this related to the fact that the business case for XFOR had been flawed and that in his view consideration should be given to how the fines are collected for example for the first 14 days a lesser fine could be requested and increases made thereafter if not received in the first instance.

 

With regard to back office costs Members queried the estimated figure for such a service with the Director advising that these issues would be addressed in a future report but that in the main they related to extra legal support that had been provided for dealing with appeals.  The Legal Department had also advised that the current SLA although considered reasonable at the time needed to be renegotiated given the extent of what needed to be undertaken. 

 

In response to a query as to when the report would be presented to Committee, the Director advised that he anticipated December with a view to commencing any new arrangements by 1st April, 2015. 

 

Members stated that they were not comfortable with using the private sector only and requested that the report include details of options for private sector and in-house enforcement for their consideration. It was further suggested that the report should also details options for possible future collaboration and consider the possibility of another local authority undertaking enforcement work in the Vale and  vice versa. In conclusion, the Director advised that he would be happy to consider all the issues discussed above although he reaffirmed his belief that an in-house service could be problematic, particularly with regard to staff terms and conditions. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the resolutions of Cabinet be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T a future report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee detailing the full costs of all available future options for improved environmental enforcement to include both the private sector and in-house provision and other suggestions as outlined above.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In recognition of the Cabinet decisions.

 

(2)       To ensure that Members have all relevant information prior to any recommendations being made.

 

 

488     SPORTS DEVELOPMENT (REF) -

 

At its meeting on 11th August, 2014 Cabinet had received a report which provided details of the work and achievements in relation to sports development during 2013/14.  The report also sought approval for the 2014/15 LAPA Plan and a request to endorse the partnership with Barry Town United Association Football Club for a further year for the development of local football talent.

 

In presenting the report the Operational Manager for Leisure and Tourism informed Members that the Council’s Sports Development Team had enjoyed a highly successful year with the Vale of Glamorgan Council being ranked equal second in terms of participation for children and young people in Wales and ranked first for adult participation in sport.

 

Appendix A to the report provided Members with details of the Vale’s Sports Review for 2013/14 with Members being advised that the Local Authority Partnership Agreement was a contract that the Council had with Sport Wales for the delivery of key elements of the sports development programme.  It was noted that a significant amount of funding was provided by Sports Wales, had supported various sport development initiatives including Dragon Sport, 5 x 60 activity, Disability Sport, Community Chest and free swimming.

 

In considering the contents of the report questions were raised in relation to how the Council managed to contact all organisations in the Vale and how it would ensure that all children were able to swim by the time they left primary school.  The Operational Manager advised that in relation to swimming a recent report had been considered by the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and the Democratic and Scrutiny Officer would make arrangements for that to be circulated to all Members for information.

 

In referring to Sport Development and the role of the Rugby Development Officer a Member queried the position and whether assistance could be provided to local clubs. He specifically referred to the fact that assistance would be welcomed at the local Sully club. In response the Operational Manager stated that he would ask the appropriate officer to make arrangements to discuss any issues with the Club within the next week. 

 

In referring to a question from a Member in respect of the Barry Town Club House, although not on the agenda the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sport Development, with permission to speak, advised that a feasibility study was currently being carried out with a report expected early December and he would ensure a copy was forwarded to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.  In response to a further question as to whether a longer term solution could be found Members were informed that Barry Town had advised that they currently wished to take a step by step approach.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently,

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Cabinet decision be endorsed and that the Committee notes the significant work that had been undertaken to date.

 

(2)       T H A T staff involved in Sports Development within the Vale be congratulated on their successes to date.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of the contents contained therein.

 

(2)       In recognition of the achievements of the Council’s Sport Development Team in the current year.

 

 

489     WELSH GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION: DRAFT TECHNICAL ADVICE NOTE (TAN) 1 JOINT HOUSING LAND AVAILABILITY STUDIES (REF) -

 

Cabinet had, on 8th September, 2014, considered a report which advised of the Welsh Government’s consultation on Technical Advice Note (TAN) 1 Joint Housing Land Availability Studies (JHLAS) and were requested to approve the report as the Council’s formal response to the consultation.

