VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
Minutes of a meeting held on 29th April, 2015.
Present: Councillor Howard Hamilton (Mayor); Councillors Anthony Bennett, Richard Bertin, Janice Birch, Jonathan Bird, Bronwen Brooks, Lis Burnett, Philip Clarke, Geoff Cox, Claire Curtis, Pamela Drake, Stuart Egan, Christopher Elmore, Christopher Franks, Eric Hacker, Val Hartrey, Keith Hatton, Nic Hodges, Jeff James, Hunter Jarvie, Gwyn John, Fred Johnson, Dr. Ian Johnson, Peter King, Kevin Mahoney, Anne Moore, Neil Moore, Andrew Parker, Bob Penrose, Anthony Powell, Audrey Preston, Gwyn Roberts, John Thomas, Ray Thomas, Rhodri Traherne, Steffan Wiliam, Clive Williams, Edward Williams and Mark Wilson.
1156 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -
These were received from Councillors Rhiannon Birch, Rob Curtis, John Drysdale, Kate Edmunds, Maureen Kelly Owen, Rhona Probert, Margaret Wilkinson and Christopher Williams.
1157 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
The following Members declared an interest in the Agenda Item number shown:
Councillor Lis Burnett
Agenda Item 8(a) - Local Authority Governor on St. Cyres Comprehensive School
Councillor Christopher Franks
Agenda Item 8(a) - Local Authority Governor on St. Cyres Comprehensive School
1158 MINUTES -
(1) The minutes of the meeting held on 4th March, 2015 were approved as a correct record subject to the following amendments:
- It being noted that Councillor Neil Moore had, in fact, declared an interest in Agenda Item 9 on the grounds of having a daughter as an employee of the Vale of Glamorgan Council
- It also being noted that the above declaration of interest had been incorrectly attributed to Councillor Andrew Parker.
(2) The minutes of the Special Meeting held on 25th March, 2015 were approved as a correct record.
1159 ANNOUNCEMENTS -
The Leader made the following announcements:
- He welcomed Councillor Antony Bennett to his first meeting of the Council since being elected as a Councillor for the Llantwit Major Ward.
- He extended his best wishes, on behalf of the Council, to Councillor Maureen Kelly Owen who had recently suffered a fall and was currently recovering.
- He referred to Councillor Kate Edmunds having recently given birth to a baby girl, Annie Grace, and conveyed best wishes on behalf of the Council.
- He referred to the meeting being the last meeting that the current Managing Director, Siân Davies would be attending before retiring from local government on 30th April, 2015. He was sure all Members would miss Siân and he referred to her expertise, solace and determination in making sure that the Council always acted correctly and appropriately. He referred to her reputation as being unsurpassed within local government and Welsh Government circles, particularly in terms of her financial acumen, judgement and resourcefulness. On behalf of the Council, the Leader wished Siân and her husband, Adrian (who had also recently retired) an enjoyable retirement together.
Councillors Christopher Franks, John Thomas, Gwyn John and Bob Penrose, similarly expressed their appreciation for the excellent work undertaken by Siân during her time with the Council and for the support and assistance which they had personally received from her.
The Mayor also expressed his personal gratitude to the retiring Managing Director and, again, wished both her and her husband a long and happy retirement.
1160 MICHAELSTON COMMUNITY COUNCIL: CHANGE OF NAME (MD) -
Section 76 of the Local Government Act 1972 stated that, at the request of a Community Council, the principal Council in which the Community was situated may change the name of the Community.
In accordance with Section 76 of the Local Government Act 1972, Michaelston Community Council had requested the Council to consider changing the name of the Community from Michaelston to Michaelston-le-Pit and Leckwith Community Council.
Should the Council be minded to approve the change of name of the Community Council, notice of the change was required to be sent to the National Assembly for Wales, to the Director General of the Ordinance Survey and to the Registrar General for England and Wales. It must also be published in the Community.
A change of name of the Council would not affect any rights or obligations of the Community nor render defective any legal proceedings which might be commenced to continue as if there had been no change of name.
RESOLVED - T H A T the Council approve the change in the name of Michaelston Community Council to Michaelston-le-Pit and Leckwith Community Council with immediate effect.
1161 CODE OF CONDUCT FOR MEMBERS AND OFFICERS DEALING WITH PLANNING MATTERS (MO) -
Council, on 17th December, 2014, considered a report regarding the introduction of arrangements to allow public speaking at the Planning Committee, together with a proposed Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters. Council resolved :
(1) T H A T the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee ('the Guide'), attached as Appendix A to the report, be approved and take effect from 1st February, 2015.
(2) T H A T the submission in due course to Planning Committee of the Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing with Planning Matters ('the Code') attached as Appendix B to the report (which incorporates the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee) be noted.
(3) T H A T the Council Procedure Rules, insofar as they relate to Planning Committee, be amended to take effect from 1st February 2015:
To permit public speaking in line with the Guide; and
Subject to the Planning Committee's approval of the Code to incorporate the additional procedural motion referred to at paragraph 7 of the report.
(4) T H A T the arrangements for public speaking at Planning Committee be reviewed 12 months after implementation.
The matter was deferred by Planning Committee on 15th January 2015 to enable Officers to provide further clarification to Members in respect of certain procedural matters. As a result of feedback received from Members in a meeting with Officers on 25th February 2015, certain draft amendments to the Code were suggested and an amended draft was circulated in advance of the Planning Committee meeting, with draft amendments shown by tracked changes.
Certain amendments were also considered to the original public speaking provisions and these had already been introduced.
A specific recommendation of the Model Constitution Working Party, which had also considered the draft Code was to adopt the following procedure:
- "If the Planning Committee is minded to refuse or grant an application contrary to Officer recommendation, it should consider whether to defer the application to the next available Planning Committee, before making the final decision. Prior to a substantive motion being voted upon which is contrary to Officer recommendation the following procedural motion will be voted upon - that Planning Committee defer the consideration of the planning application to the next available Planning Committee. If a matter is not deferred which is contrary to Officer recommendation the Chair should consider temporarily adjourning the meeting to afford Officers the opportunity to draft the reasons for refusal for consideration by the Planning Committee. (Paragraph 1.2.10 of the Code refers)."
The purpose of a deferral in the circumstances detailed above would be to allow Members of the Planning Committee to obtain further legal and planning advice on the proposed reasons for acting contrary to the Planning Officer's recommendation.
Following a request by Members for clarification, further consultation took place ahead of the Planning Committee meeting in relation to the practical implementation of the requirement for the procedural motion in the circumstances set out in the Code, as well as certain other provisions in the Code. The result of this further consultation was reflected in the proposed amendments to the original Code which were circulated in advance of the Planning Committee meeting.
