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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 3rd November, 2015.

 

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

 

Also present: Councillor G. John.

 

 

558     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 6th October, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

559     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

560     LEISURE MANAGEMENT CONTRACT (DEH) -

 

The report highlighted the background to the Council’s Leisure Management Contract which had been awarded to Parkwood Community Leisure and had commenced on 1st October, 2012 for a period of 10 years with a possibility of a further five year extension.  Following agreement by Cabinet in 2014, the contract was subsequently sub-contracted to Legacy Leisure, an independent leisure trust.  Appendix A to the report provided the Year 3 Annual Report from Legacy Leisure which followed the format of the monitoring check list that had been agreed previously and which highlighted parts of the contract and the specifications that Legacy Leisure were required to report on.  The information concentrated on the key requirements of the contract documentation and was broken down into four areas: 

  • financial
  • property
  • leisure services
  • employment.

The annual report also referred to a number of successes achieved during the year including a significant increase in Leisure Centre usage of 13.05%, the return of the 5 star food hygiene rating and good levels of customer satisfaction that had been noted in the annual survey.  The various appendices referred to in the report were available for Members if required, as it was a substantial document its content had not been reproduced but the Operational Manager for the Vale’s Leisure Services section had brought it to the meeting for Committee perusal if required.

 

Following a Committee recommendation earlier in the year that a group of up to three Members undertake reviews of the Leisure Centres, Councillor Mrs. A. Moore (Chairman), A.G. Bennett and Mrs. P. Drake undertook a review of the Leisure Centres of Barry and Penarth on 14th October, 2015 together with the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services.  Councillor Bennett then proceeded to present the Group’s findings to the Committee for consideration.  The general points that were raised for Barry centred around disabled parking outside the front of the building, with the question was there enough and how could it be improved.  There were also three squash courts at the centre which were all underused.  In referring to school swimming, it was considered that this could be improved.  With regard to the positive aspects of the visit it was noted that customer feedback forms were visible and that the G.P. Exercise Referral Scheme was well attended with participants being more than complimentary about the support they received following which Councillor Bennett requested whether the scheme could be further expanded.  The dry changing rooms Members had considered were in reasonably good repair and stated fixtures and fittings although not outstanding were of an acceptable level.  However, the wet changing rooms for both male and female participants at Barry were referred to as poor.  It was noted that the cost of a complete replacement including redesign would be in the region of between £650,000 - £750,000 and limited funds were available.  A further query was raised in relation to the storage facilities on the ground floor as to whether these could be converted to provide beauty or health treatments.

 

In referring to the Penarth Leisure Centre, the Steam Room and Health Spa were considered to be very good and again with reference to the squash court, it was suggested whether a change of use needed to be considered.  The changing rooms were reported reasonable, although the hand dryers in the male changing room it was felt required attention.  Penarth it was said was the only facility that was fully disabled persons compliant although it was noted that the facilities were much underused.  Car parking at Penarth did not seem as big an issue as Barry although there was some concern raised regarding the nearby Sports Village in Cardiff which might have an impact on footfall in the future. 

 

In conclusion, Councillor Bennett stated that both centres generally had tea, coffee and light refreshment areas and vending machines, both which had merchandising areas with what appeared to be appropriate items e.g. swimming goggles etc., staff in both venues appeared to be friendly and answered questions freely, pointing out the problems and possible solutions.

 

It was noted that further visits to the remaining leisure centres throughout the Vale would be made before Christmas 2015 with a further report back to the Scrutiny Committee in the New Year.

 

Present at the meeting to present the Year 3 Annual Report were representatives from Legacy Leisure namely the Regional Director for Legacy Leisure Colleen Tulmelty and the Contract Manager, Rob Oaten. 

 

Mr. Oaten commenced by advising that in his view the partnership between the Vale and Legacy Leisure was a good and productive partnership advising that with regard to core prices Legacy Leisure had the ability under the contract to increase its core prices by 1.3%, having notified the client of any changes by 30th November, in any contract year.  The core prices for the following year’s contract were included in the appendice document to the report.

 

In referring to utilities and the carbon footprint, he advised that Legacy Leisure had in place an Environmental Management System which provided a practical framework for managing, evaluating and continually improving the environmental performance.  The system had been created to ensure that the business protected the environment, complied with environment regulations, improved resource efficiency and managed business risk.  In referring to training he advised that Legacy Leisure ‘believes that investment in members of staff is an investment in the future of the company’ although much of the training would be ‘on the job’ training, they would expect employees to attend regular training sessions.  There was a mixture of health and safety and good practice training that was expected and examples were given of training courses such as Customer Care, First Aid and monthly staff training.  The company had a strong commitment to training and continuous professional development (CPD) and encouraged its staff to further their studies and take positive approaches to national vocational qualifications.  A copy of the training schedule was also included with all the appendices that were available at the meeting for Members’ perusal.  Health and safety was also a priority for the organisation as well as customer care.  A number of customer surveys and customer feedback cards were provided and he also welcomed the visits and the feedback of the Councillors who undertook the recent review of the centres advising that this was an opportunity for healthy feedback. 