 

The report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee for information, it being noted that Planning Policy Wales (PPW) set the context for sustainable land use planning policy within which Local Authorities statutory Local Development Plans (LDPs) were prepared and development control decisions on individual planning applications and appeals were made.  The policy was supplemented by a suite of topic based Technical Advice Notes (TANs) and procedural guidance which was contained within circulars and policy clarification letters.

 

The Council’s proposed response to the TAN 1 Joint Housing Land Availability Studies Consultation was attached as Appendix A to the report.  The Director of Development Services advised that the main points of the Council’s proposed submission were as follows:

"

·         Removing the ability of LPAs without an adopted UDP/LDP to evidence a 5 year housing supply would seriously undermine the principles of sustainable development inherent within national planning policy.  Moreover while it was good practice to incentivise LDP preparation, Welsh Government would be aware of the timetable for plan preparation which was often elongated by factors outside of a Council’s control such as judicial review and the significance of public opinion.

·         It was not necessarily the case that an adopted LDP ensured the provision of the required 5 year housing land supply. Of the 14 LPAs which had an adopted LDP, 11 presently did not have a 5 year housing land supply, and in the case of both Caerphilly and Merthyr Tydfil Councils neither had achieved a 5 year supply since adopting their LDPs in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

·         The proposal would increase speculative and potentially undesirable development proposals, placing unnecessary additional pressure on LPAs, at a time when resources were already being stretched - potentially redirecting resources away from LDP work, leading to delays in their progression.

·         The proposal was likely to lead to an increase in appeals and more worryingly legal challenges to decisions from local communities and developers.

·         The proposal could potentially undermine emerging LDPs as sites other than those identified within Deposit LDPs would inevitably come forward speculatively.  This was the experience of the Vale of Glamorgan during 2012/13 when the Council’s JHLAS showed a less than 5 year housing land supply.

·         Councillors had to make brave and informed decisions to approve housing schemes which were not in an adopted but time expired UDP in order to continue to ensure a 5 years supply was maintained.  In the Vale of Glamorgan, such decisions had been properly made by Councillors who clearly understood the reasoning behind the land supply argument.  If the proposal was to be implemented there would be no perceived benefit or incentive to approve controversial housing developments as this would not improve a Councils Housing land supply figures.  It was possible that the planning system and more importantly the delivery of housing land could be delayed and the appeals system overwhelmed with such applications, which would be to no one’s benefit.

·         The prospect of the “No plan, No Housing Supply†situation could actually hinder the LDP process, slow the delivery of housing land and undermine the ability for LPAs to appropriately and sustainably manage development and the delivery of essential infrastructure.

·         That it was the current LDP process that required a complete and timely overhaul - presently the process was considered to be unnecessarily technical and bureaucratic which from experience disenfranchised the public; and the number of statutory consultation stages were considered cumbrous, time consuming and resource intense, and arguably the key reason of delays in LDP coverage within Wales.  This was especially the case in areas of high land values and development pressures such as the Vale of Glamorgan."

 

The Director further advised that the Council’s submission questioned the rationale behind the Welsh Government’s assumptions that having LDP coverage across Wales would guarantee a healthy supply of land as there were other market factors such as the availability of mortgage lending and the phasing of sites by house builders that would affect the classification of sites within the JHLAS. 

 

The rationale for this change would incentivise LPAs to progress their LDPs to adoption quicker was therefore questioned.  The Council’s submission also highlighted the potential addition pressures that this would have on LPAs as a result of increased speculative planning applications, the impact on the principle of a plan-led system, and in the absence of evidence of land supply it shall remove the ability the ability of Councils and Councillors to make informed decisions when considering housing proposals in the future, which would lead to an increased number of planning application appeals.  For these reasons the Council’s submission strongly therefore recommended that the Welsh Government allowed LPAs who had reached the deposit stage of LDP preparation to maintain the ability to calculate its housing land supply against the housing requirement of its Deposit LDP.

 

Having fully considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the formal response to the Welsh Government Consultation on Technical Advice Note (TAN) 1 Joint Housing Land Availability Studies as attached at Appendix A to the report, be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the comments contained within the report and the Director’s advice at the meeting.

