VOLUNTARY SECTOR JOINT LIAISON COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 7th February, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. C.A. Cave (Chairman); Councillor M. Lloyd (Vice-Chairman); Councillors L. Burnett, Miss. A.M. Collins and N. Moore.

 

Representatives of the Voluntary Sector:  Ms. H. Jones (Atal y Fro), Miss. H. Thomas (Barnados), Ms. L. Newton (Cardiff and the Vale Action for Mental Health) (Honorary Vice-Chairman), Ms. R. Connor (Glamorgan Voluntary Services) and Councillor Mrs. A. Barnaby (Town and Community Councils).

 

 

663     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors G.C. Kemp and Mrs. J.M. Norman.

 

 

664     MINUTES -

 

AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 25th October, 2017 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

665     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

666     ANNOUNCEMENTS -

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to welcome Ms. Helen Jones (Atal y Fro) and Miss. Hollie Thomas (Barnados) as new Committee Representatives from their relevant organisations.

 

 

667     PRESENTATION - VALE TIMEBANKING PROJECT: 3 MONTH UPDATE -

 

The Community Investment and Involvement Officer began his presentation by describing the dual aspect of the Time Credit / Timebanking Model.  Council tenants were able to ‘earn’ time credits by helping their local community which they could then ‘spend’ on local activities and opportunities of their choice.  The Model provided an incentive for volunteering in the form of a paper credit voucher that could be accumulated over time.  The officer advised that a Vale Timebanking Project was agreed by Cabinet on 23rd October, 2017 and the aim of the presentation was to advise Members on the progress made over the initial three months of the project. 

 

The Community Investment Team alongside the wider Housing Management Service had been looking at methods to increase the Council’s tenant involvement in volunteering.  There was a strong commitment to building safe and cohesive communities and a belief that there were many people living within the Council’s properties who would be able to assist in achieving this.  Traditionally, there had always been excellent volunteering opportunities within the Vale and volunteering services in this area were well administered by the Glamorgan Voluntary Service (GVS).  However, it appeared that very low levels of Vale housing tenants had engaged with these services.  Timebanks were successful in attracting people who would not normally become involved in traditional volunteering. 

 

As an example of good practice, the Officer referred to Carmarthen County Council that had had great success with a Time Credit scheme and advised that the Vale project would aim to have the same positive impact on individuals as well as organisations that would collectively contribute to the community as a whole.  The Vale project would be delivered over four quarters during the course of 2018 with the key objectives for the current quarter as follows:

 

Quarter 1

  • Training of lead staff;
  • Development of ideas and delivery plan for Time Credits in the Vale of Glamorgan;
  • Volunteering projects with tenants, and bespoke design;
  • Timebanking Steering Group.

Under the heading ‘What has happened so far?’ the Community Investment and Involvement Officer advised that:

  • The Vale Timebanking Project launched at the end of November 2017 and a launch event was well supported and attended.  The launch event was an excellent tool for raising awareness generally about time credits and identifying the skill sets of potential volunteers.
  • Vale Credits to be live in the next couple of weeks.
  • 11 organisations had already signed up, for example GVS, FACT, Flying Start, Vale People First, Innovate Trust and Valeways to endorse and become an advocate for the Project.
  • 5 further local organisations were in the process of signing up; Barry YMCA, Taskforce, Penarth Pier Pavilion, Barry Town United and Coconuts.
  • There were 4 volunteering events already scheduled which were Spring Clean Cymru, Cosmeston Park, Porthkerry Park and St. Pauls/St. Lukes Estate.
  • 3 Vale Steering Group meetings were held with an ever increasing number of partners wishing to get involved.
  • Discussions had begun to develop ‘give and gain’ day opportunities as well as setting up community projects for community groups wishing to pool time credits for day trips and activities.

The Officer highlighted the importance of equal effort being put into the spending opportunities as well as the activities taking place to earn credits in the first instance.  Also, to ensure that the benefits of the work undertaken were felt by the individuals taking part, an effort would be made to arrange volunteering activities as close to the individual’s local area as possible. 