The Planning Committee resolved that the proposed Code of Conduct (as amended) be approved for use at future meetings of the Planning Committee. Accordingly, the Council Procedure Rules, insofar as they related to Planning Committee, needed to be amended to reflect the following revised procedural motion:
"Prior to a substantive motion being voted upon which is contrary to Officer recommendation the following procedural motion will be voted upon – that Committee defer the consideration of the planning application to the next available Committee. If the result of the procedural motion is that consideration of the application is not deferred, the Chair should consider temporarily adjourning the meeting to afford Members time to consider and draft reasons for refusal or necessary conditions for consent with advice from Officers in order that they can be considered by the Committee prior to a decision being made."
In commencing the debate on this matter, Councillor Jeff James moved an amendment to the effect that the Council Procedure Rules, so far as they related to the Planning Committee, not be amended. He considered the proposed changes to constitute an interference with 'long-standing democratic procedures of the Planning Committee’. He also alluded to the Chairman as always having had the ability to show discretion in the circumstances to which the proposed procedure would apply (i.e. in the event that the Committee was minded to go against officer recommendations). He also suggested that it potentially undermined the existing faith shown between officers and Members.
The amendment was duly seconded by Councillor Jonathan Bird.
Councillor Nic Hodges expressed his support for the amendment, commenting that he felt the proposed procedural motion would restrict the Planning Committee in terms of its decision-making responsibilities.
Councillor Fred Johnson, in his capacity as Chairman of the Planning Committee, expressed his surprise regarding the comments made by Councillor James. His understanding had been that, subject to certain amendments, there had been a general consensus amongst Planning Committee Members as to the way forward. He referred to the fact that it could be that Members’ reasons for going against officer recommendations could, in turn, leave the Council exposed (e.g. in the event of an appeal against the decision). He remained in favour of the proposed procedural motion being incorporated in the Code.
Councillor Jonathan Bird endorsed the comments of Councillor James. Whilst understanding the comments of the Chairman of the Planning Committee regarding the issue of protecting the Council, he suggested that it was inappropriate for the Planning Committee to have its 'hand tied behind its back’.
Councillor Andrew Parker referred to the need for any Member of the Planning Committee to be able to be free to vote following their conscience. He felt Members should not be constrained by, for instance, the basis of potential cost implications in the event of an appeal arising.
Councillor Jeff James respected the comments of the Chairman of the Planning Committee but felt that the procedural motion, if introduced, would potentially, result in matters being delayed. He also reiterated his view that it would further restrict the role of the Planning Committee (a role he considered was already being restricted by Welsh Government), particularly in the event of going against officer recommendations.
In summing up, the Leader suggested that certain of the comments made by Members did not reflect what was actually being proposed in the report. He quoted the proposed revised procedural motion. He considered it would provide for a deferral if that was the wish of the majority of the Committee. However, it also provided for, in the event of a deferral not being agreed, and the committee being minded to go against an officer recommendation, a temporary adjournment of the meeting to afford Members time to consider and draft their relevant reasons, which had to be on sound planning grounds. He stated that Members would not be stopped from overturning the officer recommendation, but it would ensure that Members identified appropriate reasons for doing so.
He also expressed concern regarding the position officers were currently in if asked to offer different advice to that contained in their initial recommendation(s).
The Mayor asked Councillor James if he would clarify the earlier amendments. Councillor James, with the agreement of his seconder, amended the wording to the effect that the Code including the revised procedural motion (save for the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee) be not approved.
Upon being put to the vote, it was
RESOLVED - T H A T the Code of Conduct for Members and Officers Dealing With Planning Matters including the revised procedural motion (save for the Guide to Public Speaking at Planning Committee) be not approved.
1162 RESOURCES DIRECTORATE: AMENDMENTS TO OFFICER DELEGATIONS (L)
Council ratified the appointment of the current Director of Development Services as Managing Director at the Special Council Meeting on 25th March 2015. The appointment of the new Managing Director would take effect from 1st May 2015. As part of the senior management restructuring, the post of Director of Resources (currently occupied by the existing Managing Director) would no longer exist.
In order to ensure continuity in terms of officer delegations / responsibilities within the Resources Directorate, the report before Council had also been considered, and agreed, by Cabinet on 27th April 2015. This was in order to cover both 'Executive' and 'Council' functions.
Approval was also sought to amend any reference in the Constitution to "Head of Financial Services" and "Head of Accountancy and Resource Management" to read "Section 151 Officer and Deputy Section 151 Officer."
(1) T H A T the amendments to officer delegations within the Resources Directorate, as set out in Appendix A to the report and shown below be approved and the Council Constitution be amended accordingly :
Director of Resources and Head of HR
Managing Director and Head of HR
Director of Resources, Head of Financial Services and Head of Accountancy and Resource Management
Section 151 Officer and Deputy Section 151 Officer
Director of Resources, Head of Financial Services and Head of Accountancy and Resource Management
Managing Director, Section 151 Officer and Deputy Section 151 Officer
Director of Resources, Head of Legal Services and Operational Manager (Legal Services)
Head of Legal Services and Operational Manager (Legal Services
Director of Resources and Operational Manager (Democratic Services)
Managing Director and Operational Manager (Democratic Services)
Any references in the Constitution to â€œHead of Financial Services and â€œHead of Accountancy and Resource Managementâ€
Amend to read 'Section 151 Officer and Deputy Section 151 Officer'
(2) T H A T the Cabinet decision of 27th April, 2015 that any other "ad hoc" or individual delegations granted to the Director of Resources in respect of Executive functions rest, instead, with the Managing Director from 1st May 2015 be noted.
(3) T H A T any "ad hoc" or individual delegations granted to the Director of Resources in respect of Council (as opposed to Executive) functions rest, instead, with the Managing Director from 1st May 2015.
(4) T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C2755, 27th April, 2015) as set out in Article 13.09(a) (ii) of the Council’s Constitution, in order for the arrangements to take effect from 1st May, 2015, be noted.
1163 CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2014 TO 31ST JANUARY, 2015 (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2726, 13th April, 2015, be approved.
1164 IMPROVEMENT PLAN PART 1 (IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES 2015/16) (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2751, 27th April, 2015, be approved.
1165 SCHOOL ADMISSION ARRANGEMENTS 2016/2017 (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C2707, 23rd March, 2015) as set out in Article 13.09(a) (ii) of the Council’s Constitution, in order to approve the School Admissions Policy for 2016/17 by the required date of 15th April, 2015, be noted.
1166 VISIBLE SERVICES: PROPOSED FEES AND CHARGES FOR 2015/2016 (REF) -
Whilst this item was on the agenda purely for the purpose (in accordance with the Council’s Constitution) of noting the use of the Urgency Decision Procedure, a number of Members wished to raise questions / concerns.
