Meeting documents

Ordinary Meeting of the Council
Thursday, 11th January, 2018 10.30 am

Date: Thursday 11th January 2018 Time: 10.30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR D. HANCOCK (THE CHAIR,
PRESIDING)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (194K/bytes)
Noted
2. CONDOLENCES

The Chair referred to the sad deaths of former County Borough Councillors Don Wilcox and Jim Watkins.

Members and officers stood in silence as a mark of respect.

Noted
3. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.

Noted
4. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from: -

Councillors J. Collins, M. Day, M. Holland, H. McCarthy B.A. (Hons), G. Paulsen, K. Rowson, T. Sharrem, G. Thomas.

Noted
5. DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Noted
6. MEMBERS QUESTIONS

There were no questions submitted by Members.

Noted
7. PUBLIC QUESTIONS

There were no questions submitted by members of the public.

Noted
8. MINUTE BOOK

A Member expressed his concern that no sets of minutes from the previous Council/Committee meetings had been submitted for consideration.

The Leader of the Council advised that discussions had taken place with the Democratic Services Section who had explained that unfortunately, due to a combination of factors (inclement weather/Christmas working arrangements and annual leave) these minutes had been unable to be completed in readiness for this meeting. Arrangements would, therefore, be made for the minutes to be presented to the Special Meeting of the Council on 25th January, 2018.

RESOLVED accordingly.

Agreed
9. RATIONALISATION OF SERVICE DELIVERY AT THE BUSINESS RESOURCE CENTRE, TAFARNAUBACH, TREDEGAR
Report (475K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director Environment and Regeneration.

The Corporate Director Environment and Regeneration outlined the broad scope of the report to Members. He explained that the Business Resource Centre (BRC) had been used previously as a training facility however, since this contract had expired this had resulted in a reduced occupancy rate of 25%.

Therefore, as a result of this decrease in the occupancy rate a review of all available options on the viability of retaining the BRC in its current form and an assessment of the possible sites for those services that had currently or potentially had an interest in the site had been undertaken. This activity in the first instance had focussed on the requirements of the Social Services team and then subsequently, options for the after-use of the building had been considered.

Following this review of all available options a full business case had been submitted to Corporate Leadership Team in November 2017 where the option to relocate the remaining Social Services staff and decommission and sell the site was approved.

An application was subsequently made to Welsh Government's Invest to Save Fund to cover the estimated costs ( 605,000) for the entire project i.e. the refurbishment of the ViTCC and Pond Road sites and this funding had been approved. However, in order to mitigate the potential cost pressure of 343,000 approval was now sought for the deviation away from the normal Council policy of retaining capital receipts centrally and to earmark the capital receipts from the sale of the BRC to repay the Invest to Save Loan to Welsh Government.

Members were then given the opportunity to raise questions/comment in respect of the report.

Potential Future Liabilities - A Member referred to problems of asbestos that had been encountered in other Council buildings and sought a guarantee that the Council would be safeguarded against any potential future liabilities. He continued by citing a case of a local authority in England whereby a purchaser of a building had reported that the authority had not acted with due diligence and this had resulted in the goodwill of the authority being put in jeopardy.

The Corporate Director - Environment and Regeneration advised that on occasions the Council would 'clean up' an asset prior to disposal in order to mitigate risk. However, in this instance the BRC would be sold 'as seen' and any potential purchaser would be made aware that any liabilities would also be transferred along with the building. It would then be a matter for any potential purchaser to conduct their own investigations.

Site Location - The Leader of the Labour Group commenced by commending the report. He continued by referring to the location of the BRC which was situated on an industrial estate and requested that if possible, when the building was sold that its future use was sympathetic to the needs of the local area.

Current Tenants - Another Member sought clarification in relation to Paragraph 1.4 of the report, namely "assist current tenants in finding suitable alternative premises in the County Borough".

The Corporate Director - Environment and Regeneration confirmed that there were currently two tenants occupying the building i.e. a plumbing company and a training company.