 

To pilot Timebanking in the Vale an organisation called Spice would be consulted to manage the introduction of the Project.  Spice was founded in South Wales as a social enterprise which developed a unique time based currency referred to as credits.  They worked with a range of organisations including housing and community services. 

 

In conclusion, the officer summarised the ongoing objectives for the project:

  • Using Spice’s expertise and experience (project staff and partnership manager);
  • Working in partnership with local organisations such as GVS, Flying Start, JCP, Vale Housing and Council departments such as Parks, Tourism and Youth Service;
  • That organisations adopt and promote the project;
  • Adoption from front line staff and engagement with steering group members;
  • Development of the steering group to ensure sustainability after year 1;
  • Provide opportunities for earn and spend events including group activities;
  • Make the project creative and innovative so that it makes a difference to tenants in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The Glamorgan Voluntary Services Representative raised her concern over the fact that the project was primarily aimed at Council tenants and the possible conflict this could cause with individuals not working towards time credits but on the same volunteering projects as individuals that were.  GVS was actively looking to secure additional resources to fund incentives for non-Council tenant volunteers and hoped to reach a stage whereby all individuals would be able to earn time credits.  Any scheme that encouraged volunteering was welcomed by GVS however, securing resources was always challenging. 

 

The Town and Community Council Representative asked how the project was being financed.  In response, the Community Investment and Involvement Officer confirmed that the project was financed through the Vale Homes Community Investment Budget over a 12 month period, hence the current focus towards Council tenants.  Increasing the budget beyond 12 months would be a primary focus for the Steering Group going forward.    

 

The Atal y Fro Representative informed the Committee that she had recently attended a presentation delivered by United Welsh who had informed her of the Timebanking scheme being run by Taff Housing Association and suggested that the Association be contacted to help expand resources and gain further examples of best practice.  The officer thanked the representative for her suggestion.

 

A Member shared her pleasure in the fact that the Vale of Glamorgan had introduced a Timebanking Project and was hopeful that the scheme would echo some of the success of the Creation Development Trust established in Blaengarw; whereby the community was completely regenerated.  It was also important to note that a large part of the success in Blaengarw was due to the local businesses understanding the long term benefits of welcoming time credits and the individuals using them.  The Member recognised the success achieved by Spice however, also highlighted that there were other excellent organisations to draw knowledge and examples of best practice from.  In terms of promoting the Vale project, the Member expressed the view that it was important that all Council departments be involved and made aware of the project, as well as, that thorough evaluation processes take place.  Finally, in her knowledge, there was significant interest and enthusiasm for the Project from Council tenants. 

 

The Officer advised that, when appropriate to do so, extensive evaluation would take place to ensure the Council was able to capture important information that would be used to source additional funding.  Also, in response to a Member’s query on the minimum age limit, if any, of volunteers, the Officer advised that there was no limit and that he agreed with the Member’s comment that this would help to increase the level of involvement in the Project. 

 

The Chairman thanked the officer for his presentation and echoed the input from all parties.  The remit of the project, in terms of the type of volunteer concerned, was currently narrow and any matters that may cause concern or differentiate between volunteers must be avoided.  The Chairman concluded the item by requesting that all Committee Members be sent an email notification when the Timebanking currency/credits for the Vale of Glamorgan had gone live.

 

 

668     PRESENTATION - SECTION 106 OVERVIEW -

 

The Senior Planner for Development Contributions began her presentation by advising the Committee that Section 106 (S106) agreements were legally binding agreements entered into between a local authority, a land owner and a developer to secure planning obligations.  Planning obligations required developers to provide works, services or financial contributions to enhance the quality of their development, and to help mitigate the impacts that arose as a consequence of it.  The Vale of Glamorgan had amongst the highest house prices in Wales, which generated significant land values from which S106 contributions could be sought by the Council. 

 

The Council may enter into a planning obligation with a developer to restrict development or use of land, require operations or activities to be carried out in, on, under or over land, require land to be used in a specified way, or require payments to be made to the authority either in a single sum or periodically.  The Officer provided Committee Members with a list of the types of planning obligations and summarised the limitations surrounding S106 as follows: 

  • A planning obligation may only legally constitute a reason for granting planning permission if it is:

            (a)       necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms;

            (b)       directly related to the development;

            (c)        fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to development.

