Agenda Item No. 10

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET:      6TH JUNE, 2018

 

REFERENCE FROM LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 22ND MAY, 2018

 

 

            “RESHAPING YOUTH SERVICES (DLS) -

 

The Chairman commenced by taking the opportunity to thank the Cabinet for referring the report to the Scrutiny Committee as requested.  The report provided details of the consultation outcome on the proposed reshaping of youth services prior to its consideration by Cabinet.

The Lead Officer for Social Inclusion and Wellbeing commenced by referring  to Recommendations (4) and (5) being proposals in relation to the Llantwit Major Youth Centre building indicating the recommendation to declare the asset surplus and at recommendation 5 approval being requested to secure a new community use for the building and to progress a leasehold arrangement for the building.  In referring to issues that had been raised at the previous meeting in relation to recruitment and retention of staff the Lead Officer advised that the level of absenteeism in the work force had been exacerbated by special leave issues and absenteeism.  The proposals however, did advise of a reduction in part time roles and the creation of substantive roles and collaborative approaches. 

 

Many of the representations that had been received during the consultation process the lead officer advised had been of the understanding that the Council was going to replace services with volunteers and he firmly stated that this was definitely not the intention.  The  reshaping proposals were about the need to have a more innovative and effective Youth Service.  Throughout the consultation the misunderstanding had been fuelled and a lot of unrest had been felt and the officer took the opportunity to reassure Members that the Council would not stop operating Youth Services with professional staff but they would be reduced and further advised of the decision by the Corporate Management Team that should there be a threat of redundancy each case would be taken on its own merits.

 

With specific reference to the report at paragraph 9 the Lead Officer stated a number of respondents had been concerned that the reduction in the current work force would create a large number of redundancies.  The changes that were being proposed would mean the staff body rising from 34.55 full time equivalents to 37.29 full time equivalents although it would reduce flexibility for staff in relation to the number of hours they could work as the proposals required a greater commitment to full time hours.  Concerns were also raised that staff who hold more than one position with the Council and the interpretation of whether or not there was an entitlement to a redundancy payment.  The position varied dependent upon individual circumstances.  The Corporate Management Team he reiterated had considered this issue and had recommended that each case be dealt with on an individual basis. 

 

Staff had queried the changes to senior youth worker rates of pay. Within the proposal the senior youth engagement workers would be on JNC 16 instead of JNC 17 at present. Upon reflection and after the input of staff it had been proposed that the current grade of pay be retained within current budget. 

 

A further tabled document was presented for Committee’s information which contained details of the consultation process undertaken advised on the consultation and engagement process that had been undertaken which had included electronic and verbal engagement and Members questions.  Staff and young people had also been offered the opportunity to leave views and questions in a consultation mailbox and documents and information had been supplied to staff via a bespoke web address only accessed by them. 

 

Staff members had held individual and group meetings with managers and young people had raised questions via Youth Action and Youth Cabinet groups.  The consultation information had been given to the Children’s Commissioner who had been happy with the engagement with young people that had been undertaken.  The tabled document also detailed the dates of meetings that had been held with Trade unions and staff and included dates of visits to Youth clubs.  Two maps one detailing current youth provisions and the other identifying the vision for the future of youth provision were also tabled for the Committees consideration and two further documents provided details of a sample week calendar for the Universal Team post restructure for Team Member 1, Team Member 2 and Team Member 3.  Although noting that the delivery methods had changed and times of opening would change the actual hours provided for the Youth Service the Lead Officer reported would be 9480.  The Lead Officer also advised all young people who were part of youth action and the Youth Cabinet would continue to be supported but not necessarily the Vale Youth Forum and he took the opportunity to thank Town and Community Councils who had provided financial support for the Youth Forum. 

 

With regard to Appendix B to the report the Lead Officer advised that this provided at page 12 a pie chart which detailed the special leave reasons provided for the period from 1st April to 14th March, 2018.  It was noted that 29% of all absences from the part time work force also down to  non-attendance and he advised that all such absences were therefore making the current service unmanageable. Since 1st April, 2018 the service had had to cover 115 absences and 21 requests for special leave. 