 

 

490     TRANSPORT SAVINGS PROGRAMME UPDATE (REF) -

 

Cabinet had, on 8th September, 2014, received a report which provided an update on the work being undertaken to review the Council’s current transport arrangements.  Cabinet had also been requested to determine the actions and resource profile required for the introduction of a comprehensive transport savings programme.  The report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for consideration as the Lead Committee for the service area with a further resolution that the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) also receive the report for information.

 

The Chairman subsequently advised Members that any comments / recommendations made would need to be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) in the first instance and that that Committee was due to consider the report at its meeting on 15th October, 2014.  Prior to the meeting a presentation on vehicle telemetry was also to take place which all Members of the Council had been invited to. 

 

In considering the report it was noted that the requirement to review significant areas of the current spend, including arrangements related to vehicle transport had been highlighted via the Council’s 2012/13 Medium Term Financial Plan.  In December 2013 a diagnostic review of transport arrangements had been commissioned by the Corporate Management Team in order to identify what process improvements and significant cashable savings in respect of transport operations of the Council.  The project had been sponsored by the Director of Visible Services and Housing and project managed by the Senior Business Improvement Partner.  Following a competitive tendering process, Edge Public Solutions had been selected to perform the diagnostic review supported by a member of the Council’s Business Improvement Team.

 

The resulting document entitled "Vale of Glamorgan Transport Review" was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and provided a detailed assessment of the current transport arrangements and scope for improvement across the service areas culminating in a series of recommendations for improvement. 

 

The Director of Visible Services and Housing advised Members that prior to the transport review being undertaken £690,000 worth of savings had already been highlighted by service managers for the financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16 and that further recommendations provided by Edge identified an estimated £900,000 additional savings.  The review document also provided Members with details of both an assessment of the existing transport related savings plans and a high level road map for savings and processing improvements.  It was noted that in general the review had been complementary of the staff and services provided by the Authority and an assessment of the management of individual services relating to transport was found to range from adequate to excellent.  However, concern was expressed in the report regarding the current fragmentation of transport arrangements within the authority. 

A diagnostic review had been conducted between February and April 2014 and interviews and work studies had been held with over 60 staff and suppliers during the course of the review.  The review provided critical guidance relating to the current management and operation of Fleet Management and Garage services, including the requirement of improved management controls relating to the motor vehicle workshop in order to improve productivity and efficiency and to enhance control over parts and stock management. 

 

Increased use of available technologies in the garage was recommended in order to improve both customer and management information.  The report also highlighted the need for a fully integrated Fleet Management Information Technology System if a co-ordinated approach to Fleet Management was to be achieved. 

 

A further recommendation to review the current operating process and competences for Fleet Management and Administration was made available within the report in order to ensure that both administrators and managers were able to efficiently prioritise and manage workloads.  An overarching criticism of current transport arrangements referred to the review of the option that service managers acted in isolation regarding transport arrangements with varying degrees of co-ordination and communication between departments when arranging similar transport provision.  The review concluded that no single team or service was able to achieve an holistic view of transport decisions being made across the authority and in order to achieve the holistic approach recommended that a central Integrated Transport Unit (ITU) be set up in order to transform the current management of transport arrangements, positively change their relationship between client and provider and effectively adjust levels of autonomy and control.  However, the Director of Visible Services and Housing advised that the Transport Savings Steering Group although recognising the potential value for a central Integrated Transport Unit, expressed concerns at the cost of setting up such a unit and deemed them to be prohibitive although they recognised the benefits of co-ordinating several aspects of transport management and considered the potential transfer of additional learning needs post 16 and Social Services Transport Management and administration functions to the existing transport function within Development Services.  It was also recognised that further work was required to quantify the adjustments to ensure that such a proposal was viable.  However, the creation of the diagnostic review and the accompanying resource profile had provided the Council with a documented series of objectives regarding information management.  The Council would also require a co-ordinated and timely approach to the implementation of the accepted recommendations if it was to achieve the savings and service improvements identified within the required time periods. 

 

The Director assured Members that he would continue to bring regular reports to the Scrutiny Committee on Fleet Management for their consideration. 

