THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 25th April, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor Janice Charles (Mayor); Councillors Julie Aviet, Vincent Bailey, Rhiannon Birch, Jonathan Bird, Bronwen Brooks, Lis Burnett, George Carroll, Christine Cave, Millie Collins, Geoff Cox, Robert Crowley, Pamela Drake, Vincent Driscoll, Stewart Edwards, Ben Gray, Owen Griffiths, Stephen Griffiths, Sally Hanks, Nic Hodges, Hunter Jarvie, Gwyn John, Dr. Ian Johnson, Gordon Kemp, Peter King, Matthew Lloyd, Kevin Mahoney, Kathryn McCaffer, Neil Moore, Michael Morgan, Jayne Norman, Rachel Nugent-Finn, Andrew Parker, Bob Penrose, Sandra Perkes, Andrew Robertson, Leighton Rowlands, Ruba Sivagnanam, John Thomas, Neil Thomas, Steffan Wiliam, Margaret Wilkinson, Edward Williams, Mark Wilson and Marguerita Wright.

 

 

883            APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Anthony Hampton and Anne Moore.

 

 

884            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

885            MINUTES –

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 28th February, 2018 and the Special Meeting held on 28th March, 2018 were approved as a correct record.

 

 

886            ANNOUNCEMENTS –

 

No announcements were made.

 

 

887            PETITIONS –

 

The following petitions were received:

 

(1)       Petition objecting to the Council’s proposals in respect of Llancarfan Primary School (submitted by Councillor Kemp).  (Councillor Kemp also informed Members of the existence of an online petition.)

 

In submitting the petition, Councillor Kemp wished to make it clear that this did not represent him either being in favour of, or against, the proposals to which the petition related and that he would make his mind up in due course and that his decision would take into account all relevant issues and representations.

 

(2)       Petition objecting to the Council’s proposals in respect of the Youth Service (submitted by Councillor Perkes). 

 

 

888            REVIEW OF THE COUNCIL’S CONSTITUTION: OFFICER DELEGATIONS (MO) –

 

The Constitution remained under review on an ongoing basis.  Under Section 2.4 of the Constitution, the Monitoring Officer had a duty to monitor and review the operation of the Constitution to ensure that the aims and principles contained therein were given full effect.

 

Section 2.6.2 of the Constitution provided for any changes considered by the Monitoring Officer to be "required to be made to remove any inconsistency, ambiguity or typographical correction to be made in a report to the next Full Council meeting for information”.

 

Section 25 of the Constitution – Officer Delegations – required a number of minor amendments to the Officer Delegations resting with (1) the Head of Regeneration and Planning, (2) the Head of Regeneration and Planning and Operational Manager (Regeneration) and (3) the Director of Environment and Housing Services.  The proposed amendments were shown as tracked changes in Appendix A to the report.

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the changes to Officer Delegations as set out in Appendix A to the report be approved and the Constitution be amended accordingly.

 

Reason for decision

 

To update the Officer Delegation Scheme to reflect current structures and relevant provisions within the current Constitution.

 

 

889            NON-DOMESTIC RATES: HIGH STREET RATES RELIEF SCHEME 2018-19 (REF) –

 

The Leader outlined the recommendations from Cabinet of 16th April, 2018.

 

The purpose of the report was to confirm adoption of a High Street Rates Relief Scheme for 2018-19 in respect of qualifying business premises within the Vale of Glamorgan area under discretionary relief powers in accordance with section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

 

An announcement was made on 13th December, 2017 by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford AM, regarding an extra £5 million being made available to extend the help available to High Street retailers with their non-domestic rates.  This was half the amount available in 2017/2018.

 

On 13th March, 2018 the Welsh Government confirmed that an administrative grant of £6,203.86 would be provided to the Vale of Glamorgan Council to assist with the implementation of the scheme.  This amount was based on the total number of eligible hereditaments that received relief in the 2017-18 financial year.

 

On the assumption that grant funding for the Vale of Glamorgan Council would be based on the total number of eligible hereditaments that received relief in the 2017-18 financial year, it was anticipated that an amount of £231,500 would be received to assist eligible ratepayers.

 

The relief was aimed at High Street retailers in Wales and including those retailers that had seen an increase in their rates as a result of the 2017 revaluation undertaken by the Valuation Office Agency.  There were two levels of support available; Tier 1 which was the lower level of support up to a maximum of £250 and Tier 2 which was the higher level of support up to a maximum of £750.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the High Street Rates Relief Scheme for 2018-19 be adopted in accordance with the provisions contained in Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

 

(2)       T H A T relief be awarded to all qualifying businesses on the assumption that the Non-domestic Rates High Street Rates Relief Guidance issued by the Welsh Government at Appendix A to the report to Cabinet on 16th April 2018 for the 2017-18 will remain unchanged.

 

(3)       T H A T entitlements automatically be awarded to those qualifying business that can be identified through records held by the Council.

 

(4)       T H A T entitlements be awarded to the remaining businesses that may be eligible following receipt of a valid application form.

 

(5)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Head of Finance to implement any eligibility change issued by the Welsh Government in respect of High Street Rates Relief for the 2018-19 financial year.

 

Reason for decision

 

To enable a scheme to be adopted using discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 for the provision of High Street Rates Relief for qualifying business premises within the Vale of Glamorgan area for the period 1st April, 2018 to 31st March, 2019.

 

 

890            REVISED PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING LOANS (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C271), 26th March, 2018 (as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution) be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To enable the Council to implement the changes immediately to increase take up of the loan products to ensure Council performance was improved, as measured through National Performance Indicators, and that Welsh Government’s deadline to commit the budget of £871,813.49 was achieved by 31st March, 2019.

 

 

891            NON DOMESTIC RATES – HIGH STREET RATE RELIEF SCHEME 2018/19 (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C290), 16th April, 2018 (as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution) be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To enable a scheme to be adopted using discretionary relief powers under Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 for the provision of High Street rates Relief for qualifying business premises within the Vale of Glamorgan are for the period 1st April, 2018 to 31st March, 2019.

 

 

892            MICROSOFT LICENCE RENEWAL 2018-2021 (REF) –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the use of the Urgent Decision Procedure (Cabinet Minute No. C291), 16th April, 2018 (as set out in Section 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution) be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To enable the Council to tender the work in a timely manner.

 

 

893            QUESTIONS PURSUANT TO SECTION 4.18 OF THE COUNCIL’S CONSTITUTION –

 

Due notice had been given of the following questions:

 

(i)         Question from Councillor Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson

 

It is estimated that there are 13,000 victims of modern slavery in towns and cities across the UK.  What steps is the Council taking to identify and support victims in the Vale of Glamorgan?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

It is important that the Council procures goods and services in a responsible way to ensure that there is no form of slavery in our supply chains.  In this regard a number of steps have been taken, which include: 

  1. The Procurement Policy and Strategy has been updated to contain a clause on Ethics to incorporate the crime of modern slavery and confirm our commitment to ensuring it is not in our supply chain or business.  Our procurement documentation also includes questions about the actions bidders have taken or plan to take to tackle the risk of slavery in their business and supply chain. 
  2. Procurement staff have attended training organised by the Cardiff Partnership Board and Welsh Government.  In addition, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, as a region, have allocated additional resources for coordinating antislavery training since 2013. There is a dedicated regional trainer for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, who delivers ‘first responder’, half-day awareness sessions and ‘lunch and learn’ training sessions. The Regional Community Cohesion Coordinator supports the promotion of training at regional level. A range of frontline staff have attended the training, maximising awareness to cover the full range of services that may encounter a victim of trafficking. A 2016 Welsh Government evaluation noted that the region was the most effective, efficient and systematic in promoting and co-ordinating training. 
  3. Internal training has also been provided to various Council departments about slavery in general and how to address it in the procurement process.  Training is ongoing and further contacts and dates will be arranged. 
  4. Key staff from Vale of Glamorgan also attend the regional Human Trafficking Group.  The Group meets quarterly and aims to facilitate engagement, partnership working, appropriate information sharing and shared learning between Non-Governmental Organisations, Police, Local Authorities and other public and third sector organisations, on the issue of slavery across Wales and the UK. 
  5. Regional MARACs (Multi-agency risk assessment conferences) are convened monthly at agreed dates, but can also be held more frequently if a case requires urgent consideration. Information shared at the MARAC enables participating professionals to assess risk and establish a tailored, multi-agency, holistic support plan for each potential victim/survivor. The information may also facilitate the investigation of a slavery-related offence

From this, you will note that the Vale of Glamorgan Council is working effectively with partners on a regional basis.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the various nail parlours, beauty parlours and car wash facilities being set up in the area, Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson asked whether anybody had yet been investigated. 

 

The Leader indicated that he did not have an answer to hand but would ascertain whether there had been any investigations specific to the Vale of Glamorgan and provide the information in writing to all Members.

