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Agenda Item No. 9(b)










Approval was sought to upgrade the Wide Area Network and improve ICT performance across the Council's network.


The Council’s corporate Wide Area Network (WAN) connected all council offices and all schools together to allow them to securely access ICT services such as email, internet and Oracle. It also extended into other organisations where Council staff operated from such as the NHS, Central Government organisations and other Local Authorities.


The existing WAN was commissioned in 2010 and provided as a managed service by a company called Networks by Wireless. This network consisted of primarily radio based technology.


In 2014, Networks by Wireless went into administration. This resulted in the Council making a substantial capital investment to purchase the entire network hardware infrastructure from the administrator, the site share agreements from Arqiva and the radio broadcast licences from Ofcom. The annual revenue cost to maintain the network hardware infrastructure following its purchase in 2014 reduced as the Vale of Glamorgan ICT Service was now essentially managing its own WAN services.


The hardware infrastructure that was purchased from the Administrator in 2014 was now near end of life and had started to cause network issues resulting in service performance degradation, intermittent network problems and some longer-term outages.


The Welsh Government had set new guidelines with regard to ICT connectivity across all schools. Under the guidance all Secondary schools in Wales had to have at least 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) internet connectivity and all Primary schools in Wales had to have at least 100 Megabit per second (Mbps) internet connectivity by 2020. To assist Local Authorities to achieve these demands, grant funding had been made available by the Welsh Government as part of a scheme called LiDW2. The Welsh Government intended to release this grant funding in November 2017.


If the Vale of Glamorgan Council accepted the grant funding, schools would be moved off the corporate WAN and onto the Welsh Governments existing secure Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) network. The Vale of Glamorgan Council was the only Local Authority in Wales which did not utilise the PSBA for its corporate WAN services. This was due to historic issues with service tariff inconsistencies which had since been resolved.  


Currently internet traffic from all schools was routed over the WAN back to the Civic Office as their route out to the internet was via a single internet connection located at the Civic Office. One of the design proposals submitted by PSBA as part of the LiDW2 project suggested that all schools would have their own dedicated internet connection. This would provide performance improvements and resilience to the schools whilst eliminating the need to route their internet traffic across the corporate WAN back to the Civic Office. This change would also improve performance of the corporate WAN for Council staff.


PSBA had proposed that, if the schools were going to be moved off the current corporate WAN infrastructure and onto the PSBA network as part of the LiDW2 project, it would be an opportunity to move the Council’s WAN onto the PSBA network infrastructure too as all other Welsh LA’s had done previously. This would avoid the costs and time for the Council of going out to tender for a new separate corporate WAN, avoid the costs of re-joining orphaned Council buildings back onto a separate corporate network, avoid the revenue costs of maintaining end of life network hardware and avoid the costs of signing up to a separate managed corporate WAN services.


This was a matter for Executive decision


Cabinet, having considered the report and all the issues and implications contained therein




(1)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Director of Learning and Skills in consultation with the Cabinet member for Learning and Culture to accept the LiDW2 Grant from the Welsh Government to upgrade ICT connectivity for all schools.


(2)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Head of Finance in consultation with the Leader of the Council, to join the Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) network on behalf of the Council.


(3)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Head of Finance in consultation with the Leader of the Council to enter into an agreement with Welsh Government and BT for the supply of the Wide Area Network.


(4)       T H A T delegated authority be granted to the Head of Legal Services to execute the necessary arrangements for the Council to join the PSBA.


(5)       T H A T Cabinet approve the increase in the Capital Programme funded by £348,000 from Welsh Government, £86,500 from the Computer Renewal Fund and the pulling forward of £20,000 from the 2018/19 Capital Programme.


(6)       T H A T the use of Article 14.14 of the Council’s Constitution (urgent decision procedure) be authorised in respect of resolution 1 above.


Reasons for decisions


(1)       To secure Welsh Government grant to support the upgrade of the schools Internet capacity.


(2-5)    To enable the Council to upgrade its ICT infrastructure.


(6)       To enable the Council to access the funding within the timescale available.