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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 19th June, 2013.

 

Present:  Councillor J.C. Bird (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson  (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. C.L. Curtis, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Mrs. A.J. Moore, Ms. R.F. Probert and R.P. Thomas.

 

Also present: Messrs. G. Amos, B. Fisher and A. Raybould (Tenant Working Group).

 

Officers in attendance: Ms. H. Selway (Head of Housing and Building Services); Mr. A. Billinghurst (Head of Public Protection), Mr. R. Ingram (Principal Accountant) and Mr. J. Rees (Principal Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer. 

 

 

103            APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors R.J. Bertin and J. Drysdale; and Mrs. A. Evans (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

 104           MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd May, 2013 be approved as a correct record subject to the inclusion of Mrs. A. Evans (Tenant Working Group) in the list of members who apologised for their absence.

 

 

 105           DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

 106           DELIVERY OF CHILDREN’S DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS (REF) –

 

The above matter had been the subject of consideration by the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) at its meeting held on 4th June.  The report under consideration at that time had been submitted in response to that Scrutiny Committee’s previous concerns raised in relation to the Council’s current performance in delivering children’s Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) when compared against the Council’s performance on an all Wales basis.  The report itself provided an update on issues that had previously impacted on the performance of delivering such DFGs and separately initiatives that had been put in place and proposed to reduce the number of days taken to deliver such grants. 

 

 

Having regard to the above, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position be noted.

 

 

107            UPDATE ON EMERGENCY PLANNING WITHIN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (DDS) –

 

The following update was provided as a consequence of a Request for Consideration submitted by Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore.

 

In apprising the Scrutiny Committee of the role and responsibilities of the Council’s Emergency Planning Unit the Head of Public Protection referred to the two main pieces of legislation that underpinned the related service i.e. Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations (1999) (COMAH) and the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) (CCA).  In particular COMAH placed a statutory duty on local authorities to prepare off-site Emergency Plans in case of incidents occurring on industrial sites which stored particular types of and quantities of hazardous materials.  He also alluded to the three COMAH sites within the Vale of Glamorgan clustered together but also known as Barry Chemical Complex.

 

In regard to the CCA, the Head of Public Protection indicated that this placed duties on the Council as a Category One responder.  Details of each of the categories were set out in the report.  In addition to and separate to the above matters, local authorities also had an additional responsibility to promote business continuity management as good practice within the local business community and to local voluntary agencies.

 

He also referred to Emergency Planning which was delivered within the Vale of Glamorgan through the Civil Protection Unit (CPU).  This was part of the Council’s Public Protection service within the Directorate of Development Services.  This Unit led and co-ordinated the Council’s response to major emergencies following incidents and provided a duty officer system to ensure the Council was capable of providing a response to an emergency / incident 24/7. 

 

The report also referred to other statutory duties undertaken by the service which included the CPU’s requirement to develop a work programme around the Emergency Plan Framework, which set out the emergency plans, their review periods and the review dates.  In regard to the Barry Chemical Complex Offsite Plan, this was reviewed in line with the COMAH Regulations 1999 and this was undertaken on a three yearly basis.  The Plan was reviewed and exercised in 2011 and in line with the above Regulations the next scheduled review was to take place during 2014.

 

The Head of Service also alluded to the fact that the Council was a member of the South Wales Resilience Forum which was a multi-agency forum that planned the resilience agenda across the geographical area of South Wales Police and enabled the Council to co-operate and share information and work with multi-agency partners. 

 

The report also set out activities undertaken by the service in the previous 12 months which included the establishment of the Eisteddfod Safety Advisory Group (SAG) which was a multi-agency group that looked after the safety element of the event in terms of traffic management, first aid, etc.  The CPU’s involvement in the planning and operational work for the Olympic Torch procession; the co-ordination of responses to a number of out of hours stray horse incidents; the work of the CPU in respect of severe weather events which affected the Vale of Glamorgan towards the end of 2012.

 

In responding to the report the Committee thanked the Head of Public Protection for the update and considered that it was appropriate that in future Member training be arranged at appropriate times and at appropriate development workshops to ensure that Elected Members across the Vale of Glamorgan were aware of the services provided by the Emergency Planning Unit and to ensure that Elected Members had appropriate knowledge to allow them to respond to emergencies and be capable of contacting the relevant bodies for assistance in their capacity as community leaders.  The Committee also requested that once the review of the Emergency Plan had been undertaken in 2014, the matter be referred to the Committee for consideration.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the review of the COMAH Emergency Plan for 2014 be subject of a further report to the Scrutiny Committee in the future.

 

(3)       T H A T the Head of Public Protection be requested to arrange an appropriate Member Development workshop for all Members of the Council to ensure that they were appropriately briefed on arrangements in relation to the Council’s emergency planning responsibilities and also to allow Elected Members to support their communities in regard to emergency events.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the work of the Council’s Emergency Planning Unit.

 

(2)       To advise of arrangements / contents of a revised COMAH Emergency Plan.

 

(3)       To ensure that appropriate Member development arrangements were in place for the future.

 

 

108            VOIDS MANAGEMENT (DVSH) –

 

The report as submitted to the Scrutiny Committee had been submitted by the Head of Housing and Building Services in response to previous concerns raised by the Scrutiny Committee earlier in the year. 

 

The report itself set out in detail actions put in place by the Head of Housing and Building Services to reduce the number of and time taken to manage / let empty Council owned homes in the future. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services in addressing the report made reference to the Council’s existing procedures and processes which were in place between the two Council divisions who were currently responsible for Council void properties.  Having assessed these arrangements she considered that these required refining to ensure that they were appropriate, efficient and fit for purpose in the future.  In terms of actions taken to date, she alluded to interventions now put in place to bring about improvements in the time in delivering void turnaround periods.  Statistically there was a positive move towards meeting targets but acknowledged that there was room for improvement and saw no reason why in the future a normal letting brought up to WHQS was delivered within 50 working days.  However, she reminded the Scrutiny Committee that "hard to treat" properties were a cause for concern given the nature of the construction of these properties and these were unlikely to be dealt with within the "normal" WHQS timeframe.

 

Brief discussion centred on the matter of undertaking work to void properties outside the planned programme and the associated benefits of doing so in addressing the needs of those tenants who wished to be housed in a void property without the benefit of WHQS works being first undertaken to that property.  It was noted however that this would be a policy change and would need Cabinet approval.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Head of Housing and Building Services be thanked for her comprehensive report and that the actions being undertaken to reduce the number of and time taken to manage / let empty Council owned homes in the Vale of Glamorgan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for information.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of action taken to date in regard to the management of void properties.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet.

 

 

109            REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2013 TO 30TH APRIL 2013 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The current forecast for the Revenue Budget for 2013/14 was detailed in Appendix 1 to the report and the forecast was for a balanced budget.

 

Appendix 2 detailed financial progress in regard to the Capital Programme as at 30th April 2013 and it was noted that this appendix did not include requests for unspent committed expenditure to be slipped from 2012/13 into 2013/14.  Any requests for such slippage would be included in the Closing Down Report which would be presented to a future meeting of the Cabinet.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2013/14 Revenue Budget and Capital Budget be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the current position with regard to the 2013/14 Revenue and Capital Programme.

 

 

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