 

Although recognising that it was a comprehensive report, in referring to the Tier 3 Driver Staff Travel project Members stated that the Council needed to be mindful of equal opportunities.  In referring to paragraph 24 and the current mileage claim rate, Members also raised concerns as to why the rate had not been introduced over previous years, with the Director advising that the Vale was one of the only Councils who paid at the HMRC rate but discussions were ongoing with the trade unions in respect of this matter. Members also queried the cost to the Vale of monitoring and processing all tax forms (P11D) and the Director being unable to provide the information on the night agreed to contact the relevant Department prior to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) meeting on 15th October, 2014. 

 

In considering the report Members urged the Director to implement any of the recommendations that could be addressed, as soon as possible.  They also recognised that the issue of staff taking Council transport home had been addressed by the Director recently, but queried whether this had been addressed across all Departments the Director responded by advising that it had.  It was also a firm view of Members that there should be a sound business case if staff were required to take their vehicles home. 

 

Having fully considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the above comments of the Scrutiny Committee be relayed to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) in time for its meeting on 15th October, 2014.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the contents of the report and the comments made at the meeting.

 

 

491     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST AUGUST, 2014 (DDS AND DVSH) -

 

In presenting the report the Accountant advised of the current budget position for the following service areas:-

 

Highways Maintenance & Engineering Design & Procurement - There was currently an adverse variance of £86,000 to the profiled budget. The original budget for 2014/15 had taken account of £165,000 savings required for the financial year and progress against these savings was shown at Appendix 4 to the report. There were however, still financial savings from previous years that have not yet been made and were putting pressure on the budget. The savings yet to be made were for street lighting (£150,000) and car parking (£340,000). Members were advised that Reports were to be taken to Cabinet shortly which would set out the proposals for both of these savings. It was noted that the full year savings would not be made in these areas. In addition to these pressures there was also a significant pressure on the budget for pot-holes with an anticipated overspend of £327,000. There were however underspends anticipated elsewhere within the service which could be used to partially offset the overspends and in addition, Cabinet on 22nd September  2014, had approved a virement of £350,000 to the Visible Services budget from General Policy to assist in addressing the projected overspend. It is therefore anticipated that there would now be a £350,000 overspend at year end.  The Director of Housing and Visible Services was currently in the process of identifying savings from elsewhere within the service to cover this shortfall.

 

Waste Management - There was currently an adverse variance of £49,000 for the service area with the two main reasons being that there was a slight delay with the implementation of the vehicle telemetry software and an increased cost for treatment of dry co-mingled recycling.  The vehicle telemetry was however now in place and reports would shortly be run on vehicle utility so that decisions could be taken on vehicles that were under-utilised to enable savings to be made.  To offset the overspends, the interim contract with Viridor for disposal of black bag waste would achieve significant savings compared to the current cost of disposal.  The Vale was due to join the contract in November 2014.

 

Grounds Maintenance - There was currently an adverse variance of £77,000 to the profiled budget with it being reported that the main area of budget pressure was for maintaining areas such as Rhoose Point for which there was no budget. Again there had also been some slippage in the savings related to transport, however, every effort would be made to ensure that savings were made elsewhere in the department.

 

Economic Development – A favourable variance of £35,000 to the profiled budget was due mainly to higher than anticipated income in the Employment Training Services section. Although pre-established changes in terms of the JobFit agreement meant that attachment payments were likely to reduce from August 2014 and as such the surplus was likely to diminish.

 

Leisure - There was currently a favourable variance of £54,000 to profiled budget due mainly to vacant posts within the Countryside division being held pending a restructure within the Division.

 

Planning & Transportation - A favourable variance of £144,000 to profiled budget was reported as due mainly to a higher than anticipated level of fee income received early in the year, although this had slowed in recent months.  A rationalisation of budgets was to be undertaken to address the issue and to re-align budgets to service priorities.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st August, 2014. 

 

A few projects were referred to in the report in particular the Section 106 agreement for Paget Road to Penarth Portland Woodland Path with Members being informed that following the completion of the required consultation process it had been agreed that up to £40,000 of the Penarth Heights Section 106 monies could be used to re-establish the footpath link between Paget Road and Penarth Marina.  The Arts Council of Wales had also approved a grant of £50,000 for an artist design lighting scheme in the ceiling of the Eastern Shelter, Barry Island and with regard to local road network improvements the scheme had been subject to delay during the current financial year.  However, £200,000 had been committed in September and full spend was still projected by March 2014. 