Building Security - A Member requested that the building once unoccupied be made secure and boarded up in order to prevent deterioration.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and that Option 1 be endorsed, namely:-

„ the deviation away from the normal Council Policy of retaining capital receipts centrally for subsequent prioritised allocation with the approved Capital Programme and existing Council Policy be supported; and

„ the proceeds of the Business Resource Centre sale be re-invested to support the delivery of the project.

The Executive Member - Environment concluded by advising that every effort would be made to obtain the maximum capital receipt from the sale of the asset.

Agreed
10. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT FOR MEMBERS
Report (451K/bytes)

The report of the Chief Finance Officer was submitted for consideration.

The Leader of the Council spoke briefly to the report and explained that Members ability to fully access Council services, particularly through Wi-Fi was currently proving difficult. Officers had advised that should Option 2 (outlined in Paragraph 6.2 of the report) be endorsed these issues would be resolved i.e. a new scheme and policy would be adopted where the Council would provide a laptop to each Member to a common specification, solely for Council business and free of charge.

For the short term, however, there remained an option for Members to retain paper copies of agendas. However, following an agreed period of time consideration would be given to the cessation of paper copies of agendas.

An assurance had been given by the Chief Finance Officer that if the recommendation was agreed initial and follow up training would be provided to Members. The Leader concluded by proposing that Option 2 be endorsed.

Members were then given the opportunity to raise questions/comment on the report.

Power Source/Sockets - A Member supported the report but pointed out that if laptops were provided that sufficient electrical sockets to access a power supply would need to be readily available in order to ensure that Members could recharge and use the laptops during the course of meetings.

The Leader of the Council stated that all the requirements that would be needed to fulfil Option 2 in order that Members could carry out their duties effectively would be provided.

The Member pointed out that the cost associated with provision of power supply/stations should have been contained within the report and whilst he declined the Leader's offer to defer the report he requested that it be noted that laptops and power cables/supply went 'hand in hand'.

The Chief Finance Officer advised that the continued advancements in technology meant that the battery life of laptops were continually extending, therefore, he had not included a sum of capital expenditure within the report that may necessarily not be required. However, he stated that a review of the latest technology would be undertaken and if required, a further report outlining any proposals would be submitted to a further meeting of Council.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 2 be endorsed, namely:-

A new scheme and policy be adopted where the Council provided a laptop to each Member to a common specification, solely for Council business and free of charge. Members would automatically be able to connect to the Council Wi-Fi in any Council building without having to obtain a code (as the equipment would be Council owned). In addition, in line with the thinking behind the current policy, should any Member wish to make a voluntary contribution towards the cost of the equipment that could be arranged. Under this option, the ability for Members to use their own ICT equipment to access Council services would cease. Members wishing to retain paper copies of agendas could do so if requested.

After an agreed period of time, consideration would be given to the cessation of paper copies of agendas, following the recommendations from the Paperless Environment Task and Finish Group.

Adopting such a policy would require sufficient resources to provide initial and follow up/refresher training including the development of "Member Champions".

Agreed
11. TREASURY MANAGEMENT MID-YEAR REVIEW REPORT 1ST APRIL 2017 TO 30TH SEPTEMBER 2017
Report (120K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (393K/bytes)
Appendix A (62K/bytes)
Appendix B (19K/bytes)

The joint Officers' report was submitted for consideration.

The Leader of the Council advised that the key points were summarised in Paragraph 2.3 of the report and said that despite the financial climate, the Authority had performed well in terms of its Treasury Management activities during the first half of the year.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the record of performance and compliance achieved during the first half of the 2017/18 financial year be accepted.

Agreed
12. DEMOCRATIC ARRANGEMENTS PROGRESS REPORT
Report (120K/bytes)
Appendix (2M/bytes)

The report of the Head of Policy and Performance was submitted for consideration.

The Vice-Chair of the Democratic Services Committee spoke briefly to the report.

Appreciation was expressed to the Head of Policy and Performance (designated Head of Democratic Services) and officers for their hard work in producing the report.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Democratic Arrangements Performance Report be approved.