 

The Lead officer in referring directly to the use of volunteers advised that appropriate safeguarding rules and regulations would be provided.  It was important he stated that the service grew with the Voluntary Sector to provide a working model and the service would work closely with national youth organisations. 

 

A member of the public who had registered to speak, Ms. Helen Payne was then afforded the opportunity to make her representations.  Ms. Payne advised that she had been involved in the Youth Service for over 36 years and in a number of capacities she had worked in the Youth centre in Barry and in youth services Birmingham and over the whole of Wales.  In her view the process that had been undertaken was flawed and for youth work to be effective it needed to engage young people and widen the range of skills of youth workers.  Youth work was important for growing resilience and should be undertaken in a language of young people’s choice.  Ms Payne stated that she did not believe that reorganisation would give young people access to all youth provision.  It was her opinion that the Council needed to invest in decent universal services as a matter of urgency and to demonstrate its commitment.  There was no youth centre in Barry which was the largest town in Wales.  In conclusion, Ms Payne stated that the “Council should not place monetary value on people’s lives but should celebrate them.” 

 

A representative from the Trade Union Unite Ms. Jo Galazka stated that the trade union although they to felt that the Youth Service needed reshaping, the current proposals in their view were not acceptable and requested that a working party be formed.  The lack of involvement in feedback sessions was not acceptable and the relevant forms that had been devised in relation to the new proposals had not been agreed by the Union.  A number of members of youth service staff had already left the service and morale was extremely low.   Ms Galazka further advised that the Trade unions would encourage working with the Council for a sustainable Youth Service but the current proposals in their view were not sustainable and had not been well thought out.  Ms. Galazka urged the Council to reconsider the proposals and referred to the local petition from local people that had over 2000 signatures. Although she stated sickness absence had been referred to as a reason her question was why had this not been managed successfully.  In conclusion Ms Galazka stated that it was the union’s viewpoint that the proposals had been pushed through and they needed to be rejected with further work undertaken.

 

The Chairman referred Committee to a written representation that had been received from Glenn Pappas the Unison Trade Union representative who had been unable to be present at the meeting advising that copies of the representations had not only been circulated to Committee members prior to the meeting but had been tabled at the meeting. 

 

Councillor N. Thomas, not a Member of the Committee, with permission to speak commenced by stating that he would ask the Committee to consider recommending that the proposals be rejected and referred to a cross-party working group. The proposals in his view were ill advised and the loss of hours and personnel at times when young people needed them the most was not acceptable.  Although some services may be attached to schools he stated that this was not always appropriate at times and the loss of people and personnel was an important consideration.   In referring specifically to Penarth Youth Club he stated that this was a church youth club and there were no plans for a youth club there unless the Town and Community Council took up the mantle.  It was important he concluded that the service for young people was provided by a diverse group of staff and he felt strongly that a working party be set up to consider youth provision across the Vale.  Although he was aware that savings were to be made under the current proposals, in the long run in his view there could be potential mental health and youth justice issues that had not been recognised. 

 

The Lead Officer in response to the concerns raised advised that the staff absence he had referred to was not related to sickness, it was due to special leave and absenteeism.  Qualifying this statement he advised that where staff didn’t turn up which often happened at least one hour before the youth club actually opened this had a detrimental effect on the support provided.   He also affirmed that there was youth provision in Barry maintained by the Youth Service at Barry YMCA and also the church group referred to was actually a Youth Service supported provision.  The Lead Officer concluded by stating that we would  still be offering a service that was fit for purpose and that voluntary engagement was important. Town and Community Councils had also been approached for further funding and their support in providing youth provision in the area was welcomed. 

 

The Head of Achievement for All responded by advising that the proposal was not a reduction in service and the suggestions  to replace paid staff with volunteers was not true.  The use of volunteers was to enhance the service not to provide the service. 

 

A Ward Member for Penarth stated that they had sympathy with the Trade Unions and although acknowledging that there would no doubt always be disagreements on matters of significant issue queried the ward member consultation undertaken. 

