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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 2nd December, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor E. Hacker (Vice-Chairman in the Chair); Councillors P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, Mrs. M. Kelly Owen, P. King, A.G. Powell and G. Roberts.

 

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

 

 

646     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore (Chairman) and Councillor S.T. Wiliam.

 

 

647     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 4th November, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

648     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

649     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2015/16 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The initial budget proposals for 2015/16 were submitted to the Committee for consultation together with the amended original budget for 2014/15 for services within the Committee’s remit.

 

In presenting the report, the Accountant advised that Appendix 1 to the report set out the amended budget for 2014/15 which included the necessary adjustments to be made to the original budget.  In referring specifically to the services areas within the Directorates the report further detailed the projected outturn for the following:

 

Highways and Engineers – the service area was projected to have a balanced budget at year end with the employees’ budget anticipated to underspend by £261k due to a number of vacant posts currently within the service. This would however,  be offset by the anticipated spend on subcontractors of £180k due to the number of vacant posts.  The Highways Department were also projecting an estimated overspend on potholes at a current estimate of £327k.  For street lighting an overspend of £100k was projected as the required savings had not yet been made, the details of which had been presented to Cabinet on 20th October 2014 under the street lighting energy reduction strategy.

 

In relation to vehicle costs, these were projected to be over budget by £84k which was attributed mainly to increased costs of the new Winter Maintenance fleet.  An overspend of £27k for the section was also attributed to cesspit emptying costs for which there was no budget.  The Director of Visible Services and Housing was to present a report to a future Cabinet meeting on this issue.  The Highways Department also had increased disposal costs of £65k for waste produced at the Pant-y-Lladron site, but this had been offset by an addition £45k income from Bridgend and Cardiff Councils who used the site.  As a result of a sharp increase in insurance costs, due to the previous claims history for the Highways Department, this had resulted in the service being charged a larger proportion of the overall Council insurance cost, with the figure totaling £120k.  The anticipated required savings from car parking income had also not been received, with the shortfall being £378k and again, the Director advised he would be reporting to a future Cabinet on the issue.

 

However, Committee was advised that it was anticipated that other income received by the Highways Section would be £165k higher than budgeted due to increased car parking enforcement income and also an increase in the amount of highways work schemes undertaken by the department. 

 

To assist with the budget pressures outlined above, Cabinet had already approved a one off budget transfer of £350k from Policy to Highways and it was also anticipated that a central recharge budget for energy of £460k would not be utilised in the current financial year, and would therefore be used to assist the pressures. 

 

With regard to waste management, the section was projecting a balanced budget with employee costs projected to be over budget by £86k.  A proportion of this was attributed to the staffing of lifeguards on beaches for which there was no budget e.g. Fontygary.

 

Vehicle costs were projected to be over budget by £130k, however, vehicle telemetry meetings had commenced within each department with a view to reducing the number of vehicles.  The department had also seen an increase in treatment costs for co-mingled waste of approximately £80k and a spend of £36k was projected on procurement costs for Prosiect Gwyrdd again for which there was no budget.  Although the department had budgeted to spend £50k on the Joint Organics Procurement with Cardiff Council, this could be met from £50k of grant funding. 

 

Committee was further informed that to offset the overspends Waste Management should be able to make significant savings of around £500k in the current financial year from the interim contract for waste disposal with Viridor, with it being reported that the Council had joined the contract on 28th October 2014 and was now taking waste to the new site. 

           

For the Grounds Maintenance section employee costs were projected to be £150k under budget due to vacant posts which had been offset by additional works undertaken by subcontractors to around £125k over budget. It was anticipated that the section would achieve a break even position at the year end.  It was also estimated that there would be a £30k saving on waste disposal by switching to a different contractor.  There were however additional costs for insurance of £35k and high repair costs at Jenner Park which were projected to be £20k over budget.  With regard to the Building Maintenance and Building Cleaning and Security Services sections these were expected to outturn on target.

 

In referring to the Planning and Transportation Department, the year end projected spend showed a nil variance against the revised budget and it was anticipated that there would be an underspend of £175k at the year end, mainly as a result of an increase in planning income.

 

For Leisure Services including Countryside, the report outlined that the Countryside function had undergone a restructure and revised budgets reflected the assumption that the new structure would be in place by Christmas.  It was anticipated that there was likely to be an underspend of £130k at the year end with it being proposed that the funding was used for capital regeneration projects within the Vale.  The Economic Development service was currently projected to outturn within target.

 

In referring to the budget strategy process, Members were informed that the Strategy for 2015/16 had been approved by Cabinet on 30th June 2014, with services being requested to supply initial revenue budgets based on the costs of providing the current levels of service and approved policy decisions and including the existing savings target.  This meant that the cost of price increases and any allowable pay awards should be included as advised by the Managing Director.

 

The Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) had been approved by Cabinet on 11th August 2014, and the 2014/15 Final Revenue Budget Proposals had set savings targets between 2015/16 and 20106/17 of £13.5m (excluding schools).  This was based on the anticipated reduction in funding from Welsh Government (WG) of 1.64% in 2015/16 and a further 1% in 2016/17.  The indication from the WG Minister for Local Government and Government Business, at the time the MTFP was produced, was for substantial reductions in funding of up to 4.5%.  The MTFP was therefore produced using the assumption of a reduction in funding of 4.5% in 2015/16, a further 4% reduction in 2016/17 and a 2% reduction in 2017/18.  Savings totalling £18.2m were identified for the period 2015/16 to 2017/18, with a shortfall in funding across these three years of £14.2m.  The Plan also factored in a managed level of cost pressures, a notional increase in council tax of 2% each year, price inflation of 2% and annual pay awards of 1% each year from 2015/16. 