 

Mr. Oaten also stated that Legacy Leisure complied with the Welsh Language Act and were always looking to encourage more visitors to the centres.  There had been a significant increase in usage since Parkwood/Legacy Leisure had been responsible for the service and the aim was to continue to improve on those statistics.  From the annual survey undertaken 32.4% of customers had been either satisfied or very satisfied with the service while only 10.9% had felt dissatisfied.  Section 5 of the Annual Report provided details of an increase in participation of 13.5%.

 

Following the presentation of both reports a question and answer session ensued.

 

Question

Response

Are   the Leisure Centres closed every Bank Holiday?

The   contract specification allowed the contractor to close on Bank Holidays, but   Legacy Leisure had taken the view that because they were selling a membership   the customers expected them to be open.    Although the service was provided under reduced hours, and was not   open on Christmas Day.

Do   all staff receive an induction?

Yes,   staff received a Corporate Induction and a site specific induction.  Other relevant training included education   care with regard to children. 

Why   did the company chose not to have information displayed in toilets and   changing rooms which could show the last time they were checked/cleaned?

The   company had considered a number of ways of cleanliness was checked but felt that   the tick box style although useful in the first instance sometimes lent   itself to complacency.

Although   aware of the concerns regarding the changing rooms a Member asked Legacy   Leisure for their views.

Following   customer feedback it appeared that the state of the changing rooms did deter   customers with the suggestion mentioned that a similar provision to that   provided by the Sports Village in Cardiff for a changing village be better provision.  The Regional Director also stated that   there was clear evidence that the quality of the facilities did have an impact   and that since the fire at Penarth the team were working on enticing   customers back.

What   cleaning and monitoring is undertaken?

Cleansing   was reviewed on a regular basis and inspected regularly throughout the day,   although this would depend on usage.

It   is in the common interest to increase participation, what are your plans to   do so?

A   promotions and branding team had been established a new appointment by Legacy   Leisure had been made for an Operations Manager with experience in sales and   marketing experience.  In referring to   specific targets Mr. Oaten advised there were no specific targets across the   board but there were for example in relation to swimming.

Is   equality for women reflected in your everyday operations?

There   are senior managers who are female and as a company it monitored quality   targets in terms of gender.  There were   three Regional Directors, one of whom was female.  With regard to BME (ethnic minorities) this   has not been successful but it was the company’s intention to proactively   encourage ethnic minorities in the future.    The company’s aim was to however, provide a more pro-active approach   to their recruiting programme.

How   significant is car parking to you and do you have any proposals?

The   car parking issues were diverse throughout the Vale with Barry in the main   being the most problematic.  Cowbridge   was also difficult as a number of commuters used the car park to park their   vehicles and commute into Cardiff.  Lack   of car parking was also one of the reasons noted for people leaving the   membership of Barry and for customers not using the Barry Leisure Centre   between the hours of 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.    To try to address this matter, Mr. Oaten suggested that the   provision of a short stay car park, say for up to two hours, during the week   would be a suggestion as on weekends there were no problems.  Another alternative would be to introduce a   charge which could be waived if you used the leisure centre.

This   has been the first year that the service has been operated by the new sub-contractor   Legacy Leisure, what differences, if any, has this change meant to the   service and staff?

Little   change other than the Legacy element provided a focus on community engagement   and the community benefit now afforded with Legacy Leisure being a charitable   organisation.

In   relation to the squash courts, what do you feel would be the answer to this   issue?

There   were opportunities to convert the squash courts into different usage which   would be similar to those undertaken around the country. However, Mr. Oaten   felt that it would be important to keep at least one squash court as it was a   market trend at the moment that a significant number of people were not  playing squash, but that this could   change.  Further uses could also be   considered and he referred to exploring enhancing the G.P. referral scheme.

Do   you feel you are on track to improve participation?

In   terms of opportunities available there have been some proposals which are   being considered e.g. the back room at the Penarth centre could be used as a   gym space.  Further consideration can   be given to the use of the foyer areas but in view of the fact that trends change   on a regular basis it was important for the organisation to be flexible in whatever   decisions it made.  The development at   Colcot could also offer considerable potential in the future in view of the   development of the new sports pitches.    Competition was always a threat but this can also have its pros as   well as its cons. 

