ENVIRONMENT AND REGENERATION SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of an Extraordinary meeting held on 19th April, 2018.

 

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 and Ms. S. Sivagnanam.

 

Also present: Councillor L.O. Rowlands.

 

 

867            APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE –

 

This was received from Councillor S.T. Wiliam.

 

 

868            MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 15th March, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

869            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

Councillor G. John declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 4 in that he had been granted a dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak only at meetings of the Vale of Glamorgan Council when any matters relating to sports fees were discussed.

 

 

870            NEIGHBOURHOOD SERVICES AND TRANSPORT – PROPOSED FEES AND CHARGES FOR 2018/2019 (REF) –

 

Cabinet had, on 26th March, 2018, referred the report in respect of proposed changes to service charges for functions managed by Neighbourhood Services and Engineering and Transportation for the financial year 2018/19 for consideration by the Committee.

 

The report noted that in October 2017, the Cabinet had then approved the Income Generation and Commercial Opportunities Strategy which set out that as public funding becomes increasingly constrained and under more intense scrutiny, greater emphasis had to be placed upon self-generated income and developing and presenting products and services that would resonate with paying customers. 

 

As part of the action plan to deliver the Income Generation and Commercial Opportunities Strategy, a review of all existing fees and charges was underway.  The report set out the proposed fees and charges for the range of services offered by Neighbourhood Services and Engineering and Transportation, specific details being provided within the body of the report where there were significant changes to the fees and charges or associated policy / processes involved, Cabinet’s consideration had been required.  The remaining fees and charges, as detailed in the Appendices to the report, showed the current and proposed level of charges. 

 

The Director of Environment and Housing prior to presenting the report drew members attention to a typographical error in Appendix 1, advising that the figures for Allotments in Barry/ Rhoose on page 3 should read £5.00 for the years 2017/18 and £6.00 for years 2018/19. The Director subsequently stated that to ensure that current charges reflected inflationary pressures, he was proposing to uplift the majority of service fees by the amounts contained within the Appendices, advising that charges from Barry Town Council proposed for Porthkerry Cemetery reflected the current arrangements at Merthyr Dyfan Cemetery.  A number of charges were also being proposed to be increased in order to reflect the actual costs of service provision in a move towards full cost recovery which was one of the objectives of the Income Generation and Commercial Opportunities Strategy.  It would also be important to generate additional revenue where this was appropriate and the analysis of demand had suggested that this would be possible to do.  As a result, some policies / processes required to be amended where alternative approaches had been followed as outlined below, 

  • Beach Huts – The price of renting beach huts was proposed to increase at a rate higher than inflation to reflect the continued and strong demand for these facilities.  
  • Allotments – In March 2012 an Allotments Strategy had been approved which had set out the aim of working towards achieving full cost recovery for operating these facilities over time.  In order to balance the well-being benefits of allotments with the costs to the Council of operating these sites, it was recommended that the price for allotments would increase over time towards full cost recovery and other means of delivery would also be explored.  Further proposals would be developed for Cabinet's consideration in due course.
  • Filming and Dedications – A review of fees for filming and dedication schemes had taken place across the Authority as a whole as part of the Income Generation and Commercial Opportunities Programme.  This review had led to the creation of a consistent set of fees and charges and terms and conditions for both Filming and Dedication schemes.  Details of these fees were outlined in Appendix 1 to the report and discretion had been given to the relevant Chief Officer to negotiate on the guide prices for filming.
  • Bulky Waste – It was proposed that these charges remained the same as current levels, but that any concessions be removed from 1st April, 2018 as the service was not generating sufficient income to cover its costs.

The Director advised that concessions were currently offered to those in receipt of a number of benefits as outlined within the report and for those who were eligible, two free collections were offered in any one year.  In 2016/17, the report noted that 62% of all bulky waste collections had been eligible for a concession.

 

To ensure the true cost of this non-statutory service could be recovered in line with the Council’s Income Generation and Commercial Opportunities Strategy it was therefore proposed that concessionary rates be removed for the collection of household bulky waste collections. It had been considered appropriate to forecast that this reduction would be at least consistent with the 54% decrease experienced when charges were first introduced in 2015.  This would enable the service to be delivered with reduced waiting times and the level of resources required would be closely monitored to ensure they matched the demand for the service.  It was acknowledged that there was a risk that instances of fly tipping may increase. However, the Director informed the Committee that no notable increases had been experienced in 2015 when charges had been introduced at that time but advised that this situation would continue to be closely monitored.

