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Agenda Item No. 7

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee [Corporate Resources]: 13th October 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 the work being undertaken across the Council to promote sustainable development.
  2. That Members note the implications of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act and associated statutory guidance.

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) Act and draft statutory guidance.

Background

  1. 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 January 2015.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Sustainability is managed within the Council's Performance Management Framework. It is mainstreamed within the Corporate Plan and the service planning process.
  2. 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, reports to Corporate Management Team and includes representation from across the Council.
  3. The Council is undertaking a range of activity to promote sustainability and ensure the principles of Sustainable Development (SD) are embedded across the Council. This includes responding to the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act, the Reshaping Services Strategy, 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 community engagement.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act

  1. The aim of the Act which comes in to force in April 2016 is for public bodies to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of Wales in accordance with the sustainable development principle. The Act sets out seven well-being goals against which specified public bodies must set, and publish well-being objectives. These objectives must be designed to maximise the public body's contribution to the achievement of the well-being goals.

The Well-being goals are:

  • A more 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.
  • A globally responsible Wales
  1. The Act aims to improve well-being in accordance with the sustainable development principle - ensuring that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  2. The sustainable development principle is made up of five key ways of working that public bodies are required to take into account when applying sustainable development. These are:
  • Looking to the long term so that we do not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
  • Taking an integrated approach so that public bodies look at all the well-being goals in deciding on their priorities
  • Involving a diversity of the population in the decisions that affect them
  • Working with others in a collaborative way to find shared sustainable solutions
  • Understanding the root causes of issues to prevent them from occurring
  1. Draft statutory guidance on the Act was published by Welsh Government on the 7th September and consultation on the guidance will close on the 16th November 2015. The guidance sets out the expectations for public bodies and newly established Public Service Boards under the Act and the necessary timeframes for the different activities required. The guidance has been published in a number of parts and is available on the Welsh Government website http://gov.wales/consultations/people-and-communities/shared-future-shared-purpose/?status=open&lang=en
  1. The guidance sets out the timetable by which public bodies must publish their well-being objectives and their well-being statements, and specifies that both the objectives and statement may be published within the Local Authority's Corporate Plan. Under the Act, public bodies must also produce an annual report that details progress made against achieving the body's well-being objectives.
  2. The Act also establishes Public Service Boards (PSBs) and although the PSB will be similar in many ways to the existing Local Service Board and builds on work already undertaken there are some differences. The Act will place a statutory duty upon the Local Authority, Local Health Board, the Welsh Fire & Rescue authority and the Natural Resources Body for Wales to attend as members of the PSB. In addition the board must invite as 'invited participants'; the Welsh Ministers, the Chief Constable of the police force in that area, the Police and Crime Commissioner, a person required to provide probation services in relation to the local authority area, and a body representing voluntary organisations in the area. The guidance sets out the different roles and responsibilities between 'members' and 'participants' and other partners. The guidance also sets out specific requirements in terms of the local assessment of need and the subsequent Wellbeing Plan.
  3. The PSB must publish a Local Well Being Plan which must be informed by a local needs assessment. The guidance sets out the process by which PSBs must produce an assessment of the state of well-being in the PSB area, this assessment must be published twelve months before the publication of the PSB's local well-being plan. The PSB must publish a set of Well-being objectives within the Wellbeing Plan and these must be designed in such a way as to maximise its contribution to the achievement of the well-being goals. In contributing to the achievement of the seven well-being goals, each PSB is to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of its area in accordance with the sustainable development principle. The plans are intended to provide a more holistic, citizen focused approach to the planning and delivery of public services and can also be used as a vehicle to fulfil other statutory duties.
  4. PSBs will also be required to produce an Annual Report setting out the steps taken to meet its objectives.
  5. The work of the PSB must be scrutinised by a designated local authority scrutiny committee although the guidance acknowledges it will be legitimate for a subject scrutiny committee to scrutinise the work of the PSB in relation to a particular issue.
  6. The following illustrates the activities that must be undertaken in implementing the Act:

Action

Date

A Public Body must publish wellbeing objectives

No later than 31 March 2017

A Public Body must publish an Annual Report

Public Service Board to be established

Local Needs Assessment to be completed by PSB

Wellbeing Plan to be published by PSB

Annual Report to be published by PSB

No later than the 31 March 2018

 

1st April 2016

 

To be published at least 12 months before publication of the Wellbeing Plan

 

No later than 12 months following the 2017 local government election and no later than 12 months after each subsequent ordinary election

No later than 14 months after the publication of its first local Wellbeing Plan.