 

(ii)        Question from Councillor Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson

 

When will the Vale of Glamorgan Council follow the example of many others and provide a Council Tax Exemption for young people leaving care?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

Thank you for your question. You may recall that a similar question was asked by Councillor Bailey at a previous meeting of this Council and I undertook then to bring a report to Cabinet for consideration.

 

I am pleased to confirm that Cabinet will be considering a report to agree this exemption for care leavers at its meeting on 30th April. The report recommends providing this support for those care leavers who were supported by this Council, are aged between 18 and 25 and live in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

If approved, the report recommends that the award is backdated to 1st April, 2018.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Mrs. Wilkinson asked whether the Leader would ensure that all care leavers between the above ages were informed in order that they could submit a claim.

 

The Leader assured Members that would be the case.

 

(iii)       Question from Councillor N.C. Thomas

 

Could the Cabinet Member explain why the deadline for the identification of a Gypsy and Traveller site in the Vale of Glamorgan and the submission of an associated planning application has been postponed by a year and is now March 2019?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning

 

The Adopted Vale of Glamorgan Local Development Plan 2011-2026 set out a timeframe for meeting the identified long-term needs for authorised Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation.  It set a target to identify an appropriate site, following consultation with the existing Hayes Road occupiers, and to secure planning permission for the site and funding by May 2018.  Since the initial successful meeting with the existing occupiers in November 2016, it has been difficult to maintain regular contact despite repeated attempts.  Therefore, the Council recently engaged ‘Gypsy and Traveller Wales’ to act as mediators on our behalf to engage with the group which has proven more successful.  It is now anticipated that the group will meet with Council representatives in May 2018 to discuss their site and accommodation needs.

 

The Gypsy and Traveller Project Board continues to meet regularly to maintain the momentum in delivering this project to meet the Council’s statutory obligations for the provision of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation.  Once appropriate engagement with the current occupiers of Hayes Road has been undertaken, an update report will be presented to Cabinet before recess, which will consider the response of the travellers and identify options for progressing matters further.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to Council having been told on 28th June, 2017 that a Project Board had been established, Councillor Thomas asked whether anything had actually been achieved given the Administration had been in power for a year.

 

The Cabinet Member stated that progress could not be made until contact with the people had been established; any grant funding depended on that.  The Council could not provide a facility that was not wanted and, despite numerous attempts, contact had yet to be made.  A meeting had actually now been arranged and the Council had provided four possible dates in the coming months.  The hope was that, once that engagement was underway, progress could be made.

 

(iv)       Question from Councillor N.C. Thomas          

 

There is increasing evidence of correlation between a reduction in Youth Services and an increase in Youth Violence. Would the Cabinet Member explain his reasoning for cutting Universal Youth Services in the Vale of Glamorgan delivered by skilled and qualified professional Youth Workers in the hope they will be picked up by unqualified volunteers? 

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture

 

There seems to be a false assumption that what is proposed is a cut in youth service provision.  This is not the case.  I am very aware of the positive role played by youth services in reducing anti-social behaviour.  This is why the proposed changes to the delivery model of youth services will not lead to a cut in universal provision.  The amount of youth work undertaken in all areas will be at least comparable with current levels.

 

The service will continue to be delivered by qualified professional youth workers.  We are proposing changes to staff contracts to reduce the number of part-time posts.  Currently, many youth workers have contracts for as little as three hours a week.  The changes will see fewer posts but these will be for more hours.

 

In order to enhance the service, part of the proposal is to develop relationships with voluntary organisations and to support them to develop additional provision for young people in the Vale of Glamorgan.  In addition, in order to ensure that this provision is of a high standard, the Council will develop Partnership Agreements or Service Level Agreements with any group who wish to deliver services.  There will be an expectation that volunteers, supported by central services, will be registered, qualified and DBS compliant.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to his view that cutting the number of qualified workers was putting young people at serious risk, Councillor Thomas asked whether the Cabinet Member understood that cutting what represented quite a small amount in the overall scheme of things would, in fact, entail far greater costs being incurred.

 

The Cabinet Member considered that much of the supplemental question had been dealt with in his initial reply in that the Council was not cutting actual hours, but was introducing a different approach, comprising officers assisted by voluntary bodies.  He reiterated his earlier point regarding many staff working as little as three or four hours a week and that, consequently, much time was spent in interviewing staff who were subsequently engaged for small numbers of hours.  Again, he stated that moving to a system of staff with longer hours and who were better qualified should prove beneficial to young people in general.

  

(v)        Question from Councillor Ms. J. Aviet

           

Aggressive gulls are causing misery for many local residents and potentially putting their children at risk of harm.  The Gulls are often attracted by food left out for them by local residents.  What steps will the Cabinet Member take to reduce the nuisance caused by the gulls particularly during the nesting period when the issue is the greatest problem? 

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport

 

Gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and are not classed as vermin.

 

General licences are issued by the Welsh Government to allow measures to be taken against certain common species of birds on grounds which include the preservation of public health or public safety.  Any action taken must be humane and the use of an inhumane method which could cause suffering would be illegal.  The use of poisons or drugs to take or kill any bird is specifically prohibited, except under very special circumstances and with a specific licence issued by Welsh Government.

 

The list of birds against which humane methods may be used includes Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls.  However, only the owner of a building or the occupier can take action against the Gulls in it, or they can give someone else permission to act on their behalf.

 

The Herring Gull may be perceived as aggressive in certain situations.  They appear more threatening than they actually are.  This apparent aggressiveness is often seen in areas where food is regularly and freely available.  Herring Gulls are very competitive with fellow Herring Gulls for food and for that reason may try to take food before it is thrown or discarded, for example, snatching food from a child’s hand.   You note in your question the nuisance particularly caused by Gulls during the nesting period.  Herring Gulls may also naturally protect their nests or young by performing a series of swooping dives over an intruder.  Rarely, if ever, does the Herring Gull actually make physical contact.  While it is a disconcerting experience, a raised arm will in most cases be sufficient to deter them.

 

If gulls are fed regularly, it will create an artificially high population and encourage further breeding pairs to take up residence in the area.  A natural population level will be established only if the Gulls are left to fend for themselves from natural food sources.

 

The Council therefore strongly urges residents not to feed seagulls, as this will cause more harm in the long term and can also cause unnecessary annoyance to neighbours.  The practice should also be discouraged because it also attracts rats.

If Members of the public are seen to be regularly feeding seagulls or other animals off their property, this can be reported to SRS as this would be investigated from the perspective of possibly encouraging vermin.

 

Further advice on seagulls is available on the Council’s SRS website. 

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Ms. Aviet asked whether the Cabinet Member would make available a named officer to visit residents who had been affected and to look into possible solutions.

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that, should Councillor Ms. Aviet provide him with a list of any badly affected areas, he would make sure that officers attended.  He emphasised, however, that part of the problem was people not appropriately recycling their food waste in a sealed container and that, if food waste was not put out in black bags, most of the nuisance would be avoided.

 

(vi)       Question from Councillor Mrs. S.D. Perkes

 

As well as a DBS check, professional qualified youth workers are required to be EWC registered.  This means they are subject to a Code of Conduct and can have their registration withdrawn if found ‘not fit to practice’.  How will the Cabinet Member ensure the safety and well-being of our young people in the proposal to move to volunteer run youth services in the Vale of Glamorgan?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture

 

I firstly need to emphasise that the proposals do not seek to establish a volunteer-run youth service in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The service will continue to be delivered by qualified professional youth workers.  We are proposing changes to staff contracts to reduce the number of part-time posts.  Currently, many youth workers have contracts for as little as three hours a week.  The changes will see fewer posts but these will be for more hours.

 

In order to enhance the service, part of the proposal is to develop relationships with voluntary organisations and to support them to develop additional provision for young people in the Vale of Glamorgan.  In order to ensure that the safety and well-being of our young people is protected, the Council will develop Partnership Agreements or Service Level Agreements with any group who wish to deliver services.  There will be an expectation that volunteers, supported by central services, will become registered, qualified and DBS compliant.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to her reservations regarding volunteers running youth services, or part of such, Councillor Mrs. Perkes asked the Cabinet Member whether he considered utilising volunteers who were not EWC registered and / or subject to the Code of Conduct or fitness to practice, was really a risk worth taking. 

 

Alluding to his initial reply, the Cabinet Member assured Members that youth officers within the Youth Service would be qualified, DBS checked and deemed to be suitable.  The Council would not put forward any provider that it felt did not act in accordance with the service provided by the Council itself.

