ENVIRONMENT AND REGENERATION SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 30th November, 2017.

 

Present:  Councillor V.J. Bailey (Chairman): Councillor M. Lloyd (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. P. Drake, V.P. Driscoll, S.T. Edwards, G. John, N. Moore, A.R. Robertson, Ms. S. Sivagnanam and S.T. Wiliam.

 

Also present: Councillor Miss. A.M. Collins, O. Griffiths, N.P. Hodges, Dr. I.J. Johnson and L.O. Rowlands.

 

           

494     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

495     M4, JUNCTION 34 TO A48 WELTAG STAGE 1 TRANSPORT STUDY (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration prior to a final decision being taken by Cabinet in respect of the resolutions below:

 

(1)      T H A T the contents of the report and accompanying Strategic Outline Case Report attached at Appendix A to the report and Impacts Assessment Report attached at Appendix B to the report, be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T consideration be given to progressing a Stage 2 Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) Report for M4, Junction 34 to A48 for the Stage 1 short listed options of: Do-Minimum, a highway route east of Pendoylan, a highway route west of Pendoylan and a parkway station with park and ride facilities and bus integration near to M4, Junction 34.

 

(3)       T H A Tthe Stage 2 Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) Report, once completed, be presented to Cabinet for consideration in Spring 2018.

 

The Head of Service for Neighbourhood Services and Transport, in presenting the report, advised that the report detailed a Stage 1 report (Appendices A and B) that had been produced by Arcadis Consulting UK Limited (“Arcadis”) using Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) on improving strategic transport links between M4, Junction 34 to A48 and Five Mile Lane. 

 

The report highlighted that Arcadis had been commissioned by the Council in July 2017 to develop and appraise potential options for improving the strategic transport route from M4, Junction 34 to A48 including considering options for a park and ride site at Junction 34.  Appendix A to the report provided a Strategic Outline Case which included a map of the study area and Appendix B was an Impact Assessment report. 

 

The Impact Assessment report provided an overview of the study area including information on its location, demographics, employment, environment and land use characteristics. 

 

Ms. Janice Hughes, representing Arcadis, subsequently provided the Committee with a PowerPoint presentation commencing with a Study Brief which had been commissioned to develop and appraise potential options for improving the strategic transport network encompassing the corridors referred to above, reminding Committee that the schemes needed to come through the WelTAG process in order to be put forward for Welsh Government funding. 

 

Consultation on the proposals had taken place with stakeholders on 7th September, 2017 at the Docks Office, Barry, which had included key employers, public organisations, transport providers and the Local Authority.  During that consultation, discussion had taken place in identifying problems, opportunities and constraints, objectives set and potential transport options identified and discussed.  On 19th September, 2017, consultation had also taken place with Community Councils and stakeholders, again with the opportunity for Community Councillors to provide feedback on identified options, opportunities and constraints, as well as consideration and suggestions for the objectives and potential transport options.  On 21st September, 2017 consultation had been undertaken with the public being afforded the same opportunity to provide feedback on identified options, opportunities and constraints, as well as consideration and suggestions for the objectives and potential transport options.

 

At the public consultation, a wide range of people and organisations had attended, 41 feedback forms had been received with many being very detailed responses. It was noted that the workshop and public sessions had been engaged with full and constructive discussions. 

 

The transport problems that had been identified were noted as: 

  • Poor highway infrastructure between M4 Junction 34 and the A48 leading to poor access for local communities and businesses;
  • Poor sustainable access to Cardiff Airport and strategic destinations;
  • High use of the private car for local and regional trips (e.g. journeys to work);
  • Existing congestion issues at M4 Junction 34 and on the A48 which were likely to worsen with the committed developments in the area;
  • Environmental issues associated with high use of the car, including adverse greenhouse emissions and noise pollution.              
  • High local traffic flows led to congestion, capacity issues at junctions, environmental impacts including air quality, noise pollution and unreliable journey times;
  • Accessibility for HGVs.
  • Adverse road safety conditions along existing routes non-compliant to current Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) highway standards.

The opportunities that had been identified were reported as:  

  • improved connections to link the airport to strategic opportunity areas (SOAs)   e.g. Llantrisant and other regional centres;
  • national significance of Cardiff Airport;
  • growth of Cardiff Airport and investment in St. Athan Enterprise Zone infrastructure;
  • Five Mile Lane upgrade will significantly improve access between the A48 and Cardiff Airport;
  • potential to create connections between M4 Junction 34 and A48 to continue Five Mile Lane route;            
  • northernmost 500m section of route near M4 Junction 34 of good standard with existing bridges over River Ely (SSSI) and mainline railway;
  • proposed improvement at Bonvilston end of route, connecting to Sycamore Cross;
  • potential for park and ride and bus and cycle connections.

The constraints were noted as: 

  • high quality study area environment;
  • policy context (which is also an opportunity);
  • potential need for third party land to deliver improvements;
  • funding availability;
  • location of existing services and facilities within study area.

