COMMUNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 3rd July, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. J.E. Charles (Chairman); Councillors Ms. J. Aviet, G.D.D. Carroll, S.T. Edwards, N.P. Hodges, P.G. King, K.F. McCaffer, Mrs. S.D. Perkes, A.R. Robertson and M.R. Wilson.

 

Representing Town and Community Councils:  S. Hodges (Barry Town Council), G. Morgan (Llantwit Major Town Council), J. Bispham and T. Brown (Penarth Town Council), S. Griffiths (Dinas Powys Community Council), H. Baker (Ewenny Community Council), P.A. Carreyett (Llandough Community Council), R. Thomas (Llandow Community Council), D. Reed (Llangan Community Council), G. Smith  (Llanmaes Community Council); A. Barnaby (St. Athan Community Council), J.A. Powell (St. Georges and St. Brides Super Ely Community Council), G. Rawson (St. Nicholas and Bonvilston Community Council) and C. Thomas (Wenvoe Community Council).

 

 

110     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. C.A. Cave (Vice-Chairman); Mrs. S.M. Hanks and M.J.G. Morgan (Vale of Glamorgan Council); and G. Marks (Michaelston le Pit and Leckwith Community Council).

 

 

111     ANNOUNCEMENT –

 

Councillor M.R. Wilson was appointed Chairman for the meeting in the absence of Councillor Mrs. J.E. Charles until her arrival.

 

 

112     MINUTES –

 

AGREED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 21st March, 2018 be accepted as a correct record.

 

 

113     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

The following Members declared an interest in Agenda Item Nos. 6, 7 and 8 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 (on her arrival), S.J. Griffiths, N.P. Hodges, P.G. King, K.F. McCaffer, Mrs. S.D. Perkes, A.R. Robertson and M.R. Wilson.

 

 

114     POLICE MATTERS –

 

Chief Inspector Anthony Williams commenced by advising as follows:

 

Penarth and Dinas Powys Burglaries

 

April and May had seen a significant increase in recorded residential burglaries in Penarthand the surrounding areas.  It was apparent that there were a number of separate teams committing these offences with various modus operandi used.  Some were committed overnight and others throughout the day.

 

In April, a number of high value vehicles were targeted by gangs, believed to have travelled into the area from Cardiff to steal vehicles including an Audi S3, a Land Rover Discovery (recovered by Police) and a BMW 520 (recovered by Police).  These offences were “creeper” type burglaries that were committed overnight with minimal damage, often because of insecure premises.  Clearly, the addresses and vehicles were subjected to reconnaissance in advance of the crimes.

 

The first of two burglary operations that had been set up, “Operation Webill” led to eight persons, all from Cardiff, being arrested on suspicion of burglary with two persons charged and remanded in custody.  The work of the CID in investigating these matters was supplemented by a targeted media campaign outlining the series and the need to be vigilant, particularly in securing homes and garages overnight. Uniformed patrols were implemented at areas identified as particularly vulnerable to this crime type.  Many of the offences were still under investigation by the CID and officers were awaiting the forensic results in a number of cases.  The Police remained hopeful of positive outcomes from evidence obtained by their crime scene investigators.

 

During May, the problem profile regarding residential burglary changed significantly with the majority of offences committed in daytime by offenders targeting cash and jewellery.  These crimes were unsophisticated but caused significant upset for a number of families.  There were however a further three offences committed overnight by different offenders and three stolen vehicles, a Porsche, BMW and Ford Mondeo were all recovered from the Cardiff area.  Six further persons had also been arrested and remained under investigation for offences committed in May, bringing the total to fourteen.  Operation “Galactica” had been set up and would continue over the summer months.  A dedicated team of detectives had been set up to investigate this series of offences and their work had again been supplemented by a bespoke patrol strategy that maximised police visibility to deter offenders, particularly in the Alexandra ward area and social and local media campaigns to raise awareness along with Community Messenger.  As a result, just one offence had been recorded in June as the Police continued to tackle this most intrusive and unsavoury of crimes.

 

As documented above, the majority of the offences remained under investigation with all lines of enquiry being explored by the team, including forensic and technological avenues.

 

Fraud and Vulnerability (Operation Signature)

 

Over recent months a number of fraud offences had been recorded where organised criminal gangs from around the UK had deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable victims in the Vale of Glamorgan.  Fraudsters purporting to be Police officers working in the Metropolitan Police or City of London Fraud team had been contacting elderly residents by telephone claiming that there had been fraud on their bank account and consequently they would have to remove funds, usually thousands of pounds.  The Police were working closely with families and partners to support victims and mitigate against further offences.  The Police were having continuous dialogue with banks as the offences could not be committed without the release of funds and obtaining the co-operation from banks was critical to this.  CID officers were investigating the offences and a huge amount of effort had been made to educate the community regarding the crime via the media, MPs, PACT meetings and leafleting in vulnerable areas.  The modus operandi was not unique to the Vale of Glamorgan but the make-up of the Vale’s communities made them particularly lucrative to the callous criminals. 

