SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT)
Minutes of a meeting held on 1st April, 2014.
Present: Councillor Mrs. A.J. Moore (Chairman); Councillor E. Hacker (Vice-Chairman); Councillors P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, Mrs. P. Drake, H.J.W. James, P. King, A.G. Powell and S.T. Wiliam.
Also present: Councillor G. John.
989 MINUTES –
RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 11th March, 2014 be approved as a correct record, subject to Min No. 922 Improvement Plan Part 1 (Improvement Objectives 2014/15) being amended to reflect that the issue of costings was also raised in respect of digital inclusion.
990 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
No declarations were received.
991 FEES AND CHARGES: COUNTRYSIDE SERVICE (REF) –
Cabinet had, on 24th March 2014, considered a report in respect of changes to charges levied at Cosmeston Lakes and Porthkerry Country Park, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre and in respect of the making of specific Public Path Orders. The charges were contained in Appendices A, B, C and D to the report with the implementation date of April 2014. The charges agreed by Cabinet were with the view that they be the maximum with the Director of Development Services having delegated authority to vary for promotions. The Director of Development Services had also received the authority to waive charges for Public Path Orders where a substantive public interest existed.
The report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information. In respect of car parking charging at Porthkerry Country Park, the Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic Projects stated that, following a review in 2013 as requested by the Committee, Cabinet had agreed to continue with the current arrangements particularly for weekend and Bank Holiday charges as this was considered to be a flexible approach dependent upon weather conditions. Mr. Guy explained the charges were levied only in order to provide staff to monitor car parking as a result of historic safety issues. After breaking even in 2012, in 2013 the Council had made a £5,000 surplus due to increased visitor numbers following a better summer than in previous years. For the current year it had therefore been proposed to adopt the same charges as 2013.
The Operational Manager stated that he would be undertaking a review prior to April 2015 in respect of charges at Cosmeston Country Park. In response to a query regarding Porthkerry Park and its and staffing arrangements, it was confirmed that employees worked a minimum number of hours which were flexible. The view had been taken that if for example if it was anticipated that weather conditions would be bad staff would not be required. However, if visitor numbers were likely to increase due to good weather staff could be called in to work at short notice.
Some Members from the Barry area were disappointed that the Council was continuing to charge at Porthkerry and in their view there was inconsistency in the charging policy. They considered that if one area was being looked at all sites should be considered at the same time. However, Members were reminded of the differences between Porthkerry and Cosmeston in that a presence was required at Porthkerry Park in order to manage car parking arrangements. Members however, accepted that the suggestion of placing yellow lines in the Country Park would not be appropriate and that it would be a considerable cost with the road also requiring attention and traffic regulation orders being made at a cost of £24,000. Although some Members empathised with the Operational Manager regarding the car parking issues at Porthkerry they however felt that a further review should be undertaken.
The Cabinet Member for Leisure, Parks, Culture and Sport Development, with permission to speak, advised that there needed to be some management at Porthkerry and the Council had extremely tight budgets and, in his view, the issue of Cosmeston had to be considered in some depth.
During the discussion a Member also took the opportunity to congratulate officers in relation to the charges for filming within the Vale, as they considered that these were more competitive rates.
Following the discussion, it was subsequently
RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be requested to agree that a fundamental review be undertaken of car parking charging for Countryside Services in light of the comments above, and that this be reported to the Committee in due course.
Reason for recommendation
The Committee considered that a fundamental review was essential in view of the different charges within the Countryside service.
992 FUTURE REGENERATION PARTNERSHIP WORKING ARRANGEMENTS IN BARRY – REVIEW AND OPTIONS APPRAISAL (REF) –
At its meeting on 24th March 2014 Cabinet was asked to consider options for future regeneration partnership working arrangements in Barry following the conclusion of the Welsh Government’s Barry Regeneration Area Programme.
The Barry Regeneration Area Programme was launched by the Welsh Government in March 2010. A total of £9.8m of Welsh Government (WG) investment was allocated to the Programme, which was initially intended to run for three years (April 2010 - March 2013 inclusive). However, following the spending review by the United Kingdom Government, this allocation was re-profiled over four years and the programme would therefore close at the end of March 2014.
Cabinet, on 16th December 2013, had been presented with a report on the work being undertaken on the Council's bid under the Vibrant and Viable Places programme in light of the decision by the WG in September 2013 that the Council's Stage 1 bid had not been successful, and resolved (Minute C2132 Resolution 4):
"That a further report be presented to Cabinet prior to the end of March 2014 to consider options for future partnership working arrangements on regeneration in Barry following the conclusion of the current Welsh Government Regeneration Area in March 2014."
Given that regeneration schemes could take a decade or more to implement, the regeneration agenda in Barry had been the focus of programme management and governance change over many years. Paragraphs 6 – 9 (inclusive) of the report provided a summary of the key programme management and governance arrangements that were:
· Barry Joint Initiative 1992-2007
· Barry Joint Venture (Barry Action) 1994-2005
· Barry Regeneration Partnership 2005-2010
· Barry Regeneration Area 2010-2014.
The following options identified were presented to Cabinet for consideration:-
· Option 1: Barry Regeneration Area Partnership Board (BRAPB) be disbanded at the end of March 2014. Beyond the end of March 2014 formal decision making is by Council Members and / or the Council’s Management Team as the Vale of Glamorgan Council is lead partner for Barry. a centre of growth and opportunity and the emerging Delivery Plan
· Option 2: BRAPB continued unchanged in terms of membership beyond the end of March 2014 with the Vale of Glamorgan Council providing a secretariat.
· Option 3: BRAPB be disbanded at the end of March 2014. Beyond the end of March 2014 a new cross-party, cross-sector partnership is formed for information sharing and advisory purposes.
· Option 4: BRAPB be disbanded at the end of March 2014. Beyond the end of March 2014 a Programme Board is formed by the two lead partners namely the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Welsh Government.
· Option 5 a line diagram as attached at Appendix 1 to the report: addressed the limitations of Option 4 in terms of stakeholder engagement. In Option 5 the effectiveness of the Programme Board is strengthened by links with an Expert Panel / Advisory Group to promote good practice, equality and innovation and a Cross Party Group, which could include Barry Town Council, to support effective communication and joint working. This Cross Party Group had met on two separate occasions since the Council meeting on 25th September 2013 and was established following the debate that was held at that meeting of Council. It was envisaged that the Group would continue to meet regularly as the new method and structure of working was progressed.
The report proposed that Option 5 as above be approved
Cabinet resolved –
(1) That the proposal outlined in paragraph 11 (Option 5) of the report be approved.
(2) That the Director of Development Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation be given delegated authority to implement Recommendation 1.
(3) That a progress report be presented to Cabinet in no more than twelve months’ time.
(4) That the report be forwarded to Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information.
Following approval of Option 5 as detailed in paragraph 11 to the report, Cabinet had also referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for information.
The Principal Regeneration Officer, in presenting the report to the Committee, referred to the appendix to the report which detailed the partnership working arrangements that had been approved. In referring to the Advisory Group he stated that the remit of the Group would be agreed with the Cabinet Member with membership being invited following an open call for expressions of interest. The Cross Party Group had already met and consisted of the Leaders of the Political Groups within the Council and would, under the new arrangements, could include a representative from Barry Town Council. In response to a query regarding issues of conflict of interest it was accepted that the remit / terms of reference of the Group had yet to be determined and the issue would be considered at that stage.
A Member queried the suggested timescale of 12 months in order to implement the proposals, with it being accepted that the various stages to ensure that the programme was up and running would take some time and the annual stakeholder event has not, to date, been tested. There was a possibility that decisions could be made earlier but 12 months would give more time in order to ensure that the process was bedded in. It was also accepted that the Programme Board would include a representative from Welsh Government.
Having considered the report it was
RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be accepted and that future progress reports be presented to the Scrutiny Committee as and when available.
Reason for recommendation
In order that Members can be kept informed.
993 CALL-IN: VISIBLE SERVICES – PROPOSED FEES AND CHARGES FOR 2014/15 –
The report to Cabinet had sought approval for the increases in service charges for functions managed by Visible Services for the financial year 2014/15. The report proposed to uplift the majority of services by 3% with higher increases proposed for commercial residual waste collection and seasonal car park charges. The proposed charges for services were also set out in the appendices attached to the Cabinet report as below:
Appendix 1 – Waste Management and Cleansing
Appendix 2 – Highways and Engineering
Appendix 3 – Parks and Grounds Maintenance
Appendix 4 – Parks and Grounds Maintenance – VoG Football League
Appendix 5 – Parks and Grounds Maintenance and Porthkerry Cemetery.
The call-in referred to Appendix 2 – Highways and Engineering. The Chairman outlined her reason for calling-in the matter to Committee, advising that with regard to the coastal car parking charges it was her view that a rate of £2.00 for up to 2 hours would be far more equitable, particularly for residents of the Vale of Glamorgan, who just wanted to visit for a short time. It was also her view in particular referring to Barry Island that if a visitor parked in one of the car parks and wanted to visit an attraction it was not possible to do so within an hour. She stated that her proposal would not affect the income generation but would merely extend the time period to two hours.
In consideration of the report and the call –in it was the consensus of the Committee that the suggestion was a reasonable suggestion and, in their view, it would be more equitable for people living within the Vale of Glamorgan, with the suggestion that this also be considered throughout the Vale. It was subsequently and unanimously
RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be requested to agree that a rate of £2.00 for up to two hours be accepted for car parking charges for Ogmore, Southerndown and Barry Island.
Reason for recommendation
The Committee considered that this would be a more equitable charge.
994 TASK AND FINISH ACTIVITIES FOR 2014/15 (HDS) –
The Scrutiny Committee at its meeting in March 2014 endorsed the process for agreeing reviews but recommended that suggested items be considered at this meeting of the Committee. Members were informed by the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer that the four Scrutiny Committees had put forward the following suggestions for consideration by the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group:
· Corporate Resources - Fleet management - including vehicle acquisition, vehicle telemetry, fleet size, funding method, replacement policy, workshops and their location, fuelling arrangements, emissions policies etc.