The Options Appraisal to assess the long list of options included considering how the options tackled identified problems, how the options met the objectives, assessment of risk, consideration of any adverse impacts, constraints and any dependencies.  The options then proposed to be taken forward in the report were as below:

location would provide frequent rail service east towards Cardiff and west towards Swansea, with a large park and ride facility allowing for robust integration for passengers.  

 

The options to be taken forward to WelTAG Stage 2, Ms. Hughes advised, were:

Option B – the Highway Route East of Pendoyland, Option C – The Highway Route West of Pendoylan and Option G – Parkway Railway Station including park and ride facilities and bus integration near to M4 Junction 34.

 

A focus group, including stakeholders, had also taken place on 27th November, 2017 to review the report and options being recommended to ensure that any options being taken forward were supported and deliverable by using the group’s knowledge and expertise in their field.  The recommendations of the focus group would be fed back to Cabinet at the same time as it received the views of the Scrutiny Committee before a final decision was taken on the options to be progressed.

 

Following the presentation a question and answer session took place with Members of the Committee:

 

Question

Response

Would you describe the project as being demand driven and where was the demand coming from?

It was part of the Business Case and would be an important component of it.  The whole project was about future demand and growth and regional growth.

 

Had there been a lot of demand in the area by lobbying to Local Government and the MPs or was it demand driven by Welsh Government?

It was a regional demand driven project.  There was however concern in Pendoylan from residents about the amount of traffic on a daily basis.  It was considered to be a “rat run”.  However, on top of these concerns there were also far wider issues for the Vale as it was about providing employment sites that were able to be effectively accessed.

 

Could we have more detailed maps in future reports?

Plans had been used for the public consultation but further details relating to the actual highway   alignments and the site itself would be shown at Stage 2 of the process, if approved.

 

How were the plans to be brought forward?

There were two potential possible highway schemes, together with a rail link as an add on.  The intention being that the rail link would in the first instance serve local services, with a higher ambition to serve other areas in the future.  The   officer advised that due to a lack of public transport in the area the locality relied heavily on the Vale of Glamorgan Green Links service.

 

For the future the Head of Service advised that it was important for funding purposes to consider all options, there was a possibility of funding through the City Deal and or private sector investment.

 

Where did the proposal sit in light of the wider Metro proposals?

There was shortly to be an announcement on the new train franchise and the Council would know more at that point.  The Department was   engaging in a number of ways with the railway provider and working with Welsh Government to ensure the proposals fitted in with the Metro and the Council’s partners.

 

What was the view in relation to how it would fit in as there were concerns in relation to green   belt issues?

 

In respect of Option G, would further proposals be detailed at the next stage in terms of what   changes would be needed?

The Stage 2 proposals would look at the preferred bidder option and at that point further additional add ons could be included.  The Council looked more easily at highway issues, but there would be a lot of dependencies in relation to the railway network.  The green belt issues would depend onwhere the site was actually sited.  The area   was quite a constrained area due to the junction, it was on a flood zone and any station proposals would be looked at closely under an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). 

 

 

In considering the report, Members agreed that it was important that the proposals were progressed to Stage 2 but that in relation to Option G the Park and Ride scheme was in their view premature as at present with the only benefit they could currently envisage to be for the Cardiff area.  Officers were then asked whether the funding issue in relation to the Metro had been discussed at the City Deal Board.  The Head of Service for Regeneration and Planning, in response, advised that the project was likely to be part of the City Deal project, but that it was currently going through the WelTAG study which was funded by Welsh Government (WG).  He was however, aware that WG had been speaking to the City Region.  Although there was a joined up process, no bidding had been established as yet due to the fact that a full stage business case would have to be completed and submitted.

 

The Chairman, in summing up, stated that there was a lack of detail at Stage 1 and he hoped that answers to queries and further detailed information as discussed above would be provided at Stage 2 of the process.  In terms of housing, he queried whether there had been an assessment of key sites and its potential impact on the LDP.  The Head of Service stated that these issues would be factored in as the proposals progressed.  The LDP itself ran until 2026 and before that period there would have to be a review of that Plan together with the figures for housing demand in the Vale as well as identifying new sites.  At the current stage of the process the Department could not say whether a new settlement would be required, but all factors would have an impact if the network or station was in place.  Ms. Hughes also advised that the first stage was considered to be a high level document and that Stage 2 would detail the traffic modelling, discussions she said with WG to discuss the strategic model and cost benefit analysis would continue.

 

Following consideration of the report and discussions at the meeting, it was subsequently unanimously

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the resolution of Cabinet to progress to Stage 2 Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) Report for M4, Junction 34 to A48 for the Stage 1 shortlisted options of: Do-Minimum, a highway route east of Pendoylan, a highway route west of Pendoylan and a parkway station with park and ride facilities and bus integration near to M4, Junction 34 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be apprised of the Committee’s concerns, as outlined above, in respect of the detail required at the next stage of the process.

