Agenda Item No. 9

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Community Liaison Committee: 17th October 2018

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Town and Community Councils Charter

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide the Committee with an update on the discussions of the working group to review the Town and Community Councils Charter and to present a draft Charter for the Committee's consideration.

Recommendations

  1. That the Committee notes the content of this report and the appendices.
  2. That the Committee considers the draft Charter at (Appendix C) in order to inform the development of a final draft.
  3. That the Committee considers in due course, a final draft of a revised Charter and associated action plan.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To provide the Committee with an opportunity to consider the Town and Community Councils Charter.
  2. To inform the development of a final draft of the Town and Community Councils Charter.
  3. To provide the Committee with an opportunity to consider a final draft of the Charter and an associated action plan to ensure the principles and commitments set out are achieved.

Background

  1. The Vale of Glamorgan Council and Town and Community Councils in the Vale of Glamorgan set out the way in which these organisations would work together in a Charter. Originally drafted in 2009 and revised in 2013, the Charter is based on a series of principles and commitments that describe how the organisations will work together in the interests of the communities we serve. The current Charter follows a model published by the Welsh Government. The 2013 version of the Charter can be found in Appendix A, with the accompanying Action Plan at Appendix B to this report.
  2. At the Community Liaison Committee meeting of 3rd July, 2018, it was agreed that a working group would be established to review the current Charter and propose any updates, reflecting the changing environment and way in which the organisations are now working. The working group met on 25th September, 2018 and in attendance were representatives from the Town Councils of Cowbridge with Llanblethian, Llantwit Major and Penarth and the Community Councils of Dinas Powys, Llangan, Michaelston le Pit with Leckwith, Peterston Super Ely and St. Nicholas and Bonvilston.
  3. This report provides the Committee with an overview of the proposed changes to the Charter following the meeting of the working group. It is recommended that Committee consider the draft of the revised Charter (Appendix C) and provides feedback to inform the development of a final draft of the Charter.
  4. It is intended that following the Committee's meeting, the working group will be reconvened to consider the feedback received, finalise a draft of the Charter and develop an Action Plan to pursue the principles and commitments in the coming years. The outputs from this session will be considered by the Committee and Cabinet in due course in order to provide the opportunity for all Town & Community Councils to engage in the process, prior to a revised Charter being adopted.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The context within which the organisations are now operating has changed significantly since the Charter was developed and revised.
  2. The on-going period of budget reductions has changed the way in which the Vale of Glamorgan Council provides services and the Committee is regularly updated on the progress of the Reshaping Services Programme. The Committee will note the ongoing budgetary pressures within each of the partner organisations.  The recently approved protocol for the operation of assets and services by Town and Community Councils that was discussed at the meeting of the Committee in July 2018 and subsequently approved by the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Cabinet has sought to provide a framework to support the development of proposals by Town and Community Councils.
  3. The legislative environment has also changed markedly since 2013, notably with the introduction of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. The Act applies to the Vale of Glamorgan Council and three of the Town and Community Councils specifically, with other Town and Community Councils required to work within the spirit of the legislation. The Act places a duty to exercise the Sustainable Development Principle through five ways of working and these should guide decision making and the activities of public bodies.
  4. The Welsh Government has also established an Independent Review Panel for Town and Community Councils. The Panel has recently published its initial findings and recommendations (a link to which is provided in the background papers to this report). The Welsh Government is to consider these findings and recommendations in due course. The working group discussed keeping a 'watching brief' on this agenda, but agreed to progress the review of the Charter so as not to delay this process, with any further refinements being made at a later date.
  5. The following provides a summary of the proposed changes to the Charter which have been reflected in Appendix C. The Committee will note that Appendix C provides only the sections of the Charter which relate to the principles and associated commitments. It is intended that a final draft will contain an introduction as well as information relating to the way in which the Charter will be delivered, monitored and reviewed, including an Action Plan.
  6. The working group considered the Introduction in the existing Charter 2013 and agreed that this continued to reflect the main aims.
  7. Following discussion, the working group agreed to rationalise the number of principles contained within the Charter from 14 to 8, through a process of combining (and in some cases, renaming) principles as follows:

Current Principle

Proposed Principle

1 - Recognition

1 - Recognition

2 - Local Governance

2 - Governance (incorporating commitments previously contained in Local Governance and Ethics principles).