· Housing and Public Protection - New Opportunities for Homes - the Vale needs new homes in both owner occupied and Social Housing sectors, but conventional funding for affordable homes is always likely to be limited - to consider different ways to provide new homes and consider ways of how to make better use of existing houses.
· Lifelong Learning - At its meeting on 17th March 2014 the Scrutiny Committee, having considered its current work programme, the number of issues that it intended to consider throughout the year together with the number of School Performance Panels that were likely to take place over the coming months, agreed to not submit a review for consideration this time.
· Social Care and Health - An examination of the potential contribution assistive technology can provide in the development of a dementia supportive community in the Vale of Glamorgan through enabling people to live independently.
A Member had also submitted a request for a Gypsy and Traveller Task and Finish Group with the purpose for the Group being to complete a review of all Council owned land allocated for housing to be linked to the Gypsy and Traveller Strategy and to oversee delivery of adequate sites and this would also be referred with the above for consideration.
During the discussion the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer advised that in connection with the Corporate Resources’ review, Fleet Management was within the remit of the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) in the Council’s Constitution. The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) had also recommended that the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) consider the possibility of joint scrutiny and although the Council’s Constitution was silent on joint scrutiny arrangements, it was accepted that other mechanisms could be utilised to assist in the process.
Some discussion then took place as to the priorities of the proposed reviews, with it being accepted that it was the role of the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group to prioritise and approve topics for review. A few suggestions for review by the Committee were raised at the meeting with it being accepted that in view of the financial constraints and capacity issues within the Council it would be important to focus on an area that would assist the Council to deliver its services. In considering that Fleet Management was an area that had also been requested to reported to a future meeting of the Committee it was subsequently
RECOMMENDED – T H A T the review in respect of Fleet Management, as outlined within paragraph 5 of the report be agreed and be submitted for consideration to the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group.
Reason for recommendation
In recognition of the role of scrutiny and to facilitate Scrutiny Committee work programmes as outlined in the Council’s Constitution.
995 SCRUTINY TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DR) –
The Committee was updated on progress in relation to its recommendations for the period January 2014 to March 2014, following which it was
(1) T H A T the following recommendations be deemed as completed;
14 January 2014
Min. No. 744 – Changing Economic Circumstances: Supporting Businesses In The Local Economy (DDS) – Recommended
(1) That the progress to date be noted, the report be accepted and together with the Committee’s comments be referred to Cabinet.
(3) That a further report be presented to the Committee in July 2014 outlining the suggested format for future event / s to be held in either October or November 2014.
(1) Cabinet, on 24th February 2014, noted the contents of the report.
(Min. No. C2200 refers)
(3) Cabinet, on 24th February 2014, resolved
(2) That Cabinet look forward to receiving a further report for information from the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) outlining suggested formats for the future Events.
(Min. No. C2200 refers)
Added to work programme schedule.
11 February 2014
Min. No. 823 - Request for Consideration - Welsh Government’s Regeneration Framework "Vibrant and Viable Places" – Outcome of Stage 1 Assessment Process and Way Forward (Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson) – Recommended that the Committee also be presented with the reports which would detail how the various initiatives and proposals contained within "Barry – A Centre for Growth and Opportunity" would be progressed.
Added to work programme schedule.
11 March 2014
Min. No. 925 – Development Services Service Plan 2014-2018 (DDS) – Recommended that the Development Services Service Plan for 2014/18 subject to the following amendments be accepted and referred to Cabinet for approval:-
· Page 42 - vacancy rates for Upper Holton Road, Barry be amended to read 13.9%
· Page 93 - DS06/MO22a reference be deleted
- Page 94 - DS10/MO34 be split into 2 indicators.
Referred to Cabinet meeting on 7th April 2014.
Min. No. 926 – Visible Services Service Plan 2014-18 (DVSH) – Recommended that the Service Plan for Visible Services be endorsed, it being noted that further reports as outlined above and as contained within the Committee’s work programme schedule would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.
[Flood Risk Management; Club House at Jenner Park – future use; XFOR update; street lighting / LED lights / leaflet advertising re changes]
Added to work programme schedule.
Min. No. 927 – Task and Finish Activities for 2014/15 (HDS) – Recommended
(3) That suggested items for a Scrutiny review be considered at the next meeting of the Committee in April 2014.
The Committee, at this meeting, had agreed to put forward the review on Fleet Management for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group.
(2) T H A T the progress in relation to the following recommendation be accepted
11 March 2014
Min. No. 921 – Revenue and Capital Monitoring for the Period 1st April, 2013 to 31st January, 2014 (DDS and DVSH) – Recommended
(2) That the Director advise of the feasibility of a sprung floor at the Alexandra Gardens Community Centre and respond to Members accordingly.
That this recommendation be not required to be added to the work programme schedule in that the Director would e-mail the information direct to Members via the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer.
Reason for recommendations
(1&2) In recognition of the progress and updated information as detailed in the appendices and provided at the meeting.