 

(3)       T H A T the Stage 2 Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) Report once completed be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration when available.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To apprise Cabinet and to endorse the resolution to progress the Stage 2 proposal.

 

(3)       To seek Committee’s views on the Stage 2 report once completed.

 

 

496     UPDATE ON BIOMASS DEVELOPMENT AT WOODHAM / DAVID DAVIES ROAD, BARRY DOCKS (MD) –

 

Prior to the commencement of consideration of the report, the Chairman welcomed the public speakers to the Committee also acknowledging the significant number of members of the public who were present to hear the debate, as well as thanking Mr. John Wheadon from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for his attendance and to  answer Members’ questions.  The Chairman in outlining the procedure to be followed during the debate also advised that the report had been prepared following queries around the environmental impact of the site as any matters in relation to the planning process would be a matter for the Planning Committee. Should any further applications be submitted to the Planning Committee, he reminded members of the public that there would be opportunities at that stage to register to speak at a meeting of the Planning Committee. 

 

The Head of Regeneration and Planning, by way of background, advised the Committee that in 2008 the Council received an application for planning permission for the development which the Council had refused, but an appeal to the Welsh Ministers had been allowed and planning permission granted.   In 2015, a revised outline application for an alternative energy from wood waste development was submitted to the Council for the site.  The application was approved, subject to 31 conditions and the decision notice was attached at Appendix A to the report.  A reserved matter submission was received in 2016 and was approved subject to two additional conditions. 

 

Prior to the commencement of development (reference 2015/00031/OUT and 2016/00187/RES), the Developer submitted to the Council a number of details in discharge of Conditions 6, 7, 8, 10 and 28 relating to waste management, finish materials, contamination, means of enclosures and construction environmental management plans (reference 2015/00031/1/CD).  The Council considered these submissions and approved details in respect of each following any necessary consultation with statutory bodies.

 

The Developer had submitted a further two batches of condition discharge details, 2015/00031/2/CD for the discharge of condition 13 regarding sustainable drainage and 2015/00031/3/CD for conditions 11 (dust management), 12 (external lighting specification), 20 (cycle parking) and 29 (green travel plan).  Both of these submissions were registered on 16th October, 2017 and were currently being considered and would be determined in due course following any necessary consultations with statutory consultees.

 

In addition to the above, the Developer had also submitted an application to vary condition 5 of planning permission 2015/00031/OUT to include a fire tank and building as well as relocation of parking (reference 2017/01080/FUL).  That application would be reported to the Council's Planning Committee for a decision in due course.

 

Insofar as complaints relating to the implementation of the development were concerned, officers from both Planning and the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) had investigated the matter.  In light of these investigations, the SRS issued a statutory notice under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 to control the hours of noisy construction works on site.  The Council's Planning section had written to the Developer to outline the breach of the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) concerning hours however in light of the action pursued by SRS, at this juncture no formal action had been pursued under the planning regime.

 

Further to the above it was noted that the SRS had been contacted by several local residents alleging noisy works were being undertaken at night at the site. There had also been complaints alleging that light arising from the site was causing a statutory nuisance.

 

The initial complaint was received on 21st September.  SRS officers discussed the complaints with residents and liaised with the contractors and a Section 60 notice under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 was served on the contractors on 27th September, 2017.  The notice limited the times of noisy works being undertaken on site to day time only; the notice did not restrict inaudible works at night.  It was noted that the contractors had been co-operative in complying with the notice and had restricted any vehicles from reversing on site at night along with managing the activities to ensure that there was no likely breach of the notice.

 

It was unfortunate that from 10pm on 7th October until 6am 13th October, Network Rail were undertaking works on the main railway line which created noise at night. These were essential works being carried out at night as possession of the line was required to undertake the works safely.  SRS were unable to take enforcement action against statutory undertakers such as Network Rail where essential works were being undertaken.

 

SRS Officers had subsequently visited residents' properties on Dock View Road to witness the alleged noise and light affecting the local residents.  There was no evidence of the breach of the Section 60 notice relating to noise and there was no evidence of a statutory light nuisance as defined under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  That said, officers were able to see the light from the construction site but were satisfied that the light did not cause a material interference with the residents' use and enjoyment of their property.

 

The report also highlighted that NRW had issued a “Minded to Issue Environmental Permit” on 14th November, 2017 which it was understood that this decision would be followed by a further consultation.  It was also noted that if an Environmental Permit was issued for the Biomass Boiler, the regulatory body for enforcing such a permit would be NRW. 

 

Dr. M. Wallis, the first public speaker, then presented his representations to the Committee as below:-.