 

Operation Sceptre

 

Operation Sceptre was the South Wales Police operation that had been set up as a local response to knife crime.  Education remained the best mechanism to reducing knife crime and officers from local neighbourhood teams in Barry, Penarth and the wider Vale had been attending schools and undertaking presentations in assemblies targeting Year 8, 9, 10 and 11 pupils.  The presentations consisted of awareness raising regarding legislation and consequences and was supplemented by harrowing case studies, largely from London where teenagers had murdered other teenagers with a knife or similar weapon.  To date, over 3,000 pupils had been reached with further presentations planned before the end of term.  This approach had supplemented a wider media campaign on social media and posters and leaflets had been distributed across towns and communities in the Vale.

 

There had also been a successful operation run in Barry in conjunction with Trading Standards colleagues where retailers had been visited and a series of test purchases undertaken.

 

From an enforcement perspective, there had been a number of arrests in Barry for persons in possession of a knife and officers were undertaking stop searches of individuals who were suspected of being in possession of such items on a frequent basis.  Chief Inspector Williams was seeking to set up a campaign in the area with partners under the heading “Don’t Carry in Barry” to raise awareness to this issue locally.

 

Penarth Marina

 

There had been a slight increase in reports of anti-social behaviour and vehicle offences in and around the site of Penarth marina.  Residents had reported finding canisters of nitrous oxide in the area (frequently known as laughing gas) and vehicle related annoyance, as young drivers were attracted to the location.  These canisters were available to buy and were not illegal to possess as they were used primarily in the catering trade, however selling them for anything other than their intended use was a criminal offence.

 

In addition, the beginning of June had seen a small rise in vehicle offences where thieves targeted a number of insecure vehicles.  In response to these issues, “Operation Shrewsbury” had been co-ordinated by the local neighbourhood team to target these matters.  Officers were also following up a number of lines of enquiry including CCTV and had been using the AFR system in an effort to identify the suspects.

 

County Lines

 

At the previous Community Liaison meeting in March, Detective Inspector Dean Taylor had provided a presentation regarding County Lines and the successful Police investigation had led to one of the suspects receiving a significant custodial sentence.  At the time, there was one suspect still at large; however, he was subsequently arrested in late March and was currently serving a custodial sentence.  Officers remained extremely vigilant with regard to the threat of county lines and associated criminality that could come in the form of exploitation, violence and knife crime.  Barry, in particular had seen elements of this, however whilst in no way complacent, the Police were not seeing this activity manifesting on the street and Police and partners continued to make the area hostile for would be offenders.

 

Operations and Events

 

The summer months each year came with many challenges and opportunities for policing in Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan and there were a number of operations set up to meet them as outlined below:

 

Barry

  • Operation Raven

From 15th June 2018, additional police resources would supplement on duty staff to work alongside partners in meeting the demands of the nigh time economy between 22:00 – 04:00 hours.  

  • Operation Skylark

Barry Island was scheduled to host a number of high profile public events during the summer and visitors expected to run into many thousands.  The programme had already commenced with the Armed Forces Day, Transport Festival and Gwyl Bach Y Fro festival all attracting thousands of visitors who enjoyed a safe and memorable experience. During the forthcoming weeks, the following events would be taking place which would be policed by the local neighbourhood team: 

 

1)            30th June – 1st July – Beats, Eats and Treats

2)            21st – 22nd July – Isle of Fire

3)            27th- 29th July – Cinemor, Barry Island Gardens

4)            5th August – Barry 10k

5)            25th and 26th August – Cinema by the Sea.

 

Other notable events included: 

  • July – Scouts Fete, Romilly Park, Barry
  • July – CADSTOCK
  • 28th – 29th July – GLADSTONBARRY.

 

Vale of Glamorgan

 

27th – 28th May 2018 Cowbridge Food Festival

 

The event had been a huge success from a crime and disorder perspective with just two arrests over the period of the event for minor alcohol related offences.  

 

28th April 2018 – Freedom of Llantwit Event

 

Officers had attended the RAF Freedom of Llantwit event to celebrate 100 years of the Royal Air Force and the RAF 100 service at St. Margret’s Church, Barry on 22nd April, 2018.

 

Operation Piccola – ASB

 

The rural Vale neighbourhood team were working with Safer Vale and other partners over the summer months to target anti-social behaviour and crime at a number of popular locations.  The operation would run from 1st May – 30th September and involved focused Police activity at popular beauty spots in the Vale in an effort to mitigate against crimes such as theft from motor vehicle and criminal damage along with anti-social behaviour because of individuals camping.

 

The operation would target areas including: 

  • Ogmore-by-Sea
  • Southerndown
  • Nash Point
  • Monknash
  • Llantwit Major
  • St. Donats.

Operation Blue Quartz

 

This operation would run from 8th June – 3rd September and was designed to target Rhoose Point and the issues experienced every year with young people attracted to the open water sites.  Young people were putting their lives at risk by jumping and diving into unknown waters with numerous hazards.  Police and partners including the Coastguard and Vale of Glamorgan colleagues, would be taking positive action against those causing such distress.

 

Forthcoming Events in the Vale

 

July 2018 – TBC – Penarth Carnival and other related events

29th July 2018 – RAF 100 Parade, COWBRIDGE

8th August 2018 – Vale of Glamorgan Show

 

PACT and Other Engagement

 

Officers from local neighbourhood teams were undertaking weekly engagement events in their wards across Barry and the Vale as per normal business over the coming months.  Details of the meetings could be obtained from Deryn Martin at Barry Police Station or were advertised in the local press.

 

AGREED – T H A T Chief Inspector Williams be thanked for his comprehensive and informative update.