3 - Consultation

3 - Involvement, Engagement and Consultation

4 - Information and Communication

4 - Information & Communication

5 - Joint Working and Engagement

5 - Joint Working and Engagement (incorporating commitments previously contained in Joint Working and Engagement, Practical Support, Capacity, Financial Arrangements and Delegating Responsibility for Service Provision principles).

6 - Land Use Planning

6 - Land Use Planning

7 - Practical Support

 

8 - Capacity

 

9 - Ethics

 

10 - Financial Arrangements

 

11 - Community Strategy

 

12 - Delegating Responsibility for Service Provision

 

13 - Sustainability

7 - Well-being of Future Generations (incorporating commitments previously contained in Sustainability and Community Strategy principles).

14 - Local Elections

8 - Local Elections

  1. The current version of the Charter contains several areas which overlap and it is intended that the streamlining of the principles and commitments as described above will help to simplify and focus the Charter.
  2. In addition to the 'structural' changes described above, the working group also considered other changes to the Charter as follows:
      • Governance: A commitment has been included to reflect the identification and appointment of representatives from the Town & Community Council sector on key groups and boards, for example, the Public Services Board.
      • Involvement, Engagement & Consultation: This principle has been broadened to reflect the working group's discussion of the need to involve, engage and consult with partners as early as appropriate when developing proposals. The working group recognised that in some instances these arrangements are governed by legislation but that the Charter should set out the ambition as to how this process should operate.
      • Information and Communication: A commitment for partners to communicate the contents of the Charter to relevant staff and elected members has been included as the working group felt this was a key to ensuring its successful delivery.
      • Joint Working and Engagement: Commitments have been included to reflect the establishment of the Reshaping Services Programme and relevant developments, for example, the protocol for the operation of services and assets by Town and Community Councils.
      • Well-being of Future Generations: This principle has been created by combining the previous Sustainability and Community Strategy principles. The opportunity has also been taken to update the commitments to reflect the Well-being of Future Generations Act duties, the operation of the Public Services Board and the role of the Well-being Assessment and Well-being Plan.
  1. The working group discussed the involvement of Town and Community Councils in land use planning processes. The group discussed the desire for Town and Community Councils to have access to information and reports that are currently not provided to them and involvement in processes at an earlier stage. Vale of Glamorgan Council Officers have arranged to meet with colleagues from the Planning Department to explore these issues in detail, with a view to providing an update at the next meeting of the working group, with any refinements to the principles contained in the Charter being made thereafter.
  2. Following consideration of this report by the Committee, it is intended to reconvene the working group to discuss the contents of the action plan to pursue the commitments contained in the Charter. At the September 2018 meeting of the working group, some initial areas for potential inclusion in the action plan were discussed including exploring the sharing of access to services (e.g. Welsh translation) that will be further worked on in due course.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There are no direct resource implications associated with this report. The Charter sets out the context and processes involved in making decisions relating to service delivery and resources.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The work of the Community Liaison Committee, through the Charter between the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Town and Community Councils, is consistent with the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act (2015). The way the Councils work together is an important facet of the Council's Reshaping Services Programme and contributes to the overall delivery of the Corporate Plan. The draft Charter proposes a specific principle relating to the Well-being of Future Generations Act which seeks to ensure the duty and spirit of the Act are furthered as the Councils work together.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no legal implications directly associated with this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no crime and disorder implications directly associated with this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no equal opportunities implications directly associated with this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The partnership between the Councils contributes to the achievement of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Corporate Plan and is consistent with the Council's vision, values and Well-Being Outcomes. Working with the Town and Community Council sector is also an intrinsic part of the Reshaping Services programme.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The Committee's consideration of this report (and subsequent outputs) is intended to involve the sector and elected Members in the process of reviewing the Charter as described above.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee.

Background Papers

Outline Findings and Recommendations, Independent Review Panel on Town and Community Councils

https://gov.wales/docs/dsjlg/publications/localgov/180807-independent-review-panel-en.pdf

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development

Officers Consulted

Head of Finance

Operational Manager, Policy and Performance

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director