 

Another Member raised their concerns in relation to the use of unqualified and untrained staff with volunteers not being able to undertake the duties of experienced and trained staff. There was also the issue of volunteers not having to be bound by EWC requirements and not being subject to the same checks as paid staff. The Member was also concerned about the reduction in the number of staff and in particular the personal relationships that young people formed with their youth workers which in her view would be eroded as a result of the proposals.

 

The Vice-Chairman raised concerns in relation to the fact that the Youth Action Group had ceased to exist and queried how many young people were currently involved in the Youth Service enquiring  whether the Lead Officer envisaged the new model proposed would encourage more young people to take advantage of the service.

 

A Member from a rural ward stated that in their area all youth provision was provided by volunteers and that the young people needed considerable support. The Member felt that further consultation needed to be undertaken with a greater understanding of how the Council could assist.

The Chairman queried the declaring of the Llantwit Major Youth Centre as a surplus asset without any reassurance that the facility would be retained as a youth facility or for community use. 

 

In response to the queries, the Lead Officer advised that the intention of the proposal was to create a professional workforce with an element of targeted support. There was no intention for the service to be handed over to volunteers and at no point had anyone been informed that the service would hand over to unskilled staff. The Lead officer further informed Committee that volunteer youth leaders would be trained and agreements put in place with the Council working in collaboration and harness with organisations.  As an example the officer referred to the youth provision in Sully provided by volunteers and with support from the Council there was no reason why this service could not be provided in other areas. 

 

In referring to youth attendance in previous years attendance of 150,000 had been recorded but this had recently dropped to 93,000. 

 

Having considered the report and representations before the Committee it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the outcome of the consultation on the proposed changes to Senior Youth Worker salary spinal points be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider the points raised at the Scrutiny Committee, in relation to the proposals to progress plans for reshaping Youth Services in making their decision on whether to approve the proposals.

 

(3)       T H A T the proposals relating to the Western Vale Integrated Children’s Centre (WVICC) as shown in Appendix A to be referred to Cabinet for their consideration and approval in order for this asset to be declared surplus and that a Community Asset Transfer opportunity be progressed in due course.

 

(4)       T H A T the proposals relating to the Llantwit Major Youth Centre Building as shown in Appendix A be referred to Cabinet for their consideration and approval, in order for this asset to be declared surplus and a new use be sought for this building in due course be agreed subject to, if for any reason the proposal failed to materialise or be adopted by the Town Council, before it is put for any other use that that be reported to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration.

.

(5)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee notes and refers to Cabinet for approval the proposal that delegated authority be granted to the Head of Finance, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, to secure a Youth and Community use for the Llantwit Major Youth Centre Building, as referred to in Recommendation 4 above and to progress a leasehold arrangement for this building as outlined within the report.

 

(6)       T H A T  the Scrutiny Committee (subject to recommendations 3, 4 and 5) notes and refers to Cabinet for approval the proposal that the Head of Legal Services be authorised to draft and execute all necessary legal documentation associated with the disposals referred to above be agreed. 

 

(7)       T H A T a further report be presented to Cabinet and the Scrutiny Committee (Learning & Culture) to provide an update on the progress of the reshaping project in 12 months be agreed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having regard to the issues raised by respondents to the consultation.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet of the issues raised at the Committee

 

(3)       To enable Cabinet consideration and approval of the proposals, including the granting of relevant delegated authorities to progress matters, including the authority to dispose of the leasehold interests as described for the two buildings.

 

(4)       To enable Cabinet consideration and approval of the proposals, including the granting of relevant delegated authorities to progress matters, including the authority to dispose of the leasehold interests as described for the two buildings and should the proposal not materialise any further options be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

(5)       To enable Cabinet consideration and approval of the proposals, including the granting of relevant delegated authorities to progress matters, including the authority to dispose of the leasehold interests as described for the two buildings and to ensure that the facility is reported as the Llantwit Major Youth and Community Services building.

 

(6)       To enable Cabinet consideration and approval of the proposals, including the granting of relevant delegated authorities to progress matters, including the authority to dispose of the leasehold interests as described for the two buildings.  

 

(7)       To ensure the impact of the reshaping project is formally reported to Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee for their consideration in 12 months.”