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                         Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting:  21st January, 2013

 

Joint Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation and the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Visible Services

Transport and Highway Services for Wales - Strategic Programme for Change Report (SPfCR)

Purpose of the Report

1.         This report outlines the Consultation Strategic Programme for Change Report published in December 2012 (SPfCR).  A copy of the document has been placed in the Members' Room and is available by using the link provided at paragraph 6.

Recommendations

1.         That the 10 workstreams outlined in the Consultation Strategic Programme for Change Report are supported in principle and the Welsh Government is advised of this prior to their deadline of 31st January 2013.

2.         That the timetable and process for the progression of the draft Strategic Programme for Change Document is noted.

3.         That concern is expressed to the Welsh Local Government Association and Welsh Government that the proposed timetable for the finalisation of the draft Strategic Programme for Change Document offers insufficient time for Councils to effectively comment on these important proposals.

4.         That a further report is presented to Cabinet in March to advise of the contents of the final Strategic Programme for Change Document.

5.         That a copy of this report be submitted to the Welsh Government as forming part of the Council's response to the Strategic Performance for Change report.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To advise the Welsh Government of the views of Cabinet on the Strategic Programme for Change Report.

2.         To note the timetable and process for the agreement of the Document

3.         To express concern at the short opportunity for consultation.

4.         To advise Cabinet of the contents of the final Document.

5.         To ensure the Welsh Government benefits from the views of the Cabinet on this important agenda.

Background

2.         The Simpson Report published in March 2011 made recommendations to move forward the planning, management and delivery of strategic highway services on a regional basis as well as promoting joint working to deliver engineering services.

3.         The Welsh Local Government Association and the Welsh Government jointly negotiated a "Compact" which represents a statement of commitment from the Welsh Government and Local Government to prioritise actions that will form the basis of public service reform.

4.         In addition to these "Compact" commitments the Minister has also sought to bring forward projects that can be implemented by the Regional Transport Consortia (in South East Wales this is the South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta)) as "Quick Wins".

5.         Evidence has been gathered by a Welsh Government led Steering Group to review the existing transport arrangements in Wales and an assessment made of the potential opportunities for further transport collaboration.  The findings of this exercise are set out in the Transport High Level Review Document:

6.         The Transport High Level Review Document outlines the good work currently being undertaken in the transport field in Wales but also identifies issues with the existing arrangements.  The High Level Review Document has been used for the preparation of the consultation SPfCR.

http://wales.gov.uk/topics/transport/publications/transervices/;jsessionid=303C8947ADF8481E8D3BE44606E595C9?lang=en

 

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         On 20th December 2012, The Minister for Local Government and Communities and the WLGA Spokesperson – Roads, Infrastructure and Transport jointly sent a letter to update Local Authorities on the progress with the Highways and Transportation Compact commitments and advised that work on the "Compact" had moved to the next stage which is the SPfCR.  The consultation SPfCR was enclosed with this letter.

 

8.         Local authorities have been asked to comment on the consultation SPfCR by 31st January 2013 to enable the report to be finalised and reported to the WLGA Council meeting on 22nd February 2013. At that WLGA Council meeting, endorsement of the final SPfCR will be sought, as well the workstream scoping programme plans and resource requirements.     Therefore it has been requested that local authorities consider the report prior to the 22nd February 2013 thereby enabling the Leader of each Council to be in a position to endorse the report at the WLGA Council meeting. It appears that there will not be any further opportunity for individual authorities to formally sign up to the Document, rather endorsement will be at the WLGA Council meeting.

 

9.         The 10 workstreams which have been identified as a result of the Transport High Level Review and which the Council is being asked to comment on, will be led by either WG officials or Local Authority Directors, supported by a project team drawn from WG, Local Authorities and RTC.

 

10.      The suggested workstreams based on the evidence gathered in the Transport High Level Report are as follows:

 

Leadership/Governance:

 

WS1 – Strengthen Governance Arrangements for regional collaboration

 

WS2 – Establish a planning framework for the next round of transport plans (covering national and regional)

 

WS3 – Re-define the status of the roads making up the Welsh highway network

 

WS4 – Re-allocate responsibilities for the various categories of the highway network

 

Efficiency:

 

WS5 – Develop business cases for further collaborative working on a national, regional or sub-regional basis

 

WS6 – Introduce arrangements for Welsh Government and local authorities to share their professional skills

 

WS7 – Introduce a programme to roll out procurement processes that have secured efficiency savings at national, regional, sub-regional and local level

 

Effectiveness/Innovation:

 

WS8 – Establish minimum operational and maintenance standards and policies and rationalise specifications for the network

 

WS9 – Increase resilience to deliver planned and non-planned events

 

WS10 – Introduce a requirement and system to produce, record and compare outcomes and outputs against investment.