Agreed
13. SUPPORT ARRANGEMENTS FOR MEMBERS ON OUTSIDE BODIES
Report (127K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (84K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (79K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (51K/bytes)

The report of the Head of Policy and Performance was submitted for consideration.

The Vice-Chair of the Democratic Services Committee spoke briefly to the report and it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely:-

- The following new support and feedback arrangements be agreed to be put in place:-

Support arrangements

- A short pre-meeting be held between the Member(s) and relevant lead officer to discuss the agenda and any particular points of interest.
- Member(s) attend the meeting.
- A short post-meeting be held between the Member(s) and lead officer to de-brief.

Feedback arrangements

- An agenda item to be added to Council on a quarterly basis for communication/feedback from Members on outside bodies. A template for Members to complete for sharing the feedback had been produced.

Review of the current outside bodies appointments

- A review of the list of outside bodies to rationalise the number of current appointments required be undertaken. This should be completed in advance of the AGM in May 2018.

Agreed
14. PROPOSED PROCEDURES FOR AN ELECTED MEMBER MENTORING FRAMEWORK
Report (122K/bytes)
Appendix (215K/bytes)

The report of the Head of Policy and Performance was submitted for consideration.

The Vice-Chair of the Democratic Services Committee spoke to the report and advised that due to a number of new Members being elected in May 2017 it was now an opportune time to implement a mentoring framework in order to ensure that both new and returning Members were given the appropriate level of support and guidance to carry out their duties.

It was noted that the proposed framework had been based on Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) guidance.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely:-

„ The framework for Member mentoring based on the WLGA guidance in response to previous Member feedback and to build on the current informal arrangements be fully endorsed. Training for mentors would be delivered in-house by officers.

„ Expressions of interest for those Members who would like to become a mentor be forwarded to the Head of Democratic Services.

Agreed
15. COLLECTIVE GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
Report (113K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (831K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (159K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the HR Manager.

Members were advised that the Council already had an agreed Grievance Procedure in place which promoted a working environment where employees felt able to raise concerns, issues or problems about their work, working environment or working relationships. This procedure set out both the informal and formal mechanisms available to address individual grievances in line with legislation.

However, there had been an increase in the number of collective grievances received over recent months and to formalise the arrangements for handling these types of disputes, a Collective Grievance Procedure had been developed in consultation with the Trade Unions. It was noted that the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee had considered the policy at its meeting on 8th January, 2018.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Collective Grievance Procedure be adopted.

Agreed
16. JOINT PUBLIC PROTECTION ENFORCEMENT POLICY
Report (148K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (681K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (375K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (280K/bytes)

The report of the Corporate Director of Environment and Regeneration was submitted.

Members were advised that due to the collaboration between Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen Councils in the delivery of Public Protection Services - Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Licensing a revised joint Enforcement Policy was necessary to ensure a consistent approach to enforcement between the two local authorities and on-going compliance with the Regulators' code.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Public Protection Enforcement Policy be adopted.

FURTHER RESOLVED that the Policy be reviewed every 5 years for approval by the Executive Committee or earlier if deemed necessary.

Agreed
17. STRATEGIC ASSET MANAGEMENT PLAN - NEW PLAN AND REVIEW 2017 - 2022
Report (267K/bytes)
Appendix (2M/bytes)

Members considered the report of the Corporate Director of Environment and Regeneration.

The Executive Member - Regeneration advised that the lifespan of the original Strategic Asset Management Plan for Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council had now ended and a new plan which would run for the same time period of the new Council i.e. 2017 - 2022 was presented for adoption.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the 2017 - 2022 Strategic Asset Management Plan be approved and adopted as Council policy.

Agreed
18. CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING POLICY
Report (118K/bytes)
Appendix (862K/bytes)

The report of the Head of Children's Services was submitted for consideration.

The Executive Member - Social Services spoke in detail to the report and highlighted points contained therein. Members were advised that as part of process to update the Corporate Child Protection Policy, it was agreed to increase the scope of this policy to encompass the wider safeguarding agenda and develop a new Corporate Safeguarding Policy.