 

Councillor John, with permission to speak advised that the Council was currently re-viewing the issue of car parking within the Vale and was fully aware of the issues affecting leisure centres.  He too referred to the new five-aside 3G pitches to be developed at Colcot which he considered would be a great asset.  He also took the opportunity to advise Members that if a decision had not been made some time ago to work in partnership with Parkwood, he was convinced some of the centres would have had to have been closed.

 

The Operational Manager advised that some of the challenges faced by Parkwood / Legacy were outside their control e.g. car parking and the conditions of the changing rooms but that good working relationships existed between Parkwood and the Vale. He too was encouraged by the excellent Exercise GP Referral Scheme in operation which he wished to see further improved. 

 

A Member also referred to the health element and the need for leisure centres to continue to see the importance of assisting in improving public health.  The Regional Director in response advised that Parkwood Leisure/Legacy Leisure as an organisation have a health core group with a number of initiatives in place. Her role was also to draw together best practice from all its services and to share that practice across the whole of the organisation in order to see how health offer can be extended.

 

Following consideration of the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Regional Director and Contract Manager be thanked for their presentation and for the frank and open discussions regarding the service.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet attention be drawn to the comments and challenges identified by the Scrutiny Committee at the meeting which are outside the control and responsibility of Legacy Leisure with specific reference to car parking and the condition of the changing rooms at some leisure centres.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of scrutiny’s role to continually monitor the Leisure Management Partnership.

 

(2)       To apprise Cabinet of the issues and the challenges for future consideration.

 

 

561     VALE SPORT (LAPA) REVIEW APRIL 2014 - 2015 (DEH) -

 

Karen Davies, Sports and Play Development Manager, provided the Committee with a presentation on the Vale Sport Review Report April 2014 - 2015 which contained details of the key achievements over the year (and had been included in the agenda for the meeting) and detailed the assortment of exciting sport and physical activity opportunities being delivered in the Vale of Glamorgan to engage residents of all ages.  The report highlighted that it was encouraging to see the positive impact the opportunities had on increasing participation rates amongst children, young people and adults which were assisting with achieving the Vale’s vision of an inclusive, confident, healthy, sporting community.  

 

The key achievements were reported as 

  • 186 clubs and organisations and 18 National Governing Bodies of Sport linked to the Vale Sports Development Team
  • 43 clubs offering inclusive or disability specific opportunities
  • 11,686 registrations in Dragon Sport for 7-11 year olds
  • 3557 young people aged 12 – 16 accrued 44,546 participations in 5x60 scheme
  • 459 course attendees from 75 different organisations through the Creating Confident Coaches and Doorstep Sports projects.

The presentation also highlighted fundamental skills for life in sport as follows

 

DRAGON SPORT 

  • 246 Dragon Sport clubs - ↑ 24% on previous year
  • 363 volunteers involved in delivery
  • Introduction of Multiskills – developing fundamental movement skills

 

5x60 

  • 48% of the Vale’s 12 -16 year olds participated in 45 different sports within the 5x60 scheme
  • Focus on increasing female participation – 45% (1627) of girls engaged
  • Introduction of Activity Co-ordinators has enabled the AYP Officers to increase their capacity to link to 42 new clubs and establish 27 school-club links.

 

AQUATICS 

  • Focus on improving the School and Community Learn to Swim programmes.
  • 1144 year 3-6 children accessed School Swimming programme – ↑ 22.5%
  • 89,403 swims at Vale Leisure Centres.

The Active Young People Programme was delivered by the Sports Development Team encompassing the 5x60 and the Dragon Sport and multi-skills project.  In developing Vibrant Community Sport facilities a network of thriving community sports clubs, leisure centres and organisations to inspire lifetime participation in sport were working together to achieve this aim.  There were more than 186 sports clubs and community organisations linked with Sports and Play Development teams, 97 of whom were working in partnership with the Active Young People team highlighting their commitment to developing community engagement.  A number of case studies were identified within the report.  By working in partnership with Disability Sport Wales, the Vale Council had also ensured that developments on a local level complimented and were linked to the national strategic aims.  Inclusion also took the form of female participation with 43% of 7 - 11 year olds participating in the Dragon Sport Programmes as well as working with the Welsh Language with 57% of Bro Morgannwg pupils participating in 5x60 activities to name but a few projects.