 

11.      The Consultation Document advises that each of the workstreams will generate options and then the preferred and possible options to support new working arrangements will be further development and if approved further refined into a full business case.

 

12.      The Consultation Document also outlines the economic, financial, management implications of these workstreams.

 

13.      The principle of undertaking this work should be supported, however, it must be recognised that potentially this work could cause your officers that work on transport matters significant extra work and could result in far reaching changes to the way transport services are delivered by this Council and in Wales as a whole.

14.      At this stage, as far as I can establish, local authorities are not being asked to sign off any changes to the planning, management or delivery of highway services.  Signing off the SPfCR will just give approval to continue work on the 10 identified workstreams as detailed in above.  I understand that changes to existing transport arrangements in Wales will NOT take place without approval from local authorities. It is not clear at this stage whether such changes would operate on a majority approval decision or whether approval to proceed would be needed from all 22 local authorities in Wales.

15.      Unfortunately the Consultation SPfCR was sent to the Council just before the Christmas/ New Year break and is lacking on detail.  In particular the workstream scoping programme plans and resource requirements are not currently with the Council.   It is understood that additional information on the10 workstreams will be forthcoming to Council Leaders by 16th January 2013, just two weeks before the close of the consultation process.  I will need to update Cabinet at this meeting as to what additional information has been received, although I may not have had time to fully consider its contents and therefore any comments I may wish to recommend to Cabinet.  In this regard, the Minister for Local Government and Communities has written to all local authority Leaders on the 14th January 2013, advising of the fact that further details will be provided on the workstreams.  In addition, the letter advises that the matter will also be discussed at a Cabinet Member Transport Event to be held on the 17th January 2013.  A copy of the letter from the Minister is attached at Appendix A.

16.      I am most concerned at the lateness of this likely additional information which is essential as it provides the detail needed by Cabinet in order that you have the opportunity to consider this extremely important matter properly.  An additional recommendation on this may need to be made at this meeting requesting the Welsh Government give further time for Councils to consider this additional information.  However any such request may not be accepted.

17.      Whilst the regionalisation of Welsh Government capital funded schemes is recognised as an appropriate method for the prioritisation of major highway infrastructure investment, there is a risk this project could impact on local budgets and decisions.  This will be assessed as the project progresses and reported back to Cabinet.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

18.      As a result of the continuation of this work, the Council may be approached to commit staff resources to these workstreams.  There are also likely to be opportunities to bid for additional funding to sufficiently resource this work and therefore workstream leads are currently scoping the resources required. Notwithstanding the above, it needs to be recognised that progressing the collaboration agenda is hugely resource intensive particularly in terms of staff time being devoted to the issue.  This is particularly important given that progressing and developing shared service initiatives is currently taking place alongside work priorities, commitments and demands within individual authorities at a time of diminishing resources.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

19.      Transport and highways services are an essential component of virtually all service delivery.  The promotion of cycling and walking as a mode of transport can assist in reducing the use of vehicles for everyday activities and thereby reducing carbon emissions.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

20.      There are no legal implications directly arising from the content of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

21.      There are no crime and disorder implications directly arising from the content of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

22.      There are no equal opportunities implications directly arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

23.      The delivery of Transport and Highway services are an essential component of a number of service areas within the Council.  These include supported passenger transport provision, community transport, school transport, road safety and highway development within the development services directorate. In the Visible Services and Housing Directorate transport functions range from highway maintenance and fleet management to engineering design.

Policy Framework and Budget

24.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

25.      The report impacts on areas within the Vale of Glamorgan and therefore no specific Member consultation has been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

26.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Transport and Highway Services for Wales: Strategic Programme for Change Report (SPfCR) Welsh Government and Welsh Local Government Association: A Joint Response for Change December 2012 and cover letter dated 20th December 2012

 

Contact Officer

Emma Reed

 

Officers Consulted

Director of Visible Services and Housing

Director of Resources

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services.

 

 

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