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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 5th January, 2016.

 

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, G. Roberts and S.T. Wiliam.

 

Also present: Councillors J. Bird, Dr. I.J. Johnson and N. Moore.

 

 

722     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. M. Kelly Owen and A.G. Powell.

 

 

723     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 1st December, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

The Chairman advised that in relation to the minutes she had a response for Members with regard to the recommendation on Nell’s Point marketing which she would raise under decision tracking.

 

 

724     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

With regard to Agenda item 4 Greenlinks presentation Councillor G. Roberts declared a personal interest but not a prejudicial interest in that he was a member of the Penarth Transport Group.

 

 

725     PRESENTATION – GREENLINKS SERVICES –

 

The Senior Transportation Officer and Community Transportation Officer commenced by providing a PowerPoint presentation, the slides for which had also been tabled at the meeting for Members information.  The presentation provided an overview of the current position with regard to the service which included details of examples of where people were benefitting from the service and suggested ways  forward for the future.

 

Committee was advised that the Greenlinks fleet provided an ad hoc door to door service, a registered on demand local service and group hire.  The current membership of Greenlinks consisted of individual membership 1,350 members in 2015 as opposed to 800 in 2013 ), group membership was 83 for 2015 and had been 53 in 2013, with regard to drivers, there were 16 voluntary drivers reported for 2015 and 15 for 2013 with one paid driver noted for both 2013 and 2015.   The area of operation for the service covered G1 and G4 services only in the Western Vale and Eastern Vale zone, which were detailed on a map provided at the meeting and contained within the presentation tabled at the meeting.  The fares for the service were: 

  • £5 membership fee
  • Daily fares between £2-£5
  • Group charges £30 half day, £60 full day, 40 miles free, 45p per mile thereafter.

The service had to be registered with the Department of Transport, operate within a specific area and passengers were able to use their concessionary bus passes.  The two services currently operated were reported as T1 service – St. Athan to Cowbridge to Bridgend and surrounding villages and G4 service – Llantwit Major, St. Athan, Rhoose to Culverhouse Cross, UHW and Cardiff City Centre.  There were a number of journeys per month as outlined below:

 

Month

2013

2015

Individuals

Groups

Total

Individuals

Groups

Total

May

504

2

(36)

540

879

7

(95)

974

June

433

7

(144)

577

1,001

8

(132)

1,139

July

504

3

(44)

548

1,064

13

(193)

1,272

Aug

509

3

(56)

565

829

7

(130)

959

Sep

602

3

(50)

652

941

11

(214)

1,155

Oct

670

4

(78)

748

1,041

10

(164)

1,205

Nov

588

7

(140)

728

958

13

(202)

1,160

 

The purpose of journeys were for shopping, hospital appointments, other appointments, visiting, social with other reasons also being noted.

 

The pilot project had received £100,000 funding from Welsh Government for the purpose of piloting integrated transport and at that time a new vehicle had been purchased, two part time drivers appointed in conjunction with a transport package.  The outcome of the pilot had established a working relationship with social services to provide transport to the Gathering Place, the introduction of a regular shopping service from Peterston Super Ely, an integrated primary school run to Pendoylan Primary School and ad hoc Greenlinks services. 

 

Between 2010 to December 2014 the service had been funded through Rural Development Plan monies via Creative Rural Communities and from December 2014 onwards the service was now funded by Development monies with up to 25% of the transport element being received from Section 106 monies.  For 2015/16 the cost of this service was £115,000, it now employed two office staff and one paid driver and operated five vehicles, which included fuelling Service Level Agreements and maintenance.  There were also volunteer costs and incidentals as well as on costs. 

 

In providing details of how people benefitted from the service, Committee was informed that the drivers received training, they actually enjoyed providing a service to the community and it also made use of their spare time as well as potential employment opportunities.

 

In referring to employment, it was noted that two individuals used the service to go home after work to Peterston Super Ely whereas if they used public transport it would take them two hours to get home.  The G1 service was used to access employment in Cowbridge.  For social reasons a number of elderly individuals used the service to visit relatives living in nursing homes and individuals from the Bonvilston / St. Nicholas area organised a monthly outing for a meal.  In referring to the benefit in relation to wellbeing, it was noted that a passenger used the service twice a week to access hydro therapy, a partially sighted wheelchair user attended a weekly blind club in Barry, it being noted that prior to using this service the person had been unable to attend the club.  A number of elderly passengers had often commented that they used the service for their weekly outing to the local community club.

 

With regard to the benefit for groups, Members were advised that the Insight Club received the service as fortnightly meetings took place at Cowbridge, there was a monthly meeting at Barry Leisure in respect of Action for Hearing Loss and weekly  outings to various towns from Crayshaw Court and the Christmas Day Event by Age Connects.  Photographs of such service benefits were provided at the meeting for Members’ information.  It was important to note that the Greenlinks service was available to everyone, not just in the rural communities, with the benefits covering shopping, access to employment, access to other public transport and access to local amenities.

