Meeting documents

Ordinary Meeting of the Council
Friday, 15th February, 2019 10.00 am

Date: Friday 15th February 2019 Time: 10.00 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 M. MOORE (THE CHAIR,
PRESIDING)


Councillors:

P. Baldwin
D. Bevan
G. Collier
J. Collins
M. Cook
M. Cross
N. Daniels
D. Davies
G. L. Davies
M. Day
P. Edwards
D. Hancock
K. Hayden
S. Healy
J. Hill
M. Holland
J. Holt
J. Mason
H. McCarthy, B.A. (Hons)
C. Meredith
J. Millard
J. C. Morgan
J. P. Morgan
L. Parsons
K. Pritchard
K. Rowson
T. Sharrem
T. Smith
B. Summers
B. Thomas
S. Thomas
H. Trollope
J. Wilkins
D. Wilkshire
B. Willis
L. Winnett

Managing Director
Corporate Director of Social Services
Corporate Director of Education
Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services
Chief Officer Resources
Chief Officer Commercial
Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance
Head of Governance and Partnerships
Communications, Marketing and Customer Access Manager
Press and Communications Officer
THE CHAIR AND MEMBERS OF THE COUNCILSENIOR BUSINESSS SUPPORT OFFICER - DEMOCRATIC SERVICES
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Version of Agenda Coversheet (170K/bytes)
Noted
2. WELCOME

The Chair extended a warm welcome to all attendees in particular, the members of the public seated in the public gallery and the representative of the press.

�

Councillor McCarthy at this juncture expressed his appreciation to the Chair and Leader of the Council for the kind consideration shown to him and his family by amending the date of this meeting from Thursday, 14th February to Friday, 15th February, 2019.
�

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 G. A. Davies, L. Elias, W. Hodgins, G. Paulsen and G. Thomas.
�

Noted
5. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

The following declaration of interest was reported:-

�

Item No. 4 - Revenue Budget 2019/2020
School Crossing Patrollers Service Review

Councillor T. Smith

�

Councillors H. Trollope and L. Winnett reported that although they had published information to social media relating to the budget, both Members advised that neither had made a pre-determination on the matter and, therefore, it had been confirmed that they were not required to declare an interest in respect of this item.
�

Noted
6. REVENUE BUDGET 2019/2020
Report (191K/bytes)
Appex 1 - 6 (474K/bytes)
7a (378K/bytes)
7b (281K/bytes)
7c (283K/bytes)
7d (966K/bytes)
7e (303K/bytes)
7f (80K/bytes)
appex 8 (152K/bytes)
Addendum - Report SCP (485K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix A (299K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix B (290K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix C (251K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix D (188K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix E (3M/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix F (26K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix G (24K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix H (262K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix J (234K/bytes)
Addendum - Appendix K (232K/bytes)


�

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

�

At the invitation of the Chair, the Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report which related to the provisional/final Revenue Support Grant Settlement and savings proposals for 2019/2020.

�

Whilst this report provided information around the level of revenue and capital funding expected to be received from Welsh Government for the forthcoming 2019/2020 financial year, it focussed mainly on the revenue budget. It was noted that a separate report on the capital programme elements of the funding would be submitted to Council at a future date.

�

The Chief Officer continued by highlighting the following salient points contained therein:-

�

�� National Position (All Wales) � the overall headline increase across Wales was 0.2% after taking into account of transfers of two new specific grants into the settlement. Changes across Wales ranged from a reduction of -0.3% to an increase of 0.9%.

�

�� Blaenau Gwent Position � Blaenau Gwent�s provisional settlement received in October 2018 had indicated a -0.3% reduction in Welsh Government funding. However, upon receipt of the final settlement in December 2018, the Council had been notified that after allowing for transfers into the settlement, Blaenau Gwent would receive a cash flat settlement when compared to 2018/2019 equating to �110.8m.