 

 

115     CIVIL CONTINGENCIES –

 

Chief Inspector Tony Williams provided a presentation to the Committee which detailed emergency responses at key sites.  The central (BCU) Basic Command Unit   covered Penarth to Waterton in Bridgend and from the coast up to the M4, with it being a total of 124 square miles.  As well as the day to day policing of the area the Central BCU officers and staff covered the following sites: 

  • Cardiff – Wales International Airport;
  • British Airways Maintenance Centre;
  • M.O.D Base St. Athan – Army and RAF units still operated from here as well as private companies and contractors;
  • Aberthaw Power Station;
  • HMS Cambria – Royal Naval, Royal Marine reserve units and Sea Cadet Corps unit;
  • Chemical Complex - Cabot Carbon, Cardiff Gas, Centrica, Dow Corning, Navigator, Hexion;
  • Llandough Hospital, which had expanded dramatically and now included a mental health unit;
  • Barry Hospital;
  • Associated British Ports – Barry; and
  • Reservoirs.

In the event of an emergency being reported, South Wales Police had specific plans in place to respond to any of these sites along with their colleagues and partners from Fire, Ambulance, Coastguard, Local Authorities and voluntary groups. More recently the JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme) had been developed.

The Chief Inspector concluded by stating that the South Wales Force had always had excellent working relationship with colleagues more so than in other areas of the UK and indeed were much further ahead of some of their colleagues throughout the UK.

 

AGREED – T H A T Chief Inspector Williams be thanked for his informative update and that his e-mail address be forwarded to all Members of the Committee for their information.

 

 

116     SERVICES UPDATE –

 

The Head of Performance and Development referred to the Vale’s Reshaping Services programme as a Council wide initiative with no service being left untouched.  The Head of Service provided a short presentation for the Committee which detailed the emphasis on the corporate approaches undertaken during the year, for example digital, staffing, income and procurement spending.  He said the Council had already moved to identify new ways of working, referring as an example to the Neighbourhood Services restructuring that was being rolled out.  A review of the Community Asset Transfer process was also underway and the closing date for the next round of applications for the Strong Communities Grant Fund was noted as 3rd August 2018. 

 

Having regard to the next item on the agenda, the Head of Service also referred to further work to be undertaken to agree a revised Town and Community Councils (TCCs) Charter.  This would need to consider the outcomes of the Welsh Government review of TCCs, due to report soon, and he suggested that a workshop in September 2018 be arranged to begin discussions.  With this in mind he invited Members of TCCs and Clerks, if they were interested in attending the workshop, to forward their details to Ms. Amy Rudman in Democratic Services.

 

Following the Head of Service’s invitation for Members and Clerks of TCCs to sit on the working group to review the Charter, the representative from Llangan, Councillor Reed, stated that he would be happy to be involved. 

 

AGREED – T H A T the Head of Performance and Development’s presentation be noted and that an e-mail be forwarded to all Clerks of Town and Community Councils regarding the invitation for further involvement in the revision of the Charter between Town and Community Councils and the Vale of Glamorgan Council. 

 

 

N.B. During this item the Chairman arrived and Councillor M.R. Wilson vacated the Chair.

 

 

117     RESHAPING SERVICES – ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE OPERATION AND TRANSFER OF ASSETS OR SERVICES TO TOWN AND COMMUNITY COUNCILS IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (REF) –

 

Cabinet had, on 2nd July, 2018, approved in principle the approach and principles for the Protocol as a basis for referral to the Community Liaison Committee and the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee for consideration, prior to reaching a final determination.  The report provided an update on the work undertaken to date with Town and Community Councils (TCCs) in line with the Reshaping Services programme and it sought Cabinet approval for the Protocol. 

 

The Head of Service for Neighbourhood Services and Transport advised that the Council's Reshaping Services programme set out how the Council's desire to continue to operate priority services placed an increased requirement on the Council to work with others.  The Programme was well established and projects sought alternative service delivery models where appropriate to do so.  The Strategy underpinning Reshaping Services recognised the important role that the Council's partners had in achieving the Council's objectives.

 

“Town and Community Councils and Voluntary Sector”, was one of the Corporate work streams in the Reshaping Services programme.  To date many discussions had taken place between senior officers of the Council and TCC officers and elected Members concerning the possible transfer of Vale of Glamorgan Council assets and responsibilities.

 

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 placed a legal duty on public bodies to work together to improve the well-being of Wales.  It also placed specific well-being duties on certain TCCs depending on their annual turnover.  As an articulation of this Council's commitment to the Five Ways of Working introduced by the Act, Reshaping Services project teams comprised representatives from the voluntary and TCC sectors.  The regular updates provided on Reshaping Services to the Community Liaison Committee demonstrated a commitment to involving and collaborating with colleagues in this part of the public sector.

 

As part of the Reshaping Services programme, Vale of Glamorgan Council officers had been engaged with TCCs for some time, seeking to establish which services or assets they may be interested in taking on, either to supplement a reduction in service frequency or standards due to reduced budgets, or in the worst case scenario to fulfil a service in some form due to its complete withdrawal.

 

Interest had generally been from TCCs to become involved in services and functions local to their respective administrative boundaries and at a scale commensurate with their administrations and resources.  This had always been with the proviso that such services / functions should be operated at a lower overall cost to the tax payer and to at least the same standard as was currently the case.