  • Recycling Containers – It was proposed that the cost of recycling containers would remain the same at present it being anticipated that current consultation with regard to the service provision may provide information regarding the current recycling containers offered by the Council and as such, further proposals may be forthcoming with associated charges. 
  • Leisure Services – The charges for Leisure Services had increased in line with the recommended percentage increase.  However, additional work would be carried our during 2018/19 which would be subject of a further report to Cabinet recommending a different charging approach in the future, particularly where a facility was primarily used by one club or organisation. 
  • Permits for Items on the Highway – The Council currently levied a charge for permits to place skips, containers, scaffolding and hoarding on the highway. These permits were currently provided for a duration of one month and it was proposed to reduce this to a period of two weeks.  This was consistent with the practice of neighbouring Authorities and was intended to reduce the time that highway space was used for these purposes.  In addition, for all permits (with the exception of skips) it was proposed that a commercial rate would be introduced at a higher rate than for residents.  The relevant proposed fees for these permits were detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.

Engineering and Transportation (Appendix 2) 

  • Coastal Car Parks – The car parking charges within the Council's coastal car parks had not increased for several years.  It was therefore proposed to increase the rate for Cars (1+ hours) and Coaches to £6.00 and £12.00 respectively to cover the cost of inflation over this period.  The cost of parking for Cars (0 – 1 hours) had not been increased in a similar manner as it was considered that this would have a detrimental impact on the well-being of the local community and residents who visited the Council's local car parks regularly for dog walking or other recreational activities.

The cost of parking for Cars (0 – 1 hours) after 4 p.m. in the Vale's coastal car parks had also been increased to be consistent with the day time charges and reflected the popularity of the tourist areas where the individual car parks were located.  The cost of parking for Cars (1+ hours) and Coaches had been discounted to 50% of the daytime costs to reflect the reduced parking time available after 4 p.m. and provided a further incentive to encourage visitors to stay for longer and to assist in promoting local business usage.

 

The Off Season Charge Rate at the Barry Island resort car parks that was proposed to be increased was to bring it in line with the cost of parking after 4 p.m. in all the Vale's coastal car parks in recognition of the fact that Barry Island was now an “all year round” resort and the resources employed to deal with the “out of season” activity was having to increase year on year.  It was noted that the car parking fees at the Council's car parks at Ogmore by Sea and at Southerndown were currently “all year round” charges with no “out of season” reductions applied.

 

The Director further advised that the cost of parking within all the Vale's coastal car parks at Barry Island, Ogmore by Sea and at Southerndown was currently being further reviewed as part of the ongoing development by independent technical consultants of a Parking Strategy for the county.  Any costs of parking identified as part of the Parking Strategy would look to achieve full cost recovery of providing the relevant parking facilities if this was not already the case.

 

With the exception of School Transport fees and charges, which were proposed to remain unchanged to encourage use of these services in line with Council policy, it was proposed that all other fees and charges in this service area were to be increased in line with inflation over the last year with the figures. 

  • Porthkerry Cemetery (Appendix 3) – As in previous years, the charges proposed were those put forward by Barry Town Council who managed the Cemetery on the Council’s behalf.  The rates were in line with those charged by Barry Town Council at their cemetery in Barry.

During consideration of the report, Members queried the costs in relation to the provision of allotments being advised that the service cost £48,000 to run, £11,000 of which was the cost of providing water to the sites with the income from the allotments equating to only £16,500.  The Director further advised of his intention to contact all allotment holders to seek their views on forming a co-operative etc. as it was his view that it was becoming more important that communities considered taking on the function of allotment provision, as the Council could not continue to sustain such expenditure.  However, the Director reassured Members that it would be his intention to offer as much support as possible to anyone wishing to take on the responsibility.

 

A number of Members referred to the impact that the removal of concessions in respect of fly tipping costs would have and also queried the costs of the service. The Director stated that service cost £134,000 and the income equated to £38,000 and although there could possibly be some potential issues with regard to the proposals the Council had to make a significant amount of savings particularly in the Visible Services Directorate. In acknowledging that such decisions were not easy to make it was important that savings were to be found.  An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) had also been undertaken and he reassured Members that the impact for the service area would continue to be monitored.

 

In responding to queries with regard to car parking charges, the Director stated that a further report on a car parking strategy to include options for seasons tickets was due to be submitted to Cabinet in the next few months and the car parking charges referred to in the report only related to coastal car parks. 

 

Following a query regarding Council expenditure for the provision of allotments, the Director advised that the cost was £5.00 for a 25m² perch and that a number of people actually rented more than one perch.  A Member also queried the number of allotments within the Vale and as the Director did not have the information available at the meeting it was agreed that the detail be forwarded to Members via e-mail. 

 

In further considering the strategy and cost for allotment provision a Member suggested that, as in the case of Dinas Powys Community Council, a water charge be introduced alongside the cost of the rent based on the square meterage of the site. The Director advised that a further report on allotments would be presented in due course for an in-depth discussion with the Committee.  

 

Having regard to future enforcement issues, Members queried the potential impact on the Council that the Department could face in particular at Barry Island and were informed that on occasions the department did not have enough resources and that as Director he would be speaking to the enforcement group managed by Bridgend County Borough Council regarding extra seasonal involvement during the year should this be required. 