�

It was noted that information relating to the primary indicators in respect of population, pupil numbers and deprivation factors had been provided for the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) formula (this formula was used by Welsh Government to assess how much funding to allocate to local government) but this information had not made a significant impact on the level of funding received.

�

�� Revenue Support Grant (RSG) � Funding Gap - as a result of a better than anticipated settlement, the original funding gap could now be revised (after taking into account 2019/2020 cost pressures) to:-

�

�3.2m for 2019/2020
�4.6m for 2020/2021
�4.6m for 2021/2022

�

�� Transfer of Grants and New Responsibilities � the final settlement included the transfer of two specific grants totalling �276,000 into the RSG:-

�

� Teachers Pay Award - �170,000
� Free School Meals - �106,000

�

Which had been supplemented by Welsh Government with an additional �192,000 for:-

�

� Teachers Pay Award - �118,000
� Free School Meals - �74,000

�

It was reported that if the above grants and additional funding was pass-ported directly to schools, the funding gap would increase by �468,000.

�

The Council would also have to consider pass-porting:-

�

� �172,000 funding to Social Services to compensate for the loss of care fees.

�

� �58,000 additional resources for further discretionary rate relief for businesses and other ratepayers.

�

Members would be required to consider if they wanted to continue to support activity formerly funded by specific grants or use the un-hypothecated funding for other purposes.

�

The revised overall funding gap assuming grants were transferred and new responsibilities were pass-ported to services was:-

�

�3.8m for 2019/2020
�5.3m for 2020/2021
�5.3m for 2021/2022

�

�� Savings Proposals � in January 2018 the Council had agreed a number of savings proposals for the 2019/2020 financial year equating to �2.68m. A number of these proposals were included in the programme of service reviews undertaken during 2018/2019 and the current position as at January 2019 indicated that a total of �1.572m was deliverable for 2019/2020.

�

During Autumn 2018, further savings proposals were developed to meet the funding gap, amounting to �1.878m and these proposals were detailed in appendices 6 and 7 contained in the report.

�

�� EDU19003 � Reduction in Inflationary Increase � Individual School Budget (ISB) � proposed a no inflation budget for schools and should this be approved would provide additional resources available to the Council in the sum of �420,000.

�

However, if Council agreed that all the grants transferred into the settlement together with the award of a cost pressure for increase in pupil numbers, this would result in the Individual Schools Budget (ISB) increasing by just under 1.5%.

�

It was noted that schools were facing particular cost pressures in relation to teachers pay and increasing pension costs. The pressure in relation to the expected increased pension costs for 2019/2020 was estimated to be �850,000. However, there was a potential for financial assistance from Welsh Government and if this funding was forthcoming it was proposed that this be pass-ported directly to schools.

�

�� Summary/Proposed Council Tax Level � if all the proposals were agreed a funding gap of �359,000 would remain. However, this would increase further should Members not agree specific proposals.

�

To address this funding gap Members could consider increasing the level of Council Tax above the assumption in the Medium Term Financial Strategy from 2.6% to 4.9%.

�

This option would generate a further �730,000 funding and would provide a contingency of �370,000 to enable a replenishment of reserves and act as a buffer in the event that:-

�

� Members did not agree all the savings proposals.
� The savings proposals did not deliver as expected.
� Emerging cost pressures were identified during the year.

�

Appreciation � The Leader of the Labour Group wished to place on record his appreciation to the Chief Officer Resources and her team for all the work carried out in respect of the revenue budget � this had not been an easy task. Appreciation was also expressed to the Welsh Government for the additional funding received in the form of specific grants and the Leader of the Labour Group pointed out that without this additional funding, the Council would have been in a much worse financial position.


The Leader of the Council indicated that he would express his appreciation to the Chief Officer Resources and her team at the conclusion of the meeting. He continued by presenting a balanced and reasonable budget for 2019/2020 which, the Leader advised would be built up via consideration of various proposed options.

�

The Leader of the Council then addressed each of the individual recommendations contained within the report (prior to the formal proposals being presented):-

�

Recommendation 3.1 � To note the national and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council RSG settlement information.