Embedding Sustainability in the work of the Council

  1. Detailed below is an update on some of the work being undertaken across the Council which is consistent with our duties under the legislation and reflects the Council's commitment to promote sustainable development.
  2. 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 pressure in the public sector. The strategy seeks to 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. 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 and these principles will inform the evaluation of specific opportunities. 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.
  3. The Council is an early adopter of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act along with 10 other authorities from across Wales. Work has been undertaken, with the support of the WLGA, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and Netherwood Sustainable Futures to ensure the Council's Reshaping Services Strategy is compatible with the Act. Workshops were held in April to brief senior officers on the Act and to identify how the Act aligns with the Reshaping Services Strategy as a way of understanding the Act's practical application. Further work will continue to align the Strategy and the Act and future workshops have been planned to brief staff on the wholesale implications of the Act as the Council's Central Organising Principle.
  4. A key element of how the Council responds to the new legislation will be evident in the drafting of the new Corporate Plan 2016-20. The draft plan will be presented to Scrutiny Committees in December and is structured around five wellbeing outcomes which reflect the Wellbeing Goals. Objectives have been drafted to provide a framework for activities to be undertaken in 2016-20 and this will demonstrate how the council will contribute to the wellbeing goals. Workshops on each of the wellbeing outcomes have been held and officers are now working on a draft plan which will be considered in line with the development of the budget. A combined consultation exercise will be undertaken on the draft plan and budget. As part of the early adopters work, PWC will undertake a review of the draft Corporate Plan to ensure it is robust and demonstrates how the Council is contributing to the Wellbeing Goals.
  5. In tandem to the development of the new Corporate Plan work is also being undertaken to review the Performance Management Framework and service planning process. This is being undertaken with due regard to the requirements of the Wales Audit Office and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
  6. Significant progress has been made in the management and mapping of Council assets. Following discussions at the Cardiff and Vale Joint Local Service Board, the Local Service Board Asset Management Group has been re-established to discuss potential opportunities for improved asset management across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan and to outline any collaborative asset management arrangement opportunities.
  7. Through the Sustainable Development Action Plan 2014/16 the SDWG has reviewed and is currently reviewing a number of projects and plans that are being delivered across the Council with sustainability as an overriding factor. The list of projects and plans is provided below and is not intended to be exhaustive but to illustrate the range of activities across the Council.
  • Penarth Learning Community
  • Welsh Housing Quality Standard
  • Space Programme
  • Asset Management Plan
  • Reshaping Services
  • Carbon Management Plan
  • Llantwit Major School
  • Dimming of Street Lightening
  • Transport Review
  1. The Corporate plan 2013/17 reiterates the Council's commitment to review and update the Carbon Management Plan. Previous progress reports have highlighted work to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions and work is continuing in this area. In 2014/15 building related carbon emissions from the Council's non-domestic buildings were 10,105 tonnes and this compares to 10,874 tonnes in 2013/14 a reduction of 7%. 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 £870,000 with a further £23,000 of projects agreed and awaiting installation and a further £64,000 worth of projects considered viable and awaiting agreement from budget holders. The projects installed or awaiting installation are predicted to save the Council £237,000 per year in fuel costs and reduce emissions by 1,500 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 £5 million and 32,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
  2. The Energy Commission Re-investment Fund (ECRF) was approved by cabinet on 26th January 2015. The fund is designed to concentrate on the installation of renewable technologies and to help with projects that can achieve a 10 year simple pay back but don't qualify independently for the Salix Recycling scheme. So far 4 projects have benefited from the use of the ECRF in this way with a total value of £35,000 worth of ECRF funding. A Solar PV tender request in July 2015 on the Seel2Wales website received many responses and a contract for £154,000 to install solar PV on four buildings began on 19th August. A cabinet report is currently out for comment requesting that this contract value is increased to include an additional building and to increase the capacity of the PV to be installed on the Alps depot. This request has been made because the Feed in Tariff which forms an important part of the income from solar PV is likely to be drastically reduced from 1st January 2016. This was only recently announced in a government consultation document. The extra capacity recommended is predicted to earn the Council £394,000 over the next 20 years (the whole scheme earning the Council just under £1.4 Million). If approved the 'enhanced' PV contract will reduce emissions by 120 Tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum
  1.   "Cyd Cymru", set up by The Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Councils with funding from the Welsh Government and support from other local authorities and housing associations across Wales continues to make 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 "Switch 4" registration period opened on 7th September 2015 with the actual switching period commencing on the 19th October 2015 and ending 16th November 2015.. The project board is currently seeking further engagement with the scheme both within the authority and across Wales, with support from the Energy Saving Trust and many other partner organisations.. Since the first Switch in 2014 the Cyd Cymru Wales Together initiative has helped over 3,500 households switch suppliers, saving a total of over £800,000 - that's an average of £225 off the cost of an annual energy bill.
  2. Work is continuing to promote sustainability through a range of mechanisms. Both Staffnet and the Council's webpages have been updated to reflect recent policy and legislation changes, such as the end of the Green Dragon programme. The implications of sustainability are considered and reflected by 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 these are quality checked through the SDWG.
  3. The most recent review of sustainability and climate change implications in committee reports found that in general answers have improved since the last exercise was undertaken, and even where no details were provided, sustainability implications have been covered in the main body of the report. This indicates an improved understanding of sustainable development across the Council.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Activities detailed within this report will be met within existing resources as detailed in relevant service plans.
  2. The support provided by Price Waterhouse Coopers and Netherwood Sustainable Futures with regard to the early adopters work is funded through Welsh Government and is being overseen by the Welsh Local Government Association.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The SDWG helps to 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.
  2. The Act places specific sustainable development duties on the Council as detailed in the body of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. 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.
  2. The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act received Royal Assent and became law on the 29th  April 2015 and comes in to force on the 1st April 2016. The Act 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

  1. 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)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Sustainable development has links to all corporate priorities and activities included in service plans for 2015/16 reflect commitments in the Corporate Plan 2013/17.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for executive decision

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Not Applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Resources

Background Papers

The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act

Statutory Guidance for the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015

Contact Officer

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

Officers Consulted

Sustainable Development Working Group

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Managing Director