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Agenda Item No 4

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee [Corporate Resources] 20 January 2015

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Sustainable Development Progress Report

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide an update on progress in co-ordinating sustainable development in the Council.

Recommendations

1.         That Members note examples of some of the work being taken across the Council to promote sustainable development.

2.         That Members note the implications of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Bill and proposed work as early adopters.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that Members are aware of progress with sustainable development across the Council.

2.         To ensure Members have an understanding of key elements proposed in the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Bill.  

Background

2.         The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) is the lead scrutiny committee for sustainable development.  At a meeting of the Committee on the 7th November 2006 the Committee requested regular progress reports on sustainable development.  This report provides an update on work being undertaken across the Council to progress sustainable development since the previous report in February 2014.

Relevant Issues and Options

3.         Sustainability is managed within the Council's Performance Management Framework.  It is mainstreamed within the Corporate Plan and the service planning process. 

4.         The role of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) is to develop mechanisms and oversee projects to embed sustainable development as the Council’s central organising principle. The group is chaired by the Head of Performance and Development and reports to Corporate Management Team and includes representation from across the Council.

5.         The Council is undertaking a range of activity to promote sustainability and ensure SD principles are embedded across the Council. This includes responding to the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Bill, the Reshaping Services Strategy and work around external funding, asset management and risk management.  In addition to this work is continuing to deliver commitments in the Corporate Plan which includes a range of activities to promote economic, social and environmental wellbeing. Work includes the Town Centres Framework, improving energy efficiency, the Local Development Plan and improving engagement.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill

6.         The aim of the Bill is for public bodies to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of Wales in accordance with the sustainable development principles.  The Bill sets out six well-being goals against which all public bodies must set and publish well-being objectives that are designed to maximise its contribution to the achievement of the well-being goals. The Well-being goals are:

  • A prosperous Wales
  • A resilient Wales
  • A healthier Wales
  • A more equal Wales
  • A Wales of cohesive communities
  • A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.

7.         Sustainability is at the forefront of the Bill and it seeks to ensure that the long term effects of current decision making are considered at all times. It will if passed formalise partnerships across the public sector to ensure a joined up approach to delivery and planning.

8.         In applying the sustainable development principle the Act requires that public bodies take into account:

  • The importance of balancing short term needs with the need to safeguard the ability to meet long term needs;
  • The benefits of taking an integrated approach by considering how: an objective may impact upon each of the well-being goals and the social, economic and environmental aspects; and the impact of the body's objectives on each other and upon other public bodies' objectives;
  • The importance of involving those with an interest in the objectives, seeking views and taking them into account;
  • How collaborating with any other person could assist the body to meet its objectives, or assist another body to meet its objectives;
  • How deploying resources to prevent problems occurring or getting worse may contribute to meeting the body's objective, or another body's objectives. 

9.         The Council is an early adopter of the Bill along with 10 other authorities from across Wales.  As part of this process the Council undertook a self-assessment that attempted to measure the Council's current compatibility with the Bill using a diagnostic tool. The findings from this were fed back at a workshop led by Price Waterhouse Cooper at the end of November 2014. In general the Council had a positive outlook on its ability to conform to the Bill and that processes, such as Reshaping Services, already in place would assist in the Council continuing to make progress. Following this process there will be further engagement from both the WLGA and Welsh Government before the Bill is scheduled to be passed in the Spring of 2015. Attached as Appendix A is a copy of a letter from the WLGA dated December 2014 which details the support for the Council up to March 2015 as part of the Early Adopters project.

10.      The key focus of activity will be a review of engagement with staff and Members to help develop capacity and leadership roles in relation to the Bill, with recommendations on a 'critical path’ way forward, informed by good practice examples. There will also be advice and support in developing a strategic and integrated approach towards service co-design with partners and the community.

11.      This bespoke support will be in addition to collective support in the form of training and information.

12.      The Council is also a signatory of the Sustainable Development Charter and will continue to engage in work through this forum to ensure there are opportunities to learn from good practice elsewhere and to prepare for the forthcoming legislation.

Reshaping Services

13.      The Reshaping Services strategy has been developed as the Council’s proactive response to central government’s austerity drive that has created a period of unprecedented financial pressures in the public sector.

14.      Reshaping of services seeks to engage with both the public and partners to help structure and redesign services where necessary. The strategy will further increase the sustainability of services through this period and into the future by assisting in engagement with partners in co-design, co-production and alternative methods of delivery. To aid this process the Council will develop the skills required amongst both its staff and partners to ensure that they are able to meet future challenges.  Although the initial phase of the strategy is three years it is hoped that it will continue beyond that time regardless of the Local Authority restructuring and mergers proposed by the Welsh Government.