�

It was the intention of the Majority Group to note this information.

�

Recommendation 3.2 � Council consider the in-year cost pressures detail in Appendix 3 of the report, with a view to agree proposals up to the level of �1.43m for 2019/2020.

�

It was the intention of the Majority Group to agree the proposals and award the cost pressures.

�

Recommendation 3.3 � Members consider pass-porting the former specific grant and new responsibility funding transferred into the settlement in order to continue to fund the activities formerly funded by the specific grant.

�

It was the intention of the Majority Group to approve pass-porting the following un-hypothecated grants in their entirety:-

�

� �172,000 funding to Social Services to compensate for the loss of care fees.
� �58,000 additional resources for further discretionary rate relief for businesses and other ratepayers.
� �468,000 funding to schools in respect of the teacher�s pay award and free school meals.

�

Recommendation 3.4 � Council considers and notes the current assessment of achievement against 2019/2020 savings proposals agreed in January 2018 � summarised in Appendix 5 of the report.

�

The Leader of the Council acknowledged that the methodology utilised to facilitate the service review process had previously been criticised and said that he would look to rectify this matter in the forthcoming financial year.

�

He explained that by looking at and addressing problem areas differently (i.e. via service reviews) this had provided more fluency to the budget process (rather than traditionally waiting until October) and this methodology had realised nearly �1.6m of savings.

�

It was noted that in previous years� savings proposals were repeatedly submitted for consideration and then withdrawn from the agenda. The rationale for taking this approach would be to determine if there was justification for making cuts to services and if there was no justification, these areas would be removed and not considered as part of any future savings proposals. This course of action would prevent officers� time being wasted.

�

School Crossing Patrol Service Review - The Leader of the Council continued by advising that the only remaining service review that had yet to be considered related to School Crossing Patrols. This proposal had gone through a very thorough and comprehensive consultation process and a forensic review had been undertaken to ascertain whether the number of school crossing patrols could be reduced.

�

In addition, because the Council was aware of how emotive an issue this was, this proposal had been consulted upon as part of the Budget Engagement process, the results of which were contained within Appendix 8 attached to the report. Officers had also undertaken a tremendous amount of work visiting each of the school sites.

�

The survey had determined that 15 school crossing patrol sites had been classed as �not justified� under the current School Crossing Patrol Service Guidelines produced by Road Safety GB/Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

�

The Leader of the Council continued by advising that both he and the Deputy Leader had also visited a number of school sites in order to formulate their own views (this was not to undermine the Road Safety GB/RoSPA guidelines) and what had become clear at these site visits was that the guidelines could not cater for the insensitive and at some sites unbelievable indiscriminate parking outside school gates which, created a major hazard for children, parents and the school crossing patrollers.

�

In considering Blaenau Gwent in general and the level of inclement weather i.e. rain/snow the area received, there was even more of a tendency for parents to transport their children to school by car and drop them at the school gates, which created more of a hazard.

�

The Leader of the Council in conclusion stated that he had taken the views on board and the strong representation received by the GMB and said he would be recommending that:-

�

�� there be no reduction made to the school crossing patrol service;
�� the full complement of school crossing patrols remain at 35; and
�� this proposal be removed from Appendix 5 attached to the report.


Recommendation 3.5 � Council considers and agrees 2019/2020 savings proposals summarised in Appendix 6 (detailed in Appendix 7 of the report).

�

The Leader of the Council referred to the proposals and outlined the proposals that the Majority Group felt could not be supported:-

�

RES19001 � Special Levy �57,270 � this element of the Members Grants to be retained. It was noted that a number of sports clubs were currently undertaking community asset transfers and this funding could potentially be of benefit to help and assist those groups.

�

ENV9011 � Reduction in Street Lighting Provision �75,000 � it would be recommended that no further reductions would be made to the street lighting provision.