 

The discussions undertaken to date had provided a useful learning opportunity for all concerned and as expected, different TCCs had expressed varying levels of interest in this agenda so far.  Through effective management of Council services, there had also not been a need to progress discussions relating to the wholesale withdrawal of services or the closure of assets. Whilst this demonstrated successful management of services to date, there were clearly future pressures that were likely to change this situation.  Without providing details of services or assets that were to be withdrawn or to cease, TCCs had also lacked some clarity in terms of their scope and the desired outcomes from any potential projects.  The discussions had also prompted the need to address the question of which services and assets the Vale of Glamorgan Council operated at a very “local” level (i.e. for specific local communities) and those which were strategically operated (i.e. for the benefit of the area / region / country as a whole).  This had again not provided clarity for potential partners of which services / assets the Council would be willing to progress discussions in order to fulfil the Council's Well-being Objectives and to deliver the sufficient level of financial saving that this Council would ultimately require from such arrangements.

 

All Councils required clarity as to how they should prepare to work together in the future to ensure that we grasp all opportunities to meet the needs of our citizens and communities, and the report sought to assist in this purpose by producing a Protocol or 'blueprint' for future engagement, building on the experiences to date, this Council's Corporate Plan, its Medium Term Financial Plan and the national legislative context.

 

Over the next five years, at its projected minimum financial settlement provision, the report noted that the Council should be able to resource its statutory and strategic services with all other services likely to reduce in standard / frequency, be made at least cost neutral, transferred to others (including TCCs), or cease altogether at some point during the period.

 

The Protocol was intended to provide clarity by indicating the services and types of assets which the Council would consider to be non-strategic and those that may be available for transfer or operation by others, including the broad terms of any such arrangements.

 

The categories of assets (and the associated operations) that were considered to be non-strategic included some examples as identified in paragraph 22 of the report. 

 

Where a TCC was interested in pursuing opportunities within their area, they were encouraged to contact the Council for further discussion and more information on the specific assets which fell into the non-strategic categories could then be provided which was relevant to the particular area in question.  This would enable relevant information to be provided and for informed discussions to take place.  In addition to this Protocol, Cabinet would also be considering proposals for changes to the operation of single-use sports facilities (for example bowling greens and tennis clubs) which were also being reported on the agenda.

 

Based on lessons learned from projects both within the Vale of Glamorgan and elsewhere, there were several possible forms of arrangement for the operation or transfer of services and assets to TCCs.

 

-     Community Asset Transfer – The Council had an established Community Asset Transfer (CAT) guidance and protocol which set out a process through the submission of an Expression of Interest and (where judged to be viable) a business case that was considered by the Council's CAT Working Group, Insight Board and Cabinet.  This guidance was currently under review.  TCCs may wish to consider the CAT process for asset categories listed above where a viable business case existed for operating these.

 

-     “Soft-CAT” or pilot.  There was also the possibility of TCCs working on a “soft-CAT” or pilot basis, whereby the TCC could operate the service / asset on a service level agreement basis for a period of time (for example, two years) initially to enable risks to be managed and to develop learning and understanding.  These forms of arrangement would be developed on the basis of a “light touch” business case, produced collaboratively.  The TCC would assume the responsibility for operating the service / asset on the basis of an agreed service level.  This might lead to a formal CAT application in time for assets or a more permanent arrangement regarding service delivery.  It was proposed that this "soft-CAT" option would be reflected in the updated Corporate CAT guidance which would be reported to Cabinet later this summer.

 

Committee was further informed that any transfer or operation of services or assets should be at a lower overall cost to the public, there may also be employment implications associated with any proposals, for example, the potential transfer of staff to another organisation.  These would be identified and managed in accordance with the Council's local arrangements and any relevant legislative duties on a case by case basis.

 

In the first instance during consideration of the report, a Member queried the accuracy of the detail referring to the community centre listed as Glyndwr Avenue, Penarth suggesting that this was incorrect.  The Head of Service agreed to look into this and report back to Members. 

 

A number of questions were raised with specific reference to the Council’s determination of what it considered to be a strategic asset and a local asset.  A Member also referred to the fact that it would have been more advantageous for further consultation to have been undertaken on the report prior to it being presented to the Committee.

 

In response, the officer advised that the consultation being undertaken at the Committee meeting was indeed part of the consultation process and a copy of the report had been forwarded under the Urgent Decision procedure as approved by Cabinet on 2nd July to all TCCs in order that they could consider the report during their meetings in July prior to reporting back to Cabinet in September.  The officer also referred to the fact that based on experience of the Council’s work with TCCs, they had considered how they interpreted local or strategic but reminded all present that if they had any issues they could respond during the consultation with any comments.

 

Committee was further advised that the list of assets detailed in the report was also not exhaustive but provided a basis to work on.  A TCC representative also advised of the importance for TCCs to have as much information as possible which had not been provided in detail in the past.  The Head of Service, in response, advised that a number of discussions were currently taking place with individual TCCs and the report had been prepared in response to a number of queries that had been raised.

 

A number of representatives of TCCs at the meeting raised concern regarding the potential issue of double taxation.  In response the Head of Service advised that should a service not be undertaken by the Vale of Glamorgan, then there should be no double taxation issue, and by way of an example for instance if the Vale Council agreed to undertake only four grass cuts a year out of eight, other TCCs could actually take on the other four themselves, so it would not be double taxation per se.  The key was the overall cost of the service and, in particular, that it should not be any greater than the current cost.  The Head of Service urged all TCCs to consider whether there was anything they could do differently in their areas which could be done cheaper.  The Library Service was noted as an example of a service that was currently being run by communities.  