 

Concern was expressed as to the delay in achieving the savings in respect of street lighting and in particular the Director was also urged to reconsider undertaking any street lighting work in the winter months.  It was agreed that all street lighting should be changed in the summer months wherever possible.  The Director however, although accepting the  viewpoint stated that the delay on the project was due to a number of reasons including health and safety issues and that it now resulted in the Council having to undertake work in the winter months in order to achieve the required savings by 1st April, 2015.  Following discussion on the matter Members urged that members of the public be kept fully informed and updated as to when any such work was to be scheduled and undertaken. 

 

In recognition of the comments above, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2014/15 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the contents contained within the report and the views expressed at the meeting.

 

 

492     QUARTER 1 DEVELOPMENT SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-2015 (DDS) -

 

The quarterly performance results for Quarter 1, 1st April, 2014 to 30th June, 2014/15 were attached as an Appendix to the report, it being noted that overall the service was well on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes with 96% of the actions currently on track.  The service's progress against Corporate Plan actions was also on course with 97% of actions on track for completion. Of the 40 Corporate Plan actions within the Service Plan, 39 are on track and only one has slipped. The service also had 100% (15) of its Improvement Objectives actions on track for completion and currently had no Outcome Agreement actions.

 

Of the 38 performance indicators, 24 had been met or exceeded target (11 of which were for Public Protection), 3 were within 10% of target, 4 had missed target by more than 10% (3 of which were for Public Protection), 1 indicator had no target set due to a definition change (Public Protection PSR006 - The average number of calendar days taken to deliver low cost adaptation works in private dwellings where the Disabled Facilities Grant process is not used), data was not collected for 4 indicators (No data was reported for one Public Protection Indicator DS/M012 - The percentage of all domestic abuse incidents which are repeat offences) and for the  remaining three Development Services indicators (DS/M014 - Number of registrations in afterschool and community dragon sports clubs, DS/M015 - Percentage of children and young people taking part in the 5 x 60 scheme and DS/M016 - Number of children attending play schemes), data will not be available until mid-August) and for two indicators a RAG status was not applicable (No RAG was available for one Public Protection indicator).

 

In terms of examples of exceptional performance, in May 2014 the Council had been shortlisted for a number of awards by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and the Council had been highly commended in categories of 'excellence in improving customer experiences' and 'professional of the year'.  The Council was runner-up in the 'travel demand management' category for the Greenlinks Community Transport operation.  The Council was also runner-up in both the 'partnership' category and 'excellence in passenger transport' as well as overall winner in the 'travel demand' category for work with New Adventure Travel in delivering the subsidised 303/304 Bus service.

 

In considering the report Members raised the following issues:

 

DS/A022 – "Increase the awareness of the Council’s emergency planning arrangements to ensure that staff are prepared and contingency arrangements are in place in the event of an emergency incident."  Reference was made to the use of leisure centres in emergencies with the Director responding that he would ensure that the Incident Protocol was updated and the issue addressed in any future training.

 

LCS002 – "The number of visits to local authority sport and leisure centres during the year where the visitor will be participating in physical activity per 1000 population."

 

Members in querying the PI noted that this represented a slight decrease against target and discussions with Parkwood were being explored as to how this could be brought within target.  Members then queried the date of the reintroduction of the pool at Penarth Leisure Centre, with the Director advising that no definitive date had been provided other than that it was likely to be two to three weeks away. He referred to a number of complications that had arisen following the fire at the leisure centre which had resulted in the pool being refurbished.  The Department was also in consultation with Parkwood Leisure as to how they could entice the public back to the swimming pool as many were now visiting the nearby Cardiff swimming pool.  Discussions on this matter were currently ongoing.  Members were reminded by the Democratic and Scrutiny Officer that an annual report on Parkwood Leisure in the Vale was due to be presented to Committee in the near future.

 

DM2a – "the percentage of planning applications for major development determined during the year within 8 weeks".

 

Members considered that this target was inappropriate as it was unrealistic to expect the Council to ever determine a major planning application within eight weeks given that in nearly all circumstances it would need to go to the Planning Committee for approval would almost always require a Section 106 Legal Agreement. 