�

The Leader of the Council continued by advising that very strong comments had been made regarding various items contained within the budget and he clarified the following points:-

�

�� ENV19014 � Reduction of Highway Patching Maintenance Crew - The report did not indicate a reduction in the Highways Maintenance Crew and there would not be any reduction to highway maintenance.

�

�� ENV19015 � Introduction of Charge for Child Care Element at School Breakfast Club - It was not and never the intention to remove the child care element of the school breakfast club.

�

�� ENV19017 � Completion of CAT Transfers for all Sports Facilities � this matter did not need to be revisited with sports clubs, however, unfortunately some elements portrayed had given the impression that the Council would shut everything off if a community asset transfer had not been completed or licence arrangements applied for by April 2019.

�

The Leader of the Council emphasised that discussions with clubs had been on-going since August 2017 but the impression that had been given was that this was a new proposal. He reiterated that every club in the County Borough had known since August 2017 � the Council would not be handing over liabilities but would provide assistance to the clubs in order to protect the integrity of sport.

�

The current status of the community asset transfers were:-

�

- 3 clubs had already completed the transfer.
- 9/10 clubs were ready to sign the CAT
agreement.
- 12 further clubs were progressing with CAT.
- 1 club had been classed within the �red�
category and officers were working tirelessly
with the club to give them all the assistance
they required.

Conclusion � To conclude, the Leader reiterated that the following proposals amounting to �162,270 would not be supported:-

�

- A reduction in the provision of street lighting.
- A reduction in the school crossing patrol service.
- Members Special Levy Fund.

�

Recommendation 3.6 � Council agrees setting the Council Tax increase for 2019/2020 at 4.9%, enabling a replenishment of reserves.

�

The Leader of the Council commenced by advising that in order to protect as many services and jobs as conceivably possible, the Majority Group would be supporting a 0.7% increase in the current level of council tax. Increasing the level of Council Tax for 2019/2020 by 4.9% would provide the Council with an additional �729,000 which when used to offset the budget difference the Council would be left with a favourable variance (budget position) of �207,374.

�

Whilst the Council had received criticism for its low level of reserves by the Wales Audit Office, the very strong, polite concerns and constructive messages aired by the public as part of the consultation process had been listened to in relation to the street lighting provision.

�

It would, therefore, be proposed to use �90,000 of the �207,374 in order to reinstate the street lighting provision on the main roads until midnight � this would include some maintenance work. It was anticipated that the street lighting on main roads would be reinstated from the middle of the following week. The remaining �117,374 contingency would be utilised to replenish the diminishing reserves.

�

With regard to reinstatement of lighting on the industrial estates, this would be unable to be reinstated immediately because some maintenance and upgrades were required. However, the Leader said he was confident around the summer time a report would be able to be submitted to Council detailing the funding mechanism (potentially the use of capital funding) to address this issue.

�

Recommendation 3.7 � Members endorse the assumptions in the MTFS 2019/2020 to 2021/2022 and note that a further review would take place in the spring of 2019.

�

The Leader of the Council advised that he would be insisting that a further review of the MTFS take place in the spring 2019 because the strategy needed to be adjusted in terms of certain assumptions.


Labour Group Proposals

�

The Leader of the Labour Group commenced by supporting the proposal not to reduce the school crossing patrol service.

�

He, thereupon, referred to the general comment made by the Leader that it was �officer proposals� being considered and not Member proposals. He explained that one of the measures that had been instigated with the Wales Audit Office was for Executive Members to put their names to reports. Executive Members would have undoubtedly worked with officers on the proposals, therefore, he did not accept this point relating to �officer proposals�.

�

The Leader of the Labour Group then addressed each of the recommendations in turn as follows:-

�

Recommendations 3.1, 3.2 & 3.3. � these recommendations would be endorsed.

�

Recommendation 3.4 � it was pointed out that whilst the Labour Group had voted against this proposal in January he said that this recommendation would be agreed even though the school crossing patrol service review amounting to �33,000 would reduce the savings target.