 

The Council’s provisional settlement for 2015/16 had been announced by WG on 8th October 2014 with the provisional Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) being £212.270m.  Council would also receive from WG a Revenue Support Grant of £115.982m and a share of the Non Domestic Rates of £36.525m. 

 

As a result of the anticipated reduction in future years’ settlements, the MTFP identified additional savings to those originally approved for 2015/16 as part of the 2014/15 budget setting process.  It also included a list of cost pressures which had expectations of services managing down part or all of the pressures and a copy of the updated full list of cost pressures was attached at Appendix 2 to the report. 

 

When approving the Budget Strategy for 2015/16, Directors had been asked to review savings already approved with a view to implementing them ahead of the target date and to consider areas for further savings.  The overall base budget for 2015/16 for the Scrutiny Committee was attached at Appendix 4 to the report, which included transfers of functions and responsibilities between Directorates as detailed below being the full years costs:

 

Environment and Visible Services

- £124k from Public Protection in respect of Emergency Planning.

 

Planning and Transportation

- £36k from Corporate and Customer Services in respect of the Authority's 

Publications and Media Officer

 

Leisure

- £52k from Corporate and Customer Services in respect of the Arts Development section.

 

Once the base budget for 2015/16 has been established, it would then be compared to the funding available to identify the extent of any shortfall.  With a provisional AEF of £152.507m and Council Tax at a current level of £56.690m, total available funding would be £209.197m.  When compared to a base budget of £216.958m, this would result in a funding deficit for 2015/16 of £7.761m.  This deficit was mainly attributable to a 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, this would increase the shortfall to £13.438m and if all proposed savings were achieved, the shortfall would be reduced to £4.581m..This shortfall was already based on the requirement to achieve a high level of savings in 2015/16.  The projections also included an assumed pay award of 1% for 2015/16.  The implications of the proposed pay award although not yet having been assessed would be included in the Final Budget Proposals report.  

 

Further work would also be undertaken by the Budget Working Group (BWG) in order to achieve a balanced budget for the final budget proposals for 2015/16.  This 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.  The BWG would also consider the results of the budget engagement process in determining priorities for future savings and service delivery. The report further outlined that there would be difficulties in maintaining the quality and quantity of services in the future without exploring opportunities for collaboration and alternative forms of service delivery.  The Council had already commenced a programme of reshaping and transforming services which had been approved by Cabinet on 11th August 2014.

 

The Committee was being asked to review the level of cost pressures with a view to suggesting ways in which these could be managed downwards and / or mitigated with any recommendations to be forwarded to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) as lead Scrutiny Committee. The Cabinet’s final budget proposals were to be made no later than 23rd February 2015.  It was noted that the BWG would consider any comments made by the Scrutiny Committees together with the results of any consultation. The final proposals to Cabinet would include a review of the financial strategies required to achieve a balanced budget which was sustainable for future years.  The final budget proposals were to be considered by the Full Council at a meeting to be held on 4th March 2015.  Based on the assumption that all cost pressures would be funded in full, the estimated funding shortfall for 2015/16 was reported to be £4.581m with Committee being advised that although WG had not provided any specific detail regarding the level of funding post 2015/16, it was anticipated that there would be further funding reductions in funding for Local Government going forward.  To this end the report outlined that it was important that Directors achieved approved savings and looked to mitigate further cost pressures through alternative means of service delivery and collaborative ventures. 

 

In referring to paragraph 10 of the report and increased disposal costs of  £65k for waste produced at the Pant-y-Lladron site a Member asked whether the Council was actually recycling all it could from the sites.  In response the Accountant advised that the issue here was in relation to the fact that the Environment Agency had changed the classification of the waste being produced and, as a result, disposal costs had increased. 

 

The amended budget figures were then queried with reference being made to the fact that the figures in paragraphs 8 to 23  did not appear to balance, the Accountant advised  that he would recheck the figures but could reassure Members that the Department was projecting to outturn a  balanced budget.  Members’ also raised concerns in relation to the number of vacant posts within the Highways and Engineering section and whether that was putting undue pressure on staff.  They considered that the loss of professional members of staff would have a severe impact on remaining staff.  They queried whether this was a deliberate tactic by officers in order to make savings..  The Director stated that there were issues within the division, for example they had only recently appointed an Operational Manager, key posts were receiving honorariums and it was financial prudence measures that were being undertaken.  He was also holding discussions with other Local Authorities as to how they could work together to provide services. He did however, advise that the situation was not sustainable and that he was personally keeping his eye on staff stress levels. In referring to the recent decision of the Cabinet to inform Welsh Government of an expression of interest to merge with Bridgend Council he had also taken the opportunity to meet with his counterpart in Bridgend to discuss a number of issues of possible collaboration. 

 

A Member, in welcoming the Council working with Viridor in relation to waste recycling and procurement, requested that the Committee also receives a report to a future meeting on the Joint Organics Procurement project with Cardiff Council.