Councillor Cox expressed concern regarding the introduction of a charge for food waste recycling bags and to the risk of people reverting to putting food waste out in the black bag collection, which, in turn, would affect the Council’s recycling performance figure and could attract vermin. He was also concerned regarding the introduction of a charge for the collection of bulky goods. He felt people in the western Vale would find it very difficult to take this material to the household waste recycling centre in Llandow compared to residents in other areas, He hoped the Council would monitor the situation in respect of both matters.
Councillor Christopher Williams expressed concern that, from 1st April, 2015 the previous system of a free permit and five separate pieces for tipping at a Council amenity site had been changed to a £15 fee, allowing only one visit and felt the matter should be reconsidered.
Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson sought clarification as to when a review of bulky waste collection arrangements might be expected.
Reminding Members that agenda items reporting the use of the Urgency Decision Procedure were, indeed, simply for noting, the Leader, nevertheless, responded.
With regard to food waste bags, current provision was three rolls, equating to 150 bags, which he considered to be reasonable. Additional bags could be purchased at a very reasonable price, so he considered there to be no reason why anyone should not continue to carry out the recycling of foods.
With regard to the collection of bulky items, the Leader pointed out that the Council had been one of only two Local Authorities in Wales who did not charge,
RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C2708, 23rd March, 2015) as set out in Article 13.09(a) (ii) of the Council’s Constitution, in order to enable the Council to approve the changes in a timely manner, be noted.
1167 MOBILE HOMES (WALES) ACT 2013 (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the proposals of the Cabinet, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C2712, 23rd March, 2015, be noted.
1168 HOME IMPROVEMENT LOAN FUNDING (REF) -
Whilst this item was on the agenda purely for the purpose (in accordance with the Council’s Constitution) of noting the use of the Urgency Decision Procedure, the Cabinet Member, in response to a point raised by Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson regarding Home Improvement Loans funding in relation to leaseholders, the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety indicated she would be happy to meet to discuss the matter.
RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C2713, 23rd March, 2015) as set out in Article 13.09(a) (ii) of the Council’s Constitution, in order to enable the Council to draw down Home Improvement Loan funding by 31st March, 2015, be noted.
1169 PUBLIC PROTECTION: PROPOSED FEES AND CHARGES 2015/16 (REF) -
RESOLVED - T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C2714, 23rd March, 2015) as set out in Article 13.09(a) (ii) of the Council’s Constitution, in order to enable the increases in fees and charges to be implemented from 1st April, 2015, be noted.
1170 QUESTIONS PURSUANT TO COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE 8.2 -
Due notice had been given of the following questions:
(i) Question from Councillor Maureen Kelly Owen
With the coming of Spring we have seen the return to the Vale of Glamorgan of a significant number of vehicles, suitable or adapted for long term living ,being parked in a considerable number of areas of the County.
I have been asked by many constituents, particularly those who have witnessed over a long period that the vehicles in question are being lived in permanently by their occupants, what rates are being paid to the Local Authority by the owners.
My Question therefore is just that; and if not why not?.
Would you agree that a ban on overnight parking, in any area where this practice is taking place, should be introduced as a matter of urgency, if we are to prevent the Vale of Glamorgan becoming a cheap soft touch for anyone who can clearly afford a vehicle suitable for permanent full time living, but is unwilling to contribute to the County’s running costs?
Reply From the Leader
Some overnight parking may occur in specific areas of the Vale at certain times, and this may be more prevalent during the spring and summer months. It should, however, be noted that the Vale is a popular and desirable tourism destination with a significant demand on seasonal parking.
In saying that, I am not aware of any significant problems with long-term or overnight parking, such as that described. We receive very few complaints in respect to this activity. I believe that Maureen is referring to the cliff top car park so I will answer that specifically.
The Cliff top car park, as with all of our off-street car parks, does not necessarily restrict overnight parking. Some of our car parks do, by way of their operational hours and the fact that we physically close and gate the car parks overnight. i.e. Thompson St, Wyndham St. Others have height/width restrictions that physical prevent large 'motorhome’ type vehicles from entering.
Cliff top car park has neither. It does have a sign on entry listing 'no caravans’ and 'no overnight parking’. However, this is more of a polite request in an attempt to deter such activity ; the legal Traffic Order does not restrict overnight parking. What it does restrict is sleeping or camping or cooking, along with a number of other domestic purposes. However, although in our Traffic Order they are still criminal offences and, therefore, our Civil Enforcement Officers cannot enforce or issue a Parking Notice Charge. The offence will need to be dealt with by the Police.
However, I should make the comment that in areas such as Scotland they have withdrawn any parking restrictions for caravans or mobile homes in order to encourage tourism within their areas. So, in essence, this is something that needs careful consideration and one that need to have a proportionate response.
To conclude, I do not believe that long-term and overnight parking is a problem in the Vale at the moment based on the information we have available, but I would be happy to consider this matter further, should the necessary evidence be provided.
(ii) Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne
Are you are able to update Members on the Reshaping Services Agenda and whether any substantial savings have been identified?
Reply from the Leader
The Reshaping Services programme was last reported to Cabinet on 26th January and approved an outline programme for the first tranches of service-specific reviews being progressed as Corporate Projects.
The Reshaping Services Programme Board is meeting monthly, having identified the next steps to develop detailed business cases which are due for completion later in this year and these will be reported to Cabinet and Scrutiny Committees.
There is a communications programme and a series of staff briefing sessions are planned for the summer to provide an update on corporate issues, including the Reshaping Services agenda. Additionally, a Staffnet section is being created to provide regular updates, and these updates will be communicated to Elected Members and staff(in other ways, if staff do not have access to Staffnet). Regular reports on progress will be given and will include Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources), Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee and the Community Liaison Committee.
Although still at the embryonic stage of the programme, the Reshaping Services programme has identified saving targets for individual projects which are included in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan and amount to some £5.9m for the period 2016/17 to 2017/18. I think at this stage we are at the beginning and we are currently having workshops and fact sessions and working through some of the savings that we intend to achieve.
Referring to a recent briefing by the Head of Performance and Development to the Community Liaison Committee, Councillor Traherne felt he had seemed to imply that Community Councils would need to take on services currently provided by the Vale Council without any commensurate increase in funding. He asked whether the Leader could reassure Members that the necessary funding would be provided if Community Councils were asked to provide services currently delivered by the this Council.
The Leader indicated he was unable to give any such categorical assurance. He understood that what had been said was that there were some areas of services that the Council currently operated and there were some that it may in the future not carry out. However, it would be a matter for Town and Community Councils as to whether they wished to consider taking on more services and to consider the potential resources required to do so. If so, then this Council would want to have a dialogue, but there could be no guarantee given at this stage as to whether any funding would follow.
He reminded Members that the Council was currently going through the Tranche 1 and Tranche 2 elements of the Reshaping Services programme, looking at each of the services, and options for future delivery, in detail. However, there would be services currently provided by the Council that it would be unable to continue to provide. As such, the Council had to explore / find alternative ways of service delivery, whether, for example, through the voluntary sector, or clusters of Community Councils working together.
(iii) Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne
In view of the failed initiative to merge with Bridgend County Council it would seem clear that the Minster is determined that this Council will merge with Cardiff City Council. We are, I hope, all agreed that this would be disastrous for the people of the Vale. Are you able to update Members on your efforts to ensure that this Council is not forced to merge with Cardiff City Council?
Reply from the Leader
I have said consistently in numerous meetings and the press – on the day that 'Williams’ was published as an example - that my preferred option is not for this Council to merge with Cardiff and I have not changed my mind. I believe that as the Council is a well performing Council – something that has been agreed by this Council meeting previously, I would prefer for this the Vale Council to continue to stand alone since, in my opinion, it can clearly do so as a viable entity.
As you know I accepted the need to submit a bid to Welsh Government for a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council in November 2014 because I felt that, since Council mergers appeared inevitable, it was the right thing to do. I considered that it would be in the Vale’s best interests to merge with Bridgend rather than with Cardiff, which was and appears to remain Welsh Government’s explicit preferred option. That bid was turned down by the Minister, and I have since publicly expressed my disappointment and, indeed, anger at that decision.
The Minister wrote to me confirming his rejection and my responses to him was clear and concise and if you haven’t seen it then simply look on our Staffnet and website. It is there for everyone to see. I have also arranged for the council’s submission to the latest White Paper 'Power to Local People', which has been issued, to also be placed on Staffnet and the Council’s website.
As an aside, I have also made my own submission to the latest so-called White Paper 'Power to Local People’ and I have made it plain in the response my feelings about it and also made reference to the rejected merger. A copy has been also been sent to Jane Hutt AM and Vaughan Gethin , AM for their perusal.
I think I could not do more. Perhaps it would be pertinent to ask what the other Leaders have done so openly and transparently.
Councillor Traherne stated that, with the exception of one member of the Council, all members agreed that a merger between the Council and Cardiff Council would be 'disastrous for the people of the Vale'. He asked whether the Leader, therefore, considered it time that the Vale of Glamorgan’s Assembly Member, Jane Hutt, stated very clearly that she opposed such a merger between this Council and Cardiff City Council rather than simply referring to Welsh Government’s Cabinet’s collective responsibility.
The Leader reiterated his comments made previously that he could not answer for anyone else. He had made his own position absolutely clear and been open and transparent in doing so. It was up to other people, including other Members present, to similarly make their views known.
(iv) Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne
According to Estyn nearly 10% of school lessons in Wales are taught by supply teachers. What is the figure for the Vale of Glamorgan?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools
For the period 1st September 2014 to 27th March 2015 supply teachers worked for 1.75% of the planned teaching days at Vale schools.
(v) Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne
The Corporate Plan states at HSCW 4 that the Council intends to: Increase levels of physical activity and reduce rising levels of obesity by delivering the Local Authority Partnership Agreement and the Council’s responsibilities in the Healthy Communities Food and Fitness Framework Action Plan. Are you able to update Members on our progress in meeting this important objective?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services
I am pleased to inform Council that, in recent Sport Wales surveys, the Vale of Glamorgan was ranked first for active adults and equal second for school physical activity levels. According to Welsh Health Survey data, we continue to achieve average performance on all healthy eating targets. Obesity levels are slightly better than the national average. All primary schools in the Vale comply with Healthy Eating in Schools (Wales) Regulations 2013. Twenty pre-school settings are either working towards or have completed modules on Nutrition and Oral Health and Physical Activity. 19 of them also hold the Gold Standard Healthy Snack Award.
The Local Authority Partnership Agreement is a contract the Council has with Sport Wales for delivering key elements of the Sports Development Programme. A significant amount of funding is provided by Sport Wales to support initiatives such as Dragon Sport, 5 x 60 Activity, Disability Sport, Community Chest and free swimming. The Vale of Glamorgan 2014/15 LAPA plan, as approved by Sport Wales, was delivered in full.
Referring to a presentation on Diabetes at a recent Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Traherne considered it seemed very clear that obesity in the Vale of Glamorgan was increasing in the Vale of Glamorgan and was a major factor in an increasing number of people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Given the need to encourage people to eat more healthily and to provide healthy alternatives, he asked why high fat crisps, chocolates and high calorie fizzy drinks were still available in the vending machines in Leisure Centres in the Vale and, indeed, in the Civic Offices.
The Cabinet Member did not disagree that such issues should be looked at. He was well aware that the NHS had introduced strict controls in terms of their vending machines. However, he considered that, in moderation, things such as chocolate and fizzy drinks were not harmful, particularly if, in turn, individuals balanced consumption with regular exercise. He was aware of the problems caused by obesity and considered the presentation at the Scrutiny Committee to have been excellent. He congratulated Councillor Traherne, as Chairman of the Committee on the many excellent speakers he had arranged to address the Committee, which, as the Cabinet Member, he enjoyed attending.
(vi) Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne
Leighton Andrews’ White Paper, Reforming Local Government : Power to Local People, seems to imply that Local Government in Wales is so poor that only the most radical of renewals can remedy matters. Would the Leader agree with me that, in comparison to the incredible incompetence and continual failures of the Welsh Government, Local Government is a beacon of light in Wales as, in the main; it provides efficient, cost effective and successful public services.
Reply from the Leader
I would entirely endorse Councillor Traherne’s comments on the high standard of performance of local government, particularly the performance of this Council. This is not just a subjective view: successive reports by external regulators such as the Wales Audit Office, CSSIW and Estyn are testament to the Vale Council’s track record of excellent performance, and I think we can be proud of what we are doing with, and for, the Vale’s citizens.
As to the White Paper, I would agree with its vision for local government in Wales as one in which Councils are "activist Councils, engaged in delivering modern, accessible, high quality public services within their communities". I also think that the Vale Council, through existing and planned initiatives such as Reshaping Services, are already anticipating much of what is in the White Paper. This is not to say I agree with everything in the White Paper. I would draw Councillor Traherne’s attention to the detailed response to Welsh Government agreed by Cabinet on 27th April and informed by a number of comments made by Community Councils and Council Committees where the White Paper was discussed.
In relation to the working of the Welsh Government I will simply say that I have made my views known more than once and will continue to do so, but I will concur that Local Government is a beacon of light in Wales as, in the main; it provides efficient, cost effective and successful public services, without making any further comparisons.
Councillor Traherne felt that it seemed from an analysis of the White Paper that every Community Council would be required to have an annual budget of at least £200,000. He felt that this would 'wipe out' every Community Council in the Vale and he asked whether the Leader would undertake to fight the proposals.