 

(vii)      Question from Councillor M.R. Wilson

 

Many people are very concerned about the sheer number of potholes in Penarth. What innovative solutions is the Cabinet Member looking at to reduce the number?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport

 

Like other Councils in Wales and England, the Council recognises that there are a significant number of potholes throughout the local highway network this year as a result of the very poor weather experienced during March and April.  Our officers are working diligently to address the defects and catch up on the backlog of damage caused by the winter period, utilising our appointed term contractor for repairs.

 

The Council uses and applies sound and well-practiced asset management techniques to maintain the highway in a safe condition.  To achieve this we inspect the whole of the Council’s local highway network on a regular and scheduled basis, depending on the class and characteristics of the particular road.  The Council is currently investigating mobile working arrangements to make this inspection regime process more effective and increase the time that inspectors are on the highway undertaking these essential inspections.

 

The Council also continually reviews its contracts with external suppliers to ensure that the most efficient rates and prices are obtained for works undertaken and that experienced contractors are appointed that are able to innovate in the way they undertake works on the highway to maximise the available resources.

 

I am also pleased to confirm that the Council will be running its very successful Big Fill campaign again this year, visiting all wards within the Vale to proactively identify potholes with public assistance and then deal with them quickly and efficiently, concentrating on individual areas each time.  I would urge Members to keep a close watch on our website for dates to be released when we will be in your Ward area.

 

Finally, I can also confirm that the Council has a significant budget (in excess of £2.4m) for Highway Maintenance improvement works this year to undertake planned maintenance, including resurfacing, surfacing dressing and micro asphalt treatments to improve the overall condition / quality of the roads and to assist in preventing the formation of potholes in the future.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Wilson asked whether the Cabinet Member could provide statistics for the number of potholes filled in each Ward between 2004 and 2018.

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed he would speak to officers and, should the information be readily available, it would be provided.  However, if it involved a considerable amount of work to collate, he would not wish to take officers away from inspecting areas. 

 

(viii)     Question from Councillor M.R. Wilson

           

As the Cabinet Member would know, the previous Administration provided water fountains in two parks.  What plans, if any, are there to further increase the provision of free tap water for the residents and visitors to the Vale of Glamorgan?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport

 

The previous water fountains were provided via grants and the Neighbourhood Services team is keen to provide similar facilities at other Green Flag parks if further grant funding becomes available.

 

In addition, the proposals for new café facilities in some of our parks will give access to free drinking water to users of the park and operators will be encouraged to sign up to the free water information websites.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Wilson asked whether the Council would follow Penarth Town Council’s initiative and promote free water to use and promote the refill app. 

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed he was keen to look at any proposals to reduce plastic and supply free water and reminded Members of the initiatives already underway within the Council in terms of elements such as plastic in containers.  He referred to the last Cabinet meeting and to a report which had been referred from the relevant Scrutiny Committee on the matter.

 

(ix)       Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson

 

What is the timescale for publication of the findings of the WelTAG Stage Two report regarding the Dinas Powys bypass?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport

 

A report was considered by Cabinet on 16th April, 2018 which agreed to extend the scope of the Improving Transport in Dinas Powys WelTAG Stage 2 study as a result of a request made by Dinas Powys Community Council.  As a consequence of this request and the extension of scope to include additional traffic surveys and potential routes for the Dinas Powys bypass, the timescale for consultation of the Stage 2 findings has been slightly delayed and it is now likely that a Stage 2 Consultation event will be held shortly before the Summer recess. 

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Dr. Johnson asked what progress had been made in securing funding for the project and whether that information would be available at the time of the WelTAG Stage 2 findings.

 

The Cabinet Member reminded Members that the relevant Cabinet report had referred to the Council paying extra money for the study to be extended.  Overall funding would depend on how far the WelTAG study progressed in future, but, presently, the Administration was awaiting the WelTAG Stage 2 report when it would be submitted to Cabinet later in the Summer.

 

(x)        Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson

           

The Cabinet Member will, no doubt, be as shocked as I was to read that all 71 establishments (100%) inspected by Shared Regulatory Services across the three Local Authorities failed to meet standards related to cellar safety. Given the large number of employees in the sector and the well-publicised inquiry findings related to a tragic accidental death, what actions will be taken to improve safety in the industry locally and what can be done to improve safety awareness on a greater scale?

 

Reply from the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Legal Services

 

Phase 1 of the cellar safety / beverage gas safety in hospitality intervention included a number of national businesses (such as SA Brain & Company Ltd; Mitchells & Butlers; Stonegate; Greene King); some of which had pre-existing Primary Authority Partnerships in place.  In addition to these companies rectifying deficiencies in the pubs visited throughout Bridgend, Cardiff & Vale, they have subsequently modified their corporate policies, procedures and control measures for cellar safety risks and are in the process of rolling out these improvements across the rest of Wales and the UK. 

 

SA Brain & Co. Ltd has additionally committed to carrying out confined space risk assessments, and to install carbon monoxide monitors, across its tenanted estate (in addition to its managed houses).  The company has recognised that this topic area is very technical and tenants will need support to secure compliance with legal requirements. 

 

Officers from SRS have also liaised with a local beverage gas cylinder supplier about this project intervention.  This gas supplier, which currently has approximately 2,000 clients, has subsequently produced a ‘cellar safety pack’, which includes an asphyxiation risk calculator; guidance on safe working practices; emergency procedures to follow in the event of cylinder leaks.  They can also install carbon monoxide detectors and provide training to cellar staff. 

 

Officers from SRS have additionally liaised with Newport Council and Health and Safety Executive concerning problems identified with a different beverage gas cylinder supplier.  Potentially unsafe cylinders have been removed from the market, and measures taken to secure a higher level of compliance with the safety of cylinders being supplied by this company. 

 

The work of Officers in the SRS Health and Safety Enforcement Team during Phase 1 of this intervention has therefore secured improvements to the health and safety of a much wider audience of employees working in the hospitality sector across the UK than the number of actual visits would suggest.

 

In the future, Officers in the SRS Communicable Disease and Health and Safety Team have committed to inspecting a further 80 businesses as part of its 2018/2019 work plan; specifically in relation to cellar and beverage gas safety.  This topic area will also be included as a ‘bolt-on’ topic when undertaking verification visits to all 24 golf courses throughout this area.  Focus will be placed on independently operated pubs; nightclubs (where CO2 cylinders are often used for special effects); sports and social clubs.

 

Supplemental

 

Alluding to the further 80 businesses referred to by the Cabinet Member, Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether he could confirm that there would be a zero tolerance / 0% failure rate in 2018/19 and whether any establishment which failed such would face appropriate action to ensure that they met safety standards to ensure the safety of their staff. 

 

The Cabinet Member assured Members that the inspections would be as rigorous as possible.  They were not purely to do with gas, but largely involved gas due to the danger of leaks in enclosed spaces.  However, he also reminded Members of problems such as people falling down cellar trap doors, problems which officers would deal with and advise on as best as they could in accordance with relevant Regulation and Legislation.  As a team, officers were concerned about such matters and were “getting to grips” with them as best as they could.

 

(xi)       Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson

 

What mitigation factors are the Council implementing in advance of the roll-out of Universal Credit in the Vale of Glamorgan later this year?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

I can confirm that the Council is providing a range of support options for those individuals who have transferred, or will be transferring, to Universal Credit (UC).

 

The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) anticipate that vulnerable and complex customers will require additional support with the new benefit arrangements.  Therefore, the Universal Support Delivered Locally Framework has been developed to assist them, which is a partnership approach between the Council and the Job Centre Plus.  This framework enables Local Authorities to provide local support for Universal Credit claimants.  This was introduced in the Vale of Glamorgan in February 2016 and was confirmed in a Memorandum of Understanding  agreed by Cabinet in January 2016 with available funding from the DWP. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the Council provides advice and support to UC claimants, supports vulnerable customers and deals with more complex enquiries.

 

The USDL requires the Council to: 

  • Provide support to UC Service Centre Staff - advising on housing cost issues using the Local Authority’s skills in dealing with Housing Benefit Claims.
  • Provide Personal Budgeting Support  for claimants with complex needs and in particular those who require personal budgeting advice support
  • Provide Digital Support for claimants to get online and stay online by identifying public Internet sites and locations where trained staff can provide supported access
  • Work with Universal Credit programme in preparing landlords for the implementation of Universal Credit
  • Manually process the Local Council Tax Reduction scheme where Universal Credit has been awarded.

The Council is also administering the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme. These payments can provide extra money when an individual or family needs extra help to meet housing costs. In the Vale, a total of £332,565 was awarded in DHP payments during 2017/2018.  The Welsh Government grant for the year was £330,286.

 

The Council has also been working hard to support affected tenants through the changes and to adjust its business planning to reflect the impact the changes are likely to have on its rental income.  A number of specific initiatives and steps are being taken to manage the risks posed, including: 

  • Expansion of the Money Advice Service – three Money Advisors have now been recruited, increasing the number of tenants that have been helped and increasing the range of specialist advice, including income maximisation and debt advice.  Over the last 12 months, over 1,000 money advice sessions have taken place and have resulted in an additional £389,000 worth of income for tenants in additional benefits, backdates and grants
  • Awareness raising, through a range of articles, newsletters and leaflets, has been used to make tenants aware of the welfare reform changes and impacts. The messages have included the importance of getting online, opening a bank account and household budgeting.
  • A Financial Inclusion Group has been established, bringing together partners from a wide range of public and voluntary sector agencies to address emerging themes, such as the need to share information, communication and joint working.  A multi-landlord group is also being set up to include the Registered Social Landlords operating in the Vale to ensure consistency and partnership working.
  • Improvements to the information held about tenants, including their personal circumstances, is helping the Council to identify people who are likely to be affected by specific changes and enables us to target advice and assistance towards those who need it most.
  • A Tenancy Ready project has been established to provide training, advice and support for new tenants in order to improve tenancy sustainment.  A key part of this will involve assessing the financial capability of new tenants and ensuring they are able to pay their rent.
  • The Rooms 4U project, run in partnership with a local Registered Social Landlord, involves converting existing properties into shared rooms for people aged under 35, meaning the help they receive towards housing costs are sufficient to cover the rent.  A number of properties have already been let on a shared room basis and there are plans to increase the spaces available over the next year.
  • Community Investment initiatives are supporting people to get into employment which ultimately reduces the reliance on benefits and the impact of welfare reform.  Projects include co-ordination of training and work experience opportunities, digital inclusion and healthy living initiatives and increasing tenants’ knowledge, skills and confidence levels.

Supplemental

 

Referring to his being aware that the Leader had recently met with the Secretary of State for Wales on other matters, he asked whether the Leader had spoken to the Secretary of State regarding the impact of Welfare Reform and Universal Credit in the Vale of Glamorgan and suggested to him that he might wish to scrap the idea totally. 

 

The Leader confirmed he had spoken to the Secretary of State, but not regarding Universal Credit.  In any event, he did not consider it would within the gift of the Secretary of State to scrap Universal Credit.  He assured Members that the Council was doing everything it could to mitigate any detrimental effect that Universal Credit might have on residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

(xii)      Question from Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson

 

What was the Council target for the number of refugees from Syria to be accepted to the Vale of Glamorgan in the 2017-18 year, and how many were successfully relocated?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Building Services

 

During 2017-2018, the Authority pledged to resettle four families, and has successfully resettled two so far. That includes four adults and six children.  That is in addition to the four families that arrived in 2016-2017, which included nine adults and ten children.

 

I’m pleased to confirm that, despite significant challenges, two additional units of affordable accommodation have recently been secured, and arrangements are being finalised with the Home Office to receive the remaining families before the end of June 2018.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to two families being accommodated, compared to a target of four, Councillor Dr. Johnson asked whether those two families would be added to the target for 2018/19. 

 

As far as he was aware, the Cabinet Member stated that all families that the Council had promised to rehouse had been and the Council was looking (in the light of further discussions held recently with the Home Office) to, hopefully, accommodate a few more. 

 

(xiii)     Question from Councillor Miss. A.M. Collins

 

Following the sad closure of the Filco store in Thompson Street before Christmas and the recently announced closure of Sports Direct on Holton Road, as well as the closure of less well-established stores, what support and assistance does the Council provide to existing retail shops in Barry Town Centre who are at risk of closure and causing vacant units?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning

 

This is a very similar question to Councillor Johnson’s question in February to Council, but I have a reply.  The Council addresses vacancies in retail centres in many ways.  Its day to day maintenance of the town centre contributes to a healthy retail environment supplemented by, for instance, our marketing and events programmes, including the ice rink last year and the Christmas market delivered by traders and funded in part by the Council.  The Council is keen to further help traders establish new events throughout the year and has funds available to support these. 

 

We also work closely in partnership with traders in Holton Road, and at their request we are currently trialling the use of under-used taxi bays for additional customer car parking.  This was agreed through the Town Centre Forum, which was established to improve communication and inform initiatives.  The Town Centres Development Officer is in routine contact with traders, assisting with issues as they arise.  For instance, a presentation was arranged for traders on the benefits and pitfalls of a Business Improvement District, which could generate additional revenue for promoting and improving the town centre.  At the request of traders further information is being gathered by the Council and a further presentation planned.

 

In respect of investment, the Castleland Renewal Area, which concluded in 2017, saw direct Council investment in commercial premises and residential property facelifts in upper Holton Road, and highway/signage improvements.  More than £2 million was invested in Holton Road under this programme, with 34 new shop fronts installed, and 6 vacant shops converted to residential use.  Some 7 new businesses moved into improved properties.  This comprehensive investment programme has transformed the area, making it more attractive to shoppers and hence retailers.

 

In the main retail centre, the ongoing Holton Road Grant Programme encourages property owners to improve the external fabric of buildings; bring empty shop units back into beneficial use and improve access to vacant or underutilised upper floors to encourage conversion to residential accommodation.  Up to 75% grants are available through this programme.  The project involves engagement with local businesses, landlords and property agents.  Since the grant programme was launched in 2014, six schemes have been completed at 157 Holton Road, 12 ‑ 14 Holton Road, 1 Regent Street, 86 Holton Road, 50 Holton Road and 80 Holton Road respectively.  As a result of the grant funding, the empty shop units at 86 Holton Road and 80 Holton Road are now occupied by tenants.  A further four schemes are currently on-site, at 3 Thompson Street, 51 Holton Road, 60 Holton Road and 74 Holton Road.  Following the completion of works it is hoped that the empty shop units at 3 Thompson Street, 60 Holton Road and 74 Holton Road will soon be occupied by tenants.  Further projects are in the pipeline for the coming year, the Council having recently been successful in securing a further £80,000 in grant from Welsh Government to extend the programme.  These improvements have considerably enhanced the town centre, increasing its attractiveness to shoppers.

 

Welsh Government has launched its new Targeted Regeneration Investment programme which will invest up to £44 million in South East Wales over three years  in a limited number of regeneration programmes.  These will be identified in close collaboration with the Cardiff Capital Region (City Deal), and the Council is already engaged in the process, having identified a gateway redevelopment opportunity for Barry town centre as a priority.

 

There is also a wide range of advice, guidance and in some cases finance available to eligible businesses of all types in the Vale.  The Council’s website sets out clearly where support can be found, whether it be from the Council or through our many partner organisations.

 

In addition, on 16th April Cabinet considered and agreed a proposal to adopt a High Street Rate Relief Scheme for shops and businesses situated on our high streets. You will note that this report is elsewhere on this agenda. 

 

The High Street Rate Relief Scheme was introduced by Welsh Government in 2017/2018 to provide financial support to high street businesses that had seen a large increase to their non-domestic rates following the national revaluation of business properties at the end of the previous year. Cabinet has agreed to adopt the Welsh Government Scheme again in the current financial year to continue to support these businesses.  To support businesses, where possible, this reduction will be automatically applied to reduce the requirement for businesses to apply for the relief. 

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Miss. Collins asked the Cabinet Member how long he considered it would be acceptable for the remaining vacant properties to be vacant before the Council did more than it was presently doing.

 

The Cabinet Member considered it a great shame that a number of shops were empty but reminded Members that, as a Council, it had limited resources and effectiveness in terms of its powers over privately owned premises.  However, he assured Members that the Council was working with the owners of such properties and trying to encourage and help to see if it could assist in the shops being re-let or used for other purposes.  He had met with Councillor Dr. Johnson and walked around the area to assess the position and had also had a meeting with the Council’s Town Centre Manager, which would be followed by a further meeting shortly. 

 

(xiv)     Question from Councillor Miss. A.M. Collins 

 

How many complaints and what actions have been taken by Shared Regulatory Services in regards to enforcement of conditions at the Barry Docks Incinerator, with particular regards to noise, light, working hours, emissions and any other concerns registered by the public? 

 

Rely from the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Legal Services

 

Shared Regulatory Services has received approximately 70 service requests since the beginning of September 2017.  These service requests include enquiries and complaints relating to alleged nuisances from noise, smoke and light from the Biomass facility on Wyndham Road, Barry.  Some of the complaints relating to smoke have been referred to Natural Resources Wales to investigate, as these would be a matter for them to enforce under the Environmental Permit they issued.

 

Some residents who have complained about noise and lighting issues to SRS have been given access to officers to witness and assess the alleged light nuisance and noise emanating from the Biomass site at night.  Investigations are ongoing and therefore it would be inappropriate to make further comment at this time.  However, any evidence collected by SRS may be shared with partner agencies such as Natural Resources Wales and our Planning colleagues if it is considered relevant to do so.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Miss. Collins asked the Cabinet Member how she, and her constituents, could be reassured that the issue was being prioritised, given there was no reference in the recent report to Cabinet regarding associated concerns and problems with the facility.

 

The Cabinet Member advised that the Council had recently taken delivery of two solar powered AQ Mesh Air Quality monitors and they were going to be installed on lamp columns, one on Dock View Road and the other in close proximity to Holton Road School.  The monitors would assess air quality 24 hours per day and feed data back wirelessly to the Council’s offices in 15 minute intervals.  Air quality data would then be made available to members of the public via the Shared Regulatory Services’ website.  Barring no unforeseen technical issues it was hoped that these units would be fully operational and provide publicly available air quality monitoring data within the next four weeks, and he hoped this assures Councillor Collins that the Council was actually doing something.

 

(xv)      Question from Councillor N.P. Hodges

 

Will the Leader make a statement regarding the important archaeological finds around Five Mile Lane and clarify how the Council will ensure that such items are well preserved and maintained for future generations?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

Rubicon Heritage was selected to complete the archaeological work following a public tender process and they arrived on site in March 2017. 

 

During the course of the dig, a wide range of significant finds were made dating back from prehistory, around 3500BC, through to the Roman period of the first to fourth centuries AD.

 

These included: 

  • More than 450 sites of burial or cremation
  • A Large quantity of prehistoric and Roman pottery
  • Prehistoric flint tools, including beautifully made arrowheads
  • Roman metal artefacts, such as brooches 

The finds are currently being analysed and the results of that should offer the local community a fascinating insight into the area’s previously hidden past.

 

The main dig site has its origins in the Neolithic period, a time in early prehistory, and was probably a ritual landscape, meaning it was used for ceremonies.  This area was then modified a number of times during a period of use spanning more than 3,000 years.  A major event in its history was the construction of a large Bronze Age barrow within which bodies were buried.  This took place throughout later prehistory and possibly into the Roman period, suggesting the site was an important focus for local communities over many centuries.

 

During the course of the excavation, further notable sites were discovered, including other prehistoric Bronze Age burial mounds and cremations, a later Iron Age settlement enclosure with roundhouses and a Roman metalwork site that involved iron smelting and smithing.  Further investigations of a Roman villa previously excavated in the 1960s and 1970s also took place.

 

The intention is that, on completion of the post-excavation reporting on the finds from the site, they will be deposited with the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff who might use them for research and exhibition purposes.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Hodges asked whether there was any potential, through a reappraisal of the ruins, to incorporate the existing finds into show case aspects of the road development in order to further the history, culture and heritage of the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The Leader did not consider there to be any chance of rerouting the new road, given that all the work had been done on that aspect.  He reiterated the fact that everything had been catalogued and recorded.

 

(xvi)     Question from Councillor N.P. Hodges

 

What factors will be considered when making a decision on the medium of education for primary schools to be built using Welsh Government 21st Century Schools Band B funding, noting the Welsh Government’s target for Welsh language speakers and the importance of primary school education in reaching this target?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture

 

Welsh Government have set out a number of criteria linked to the Band B of the 21st Century Schools Programme which must be reflected in proposals put forward by the Local Authority in order to secure funding.

 

School provision is dependent on demand, school capacities, forecasted need and Welsh Government priorities, including (but not limited to) the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESP), Welsh Promotion Strategy, etc.  The Council takes its commitment to Welsh in Education very seriously, and works closely with Welsh medium schools and Welsh Government in providing support and planning for the future.

 

Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050, seeking to facilitate one million Welsh speakers by 2050, calls for a pro-active approach in promoting and generating new demand for Welsh language education, and this ethos is reflected within the Vale’s WESP, its 21st Century Schools Programme, and the priorities set against the Learning and Skills school organisation and access department.

 

To date, we have a very successful track record of supporting and growing Welsh medium education and are confident in our long term strategy to continue this trend within our communities.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Hodges asked whether the Cabinet Member agreed that the only way to reach Welsh Government targets for the Vale of Glamorgan was through the extension and expansion of bilingual schools and he asked, therefore, what consideration had been given to the new proposed school at the Waterfront, in terms of it being a long overdue replacement for Ysgol St. Baruc, which was a school without kitchen facilities. 

 

In terms of the Council’s commitment to Welsh Medium education, the Cabinet Member referred to secondary education improvements in Band B, comprising around £19.5m at Ysgol Bro Morgannwg.  The Council was also looking for increased provision of Welsh Medium education in Cowbridge and, as Councillor Hodges would be aware, the situation in terms of St. Baruc, High Street and the new Waterfront schools were linked and the Council would be required to issue a consultation document in respect of its proposals for the Waterfront school.  In that consultation document, proposed decisions would be put forward on whether it should be Welsh or English medium. The outcome would be dependent on the Council satisfying Welsh Government in terms of a business plan to secure funding and also depended on Section 106 monies, the opinion of the public and the demand for Welsh Medium education.  Whilst unable to give a specific commitment, the Cabinet Member confirmed that every consideration would be given to Welsh and English Medium education in order that both could be catered for.

 

As far as St. Baruc’s School was concerned, he agreed with Councillor Hodges that the situation of not having a school meal kitchen was not satisfactory and it was a matter which was detailed in the provision that was being looked at.

 

(xvii)    Question from Councillor N.P. Hodges

 

The Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport recently wrote to the 26 town and community councils in the Vale asking for them to suggest no more than three routes in their local area to be included in the highways resurfacing plan spanning the next three years.

 

Could the Cabinet Member explain the rationale behind asking (for example) Barry Town Council, with a population of approximately 51,000, to name no more than 3 local routes in their area they want resurfacing and then compare these requests with, for example, Llangan community council, population approximately 800, and their 3 requested local routes?  

 

Do you think this is an appropriate, fair and logical way to consult with local councils and the community?   

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport

 

This administration has identified £2.436m for highway surfacing for this financial year.  We allocate this funding based on a technical assessment of highway condition.  Often, when highway deterioration is a consequence of periods of very cold ground temperatures the lesser and more rural highway routes can be disproportionately affected.

 

The Council has a comprehensive 3 year re-surfacing plan built on data from highway inspections and other technical assessments such as a SCANNER (Surface Condition Assessment for the National Network of Roads).  However, there may be minor local routes which could currently be borderline in our programme but which Town and / or Community Councils feel are very important locally.  Though all routes put forward would have to be subject to a further technical assessment, this information could assist our engineers in determining the final programme.

 

I toyed with the idea of writing to specific Town and Community Councils, perhaps those in most rural areas, seeking their views on the worst affected routes in their areas. However, as it would likely be deemed illogical or unfair to select only certain councils, I decided to write to all 26, explaining in some detail what I was looking to achieve by their input.

 

I have received many responses from Town and Community Councils who have put routes forward for inclusion in the programme.  Disappointingly, the only Council to have responded and not included any routes is Barry Town Council.

 

I would very much hope that Barry Town Council’s position will not result in any disservice to the good people of Barry and I will continue to consult with them on important matters of joint concern in the future despite their position in this case.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to Barry Town Council being aggrieved by the level of impetus being put into this, Councillor Hodges asked why certain information was being sought and alluded to the Town Council feeling that the timescale allowed to respond (given its area covered 45% of the population of the Vale, 51,000 people and 8 Wards), was totally inadequate.  He asked what the view of the Cabinet Member was regarding that.

 

The Cabinet Member reminded Councillor Hodges that a large proportion of the roads within the area alluded to were already covered by the scanner survey and included in the programme.  The Council was putting in additional money, given rural roads were in a poor state of repair.  He expressed surprise regarding any suggestion of criticism on the consultation given that, in the past, Councillor Hodges had suggested that more consultation should be undertaken on matters.

 

(xviii)   Question from Councillor V.J. Bailey

 

Will the Leader of the Council make a statement on Welsh Labour proposals for local government reorganisation?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

A report on the Green paper will be presented to Cabinet in May and that will set out the response to the Green Paper.  All Members will also know that a briefing session is planned for 9th May on this issue. 

 

That said, my own view is that this is an unnecessary, unwelcome and unwarranted distraction.  I say this for a few reasons. 

 

My main focus is on delivering vital services to our communities and residents and I am sure that, despite significant pressures and budget challenges.  This latest, in a long run of consultations, is yet another distraction, when we should all be focusing on doing what we do best – delivering vital services.

 

The previous Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Finance promised a period of stability so that local Councils could continue delivering vital services to residents and communities without the uncertainty and demoralising impacts of another debate on a flawed plan of reorganisation.  Those promises clearly now count for nothing. 

 

The consultation again harps back to the Williams Commission report, which in itself was flawed as it did not even consider the role and form of the health boards in Wales. 

 

There seems to be a flawed assumption that big is better.  It is clear to me, and hopefully everyone in this Chamber that big is not always better.  We are a mid-range Authority in terms of area and in terms of population, but we are consistently high performing, despite significant pressures and poor financial settlements from Welsh Government.  Despite year on year cuts to our funding, we continue to out-perform larger Councils.  Welsh Government has continually pressed for larger Councils despite the fact that there is firm and indisputable evidence that size is no measure of performance.  

 

We are already working collaboratively in key areas, such as school improvement, social care and health and the City Deal.  We also have been at the forefront of delivering shared services, as is the case within Audit and Regulatory services.  More locally, we work with community groups and organisations and we are able to do this successfully because of our size and our connection with local communities. 

 

On the issue of mergers, I have said before that there is absolutely no good reason to merge the Vale of Glamorgan Council (consistently rated as the highest performing Local Authority in Wales) with the City of Cardiff Council.


The Vale of Glamorgan is a very different place to Cardiff, both geographically and culturally, and has very different characteristics and needs to that of the capital city. This is something that Welsh Government still fails to understand, even after several years of debate and challenge by this Council. 


The Green Paper indicates that the Welsh Government recognises that current funding arrangements for Local Authorities are unsustainable.  However, forced mergers, with huge upfront costs and massive disruption to vital services, are not the solution.


As has always happened in the Vale, and in closing, I call on all in this Chamber to unite to protect the future of the Council and the Vale of Glamorgan itself. 

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to a third major set of proposals being brought forward by the Labour Government regarding Local Government Reorganisation within the last three years and to the associated significant uncertainty resulting, Councillor Bailey asked whether the Leader would join him in reaffirming the Council’s opposition to any proposals that would lead to concreting over green spaces, unnecessary overdevelopment and the Vale effectively becoming a “suburb of Cardiff”. 

 

The Leader confirmed he would.  He alluded to leadership changes occurring within Welsh Government and to the first candidate who had put his name forward for leadership as being the Minister who had promised stability for Councils and an emphasis on collaboration, which was what most Councils were already doing. 

 

The Administration was not against mergers if Councils voluntarily wished to do so, but he did not consider it should be forced upon the Council.  He genuinely believed the Vale was better served by a Vale of Glamorgan Council than it would be by a larger Council incorporating Cardiff and he would fight all he could to maintain that. 

 

(xix)     Question from Councillor V.J. Bailey

 

With reference to my question in Full Council in December 2017, will the Leader of the Council provide an update on proposals to exempt care leavers from Council Tax?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

Thank you for your question.

 

This is a second question on Council Tax exemption for care leavers and I would like to thank Councillor Bailey for his question and take this opportunity to thank him for raising the issue before Christmas which led to the position as outlined in my previous answer in that the Cabinet is considering a report to agree this exemption on 30th April.  That report is public now and people are quite free to have a look at that and as I also said before, if approved, the exemption will apply to those care leavers living in the Vale of Glamorgan between ages 18-25.  The report also proposes the decision to grant this exemption to be backdated to 1st April, 2018 and  I would also like to confirm (as in the answer to Councillor Wilkinson’s supplementary question) that we will, as a Council, do everything we can to identify those people who will be eligible for this.  It may not be possible in every case but we will do everything we can to identify the individuals and  signpost them in the right direction

 

(xx)      Question from Councillor V.J. Bailey

 

Will the Cabinet Member provide an update on the Conservative Council’s ‘Road Resurfacing Fund’, and any other steps being taken by the Council to improve roads in the Vale of Glamorgan?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport

 

I have addressed this question in part by my response to an earlier question this evening.

 

As advised, a sum of £2.4m has been made available for highway resurfacing and treatment for this financial year.  Funding will be allocated through the Council’s 3 year resurfacing plan, which will be subject to Cabinet approval shortly.

 

Supplemental

 

Alluding to certain “cynicism” in certain quarters within the Council Chamber when the road resurfacing fund had first been announced, Councillor Bailey trusted all Members would now welcome the additional funding.  He asked the Cabinet Member what assurances he could give that road resurfacing would continue to remain a top priority for the Administration.

 

The Cabinet Member appreciated that the additional funding would only partly continue the work required and that more and more funds would be necessary.  As such, he would continue to press during the year and following financial years for additional funds to be put into the resurfacing programme and he felt sure he would have the support of his Cabinet colleagues in doing so.

 

(xxi)     Question from Councillor V.J. Bailey

 

Following Barry Town Council’s decision to look again at the tendering process for the Cemetery Approach Community Centre, will the Cabinet Member confirm – in the event of any delays to this process – that all earmarked Section 106 monies will remain committed for spending in the Dyfan Ward?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning

 

Currently, there is an allocation of £83,543.75 Section 106 Community Facilities monies received from the re-development of the former Ysgol Maes Dyfan, allocated to the proposed Community Building on Cemetery Road, in addition to £40k Capital monies which the Council has allocated.  Should the scheme at Cemetery Road not progress to award of contract, any re-allocation of the Section 106 contribution would need to be in accordance with the Section 106 Protocol for Implementation and there would be a consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member and local Ward Members. This would only be in the event the project for the community centre does not go ahead.  Any reallocation will be required to be in the vicinity of the development site. 

 

(xxii)    Question from Councillor G.D.D. Carroll

 

Will the Cabinet Member please make a statement on the rollout of LED street lighting across the Vale of Glamorgan?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services and Transport

 

I am delighted to be able to advise that the works to implement LED lanterns across standard residential street lighting infrastructure areas commenced on site in early March 2018 and work is progressing well, with full completion likely to take some 14 weeks, finishing in June 2018.

 

Prior to the commencement of works, officers spent significant time and effort procuring preferential contracts for both the purchase and the installation of the LED lanterns.  This has meant that the most advantageous products and up-to-date LED technology has been purchased.

 

All Ward Members were provided with a detailed street by street schedule of the works programmed to fit the new LED lanterns in their Wards in February 2018.

 

The works will see over 5,000 conventional street lighting lanterns replaced by more efficient LED alternatives, which will be dimmed by 50 per cent between midnight and 6am, meaning increased illumination times and an end to part-night lighting in these areas. This project will reduce the Council’s ongoing maintenance and repair costs for street lighting as LED lanterns can last for 20 to 25 years or 100,000 hours compared to conventional lighting, which only has a life span of three to six years.

 

Further works to plan and procure the necessary conversion of ornamental and bespoke street lighting apparatus in residential streets to LED lanterns will commence on completion of the works in June 2018.

 

In addition, the Council has been successful in applying for Salix loan funding to replace all remaining conventional street lighting to LED within the next two years and work is progressing to establish a programme for this work, which mostly involves lighting on our main highway routes.

 

Supplemental

 

Referring to the overall benefits that residents were receiving as a result of the rollout of the project, Councillor Carroll, nevertheless, referred to some residents finding their houses now “effectively floodlit throughout the night” as a result of the angle at which the new lights had been installed.  He asked whether the Cabinet Member would provide an update on the action being taken to deal with such issues and to ensure that everyone across the Vale could enjoy the benefits of the new LED lighting.

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that very few complaints had been received and officers had followed up on those.  There were various ways in which the Council could deal with the issue, such as putting baffles on the lights and actually changing the direction of the light itself.  In addition, if the opportunity or necessity arose to dim the lights even further, that would be undertaken.  He concluded by confirming that all complaints were taken into consideration and followed up.

 

(xxiii)   Question from Councillor K.F. McCaffer

 

Following the statement made in Parliament this week by Steven Doughty MP, would the Leader make a statement on the actions of this Council on supporting the application by Croeso Penarth to resettle Syrian refugees in the town?

 

Reply from the Leader

 

I must respond by saying that I am extremely disappointed with the language used by Stephen Doughty MP in his statement to Parliament, which implies the Authority has deliberately sought to obstruct the community sponsorship application from Croeso Penarth.

 

I remind Members that the Authority is duty bound to ensure that each application is sufficient and sustainable, and that the needs of the vulnerable refugees can be fully met over the long term, before it can consent to an application progressing further. This obligation is set out clearly in the Guidance issued to Local Authorities in pursuance of assessing each community sponsorship application.

 

Each submission must be assessed on a case-by-case basis and, allowing for regional differences, the Authority account for both the demands on local resources and the capacity of its statutory service providers. In this regard, the Authority has made every effort to expedite the due diligence required to consent, and there has been no deliberate attempt to frustrate the process despite the allegation.

 

This Authority is fully and positively committed to assisting Syrian Families, having already provided refuge for 6 families and a commitment to provide additional units this year.  We welcome the efforts of our Community partners to increase that provision, but we must ensure that such schemes are sustainable and that services are available to deliver the necessary support to those families. 

 

Furthermore, I am aware that a draft resettlement application submitted to the Home Office by Citizens UK mistakenly stated that consent had already been given.  This incorrect assertion has placed considerable pressure on the Authority from the community sponsors and Citizens UK, and is not consistent with the collaborative, partnership approach envisaged by the Home Office.

 

I have been briefed by officers leading on the process, and I can confirm that a meeting with the Croeso Penarth community sponsorship group was held on the 20th April, to evaluate the resettlement plans, which have been updated following stakeholder consultation.  This meeting with the Regional Panel included statutory partners from both the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Cardiff Council.  Further to this meeting, a Cabinet Report will be submitted outlining the findings so that a decision can be made on the Croeso Penarth application.

 

 

894               PUBLIC QUESTIONS –

 

The following questions were submitted and replied to as shown, in accordance with the protocol agreed by Council on 5th May, 2010:

 

(i)         Question from Mr. Gethin Punter (NOT IN ATTENDANCE)

 

Why does Llantwit Youth Centre have to close?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture

 

Thank you for your question Mr. Punter.

 

As a result of successive cuts to the funding the Council receives and increasing cost pressures in areas such social care and education, it is incumbent on us to ensure that all funding is utilised effectively to sustain service provision. You might be aware that many Council Services have been reviewed as part of the Council’s Reshaping Services Programme to ensure we can continue to provide good quality services in the future within the reduced funding available.

 

A review of the Youth Service showed that it will not be possible to retain dedicated Youth Centres in the future. The centre in Llantwit Major is the last remaining dedicated centre in operation in the Vale of Glamorgan. The service will continue to be delivered in the area through use of the Council’s tailor-made youth bus which has proved to be very popular with young people in other areas.

 

(ii)        Question from Mrs. Frances Reid (NOT IN ATTENDANCE)

 

How is funding for spending for schools calculated?  How can schools/parents access more help for children with learning difficulties?  And what happens to the children when they fall slightly short of your minimum criteria?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture

 

In the current financial year, £4.2 million has been delegated to schools to meet the needs of children and young people with additional learning needs in mainstream schools. 

 

Of this £4.2 million, £2.39 million is allocated to schools based predominantly on the number of pupils identified as being on the schools additional learning needs register; there is also a smaller allocation based on pupil numbers and pupils eligible for free school meals.  This funding is used by schools to meet the needs of the majority of pupils with additional learning needs.

 

For pupils with a higher level of need, there is an Additional Needs Fund of £1.4 million.  To access this additional funding, schools are required to make a request to a panel consisting of Headteachers, Local Authority officers and senior specialist teachers.   The panel will then decide the level of funding allocated to the school based on set criteria.

 

In addition, the Local Authority also provides £388k to fund specialist resource bases attached to mainstream schools.  These bases provide additional specialist provision to meet the needs of pupils with significant difficulties in a number of areas of ALN, such as complex learning difficulties and hearing impairment.

 

As can be seen, the £4.1 million in funding supports a graduated response to need.  If children and young people do not meet the criteria for higher levels of support, they will still be able to access a level of support appropriate to their needs. 

 

If parents feel that their child is not receiving sufficient support, they should initially discuss this with the school, who can liaise with Local Authority officers to address their concerns.  If those concerns persist, then parents can write to the Local Authority requesting a statutory assessment of their child’s special educational needs; such requests are given due consideration by the Local Authority.

 

(iii)       Question from Mrs. Frances Valencia

 

Does the Council feel that sending an 'independent' representative to the student School Council at Llancarfan Primary to hand out sweets to the children, presenting the migration proposal to them and then asking them to choose between supporting or opposing it – without first informing parents of the visit – is an impartial, transparent and representative process to glean children's feedback on the proposal?  And will the fact that almost all of the children voted against the school "migrating" be taken into account going forward?  And, if so, how?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

The Council has an obligation to make arrangements to consult with children as part of any proposal in accordance with the School Organisation Code.  This process is conducted through the school council and was arranged in advance with the Headteacher.  The consultation event was undertaken by an independent specialist consultant and it offered an opportunity for children to learn about the proposal and feed into the outcome of the consultation.  A report on this consultation event and its outcomes will be included in the consultation report on the proposal.

 

In addition to this information I can confirm that I have been advised that the facilitator had the approval of the school to hand out sweets to children.  A teacher’s aide was also present at the event to provide support where necessary.  The Headteacher was also in attendance for part of the event.

 

(iv)       Question from Mr. Matthew Valencia

 

The oldest of the Llancarfan school buildings is a historic Victorian structure, built in 1875.  It is recorded as a local “Treasure”. Can the Council provide a guarantee that this historic schoolhouse will not be bulldozed if the school closes and the site is redeveloped?

 

THIS QUESTION WAS WITHDRAWN

 

(v)        Question from Dr. Alexander Barratt

 

Proposals in the Western Vale Primary Provision consultation involve changes to primary school catchment areas, which will have a knock-on effect for secondary catchments and admissions policies.  The consultation document talks only about transitional arrangements for existing pupils.  What other plans does the Council have for secondary catchments and admissions policies in the Western Vale?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

There are no current plans to reconfigure catchment areas within the Vale of Glamorgan other than as contained in this proposal, although a catchment area review is planned for later this year.

 

Any future proposed changes to catchment areas and admission policy, including any agreed transitional arrangements would be subject to public consultation.  I can advise you that the Council consults on its admission arrangements between January and March every year and the agreed policy is published in the Parental Guide to School Admissions document, which can be found on the Council’s Admission pages

 

(vi)       Question from Mr. Lee Lapham

 

Re Western Vale Primary Reconfiguration – what research was undertaken to determine the likelihood of the 350 allocated houses on the north eastern land ever being developed and what detailed reports were undertaken to ascertain the future expansion potential of the existing Rhws Primary site?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture

 

The land to the north of the railway line in Rhoose is allocated in the Council’s adopted Local Development Plan (2011-2026) for 700 dwellings.  The allocation has come forward in two parcels: the land to the north-west and the land to the north-east.  The land to the north-west of the railway line is currently under construction by Taylor Wimpey.  The land to the north-east of the railway line has been granted outline and two reserved matters consent for 350 dwellings.  The reserved matters for this site have now expired and the developer will need to re-submit a new application if they want to pursue developing the site.  Given the allocated status of the site, the Council anticipate the site coming forward for development during the plan period (i.e. before 2026).

 

The progress of all allocated sites will be monitored annually via the Annual Monitoring Report required to monitor the progress of the Local Development Plan, and the annual Joint Housing Land Availability Studies.

 

The requirement for a new school was identified when preparing background evidence to support the Local Development Plan.  This research was jointly prepared by Education and Planning officers and suggested that, given the number of pupils generated by the three new developments in Rhoose, this warranted allocating land for a new school within the Plan.  Various options were subsequently considered and discounted, including the extension of the existing primary school in Rhoose.

 

(vii)      Question from Mrs. Katherine Kemp

 

The oldest of the Llancarfan school buildings is a Victorian structure built in 1875 and recorded as a County Treasure.  Can the Leader give an assurance that this historic schoolhouse will not be bulldozed if the school closes and the site redeveloped?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

You will be aware that Llancarfan Primary School is situated within the Llancarfan Conservation Area and is identified in the Llancarfan Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan as a ‘positive building’ as it contributes to the character or appearance of the conservation area in a positive manner.  I can also confirm that the building has been identified and included in the Council’s ‘County Treasures’ list.

 

As such, any development proposal relating to the site would need to be considered in terms of the policies in place, for example the requirement to “preserve and, where appropriate, enhance the architectural and / or historic qualities of buildings, or conservation areas, including locally listed buildings”.

 

I can assure you that there are no plans to develop or demolish the school site.  I can also assure you that if this proposal goes ahead, any future planning proposals with regard to the school building would be subject to consideration of its status as a County Treasure alongside clear adherence to the policies and regulations in place with regard to buildings with this status.

 

(viii)     Question from Mrs. Susan Taylor

 

Do you share our concern that Council officers' characterisation of the Llancarfan Primary School closure as a "migration" is a cynical attempt to head off adverse publicity and avoid taking due regard for the "specific factors in consideration of school closures" described in the Code of Practice for School Organisation?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

No, I do not believe that this is the case.  The Council has been clear that this is a proposal to increase the capacity and age range of Llancarfan Primary School via the provision of a new school building.  It is not proposing to close the school.  If this proposal goes ahead, the pupils, staff and governing body of Llancarfan Primary School would transfer to the new improved school building but the school would continue to deliver education with the additional provision of nursery education.

 

This proposal has been put forward to address the existing and projected capacity concerns for Llancarfan and Rhoose Primary Schools, as well as providing £4.2m of investment in a modern, fit for purpose school building, which would enhance the teaching and learning experience at Llancarfan Primary School.

 

(ix)       Question from Mr. Stephen Parry

 

The Consultation document on the proposal to reconfigure primary provision in the Western Vale (which includes the closure of Llancarfan Primary School) does not meet all the requirements of the Code of Practice for school organisation.  Among other things, it does not deal with disposal of land, as it is required to do, and it does not contain costings with regard to the cost of transporting pupils to the new school. Can the Vale of Glamorgan Council explain this failure to comply with the requirements?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.

 

As the proposal is at a very early stage, there have been no discussions on the potential transfer or disposal of land or buildings should the proposal proceed. However, the Council are fully aware of the “County Treasure” status of the current school building and would, of course, manage any future actions in line with the policies in place.  An addendum to the consultation document including this information was circulated to prescribed consultees on 13th April, 2018, in the interests of clarity.

 

In terms of the provision of transport costs, these are only required in the event of a proposal on school closure.  The consultation document does not propose to close Llancarfan School, but rather migrate the school from its current site to a brand new building.  References to transport matters are, however, contained within the consultation document.

 

(x)        Question from Mrs. Clare Parry (NOT IN ATTENDANCE)

 

The Council`s adopted Local Development Plan has allocated 700 new dwellings in Rhoose north of the railway line, of which 350 have planning permission and are under construction, whilst 350 have only outline planning permission which has lapsed.  Can the Council explain how the consultation document estimates that this number of houses will produce 438 children of nursery to secondary age, and what reliable modelling formula was used?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

As I confirmed in response to an earlier question, the land to the north-east of the railway line has been granted outline and two reserved matters consent for 350 dwellings.  The reserved matters for this site have now expired and the developer will need to re-submit a new application if they want to pursue developing the site. Given the allocated status of the site, the Council anticipate the site coming forward for development during the plan period (i.e. before 2026).

 

The Council applies pupil yield factors to the number of units being built for a new development in order to generate anticipated numbers for each stage of education. At nursery level this is calculated at 0.1 pupils per house, at primary level 0.278 per house and at secondary level 0.208 per house for 11 –16 year olds and 0.04 for post 16 pupils.  For every 100 houses built the Council would expect 10 nursery age children, 28 primary age pupils and 21 secondary age pupils aged 11- 16 and 5 post 16 pupils to be generated.  The Council will factor in the demand for English, Welsh and denominational education for the pupils generated based on existing demand within the area of a proposed development.

 

These factors are calculated from census data of householders in the Vale of Glamorgan and are consistent with audit commission guidance.  The factors are a tried and tested, accurate method of calculating the number of school places required for planning purposes as a result of housing developments of various types and sizes

 

(xi)       Question from Mr. Matthew Valencia

 

In a move that appears to be unprecedented for Vale of Glamorgan schools, the Council has described its proposal to close the village school in Llancarfan and move pupils to Rhoose as a “migration”.  Does it believe, as that word implies, that a 210-place school on the edge of a suburban housing development is the same as a small school in a rural setting with an ethos to match?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

The ethos of a school is created primarily by the staff, pupils and governing body, not the school building.  This proposal seeks to transfer the school pupils, staff and governing body in its entirety to a new school building, which would have additional space to accommodate the additional children who will be living locally. 

 

The Council would look to sustain and build on the success of Llancarfan Primary School and support the school in its transition in order to ensure that, wherever possible, the character, ethos and positive aspects of the existing school are protected and reflected in the new site.

 

Once again, I reiterate that we are not proposing to close Llancarfan Primary School. A school closure would require a separate process and would involve the redundancy or redeployment of all staff, the dissolution of the governing body and the transfer of remaining pupils to alternative schools with places available.  Instead we are proposing to invest £4.2m in a new building that will provide sustainability and sufficiency of school places for the area in the longer term.

 

(xii)      Question from Mr. Andrew Llewellyn-Blakemore

 

The Code of Practice for School Organisations states "In some areas a school closure could have implications beyond the provision of education.  This may be a particular feature in rural areas."  Kirsty Williams, Minister for Educations, has stated "Small and rural schools play an important role in raising standards and extending opportunities."  With this in mind, why is the Vale of Glamorgan Council proposing closing Llancarfan Primary School which is a successful small rural school, with a good Estyn report, and an improved "traffic light" score in the National School Categorisation System?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

The Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, issued a draft revision to the School Organisation Code in June 2017.  This is expected to be laid down this June/July for implementation from 1st October, 2018.

 

The draft Code contained proposals to protect rural and small schools and provided a designated classification list of rural school in Wales based upon the National Statistics Urban – Rural Classification covering England and Wales.  This list would be used by Councils to determine whether a school was considered rural or not.  In terms of the classification guide in the School Organisation Code, no schools in the Vale of Glamorgan are classified as rural schools.

 

Small schools are defined by the Audit Commission as a school with 90 pupils or less.  In the case of Llancarfan Primary School, I can advise that the school is not considered a small school as is does not meet the definition, with 106 pupils currently on roll.

 

There appears to be some confusion in this matter.  The Council is not proposing to close Llancarfan Primary School; it is proposing to migrate the pupils, staff and governing body to a new school building.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council has no schools classified as small or rural in nature.

 

(xiii)     Question from Miss. Amelia Llewellyn-Blakemore

 

Please could you let me know why you think it's necessary for us to have a new school when we're perfectly happy with the lovely school that we already have and has served the village well since Victorian times?  It's a piece of history that should continue into the future.

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

We believe that this proposal is in the best interests of all pupils in the area as it would ensure that there are sufficient school places for all of the children requiring one.  If we do nothing, we know from our projections that Llancarfan and Rhoose Primary School would not be able to accommodate all of the children who will need a school place in the area.  However, if we built another school in Rhoose and also kept Llancarfan Primary School open, we have concerns that this it could create too many places, which would cause sustainability issues for Llancarfan Primary School.

 

If this proposal is taken forward the Council would wish to work closely with the pupils, parents, staff and governors to ensure that the history of the current building is honoured and truly reflected in the new school building.  There are many ways in which this can be achieved, for example by transferring art work, installations and also creating new murals and areas of interest that reflect the long and vibrant history of the school.

 

(xiv)     Question from Mrs. Melinda Thomas

 

In preparing the Community Impact Assessment and Consultation document in relation to the proposal to reconfigure primary provision in the Western Vale, the Council accepts only that there may be a perceived impact upon the community of Llancarfan (Llanbethery and Llantrithyd).  This is not accepted.  Please could the Cabinet Member provide evidence of the work undertaken to demonstrate that the risk of adverse impact upon the wider community has been properly taken into consideration.

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

As with all education consultations, the initial information contained in the Community Impact Assessment is sourced from information held within the Council Offices and at the school, as well as any other information identified in the initial stages of proposal development.  As the consultation progresses and information is received with regard to identified community impact, this is in turn fed into the final assessment documentation, which is then published alongside the Consultation Report.  The Council does not seek to prejudge the impact to the community at the commencement of the consultation, but rather ensures it reflects the evidence received.  

 

(xv)      Question from Dr. Julie Highfield

 

Under current plans, pupils moved to Rhoose will no longer be in catchment for Cowbridge, but for Barry and Llantwit instead.  The Council has sought to reassure parents that children already in Llancarfan will have “priority” when it comes to places in Cowbridge.  Should the Council have a responsibility to explain more clearly that no guarantee of places can be given to these pupils, and that when the time comes for those children to go to secondary school, it is possible that no place in Cowbridge is available for some or all of them?

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

A pupil’s catchment school is identified by the child’s home address, not their attendance at a particular school.  The Council’s published admission arrangements confirm the criteria and process used in allocating school places.  They rank residence in the catchment area and attendance at a feeder school as the highest criteria for allocation of a place after pupils directed to the school due to their Special Needs or Looked After status.

 

These admission arrangements are published annually and from the outset they state clearly that no guarantee can be given that a parent’s first preference of school can be met.

 

In terms of this proposal, the Council is committed to honour the feeder arrangements to Cowbridge for pupils who are on roll at Llancarfan on the date of migration should this proposal go forward.  This being the case, Llancarfan pupils maintaining this feeder status will be in the same position as any other pupil attending one of the ten primary feeder schools for Cowbridge and living in the catchment area.

 

(xvi)     Question from Dr. Adrian Neal

 

Does the Council feel that the Community Impact Assessment, which was conducted prior to the consultation period, reflects the impact on the community – bearing in mind that it was put together without consulting the Fox and Hounds Pub, St. Cadoc's Church, Llancarfan Tennis Club, members of the local community, Llancarfan Community Cinema, the After School Club, the Village Hall and other local institutions?  

 

Reply from the Executive Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources

 

As with all education consultations, the initial information contained in the Community Impact Assessment is sourced from information held within the Council Offices and at the school, as well as any other information identified in the initial stages of proposal development.  As the consultation progresses and information is received with regard to identified community impact, this is in turn fed into the final assessment documentation which is then published alongside the Consultation Report.  The Council does not seek to prejudge the impact to the community at the commencement of the consultation, but rather ensures it reflects the evidence received.