 

“Harm from abnormal operations – we call “accidents”

The NRW did issue Fire prevention and Mitigation Plan guidance 2016. NRW told the company to comply; Capita consultants said the same for Barry Town Council. Now the NRW have decided not to require it. In any case, the NRW has to be confident the plant will be operated safely without harm to health and the environment. “The technology is novel, the operator is not competent one-man company backed by Aviva money. No info on comparison plants abroad and their failures   - NRW first said needed, then dropped it. No worst-case accident scenarios

In Scotland SEPA say buffer zone is “probably needed because of unknown fire and explosion risks”

NRW say this is primarily a planning concern and not within our remit. However, the impact assessments for air quality, human health, habitats and noise have used a distance based screening criteria to assess the impact. This is not a chemical plant and SEPA are a different organisation and as such have different policies and procedures which we cannot comment on.

NRW ‘impact assessments’ only apply for normal operations. DIA quotes Specialist reviews much like a chemical plant with pressurised explosive gases. Require an emergency venting system for release of pressure and avoidance of furnace explosion. There is none.

 

The new Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) = GHD Livigunn is not adequate – refers to obsolete CIRIA 164. DIAG expert advice - containment system of the correct capacity is a key issue, but still not sorted. Firewater supply and run-off containment still require changes and planning permit.

 

Adjacent to the chemicals - vulnerable to an incinerator fire/ explosion include:

1. Shipping deliveries of hazardous chemicals to Dow Corning - Bomar Quest

2. Delivery by of Methyl Chloride train passing within metres of the plant

3. Stored materials in the S & K yard next to the plant with unknown and variable chemicals.

 

NRW didn’t assess, they could and should have assessed the possible consequences.

 

Over-ride the NRW excuse “outside our remit” as the Industrial Emissions Directive covers it. Second Issue the RSK Sea Flooding assessment from June 2008 is completely inadequate, wrong base tide level.

The 2015 review was by “Power Consulting (Midlands)” by Richard Frearson, “Director” of a one-man outfit.  With no expertise in flooding and climate change.  

 

 Ove Arup study for Waterfront development.

    set a proper base tide level, nearly 1 metre higher by 2093

    include nearby East Quay and show a flood coming over the harbour entrance.   Ove Arup recommended :-

a) ground level raise – level of 9.1m agreed by NRW

b) raise access roads so they flood by under 0.6m in the extreme event

David Davies Way past the incinerator site is 7.6m, a little higher inside the site

 

The NRW Permitting team now say: “The impact of flooding has been assessed and a flood plan is not required due to the location”.  In fact, the location in the sea-flood zone is exactly the reason for requiring flood planning. The Permitting team just looked at a surface flooding map

 

Dr. Wallis concluded by asking the Committee to request that a proper flood study with Flood Consequences Assessment together with a full accident assessment including off-site consequences be undertaken.

 

Mr. Kevin Irish was then afforded the opportunity of making his representations to the Committee.

 

Mr. Irish stated that the Vale Council had gone to considerable expense by putting in new sewer pipes in Cardiff Road.  The Biomass site had however changed the landscape and altered the situation and as a result had increased the potential for further flooding.  Welsh Water had admitted that the sewers could not cope with the excess and this had to be released into the environment.  The Biomass plant would produce and release over 526 effluences into the sewer per hour, which equated to 100 litres per day, this did not take into account any new housing on the doorstep.  In essence, it would be 36 million litres per year and Mr. Irish’s question was who would foot the bill when the sewers prematurely collapsed?  Who will compensate the public for the disruption caused and for environmental clean-ups?  It seems the test is “let’s dump it in the docks”.  The sewers, Mr. Irish stated, were not designed to take the excess load that was anticipated and the cost to the Council would be significant. 

 

Councillor Ms. Collins, not a Member of the Committee but with permission to speak, asked how NRW could reassure local residents and herself that robust monitoring on the site would be done.  She needed to be reassured that monitoring would be in place by the Vale Council and NRW. 

 

Mr. Wheadon from NRW, in response, advised that the licence would regulate activities on the site, which was the principal purpose.  A regular forum of dialogue had also been put in place with DIAG, but some of the matters raised were not within NRW remit.  With regard to monitoring of the site, as part of the current consultation, the operator would need to ensure they were compliant with the permit and undertake regular monitoring.  Monitoring results would need to be submitted to NRW for assessment by technical experts.  There was currently a full set of conditions in place with the proposed permit and if any site was non-compliant, then NRW would address them when necessary. 

 

The Chairman stated that there was wide concern that the consultation was inadequate.  For the public the issue was transparency and self-reporting, and he queried whether this was usual practice.  Mr. Wheadon advised that it was usual practice for operators across Wales, but that NRW would need to be satisfied that the monitoring in place was appropriate and what emissions would be coming from the plant. 

 

A Committee Member raised concern in relation to condition 31 which advised that “within nine months of the energy plant hereby approved being fully operational, the applicant shall carry out a further Air Quality Assessment through monitoring”.  The Member’s concern was in relation to the poacher / gamekeeper scenario and suggested that it would be far more beneficial if the whole process was carried out by an independent monitoring agency either appointed by the Vale or NRW but paid for by the applicant.  Mr. Wheadon advised that it was usual practice for the operator to undertake their own monitoring regime as approved by NRW and referred members to the ongoing consultation urging people to comment on them.