The Leader pointed out that the White Paper, in fact, introduced the concept of "competent" councils (with budgets of at least £200,000), but that did not mean to say that every Council had to have that sort of revenue. He had already made clear his views on the White Paper and to the difficulties it presented. It covered, for example, the need for principal authorities to carry out reviews of Town and Community Councils, and also the concept of Area Boards, which was amongst the many aspects he disagreed with. He considered some aspects of the White Paper to be reasonable, but the vast majority to not be.
The Leader did not consider that the Council would end up marginalising Town and Community Councils, if they continued to exist, and the Council had given assurances to the Community Liaison Committee that it was prepared to work alongside them in any shape or form. As such he did not consider that Community Councils within the Vale had anything to fear from this Council.
(vii) Question from Councillor Rhodri Traherne
I would be grateful if the Cabinet Member could update Members on her plans for the establishment of a Vale of Glamorgan Heritage Centre.
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration
Councillor Traherne continues to speak of a 'Vale of Glamorgan’ Heritage Centre. I think I need to be convinced of the merit of such a proposal.
This Administration is committed to the role of heritage in regeneration, specifically its role in 'Place Development’ is of particular relevance to the Vale of Glamorgan. However, such a broad spectrum of special places would arguably not be best served by the creation of one single Vale of Glamorgan Heritage Centre.
There is much activity in relation to the heritage of the Vale. Reports to Cabinet on the 23rd February 2015 reported progress in delivery of the Council’s regeneration plans and on the partnership working arrangements for Barry regeneration which included information about the newly formed Barry Regeneration Advisory Group and a report on the successful Annual Regeneration Forum held in November.
Both the Advisory Group and the Forum were used to test the continuing validity of the Council’s strategic priorities for regeneration. The role of Heritage was confirmed as a cross-cutting theme and, as a result, will, along with other themes, be the focus of workshops for the Advisory Group involving local organisations keen to participate.
Across the Vale we find our new Vale Ambassadors becoming living, breathing Heritage Centres, and the newly launched Vale Trails encourage residents and visitors alike to enjoy our amazing natural environment while learning about local history.
In Llantwit Major the amazing Galilee chapel provides a focus for visitors and only recently I, along with the Cowbridge Charter Trust and Cowbridge Town Council, welcomed Merched y Wawr from Pwllheli to unveil the Iolo stone in Cowbridge at the Start of the Iolo Glyndwr walk. Again a positive example of local heritage.
The new augmented reality apps on the Heritage Coast are bringing history to life for local residents and visitors and there is even a Wreckers Run game.
This Administration recognises the wealth of heritage-related organisations across the Vale of Glamorgan and is committed to working with them to deliver sustainable and enduring solutions for our communities.
Councillor Traherne asked for clarity as to whether there was not going to be a Vale of Glamorgan Heritage Centre.
Whilst reiterating her view regarding the need to be convinced of the merit of a single Centre, the Cabinet Member was committed to the role of heritage in regeneration. It could be, for instance, that more than one centre could be the model. She stated that, if that meant the Council needed to aim for 100,000 heritage centres where every single one of its residents became 'a living, breathing heritage centre where they can then be knowledgeable about their communities', that strong foundation could turn out to be the right sustainable solution for the Vale of Glamorgan.
(viii) Question from Councillor Christopher Franks
Will you indicate what will be your priorities regarding maintaining roads and pavements detailing the budget that will be available?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services
The Council has a statutory duty under The Highways Act 1980 to maintain roads and footways to a reasonable standard, so as to minimise the number of defects and hazards as far as reasonably practicable. The core objectives of the Council’s service as a highway authority, also detailed within the Visible Services Service Plan for 2014/18, is to 'maintain the adopted highway, associated street furniture, street lights, traffic signals and illuminated bollards’.
Our priority is to maintain the highway network for the safe and convenient movement of goods and people with a view to delivering a safe, serviceable and sustainable network. This is achieved by undertaking regularly inspections of the Council’s highway network in accordance with the National Code of Practice for Highway Maintenance Management. Any hazards or defects which meet the Council’s intervention levels will be identified and repaired within 28 working days. The Council has a total revenue budget of £793k for this work for this financial year, and this will be augmented by £500k for the Big Fill scheme.
We also have a highway resurfacing plan and asset management system to prioritise planned maintenance and improvements of the highway infrastructure. This assists in reducing, as far as reasonably practicable, the reactive maintenance carried out through pothole repairs. This includes a three year plan for resurfacing or surface treatment works across the Vale’s highway network. All roads on the three year plan will be reassessed and prioritised for resurfacing or surface treatment by the end of this month. The higher priority roads on the plan will then be either resurfaced or surface treated in strict priority order and in accordance with the funding available. The fact that a road is on the three year plan does not guarantee that works will be undertaken in the short to medium term, only that it is continually reassessed in line with other priority schemes of a similar nature.
The Council has allocated capital monies of £300k for resurfacing and surface treatments for this financial year and an additional £38k for specialist highway treatments, such as micro asphalt works. There is also the potential for additional asset renewal funds to be used towards highway resurfacing and surface treatment works, though this will be considered along with a large number of other asset renewal priorities in Visible Services.
Councillor Franks referred to the reply as containing no comment relating to the Welsh Government facility to finance maintenance programmes, which he thought had been of great benefit over the last 3 years. He sought clarification as to whether the "hole" had been reviewed, and how any lost funding would be replaced.
The Cabinet Member confirmed that, to date, no information had been received from Welsh Government regarding this matter. As such, the Council was looking at the prospects of funding, albeit circumstances were difficult.
£200,000 had been provided for the Council’s 'Big Fill', but, as Members were aware, the Vale contained a large road network and there would, undoubtedly, be problems in terms of its maintenance. Obviously, any urgent issues would be given priority.
(ix) Question from Councillor Christopher Franks
What are your three main targets relating to economic development across the Vale?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration
I have only one target for economic development for the Vale; that each and every resident is able to, and does, share in the economic success of the County. To achieve that the Council has a number of priority areas for economic regeneration.
The Council’s Local Development Plan includes a suite of strategic policies and one of those policies identifies key strategic sites for development. Two such strategic sites relate to the St Athan Strategic Opportunity Area and the airport and adjoining land (Strategic policy SP2 refers). In addition, to these two strategic sites, SP5 identifies a further strategic employment site at land south of junction 34 of the M4 and recently the Council has been working with the owners (Renishaw) in dealing with their major planning application at this site. Strategic Policy SP6, seeks to ensure the continued viability of the County’s retail centres, with emphasis on bringing back to re-use any vacant floorspace, refurbishment of properties and ensuring improved access and public realm. Finally, SP11 seeks to promote tourism and visitor services with an emphasis on seeking to promote all year round facilities . These Strategic Policies are underpinned by more local policies that relate to key sites and opportunities (such as Barry Island and the Heritage Coast in relation to tourism).
