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Agenda Item No 6

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee: 20th September 2016

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

Shared Regulatory Services - Review of the Joint Working Agreement

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To recommend changes to the Joint Working Agreement between the partner Councils for the provision of Regulatory Services.

Recommendation

  1. That the Joint Committee receives the report and forwards a copy of the report to each partner Council for consideration and agreement by the respective Cabinets and Councils.

Reason for the Recommendation

  1. To make amendments to the Joint Working Agreement in light of operational experience and changes in legislation. Such changes require ratification by each Council.

Background

  1. In April 2015, the partner Councils, Bridgend County Borough Council, the City Council of Cardiff, and the Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Council, signed a Joint Working Agreement (JWA) for the provision of regulatory services across the three Council areas. The document created the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) and the Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee; since that time, Elected Members have received reports detailing the implementation and operation of the service.
  2. At the time of creating the JWA, some of its provisions were conceptual in nature and over the last 18 months, it is evident that some aspects of the Agreement require amending to allow the more effective operation and management of the service.
  3. Any changes to the JWA are subject to Clause 26 of the Agreement which states:

         "This Agreement cannot be varied without the approval and prior written consent of all Participants. Where the

          Participants agree to make changes to this Agreement, a Deed of Variation shall be entered into between the

          Participants and appended to this Agreement."

  1. If the content of this report is agreed, a copy of the report must be sent to the three Councils for consideration and approval.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The fundamental reorganisation, and repositioning, of a range of statutory services, critical to maintaining the health, safety and economic wellbeing of local communities, and incorporating them into a collaborative model epitomises transformation. The new service has broken the mould in stepping away from the traditional model for delivering regulatory services and combines local delivery and responsiveness to local needs with greater resilience and the economies of scale that working across a larger geographical area provides.
  2. This first eighteen months of the SRS has been dominated by the move toward, and development of, the new Operating Model agreed by the three Councils in Autumn 2014 and formally initiated in April 2015. Creating a shared service has involved significant change. Many of the changes are provided for within the JWA, and those changes have been implemented successfully. Members will recall that in December 2015, an audit of the shared service to determine the efficacy of the implementation and governance arrangements in place was carried out. The audit report concluded that that the effectiveness of the internal control environment was sound and substantial assurance can be placed upon the management of risks.
  3. However, there are aspects of the JWA that require updating and amending. Some of the changes proposed in this report are administrative in nature, while others suggest a change in the current operating practices. The proposed changes are set out below in paragraphs 9 -13
  4. Clause 11.9.2 of the JWA states:

          In the case of expenditure which is less than 5% in excess of the Approved Budget (as indicated in accordance with

          clause 7.8.1.1) without the prior written consent of each s.151 Officer for each of the Participants liable to contribute

          towards such expenditure. For such purposes the S151 Officers shall respond to written requests to consent to such

          additional expenditure within 10 working days of receiving the same and shall state whether they consent to the

          incurring of such additional expenditure or not.

          Consequently, written consent needs to be provided by all participants for spend in excess of the budget. Obtaining

          written permission in the event of a spend of up to 5% within 10 working days from the s151 officers of the

          participating Authorities (in 16-17 core this would be £308k) is reasonable. However, it is proposed that this clause

          is further qualified with the following clause.

          "The Head of the Shared Regulatory Service, in consultation with Lead S151 Officer, may in the case of an

          unexpected event incur expenditure of up to £100,000 in excess of Agreed Budget, without the provision of prior

          consent. Details of the expenditure will be reported back to the participant's S151 Officers within 5 working days of

          the commitment being known and reported to the next Board and Committee meetings."

  1. Schedule 5, Clause 3 of the JWA relates to budget approval and monitoring by the Joint Committee. It is proposed to insert two new clauses as follows:

         "Clause 3.1A Notification of any proposed saving requirement to be made by the Service must be provided to the

          Head of Service and the Lead S151 Officer at least 12 months in advance of the year to which they relate.

          Indications of the following 3 year savings requirement should be provided to the Head of Service prior to the start

          of each financial year."

          "Clause 3.1B In the event of financial changes that are outside of the control of the Shared Regulatory Service such

          as, but not restricted to changes in legislation, inflation or pension fund contributions, that the Shared Regulatory

          Service shall commence consultation with the Participants on funding these changes as soon as possible."

  1. There are a number of references to legislation within the JWA. For example, schedule 1, (Regulatory Services functions) sets out a lengthy list of statutes and statutory instruments authorising and governing the functions that comprise the core services of the collaborative. Unfortunately, some of the said statutory references are incorrect, or superseded; these issues have been highlighted in some external audits of the service. It is proposed that these are updated and the proposed deed of variation amended to include wording designed to avoid having to make amendments of this nature in future.
  2. There is currently no recognised role for the Executives of the partner Authorities in the sense that there is no clear conduit for each Executive to be apprised of the work of, and the decisions taken by, the Joint Committee. It is proposed to insert a new Clause 5.6 as follows to allow the business of the Joint Committee to become included in Executive business agendas.
  3. Schedule 4 of the JWA outlines the functions delivered by the Shared service. It is proposed to make some minor administrative amendments to provide greater clarity on the range and scope of the services provided. For example, the service has responsibility for enforcing aspects of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, the "Rentsmart" requirements for landlords to be licensed; in turn, this has removed the need for landlord Accreditation regimes and schedule 4 can be amended to reflect that fact.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The implications are contained in the body of the report

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Sustainability and climate change implications have been taken into consideration when drafting the SRS Business plans referenced in this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Council has a duty to improve under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009. The report outlines achievements in 2015/16.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. Crime and disorder implications have been taken into consideration when drafting the Business plans referenced in this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. Equalities issues have been taken into consideration when drafting the Business plans referenced in this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Annual report demonstrates the partner Councils commitment to improving social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being and promoting sustainable development in line with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. Improving how the Council evidences and reports achievement of its Well-being Outcomes contributes towards promoting well-being.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. Changes to the JWA will ultimately be matters for the partner Executives and their Full Councils.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. There are no implications for Ward Members resulting from this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Scrutiny is undertaken at each partner council

Background Papers

The Shared Regulatory Services Business Plans 2015/16 and 2016/17

The Joint Working Agreement executed on 10th April 2015

Contact Officer

Dave Holland - Head of Shared Regulatory Services

Officers Consulted

Assistant Chief Executive, Bridgend Council

Director (Environment), Cardiff Council

Legal Services, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Section 151 officers, Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing