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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 16TH NOVEMBER, 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 6TH OCTOBER, 2015

 

 

“469    RHOOSE POINT PUBLIC OPEN SPACE OUTCOME OF CONSULTATION EXERCISE AND PROPOSED INTRODUCTION OF BYE LAWS – CALL-IN – CABINET, 21ST SEPTEMBER 2015 –

 

Prior to the consideration of the call-in, the meeting was adjourned for five minutes in order for copies of the Cabinet minute of 21st September 2015 to be made available.  On return consideration of the call-in then took place. 

 

Councillor H.J.W. James had advised that due to a prior commitment he was unable to attend the meeting, but had provided written representations which had been forwarded to all Committee Members and all Members of the Council on Friday, 2nd October, 2015 further copies were made available at the meeting and had been placed in the public gallery. 

 

The call-in had been requested by Councillor James for the following reasons:

 

“1.        The report sent to Ward Councillors consultation did not include “With the exception of a Designated Area …..”

 

2.         Rhoose and Rhoose Point residents had no opportunity to comment as decision carried at Cabinet.

 

3.         Implications for Rhoose Point nature area are significant.”

 

Councillor James, in his written submission, advised that the Council had consulted residents and Local Members but the consultation had not included any reference to designating an area for fishing as it had made reference only to the intended bye laws.  The wording of resolution (2) had been amended at the Cabinet meeting to read to include the words “with the exception of a designated area for fishing that is provided”.  Councillor James stated that the wording of resolution (2) disregarded the antisocial activity that had been endured by the residents for many years.  A public meeting had been held in Rhoose Community Hall where it had been overwhelmingly voted to ban fishing to protect the interests of the residents “whose lives had been made a misery”.  The Council had also withdrawn the part time Warden who used “to provide some control and despite recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for a budget to be identified for the Rhoose Point Nature Reserve, no budget had been introduced. “ To this end, residents’ “last hope was the introduction of bye laws to control the antisocial activities”.

 

In referring to background information the submission advised stated that the waters were formally in the ownership of Cofton & Son Ltd, developers of the Rhoose Point Estate and that whilst under this company’s control the fishing activity was banned and enforced.  Problems caused by the fishing activity began shortly following the liquidation of the company and as a result a period of excessive disorder and disturbance to residents occurred.  “The behaviour and conduct by the fishing fraternity continued even when the ownership of these waters and open spaces were transferred into the ownership of the Vale of Glamorgan Council. “

 

As a result of pressure from residents, the Vale of Glamorgan had however, installed signage banning various activities on and around the water and once the signage had been installed there had been a significant drop in the fishing activities and the attendant nuisances that accompanied such activity.  However, for some time now Councillor James’ statement stated that the problems had returned.

 

Councillor James’ submission also contained details of a compendium of antisocial behaviour and disturbances that had been taken by residents who had experienced them first hand.  Examples were given as parking, litter, camping and accompanying disturbances, criminal damages and wild life and also provided specific incidences for the Committee’s information.

 

In conclusion, the submission highlighted that approximately 7-8 years, residents had been invited by officers of the Vale to explore the feasibility of establishing a fishing club to manage and control the site occupied by the waters. 

 

In a spirit of co-operation with the Vale of Glamorgan a selected group of residents agreed to view a fishing club site already established in the Cadoxton area and under control and management of the Glamorgan Angling Club.  At that time it was explained that the Club was interested in taking over the Rhoose Point waters.  However, on completion of the visit all residents were convinced that the establishment of such a club at Rhoose Point was completely inappropriate and both the Glamorgan Anglers and the Vale of Glamorgan Council had been told of the residents’ decisive objection to such a proposal. 

 

The comparative grounds for rejecting the establishment of a club at Rhoose Point had been given as:

 

  • “The waters were virtually on the front doorstep of residential homes impacting on daily lives of residents
  • Fencing was not appropriate on the site because of configuration of water boundaries which would make the cost of fencing prohibitive and inappropriate for “open space”
  • There were no parking facilities available, the only parking would be on narrow residential streets, no private toilet facilities and the installation of portacabins would clearly not be appropriate considering the proximity to residential homes
  • The site was a public place and therefore could be eminently policed and controlled by a bye law.  Glamorgan Club officials had told residents that they would inevitably have to have some responsibility themselves for policing the proposed club.”

 

Following an enquiry Welsh Water had also Councillor James advised that they may have a legal interest in the use of the waters at Bryn y Gloyn lagoon and had stated that they would have an issue with third party use of the waters as they had not been consulted in the matter and would not approve of such use.