In terms of specifics, it is a difficult time for town centres everywhere, and the Council has a framework to assist all key centres. Our town centre development officer (a post that has been created under our administration) is working closely with traders and town councils to take forward initiatives to ensure the viability of centres is maintained and, where possible, enhanced.
The physical regeneration of Barry as the Vale’s principal town is critical to the economic development of the whole of the Vale, and one only needs to consider the hugely positive feedback on the regeneration scheme at the eastern promenade to conclude how well received the investment has been. Put this alongside the investment in the Pumphouse and the recently completed Magistrates Court scheme, one gets the feeling that there is a great deal of positive feeling in Barry at present.
In rural areas, we have an ongoing programme of regeneration through the Creative Rural Communities Partnership, which has concentrated on tourism product development, farm diversification, creation of new businesses and strengthening community capacity for self-regeneration as the nature of rural communities’ changes. In Penarth, the seafront is an important focus, and, again, in recent months the Council has invested heavily in improvements to the public realm.
You may have gathered that I am not a huge fan of 'trickle-down’ economics or of Milton Friedman and do not see them as an answer to economic development. I am therefore particularly delighted that the Council’s 'Inspiring the Vale Bursaries’ has now seen over 20 young people from across the Vale, including Communities First areas, access support to start up new businesses.
Councillor Franks expressed surprise regarding there being no mention in the reply of the Cardiff New Deal and how Barry regeneration could benefit from that project. He also sought clarification regarding targets relating to deliverable outcomes, such as the number of jobs targeted to be created and indicated he would welcome comment regarding how many jobs had been delivered by the Barry Island Beach Hut development in comparison to the aspirations in the initial bid.
The Cabinet Member responded that there was, as yet, no Cardiff New Deal. However, there would be ongoing discussions, in which the Council would take a full part. She would have expected Councillor Franks to have been more specific in terms of information regarding numbers. In relation to the Beach Huts, she indicated she would welcome an opportunity to assess the eventual outcome in terms of social enterprise (i.e. where there was a social outcome as well as an economic outcome, with surpluses contributed back into the regeneration budget of the Vale of Glamorgan, which was already occurring) and the creation of a vibrant and vital promenade on the east end of the Island, which, again, she considered was already being achieved.
(x) Question from Councillor Christopher Franks
Has there been any recent evidence to support the Council proposals to build so many houses across the Vale?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration
The Local Development Plan is the main Council document which determines the number of new houses to be built and where they will be located.
Substantial progress has been made over the last few months on progressing the Council’s Local Development Plan to the next stage.
Officers are currently reviewing all of the evidence and huge number of representations submitted as part of the LDP consultation process and have also commissioned additional work in respect of evidence relating to the Deposit LDP Housing Requirement Figure.
Once this work is complete I will be in a position to present a report to the Council’s Cabinet and subsequently to Council. That report will consider the need or otherwise for any changes to the Deposit plan, in light of consultation carried out and any new evidence that has come to light since the Deposit plan was finalised.
I would anticipate bringing a report on the Council’s Local Development Plan to Council before the summer recess. This will clearly include information in relation to Housing Requirements.
Councillor Franks wished it to be noted that it was generally accepted that the planned number of properties within the LDP represented an over estimation of actual need and he asked whether the Cabinet Member was prepared to accept that was the case and, therefore, willing to seek to significantly reduce the number of housing sites to be put forward.
The Cabinet Member considered Councillor Franks’ question to be one that the Council had 'rehearsed many times' over the last few months. She stated that the Local Development Plan was actually a host of strategic documents which took into consideration many different factors. All those factors needed to be taken into consideration in determining the housing requirements that come forward which was why, as outlined in her initial answer, further evidence and research had been commissioned, which would be discussed in full. The reports that would come back to Cabinet and, subsequently, to Council would discuss the LDP and the housing requirements.
(xi) Question from Councillor Nic Hodges
What were the findings of the review into traffic access to and from Barry Island on the Easter weekend?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration
As Cabinet Member for Regeneration which includes Tourism I am interested in the operational management of our tourist destinations. I therefore asked the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services if he could provide an update in addition to that given to Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee on 14th April. He has told me that:
Regrettably, visitors to Barry Island experienced significant congestion and waiting times on Easter Sunday afternoon, particularly those wishing to leave the Council’s Harbour Road car park. The congestion was a result of an unprecedented volume of visitors travelling by car to Barry Island and occurred despite the trial traffic management arrangements at Harbour Road / Paget Road junction, aimed at improving traffic flows. In addition the Council had agreed Council – funded police assistance to help control traffic at peak times. Unfortunately police support was not available on the day due to resource issues.
As soon as officers became aware of the situation on Easter Sunday, further liaison immediately took place with the police who then attended to assist with the situation. This resulted in police officers being deployed to help with traffic management and relieve congestion on Easter Sunday evening. Furthermore, an action plan for traffic management on Easter Monday was quickly drawn up with the police, comprising six police officers to assist in controlling traffic at critical locations on the highway from 3.30pm to 8pm. Arrangements were also made for five council staff to manage the car parks on Easter Monday morning and to remain on site through the afternoon and evening to assist people leaving the car parks. The arrangements were successful in managing traffic flows and the waiting times for motorists leaving the car parks and Barry Island were very much reduced on Easter Monday.
Following the Easter Bank Holiday, our officers reviewed the existing traffic management arrangements and identified and implemented a medium-term plan of additional measures to deal with any potential future high visitor numbers and traffic volumes as follows:-
> A new trial layout at Ship Hill junction to give priority to vehicles leaving Barry Island.
> Attendance of extra staff to manage traffic exiting all car parks when busy.
> Specialised traffic management staff to control vehicle movements at Cosy Corner junction (prioritising exit for Harbour Rd car park); and to regulate pedestrian movements on the zebra crossing at the Ship Hill junction at the busiest times.
> The introduction of advanced signage from Port Road to encourage motorists to use the existing 'park and ride’ arrangements at Barry Docks Railway Station, to help alleviate excessive vehicular traffic on Barry Island.
These measures will be monitored over the coming weeks and months in conjunction with the police and, where necessary, additional or alternative measures introduced in order to manage traffic flows in the most advantageous way. Initial indications over the subsequent weekends following Easter are that the new arrangements are operating well and successfully dealing with traffic movements at Barry Island.
As a result, it has been decided to implement the trial traffic layout at Ship Hill junction on a permanent basis with new kerb lines replacing the temporary road wall and the introduction of a puffin crossing to replace the existing zebra crossing facility. It is hoped that this will further enhance and assist traffic movements in the area. It is likely that this permanent scheme will be implemented following the early May Bank holiday on 4th May and will take some 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Local residents will be advised of this arrangement in the near future.