 

Following a query regarding the use of NNPR, (number plate recognition) Committee was advised that was not currently legal for Local Authorities to use this facility unless there were barriers on both sides.  An option would be for a pay at exit system to be established, but the infrastructure costs would need to be considered carefully. 

 

In referring specifically to the coastal car parking charges the Director advised that the increases were aimed at visitors and not necessarily residents of the area. 

 

Following discussions around filming charges, Committee was informed that the costs were negotiable depending on the event and the prices had been reduced in order to encourage use. 

 

In recognising the success of the beach huts, Members queried whether there were any proposals to extend the beach huts provision at other sites with the response that further considerations were to be investigated, possibly at the Knap and at Penarth etc.  It had been a successful Invest to Save project that had reached international recognition.  Members requested that a further report on beach huts expansion be presented to Committee in due course for the Scrutiny Committee’s consideration.

 

Following a query regarding the fees paid by Barry Town United in respect of Jenner Park, Committee was informed that these fees were lower in recognition of the fact that the Barry Town team were now a Premier team and also played more games than any other clubs which brought in more income as a result. It was however, the Director reiterated only the first team that received a discount in recognition of the higher level of football that they brought to the Vale. 

 

The proposals contained within the report would provide an additional £100,000 income the Director stated and took the opportunity to reassure Members that he wasn’t making the proposals lightly advising that he would not be suggesting the changes if he thought they would not be sustainable. 

 

The Chairman in conclusion, referred again to his concern in respect of the reduction in concessions for bulky items and the impact on lower income families and suggested that this be reviewed in a year’s time to assess the impact.  The Director considered this to be an acceptable approach and that further ways of supporting communities could be explored.

 

Following full consideration of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the information requested by Committee as outlined above be e‑mailed to Members in due course.

 

(2)       T H A T  the fees and charges contained within the report, including the amendment for Allotments in Barry / Rhoose, to be £5.00 for the years 2017/18 and £6.00 for years 2018/19 be approved.

 

(3)      T H A T notwithstanding Recommendation (2) above, Cabinet consider a water levy on allotments provided by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

(4)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee reviews the impact of the charges for bulky items and that a report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in a year’s time. 

 

(4)       T H A T Recommendations (2) and (4) be referred to Cabinet for noting and Recommendation (3) for consideration.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To advise Members.

 

(2)       In order that the fees and charges can be introduced as approved by Cabinet.

 

(3)       For Cabinet consideration in view of the costs of the provision.

 

(4)       For Cabinet’s information and consideration. 

 

           

871            VALE OF GLAMORGAN WELL-BEING AND IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES (IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 1) 2018/19 (MD) –

 

The Director of Environment and Housing presented the report, which sought the Scrutiny Committee’s endorsement of the Improvement Plan Part 1 outlining the Council’s Wellbeing and Improvement Objectives and associated actions for 2018/19.

 

The Committee was further informed that the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (WFGA) placed specific duties on the Council in relation to objective setting and reporting duties.  Under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, the Council was required to publish its Well-being Objectives by 31st March, 2017 and to keep these under review.  Under the Measure, the Council also had to set annual Improvement Objectives and publish these as soon as possible at the start of the financial year.

 

The Corporate Plan was the Council’s key means of complying with the Local Government Measure 2009, which required the Council to set “Improvement Objectives” annually and demonstrate continuous improvement.  The Plan set out the Council's Well-being Outcomes and Objectives for 2016-2020 as well as its vision and values with reference to the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and had been informed by local needs and available resources and incorporates the views of residents, partners and staff.

 

Appendix 1 to the report contained the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Well-being and Improvement Objectives (Improvement Plan Part) 1 for the period 2018/19. Pages 8-35 of the Plan provided details on each Objective including: an identified Sponsoring Director with responsibility for ensuring progress was made in achieving the Council’s intended outcomes; a brief rationale for selection of the Objective; the specific actions the Council would take during 2018/19 in order to progress its identified priorities; and performance indicators and targets to measure its progress.

 

The Director commented that it was the Council’s intention to review a number of the actions presented in the Corporate Plan due to the fact that some were out of date and some actions had already been delivered with others currently in the process of doing so.

 

In referring to the cost of fly tipping to the Vale, the Director advised that he would be happy to provide detailed figures to all Members of the Committee via e-mail stating that the cost of clearing was in the region of £1m.  Members in response requested that the information also include details of the incidents and costs for the current and previous years.

Following a query as to whether there were plans in progress to monitor and / or take action in respect of fly tipping, the Director advised that CCTV provision existed in a number of areas and that the 3GS enforcement officers currently monitored and took action in relation to fly tipping.  Cabinet was also to receive a report over the next few months in respect of Public Protection Orders. 

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Corporate Plan Well-being and Improvement Objectives and associated priority actions for 2018/19 as outlined in Appendix 1 to the report be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure the Council fully discharged its statutory duties to set and publish its Improvement Plan Part 1 outlining how it proposed to meet its Wellbeing and Improvement Objectives for 2018/19.