 

The Head of Visible Services and Transport, in presenting the report, advised that the Welsh Government had passed the legislation which allowed Local Authorities in some instances to enact bye laws without the need to have the bye laws confirmed by Welsh Ministers.  The new legislation required that another public consultation be undertaken and required the publication of an initial statement to begin the process of introducing bye laws in the area.  On this basis, a consultation exercise was opened on 20th May 2015 and closed on 7th August 2015 in respect of the Rhoose Point Public Open Space Outcome of Consultation Exercise and Proposed Introduction of Bye Laws.  The report detailing the outcome of the 2015 consultation exercise was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

The majority of respondents had agreed that the proposed bye laws should be enacted although concerns had been raised over prohibiting fishing altogether and suggestions to use a licence or permit system were made. The majority of respondents felt that the activity should be prohibited with reasons such as littering and endangering wildlife being given in support of prohibiting the activity.

 

The results of the exercise concluded that the introduction of new bye laws and the adoption of an enforcement strategy would allow designated Council officers to work with the Police and the local community to deal with the people who persisted with certain prohibited activities.

 

Enforcement of the bye laws was under consideration by officers of Visible Services and the Cabinet would receive a further report on enforcement which would also consider dog control orders and other bye laws.

 

The proposed new bye laws prohibited the following activities:

  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Camping.

The next stage of the procedure was for the publication on the Council's website of a second written statement detailing the outcome of the consultation process and the decision of Council to proceed with the introduction of the bye laws.  The publication of a notice of intention to make the bye laws was also required with the notice of intention to make the bye laws having at least six weeks' notice before the bye laws were made.  Under the Council's Constitution bye laws could only be made by the Full Council and therefore, the matter of making the bye laws would be referred to the next available meeting of Council.

 

In referring to the resolution of Cabinet on 21st September, 2015, Committee was informed that the Council was not actually proposing a designated area, the resolution had been made in order to allow the Council the opportunity to consider an area for fishing.  Any organisation that may come forward would also have to comply with Council rules and regulations, which would be enforceable. 

 

With regard to the initial consultation the report highlighted that although concerns had been raised about banning fishing altogether some suggestions to utilise a licence or permit system had been made. 65% of respondents had agreed the activity should be prohibited as opposed to 80% for swimming and nearly 90% for camping with 30% disagreeing that fishing should be banned.  However, the majority of respondents agreed that the bye laws proposed in the report should be enacted. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services (with permission to speak) stated that a further 10% had been undecided in relation to the issue of fishing.  However, he also referred to the request by the Glamorgan Anglers for an alternative controlled site and he confirmed the resolution of Cabinet that any club making an application for consideration would be required to ensure that management issues of the area were addressed.

 

A Local Ward Member and Member of the Committee stated that three public consultations had been undertaken where residents were given the opportunity to voice their views and considerable discussion and antisocial behaviour was seen as an issue, which had been considered to be associated with the fishing activity.  In his view, the percentage of 65% in favour of prohibiting fishing was also a significant figure and that the residents should expect a reasonable standard of care. In view of the number of complaints over the year of antisocial behaviour the Member recommended that Cabinet resolution (2) should be amended although they stated the remaining recommendations and indeed the contents of the report were acceptable. 

 

Other Members of the Committee considered that the change by Cabinet to the original  recommendation was in their view a significant amendment and although aware that Cabinet can indeed amend any recommendations, the amendment had not been included in the report and therefore no consultation on a designated area had been undertaken. The problems associated with fishing in the area was also a longstanding issue for residents.  Following further discussion a suggestion was also made that consideration be given to making the area an alcohol free zone.  The Chairman was also of the view that residents needed to be consulted on the issue of a designated area.

 

The Leader of the Council (with permission to speak) advised that the Council  should address the issue of litter bins and benches in the area and that the introduction of an alcohol free zone was also a positive step.  The Cabinet Member reiterated his previous statement that it was Cabinet’s intention to ensure that careful  consideration was given to any application by any fishing club and having significant regard to management issues.. 

 

In referring to the legal interest of Welsh Water, officers and the Leader advised that the Council had not been made aware of Welsh Water’s view on the subject but that that would be taken up if and when an application was received.

 

Following consideration of the report, the representations made at the meeting and the views of the Committee, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED to Cabinet – T H A T Cabinet be requested to reconsider its Resolution (2) “….with the exception of a designated area for fishing that is provided, managed and policed by a bone fide fishing club that has entered into a service level agreement with the Council, be agreed to proceed.”  in view of the issues raised at the meeting, especially with regard to no consultation and that the introduction of an alcohol free zone at Rhoose Point be also considered.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the concerns raised at the meeting and the issues of antisocial behaviour.”

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