 

For the future, partnership working with Dinas Powys Voluntary Concern was being considered with transport to the new medical centre in Dinas Powys due to open early March 2016 with a purchase of a small vehicle to provide transport to the centre allowing Greenlinks to provide a further service in the eastern Vale.  The intention was to increase the number of volunteer drivers by developing a recruitment campaign for drivers with attendance at supermarkets and DIY stores for promotion purposes.  Work would also be undertaken with Glamorgan Voluntary Services in respect of referrals and consideration of appointing paid part time drivers.  There was however currently no replacement vehicle programme for vehicles due to the fact that the current vehicles were relatively new no replacement programme had been developed.  However, further actions to be considered were a vehicle utilisation programme and to investigate grant funding opportunities.  Future marketing and promotion to raise awareness of the service would include raising awareness with Council Members, officers and outside bodies, encourage more group usage during the evenings and weekends, having particular regard to the youth market and that all passenger transport requests be considered by the PTU who would consider what in-house options were available before any outsourcing was undertaken.  It was imperative that the department ensured ongoing funding for the service and to increase income by better optimisation of use of vehicles.  Ongoing funding requirements were quoted at approximately £125,000 per year. 

 

Members welcomed the success of the Greenlinks project and were keen that the service be promoted and noted that further funding and other opportunities were being considered.  Following a query from the Chairman regarding appropriate licences, Members were advised that DBS checks were undertaken and as well as  the necessary training being provided volunteers and drivers were also provided with an opportunity to work with an existing driver for experience.


A Member queried how far to full capacity the service was with the response being that the vehicles would probably remain approximately at around 70% capacity with further improvements to be made.  Although the service was successful more passengers were needed to travel and hence the decision to undertake further marketing and promotion to encourage passengers.

 

The Head of Service advised that public transport in the Vale was in her opinion very good and that the Council had some of the best supported services.  Greenlinks offered a service on demand as well as the opportunity to link with other transport for people to get in and around the Vale and outlying areas.  Mention was also made of a request for a number of people living in the Cowbridge area to utilise the service on an ad hoc basis for work purposes.  Particular mention was made of the Fferm Goch area with the officer responding that the department could certainly look at assisting people in that area particularly if there was a need as a result of the  proposed new development for the area.

 

In response to a query and referring to the regulations under Section 106 and future CIL requirements that the Council would no longer be able to group more than five areas together, the Operational Manager for Development Management advised that as the Greenlinks  service was revenue funded the department would consider each development on its own merits and where the service was required to service a development.


Following a request that all transport should be integrated for economies of scale the Senior Transportation Officer informed Committee that partnership working was indeed a significant part of moving the service forward.  In response to a further query as to whether the Council could provide the same service to schools with reference to additional learning needs the Senior Transportation Officer confirmed that the Council was currently considering how many routes it could possibly take on to schools.

 

A Member queried the operation of the T9 bus service and whether it could stop at more stops on its route especially as it was heavily subsidised by Welsh Government.  The Head of Service responded by stating that it was a Welsh Government service and not funded by the Vale although the Council had procured the service on behalf of Welsh Government.  The bus only stopped at limited stops related directly to the Airport to ensure that it was not in direct competition with commercial services operating in the area and it was therefore for those reasons the Council would not be able to utilise the service in that way.  Another Member queried whether the community of Ham Lane in Llantwit Major could be considered for access to the service but were advised that the Council had previously undertaken a leaflet drop in that area asking whether people would be interested in such a service being provided to which there had been such a low response and therefore the service had not been considered viable at the time. 

 

The Vice-Chairman queried whether service could link in with the Reshaping Services agenda, with the Head of Service advising that the Council had a vision for its vehicles which included that where down time with Council vehicles occurred appropriate vehicles could be used by the Greenlinks Service. 

 

A further query in respect of how / if the Council responded to emergencies was raised with Committee being advised that where it could the department would assist but may not be able to in all cases as it would be dependent on  whether the transport would be in the area at the time.  However, the officer assured Members that where possible requests were fulfilled. 

 

Having considered  the presentation the Members complimented the officers on the success of the service and offered their congratulations to the team on the impact the service had made to date on the lives of residents of the Vale.

 

In conclusion the Chairman subsequently requested, with the agreement of the Committee, that the details of the presentation be provided to the Town and Community Council Reshaping Services Project Team in order that lessons learnt in respect of the service can be shared. 

           

 

726     NEW DRAFT SUPPLEMENTARY PLANNING GUIDANCE - AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND PLANNING OBLIGATIONS (CALL-IN) –

 

The decision of Cabinet on 14th December, 2015 as outlined below had been called in by Councillor J.C Bird who was present at the meeting:

 

(1)       T H A T the Draft Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) and the Draft Planning Obligations SPG be approved for submission as evidence to the examination in public of the Council's Local Development Plan (LDP).

 

(2)       T H A T the changes to the S106 consultation procedure attached at Appendix 3 to the Draft Planning Obligations SPG be noted and endorsed.

 

 (4)      T H A T the SPGs be approved to be used as material considerations in relevant Development Management decisions with immediate effect.

 

Councillor Bird advised that the reason for his call-in was  that ‘I am concerned that we may be acting unilaterally in implementing an affordable housing threshold that will stall building in the Vale of Glamorgan by making us uneconomic in comparison with other counties or countries.  I would like to see what other authority policies are especially as the new building regulations that come in place in 2016 making house building in Wales nearly £2000 a unit more than other UK countries.  This could stall growth in the VOG and have a negative effect on affordable housing provision overall.  Also this would be implemented immediately, I would rather see what the LDP inspector has to say before implementation.’