15.      The strategy is compatible with the principles of sustainable development; living within environmental limits, ensuring a strong, healthy and just society, achieving a sustainable economy and promoting good governance.  In developing a new approach to how services are delivered due regard will be paid to effective engagement with staff, customers and partners including the Third Sector and Town and Community Councils and ensuring the needs of our most vulnerable residents are met.  The strategy provides a framework for reviewing services and exploring new ways for service delivery to meet the needs of our customers and to make essential services more resilient for future generations.

 

Embedding Sustainability in the work of the Council

16.      Work is continuing to promote sustainability through a range of mechanisms.  This includes information for staff via Staffnet and Core Brief, consideration of sustainability implications through the corporate risk management group, external funding steering group and also in considering capital programme bids.  All committee reports include a section on sustainability and climate change implications and a sample of these will be quality checked through the SDWG.

17.      As part of service planning for 2015/16 all services are asked to consider how they contribute to the promotion of sustainable development.

18.      At the recent early adopters workshop a list of projects and plans which contribute to the promotion of sustainable development was collated to highlight how every service is contributing to the agenda.  This list includes high profile projects like the Penarth Learning Community which successfully engaged with a range of stakeholders and also provided employment and training opportunities as part of the development of the school.  The list of projects and plans is provided below and is not intended to be exhaustive but to illustrate the range of activities being progressed across the Council.

  • Penarth Learning Community
  • Castleland Renewal Area,
  • Welsh Housing Quality Standard
  • Creative Rural Communities
  • Communities First
  • Integrated Health and Social Care Programme
  • Youth Inclusion and Progression Framework
  • Local Development Plan
  • Shoreline Management Plan
  • Flood Management Plan
  • Space Programme
  • Asset Management Plan
  • Reshaping Services
  • Workforce Plan
  • Carbon Management Plan.

Energy Efficiency

19.      Previous progress reports have highlighted work to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions and work is continuing in this area.

20.      In 2013/14 building related carbon emissions from the Council's non-domestic buildings were 10,809 tonnes and this compares to 10,943 tonnes in 2012/13 a reduction of 1.2%.

21.      The Council is continuing to deliver its commitments within the Carbon Management Plan.  The Salix finance arrangement has been used to deliver a number of improvements since it was agreed in June 2009 and to date the Council has spent £880,000 with a further £100,000 of projects agreed and awaiting installation and a further £100,000 worth of projects considered viable and awaiting agreement from budget holders.  The projects installed or awaiting installation are predicted to save the Council £316,000 per year in fuel costs and reduce emissions by 2,141 tonnes per annum.  The lifetime savings (which take into account the persistence factors of each particular technology) for Salix match funded measures is predicted to be £6.6 million and 44,000  tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

22.      'Cyd Cymru', set up by The Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Councils with support from other local authorities and housing associations across Wales continues to progress. Cyd Cymru provides an opportunity to change the way we buy our energy, simplify a complex tariff system to address the issue of rising fuel prices.  Cyd Cymru is a Wales-wide collective switching buying scheme and the more people who sign up, the better the discounts. The next registration period (Switch 3) begins on 2nd January 2015 and will continue through until March. The project board is currently seeking further engagement with the scheme both within the authority and across Wales. The board is also currently seeking additional funding from Welsh Government to raise the profile and extend the awareness of the scheme as well as beginning the process of funding applications for 2015/16.  

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

23.      Activities detailed within this report will be met within existing resources as detailed in relevant service plans.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

24.      The SDWG help ensure that arrangements are in place to support the promotion of sustainable development across the council including reporting arrangements to Corporate Management Team and Members. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.      The Local Government Measure 2009 introduced continuous improvement as a statutory duty for local government in Wales.  The subsequent revised Wales Programme for Improvement guidance identifies sustainable development as a key driver for achieving continuous improvement.

26.      Welsh Government published the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill on the 7th July 2014. The Bill strengthens existing governance arrangements for improving the well-being of Wales to ensure that present needs are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  The new legislation applies to a number of public bodies including local authorities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

27.      The wider definition of sustainability adopted by the Council includes ensuring a strong, healthy and just society which is linked to community safety issues.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

28.      The wider definition of sustainability adopted by the Council includes social justice, and will require a greater focus on equality and fairness.

Corporate/Service Objectives

29.      Sustainable development has links to all corporate priorities and activities included in service plans for 2014/15 reflect commitments in the Corporate Plan 2013/17.

Policy Framework and Budget

30.      This is a matter for executive decision

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

31.      Not Applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

32.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill

 

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac (Head of Performance and Development) - 01446 709760

 

Officers Consulted

David Powell (Energy Manager)

Sustainable Development Working Group

John Lewis (Principal Lawyer)

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies - Managing Director

 

 

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