Agenda Item No. 7(a)
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
COUNCIL MEETING: 7TH DECEMBER, 2011
USE OF URGENT DECISION PROCEDURE - CABINET: 16TH NOVEMBER, 2011
“C1523 21ST CENTURY SCHOOLS - REVISED STRATEGIC OUTLINE PROGRAMME (ELL) (SCRUTINY - LIFELONG LEARNING) -
Urgent by reason of the late clarification of the programme criteria by the Welsh Government and the short timescale to submit the revised Strategic Outline Programme to the Welsh Government
Cabinet’s approval was sought in regard to approval of the Band A programme of projects within the revised Vale of Glamorgan Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) to be submitted to the Welsh Government on 18th November 2011 under the auspices of the above Programme.
The Welsh Government had issued guidance on the review of forward outline programmes on 14th October 2011, details of which were set out in Appendix B to the report. Consequently local authorities must return their revised submission by no later than 18th November 2011. Local authorities were not required to review and resubmit their entire SOP. The review represented an opportunity for authorities to revisit the sequencing of their SOPs.
The delivery of those programmes / projects identified by the local authorities in Band A would continue to be a priority, however, it was noted that whereas Band A was to be a three year band from 2012/13 to 2014/15 it had now been extended to six years and would run from 2014/15 to 2019/20. The guidance provided in October 2011 did not state that the start of Band A would be delayed by two years, this was only clarified in a meting with the Welsh Government which took place on 11th November 2011. New bands of investment on a three year basis would then be announced over forthcoming years. Local authorities subsequently would be asked to review programmes / projects in Band A on affordability basis (i.e. the provision of 50%) and the prioritisation criteria (i.e. programmes / projects that were tackling estate inefficiencies such as poor condition, surplus capacity and running inefficiencies).
To enable local authorities to tackle part of the school estate that may be regarded as the most inefficient (e.g. a school identified within a condition category D) it was permissible to bring forward projects that were allocated in terms of delivery into Bands B, C and D in the initial SOP. As Penarth Learning Community was the Vale of Glamorgan’s only Band A project and it had already received T3 grant funding, further grant funding could not be accessed until 2020/21 at the earliest unless projects were brought forward. Officers had investigated options in relation to Llantwit Learning Community, including a review of the scope of the project as well as phasing the project. Consideration had also been given to advancing any projects which would enable rationalisation.
Cabinet were also asked to note that there was currently no capacity within the DfES baseline budget to provide direct capital grant support to each local authority for capital maintenance works in 2011/12 or for the two subsequent financial years 2012/13 and 2013/14.
The proposed timetable from the Welsh Government for developing the Council’s response was extremely challenging hence the request for Cabinet to approve the revised submission two days prior to delivery to the Welsh Government. In order to ensure that the Cabinet had an opportunity to consider the proposals, whilst meeting the Welsh Government deadline, it would be necessary to use the Urgency Decision Procedure as set out in the Constitution following the conclusion of the Cabinet meeting.
The 21st Century Schools project team had considered a range of projects meeting the recently received guidance having full consideration for the profiling of potential capital funding.
Llantwit Learning Community was included within the previously approved SOP in Band B. The scheme included reconstruction and remodelling of the Comprehensive school, a new 420 place English Medium Primary School to replace Llanilltud Fawr and Eagleswell Primary Schools, a 210 place Welsh Medium Primary School to replace Ysgol Dewi Sant Seed School as well as a new leisure and library facilities all on the same site. A recent structural inspection of Llanilltud Fawr Primary School had confirmed that the aluminium frame and fixings were still in good condition and although the building had a limited design life remaining, it was still currently in reasonable condition and did not require urgent renewal. Ysgol Dewi Sant occupied a modular building which had a design life in excess of 25 years. Llantwit Major Comprehensive occupied a range of deteriorating permanent buildings which required substantial investment and was still recognised as a high priority. In view of the very poor condition of the Comprehensive School and the revised capital funding available under the 21st Century Schools Programme, a number of options to address the problems at the Comprehensive School were being put forward for consideration by Cabinet.
The Cabinet gave consideration to four options which were detailed in the report.
The preferred option for Llantwit Major Comprehensive was Option B which entailed the remodelling of four existing permanent buildings on the site to meet current standards. This would include installing pitched roofs to replace existing flat roofs, recladding the buildings, addressing all condition and suitability issues on the site, investigate the feasibility of installing renewable energy technology into the buildings, providing full disabled access around the site and within buildings, resolving the existing bus drop off and parking problems on the site and the installation of an all weather sports pitch. This remodelling work would be split between two phases, estimated to cost in the region of £6.73m. and £5.75m. with works being eligible for a 50% contribution from the Welsh Government 21st Century Schools Programme.
The school reorganisation within the Barry Cluster was identified within Band C of the original SOP. Following work with the Barry Cluster Member Advisory Group addressing surplus capacity and the increased demand for Welsh medium education were both highlighted as high priorities. To address the existing high levels of surplus capacity in the primary sector (approximately 960 places) the proposals was to remodel two primary schools to enable reorganisation of schools in the area and release capacity to accommodate the continuing increase in demand for Welsh Medium Primary places. In addition to Cabinet approval this proposal was entirely dependent upon Welsh Government funding and therefore the timescale could not be guaranteed. The statutory process to re-organise the schools could not commence until funding was formally approved. The estimated cost of the proposals was £4.258m. which would be eligible for 50% capital funding from the Welsh Government.
Ysgol Nant Talwg (Barry) and Ysgol Dewi Sant (Llantwit Major) opened to reception and nursery children in September 2011 and would grow incrementally as the existing reception class progressed through the school. These schools were projected to meet existing demand but not further increases in demand which are expected. The schools had been built using modular building techniques to reduce the build programme and also reduce disruption to the adjoining schools whilst the construction works were undertaken. Funding would be required to expand the schools as the pupils progressed through the year groups. The proposal was to apply for a 50% contribution under the 21st Century Schools Programme to carry out the required expansion works which fell within the Band A timeframe. A total of £4,225,000 would be eligible for Band A funding. However the next stage of construction at Ysgol Dewi Sant would need to be carried out in 2013/14 as would the design work for the expansion of Ysgol Nant Talwg, a year before the start of the Band A funding. An estimated expenditure of £725,000 in 2013/14 would not be eligible for 21st Century Schools grant funding.
The preferred proposals were included within the Vale of Glamorgan Band A Project Programme - November 2011 as attached to the report.
(2) T H A T the Urgent Decision Procedure be used to enable a revised Strategic Outline Programme, Band A programme of projects to be submitted by 18th November 2011.
Reasons for decisions
(2) In order to comply with Article 13.09 of the Council’s Constitution."