 

In referring to the General Fund Reserve and the cost of maintenance for roads and potholes, and the estimated overspend of £327k, Members were concerned at the current level of budget and that the position would only deteriorate with the reduction in capital works undertaken on resurfacing from 2015/16 due to the cessation of LGBI funding.  The Director advised that regular inspections of surfaces had been undertaken and, as a result, it had been recognised as a revenue budget cost pressure with £300k additional budget being requested.  He reiterated his concern that the pothole issue was a major problem for the Authority and was likely to worsen in line with the current national trend.  The number of third party claims to the Council had also increased as a consequence which was a major issue for the Authority.  The Accountant confirmed that the majority of the increase was in relation to third party claims as a result of potholes.  This meant that the Highways section was picking up a larger share of the overall insurance cost for the Council.  The Director advised that the country’s current claim culture was contributing to the pressures. 

 

Members also raised concerns in relation to savings detailed in the report that had not yet been made with the effect that this would again increase the cost pressures for the Directorate.  In view of the budget overspend and the resulting road repairs required, reference was made to the Council’s asset management plan and the fact that the Council had in previous years received Local Government Borrowing Initiative (LGBI) of £2.5m per annum funding from  WG which was no longer available.  It was requested that a copy of the asset management plan be brought to the Scrutiny Committee in the near future for consideration.

 

In referring to Appendix 3 to the report and the savings noted for public conveniences of £100k, Members referred to the Reshaping Services Agenda where it was suggested that Town and Community Councils may wish to take on the service and that an additional £100k was being provided for refurbishment of two heavily used public conveniences in 2014/15.  The Director advised Members that the £100k would be spent on King’s Square and the public conveniences by the Western Shelter in Barry Island.  The Director also advised that he would be suggesting that the Council consider Town and Community Councils taking over the provision but, before they could do that, they would need to be handed over in a fit state.  He reassured Members that shutting public conveniences was not his aim and would be a last resort with some Members suggesting that the facilities should be charged for.  Again, in referring to Appendix 3 and the proposed savings to review the provision of recycling boxes, food carriers and food bags and to the lifeguard service, Members requested clarification on the suggestions.  The Director and the Cabinet Member stated that most Local Authorities were looking at the issue of recycling with a view to levying charges for current recycling receptacles as well as charging for green waste collection services.  It was important that the Council considered all opportunities to raise income and advised that a report was to be presented to the Cabinet shortly which the Director advised he would propose be also referred to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration.

 

With regard to the lifeguard service, the RNLI had provided the service for a number of years but the Council had recently asked if the service could be provided for less money. 

 

A Member, in advising that whilst preparing for the meeting, had considered that more detail should have been included in relation to the savings proposed.  The Director advised that the Budget Working Group would be considering each of the proposals in conjunction with full background information.  A proposal he said had also been made to bring forward the Prosiect Gwrydd savings to 2015/16 to assist with the cost pressures and savings which may take longer to implement.  Members suggested that further detail on each of the issues was required in order for them to fully consider the impact of the proposals. They also raised concerns with the fact that some savings had not been realised and queried whether the savings were realistic. 

 

In referring to a review of the level of street cleaning, the Director hoped this would realise savings of £250k in the forthcoming year and informed Committee that a further report on the issue was to be part of a future report.

 

The Cabinet Member assured Members that he had considered all of the savings and he would have preferred to have brought the street lighting strategy in sooner rather than later but, as a result of health and safety concerns, this had taken longer than anticipated to be introduced. 

In referring to the £472k reported for 2015/16 for energy costs, the Accountant advised that this budget had been set aside for some time in anticipation of future energy increases but was no longer required.

 

Members queried whether the savings projected under the transport review were too optimistic.  The Accountant stated they were being progressed and that nearly every service area would require a commitment to transport savings.  He further stated that the inclusion of the vehicle telemetry system would allow for up to date reports to be made available to assist the process and vehicles had already been earmarked for disposal due to low utilisation. 

 

Members raised concerns in relation to the suggestions of charging for bulky item collections and the possible increases of fly tipping as a result.  The Director stated that this was indeed a consideration but he could assure Members that there were only three Councils in the whole of Wales who did not levy a charge. He would, however, consider some types of concessions but advised that the Vale itself did not have a huge fly tipping issue as other Local Authorities had.  The Cabinet Member re-emphasised the comments of the Director and again informed Members that if the savings contained within the report were not made, then the department would have to look elsewhere for savings which could be in more difficult areas. 

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the comments as outlined above be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) with the request that they also be forwarded to Cabinet and that further detail on the impact of the suggested savings be provided to the Scrutiny Committee Economy and Environment when available.

 

 (2)      T H A T the amended budget for 2014/15 as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To draw Committees and Cabinets attention to the comments of Members and in order for Members to be able to fully assess and consider the impact of the savings for Council services.

 

(2)       To inform Committee of the amendments to the 2014/15 budget.

 

 

650     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2015/16 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

Committee was informed of the current progress on the Capital Programme for 2014/15 and requested to consider the initial capital proposals for 2015/16. 

 

Appendix A to the report detailed the financial progress as at 30th September 2014, with the report highlighting that for the Directorate of Visible Services of Housing the £952k had been requested to be carried forward to 2015/16 and £738k to 2016/17 for the Vehicle Replacement Programme, which would result in the total budget for 2014/15 being reduced to £1.082m.  The Vehicle Replacement Programme it was proposed would be reviewed as a result of the outcome of the Transport Review prior to the Final Budget Proposals being submitted in February 2015.  The Appendix also included the following schemes for the 2014/15 Capital Programme which were to be funded from an additional revenue contribution:

  • Public Conveniences Refurbishment - £100k
  • Penarth Esplanade / Cliff Road Improvements £450k        
  • Highways Improvements £250k
  • Parks Refurbishment £200k.