 

The Head of Service took the opportunity to advise all present that the planning decision had already been made and flooding issues had been assessed as part of the planning process but that at that time no objections had been raised.

 

A Member queried whether Welsh Water had been part of the initial consultation process and whether any of the monitoring equipment systems would be capable of shutting the plant down and whether there was a compliance for monitoring if they exceeded the limit, whether there was a shutdown period and was it capable of doing so.  Mr. Wheadon advised that he did not know what type of monitoring equipment was being used specifically, but he suspected that it would be unlikely to be extended to stop the operation.  Following a further question as to whether there was a requirement for the licence that they would have to shut down if there was an issue, Mr. Wheadon stated that if the monitoring identified breaches, NRW would need to address the issues with the operator, but ultimately it would depend on the circumstances.

 

Another Member of the Committee stated that in his view, what he could see was that NRW was minded to support the licence and therefore he thought the consultation was going to be tokenistic.  The fact that no EIA had been requested did not give Members a lot of confidence in the process, and further queried whether NRW had the ability to monitor the plant on all levels as.  In his view, he stated that “it was blatantly obvious that NRW was under-resourced in respect of monitoring capacity”.  Having had a discussion at the previous meeting on the Hinkley Point project, he stated that he was not confident that self-monitoring was appropriate and asked whether the plant was safe and whether the Vale Council was going to respond to the NRW consultation on the permit.  The Head of Service advised that comments had already been made by the Shared Regulatory Service, but it had been agreed that they be reviewed to assess if any further comments needed to be made.  Mr. Wheadon stated that he was more than satisfied that NRW had the technical expertise to commission the application.

 

Following a query as to why drainage tanks had been missed when the application had originally been submitted, the Head of Planning advised that an application in respect of drainage was currently being considered.  Consultations were with colleagues in NRW, in a different part of the organisation to Mr Wheadon’s section.  The applicant, he advised, had planned for drainage as they were part of the original conditions, although the fire tanks were separate and subject to a variation of the condition.

 

Mr. Wheadon confirmed that NRW had looked at the human health impacts and through the assessments and air quality expert evidence, the advice was that it was not a risk to human health.

 

Following a further question as to why the need for an EIA was not pursued, Mr. Wheadon confirmed that these were matters that were not in the particular scope of the scheme.  The Head of Planning advised that it was a process through every planning application to access if an EIA was required and that at the time of the application being presented it had been identified that no EIA was required at that time.  That view was also challenged with Welsh Government being asked to call the matter in, following which the view was substantiated that an EIA was not required. 

 

Another Member, referring to a visit to the plant, advised that she and a fellow Councillor had been informed by the Director that a SENS system would be put in place and she sought assurance from the NRW officer that the system had been installed.  Mr. Wheadon stated that although he couldn’t confirm if the system had been installed through NRW’s compliance work, they would ensure that operations were on site before the permit was granted. 

 

The Chairman referred to the impact on regeneration and asked whether the Council had at any time, since the submission of the application, undertaken an assessment on the impact on regeneration.  The Head of Planning advised that this would be largely irrelevant as consent had been granted.  He could also confirm that residents locally had not raised any concerns at the time. The Chairman’s view however, was that an assessment would not be irrelevant as the Committee’s responsibility was to consider ways to improve regeneration in the Vale and an assessment would identify potential problems as they arose.

 

Following a further question as to how the proposal fitted in with the Well-being of Future Generations Act, the Head of Planning stated that the Act had not been in force when the application came before the Council (it took effect from April 2016), but if any further applications were to be presented the Act would have to be considered, however it was important to note that the principles of the Act had been part of the planning process (i.e. sustainability) for many years. 

 

The Chairman thanked all present for their attendance, in particular the public speakers who had registered to speak and the officer from NRW.  He however, stated that by issuing a “Minded to” Notice prior to consultation, it was about the message that was being given to the wider public with it not being seen as a useful consultation process as a result. 

 

Following consideration of the report and the evidence provided at the meeting, it was subsequently unanimously

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Chairman on behalf of the Committee writes to Natural Resources Wales, a copy to the Minister, requesting that independent monitoring be established, to ensure confidence in the process and that a full accident review and flood study of the site be undertaken.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider recommending to NRW that an independent expert be appointed to carry out the monitoring on the site and that a full accident review and flood study be undertaken.

 

(3)       T H A T the comments made at the meeting be referred to Cabinet for its consideration and that Cabinet also be requested to consider providing a formal response to the consultation, in particular having regard to the request that an independent expert be appointed to carry out the monitoring of the site.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To inform Members and the public and in order that an appropriate and full review can be undertaken, and that in the interests of transparency and in view of public concern that an independent monitoring process is established to alleviate concerns and have confidence in the process.

 

(3)       For Cabinet’s consideration in order that a formal response may be forwarded to Natural Resources Wales on behalf of the Council and in view of public concern in relation to the current monitoring process.

