SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)
Minutes of an extraordinary meeting held on 28th February, 2013.
Present: Councillor R.L. Traherne (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore (Vice-Chairman); Councillors P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, Mrs. P. Drake, E. Hacker, P.G. King, A.G. Powell and C.J. Williams.
Also present: Councillors R.F. Curtis, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, K. Hatton and G. John.
910 MINUTES -
RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 12th February 2013 be approved as a correct record.
911 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
Councillor Mrs. C.L. Curtis declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 4 in that she was a trustee of the Gibbonsdown Centre and would leave the room if the item was to be discussed and when the recommendation was to be considered.
912 REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2012 TO 31ST DECEMBER 2012 (DDS AND DVSH) –
The Revenue Budget and projected outturn for 2012/13 was shown at Appendix 1 to the report with the accountant referring to specific service areas as detailed below.
- Highways Maintenance and Engineering Design and Procurement – the favourable variance of £44k. was reported as mainly due to increased levels of income being achieved by the Highways Section.
- Waste Management – the £3k. favourable variance was as a result of a current underspend which was due to a continuing decrease in the level of waste taken to landfill which saved on costly disposal.
- Grounds Maintenance – the overspend of £40k. was reported as mainly due to an overspend on new machinery as new legislation had come into force for Hand Arm Vibration.
- Support Services, the reported favourable variance of £128k was to be held for any cost pressures within Visible Services that may arise throughout the financial year.
- Building Services it was noted that the service area was anticipated to breakeven at year end.
- Economic Development – the current £37k. adverse variance was primarily attributable to the Employment and Training Services as a result of the Government Work Programme receipts having not reached the profiled income targets to date. The service area was however currently under review to enable a return to within budget in 2013/14.
- Leisure Services - there was currently a £167k. adverse variance to the revised profiled budget which was primarily due to overspending in the leisure centres, however part of the variance would be offset by savings from within Planning and Transportation.
- Planning and Transportation the favourable variance of £231k. was reported as predominantly due to income from planning fees for major schemes which were in advance of the profiled estimate.
In reporting on capital expenditure Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress as at 31st December 2012. The report highlighted that for all schemes where it was evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent during the year, relevant officers had been required to provide an explanation for the shortfall which would be taken to the earliest available Cabinet. In addressing the contents of the report the accountant referred to the following schemes:
- Coldbrook Flooding – the scheme had been delayed due to redesign and problems with obtaining consent from the Environment Agency to undertake works on the Main River. The Director of Visible Services and Housing had been asked to prepare a separate report on the issue in order to inform Members of the progress to date and the way forward for the project.
- Gilestone to Old Mill – the Welsh Government had recently offered the Authority the sum of £250k. in order to progress studies into the proposed highway improvement works between Gilestone and Old Mill. In order to ensure that the monies could be fully spent by the end of March 2013 the Managing Director’s Emergency Powers to approve the automatic inclusion of the offer had been utilised.
- Coastal Access Improvement Programme – as a result of the mid year request for additional funding to extend the current year’s programme, a grant had been accepted of £11,550 from the Countryside Commission for Wales (CCW). With regard to match funding, the Council was obliged to commit an additional £1,250 to the scheme which had been agreed would be funded from a revenue contribution from within the existing Development Services budget.
- Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre – a sum of £10k had been earmarked for works on kitchens / toilets at the centre from the Community Centre’s asset renewal budget. The report requested that the £10k. budget be therefore transferred to the Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre in order to reflect the full costs of the scheme.
- Dyffryn Gardens Phase 1 – some final payments had had to be made to complete the Heritage Lottery Fund grant funded scheme during the current financial year, as a result there was a commitment of £16k. which included the final element of retention held on the glasshouse contract which had been completed in 2011/12 which could be covered from a projected underspend within the Alexandra Gardens Community Centre rebuild budget.
- Leisure Centre Refurbishment – it was noted that the majority of the improvement works had been completed and the maintenance works were currently being investigated. However the report highlighted that an additional sum of £147k. had been accepted from Salix Finance in order to replace the central heating plant at Penarth Leisure Centre. The loan was repayable from revenue over a six year period and in order to reflect the additional Salix funding, Committee was requested to recommend that the budget be increased in this regard.
The Accountant also referred to a variance between actual spend to date and profiled spend with regard to the Five Mile Lane safety improvements. It was noted that expenditure on the scheme continued to be behind profile due to amendments in the agreed design for the proposed works to improve safety conditions at Sycamore Cross. The projected outturn costs for the scheme were projected to be £1.123m. and Welsh Government had been advised of the underspend with it therefore being necessary to request Cabinet to approve a reduction in the budget of £288k.
In considering references to Leisure Centre refurbishments, the Cabinet Member, with permission to speak, informed Members that the Llantwit Major refurbishment work was likely to be completed within six weeks and works at Barry Leisure Centre it was envisaged would be finalised within the next few weeks.
During discussions the Chairman took the opportunity to ask both Directors to provide the Committee with updates in relation to the savings planned within their service areas for the forthcoming year. The Director of Development Services referred to the recent report submitted to the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet which had identified a list of potential savings for his Directorate. Under the Leisure and Economic Development budget, he advised that the partnership with Parkwood was currently producing savings greater than those that had firstly been envisaged. With regard to Dyffryn Gardens he stated that the National Trust income generation forecast was to save a further £70k. in the next financial year which was above the original estimate. For the Directorate as a whole he would be looking at the rationalisation of staffing costs and within teams, considering the skills required and the possibility of collaboration with other councils.
With regard to the delivery of specific projects e.g transport, consideration would be given to the supported bus services and school transport, with particular attention being focused on community transport services and the possibility of extending the Green Links service further across the Vale. He stated that all these areas would be looked at when considering service reconfiguration and in particular with regard to the road safety function as it was not a statutory service further work on collaboration would be undertaken. In response some Members suggested that the Green Links service would also benefit from increased publicity. Members also noted that the Leisure service and Economic Development savings mentioned earlier in the debate could go some way to assisting the overall service.
The Director of Visible Services and Housing then provided Members with an update on his savings proposals and began by referring to the total savings of £675k to be found. £100k of which would be achieved by stopping home to work transport across the Vale. Others would include the use of real time tracking devices for vehicles which would mean savings on mileage, fuel and fleet. All these issues were currently being discussed with the Trade Unions. A restructuring exercise had also taken place, as the Operational Manager for Support Staff had recently retired and a decision made not to replace the position and to restructure the service. The Director referred to all the above as internal savings.
With regard to external savings it was the intention to include car parking charges in town centres with the intention to employ consultants to consider all factors including the effect on the economy, on-street parking and the overall impact. Members considered it was imperative to ensure that enforcement was in place before this initiative was fully considered. In response to a query from a Member on the use of consultants and whether the matter could be undertaken in-house or that a procedure be established similarly to one adopted by Newport Council the Director advised that the reasons for appointing consultants would be for the science behind the charging arrangements. The Director was fully aware that the whole issue was a balancing act and that it was imperative that the details were reported back to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration. It was noted that the savings proposed would be in the region of £340k with the director stating that he did not believe this could be recuperated from civil parking enforcement. Again, in response to a query from a Member, the Director advised that all town centres within the Vale would be considered in the consultants study. The Chairman took the opportunity to thank both Directors for their attendance and for providing the Committee with a verbal update on proposed savings.
Following discussions and it being noted the recommendations contained in the report required Cabinet approval only, it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the position with regard to the 2012/13 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.
(2) T H A T the following be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for approval:
(i) to increase the 2012/13 budget for the Coastal Access Improvement to £92.8k (funded from a Countryside Commission for Wales grant of £11.5k and a revenue contribution of £1.25k from existing Development Services budgets)
(ii) to include a budget of £16k in the 2012/13 Dyffryn Gardens Phase 1 Capital Programme (funded from a transfer from the Alexandra Gardens Community Centre re-build capital budget)
(iii) to increase the existing Leisure Centre Refurbishment budget to £3.290m (additional £147k funded from a repayable Salix loan),
(iv) to reduce the Five Mile Lane capital budget to £1.123m
(v) to increase the Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre budget by £10k (funded from a transfer from the Community Centre Asset Renewal capital budget).
Reasons for recommendations
(1) In noting the current position.
(2) To refer to Cabinet for approval.
NB: Councillor Mrs. C.L. Curtis left the room when discussion on the Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre was considered.
913 PROSIECT GWYRDD PARTNERSHIP – RESIDUAL WASTE TREATMENT PROCUREMENT – FINAL BIDDER AND JOINT WORKING AGREEMENT (JWA2) (DVSH) –
The Scrutiny Committee had requested to receive an update detailing the identity of the preferred bidder and the proposed inter-Authority agreement between all partners for the term of the contract. The report provided the Committee with progress, the identity of the preferred bidder as Viridor and sought views on the proposed joint working agreement between the five partnership authorities and the host authority required for the contract with the final successful bidder.
The Operational Manager for Waste Management, in presenting the report, advised that Prosiect Gwyrdd had reached the “Final Tender” stage, had evaluated the bids and had confirmed that there were two strong detailed bids from Veolia and Viridor. Following close of dialogue and final assessment the resulting final bids from these companies had been announced on 1st February 2013. The Prosiect Gwyrdd Officer Board had advised that they strongly supported the award of “Preferred Bidder” to Viridor Waste Management Ltd. having carried out a procurement process that had been highly competitive and firmly negotiated. Final tenders had been evaluated in accordance with the agreed and published evaluation methodology and the Public Contract Regulations.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council had already signed up to a joint working agreement (JWA1) and it was now necessary to formally agree to a further joint working agreement (JWA2) which would enshrine the contractual arrangements for the parties’ responsibilities and obligations during the contract stage. A copy of the JWA2 was attached for Committee’s consideration as Appendix 1 to the report.
The Prosiect Gwyrdd procurement process had been fully financed by the five partnering Councils along with the Welsh Government Procurement Grant Support. The Committee was also informed that between 26th February 2013 and 6th March 2013, Full Council meetings for each partner Authority to appoint a preferred bidder and approval to enter into the project agreement would be undertaken. The Vale of Glamorgan Council would be the final partner Authority considering the matter at its meeting on 6th March 2013.
In considering the report, the Chairman advised that he had agreed to representations being made to the Committee by Mr. Max Wallis from Friends of the Earth and, as such, Mr. Wallis presented his case. Mr. Wallis in his address advised that the Prosiect Gwyrdd projections were not accurate and the information was not in the waste figures. His concern was that the project would be in danger of over-contracting.
Following his representations the Chairman advised that Mr. Wallis had also submitted a number of questions on the project which had been duly responded to by the Prosiect Gwyrdd team, copies of which were provided for all present at the meeting together with responses to queries that had been provided by the Council’s Monitoring Officer.
In response to a question from a Member as to whether there was flexibility within the agreement, the Operational Manager advised that there were substitute waste clauses within the agreement. With regard to a concern as to the routes to be used when the new service was in operation, the Operational Manager confirmed that the existing routes would remain and that no extra traffic on the roads from the proposals was envisaged.
Having fully considered the report it was subsequently
(1) T H A T the contents of the report and the proposal to report the Final Bidder and Final Business Plan to Council on 6th March 2013 be noted.
(1) T H A T the draft Joint Working Agreement (JWA2) be noted.
Reason for recommendations
(1&2) In view of the information as requested by the Scrutiny Committee and that the matter was due to be considered at the Council meeting on 6th March 2013.