With regard to the Directorate of Development Services, a carry forward of £50k to 2015/16 and £50k to 2016/17 was requested for the Penarth Esplanade Feasibility Scheme as progress on the scheme had not been feasible in 2014/15 due to other priorities and commitments.  Funding of £72k had also been requested to be carried forward to the 2015/16 Capital Programme in relation to the Ashpath Footpath Improvements due to delays in relation to land issues. However, the remaining £28k was to be retained in 2014/15 to enable a scheme to resolve the flooding issue that was to be implemented.  A further bid for improvements to the footpath had also been resubmitted as part of the Initial Capital Programme proposals with a request fort £100k for the footpath widening, for improved security and to improve the cycle path. 

 

Following Cabinet agreement on 12th May 2014 to accept £100k of grant funding for a WG Pilot Transport Project for Rural Integrated Transport, a request had been made to increase the 2014/15 Capital Programme by £100k. 

 

In relation to Section 106 funded schemes, an increase of £346k in 2014/15 and £350k in 2015/16 was requested to be funded by Section 106 contribution for the following:

  • Cogan Hall Farm - Dinas Powys to Cosmeston Cycleway Link £150k in total, with £15k in 2014/15 and £135k in 2015/16.
  • Plassey Street / Glebe Street Zebra Crossing £30k in 2014/15.
  • Plassey Street / High Street Zebra Crossing £20k in 2014/15.
  • Windsor Road / Plassey Street Roundabout Junction Enhancements £100k in 2014/15.
  • Windsor Street / Pill Street Dedicated Right Hand Turn £110k in 2014/15
  • Lighting Scheme for Zig Zag Path £100k in total, £25k in 2014/15 and £75k in 2015/16.
  • Pedestrian Crossing across Ffordd Y Millennium and Improved Bus Access £69k in total, with £17k in 2014/15 and £52k in 2015/16.
  • Pedestrian Crossing across Thompson Street / Holton Road £24k in total, with £6k in 2014/15 and £18k in 2015/16.
  • Pedestrian Access Buttrills Road / Holton Road £93k in total, with £23k in 2014/15 and £70k in 2015/16.

On 8th October 2014 the WG had announced provisional 2015/16 General Capital Funding, which represented a £62k decrease on the 2014/15 Final Settlement which equated to a 1% cut.  There had been no indication of the level of funding beyond 2015/16 and therefore in line with the approach adopted in the MTFP, the proposals had assumed a reduction of 10% for each year of the Programme from 2016/17.  This was reflected in the proposed Capital Programme 2015/16 to 2019/20 and proposed schemes for the Committee were outlined in Appendix B to the report. 

Members were informed that the indicative 2015/16 Capital Programme shown in Appendix B included allocations already approved by Council and the amendments requested within the report.

 

New capital bids had been invited for return by 30th September 2014, one had been received from Social Services, 11 from Visible Services and six from Development Services.  Departments had also been requested to rank their own bids in order of importance before submission.  The Corporate Asset Management Group (CAMG) had used the criteria set out the Budget Strategy and had therefore prioritised the bids in terms of their corporate priority and the risk they posed to the Council if they were not pursued.  Taking into the account the nature of capital schemes, the criteria identified in paragraph 18 to the report was applied to assess corporate priority.  It was noted that only the schemes assessed as corporate priority 1 or higher and medium risk or higher were included in the proposals.  The bids that did not meet the criteria or were excluded from consideration because funding had already been allocated as part of the current Programme were set out in Appendix C to the report with the reasons for exclusion. 

 

Submitted as part of the capital bids were the following two bids. The bids were resubmitted to request that funding be made available in future years because the existing budget will not be contractually committed at the end of 2014/15;

  • Ashpath Footpath Improvements - There had been delays on implementation of the full scheme due to land issues.  In 2014/15, it was proposed that a scheme intended to resolve the flooding issues that would cost £28k was implemented.  The bid for improvement to the footpath had been resubmitted as part of the Initial Capital Programme for 2015/16 and in addition to the £72k carried forward it was requested that an additional £28k be made available for footpath widening, improved security and improvements to the cycle path.  This increased cost would be funded by an additional contribution from Capital Receipts.
  • Penarth Esplanade Feasibility - The purpose of this scheme was to consider options for physical improvements to the Esplanade, given the progress made to date on key developments such as Penarth Pavilion, Beachcliff and the Town Plan.  Due to other priorities and commitments, progress on the scheme had not been feasible in 2014/15.  It was requested that £50k funding be carried forward from 2014/15 to 2015/16 and a further £50k be carried forward from 2015/16 to 2016/17.

In referring to the Transport Review, the use of vehicles by the Authority had been extensively reviewed which had meant that the purchase of new vehicles under this scheme had been delayed.  Therefore the level of expenditure for this scheme had been amended in the Capital Programme to reflect the continuing need to replace vehicles across the Council. 

 

Cabinet, on 28th July 2014, had also agreed the inclusion of £418k in 2015/16 and £249k in 2016/17 for Tackling Poverty Grant.  Approval had also been given for £40k of the Barry Regeneration project Development Fund to be utilised as match funding for the grant and, in addition, Section 106 contributions of £60k in 2015/16 and £86k in 2016/17 would also be utilised for the project. 