This new policy now identified safeguarding roles and responsibilities to provide greater clarity to all staff what their responsibilities were. The Executive Member - Social Services, thereupon, concluded by commending the report and adoption of the policy.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the updated Corporate Safeguarding Policy be agreed.

Agreed
19. LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN REVIEW
Report (163K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (958K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Team Manager Planning Policy.

The Executive Member - Regeneration & Economic Development commenced by advising that the Council's Environment, Regeneration and Economic Development Scrutiny Committee had considered the report on 18th September, 2017 and had supported Option 1.

The adopted Blaenau Gwent Local Development Plan (LDP) set out the Council's priorities for the development and use of land in the County Borough. The current Plan was adopted on 22nd November, 2012 and was due to expire in 2021.

To accord with statutory requirements the Plan was monitored on an annual basis and to ensure that there was a comprehensive assessment of whether the plan was up to date. In addition, the Council was required to undertake a full review of the adopted LDP 4 years from the date of adoption. Accordingly, a full review of the LDP had commenced on 22nd November, 2016 and culminated in the production of a review report, which included (not a definitive list) target plans for housing, employment, economic growth.

If Option 1 was endorsed (i.e. a full revision process) consideration would need to be given to the emerging National Development Framework, Cardiff Capital Region's intention to prepare a Strategic Development Plan, Welsh Government's agenda for collaboration.

The Executive Member - Regeneration & Economic Development continued by stating that it would be critical for Members to be involved in the review process in order that they had an opportunity to comments and express views on the new plan.

It was noted that the cost of undertaking a full revision was still unknown at present, however, should Option 1 be endorsed a delivery framework would be developed which would provide further details on the cost implications and the partnership approach.

Members were then given the opportunity to raise questions/comment in respect of the report.

Cardiff Capital Region City Deal: Overarching Plan - The Leader of the Labour Group supported the comments made by the Executive Member and pointed out that the LDP was a vital policy document. However, at the commencement of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal he had hoped that an overarching plan would have been produced on behalf of the 10 local authorities, particularly to address the issue of housing development and concluded by requesting that this matter be pursued.

The Executive Member confirmed that an overarching plan was a critical part of the development of the City Region Deal and this strategic overview was critical for the authority.

Flexibility/Thriving Town Centres/Housing - Another Member raised the following points:-

„ The LDP was a 'cornerstone' policy and said that any LDP moving forward needed to be much more flexible and have the ability to fit in with other plans and policies including the New Valleys Initiative.

„ Theme 1: Create a Network of Sustainable Vibrant Valley Communities which included thriving town centres. The Member referred to the town centres, and made particular reference to the number of bank closures over the recent years and the Trago Mills development located in a neighbouring authority area that would also have a massive impact on town centres.

He stated that the role of the town centres needed to be re-assessed and each town assessed on what it had to offer - if this assessment was undertaken on a collective basis there would be discord across the County Borough.

„ Concern was expressed regarding previous housing schemes and that this would need to be reviewed and addressed as part of new plan.

„ A radical approach was required in terms of attracting more national industry.

„ The involvement of Members as part of the engagement process in future was welcomed but it was pointed out that estate agents and third party voluntary sector organisations should also be included as part of the process.

„ The Member concluded by asking whether the Supplementary Guidelines had been completed.

The Executive Member - Regeneration & Economic Development acknowledged the points (which had also been raised by Members of the Scrutiny Committee) and said that each area would be looked at carefully. In terms of town centres these were the driving force of the community and were a priority for the Council.

With regard to collaboration, the Public Service Board (PSB) would be included as part of the engagement process together with organisations who also did not form part of the PSB. Members would also play a full and vital part in the process.

New Valleys Initiative - In reply to a question regarding the involvement of Members within the New Valleys Initiative, the Executive Member advised that a hub meeting would be taking place shortly and any progress would be duly reported to Members.

