COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 21st March, 2018.
Present: Councillor Mrs. J.E. Charles (Chairman); Mrs. C.A. Cave (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. J. Aviet, G.D.D. Carroll, S.T. Edwards, Mrs. S.M. Hanks, N.P. Hodges, P.G. King, M.J.G. Morgan, Mrs. S.D. Perkes, A.R. Robertson and M.R. Wilson.
Also present: Councillor S.J. Griffiths.
Representing Town and Community Councils: J. Hawkins (Barry Town Council), J.R. Harris (Cowbridge and Llanblethian Town Council), C. Roach (Colwinston Community Council), Dr. A. Rees (Llancarfan Community Council), P. Carreyett (Llandough Community Council), J.H. Teague (Llanfair Community Council), E. Reed (Llangan Community Council), S. Howell (Penllyn Community Council), J. Moody-Jones (Peterston Super Ely Community Council), A. Barnaby (St. Athan Community Council), G. Rawson (St. Nicholas and Bonvilston Community Council) and C. Thomas (Wenvoe Community Council).
797 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -
These were received from Councillor K.F. McCaffer; C. Cowie (St. Donats Community Council), H. Baker and A. Glanville (Ewenny Community Council) and G. Smith (Llanmaes Community Council).
798 MINUTES -
AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 18th October, 2017 be accepted as a correct subject to an amendment to reflect that Councillor P.G. King had made a Declaration of Interest for Agenda Item No. 6.
799 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
The following Members declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7 in that they had received dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak and vote on matters relating to Reshaping Services and would therefore remain in the meeting:
Councillors Ms. J. Aviet, Mrs. J.E. Charles, S.J. Griffiths, Mrs. S.M. Hanks, N.P. Hodges, P.G. King, Mrs. S.D. Perkes, A.R. Robertson and M.R. Wilson.
800 POLICE MATTERS -
Chief Inspector Anthony Williams began his update by informing Committee that he had recently been assigned the position of Chief Inspector and referred to a number of items he would continue to monitor as outlined below:
Fraud activity - The police service was aware of a recent increase in fraudulent activity stemming from the London area in which vulnerable individuals were being tricked out of approximately £5,000 by individuals claiming to be members of the police force. The exchange of monies was undertaken via a courier service that would collect from the individual’s property. Persons who were mostly targeted were the elderly and the key method for tackling this crime was raising awareness. Four persons in Kent had recently been arrested for the said activities.
Rogue traders - The Chief Inspector confirmed that a 16 year old individual had been arrested recently for fraudulent activities as a rogue trader in which the said person would charge over £2,000 for basic weeding services at properties of vulnerable individuals. Local banks and building societies had been made aware of the activity to help raise awareness and prevent future crime of this kind.
Fairfield Primary Parking - A ‘walking bus’ pilot was due to start during ‘parking week’ which was taking place in May 2018. The force continued to have an excellent dialogue with the school.
Violence propaganda - Letters had been posted to home addresses encouraging violence against individuals in the Muslim community. This matter had recently been reported in the national press. The South Wales Police Force were currently working with members of the Barry Mosque to reassure the community and educate on the potential of anti-social behaviour. To date, the Chief Inspector was glad to report that no instances of violence had taken place due to the unwanted correspondence but the matter was still very much on the radar of his officers.
The Chairman thanked the Chief Inspector for his update and appreciated that a more detailed update would be available for the next meeting once the Officer had settled into his new position.
With regards to the Biomass Plant situated in Barry town, the Chairman asked whether there were arrangements in place to deal with any emergency situations arising from the Biomass site. The Chief Inspector advised that there were already standard public safety arrangements and response methods in place which he would be happy to provide in further detail to the Committee at a later date.
AGREED - T H A T Chief Inspector Williams be thanked for his update.
801 PRESENTATION - COUNTY LINES -
A presentation was provided to Committee by Detective Inspector Dean Taylor to advise the Committee of County Lines crime taking place across the UK. The Officer advised that the police force wished to raise awareness of the highly organised and serious drug trafficking crime to protect the most vulnerable in society.
The Officer showed the Committee a short video explaining how the drug trafficking County Lines crime operated and highlighted that the vulnerable individuals that were becoming victims of said crime were those most individuals with access to their own property and classed as vulnerable due to age or disability. The Officer informed Committee that the police force were linking with local landlords to educate them on the “cuckooing” aspect of the crime in which perpetrators would take over the property of a vulnerable individual to launder and sell drugs.