 

Whilst presenting the call-in Councillor Bird took the opportunity to thank the officers for the information he had requested that had been tabled at the meeting which detailed the thresholds and requirements for affordable housing across Local Planning Authorities in Wales.  He also thanked the Committee for the opportunity to bring the call-in for consideration.

 

Councillor Bird stated that in his view the Council was acting unilaterally with the potential to stifle growth for the future.  He considered that the approval of the draft Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance was premature, there were too many costs being burdened on developers and he urged the Council to wait for the outcome of the Planning Inspectorate decision on the Council’s Deposit Local Development Plan. 

 

The Operational Manager for Development Management advised that Cabinet had been requested to approve the new Draft Affordable Housing SPG and the Draft Planning Obligations SPG for submission as evidence for the examination in public of the Council’s Local Development Plan (LDP) and to approve the SPG to be used as material considerations in relevant development management decisions with immediate effect.  The operational manager further advised that the Council currently benefited from an adopted SPG on Planning Obligations as it assisted officers when negotiating the terms of legal agreements and in particular, the likely contributions required for new major development proposals.  Since the last update in July 2012 (Cabinet meeting 23/07/12 Minute No. C1785 refers), there had been substantial changes in legislation, the Deposit Local Development Plan had also been submitted to the Welsh Government and construction costs had increased. The revised Draft SPG had therefore taken account of these changes and the most up to date evidence that had been used to inform both the LDP and the Draft SPG.

 

The report detailed that Policy MG4 of the LDP 'Affordable Housing', as amended by Focused Change (16), proposed a three tier affordable housing requirement of 30% in Barry and 35% in Llantwit Major, Rhoose and St. Athan on sites of 5 or more dwellings. Outside these areas the Council proposed a 40% requirement on sites resulting in a net gain of 1 dwelling, or a net gain of 2 dwellings where the proposal involved the conversion of an existing dwelling but excluded barn conversions.

 

Committee was further advised that in response to the Focused Changes Consultation, the Welsh Government had submitted representations in respect of the Council's proposed changes to the LDP, including Policy MG4. Within the representations the Welsh Government had requested further clarification on the status of the Council's Draft Affordable Housing SPG, which the Council referred to in the written justification of the Deposit LDP.

 

In order to address the Welsh Government's representation, officers wished to submit as evidence in support of the LDP the draft affordable housing SPG (attached at Appendix 1) which clarified how the Council proposed to implement the affordable housing policies set out in the LDP.

 

In this respect the SPG provided further detail on matters relating to: 

  • The level of affordable housing required
  • The Council's preferred affordable housing mix and tenure
  • The Council's approach to on site and off site provision affordable housing contributions
  • The Council's approach to commuted sums in lieu of affordable housing and how commuted sums will be spent
  • Development viability and viability appraisals
  • The Council's policy on rural exceptions affordable housing, and local lettings and sales policy.

In preparing the Draft SPG, officers have also taken into account the Council's latest affordable housing need evidence, alongside updated viability evidence undertaken to reflect the change in affordable housing tenure that the Council would now wish to secure.

 

The Draft Planning Obligations SPG was also attached at Appendix 2 to the report advising that the SPG was largely based on the existing SPG which provided a sound basis for seeking planning obligations and was equally applicable to the proposed LDP policies.  The main changes to the Planning Obligations SPG were contained within the report.  It was noted that following the adoption of the LDP the Draft Affordable Housing SPG and Draft Planning Obligations SPG would be subject to separate consultation in accordance with the Council’s agreed protocol for the production of SPG.  As such, this would enable officers to consider the SPG in light of the EIP and for the general public and interested parties to comment on the SPG in light of the adopted LDP.

 

The Operational Manager reiterated that the authority was therefore currently working alongside these documents as they had been submitted as evidence for the LDP with it being considered appropriate to deal with any new applications in light of this guidance.  The evidence behind the documents were material considerations and set out how the Council interpreted and implemented its policies.  It was important to note that the Council was not suggesting anything new but that it be noted that the Draft LDP had been approved for deposit by Council. 

 

The Head of Regeneration and Planning informed the Committee that in referring to Page 4 of the Affordable Housing document table 2 of the document detailed that the Council was not applying a blanket approach but that the approach was actually being applied on an area by area basis.  The threshold within the new draft Affordable Housing SPGs were also not unique to the Vale and all authorities had Affordable Housing Policies with thresholds being lower in rural authorities.  The Operational Manager further commented that she did not feel the new draft SPGS would undermine planning in the Vale.

 

Councillor Bird, however, in summing up advised that he had taken on board all the comments made both at the Planning Committee and at the meeting but still firmly believed that the application of the guidance was premature and that the Council should wait for the results of the Planning Inspectorate LDP considerations.  One of his main concerns being that in relation to the fact that new building regulations were to be being applied in the near future which would also have an impact for developers, he was concerned about the urgency of the guidance being introduced.  He also stated that he had heard developers comment that as it was easier in England for developer to develop they would therefore look elsewhere to develop rather than in the Vale. 

 

In response to this comment a Member of the Committee stated that at meetings they had attended where developers had been present they had said that the Vale was the most profitable area to build in. The Councillor also made reference to affordable housing shortages within the Vale particularly in the Penarth area and that the earliest opportunity should be taken to discuss and negotiate with developers. To this end it was proposed that the documents should be approved for use. Another Member also stated that they had been at similar meetings with elected members from other local authorities who had advised that they were ‘jealous of the Vale’ for having so many developments coming forward. 