Local Transport Arrangements - Another Member referred to the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal and the implementation of the Metro scheme and expressed his concern regarding the local transport arrangements within the County Borough. He pointed out that unless residents were on a main bus route there were no buses available prior to 8.00 a.m. or after 5.00 p.m. In addition, budget saving proposal that was due to be considered for 2018/19 financial year related to the cessation of subsidies for local transport. The Member pointed out that the lack of transport infrastructure deterred larger industries from re-locating within the County Borough and requested that this issue be re-considered in light of the bigger picture.

The Executive Member agreed with the concern raised and advised that correspondence had been received from the Cabinet Secretary highlighting the importance of transport links and it was critical that this formed part of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal arrangements.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and that Option 1 Full Revision Process be endorsed, namely:-

That a full revision process was required to update the Plan. Preparation of the new replacement Plan was to have regard to the Cardiff Capital Region's intention to prepare a Strategic Development Plan, Welsh Government's agenda for collaboration and diminishing staff resources and budgets.

Agreed
20. NOTICE ON NJC PAY
Notice (100K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Notice relating to the NJC Pay Claim for 2018.

The Leader of the Council advised that a meeting had been held with the trade unions prior to the Christmas period at which correspondence from the GMB asking the Council to support the NJC Pay Claim for 2018 had been discussed.

It was noted that there would be no additional financial implications associated if Council agreed to support the Notice.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

The Council, in supporting the NJC Pay Claim for 2018 therefore, RESOLVED to:

- Call immediately on the LGA to make urgent representations to Government to fund the NJC claim and the pay spine review and notify us of their action in this regard.

- Write to the Prime Minister and Chancellor supporting the NJC pay claim and seeking additional funding to fund a decent pay rise and the pay spine review.

- Meet with local NJC union representatives to convey support for the pay claim and the pay spine review.

Agreed
21. MEMBERSHIPS/SUBSCRIPTIONS
Report (233K/bytes)

Consideration was given to:-

Advisory Panel for the Appointment of Local Authority Governors

The following recommendations were made by the Panel on 13th December, 2017 to appoint:-

Rebecca Richards - Sofrydd Primary
Peter Baldwin - Ysgol Bro Helyg
St Joseph's - Malcolm Cross - St. Joseph's Primary
David Davies - Ebbw Fawr Learning Community
Gavin Metheringham - Canalfan-yr-Afon
Lisa Adams - Canalfan-yr-Afon
Jeff O'Reilly - Canalfan-yr-Afon

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that the above appointments be endorsed.

The Executive Member - Education advised that there were currently 7 Local Authority School Governor vacancies and a current list of appointments together with the vacant positions would be forwarded to Members.


Aneurin Bevan University Health Board - Stakeholder Reference Group

To appoint a representative to the above Group.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that Councillor John Mason be appointed to the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Stakeholder Group.

EAS Company Board

To appoint a substitute Executive Member representative to attend meetings of the above Board in the absence of the appointed representative.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

RESOLVED that Councillor D. Davies be appointed to as a substitute Executive Member to attend meetings of the EAS Company Board in the absence of the appointed representative.

Agreed
TO RECEIVE AND CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING REPORT(S) WHICH IN THE OPINION OF THE PROPER OFFICER IS/ARE AN EXEMPT ITEM(S) TAKING INTO ACCOUNT CONSIDERATION OF THE PUBLIC INTEREST TEST AND THAT THE PRESS AND PUBLIC SHOULD BE EXCLUDED FROM THE MEETING (THE REASON FOR THE DECISION FOR THE EXEMPTION IS AVAILABLE ON A SCHEDULE MAINTAINED BY THE PROPER OFFICER)
22. APPEAL COMMITTEE
Report (71K/bytes)

Having regard to the views expressed by the Proper Officer regarding the public interest test, that on balance the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information and that the report should be exempt.

RESOLVED that the public be excluded whilst this item of business is transacted as it is likely there would be a disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 12 & 13, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).

Consideration was given to the report of the meeting held on 15th December, 2017.

RESOLVED that the report which related to staffing matters be accepted and the decision contained therein be noted.

Agreed