The difficulty in making arrests for this form of crime was that the perpetrators would move location regularly and the private home environment allowed other exploitation crimes to take place without detection.
Unfortunately, due to a high demand for Class A drugs there was a large amount of money and customers to promote the highly organised crime. At this moment in time, County Lines crime was not a significant problem in the South Wales area however, there was an increase in street gang culture which was a significant part of the County Lines structure.
The Detective Inspector apprised the Committee of a successful operation that took place in the Barry area in which several individuals were arrested and the County Line was disbanded. The Officer also advised the Committee of the multiple approach for tackling County Lines crime which involved Officer training and high levels of communication amongst individuals in the force before concluding in an arrest.
A Member congratulated the Officer on a successful operation and asked after the extent of other operations, if any, that were currently taking place in the South Wales area.
The Detective Inspector confirmed that several intelligence sources were utilised on a continuous basis and at this current point in time there were no live County Lines operating in the Vale of Glamorgan. A County Line had recently been disbanded in the Bridgend area and if any further intelligence was received the police force would act quickly.
A representative asked how a member of the community could report any suspicions or concerns to the police force.
The Detective Inspector advised that the 101 telephone service and the Crime Stoppers reporting service continued to be available to members of the public and that local PCSOs were trained in County Lines crimes and would be happy to be approached with any concerns.
The Chairman enquired how many individuals in total had been arrested due to the operation that took place within the Vale of Glamorgan.
The Detective Inspector confirmed that 7 individuals in total were arrested with the two primary individuals both receiving a 6 year prison sentence.
AGREED - T H A T Detective Inspector Taylor be thanked for a thorough and comprehensive presentation.
802 REQUEST FOR CONSIDERATION FROM BARRY TOWN COUNCIL AND REPORT TO CABINET - 19TH MARCH, 2018 - MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR FEES CHARGED FOR THE BURIAL AND CREMATION OF CHILDREN -
The Head of Democratic Services presented the report, the purpose of which was to inform Committee of the Council’s approach towards adopting and implementing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which set out a fair and consistent approach across Wales to the fees and charges by Local Government for the burial and cremation of children.
On 23rd November, 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and the Public Services, on behalf of the Welsh Government, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and One Voice Wales (OVW).
The MoU attached at Appendix 1 of the the Officer’s report set out a shared commitment that burial authorities in Wales would not charge any fees in relation to the standard burial and cremation of a child, defined for these purposes as a person under 18.
The commitment applied to standard fees that “burial authorities” charge relating to:
- The cremation of a person under the age of 18 years (including stillborn and foetal remains);
- The interment of a person under the age of 18 years (including stillborn and foetal remains);
- The exclusive right of burial, where required;
- Any other fees directly related to the burial or cremation of a person, or the cremated remains of a person, under the age of 18 years (for example, the fee charged for permission to erect a memorial).
The commitment did not relate to wider funeral costs such as the costs of a memorial funeral director fees, flowers or coffins.
The Officer advised that the burial authorities within the Vale of Glamorgan had been contacted and asked to confirm whether they intended on adopting the commitment within the MoU. If adopted, the Council would then distribute an appropriate sum to each burial authority, other providers of cemeteries and cremation in its area, in respect of applicable fees for services provided as covered by the MoU.
In recognition of the financial implications of the MoU, the Welsh Government had advised that it would allocate funding among principal Councils in Wales that had agreed to comply with the commitment of the MoU. While the MoU remained in force, the Welsh Government would annually make available the sum of £600,000. The operation of the MoU would be reviewed in advance of the financial year 2020/21. The total sum being made available to recognise the financial implications of not charging was calculated on the basis of the total number of child deaths in Wales each year and an analysis of the average costs across Wales for the fees involved.
The Officer concluded his presentation of the report by advising that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was not a direct party to the MoU but its interests were represented by the WGLA. Further, the MoU itself was not intended to be legally binding.
A representative asked if relevant reimbursement of the burial fees would be provided to the Town and/or Community Council before or after the funeral service. The Head of Democratic Services confirmed that any payments would be made retrospectively and the Democratic Services Department would liaise directly with the Clerk of the relevant Council about the matter.