 

The Accountant advised that with regard to the next steps for the Capital programme proposals, the estimates were being submitted to Scrutiny Committees for consultation, with any recommendations to be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) as the lead Scrutiny Committee.  Scrutiny Committees were therefore being asked to first consider the Initial Capital Programme proposals as identified in Appendix B to the report, to make recommendations for changes and to provide the reasons for any changes that they wished to make, this being requested in order to assist the Cabinet and the BWG in drawing up their final proposals. 

 

The Chairman informed Members that, should there be any considerations for reprioritising capital proposals or inserting additional priorities, Members needed to be mindful of the impact that would have and needed to ensure that they provided reasons for any suggestions as well as giving consideration to  which other items would need to be removed.  Questions were raised regarding the Ewenny Road Bridge and the delays attributed to Network Rail, with the Director being asked whether he was confident that the work would now be undertaken. The Director stated that, in his view, the Council was closer than it had been in previous years, the department had capped the spend to £1m and Network Rail were hoping to start work before the end of the year. 

 

In referring to the Llandow recycling site, Members reiterated previous concerns of the condition of the road on entering the site and considered that this could be contributing to reduced recycling rates with members of the public taking their rubbish elsewhere.  Although aware of the issues in relation to the owners of the site, Members asked the Director if he had any suggestions for the future.  The Director stated that he was currently in discussions with Bridgend Council on waste issues and there could be the possibility in the future of providing joint facilities and that he was hoping to make progress in this area over the next few years. 

 

In referring to page 8 of the report, paragraph 30, Members expressed the view that the anticipated receipts shown under the heading “Ringfenced Education†appeared substantial and queried whether this was as a result of the selling off of school sites.  The Accountant agreed to provide Members with the actual detail behind the projected receipts via e-mail as soon as possible. 

 

Questions in relation to Appendix A of the report referred to the lack of spending in 2014/15 on a number of the capital projects, with Members requiring further information as to why some of the projects had not been progressed, the specific detail was to be e-mailed to Members in due course. 

 

In referring to Appendix C and the unsuccessful bids, a Member in referring to the proposals for the Penarth Leisure Centre, advised that notwithstanding the fact that the report outlined that the responsibility was with Parkwood, it was important to note that the Penarth Leisure Centre was indeed in need of requiring some refurbishment and requested that the BWG and Cabinet be requested to reconsider match funding at least for the provision of carpets at the Penarth Leisure Centre. 

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the following change to the 2014/15 Capital Programme be noted:

  • Rural Integrated Transport Initiative - Increase the 2014/15 Capital Programme by £100k for the WG Pilot Transport Project Rural Integrated Transport Initiative.

(2)       T H A T the inclusion of the Public Conveniences Refurbishment Scheme in the 2014/15 Capital Programme to be funded from an increased revenue contribution of £100k be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the use of article 13.09 of the Council’s Constitution to increase the 2014/15 Capital Programme for the following capital schemes to be funded from an increased revenue contribution in 2014/15 to enable officers to carry out the works within the current financial year be noted for the following schemes:

  • Penarth Esplanade / Cliff Road Improvements - £450k
  • Highways Improvements - £250k
  • Parks Refurbishment - £200k
  • Barry Island Enhancements Phase 2 - £300k.

(4)       T H A T the following changes to the 2014/15 and 2015/16 Capital Programme that require Council approval be noted:

  • Vehicle Replacement Programme - Carry forward £952k to 2015/16 and £738k to 2016/17, reducing the budget in the 2014/15 programme to £1.082m.
  • Penarth Esplanade Feasibility - Carry forward funding for Penarth Esplanade scheme to 2015/16 £50k and £50k to 2016/17.
  • Ashpath Footpath Improvements - Carry forward funding £72k to the 2015/16 Capital Programme.
  • S106 Funded Schemes - Increase the Capital Programme for 2014/15 by £346k and £350k in 2015/16 for the following schemes to be funded by S106 contributions;

-        Cogan Hall Farm - Dinas Powys to Cosmeston Cycleway Link £150k in total, with £15k in 2014/15 and £135k in 2015/16.

-        Plassey Street / Glebe Street Zebra Crossing £30k in 2014/15.

-        Plassey Street / High Street Zebra Crossing £20k in 2014/15.

-        Windsor Road / Plassey Street Roundabout Junction Enhancements £100k in 2014/15.

-        Windsor Street / Pill Street Dedicated Right Hand Turn £110k in 2014/15.

-        Lighting Scheme for Zig Zag Path £100k in total, with £25k in 2014/15 and £75k in 2015/16.

-        Pedestrian Crossing across Ffordd Y Millennium and Improved Bus Access £69k in total, with £17k in 2014/15 and £52k in 2015/16.

-        Pedestrian Crossing across Thompson Street / Holton Road £24k in total, with £6k in 2014/15 and £18k in 2015/16.

-        Pedestrian Access Buttrills Road / Holton Road £93k in total, with £23k in 2014/15 and £70k in 2015/16.

 

(5)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) and Cabinet be requested to reconsider prioritising up to £15k to replace the carpets at Penarth Leisure Centre.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure that Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2014/15 Capital Programme relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

(3)       To ensure that Members are aware of the position with regards to the 2014/15 Capital programme relevant to this Scrutiny Committee and the use of article 13.09 of the Council’s Constitution (urgent decision procedure).