 

 

497     INITIAL CAPITAL PROGRAMME PROPOSALS 2018/19 (DEH) –

 

The Scrutiny Committee was requested to consider the proposals and to forward any recommendations to the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee as the lead Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Principal Accountant, in presenting the report, advised that the 2017/18 Capital Programme at Appendix 1 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th September, 2017 and that Appendix 2 to the report detailed the Initial Capital Programme 2018/19 to 2022/23 schemes with a number of changes as outlined below:

 

Vehicle Replacement Programme – There had been some delays in procuring certain vehicles programed to be replaced in 2017/18 which would be carried forward and replaced in 2018/19. 

 

Additional Resurfacing – This budget and the Visible Services Highway Improvements budget was used to fund the Highways resurfacing three year plan.  It had been requested that they be amalgamated with the Visible Services Highway Improvements budgets, with the amended budget totalling £1.3m.

 

Coldbrook Flood Risk Management – The 2018/19 budget for the scheme was £77k.  It had been requested that this budget be brought forward into the 2017/18 Capital Programme as retention had to be accrued into the year that the works were carried out.

 

Boverton Flooding – The 2018/19 budget for the scheme was £100k and it had been requested that this budget be brought forward into the 2017/18 Capital Programme as retention had to be accrued into the year that the works were carried out.

 

Llanmaes Flood Management Scheme – It was requested that £746k be carried forward into the 2018/19 Capital Programme due to the fact that it had recently been agreed that a combined storage area below the village would now be delivered by Welsh Government Transport Branch this financial year with an estimated contribution for this element from the Council of £100k.  The current design work for the village element of the scheme indicated that a change of design philosophy would be necessary.  Therefore, whilst the Council would incur some costs directly for the design of the village element of the scheme, e.g. ground investigation, topographic surveys, etc. estimated at £100k this financial year, the remainder of the significant construction costs would not be incurred until 2018/19 and would be subject to Welsh Government funding approval.

 

Ashpath Footpath Improvements – The Council was in the process of applying for a Cycle Way Order which could take up to 9-18 months depending on objections.  It had therefore been requested that £63k be carried forward into the 2018/19 Capital Programme.

 

Profihopper – Wildflower and wild area flail mowing cutter-collector – A delegated authority had been approved to include a new scheme of £30k into the Capital Programme to be funded from Section 106 monies.  This piece of equipment would assist and improve the maintenance of the wild flowers / wilder areas surrounding Penarth Heights and the wider Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Improve pedestrian movements along Old Port Road – A delegated authority had been approved to include a new scheme of £180k into the Capital Programme to be funded from Section 106 monies.  The proposed scheme sought to improve pedestrian movements where appropriate, by introducing dropped kerbs and replacing footpaths, in compliance with Active Travel design guidance.  This would improve access to the local park and school.

 

Improve pedestrian movements along Treharne Road – A delegated authority had been approved to include a new scheme of £170k into the Capital Programme to be funded from Section 106 monies. 

 

Improve pedestrian movements along Dock View Road – A delegated authority had been approved to include a new scheme of £24k into the Capital Programme to be funded from Section 106 monies. 

 

Maes Dyfan Open Space Improvements – It had been requested that a new scheme was included in the Capital Programme to enhance and undertake landscaping improvements at the public open space adjacent to the recent re-development of Ysgol Maes Dyfan.  .

 

Pedestrian Crossing Across Thompson Street / Holton Road – Consultation was unsuccessful for a crossing across Thompson Street / Holton Road and the funding was now being used to improve pedestrian movements along Dock View Road. 

 

Barry Regeneration Partnership Project Fund – A delegated authority had been approved to vire £26.5k to the High Street / Broad Street Traffic Management scheme   This was for additional works to pedestrian routes on the approaches to the District Shopping Centre. 

 

Welsh Government Rural Communities, Rural Development Programme (RCDF) Go Wild – The Council had been awarded a grant of £84k from Welsh Government for the above scheme. 

 

Refurbishment of Car Park and Toilets at Dunraven Bay – The Council had been awarded a grant of £80k from Welsh Government for the above scheme under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.  

 

Five Mile Lane – Due to unforeseen delays regarding the Compulsory Purchase Order and letting the main works contract the full budget would not be spend this financial year.  It had been requested to carry forward £4,365k into the 2018/19 Capital Programme.

 

Feasibility Studies in Penarth Including the Esplanade – The original scheme was not viable and therefore this budget was not required within the 2017/18 Capital Programme. 

 

Nell's Point Former Toilet Block – The Council had received a report detailing interim works required to this building and up to £100k of this budget would be required for these works. 

 

Committee was also informed that Welsh Government had announced the provisional 2018/19 General Capital Funding on 10th October, 2017, with the 2018/19 amount being a flatlined capital settlement which, for the Vale of Glamorgan Council, equated to General Capital Funding of £5.505m which was made up of £2.083m General Capital Grant and £3.422m Supported Borrowing.   

