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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

CABINET: 21ST SEPTEMBER, 2015

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION): 2ND SEPTEMBER, 2015


“    CALL-IN: GYPSY TRAVELLER ACCOMMODATION ASSESSMENTS –

The report to Cabinet on 27th July, 2015 had informed of the duty on Local Authorities to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment by 26th February, 2016.  Cabinet had also received an update on the work of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Steering Group.

Cabinet had

Resolved

(1)    That the duty to produce an up to date Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment be noted.

(2)    That a further report be submitted to Cabinet outlining the outcome of the Assessment prior to its submission to Welsh Government.

(3)    That delegated authority be granted to the Managing Director and / or, in the absence of the Managing Director, the Director of Visible Services and Housing, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety, to invite and accept tenders, and to enter into contracts to be executed by the Head of Legal Services and / or the Operational Manager Legal Services.

The call-in referred to resolutions (2) and (3) and the reason for the call-in, submitted by Councillor K.P. Mahoney, being as follows:

“Given the Council’s past record of ignoring reports by outside organisations e.g. Fordham Report, why outsource?  Also, given the previous record of changing assessments of sites by the Housing Department without providing reasoned explanation for this, delegating to officers would be wrong.”

Cabinet had been informed of the duty on the Council to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) by 26th February, 2016 and was updated on the work of the GTAA Steering Group.

The Steering Group had been convened, made up of Members from the Council and partner organisations including the NHS, Police and education.

 

The Council’s Housing Strategy Team had prepared the tender documents which would allow a consultant to be employed by 1st September, 2015, giving three months to produce the GTAA by 1st December, 2015.  Once completed, the GTAA would be submitted to Cabinet for adoption before the Welsh Government deadline.

It was Councillor Mahoney’s assertion:

  • that the Steering Group should include Members of the Council and members of the public
  • that the Vale of Glamorgan Council. had no idea of how many gypsies lived in bricks and mortar and should have carried out a survey to establish the number
  • why was the Council issuing a tender to carry out work that it was capable of doing itself.

Councillor Mahoney asked Committee to recommend the following to Cabinet

  • That the Steering Group include Members of the Council and the public
  • That the GTAA be not put out to tender on the basis that only the Vale of Glamorgan Council can provide the required figures.

In response, Members were advised:

  • it was a duty on the Council to undertake the GTAA
  • information for the Assessment is not freely available
  • the Gypsy and Traveller groups were difficult to engage with
  • the Welsh Assembly guidance was very much about qualitative and quantitive data; whilst the Council had expertise that could provide the quantitive data, it had no expertise to provide the qualitative data
  • the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety had offered to be part of the Steering Group
  • the tender documents had been received but not opened
  • the tender would be quantitive and qualitative based
  • there would be an issue with pressure on staff time if the Assessments were prepared by the Council
  • that reports on this matter would be brought before Scrutiny Committee in the future.

Councillor Mahoney repeated, that in his view, the Steering Group should include Members of the Council and members of the public whereupon a Member suggested that Cabinet be requested to consider the inclusion of Councillor Mahoney together with one Member of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) on the Group.

 

In conclusion, the Chairman suggested that future reports on the matter be brought to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration which was acknowledged by the Head of Service.

Following which it was subsequently

RECOMMENDED -

(1)    T H A T the decisions of Cabinet on 27th July, 2015 be endorsed.

(2)    T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider the inclusion of Councillor K.P. Mahoney plus one Member of the Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) on the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Steering Group.

Reasons for recommendations

(1)    To ensure the Council complies with its statutory requirements under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

(2)    To enhance the Scrutiny process.”

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