 

(4)       To ensure that Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2014/15 and 2015/16 Capital Programme relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

(5)       In view of the match funding offer from Parkwood and in order to assist with providing the quality of provision expected by customers.

 

           

651     QUARTER 2 DEVELOPMENT SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15 (DDS) –

 

The report detailed the performance results for Quarter 2, 1st July to 30th September 2014 and outlined that the Department was well on track to achieve the objectives that contributed to its service outcomes. 97% of actions were currently either completed or on track and of the 40 Corporate Plan actions within the Service Plan, two had been completed and 36 were on track, with one having slipped.

 

There were 15 actions that related to the Improvement Objectives and 93% (14) had  either been completed or were on track to be completed with one action reported as slipped.  There were currently no Outcome Agreement actions in place for the service and of the 11 measures relating to the Outcome Agreement, one was reported quarterly and had met its target.

 

With regard to the Performance Indicators, of the 38, 26 had met or exceeded target, eight were within 10% of target and one had missed target by more than 10%.  The Indicator that had missed its target related to DM2a – the percentage of “full plan†applications approved first time.  Members were informed that meeting the target of 20% was challenging, particularly when most would require a Section 106 legal agreement. 

 

In referring to exceptional performance, the report advised that the Council had held another hugely successful summer events programme at Barry Island which had seen significant numbers of visitors to the island for a varied programme of events.  The Council had also facilitated a valuable discussion on its Draft Destination Action Plan at the Vale of Glamorgan Agricultural Show in August 2014 with the feedback informing ongoing consultation on the Plan. 

 

Slippage in relation to a number of actions was reported as follows:

  • [DS/A177 (IO4)] Limited progress had been made in seeking resources to deliver traffic management improvements in High Street/ Broad Street, Barry, although this was likely to be the subject of a Cabinet Report before the end of December 2014.
  • Penarth Esplanade - work had recently commenced on feasibility and initial design integrating public realm enhancements and traffic management options and would involve stakeholders, businesses and the Town Council [DS/A082 (CP/R1)].
  • Work to deliver a full programme of member training on land use and transportation planning would resume with a Member training session scheduled for November [DS/A184].
  • For DS/A171 limited progress had been made in relation to providing project management support for the Council' School Investment Programme including bringing forward surplus sites for redevelopment.

The Directorate’s overall performance was detailed at Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

In referring to Disabled Facilities Grants, although aware that they did not fall within  the remit of the Committee, a Member took the opportunity to praise officers for the improvements that had been made to date. 

 

In referring specifically to the slipped action DS/A177 and the reason for the slippage, Members were advised by the Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic projects that resources had been found to provide for design and costings. However, further plans needed to be progressed with a report scheduled to be  presented to Committee and Cabinet in the New Year on a way forward which would include suggestions to consider other resource opportunities.

 

With regard to the indicator DM2a for the percentage of planning applications for major developments determined during the year within eight weeks, although accepting it was unrealistic to expect the Council to ever determine a major planning application within eight weeks as it would need to go to Planning Committee and almost always would require a Section 106 legal agreement it was, however, noted that actual performance had been 15%  and that the figures were in fact contradictory. Members did accept that it was a difficult target to achieve and that departments should not be suggesting unrealistic targets.  The Operational Manager advised that he would refer the Committee’s comment to the Director for consideration. 

 

Again, in response to a question on clarification as to the definition of a major planning application, the Operational Manager advised that he would seek further clarity from the relevant officer and respond to Members via email.  It being noted that a report was to be presented to Cabinet in relation to the work of the Penarth Bid Group and formal engagement  Members also requested that a copy of that same report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee, as soon as possible, in order for in depth discussion and consideration of planned works. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T, taking into account the request for further reports as outlined above,

the service performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T 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)       For further consideration by Committee and to ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(2)       To consider the Quarter 2 Development Services performance results as at 30th September 2014 in order to identify service areas for improvement.

 

 

652     QUARTER 2 VISIBLE SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15 (DVSH) –

 

Performance results for Quarter 2, 1st July to 30th September 2014, were presented for Members’ consideration.  It was noted that Visible Services was on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes with 88% of all Service Plan actions being either completed or on track.  Of 41 actions, five actions were reported as slipped.  Of the 13 Corporate Plan actions, 92% (10) were either completed or on track for completion with one action having slipped.  There were no actions relation to the Improvement Objectives, however, of the two Outcome Agreement actions for the service, one had been completed and the other was on track for completion. 

 

There were six measures relating to the Outcome Agreement, five of which were reported on a quarterly basis and, of these, four had met or exceeded target with one having missed target by more than 10%. 

 

Of the 18 Performance Indicators (PIs) in the Service Plan, nine had either met or exceeded targets, three were within 10% of target, five had missed target by more than 10% and a RAG status was not available for 1. Members were informed that this was a slight improvement from Quarter 1 where the Service had reported that seven PIs having either met or exceeded target. 