 

In referring to Capital Bids for 2018/19 to 2022/23, the bids had been invited for submission by 30th September and the number of bids received was in line with previous years since the five year Capital Programme was introduced (one from Learning and Skills, ten from Environment and Housing, and four from Managing Director and Resources).  Departments had been required to rank and assess their own bids in order of importance before submission and bids from each Department had been forwarded to the Insight Group for evaluation.

 

The Insight Group used a number of criteria to assess the Capital Bids as outlined within the report.  Only the schemes assessed as Corporate Priority or higher and Medium Risk or higher had been included in the proposals. 

 

In considering the report, Members raised a number of queries as outlined below: 

  • Paragraph 12 of the report referred to a 20mph zone for Treharne Road with it being noted that this would improve facilities such as access to local parks and schools.  A Member queried the schools referred to being advised that they were Barry Comprehensive and Bryn Hafren due to the significant footfall in those areas, together with Oakfield Primary School, Jenner Park and Cadoxton.  A number of Surveys had shown significant congestion with the issues also having been highlighted by the local Councillor and the community.
  • In referring to improvements on Dock View Road and whether the funding required was to be vired, it was agreed that clarity of wording be pursued and reported to Members via e-mail.
  • In considering the Five Mile Lane project, Members were advised CPOs had been agreed and that the contractors would be on site in the New Year.  Members were reassured that there appeared to be no hold up now and that work would commence.
  • In referring to a query in relation to the bridge at Dinas Powys library, Members were advised that it had been put forward due to the fact that it was structurally unsound.  The local Member asked for further detail to be sent to him on the project via email.
  • In noting that a number of schemes were not being proposed, the issue of street lighting in Dinas Powys was raised with a local Member advising that a number of local residents had complained about the state of repair of the street lighting columns and the need for replacements.  The officer agreed to look into the issue and advise the Member accordingly.
  • Cross Common Bridge road when was this likely to be removed. The Head of Service advised that her intention was hopefully within the next three to six months, however she had had resource issues in the Engineering Section and unfortunately had to prioritise other works in advance of the Cross Common Bridge, but it was certainly on the list to be addressed.
  • In referring to the time taken for a cycleway on the ash path (between 9 to 18 months), Committee was informed that this was as a result of the legal process as this included any objections which could take some time to address. 
  • Following a query in respect of feasibility studies in Penarth including the Esplanade and why it had been requested to reduce the Capital Programme by £47k, the officer advised they would speak to the Head of Service for Regeneration and Planning and the Director of Environment and Housing with a view to seeking a response that could be e-mailed to all Members. 
  • Ham Lane – when was the work to be completed – Head of Service agreed to provide email update.
  • Waste recycling site at Llandow – the officer advised that it was her intention to provide another site in the area when she could.

In conclusion, the Chairman referred to resurfacing in and around the Vale, advising that not spending sufficiently on road resurfacing was actually a false economy.  The officer advised that the department would need at least £2.5m - £3m to stay on top of all its roads.  The Chairman, in noting the healthy position of the reserves, suggested that the Council should consider utilising some of the reserves for resurfacing purposes. 

 

Following full consideration of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the information highlighted above, when available, be e-mailed to all Members of the Committee.

 

(2)       T H A T in noting the healthy position of the reserves, the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee be requested to recommend to Cabinet that the use of further reserves for resurfacing throughout the Vale of Glamorgan be considered.

 

(3)       T H A T a report be presented to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee on the proposals for Nell’s Point.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       For Members’ information and clarification.

 

(2)       To request that Cabinet consider further funding for resurfacing throughout the Vale of Glamorgan as it could be a false economy not to address the situation.

 

(3)       To provide Members with details of the current position and proposals for the site.

 

 

498     INITIAL REVENUE BUDGET PROPOSALS 2018/19 (DEH) –

 

The report provided Committee with details on the initial revenue budget proposals for 2018/19 and the amended original budget for 2017/18 for services which formed part of the Committee’s remit.

 

The Council’s budget was determined largely by the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) settlement set by the Welsh Government (WG). The provisional RSG settlement was received from WG on 10th October, 2017.  The final settlement was likely to be received in December 2017.

 

The Council was required under statute to fix the level of Council Tax for 2018/19 by 11th March, 2018 and in order to do so, would have to agree a balanced revenue budget by the same date.  To be in a position to meet the statutory deadlines and the requirements for consultation set out in the Council’s Constitution, much of the work on quantifying the resource requirements of individual services needed to be carried out before the final RSG settlement was notified to the Council.

 

Appendix 1 to the report set out the Amended Budget for 2017/18 for the Committee, together with the necessary adjustments to be made to the original budget.

 

In referring to various aspects of the Department, the Principal Accountant advised of the following service areas:

 

Highways and Engineering – There was currently a favourable variance against the profiled budget.  The main reason was due to vacant posts currently within the department, however key posts had recently been filled on a temporary basis by agency staff therefore it was currently projected that the budget would outturn on target.