 

Following a request for information from officers as to whether developers had threatened to “walk away” the Head of Services advised that a couple of developers had advised they may go to appeal but he could report that there were a number of  negotiations currently ongoing with developers in line with the proposed guidance.

 

The Operational Manager further advised that the Council was obliged to deliver housing in the Vale and having considered all the options it had been deemed appropriate to agree to deliver the 40% as outlined within the document.  However, she was aware that with regard to single applications the guidance had not been tested in the Vale although she was aware of six local authorities who were currently involved in such a test.  Discussions with developers would also be on a one to one basis on site specific proposals with the authority being able to negotiate with developers it considered appropriate the example given being where developers would be required to provide considerable infrastructure. To which the Operational Manager confirmed that such negotiations had been undertaken on occasions.

 

A Member of the Committee stated that he understood where Councillor Bird was coming from but that in looking at the evidence the desirability of developers to develop in the Vale was a true statement and that the recommendations contained within the report in his view were correct.  This view was subsequently echoed by all Members of the Committee.

 

Following consideration of the call-in and the accompanying reports the Committee unanimously  

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the resolutions of Cabinet be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order that the SPGs were used in considerations in relevant development management decisions.

                                                      

 

727     DRAFT CORPORATE PLAN 2016-20 (REF) and PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK (REF) -

 

Following agreement that the references from Cabinet on the Corporate Plan and the Performance Management Framework (PMF) were closely aligned it was accepted that Agenda Items 5 and 6 would be considered at the same time.  For these items, the Leader of the Council presented the reports which advised that on 14th December, 2015 Cabinet had endorsed the draft Corporate Plan 2016-20 and had approved changes to the Council’s PMF.  Both of these had been referred to all Scrutiny Committees for their comments.  The Leader commenced by providing a PowerPoint presentation, copies of which had been tabled at the meeting for Members’ information.

 

The Leader commenced by advising that the proposals provided a refresh of the Council’s vision by proposing a new vision and the Council’s values. The Council’s revised vision for the Vale of Glamorgan being “Strong Communities with a bright future”.   The Leader further advised that in April 2015 Welsh Government had passed the Wellbeing and Future Generations Wales Act and the new Corporate Plan was closely aligned to this.  The Act placed a duty on Councils to carry out sustainable development which meant the process of improving the economic social and cultural wellbeing of Wales.  The Act required the Council to set out and publish wellbeing objectives by April 2017 that maximised its contribution to achieving the wellbeing goals which were attached at Appendix A to the report.  In addition, supplementary information on the Corporate Plan which had been included in the agenda following the Cabinet decision provided Members with an overview on which the existing Scrutiny Committees would be responsible for scrutinising the proposed Corporate Plan actions. 

 

The draft Plan, attached at Appendix B to the report, had been drafted in parallel with the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).  The priorities for the next four years had been developed in full recognition of the financial climate and achievability of the actions associated.  There was also recognition that in light of future budgetary decisions, there would be a need to review and potentially amend the Plan.  Increasingly, the Council would need to work with its partners and communities to identify alternative ways of delivering services.  

 

The draft Plan was framed around four values, these being ambitious, open, together and proud.  The Plan also stated the Council’s approach to strategic planning and recognition of the need to have robust arrangements in place.  Four Wellbeing Outcomes and two objectives per outcome were followed by details of actions linked to the internal workings of the Council which would be instrumental in ensuring that there were foundations in place to promote sustainable development.  The Plan concluded with details of how the Plan would be monitored.

 

The Plan had also been drafted having due regard to the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act and as such demonstrated the Council’s contributions to the wellbeing goals  as well as having taken account of a range of performance and engagement information to ensure it reflected what customers and partners were telling the Council.  The proposed wellbeing outcomes being:

 

•           An inclusive and safe Vale

•           An environmentally responsible and prosperous Vale

•           An aspirational and culturally vibrant Vale

•           An active and health Vale.

 

The Committee was advised that for each of the four wellbeing outcomes there would be two wellbeing objectives and these outcomes and objectives would be developed through the consultation process.

 

In terms of the PMF, the relevant Cabinet report outlined that the Council had a strong performance management track record which had been evidenced in previous Annual Improvement Reports (AIR) by the Wales Audit Office.  However, the recent AIR for 2014/15 identified the following two proposals for improvement:

 

•           P1 Refine performance reporting arrangements to ensure data was presented in a way that provided a balanced picture of performance and of the outcomes being achieved

•           P2 Improve reporting so that cross-directorate / cross-service activity was considered in the context of delivery of priorities rather than completion of service-based actions.

 

The Council’s Performance Management Framework (PMF) set out the way in which the Council undertook performance management across the Council.  This Framework enabled the Council to regularly asses, report and scrutinise performance in order to support continuous improvement of its activities.

 

The PMF brought together the Council’s key planning, monitoring and evaluation processes through an integrated suite of documents.  These included the Community Strategy, Corporate Plan, Service Plans, Team Plans and Personal Development Plans and demonstrated the contribution made at a variety of levels of the organisation to the Council’s priority outcomes. 

 

The report also outlined that the Corporate Plan would be monitored on a quarterly basis by an overall corporate health scorecard report and supplemented by specific quarterly reports for each of the four wellbeing outcomes. 

 

“Corporate Health” would be illustrated from a number of perspectives:

 

•           Performance against wellbeing outcome / objectives

•           Resources (finance / savings, people, assets and ICT)

•           Customer focus and risks. 