Further traffic measures currently under consideration include temporary traffic signals or other forms of metering at the Cosy Corner junction, to help balance the flows at all junction legs at peak times. Also, discussions have recently taken place with the Waterfront Developer to explore the possibility of a temporary road connection to be made between the Harbour Road Car Park and the completed section of the new Barry Island link road until the completion of the full link road scheme. Such a connection could be used at peaks times to release traffic from the main car park.
We should all be celebrating the success of Barry Island, resulting from the recent regeneration work, the re-introduction of the fairground, and the ongoing efforts of traders and our staff, which has generated this unprecedented visitor demand. Managing traffic congestion when leaving Barry Island at peak times has always been a challenge. However, it is anticipated that the above measures will keep traffic moving at a steady pace, thereby reducing the waiting times for motorists leaving the car parks at Barry Island for the remainder of the season.
Councillor Hodges suggested that the Council had not handled success very well in that, given the significant amount of publicity beforehand, and the public’s warm feeling towards Barry Island, the traffic issues had seemingly not been anticipated. He asked whether the Cabinet Member could confirm the opening date of the second road to and from Barry Island.
The Cabinet Member stated that the situation had, in fact, been anticipated and an arrangement put in place with the Police, which involved specialised traffic management staff. However, because of resource issues, the Police pulled out of the arrangement without notice. The Council was now looking at taking on specialised traffic management staff so that it was not placed in that position in future.
In terms of the opening date of the second road, Councillor Hodges would need to seek the information from the Waterfront Consortium, from whom various pronouncements regarding timing had previously been made.
(xii) Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson
What Capital Programme proposals does the Council plan to carry out under the 'Active Travel’ banner within 2015/16?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration
I am delighted to advise Council that there is a significant amount of work being undertaken currently under the Active Travel Banner for 2015/2016 and this builds on the considerable work undertaken during the last few years in this important area.
Officers, in partnership with Sustrans, are currently undertaking an audit of existing travel routes and will be considering travel routes that need upgrading to the Active Travel standard. In addition, work is being undertaken to identify new travel routes that may be required within the Act over the next few months.
The proposals for the existing Active Travel routes will be submitted to WG on 24th September 2015, following a 3 months consultation exercise which will commence late June 2015.
A further Plan will be submitted to WG within a 3 year time period to include proposed new routes that will need to be identified within that timeframe.
Bids for finance have been submitted to WG for existing schemes within the Transport Grant process and the Council is awaiting confirmation from WG of the funding available to the Vale of Glamorgan for financial year 2015/16. A decision on this is imminent.
The Active Travel schemes that have been submitted for funding are as follows:
- Port Road Barry Docks Link Road to Wenvoe pedestrian and cycle route;
- Barry Island Causeway pedestrian and cycle route;
- St. Cyres Dinas Powys via Cosmeston Country Park and Lavernock Road pedestrian and cycle route;
- Weycock Cross to Cardiff Airport Pedestrian and cycle route;
- Murch pedestrian and cycle route to access back of school through community centre and
- Llantwit Major pedestrian and cycle route and pedestrian crossing infrastructure for Llanmaes Road.
Other schemes are being considered or delivered as part of S106 planning gain and the Cardiff Metro Project as follows:
- Barry Road Merrie Harrier to Cogan Train Station and Llandough Hospital
- Garden Centre Wenvoe to Wenvoe
- Barry Waterfront as part of the new Barry Island Link Road
- Wenvoe to HTV site Culverhouse Cross.
There may also be other schemes that are brought forward as part of new developments. This is another area where the Council has a good track record.
Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether there was any timescale available for completion of those routes from Barry mainland to Barry Island, either on the causeway or across the waterfront?
The Cabinet Member understood the timescale would be dependent on the completion of the relief road.
(xiii) Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson
How many workers has the Council employed in (a) 2015 (b) 2014 and (c) 2013 as part of any 'workfare’ schemes?
Reply from the Leader
Workfare is a generic term which generally refers to a number of government schemes where individuals have to work in return for their benefits or risk losing them. There are a number of such schemes. While some are voluntary to join, once a claimant has joined they can be 'sanctioned’ - have their benefits withdrawn - or be referred to a compulsory scheme where they can be sanctioned, for failing to participate in it. I know of no examples of the Council participating in such schemes over the last three years.
For your information and to clarify the point, as I had been concerned about this scheme for some time I had already asked this questions and have kept it under review and have known we have none.
However, the Council does provide support for long term unemployed individuals through Communities First and through the delivery of the Work Programme. The latter has been successful in helping over 500 clients become work-ready and find paid employment in the last few years. Whilst some are given work experience in the Council, this is not obligatory and there is no benefit sanction for non-participation in this work experience.
Councillor Dr. Johnson asked the Leader whether it was possible to clarify the Council’s full position with a statement at some point in time.
The Leader responded that he had just done so. The Council did not support workfare and, as long as he was Leader, it never would.
(xiv) Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson
When will the Local Development Plan be submitted?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration
It is intended that The Local Development Plan will come back before Council in advance of the summer recess and be submitted to Welsh Government thereafter. A Local Development Plan Examination in Public (EIP) will be held during Autumn 2015.
Referring to Welsh Government’s TAN 1 amendment which he understood, if implemented, would mean the Council having to build up to around 800 houses per year to meet its target for the end of 2026, Councillor Bertin asked what consideration had been given to that issue in terms of the report to be submitted to Council.
The Cabinet Member confirmed that the Council was working to the timeframe for the LPD that had been agreed with Welsh Government, so, despite there appearing to be some confusion amongst certain Members, reports were coming at the right time. In terms of TAN 1, she considered there to also be a degree of confusion.
TAN 1 governed how housing provided was calculated at the moment in the absence of an agreed adopted LDP. As she had said previously, whether it be at Cabinet, the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee or Planning Committee, the current TAN 1 guidance placed the Council at a huge disadvantage in the absence of an adopted LDP and actually made the Council vulnerable to speculative applications.
She had, as she said she would, written to the Minister to ask the reason. Her letter was openly available, had been tabled at the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Committee and the Planning Committee. She would be meeting with the Minister in the near future to discuss TAN 1 and, hopefully, to find a suitable solution. She had huge concerns over the implications of TAN 1 for the Council. The LDP had been worked back to the LDP strategy stage because the Administration did not view the previous Plan as sustainable and considered that it did not actually look at infrastructure or serve the needs of the Vale of Glamorgan effectively.
(xv) Question from Councillor Dr. Ian Johnson
How many Vale of Glamorgan residents are (a) currently on Homes4U (i) Gold Plus or (ii) Gold, (b) on (i) Gold Plus or (ii) Gold for longer than twelve months, (c) on (i) Gold Plus or (ii) Gold for longer than twenty-four months?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety
Of the current 2,468 residents currently registered on Homes4U, 298 are registered as Gold Plus, with 178 residents being registered as Gold Plus for longer than 12 months and 86 residents being registered in this category for longer than 24 months.