 

In referring to the report, the Head of Service also advised that it was clear that the Council needed to keep assets that were strategically important to the Vale as these needed to be managed in a consistent way and could also have extra income opportunities for the Vale to pay for other services the Vale provided. 

 

The Member for Llangan stated that in his view, although the methodology was appropriate, more dialogue needed to take place between TCCs and the Vale. 

 

Some Members commented that it was important to understand that a number of TCCs were happy to take on services but that the Vale of Glamorgan Council should be generous and reasonable but get on with the matter.  A query was also raised in relation to the reference to the Well-being of Future Generations Act and how the implications would impact on future generations, with a further request for details in relation to what assets the Council considered to be strategic and local to be provided.  In commenting further they stated their disappointment that there were only 12 TCCs represented at the Community Liaison Committee. 

 

The representative of Llangan Community Council asked the Council to also consider instead of making a list of tangible assets, to look at services that were of concern to all, for example road signs as these in his view needed considerable maintenance throughout the Vale of Glamorgan. However, it was noted that this was a statutory service and as such the responsibility of the Vale. 

 

Councillor Cuddy, the TCC Representative on the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Reshaping Services Board, then provided a short presentation reviewing the work that had been undertaken to date.  He referred to the paragraph in the Green Paper of Welsh Government’s proposals to provide the catalyst to create a new kind of local government in Wales delivering alongside stronger TCCs, providing a sustainable model for local public services and democracy.  The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act also brought the challenge of working together.  The Independent Panel Review Report on the role of TCCs was anticipated later in the year and would be reported to all TCCs when available.  He acknowledged that the Vale had sustained services and assets at a level that was better than some other unitary Authorities, although in his view, the report before the Committee in his view focused on finance as opposed to the detail for reshaping services.  There was also a need to ensure value added by local delivery.  He referred in the main to the services being limited to the Visible Services Directorate and welcomed the revision to the Community Asset Transfer Guidance and the soft-CAT approach.  He too wished the Local Authority was clearer in relation to the strategic and local implications and that TCCs should be made aware of improvement requirements, the commitments that they may be taking on and that it was about taking on an asset rather than a liability.  Local Councils should also be made fully aware of the limitations should they enter into any service level agreements and consideration given to the length of lease / impact on grant applications.

 

A number of Councils already managed some of the services listed in the schedule and this was already reflected in their precepts.  In conclusion, he stated that TCCs should seek advised from One Voice Wales, Welsh Government and continue to attend Clerks networks.  It was important to look for opportunities for reshaping services for local benefit rather than business as usual in the face of the Well-being of Future Generations Act and in the spirit of partnership to interrogate costings, revenue forecasts and consider ways for overcoming barriers. 

 

In conclusion  the Head of Service advised that from her perspective, she considered that the debate had raised a number of issues, in particular TCCs were asking for the definition of strategic and local, a comprehensive list of facilities and costs.

It was subsequently

 

AGREED – T H A T the comments considered at the meeting be referred to Cabinet for its information and consideration.

 

 

118     RESHAPING SERVICES: A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO THE PROVISION OF SINGLE USER OUTDOOR SPORTS FACILITIES (REF) –

 

Cabinet had, on 2nd July, 2018, agreed in principle as the basis for referral to Community Liaison Committee and Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee, that the Council work towards recovering the actual cost of maintaining sports grounds and pitches at sites where the facilities were used almost exclusively by one club or organisation rather than retaining a charging structure where individual fees were applied at each location.

 

The report referred to the fact that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was the major provider of outdoor sports facilities in the county.  The provision of sites and facilities, such as sport pitches, was central to achieving the Council’s well-being outcome of an Active and Healthy Vale.  Indeed, the Council’s Corporate Plan (2016-20), under objective 7, “Encouraging and promoting active and healthy lifestyles” had a number of actions that sought to encourage and increase levels of participation in sport and activity.  To this end, the Council had traditionally charged a fixed hire fee for its outdoor sports facilities.  However, the fees charged did not cover the costs associated with providing and maintaining the facilities.  The level of subsidy varied greatly from sport to sport and also within sports as the quality of pitches, bowling rinks, cricket squares and other facilities varied across the area due to a number of factors such as league requirements, soil type, drainage systems and frequency of use.

 

The majority of these sites and facilities were used by a variety of clubs and organisations, as well as being accessible to the wider community, at times when organised and competitive sport was being played.  Examples included the Buttrills Football pitches and Jenner Park in Barry.  In contrast, some facilities were used exclusively by one club or organisation.  The report was presented to provide clarity on the latter category of provision and aimed to set out a sustainable way forward in the provision of single club, single use facilities.

 

The proposals outlined in the report were consistent too, with the Council’s Income Generation and Commercial Opportunities Strategy which contained a strategic objective whereby the Council would aim towards achieving full cost recovery where it was appropriate to do so.

 

In contrast with outdoor sport, indoor sport operated by the Council via its Leisure Centres no longer required a significant revenue subsidy with the Leisure Centre Contract delivering a revenue surplus.  Pursuing a strategy which sought to put these types of provision on an equal footing was considered to be an efficient use of Council funds, whilst retaining and encouraging participation in sporting activity.