 

Future reports would incorporate a Red, Amber, Green status for each of the wellbeing outcomes to give a snapshot of overall progress.  A brief position statement would be provided for the quarter covering the wellbeing outcomes and corporate health performance overall.  A brief summary of achievements by outcome would be provided as well as areas of underperformance / key challenges across the corporate health perspectives being highlighted with remedial actions to address these going forward.  These quarterly overview reports would be presented in a dashboard / scorecard format designed to make the information contained in it as accessible as possible. 

 

The measures would also include amending the Scrutiny Committee structures from May 2016 to align with the wellbeing outcomes of the Corporate Plan and it was proposed that the terms of reference for the existing Committees be therefore reviewed to reflect the wellbeing outcomes and to support the cross cutting nature of the Plan.

 

In order to accomplish this, the Leader outlined that the four quarterly wellbeing outcome and objectives scorecard reports would demonstrate progress against each of the wellbeing outcomes and associated objectives.  Informed by performance data collected from Service Plans, these reports would demonstrate the cross-cutting nature of the wellbeing outcomes and draw together evidence from a range of service areas.  A brief position statement from the sponsoring Director would be provided for the quarter.  A brief summary of achievements by objective would be provided and areas of underperformance / key challenges highlighted, including a description of any remedial actions required to address these going forward.

 

In addition to the four wellbeing outcome-based Scrutiny Committees, the existing Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) would be replaced with a committee responsible for Corporate Resources and Performance.  As a result and again in addition to this, the Council would therefore have the following Scrutiny Committees in operation:

 

•           An Inclusive and Safe Vale Scrutiny Committee

•           An Active and Healthy Vale Scrutiny Committee

•           An Environmentally Responsible and Prosperous Vale Scrutiny Committee

•           An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale Scrutiny Committee.

 

The proposals were not merely a change in the name of Committees, but rather they represented a refocusing of scrutiny activity on the way in which the Council’s actions were delivered against its intended outcomes. It was intended that the quarterly wellbeing outcome and objective reports would be reported to the relevant committees, with the overall corporate scorecard report being presented to the Corporate Resources and Performance Committee.

 

Members raised concerns as to the way in which the Committee’s would actually operate with the Leader clarifying that the new Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) would have responsibility for looking at performance of the Council as a whole which was very similar to how the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee currently scrutinised the Council’s finances.  Corporate Resources was the lead Committee in that area.  The aim he stated was to try to ensure that all the various services of the Council were brought together under relevant outcomes and objectives.

 

The Chairman in referring to the supplementary information attached to the reference raised concern in respect of a number of aspects for example with regard to the significant work currently being undertaken by the Committee in respect of Leisure Services and Play and sought reassurance as to how this work would be taken forward in the future.

 

The Managing Director advised that the current focus by the existing Committee would not be lost although the areas of work would in the new proposals fall within the remit of a different committee the current arrangements would not be compromised and the focus would be maintained.  Detailed consideration he stated had been given to where the relevant outcomes should be placed with the acceptance that Leisure activity was more aligned to An Active and Healthy Vale. 

 

In order that consideration could be given as to whether the Corporate Plan actions were clear, required additions or deletions the Managing Director subsequently took the Committee through all the Corporate Plan actions contained therein.  A number of Members stated that the proposals represented an improvement on the previous Corporate Plan and that there were clear defined outcomes which were focussed and easy to understand . However they were concerned about some of the wording with particular reference to the use of the words inclusive and aspirational and expressed concern at the names of the new proposed Committees as they considered they were not words that would be commonly used by the general public.

 

Both the Leader and the Managing Director advised that they were aware from the Scrutiny Committee the previous evening and from recent briefings that had been undertaken that the proposed Committee titles were a cause of concern to Members and that these could be given further consideration. It was however, the principles of the new proposals that they wished members to consider in light of the Act and the recommendations that had been received from regulators etc.

 

The Chairman also raised concern for officers and capacity issues for service departments as well as the future proposals for performance reporting with particular reference that Corporate Resources would be an overarching Committee.  The Managing Director responded by advising that the proposals allowed for Lead Directors on actions and outcomes with the view that they would allow more focus. He acknowledged that it was a new way of working for Members but that they would be able to undertake regular reviews of progress through outcomes as opposed to previously addressing service specific areas.  He stated that these outcomes had been borne out of the Annual Improvement Report and the improvements recommended by the Wales Audit Office.  Discussions had been held with the Auditors to date with the Leader highlighting the introduction of score cards for each of the four wellbeing outcomes with the score cards being informed by officers from the various Directorates which would show if the Council was achieving its objectives and where it needed to raise performance. 


Members, although accepting the reasons for the new Plan, agreed that further detail was required especially regarding the roles and terms of reference of Committees.  Accepting that some of the objectives would ensure that some service areas previously falling within the Committees remit would be dealt with by another Scrutiny Committee they also expressed concern as to how cross cutting issues would be dealt with in the future.  Following a query from a Member as to whether the new system would clearly identify where an area was not performing and how that would impact on other service areas if they areas were performing well. In response the Managing Director advised that Scrutiny Committees would have a lead Director for each outcome with individual service areas compiling and completing the information with the outcome being reported to the relevant Committee.  The information would contain detail on how the service was contributing to the two objectives within the Committee’s remit and if there was a particular area of work that was not, or where performance was not acceptable the relevant service officer would be brought to the Committee and called to account accordingly.  The advantage of the new proposals was that the Scrutiny Committee would usually be able to identify underperformance and the particular service area that was not meeting the outcome.  Again he advised that the proposals were more complicated for officers but should provide for a more focussed outcome based approach for Scrutiny Committees.