 

DS/A001 – "Implement the Castleland Renewal Area to improve the standard of housing in the local environment."

 

A Member queried how much uptake for assistance had been requested for the Holton Road scheme with the Director advising that a number of schemes had received assistance with considerable interest having been received. He agreed to make arrangements for the details to be provided to Members via e-mail.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T the progress to date on achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-2017, the Outcome Agreement 2013-2016 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-2015 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       Having considered the Quarter 1 Development Services performance results as at 30th June, 2014.

 

 

493     QUARTER 1 VISIBLE SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15 (DVSH) -

 

Committee noted that Visible Services was on track to achieve its objectives contributing to service outcomes and that at Quarter 1, 62% of actions had either been completed or were on track to be completed with the remaining 38% scheduled for start and completion later in the year. No actions were reported as slipped.

 

Of the 13 Corporate Plan actions, 85% of actions (11) have been completed or are on track. The remaining 2 Corporate Plan actions have not yet been started. Of the 2 Outcome Agreement actions for the service, 1 has been completed and the other is on track for completion.  There are currently no actions relating to the Improvement Objectives.

 

Of the 18 performance indicators, 7 have met or exceeded target, 4 are within 10% of target and 6 have missed target by more than 10%.  There was one indicator, VS/M007: "Number of dropped crossing points provided for community use" where no data was available for the quarter. 

 

In terms of exceptional performance, the Department had achieved Green Flag status for 5 parks as a mark of excellence demonstrating good amenities and community involvement in the parks, surpassing the target of 4 parks (VS/A051) (CP/E10).

 

The detailed report of the Directorate’s overall performance was provided at Appendix 1 to the report however, the Director referred to some errors in the document  and advised that with regard to page 13 i.e. STS006 - the percentage of reported fly tipping incidents cleared within five working days, the report reported 100% actual.  This should have read 80.26%, with the actual figure being 94% and the 2nd Quarter figure 98%. 

In referring to specific indicators discussion ensued as below:

 

- THS009 – "the average number of calendar days taken to repair street lamp failures during the year."  The Director’s view was that the target needed to be changed to five days as the current target was not achievable within the resources available in the street lighting team.  It was an area that also did not receive many complaints and the reduction in repair standards had not had a significant impact on the citizens of the Vale.  The Members of the Committee in considering this aspect concurred with the Director’s suggestion and suggested that the target be changed to five days as the current target of one day was not achievable with a request that this be addressed in the Service Plan for 2015. 

 

- WMT0101 – "percentage of local authority collected municipal waste prepared for reuse, the comment contained in the report advised that this was due to a lack of community reuse schemes in the Vale of Glamorgan"  Members sought advice from the Director as to how this could be addressed with the Director informing that in the main this relied on Government grants which were challenging for the Council.

 

- VS/M016 – "the number of own fault accidents".  The current figure was reported as 22 and Fleet Management were currently negotiating with Department Heads and Unions to introduce policies to reduce own fault accidents.  The intention was to place more responsibility on the driver and a report was due to be presented to the Cabinet on the issue with Members suggesting that a copy be also presented to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

- STS007 – "the percentage of reported fly tipping incidents which lead to enforcement activity"  Committee was advised that during the quarter enforcement officers had had to focus their resources on other work priorities.  Members suggested that in their view the target should be phased.  In response the Director advised that there would be a greater use of technology in the future that would assist, which was accepted.

 

 - VS/A046 – "finalise the Vale of Glamorgan Allotment Strategy."  A Member raised his disappointment as to the Council being no further forward in relation to this strategy. The Director advised that he would also be suggesting that the strategy was further was deferred until 2015/16 in order to reflect the recent Welsh Government guidelines on its consultation on improving the availability of allotments.  He further stated that it was his intention to request that the Council considers devolving the service to Town and Community Councils in the future. 

 

- VS/A069 – "deliver the Coldbrook Catchment Flood Risk Management Scheme".  Works were on target to commence in November with letters being forwarded to those who had been flooded and those who had made complaints to the Department.  A press release was also being scheduled for Thursday, 9th October, 2014.