The representative highlighted that the smaller Community Councils were not in a financial position to waive other costs incurred as included in the Funeral Directors’ fees whereas the Town Councils may be in a position to do so. This meant an inequality across the Councils despite everyone’s best intentions under such sad circumstances. The Officer referred to paragraph 5 of the report which set out that the commitment did not relate to wider funeral costs such as the cost of a memorial, Funeral Directors’ fees, flowers or coffins and advised that there were still unanswered questions on the practicalities once the MoU was implemented.
A Member estimated that the calculated full-year grant of some £25,000 that would be provided to the Vale of Glamorgan Council would equate to approximately 40 burial spaces.
AGREED - T H A T the Officer be thanked for his report.
803 PRESENTATION - RESHAPING SERVICES UPDATE -
The Head of Performance and Development provided a summary presentation to update Members on relevant project updates as well as services and assets relevant to the Reshaping Services Programme, which was a major programme in response to major budget cuts.
The Officer confirmed that progress overall with regard to collaboration between the Vale Council and Town and Community Councils was slower than had been anticipated because the services most affecting Town and Community Councils (i.e. “visible” services) had not been seriously affected hitherto by budget cuts.
The first part of the Officer’s presentation focused on what the Council was already doing as part of the programme and the Officer advised on 6 relevant projects:
- The Digital Vale Project
- Income Generation (new fees and charges)
- A review of the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) process
- Strong Communities Grant Fund
- A review of the Charter between Town and Community Councils and the Vale of Glamorgan Council
- The Neighbourhood Services Project.
With regard to services and assets as part of the Reshaping Services Programme, proposals were being formulated for consideration by the Vale Cabinet based on the following five principles:
- The need to deliver overall financial savings for the public purse;
- The Vale of Glamorgan Council retaining strategically important assets/ services;
- ‘Local’ assets/services being available for delivery at a local level;
- Classes of services/assets, for example types of parks and sports facilities, are identified and listed for agreement and discussion;
- Providing data and financial information to support decisions.
The Officer confirmed that a report would be presented to the Vale Cabinet shortly which would set out the aforementioned principles for engaging with Town and Community Councils on the operation of some assets/services.
The intention was that the report would provide clarity and a framework to work within which would complement the CAT process. The Officer recognised that more clarity was required before discussions could proceed with Town and Community Councils and voluntary organisations. It was a complex process to work through, however, the report would include operating data and financial information to support future discussions and decision making. The report would also demonstrate a distinction between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ CAT applications. Discussions would commence in summer 2018, allowing Town and Community Councils time to plan, in advance, their individual precepts for 2019/20.
A Member welcomed the pending report and was interested to establish the ‘non-negotiable’ assets. As a twin-hatted Member, the Member highlighted that both the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Town and Community Council needed to be resilient and the Community Councils needed to have significant input in to how resilience was achieved.
AGREED - T H A T the Head of Performance and Development be thanked for his presentation.
804 UPDATE ON PROGRESS TO DATE BY CLAIRE GERMAIN, HEAD OF THE SECRETARIAT FOR THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW PANEL; FOR TOWN AND COMMUNITY COUNCILS -
Ms. Germain advised the Committee that an Independent Review Panel had been set up to consider the future role of Community and Town Councils. The aims of the Panel’s review would be:
- To explore the potential role of Local Government below Local Authority Councils, drawing on best practice;
- To define the most appropriate model(s)/structure(s) to deliver this role;
- To consider how these models and structures should be applied across Wales. This would include consideration of any situations in which they would not be necessary or appropriate.
In her capacity as a Welsh Government Officer, Ms. Germain highlighted that there was already high recognition of the important work undertaken by Town and Community Councils but there were significant variations in the size and working methods. The review would therefore take a fundamental look at structures and how Community Councils were used.
Ms. Germain advised that in September 2017 the review commenced with the hope that the findings would be merged in the summer of 2018. This would then result in a final report to Welsh Government in autumn 2018. Town and Community Councils were able to pass on their comments by using the online surveys and/or inviting Ms. Germain to a Town and Community Council meeting.
Over the past few months, Town and Community Councils had been invited to pass on their thoughts to the Review Panel and Members could continue to do so by using the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A representative referred to Chapter 7 of the recently published Green Paper and in particular to paragraph 7.1 which referred to an established ethos of Town and Community Councils which questioned the need for the Review.
Ms. Germain advised that the Green Paper also mentioned the Review at paragraph 7.2 and 7.3 which evidenced that the Review was part of a larger political picture and was very much still at a ‘blank page’ stage.
AGREED - T H A T the Head of Secretariat be thanked for attending Committee and providing an update on the Independent Review Panel.