 

A further query around the format of agendas was also expressed with the Committee being advised that quarterly monitoring reports would certainly be presented to focus on outcomes with Annual Heads of Service Plan reports and self-assessment reports being reported once a year.  The Committees would continue to receive reports on various topics as currently provided by the service areas but that these would be linked to the new Committee terms of reference once approved and the outcomes and objectives as identified within the proposals.

 

Following a request from a Member that further meetings or briefings be arranged for Members to have further details in relation to the proposals the Managing Director advised that the new arrangements would not come into being until May 2016. He assured Members that there would be more opportunities between now and then for Members to be provided with the detail of how the proposals will operate which were currently being developed as officers were currently developing the Scrutiny Committee’s terms of reference which would be provided to Members in due course. 

 

Following a further query from a Member regarding how the process would address the different views at different Committees the Managing Director and the Leader confirmed that the approach to take would be to avoid duplication and that the remits of the Scrutiny Committees would be clear with the overarching lead Committee of Corporate Resources being overall responsible for corporate resources and performance.  To this end the Managing Director reiterated that the proposals were not really changing the remit of the Committee but that they represented a re-focussing of scrutiny activity and the way in which the Council’s actions were delivering against its intended outcomes.   The four quarterly Wellbeing Outcomes and Objectives score card reports would demonstrate progress against each of the wellbeing outcomes and associated objectives and informed by performance data collected from Service Plans.  It would demonstrate the cross cutting nature of the wellbeing outcomes and draw together evidence from a range of service areas.

 

A Member commented that there was also a strength in Scrutiny Committees disagreeing with each other and referring information for further consideration especially where a Scrutiny Committee may have had previous input into the service area and was able to offer advice. 

 

A Member asked whether the action relating to the Welsh Standards should be removed from the Corporate Plan as in their view this was a Welsh Government responsibility however, the Managing Director advised that this was a statutory requirement on every local authority and that the Welsh Language Commissioner had written to all Local Authorities setting out required standards. A report on this issue had been presented and agreed by Cabinet which had detailed what the Council and other authorities were required to achieve.

 

Following consideration of the two reports it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Corporate Plan and the Performance Management Framework be noted. 

 

(2)       T H A T the comments of the Committee as outlined above be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration having particular regard to

 

(i)         the work of the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) in relation to Leisure and Play Services and that such focus not be lost under the new proposals.

 

(ii)        that further consideration be given to the titles of the Scrutiny Committees in order for an easier understanding of their remit.         

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having regard to the revision and changes proposed to the Corporate Plan.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet of the Committee’s comments from the Corporate Plan as part of the consultation process.

 

(i)         in order to ensure that current good work is maintained

 

(ii)        for purposes of clarity.

 

 

728     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH NOVEMBER, 2015 (DEH) -

 

The Accountant for the service area presented the report, the purpose of which being to update Members with the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 30th November, 2015.  It was currently projected that services under the Committee’s remit would outturn within target at the year end.  A graph and table setting out the variances between the profiled budget and actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.  In terms of the Highways and Engineering Section, there was currently a £47,000 favourable variance against the amended profile budget with the reason being attributed to current vacant posts within the Highways Department. 

 

For Waste Management, there was currently a favourable variance of £31,000 with Committee being informed that the early implementation of the Prosiect Gwyrdd contract was providing considerable savings for the Waste Disposal budget which had been off-set by a slight delay in the implementation of some of the other savings within Waste Management.


With regard to Leisure Services, Grounds Maintenance was currently showing a £4,000 favourable variance attributed mainly to a slight underspend to date on repair costs for buildings maintained by Grounds Maintenance.  However, due to the potential for increased costs over the winter months it was projected that the budget would outturn on target. The Leisure service was currently showing a favourable variance of £17,000 mainly due to reduced costs of employees as administration cover for the service had cost less than budgeted for.  Transportation was also showing a favourable variance of £48,000 against the profiled budget as staffing costs within the Division were £35,000 lower than budgeted for. 

 

A favourable variance of £94,000 was shown for the Regeneration Service as occupancy levels at the Business Service Centre were currently high. The budget required to cover costs of carrying vacant units had not been required and was currently £10,000 below profiled expenditure.  In addition, the improved occupancy levels had meant that rate costs across the Economic Development Division’s building portfolio were lower than budgeted for as tenants were responsible for their own rates.  Expenditure on the Employment Training Service was also currently £15,000 below budget as costs of running the down scaled operation due to nearing the end of the agreed programme term on 31st March, 2016 were greatly reduced.  There was however additional Countryside Division income of £44,000 from filming and fees to date although there were several refurbishment works planned within the Countryside Division which were yet to be carried out so expenditure would increase by the end of the year.  Again the report highlighted a favourable variance of £149,000 in respect of Development Management which was reported as mostly due to the planning application fee income being higher than budgeted for.  Committee was advised that due to the volume of applications currently being received an additional staffing resource would be required to maintain service levels. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the capital programme as at 30th November, 2015 with the following schemes being detailed within the report.