 

Following consideration of the report the Committee in conclusion took the opportunity to congratulate the service area on achieving five green flags for local parks within the Vale of Glamorgan with it subsequently being

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15 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)       In recognition of Quarter 1 Visible Services performance results as at 30th June, 2014 in order to identify service areas for improvement.

 

 

494     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2014/15 (DR) -

 

Committee was informed of progress in relation to previous recommendations and requested to confirm the updated Work Programme schedule (Appendix B) for the Scrutiny Committee 2014/15.

 

In presenting the work programme schedule the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer advised that a reference from Cabinet in respect of street lighting was anticipated for the 4th October meeting which would be considered in conjunction with a Request for Consideration of matter on the subject by Councillor R.J. Bertin.  Members were also informed that an annual report on the performance of Parkwood Leisure with the Vale of Glamorgan was to be presented.  With regard to the Committees recommendation at its meeting on 2nd September for the creation of a working group or various sub-groups with the exact make up and remit being defined by Cabinet in respect of the Reshaping Services programme, Members were advised that Cabinet had resolved that the recommendation be noted as it had already agreed to set up a Working Group for the same.

 

In conclusion, the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer advised Committee that following approval of the report and together with any amendments made as agreed at the meeting, the work programme schedule would be uploaded to the Council website.

 

Having fully considered the report the Scrutiny Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the items deemed completed for July to September 2014 as detailed below be accepted.

 

15th July, 2014

Min. No. 217 - Vale of Glamorgan Destination Action Plan -

(2)   That the issues identified by the Committee as outlined  above be referred to  Cabinet and the Tourism Department for consideration during the consultation process.

Cabinet, on 8th September 2014, noted the report (Min. No. C2451 refers).

Completed

(3)   That following the consultation process a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee with the results of the consultation and with any revisions necessary to the Destination Action Plan.

Added to work programme schedule.  To be presented when available.

 

Min. No. 219 – Visible Services End of Year Performance Report 2013/14 and Target Setting 2014/15 (DVSH) – Recommended

(1)   That the report be noted and Cabinet advised that the Committee requested that further consideration be given to more meaningful performance indicators being identified and realistic targets set.

Cabinet, on 8th September 2014, noted the report (Min. No. C2450 refers).

Completed

(2)   That the Committee receives an update report to a future meeting on the maintenance of potholes in the Vale and the materials to be used.

Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 222 – Scrutiny Committees’ Draft Annual Report – May 2013 to April 2014 (DR) – Recommended

(2)   That the draft Annual Report be submitted to Full Council in September 2014.

Referred to Full Council meeting on 29th September 2014.

Completed

Min. No. 223 – Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Work Programme Schedule 2014/15 (DR) – Recommended

(2)   That the work programme schedule attached at Appendix B be accepted and published on the Council’s website subject to the inclusion of a report on waste recycling initiatives being added.

Added to work programme schedule and uploaded to website September 2014.

Completed

2nd September 2014

Min. No. – Reshaping Services – A New Change Programme for the Council (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet considers options regarding the creation of either a Working Group or various Sub-Groups, with the exact make-up and remit of which should be clearly defined and agreed by Cabinet.

Cabinet, on 6th October, resolved that the contents of the report be noted and it be highlighted that the Cabinet Working Group had already been set up as a result of the 11 August, 2014 Cabinet report.

(Min. No. C2481 refers)

Completed

Min. No. – Outcome Agreement 2013-2016: End of Year Report for 2013/14 (DDS) – Recommended

(2)   That closer scrutiny during 2014/15 of those areas where the Council has not achieved its actions and targets be undertaken, and proactive action be taken to ensure that they are achieved in 2014/15.

To be undertaken on a quarterly basis via normal quarterly reporting of PIs and targets.

Completed

Min. No. – Outcome Agreement 2013-2016: End of Year Report for 2013/14 (DVSH) – Recommended

(2)   That closer scrutiny during 2014/15 of those areas where the Council has not achieved its actions and targets be undertaken, and proactive action be taken to ensure that they are achieved in 2014/15.

To be undertaken on a quarterly basis via normal quarterly reporting of PIs and targets.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the Work Programme schedule be amended to include the forthcoming anticipated reference from Cabinet on Street Lighting and the reports requested during the meeting as detailed above.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2) In recognition of the views of Committee and the discussions during the meeting.

 

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