 

Waste Management – There was currently an adverse variance to the profiled budget.  The variance to date was due to overspends on staffing and transportation costs.  The Waste Management budget had been reduced in 2017/18 for further vehicle savings however the department was unlikely to be able to make these in the short term due to the increased distance that had to be travelled as all waste disposal points were now situated in Cardiff.  Due to this, £200k had been set aside in the Visible Services Reserve from the underspend in 2016/17 to offset any pressures in 2017/18 within Waste Management.  It was currently anticipated that the budget will outturn on target.

 

Transportation – There was currently a favourable variance against the profiled budget.  Staffing costs within the division were lower than budgeted to date. There was also a slight underspend within the supported buses budget which was assisting the current favourable position.  At this stage of the year it was currently anticipated that this service would outturn within budget.

 

Visible Services Reshaping Services Savings Target – In 2017/18 there was a savings target of £525k allocated to Visible Services from the current Reshaping Services programme and the proposed means of achieving this saving were approved by Cabinet on 24th April, 2017.  The savings target had yet to be allocated to specific services and was being held centrally within the Visible Services directorate.  Staff consultation ended on 31st July, 2017 and a number of changes were currently being considered as a result of the consultation.  It was anticipated that the structure would start to be populated from late November 2017.  It was envisaged that the shortfall in savings for 2017/18 would be met from the Visible Services Reserve.

 

Regeneration – The budget covered the Countryside, Economic Development and Tourism and Events functions.  There was currently an adverse variance against the profiled budget, as income due to be generated from commercial opportunities at Country Parks and car parking at Cosmeston had not yet been implemented.  All non-urgent repair works at the Council’s Countryside sites were on hold as a consequence in order to mitigate the position.

 

Development Management – There was currently a favourable variance against the profiled budget, due mainly to higher than anticipated building regulation and planning fees to date which it was reported was levelling off going into the winter period so at this time it was forecast that the service would outturn on target

 

With regard to savings for 2017/18, the savings target of £834k had been set for the Committee and attached at Appendix 2 was a statement detailing each savings target with an update of progress.  However, it was currently projected that there would be a shortfall of £584k in the achievement of this year’s target. 

 

It was anticipated that the £244k Transport Review saving for Visible Services would not be achieved in the year.  As detailed earlier in the report, funding had been ringfenced in the Visible Service Fund to cover part of the projected shortfall for the year.  Part of the saving was to be achieved when the Waste Transfer Station was established, however, other means of achieving any shortfall would need to be identified within the Reshaping Services programme.  Visible Services also had a savings target of £525k under the current Reshaping Services programme which would be achieved by the introduction of a new target operating model. 

 

Directors had been requested to prepare initial revenue budgets in accordance with the timetable agreed by the Head of Finance of the 2018/19 budget process.  Committee was informed that the Medium Term Financial Plan that had been presented to Cabinet on 18th September, 2017 had assumed a reduction in WG funding of 3% for the years 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 which had resulted in the requirement to find savings of £20.941m with £9.326m currently having been identified.  The latest Plan factored in a managed level of cost pressures, a notional increase in Council Tax of 2.6% each year, price inflation of 0.5% and annual pay awards of 1.6% each year from 2018/19. 

 

WG advised the Council that its provisional Standards Spending Assessment (SSA) for 2018/19 was £221.296m.  Committee was advised that as part of the initial proposals it had been necessary to revisit the cost pressures facing services in order to build up a complete and up to date picture of the financial position and an updated list for the Committee was shown at Appendix 3 to the report.  As had been highlighted in discussions on the Capital Budget Proposals earlier in the meeting, reference was made to the £350k that had been put in for the 2018/19 budget for resurfacing, with it being noted that the Public Opinion Survey the Council had received had placed high importance on resurfacing around the Vale and that further monies should, in the Committee’s view, be put in place for resurfacing.

 

With regard to the adverse variance on the Waste Management budget and the pressures within that service area, a Member raised concern in relation to the number of new developments that were being established in and around the Vale and that Section 106 funding should be made available for services such as Waste Management due to the number of new houses that were coming into the area and the requirement for them to be serviced by the department. 

 

With reference to the Reshaping Services savings target and the need to work with Town and Community Councils, a Member raised the issue of the possibility of public conveniences being transferred to or working in conjunction with Town and Community Councils, with the suggestion that a further report in relation to the provision for the Vale of Glamorgan be presented to a future meeting of the Committee. 

 

Following Members concerns in respect of the cost pressures for the service area, reference was made to a recent report which had been presented to the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee in relation to income generation.  Although it was accepted that some of the issues contained within that report were not with in the remit of this Committee, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T a future meeting of the Committee consider the service area’s cost pressures and savings targets with a view to Members considering ideas for savings.

 

(2)       T H A T a report in relation to the provision of public conveniences in and around the Vale and their cost pressures be presented to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

(3)     T HAT Corporate Performance and Resources be apprised of the comments made at the meeting, as outlined above, together with the Committee’s recommendations.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1-3) To apprise Members and to consider options.