 

Penarth Pier Supports - Emergency Powers have been used to vire £25k from the Structures Asset Renewal budget which had not yet fully been committed to the Penarth Pier Supports Budget.  The additional budget was required as the contractor and designer had identified additional works which would need to be undertaken to protect and maintain the longevity of the structure.

 

Barry Regeneration Area Partnership - As part of this scheme, £41k had been allocated to fund the George Street Play Area resurface pedestrian links. 

 

Pedestrian Cycle Improvements at Ffordd Y Millennium - It had been assessed that it was not feasible to carry out this scheme and comply with the time constraints set out in the S106 agreement.  It had therefore been requested to vire £69k to the Broad Street Crossing scheme where works were to commence shortly. 

 

Broad Street Crossing - The scheme cost was lower than expected and anticipated to cost £110k.  It had requested to vire £109k of the £219k budget to the Asset Renewal Structures budget with the funding to be utilised at Leckwith Bridge to address a long standing safety issue to the general public, further feasibility studies at the bridge across B4265 at St Athan and to undertake structural assessments of existing structures in line with asset management protocols.

 

Additional Highways/Environmental Improvements - The budget had not yet been fully committed and therefore it had been requested to vire £27k to the Asset Renewal Structures budget to enable the works stated in the above paragraph to be fully carried out.

 

Culverhouse Cross to St Athan Bus Priority Scheme - Emergency Powers had been used to approve the inclusion into the 2015/16 Capital Programme of a £506k grant from Welsh Government to deliver bus priority measures at Barry Docks Link Road roundabout and at various bus stop locations along the corridor.

 

Marketing and Disposal of Nell's Point - Negotiations for this scheme were taking longer than originally anticipated and it had therefore been requested to carry forward £33.5k into the 2016/17 Capital Programme.

 

Paget Road Open Space Play Facility - Further consultation works needed to be undertaken before this scheme could commence. 

 

Feasibility Studies in Penarth Including the Esplanade - This scheme was currently at the constraints collection stage, feasibility would be commissioned in 2016/17 and it had therefore been requested to carry forward £49k into the 2016/17 Capital Programme.

 

Additional Schemes for Community Facilities - A Delegated Authority had been approved to allocate £21.5k of the £27k budget for boiler and electrical works to Barry Island, Cwm Talwg, St Francis and St. Nicholas Community Centres.

 

Members reiterated their view from previous meetings that the reports should also include details of the original budget in order that comparisons could be made.  The officer advised that the department was aware of the request which was being planned for the year end.  It being accepted that a number of restructures within  service areas would result in amendments being made to the way budgets were to be presented in the future nevertheless Members requested the information be provided as early as possible.

 

In referring to the feasibility studies in Penarth a Member sought clarification on the constraints collection stage which the  Managing Director advised related for example to the positioning of  various cable and telecommunications and consideration of all constraints before undertaking a feasibility study.

 

In referring to Appendix 2 and the St. Paul’s Church Project, Members expressed their disappointment that the preferred bidder had not successfully submitted a viable business plan and that the Board was therefore considering further options for the property.  Although fully understanding that a viable business plan was required it was the time taken to get to this stage that disappointment was expressed as extensive consultation had been undertaken to get to this stage. 

 

A Member also expressed their concern that the favourable variance for Waste Management was a result of considerable savings in respect of the early implementation of the Prosiect Gwyrdd contract and the concern that the Waste Management service savings were being masked by this windfall.  The Head of Service advised that work was currently taking place within the Waste Management Division in relation to further savings and that a further report would be presented to the Committee in due course.

 

A Member requested that the table provided in Appendix 1 to the report to show the profiled budget and spend to date be included within the body of the main report.

 

Following concern in relation to the long standing safety issue at Leckwith Bridge, Committee was advised that there was already a weight restriction in place on Leckwith Bridge as a result of falling concrete with the intention that further work would be undertaken for placing netting around the underside of the bridge to prevent any impact of the structure on businesses below.  Officers were also considering whether further work was required to the bridge to ensure its safety longer term.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2015/16 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2015/16 Revenue and Capital Monitoring.

 

 

729     3RD QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2015/16 (MD) -

 

The purpose of the report was to advise Members of progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committees recommendations and to confirm the updated amended Work Programme Schedule for 2015/16.

 

Appendix A to the report detailed progress to date for the municipal year 2014/15, Appendix B detailed the progress in relation to the 1st Quarter (April to June 2015) and Appendix C showed progress for the 3rd Quarter (October - December 2015), it being noted that the 2nd Quarter decisions had been completed.  Appendix D to the report outlined the Work Programme Schedule for the work of the Committee for the forthcoming months.

 

In referring to minute no. 573 (Appendix A), following previous comments that had been made earlier in the Committee regarding Leisure contract monitoring arrangements, it was noted that this recommendation specifically related to Members of the Council receiving corporate contract monitoring training.  It was subsequently noted that officers were working to ensure this guidance linked effectively with the Council’s project management methodology.  Once completed training would be commissioned for all relevant Members and staff. 

 

The Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer drew attention to the progress in relation to the Waste Management and Cleansing Update Report and Nell’s Point Marketing call-in which would be considered at Cabinet on 11th January, 2016, the decision of which would be reported to the Committee at a later stage. 