                        (Regulation 122, Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations (2010) (as amended)).

  • S106 agreements usually stipulate that the contribution has to be spent within 5 years, following receipt (10 years for affordable housing).
  • S106 financial contributions may only be used to mitigate the impacts of a new development; to create provision for future occupiers of the new development.  Therefore, S106 contributions may only be spent in the area where the development has occurred.  The only exception to this would be affordable housing (a number of contributions pooled together to support a strategic scheme), and for educational facilities, where the catchment area for a school may be borough wide or where there is an impact upon specific junctions of the highway network as a result of the new development.

The Officer demonstrated the relevant legislation, national planning policies and local planning policies that defined her work.  However, highlighted that the primary framework was the Vale of Glamorgan Adopted Local Development Plan (2011-2026).

 

Having regard to the limitations noted above, the Officer apprised the Committee of the S106 Protocol for Implementation which (subject to any already signed legal agreements) could be summarised as follows: 

  1. Monies received;
  2. Local Ward Members and relevant Cabinet Members notified in writing of any proposed scheme(s);
  3. Local Ward Members to comment on proposals for how money is spent;
  4. The relevant Council Service Area is notified of any representations made;
  5. The Service Area and Cabinet Members recommend where the money is best spent;
  6. The final decision is made by the Head of Regeneration and Planning;
  7. The relevant Cabinet Members and Local Ward Members are notified of the decision;
  8. The Service Area is notified and given authorisation to spend the S106 amount;
  9. Project is implemented;
  10. An annual monitoring report is produced.

At 31st March, 2017, the Council had £10,989,004.65 within the S106 account, having received £6,723,344.97 from developers between April 2016 and March 2017.  The majority of the contributions had been formally committed to schemes in the Vale of Glamorgan, as agreed in consultation with Members and Service Areas, or were pending further consultation.  With regards to progress made since March 2017, the Officer provided examples of the projects already completed or underway under the Education, Sustainable Transport and Public Open Space planning obligation headings. 

 

The Officer advised that even though S106 contributions could be limited due to aforementioned restrictions, if possible, ‘end users’ would be engaged and consulted with as much as possible.  Involving the community enabled the Council to deliver relevant community infrastructure.  Types of consultation used were online surveys, leaflet drops, posters, promotion via social media and drop-in sessions.

 

In conclusion, the Officer referred to the Strong Communities Grant Fund (SCGF) which provided a formal framework for considering applications for S106 in the community.  The traditional delivery of community services was constantly changing and local Members were now able to include S106 funds within the SCGF to be used for community facilities and/or public open spaces.  An example of this to date was the Rhoose Community Cinema that benefitted from Community Facilities S106 monies to purchase a permanent equipment supply following a loan equipment trial.  The following S106 sums would also be advertised for the second round of SCGF applications; 

  • Rhoose - £10,000 for community facilities;
  • Dinas Powys - £15,000 for public open space.

The Glamorgan Voluntary Services Representative highlighted the fact that the SCGF was still in its early stages and reminded the Committee of her historical concerns on how the fund was set up.  There needed to be clearer guidance on how S106 contributions were included within the SCGF and, in relation to this, asked the officer where the SCGF sat within the S106 protocol for implementation.  The Representative also highlighted the difficulty that GVS faced in promoting the SCGF because it was not clear what or where the available funds were but was hopeful that this would become clearer as the SCGF matured.  GVS would continue to support smaller organisations in engaging with the SCGF. 

 

The Senior Planner reminded the Committee that she was also a member of the SCGF Evaluation Panel which afforded her the opportunity to link SCGF Project Applications with S106 contributions available in the same community areas.  This link would be shared with the Local Ward Members who would have the discretion to assign monies to a specific project application or the general SCGF pot.  The Officer also advised that Members were proactive in informing her of possible projects within their local wards and this was another method of linking S106 with the SCGF. 