 

Indicators that had missed target were reported as follows:

  • WMT/010i (OA5) - The percentage of local authority collected municipal waste prepared for reuse.  The lack of Community Reuse Schemes within the Vale had adversely affected performance against this indicator.  A performance of 0.30% was achieved against a quarterly target of 0.42%.
  • THS009 - The average number of calendar days taken to repair street lamp failures during the year.  A performance of 4.03 days was achieved against a target of 3.38 on average.  It was suggested that this target be changed to five days as the current target was not achievable with the resources now available within the street lighting team.  The Director advised that this was not an area that received many complaints and the reduction in repair standards would not have a significant impact on the citizens of the Vale. The Committee had also at a previous meeting accepted that the indicator should be amended in the forthcoming service plan.
  • VS/M009a - The total number of successful third party claims against the Council for trips and falls (footway claims).  A performance of six was reported against a targeted number of three.
  • VS/M009b - The total number of successful third party claims against the Council for vehicle damage (carriageway claims).  The service reported that 14 claims were successful against a target of five.  This was due to the current national trend.
  • STS007 - The percentage of reported fly tipping incidents which lead to enforcement activity.  During this quarter Enforcement Officers had focussed their resources on other work priorities, primarily the checking of commercial premises, relevant duty of care notes, service level reviews and customer satisfaction surveys.

In referring to exceptional performance, five parks in the Vale had won the coveted Green Flag Award, namely Central Park, Romilly Park, Victoria Park, Belle Vue Park, Alexandra Park and Windsor Gardens.  The report advised that Green Flag status was a mark of excellence demonstrating good amenities and community involvement in parks.

 

The report further highlighted that there had been significant preparation work undertaken by the service in relation to Prosiect Gwyrdd which allowed the Vale to start using the Viridor site in Cardiff from November 2014 which would save the Council up to £1.6m per annum.  Vehicle tracking had also been introduced to 98% of the Council’s fleet, which included facial / fingerprint recognition technology for monitoring the timekeeping of all staff and a new Home to Work Transport Policy which saw 63 vehicles returned back to the depots for overnight parking, saving the Council over £100k per annum.  The completion of an independent review of the Council’s transport operations (EDGE Review) had identified possible savings of £1.59m over three years, which had been agreed in principle by Cabinet and work for the savings had already commenced.

 

Over the summer holidays work had also commenced on the Coldbrook Catchment Flood Risk Management Scheme which was aimed at reducing flood risk to over 100 domestic properties and three schools in the Barry area.  The scheme was due to be completed in 2015. 

 

With regard to slippage, this was reported in a number of actions:

  • The Council's Allotment Strategy would be revised to reflect WG’s 'Improving Availability of Allotments' guidance once published in October 2014 [CP/E12 (VS/A046)].
  • The restructuring of collection and recycling rounds using electronic data had been programmed to start later in the year [VS/A059].
  • The review of collection arrangements for commercial residual waste and recycling had been delayed [VS/A063].  The Waste Management and Cleansing Commercial Team had started to carry out a satisfaction survey of our commercial customers to assess the services the Council was providing. Officers were also producing a more up to date database of existing customers who use the Council’s collection services and to assess the level of service for 2014/2015.  This work would also be closely linked to a similar review of the Domestic Collection Services.
  • Cabinet reports were to be scheduled in relation to the introduction of appropriate delivery arrangements for restricted kitchen waste bag deliveries for food waste disposal [VS/A064] and [VS/A066a], the introduction of a new policy for missed refuse and recycling collections from domestic properties which avoided going back to properties after the regular collection arrangements.

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

 

The Director of Visible Services and Housing, in presenting the report, reiterated his earlier comments that the savings for the Viridor project had been brought forward and the Council was looking to save over £200k as a result of introducing vehicle telemetry. He could further advise that work on the Coldbrook Catchment scheme was progressing with the contractor now being engaged.  With regard to the reshaping services programme he referred to the Allotment Strategy and the possibility of transferring allotments to Town and Community Councils.  The Director alluded to a recent meeting that had been held with Clerks of Town and Community Councils where discussions had been held as to the types of services that could be considered for possible transfer in the future.  The Council was also actively looking to engage with charities to assist in the collection of waste statistics.

 

In referring specifically to PI reference STS006 (the percentage of reported fly tipping incidents cleared within five working days) the Director stated that the PI had recently been reviewed in order to ensure full compliance with the indicator.  New more robust recording processes had also been introduced following the report by the Local Government Data Unit that had recorded the Council  22nd  in Wales for this Indicator, the main reason for this being how the data was collected.  The Director informed the Committee that he had therefore reviewed the processes and could confirm that the Council was now over 90% compliant.  It had also been a training issue for the Contact Centre which was being addressed.  

 

Members’ other concerns related to whether the vehicle tracking system that had been put in place was fully operational and whether it would provide the savings reported.  The Director reassured Members that regular meetings were being held with team leaders and staff to discuss the savings required with the full intention that the savings would materialise, as stated.  Further reports would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee on progress in due course.

 

In terms of the fly tipping indicator, Members requested to receive details of the incidents of fly tipping and how many occurred in the year as this would be a more balanced outcome based indicator.  The Director advised that he would be more than happy to add an additional local Indicator and would address the concern in his Service Plan for the forthcoming year. 

 

Members took the opportunity to congratulate the department on the awards for the amenity parks, particularly in the current times of austerity measures, following which it was agreed that the Committee’s appreciation be recorded and the Director requested to inform staff accordingly.

 

In referring to the increasing number of insurance claims received by the department, the Chairman questioned what was currently being done to try to address the issue in order to limit claims, if that was at all possible.  The Director, in response, advised that the important issue here was for the Council to demonstrate that it had an inspection schedule and a programme for repairs.  He stated that the department needed to analyse the claims made against the Authority and the detail contained therein.  Members were informed that the contractor LGA had recently gone into administration and, as a result, the department had worked closely with colleagues in Bridgend Council for assistance.  In the main, the department would be looking at analysing claims to identify which related to the budget process and which related to the policy and procedure itself.  The Cabinet Member also confirmed that the current national trend was of a claim culture which is apparent throughout the UK, and was having a major impact on Local Authorities.  In conclusion, the Director advised that as a result of insufficient resources, the department was having to manage the liability against the risk. 