 

As set out above, the justification for significant revenue subsidy for outdoor sports provision needed to be challenged given the financial pressures on the Council's budget.  Whilst the important role sport plays, for all sectors of the community in terms of health and wellbeing, was not questioned, the cost of provision needed to be examined to ensure value for money was being achieved.

 

There were a number of private sports clubs in the Vale of Glamorgan which provided outdoor sports provision and had active junior / youth sections but did not benefit from any direct subsidy from the Council.  There were, however, a number of clubs / organisations which had almost exclusive use of some Council owned facilities.  The manner in which the Council managed such assets did not reflect the need to ensure that budgets were used effectively.  Notably, the fees that were charged fell well short of covering the costs of operating these facilities.

 

Attached at Appendix A to the report was a breakdown of Council owned outdoor single user sport sites which were in scope of these proposals.  Due to the manner in which these single user sites had developed and the specific nature of the sport in question (in relation to certain sites) there appeared very limited opportunity for these sites to develop into multi-use sites.

 

The level of subsidies afforded to single use facilities varied depending upon the location and type of sport. However, bowling greens were approximately £25,000 per annum.  For large, fine turfed sports fields the cost to maintain and manage these facilities was approximately £80,000 per annum.  The income from these facilities fell significantly short of the cost to operate.  This was estimated to result in a net cost to the Council of approximately £400,000 per annum.

 

In order to ensure that resources did not continue to be diverted away from facilities and pitches used across the community, it was recommended that a new approach be adopted for all single use sites.

 

The proposed approach was summarised as below.

 

The Council would amend the fees charged to clubs and organisations for single use facilities from their current level to the actual cost of operating and maintaining these (after any income), from 1st April, 2019.

 

However, the Council would initially make contact with the existing users of the facilities identified in Appendix A to the report.  Details of the current costs of maintaining and operating these sites would be shared in order that these organisations and clubs be encouraged, wherever possible, to explore the opportunity to take over the management of these facilities from 1st April, 2019.  This would be subject to an agreement that ensured it was maintained to a satisfactory condition.

 

In recognising that this would be a significant change to the pricing structure, the Council’s preference was to provide clubs / organisations with the opportunity to maintain the facility themselves.

 

The proposal to introduce this new arrangement from 1st April, 2019 was designed to allow clubs to plan for the changes and it was proposed that frequent contact would be maintained with any club or organisation throughout the coming months.

 

Although understanding the position for the Vale of Glamorgan, a number of Members advised that the suggested proposals to pitch fees could result in local clubs struggling as the cost would inevitably have to be borne by the families themselves.  However, in contrast, other Members advised that some of the football clubs also paid their players and where there were bar facilities they were actually earning incomes.  A comment was also made in relation to whether clubs would wish, if they were paying for the facility, to have them fenced off and this would not help local communities as this could then not be used by the general public.

 

The Head of Service advised that the particular details would need to be discussed with the clubs.  A Member stated that they supported the principle but also wished to support the use by others if the club was not using the facility at any given moment.  A Member also referred to the Well-being of Future Generations Act, advising that increasing costs may have an impact on discouraging people from using sports facilities.  Reference was made to the fact that if the fees and charges proposed were to be introduced by 1st April, 2019, it was important to note that a number of clubs had already set their charges for the current year and there would not be much time in the remaining months to consider income generation suggestions.

 

The Head of Service, in response, informed Committee that it was important for the Council to consider its own costs as a number of the facilities that were being funded by the Vale were significantly high in cost and the Authority needed to seek cost recovery for such services provided.  In recognising that some facilities were being subsidised to a significant extent, e.g. bowling greens, the need for the Vale of Glamorgan to reduce its costs and to seek alternative ways for the service to be provided was important.  It was recognised that as these services were having significant subsidies, other services were not.

 

In understanding the Vale’s position, a Member stated that his main concern was in relation to the potential enclosure of public open spaces although understanding that if clubs were paying for the facilities they would want absolute control of them.

 

AGREED – T H A T the comments of the meeting be referred to Cabinet for its consideration.

 

 

119     VALE OF GLAMORGAN COMMUNITY REVIEW (REF) -

 

Cabinet had considered, on 3rd July, 2018, the report which sought to provide Members with an update on the duty to conduct a review and for Cabinet to agree the commencement date for the next review.  The report highlighted that the Council had a duty under Section 22 of the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013 (the Act) to report every ten years on a community review having regard to the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales’ (LDBCW) timetable for conducting the reviews of principal areas’ electoral arrangements required by Section 29(1) of the Act. 

 

The last community review for the Vale of Glamorgan was conducted in 2009 and therefore ordinarily the next community review would be due in 2019, however given that the LDBCW would be conducting the electoral review for the principal area commencing in April 2019, the LDBCW had recommended that the community review be postponed.  As the principal area review would not be concluded until December 2020, and both 2021 and 2022 were election years, it was proposed that the Vale of Glamorgan community review be postponed to commence in June 2023. The LDBCW had indicated that they supported the proposed timescale.

 

Consultation with the LDBCW regarding the timing of a community review was required to ensure that the LDBCW had sufficient time to make any Orders that were consequent following a community review and that it would not have an adverse impact on the work the LDBCW had programmed.