255 are registered as Gold, with 93 residents being registered as Gold for longer than 12 months and 36 being registered in this category for longer than 24 months.
The Council operates a choice-based lettings scheme and, as a result, applicants choose to bid for as many or as few properties as they wish. It is not possible, therefore, based on the information requested to establish whether the applicant could have been housed earlier if they had bid on all available properties. A choice- based scheme can create sustainable lettings and communities; however applicants’ bids will often be based on personal preference.
The Gold Plus band will contain a large number of applicants with some form of disability. The Council’s Housing Stock has a limited number of specifically adapted properties and, as a result, waiting times can be relatively long, particularly if a more extensively adapted property is required. In some circumstances, a bespoke new build property is the only solution and in those situations officers work with Registered Social landlords and developers to meet these specific needs.
To help to mitigate this we have spent £450,000 on minor and major adaptations to the Council’s Housing stock over the last 2 years. Regrettably, despite us re-letting 300+ vacancies per year across all stock types, demand continues to far outstrip the supply of affordable social housing in the Vale.
Referring to his hope that the Bedroom Tax would shortly be scrapped, Councillor Dr. Johnson referred to there being large numbers of people who had been waiting for quite some time on Gold Plus, which was the Council’s highest band. He asked the Cabinet Member what plans existed with regard to this, particularly in terms of funding coming in from the Housing Revenue Account or even from the loan schemes discussed earlier.
The Cabinet Member indicated that she also hoped that, within a very short space of time, the Bedroom Tax would become 'a thing of the past', given its potential impact on some of the most vulnerable people in society. In relation to waiting lists, work was ongoing, with a lot of time and effort being put into the process. As Members were aware, the Council had recently exited the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy system, which it was hoped would assist in the development of more properties as well as bringing empty homes back into use.
(xvi) Question from Councillor Richard Bertin
Can I please ask how many people needed emergency food from Vale Food Bank over the past year?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services
As Councillor Bertin will know, there are four food banks operating in the Vale - in Barry, Dinas Powys and Llantwit Major as part of the Trussells Trust/Coastlands Family Church and in Penarth run by the Tabernacle Church. These are independent organisations and I’m not aware of any published figures about the overall scale of use in the past year, although I believe it is thousands of people. The national picture shows an alarming increase. The Trussell Trust said it gave at least three days' emergency food over a million times in the last financial year from its 445 food banks. The actual number of people given food was estimated to be around half a million
Food banks are primarily dependent on the generosity of local people and businesses who regularly donate food. The response by the volunteers who run the food banks proves that ordinary people are deeply concerned about the distressing poverty they’re seeing in their communities. In this context, the Vale Council has sought to help food banks wherever, possible. For example, we received over £2,000 as our share of a good causes community fund, established through the very successful Cyd Cymru energy switching scheme we put in place with Cardiff Council. At our Cabinet meeting on March 23rd, we agreed to donate this sum to the registered food banks in the Vale. The money will be split equally between the distribution centres.
Councillor Bertin, referring to demand as increasing, asked whether a direct link to the relevant Food Bank information and advice could be placed on the Council’s website and made available in Council offices.
The Cabinet Member believed that the services were well advertised within the Council, but he would, nevertheless, check. He felt sure Cllr Bertin would be well aware of the criteria for people being able to utilise food banks. For example, not everybody could simply turn up and obtain a food parcel if they hadn’t been referred by the relevant organisations in order to receive help. Whilst he confirmed he would look into the matter, he also felt there was an onus on every single Member to support the food banks. He regularly made donations to the food banks and was fairly certain all 47 Vale Councillors probably did so. Referring to there being a collection box in the Civic Offices reception area, he hoped Members would continue to make donations.
(xvii) Question from Councillor Richard Bertin
Will the Cabinet Member please inform us of their position on Fracking and do they support a total ban?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration
The position in relation to fracking is straightforward. If any company wishes to exploit gas through hydraulic fracturing, then an application for planning permission is required. If an application is submitted, this Council is duty bound to consider it in a fair and transparent manner. If the Council is minded to approve any such application, it has to advise the Welsh Government before issuing its decision.
It is therefore not a question of whether or not I support a total ban on fracking, given that as a Council we are duty bound to consider any applications that come before us.
Councillor Bertin asked the Cabinet Member whether she would like to see all Welsh applications delegated to the Welsh Assembly Government, instead of the Westminster government.
The Cabinet Member considered Welsh Government would not have a problem if that were to happen, but she did not consider they would be able to determine applications any better than the Council would, with the expertise of its existing officers. She shared the Minister’s reservations, which was why she welcomed his decision to ask for applications to be called in, but it was a straightforward process and the Council would adhere to it.
(xviii) Question from Councillor Richard Bertin
Will the Member please tell us who was consulted a part of the 3G pitch feasibility study?
Reply from the Cabinet Member for Visible and Leisure Services
This was detailed at page 63 of the feasibility study presented to Cabinet on 17th April under the heading, 'Consultees interviewed as part of the first stage feasibility process’. As you do not seem to have read this section of the report I will go through the names for you:
- Ken Bryl, Secretary and Treasurer, Rhoose Football Club
- David Cole, Secretary and Gavin Chesterfield, First Team Manager, Barry Town United Football Club
- Tony Williams, Vale of Glamorgan League Chairman, Lee Saunders, Vale of Glamorgan Mini Football Coordinator
- Wesley Drew, Vale of Glamorgan League Safeguarding Officer
- Andy Pask, Welsh Football Trust, Football Development Officer, Club Development
- Jay Probert, Welsh Football Trust Regional Coordinator and Manager
- Michelle Briscombe, Secretary, Fred Malkin, Chairman and Danny Carter, Club Coach, Barry and Vale Harriers
- Matt Newman, Chief Executive, Welsh Athletics
- Colin Ham, Barry Rugby Football Club – telephone interview
- Cliff Hayes, Inter-sensory Cycle Club
- Dave Knevett, Operational Manager of Leisure and Tourism
- Mike Matthews, Strategic Planning Officer, Education and Learning
- Jane Wade, Operational Manager, Property
- Manager, Parkwood Leisure
- Coleen Tumelty, Parkwood Regional Manager; James Webber, Vale of Glamorgan General Manager
- Phil Beaman
- Cllr Gwyn John
- Malcolm Drysdale
Councillor Bertin asked whether the Cabinet Member could give an assurance that all athletics would remain as they currently were at Jenner Park.
The Cabinet Member referred to a feasibility study, which had been received by the Council in April. The full report was now awaited and would inform the way forward., including whether or not to progress a 3G facility. Whilst unable to comment further in advance of the report being received, he would be quite prepared to respond further in due course.