 

In referring to the workforce, the Sports and Play Development Manager advised that this included paid staff and volunteers in clubs, schools and other organisations undertaking roles such as coaching, umpiring and administrative roles.  459 participants had undertaken courses such as First Aid, Safeguarding Children, Disability Inclusion, ‘How to Coach’ workshop, multi-skills training and Active Young People Leadership Training.  The Coaches for the Future project focussed on offering mentoring training and practical coaching experience for 20 selected young people with over 645 voluntary hours being accrued and impacting upon 1,763 participants and 7,704 participations. 

 

Of note was the fact that young volunteers contributed to 1,109 sessions.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council and Parkwood / Legacy Leisure continued to support elite performers through the Sports Academy Scheme which supports talented individuals to reach their potential on a national and world stage. 

 

In conclusion, Committee was advised that the Vale of Glamorgan was third in Wales in respect of the Hooked on Sport for Leisure with 52% of children participating at least three times per week (the Welsh average being 48%), 62% were members of a sports club, 81% of pupils were confident trying new activities and 73% of pupils enjoyed sport outside of school ‘a lot’.

 

Committee was further advised that the Local Authority received funding from Sport Wales to deliver the Vale’s Sport Plan.  However, a proposed restructure for which the Department had received little detailed information was suggesting a revised model of delivery with the suggested creation of Regional Sports Agencies being responsible for developing a vision and the strategic planning of community sports development in their geographical catchment.  The suggested proposal was that Regional Sports Agencies would be the vehicle through which Sport Wales funding would be co-ordinated and commissioned within that geographical area.  However, the Authority needed to receive more detail from Sport Wales to better understand how the new delivery model would work in practice. 

 

Members, on hearing the suggested proposals, requested to receive more detail and agreed more detailed consultation should have been undertaken in respect of these suggestions.  There having been no clarity in relation to such proposals, Members were concerned in respect of the potential impact to sport on residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.  Although there were limited funding and resources available, to date the Sports and Development Team had provided a successful package of sport for Vale residents with 8% increase in participation having been reached during the past two years.  Members were concerned that any new changes to the funding arrangements would have a detrimental effect (the officer was aware a pilot was to be undertaken somewhere in Wales in 2016, following which the restructure would be rolled out).  For the 2016 period the Local Authority have been requested to submit a Vale Sport Plan as per usual.  Members took the opportunity to praise the Sports Development Manager and her team for all the hard work undertaken to date within the limited resources that they had.

 

Following a query as to whether the current system was flawed, a Member stated that they did not believe in change for change sake and queried also when the Council would be likely to know what the new arrangements may be.  Members were also concerned that little consultation had been undertaken on any proposed change.  The officer advised that a National Working Party had been set up but that they had only been informed after it had been established and had not been asked for any input.  A vague leaflet had been produced stating that the timescale was initially for April 2016 but there were so many questions that needed to be resolved that this date was put back.  Members, in congratulating the officer and her staff on their remarkable achievements to date, were concerned that the success for the Vale could be overshadowed by the new proposals which could result in the Vale receiving less funding for a service that was already being provided with decreasing resources.  All Members of the Scrutiny Committee unanimously agreed that more information in relation to the funding regime should be received and that Cabinet should be requested to arrange for a detailed investigation to be undertaken in order to find out what the proposed new procedure would likely mean for residents of the Vale of Glamorgan. It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to look into the matter of funding and the new proposals to be submitted by Sports Wales, in light of the concerns raised by the Scrutiny Committee and the potential impact for Vale staff and the children and residents of the Vale.

 

(2)       T H A T all staff involved including volunteers and the coaches be thanked on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee for their hard work and support with regard to the significant achievements that have been made for the children and residents of the Vale of Glamorgan, particularly within the limited resources available. 

 

(3)       T H A T the LAPA Review Report be forwarded to all Members of the Council for their information.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In order that Cabinet can investigate the matter further so that the Vale of Glamorgan is not penalised for its success.

 

(2)       In recognition of the hard work being undertaken for the children and residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

(3)       To inform all Members of the achievements made to date.

 

 

562     PLAY - INITIATIVES AND UPDATE (DEH) -

 

Committee was updated on the various play initiatives that had occurred in the school summer holidays together with an update on the Play Sufficiency Audit requirements.  The Sports Play and Development Manager, in presenting the report, advised that the Council’s Play Service provided a comprehensive range of play activities to young residents of the Vale of Glamorgan mostly during school holidays.  The award winning service had also built up an excellent reputation for its inclusion work as well as delivery of quality play opportunities. 