 

Attached at Appendix A to the report was the LDBCW’s Guidance for Principal Councils on the Review of Communities which would be followed when developing the project plan in advance of the proposed 2023 community review which would have regard to:

 

•          the boundaries and electoral arrangements for communities;

•          the Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013;

•          ensuring effective and convenient local government;

•          Association of Electoral Administrators best practice;

•          the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, Welsh Language Standards and the Equality Act 2010;

•          research into the existing arrangements and the activities for the Council including Scrutiny Committee arrangements for overseeing the review for the Council;

•          consideration being given to either grouping or amalgamating existing Town and Community Council, in light of a Community Amalgamation / Grouping Policy (if any);

•          initial consultation in line with Section 35(1) of the Act with mandatory consultees and conducting investigations as appropriate;

•          in line with Appendix A to the report, reports would follow in advance of the 2023 community review to establish:

o          Terms of Reference for the review;

o          Town and Community Council Size Policy.

 

The Electoral Registration Officer presented the report to the Committee, advising that the report was for the Community Councils’ information.

 

AGREED – T H A T the report be noted.

 

 

120     CONDITION OF BUS SHELTERS IN RURAL AREAS OF VALE OF GLAMORGAN AND CONSIDERATION OF NO SMOKING SIGNS (DEH) –

 

Llantwit Major Town Council had referred the matter to the Community Liaison Committee for its consideration, stating that it was felt that a number of bus shelters in the rural Vale were not being well maintained and were covered in graffiti as well as having sections of panelling missing. 

 

The Head of Neighbourhood Services and Transport advised that Local Authorities had the power to provide and maintain bus shelters under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953 Section 4.  Statutory powers gave Local Authorities the opportunity to take action where deemed appropriate and were therefore discretionary. Bus shelters may be provided, owned or maintained by a number of organisations, Town and Community Councils, Commercial Operators, Council's or developers and private property owners depending on specific circumstances and locations. However, the Council had sole responsibility for deciding the location of bus stops throughout the area.

 

Where bus shelters were provided by third parties on public highways, then an appropriate street furniture licence and / or other formal legal agreement may be required.

 

Currently, there were some 1,000 bus stops located throughout the Vale of Glamorgan Council's area, including both rural and urban locations.  In 2018, the Council's Passenger Transport team surveyed all bus stops in the Vale of Glamorgan in order to have an up to date record of existing bus stops comprising the type, standard and condition of infrastructure provided at each bus stop location. This information was currently being added to a mapping system.

 

On 2nd April, 2017 legislation came into force in Wales making it illegal to smoke in all public enclosed or substantially enclosed areas and workplaces to assist with decreasing smoking related illness and health inequalities.  The definition of substantially enclosed defined an enclosed public space or building as “substantially enclosed” if it had “a ceiling or roof, but had an opening in the walls, which was less than half the total area of the walls, including other structures which serve the purpose of walls”.

 

Where applicable a no-smoking sign complying with the requirements of legislation must be displayed in a prominent position at or near each entrance to smoke-free premises.  Persons caught smoking in a banned place could receive fixed penalty notices of £50 or if it went to court, the maximum fine was £200.  Premises could  also break the law by failing to display no-smoking signs (£200 fixed penalty, maximum fine £1,000) and businesses could be fined for failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place, up to £2,500.  Enforcement was generally undertaken by trading standards or public protection officers employed by Local Authorities.

 

Bus shelters of varying styles, constructions and conditions existed on the Council's highway network and as identified above, there was no formal audit or data base recording specific details of these assets currently throughout the Council's local highway network.

 

The Council recognised the need for bus stops and associated infrastructure to be designed to appropriate guidance and best practice as provided in the documents below, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities:

 

-           Institute of Highways and Transport (IHT) Revised Guidelines

-           Reducing Mobility Handicaps Towards a Barrier Free Environment

-           Inclusive Mobility - A Guide to Best Practice on Access to Pedestrian and Transport Infrastructure

-           Transport for London - Accessible Bus Stop Guidance

-           BSI Design and their approach to meet needs of disabled people - Code of Practice and

-           Bus Users UK - Public Transport for People with Sensory Loss.

 

To reflect the requirements of the guidance and best practice, the Council had previously adopted standards for bus stop infrastructure referred to as Gold, Silver and Bronze standards depending on location, land availability and usage.  The criteria for these Gold, Silver and Bronze standard bus stops were provided in Appendix A to the report.  Currently these standards and criteria had not been adopted formally as policy by the Council.

 

The Council had upgraded a significant number of bus stops incorporating the new standards over the last 10 years whenever funding had been available either through grant monies or Section 106 sustainable development monies from new developments in various areas of the Vale.  There was no specific agreed programme of replacement or upgrading of bus stops as this was undertaken on a case by case basis subject to necessary funding in specific areas being available.

 

The Council was currently responsible for the provision of maintenance and cleaning of bus shelters as far as reasonably practicable given existing budget limitations.  For Gold Standard shelters this responsibility had been contracted out to Clear Channel who were responsible for the operation, maintenance, cleaning and repair of these shelters in accordance with the abovementioned contract agreement.

 

The representative from Llantwit Major urged the Council to consider placing no smoking signs in bus shelters and asked that the categories Gold, Silver or Bronze be also attributed to bus shelters in Llantwit Major, urging that they be cleaned and inspected on a regular basis.  The Head of Service informed the Member that she would look into the matter and the definition and respond directly to the Council. 

