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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Community Liaison Committee: 9 July 2013

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Charter between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Town and Community Councils

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To propose a revised Charter between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and town and community councils in the Vale.

Recommendations

1.             To note the revised charter and to make any required amendments.

2.             To recommend to individual town and community councils that the charter be adopted. 

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To agree a final version for adoption.

2.             So that the charter can be widely accepted as a basis on which to operate.

Background

2.             The Community Liaison Committee agreed a charter between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and town and community councils in November 2007. It was subsequently agreed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Cabinet in February 2008. An action plan was agreed in February 2009.

3.             At its meeting of 31 July 2012, the committee was advised that a new charter and action plan should be developed following the local elections. In addition, since it was first agreed, there have been various changes in legislation and in economic circumstances. This is the first review of the charter.

4.             A report proposing how the review could be achieved was brought to the meeting on 23 October 2012, and a group of councillors was subsequently brought together to revise the charter.

5.             The revised charter (attached at appendix A) outlines the aims on which the unitary council and town and community councils wish to work together for the benefit of local communities, whilst also recognising their respective responsibilities as autonomous democratically elected statutory bodies.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             For information, and to assist in the understanding of how the Charter has operated since 2008:

·               Agenda papers and minutes of the Vale of Glamorgan Council are now available to access on the council website. Details of public reports and consultations are also placed on the website to assist access.

·               Where information is provided in hard copy (for example leaflets or other publications), the Vale Council will provide sufficient copies to the T&CCs concerned so that each elected member can have their own copy. However, with more and more information becoming available through the website, these hard copies will continue to reduce in number.

·               Not all agenda papers and minutes of town and community councils are automatically circulated to the Vale Council (nor would it want them to be). Some T&CCs have their own websites, to which the Vale Council website is hyperlinked. This provides the easiest means of sharing papers.

·               A member of Democratic Services staff has acted as the nominated liaison officer for the council.

·               Key local partnerships are those defined within the Community Strategy.

·               Vale Council officers and members strive to attend meetings of town and community councils where there is an appropriate item on the agenda. However, due to the shear number of meetings, they can not guarantee to attend all to which they are invited.

·               In some exceptional circumstances, for example when responses are required urgently by other organisations (Welsh Government, etc.), normal consultations are unable to take place. A written explanation should be provided by officers where it is not possible to consult T&CCs.

·               The Vale Council and T&CCs work together on many issues, including planning, elections, resolving local concerns, etc. Meetings of clerks of T&CCs are organised by the Democratic Services Department. These meetings assist clerks in carrying out their duties more effectively and can assist in answering queries and improving service delivery.

·               A process is in place outlining how services can be devolved from the Vale council to the T&CCs. Requests for devolved services are given serious consideration by the Vale Council following receipt of a business case for devolution.

·               Where devolution of services isn't agreed, the proposals for improving services contained within the business case (and supporting documentation) will be taken into consideration as a means of improving service delivery.

·               Where there is a devolution of services, the issue of double taxation needs to be addressed. Community and town councils generally raise funds for their activities through a precept levied in Council Tax. A double levy for the provision of the same service should be avoided; this does not preclude the provision of match or joint funding, where this enhances or extends functions with added value to address community needs.

·               There are many opportunities for officers and elected members to work together, which leads to better communication and engagement with local residents. The content and siting of public art is one example of provision that has been enhanced by the involvement of town and community councillors.

·               Joint training with Vale councillors, particularly in the induction of new town and community councillors, has been offered in the past. Some bespoke courses can also be offered to enhance understanding and joint working.

·               There is a representative from T&CCs on the Standards Committee (currently from Penarth Town Council). Clerks have an opportunity to clarify queries in the clerks' meeting.

·               The council is actively involved in promoting sustainable development, and the cabinet regularly receives details of the work being undertaken in this matter.

·               Town and community councils are consulted in the development of the Vale's Community Strategy. There is also an Implementation Group in which T&CCs can become involved.

·               Elected members have opportunities to discuss the administration of elections at Community Liaison Committee. Clerks have a similar opportunity through the meeting of clerks arranged by Democratic Services.

·               The Vale Council provides promotional materials to assist in publicising forthcoming elections and in increasing voter registration. Town and community councils also have a responsibility to assist in promoting elections locally, in recruiting candidates and in encouraging members of the public to vote through election publicity and canvassing.

·               The Operational Manager - Corporate Policy and Communications is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the action plan. An action plan will be developed relating to the revised charter following formal adoption by the Vale Council and T&CCs.

Next steps

7.             Following agreement of the final wording for the charter by the Community Liaison Committee, it will be forwarded to the unitary, town and community councils for formal adoption. It is accepted that not all town and community councils will wish to adopt the charter.

8.             Representatives of councils who have adopted the charter will be invited to attend an action planning workshop, to identify what work needs to be undertaken in order to implement the aspirations outlined in the charter.

9.             The following revised timetable is proposed:

·               Revised charter to be sent to and considered by individual unitary, town and community councils (July-September 2013)

·               Action planning workshop held (October 2013)

·               Action plan considered by Community Liaison Committee (December 2013)

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.        There are no immediate financial implications as a result of this report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.        Sustainability is a key priority of the charter.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.        Charters are written partnership agreements which are not legally binding.

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.        None arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.        None arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

15.        Community leadership.

Policy Framework and Budget

16.        This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.        Representatives of town and community councils were consulted on the content of the revised charter. 

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

18.        Corporate Resources

Background Papers

A Shared Community – relationship building and charters for unitary authorities and community and town councils issued by the Welsh Assembly Government

Contact Officer

Beverly Noon (01446 709746)

Officers Consulted

Directors

Heads of Service

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director