 

A Member raised the point that, due to the nature of how S106 contributions were attained, it was difficult to assign exact amounts in advance but the advantage of this meant that S106 within the SCGF was potentially limitless and had strengthened the local community to come forward with applications.  Also, S106 funds within the SCGF were rolled over to the next round of applications if unassigned.  In addition to the Members comments, the Head of Performance and Development highlighted that the SCGF also consisted of different, more certain, sources of funding and the additional S106 monies would be used to the benefit of communities. 

 

The Chairman thanked the officer for her S106 presentation and agreed that organisations, such as GVS, supporting smaller organisations and promoting the SCGF required an ‘early warning’ system on the funds available.  The Chairman recognised that the SCGF was in its early stages and shared her hopes for building better communication links and a pool of case studies that would evidence that funds were being used successfully and for the most appropriate project(s).

 

 

669     VOLUNTARY SECTOR COMPACT - ANNUAL WORK PLAN UPDATE (MD) -

 

In February 2017, the Voluntary Sector Joint Liaison Committee considered and endorsed a revised Compact between the Council and the Voluntary Sector.  The Compact, which was set out at Appendix A to the report, provided a framework within which the Voluntary Sector and Council could work together in ways which were mutually beneficial, enabling each to contribute fully and effectively to delivering well-being for communities in the Vale of Glamorgan.  Attached at Appendix B to the report, was the Annual Work Plan that contained a series of actions that, when progressed, would enable the objectives of the Compact to be delivered under 4 themes:

  • Communication, Consultation and Participation;
  • Partnership working;
  • Funding and Resources;
  • Volunteering.

The Head of Performance and Development advised that the Annual Work Plan demonstrated the updates on activities since October 2017 and highlighted the first round of funding awards made through the Strong Communities Grant Fund (SCGF) as one of the key developments.  During the initial round, a total of twelve bids were made, from which funding was approved by Cabinet for eight schemes totalling £75,519.51.  A decision on three of the schemes was deferred pending more information from the applicants and one application was not supported.  The Cabinet report providing further information on the Grant Scheme was attached at Appendix C to the report. 

 

The Chairman referred to page 4, section 4 of the Compact (Appendix A) and asked if the note stating that an update was required from Glamorgan Voluntary Sector (GVS) was accurate, to which the Officer confirmed that it was an error and would be removed. 

 

Also, in referring to the Cabinet report (Appendix C), paragraph 13, the Chairman commented that more specific dates were required on the second round of SCGF applications.  On this point, the Vice-Chairman raised the recommendation that all Vale of Glamorgan Elected Members, Town and Community Council Clerks and Chairs and all Voluntary Sector Representatives on the Committee be notified when future rounds of SCGF funding were announced which included details of the funding timeline and application criteria.  The recommendation was agreed by Committee.

 

The Representative for Cardiff and Vale Action for Mental Health requested that a presentation slot be added to the Committee’s Forward Work Programme for Members of the Cardiff and Vale Mental Health Forum to provide a broad overview presentation on support services they provide.  The recommendation was welcomed by the Committee and a Member requested that the presentation include information regarding mental health support services for young persons of school age. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the content of the report and the updates to the Annual Work Plan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee continues to monitor progress against the actions contained in the Work Plan and advise of any additional actions required to progress the objectives of the Compact.

 

(3)       T H A T a notification be sent to all Vale of Glamorgan Elected Members, Town and Community Council Clerks and Chairmen and Voluntary Sector Representatives on the Committee when all future rounds of SCGF funding were announced and that the notification include details of the SCGF funding timeline and application criteria for the relevant funding round.

 

(4)       T H A T a presentation slot be scheduled on the Committee’s Forward Work Programme for the next municipal year.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To provide the Committee with an update on the work underway in relation to the Voluntary Sector Compact.

 

(2)       To ensure the appropriate activity is undertaken to progress the themes contained in the compact.

 

(3)       To support the promotion of the SCGF.

 

(4)       To accommodate a presentation to the Committee by the Members of the Cardiff and Vale Mental Health Forum.