 

In referring to debris in bus shelters, the Head of Service stated that it was the responsibility of Adshel, the owners, to clean and maintain the bus shelters, however she was aware that it was too costly to undertake significant work in the rural areas. 

 

The Council’s budget itself  £16k for the year and the maintenance of such was operated on the basis that the Head of Service would request that cleansing be undertaken when requested.  She stated that the current system was reactive although she could inform the Committee that a group of Local Authorities on the South East Wales Working Group, were looking at a possible strategy that could be consistent to all.  The Head of Service reiterated that it was a difficult dilemma but advised the Town and Community Councils that if any Town or Community Council wished to adopt a bus shelter, she would consider that, as any help would be gratefully received. 

 

AGREED – T H A T the report be noted and that the information requested above be forwarded to all Members of the Committee.

 

 

121     LOCALISED FLOODING ON RURAL ROADS AND RE-INTRODUCTION OF DITCHES TO AGRICULTURAL LAND (DEH) –

 

A Request for Consideration had been received from Llantwit Major Town Council with regard to localised flooding on rural roads and the re-introduction of ditches within the perimeters of surrounding agricultural land.

 

The reason for the request referred to the fact that there were a number of locations within Llantwit Major ward (but not exclusively) that were prone to localised flooding, with water running from agricultural land onto the highway causing dangerous driving conditions as well as risk to local properties.  The Town Council was asked if it would be possible to work with local landowners to install ditches around the perimeters of their fields, or to work with them to ensure the ditches that were already in situ remained clear.

 

The report highlighted that land drainage was a complex area of responsibility and that the Council’s powers were constrained by statute and common law, however, the Head of Service stated that the general approach was that the landowner was responsible for the land drainage of their land whether this was agricultural land or used for any other purpose. 

 

The Council maintained highway surface water drainage systems located within the existing adopted highway throughout its local highway network.  This included highway gullies and associated pipework as well as any open ditches and drains alongside the carriageway and comprising the adopted highway.

 

The Highways Act 1980 (as amended) and various other Acts, gave the highway authority the power to deal with nuisances and dangers on the highway.  This included nuisance and danger caused by flooding of the adopted highway which could be considered an obstruction of the highway.  Where it existed, the provision of drainage of the local road network assisted to collect and remove surface water from the carriageway as quickly as possible to provide safety and minimum nuisance to the travelling public.  Surface drainage also served to protect the integrity of the highway itself.  Road surface drainage using kerbs and gullies was commonly used in urban areas whilst letts and ditches were more common in rural areas due to the characteristics of the local environment.

 

Committee was advised that the capacity of highway surface water drainage was generally designed to cope with storm return periods of 1 in 5 years without flooding.  Highway drainage infrastructure was not designed to deal with extreme or severe rainfall events and under such circumstances the capacity of the system could quickly become overwhelmed by the amount of water trying to run off from the road and short-term flooding could occur.  Puddles and standing water could also occur if there was a depression in the road surface.

 

The Council maintained a basic record of the location and type of the highway surface water drainage asset that it had responsibility for on a mapping system. This system provided the location of gullies (strategic and non-strategic) and extents / quantities of letts and ditches to be cleansed and maintained within the adopted highway.  Currently, there was also no definitive record or data base to identify the location and extent of buried highway surface water drainage pipework for which the Council was responsible.

 

Landowners were normally responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of existing ditches on private land, even if they drained to adjacent land or there was a proportion of highway surface water involved.  Landowners were responsible for carrying out regular inspections and cleansing works to prevent major problems developing, including ensuring that ditch depths were maintained and that headwalls, grilles and catch pits were cleaned and maintained in good condition.

 

Where landowners failed to maintain drains (ditch, gutter, watercourse, soak-away, culvert, tunnel and pipe ditches etc.) that they were responsible for and which subsequently caused water to discharge or flood onto the adjoining highway, the Council had specific powers under Section 100 of the Highways Act 1980 to serve notice on the landowner to correct such an occurrence or for the Council to take action to prevent such occurrence in the ways set out below and to recover costs of doing so: 

  • Constructing or laying in the highway or land adjoining or lying near to the highway, such drains as they considered necessary.
  • Erecting barriers in the highway or in land adjoining or lying near to the highway, to divert surface water into or through any existing drain.
  • Scouring, cleansing and keep open all drains situated in the highway or land adjoining or lying near to the highway.

The representative from Llandow stated that the main issues in their Ward related to land owned by Network Rail as flooding occurred on a regular basis but it was very difficult to get in touch with Network Rail although on occasions they had issued   sandbags.  In his view, such public bodies needed to be contacted by the Council and urged to address their responsibilities.  The Head of Service agreed to speak to her contact at Network Rail and advise of the concerns.  She also took the opportunity to ask Members to submit the detail of the locations to her that they had concerns about  in order that further discussions could be held with the relevant body. 

 

AGREED – T H A T Llantwit Major Town Council be thanked for their Request for Consideration and that the information outlined above be provided by the relevant TCC representative or their clerk in order that the officer could pursue the concerns with the appropriate public body.

 

 

122     DATE OF NEXT MEETING –

 

Members were reminded that the date of the next meeting was scheduled for:

 

            17th October, 2018 at 6.00 p.m.