 

A significant amount of work had been centred on the school summer holidays and for summer 2015 the service had worked in partnership with Town and Community Councils following approval from Cabinet to seek external funding to operate play schemes and Play Ranger sessions as well as other new funding opportunities.  A report detailing the activities operated across the Vale of Glamorgan during the 2015 school summer holidays was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

The report outlined the various successes and partnerships that had been developed in terms of funding and that given the success in attracting partnership funding it was proposed to continue with the strategy for the following year.  It was however highlighted that, whilst approximately £9,000 was given by Town and Community Councils to support Play Schemes, the cost of providing play provision still required additional funding to run the comprehensive scheme provided.  Section 106 monies, Families First Disability Strand funding and a contribution from Communities First and United Welsh Housing all assisted in enabling the schemes to be delivered.

 

The main requirements placed upon the Council  by the Welsh Government in terms of the new statutory play duties were to assess the sufficiency of play opportunities in the area and so far as reasonably practicable to secure sufficient play opportunities having regard to the assessments and to publish the opportunities available.  By 31st March, 2016 there was a requirement to complete a comprehensive Play Sufficiency audit and devise an accompanying action plan. 

 

In addition to the above, the Sports and Play Development Team had also delivered play activities at a number of Council organised events working in partnership with internal departments such as the Events Team, Housing department, Young Carers Team, the Foster Care and Adoption Team in Social Services and Ysgol Y Deri.  Other activities had also been delivered at external events such as the Vale Show and Family Fun Days funded by Town and Community Councils.   As well as providing quality play opportunities these events also promote family activity and provide an opportunity to promote the main activities of the play service.  They had also provided funding to support additional play opportunities as a recharge can often be made for the services provided. 

 

Of note was the fact that without the ability to attract funding from sources such as Town and Community Councils, other organisations, Section 106 agreements etc., the present levels of play opportunities could not be maintained.  The play budget required constant monitoring to ensure that funding is obtained to enable the service to be maintained at the current levels.  The Council’s statutory duties in relation to play provision were set out in the body of the report, it being noted that if Town and Community Councils responded favourably to invitations to fund play provision it would be necessary to agree and enter into appropriate forms of agreement.

 

The report further highlighted that the play schemes had been very well attended with 661 registrations across 16 days of play schemes with 32 play scheme sessions taking place across five venues accruing 1,895 participations by children aged 4 - 11 years.  42 disabled children had also been linked to the play scheme sessions by the Play Development Team.  A partnership had been formed with Dinas Powys Community Council, Penarth Town Council, United Welsh Housing and Communities First who had financially supported the delivery of the summer play schemes in their areas.  Feedback from the play schemes had been fantastic and a sample of the feedback information received from parents, carers and children was included within the report.  A partnership had also been created with Morrisons, Barry, who had provided free food for the duration of the schemes.  A number of the children had commented they had “never tried some of the fruit before and would love to continue to eat them in the future”.  It was therefore hoped that the introduction of these schemes would encourage healthy eating amongst the children in the future. 

 

With regard to the Play Ranger Project, this was aimed at 5 - 11 year olds and had been developed to support children and parents to play outdoors.  146 children had registered with the Play Ranger scheme with 62 children registered for the six sessions and Wick Pavilion which had been financially supported by Wick Community Council.  Representatives from Wick Community Council also joined in the fun with the children at every session.  19 children had attended the St. David’s Crescent, Penarth project, financially supported by Penarth Town Council whilst 35 children attended two sessions delivered at ‘The Dump’, Salisbury Road, Barry which had been delivered through Section 106 funding.  A further 30 children had attended the four Dyffryn Court Play Area sessions and these had been financially supported by Llantwit Major Town Council. 

 

In conclusion the report highlighted that a successful events programme had been delivered by the Sport and Play Development Team which had been attended by in excess of 2,000 people. 

 

The Cabinet Member, with permission to speak, commented on the enthusiasm of the officers and the magnificent achievements that had been made to date.  He took the opportunity to ask all Members who were ‘twin hatted’ Members (i.e. Members of both the Vale Council and local Town and Community Councils) to urge their Community Councils to support the initiatives as they provided excellent opportunities for children and residents within the Vale.  Members, in echoing the sentiments of the Cabinet Member, subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Sports and Play Development Manager on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee thank all the staff, volunteers etc. involved in the initiatives for their hard work and dedication to the service.

 

(2)       T H A T the contents of the report on the summer play schemes be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be referred to the next Community Liaison Committee for their information.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In recognition of the work undertaken.

 

(2)       To note the work completed over the summer period.

 

(3)       To apprise the Community Liaison Committee on the potential of future play opportunities.

 

 

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