 

The Chairman also took the opportunity in relation to the recommendation on Nell’s Point Marketing to refer to the minutes of the previous meeting where the Committee suggested that the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee discuss the matter with the Council’s Monitoring Officer.  The Chairman advised that a meeting had taken place with the Vice-Chairman and the Monitoring Officer had advised that she would deal with the matter as considered appropriate.  To that point the Chairman stated that the request by the Committee had therefore been actioned.

 

In referring to Appendix D, the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer informed Committee that the adoption of the Vale of Glamorgan Local Transport Plan Annual Progress Report had been deferred for consideration at the meeting on 2nd February meeting at the Agenda Conference due to the number of items being considered at this meeting.  The Agenda Conference was used for agenda management and it had therefore been considered appropriate to defer to the February meeting.

 

Following a request from a Member in relation to the forthcoming report on street lighting, the officer confirmed that the report would include comments from the police when presented.  The Democratic Services Officer advised that a Member of the Committee who had left the meeting had also requested that a future report be presented on flood management and the impact on families.  The Chairman advised that as a number of reports on flood management had been presented to the Committee, it be requested that the Member be asked to complete a Request for Consideration detailing the specifics of their request in order that officers can respond accordingly.

 

In noting that the Trinity Street trial update report was no longer required, it was agreed that this item be deleted from the schedule.  A Member also requested that the detailed report on maintenance of potholes and resurfacing work in the Vale be considered to be brought forward as soon as possible, following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the actions outlined below be deemed as completed.           

 

14 April 2015

 

Min. No. 1093 – Leisure   Management Contract (DDS) – Recommended

 

(2)   That a group of up to three Members of the   Scrutiny Committee undertake reviews of the Leisure Centres with the Cabinet   Member for Visible and Leisure Services, on a quarterly basis.

 

Leisure centre visits have commenced, the   findings of which will be reported to the Scrutiny Committee.    

6 October   2015

 

Min. No. 470   – Active Travel (REF) – Recommended

 

(2)   That all Members of the Council encourage   local residents to take part in the consultation process.

 

For   Members’ information.

Min. No. 475 – Barry   Regeneration Progress Report (MD) – Recommended

 

(2)   That all staff, partners and those   involved in the achievements to date be thanked by the Chairman on behalf of   the Scrutiny Committee.

 

E-mail   sent to officer to advise staff.

Min. No. 476 – 2nd   Quarter Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Work Programme   Schedule 2015/16 (MD) – Recommended

 

(3)   That the following reports be presented to   Committee before March 2016:

  •   Waste Management report and end of year performance on resurfacing   work and materials used with regard to the maintenance of potholes in the   Vale.

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

(4)   That a report on street lighting   arrangements and progress to date be presented to the Scrutiny Committee   before December 2015.

Added   to work programme schedule.

(5)   That Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore   (Chairman), A.G. Bennett and Mrs. P. Drake, with Councillor   G.A. Cox as a reserve Member, undertake reviews of the Leisure Centres   on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee with the first review to be undertaken   during October 2015.

 

The   first review has been undertaken and others to take place in due course.

(6)   That the Committee’s work programme   schedule be updated as per resolutions (3) and (4) above and uploaded to the   Council’s website. 

 

Work   programme schedule updated and uploaded to the Council’s website.

3 November 2015

 

Min. No. 560 – Leisure   Management Contract (DEH) – Recommended

 

(2)   That 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.

Cabinet,   on 30th November, 2015, resolved

[1]   That the concerns of the Scrutiny   Committee (Economy and Environment) be noted and it be confirmed that Cabinet   are well aware of the problems with car parking and the conditions of   changing rooms.

[2]   That subject to funding being identified,   the budget working group would be requested to consider the concerns of the   Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) in relation to the condition of   the changing rooms at some leisure centres.    Parking issues would be considered in a future report to Cabinet that   related to car parking as a whole.

(Min.   No. C2989 refers)

 

Min. No. 561 – Vale Sport   (LAPA) Review April 2014 - 2015 (DEH) – Recommended

 

(1)   That 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

Cabinet,   on 30th November, 2015, resolved

[1]   That the concerns of the Scrutiny   Committee (Economy and Environment) be noted.

[2]   That it be agreed that the Leader write to   the Welsh Government Sport Minister to request further information and raise   concerns that any changes to the reallocation of funding on a regional basis   would negatively impact the provision of sport in the Vale of Glamorgan.

(Min.   No. C2990 refers)

 

(2)   That 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. 

 

Officer   to pass on the Committee’s comments.

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

 

Report   forwarded to all Members.

Min. No. 562 – Play –   Initiatives and Update (DEH) – Recommended

 

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

 

To   be referred to Community Liaison Committee meeting on 26th   January, 2016 for information.

1 December 2015

 

Min. No. 632 – Nell’s   Point Marketing (Call-In) (Exempt Information – Paragraph 14) – Recommended

 

That   a press statement be made advising that the Committee unanimously support the   marketing exercise that had recently been undertaken, is happy with the   governance of the project to date and welcomes the positive steps being taken   to attract an investment of such scale and quality.

 

Press   statement made and the Democratic Services Officer can confirm that details   of the statement were printed in local papers.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed amended Work Programme Schedule be amended as below and uploaded to the Council’s website:

 

  • Trinity Street Trial Update be deleted
  • As advised by the Chairman Councillor S.T. Wiliam be requested to submit a Request for Consideration of Matter regarding flood management.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  For information.