 

Having accepted that the Director would be amending his forthcoming Service Plan in relation to PI THS009, that further reports would be received when available and in view of the explanations provided and discussed at the meeting, 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 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)       To consider the Quarter 2 Visible Services performance results as at 30th September 2014 in order to identify service areas for improvement.

 

 

653     WASTE MANAGEMENT AND CLEANSING – MUNICIPAL RECYCLING BRING BANK SITES (REF) –

 

In noting that the reference from Cabinet should have read 17th November and not 28th November, the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Visible Services also tabled for the Committee copies of photographs of the sites at Waitrose, St. Athan, Cowbridge, Court Road and Morissons.

 

The report outlined that on 20th May 2013, Cabinet had resolved that the current service arrangements with Biffa Municipal Ltd (Biffa) for the servicing of the Council’s recycling bring sites be terminated and that a further report be presented to a future Cabinet meeting on the reduction of recycling bring sites.  At the time the agreement to terminate the contractual arrangements between the Council and Biffa and to bring the service in-house would save the Council £100k per annum.  However, it had not addressed any of the site misuse problems being experienced or the escalating public dissatisfaction and increasing costs for contaminated recycling and fly tipping. 

 

Cabinet had then, on 17th November 2014, considered a report to review the current municipal recycling bring site arrangements in light of ongoing user problems and forthcoming budget challenges. 

 

The provision of local recycling bring sites was largely historic with many sites introduced long before the current comprehensive kerbside recycling arrangements had been put in place.  When the service had reverted to the Council from Biffa in December 2013, there were a total of 30 bring sites in operation which ranged from a single bank within a public house car park to multiple banks at major supermarkets.

 

When servicing the bring banks it became apparent that many, if not all of the isolated sites, were either being used by commercial undertakings or were being used insufficiently, and the relevant Ward Members were consulted in December 2013 as to whether these sites should be removed.  The sites in question are listed below:

  • The Three Horseshoes Inn, Moulton
  • The Carpenters Arms, Eglwys Brwys Road, Llantwit Major
  • Dinas Powys Golf Club, Highways Avenue, Dinas Powys
  • The Bus Inn, Church Crescent, St. Hilary (already entered into a private contract with Biffa for recycling collections)
  • Penarth Conservative Club, 15 Stanwell Road, Penarth
  • Manor House Hotel, Sully Road, Penarth
  • Llandow Caravan Park, Llandow Trading Estate
  • Sea View Labour club, Lower Pyke Street
  • Acorn Caravan Park, Rose Dew Farm, Llantwit Major.

Members were informed that an overwhelming majoring of Ward Members’ responses had offered no objections to their removal with the exception of the site located in Llancarfan.  All the sites had therefore been removed and since doing so, there had been no service requests or complaints relating to their removal.

 

That action had reduced the number of sites to 21 and this had been further  reduced when the owners of sites at island View Caravan Park and the Spinney Holiday Park had instructed that their sites be removed due to new fees introduced from 1st April 2014.  The number of sites remaining was therefore 19 and the details of these and their locations were attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

The Director advised that all bring sites had suffered from an element of public fly tipping and abuse and that over the last few years had needed to be regularly cleansed by the Council’s Waste Management and Cleansing team.  This had represented an additional workload.  A number of bring sites within the Vale had suffered significantly from this illegal and anti social behaviour and he particularly referred to sites at

 

1.         Former Court Road CA Site, Barry

2.         Cliff Tops Car Park, Penarth

3.         The Butts, Cowbridge

4.         The Green, Partridge Road, St. Athan.

 

There had also, more recently, been increased abuse and fly tipping at the Morrisons’ car park site and Bron y Mor site at the Knap in Barry and the problems associated with these two sites and the others had now resulted in up to five tonnes of fly tipped waste being removed weekly.  One of the major issues here was that there had been significant contamination problems with many loads of recycling having to be landfilled.   A Member suggested that consideration should be given to providing CCTV at the sites in order to assist with the process of prosecuting the people who fly tipped.  However, in response both the Cabinet Member and Director stated that in some instances it would be difficult to prosecute as the perpetrators could park further away from the site where their transport would not be visible.  The financial resources would also not be available to provide CCTV at all 19 sites. It was, however, envisaged that signs would be erected advising people of the nearest provision and that the public would be informed accordingly of the intention to close the sites. 

 

In conclusion, the Director advised that the public abuse of the sites had resulted in significant enforcement and clean-up costs and in particular many local residents’ had complained about the “state of the sitesâ€.  Their continued provision was therefore considered more of a burden than an advantage to the Council.  Although aware that there may be some concerns from users as to their loss, the majority of those who lived in the vicinity of the sites were expected to welcome any decision to remove them.  It had therefore been proposed to remove all the remaining bring sites from 31st January 2015.

 

Members agreed that they too had a role as Ward Members to advise their constituents of the impending changes, following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee six months after the removal of the sites detailing the full implications of the decision and, in particular, the effects on recycling performance.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In recognition of the decisions of Cabinet.

 

(2)       In order to assess the full implications of the decision.

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