�

Recommendations 3.5/3.6 � it was noted that if all the measures contained within these recommendations were agreed, a funding gap of �359,000 would still remain.

�

Income:

�

As an alternative proposal to increasing Council Tax by 4.9%, the Labour Group would be proposing to increase income by increasing the Council Tax level by 1.38% to 3.98% which would equate to �438,000. (Namely a 1% increase equating to �317,000; 0.30% increase equating to �96,000 and 0.08% increasing equating to �25,000).

�

A different view was also shared in respect of:-

�

ENV19004 � Reduction in the number of staff in the Cleansing Team � it was proposed that Option 2 (rather than the preferred Option 3 which would achieve a saving of �128,000) be endorsed which would generate a saving of �260,000. The difference of �132,000 could then be utilised to offset the reduced Council Tax.

�

If approved, the above proposals would generate �570,000 income.

�

Expenditure:

�

The Leader of the Labour Group proposed the following measures in order to address the funding gap of �359,000:-

�

RES19001 � Cease the Award of General Grants, Special Levy and Allotments Grants - �79,970 � it was proposed to protect the Special Levy and Allotment Grants but reduce the allocation to �800 per Member and �200 per allotment association and remove the �20,000 General Grants allocation. If this proposal was agreed this would equate to �34,400.

�

The following proposals were not supported:-

�

ENV9011 � Reduction in Street Lighting Provision - �75,000

ENV19013 � Increase in Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Income � �5,000

ENV013 � School Crossing Patrollers � Service Reduction - �30,000

�

However, the other elements of street lighting provision were welcomed including investment in order to reinstate the street lights on the main roads at cost of �90,000 and the comments relating to further work being undertaken in relation to the lighting on the industrial estates. The Leader of the Labour Group said he was sure that the Group would support this proposal going forward.

�

If approved, the above proposals would equate to �596,400 expenditure.

�

This would result in a funding shortfall of �26,400 which it was proposed to carry forward as a cost pressure into 2019/20.

�

General Reserves:

�

It was noted that the above proposals would not make any allowances to replenish reserves.

�

The Leader of the Labour Group continued by advising that he was in receipt of the Annual Audit Letter from the Wales Audit Office which commented on the Council�s position around the level of reserves. However, this information had not included any comparative data. He continued by stating that in his opinion this budget was more �salami slicing� and said at a time when the level of Band D Council Tax was the highest in Wales, he believed it was not the right time to replenish reserves and place the burden on the good people of Blaenau Gwent.

�

At the invitation of the Chair, Members made the following comments/statements:-

�

ENV19017 - Completion of CAT Transfers for all Sports Grounds � a Member confirmed that he had instigated a meeting of sports groups in the Tredegar area during the autumn and following questions, the officer in attendance had confirmed that if sports groups had not signed up for a CAT transfer by April 2019 the gates of the facilities would be locked.

�

The Leader of the Council referred to the discussions that had taken place with sporting groups in Tredegar and said that he was unable to comment in respect of the comments made by an officer. However, he had spent 19 months visiting every sports club perhaps on 2, 3 or 4 occasions. He had also met with the organisations that the Member was referring to on 2 occasions and offered to meet others on several occasions. However, on each occasion at each of the meetings there had been no consistency in terms the group representatives, which had not made the transition easy. He concluded by reiterating that every sporting group had known since August 2017 that the CAT transfer process was going to happen.

�

The Member pointed out that if Ward Members had been invited to those meetings there would have been greater clarity provided.

�

Another Member said that there were one or two clubs in Brynmawr and Blaina, who had grave concerns regarding CAT transfer and were not in a financial position to undertake a transfer. He added that there were numerous issues that needed to be resolved but requested that an update be provided on the current situation with regard to all sporting clubs and organisations.

�

The Chair advised that a progress report relating to CAT transfers would be presented to the Environment, Regeneration & Economic Development Scrutiny Committee shortly.

�

ENV013 - School Crossing Patrollers - Service Reduction � a Member said that he was glad that common sense had prevailed with regard to this proposal and requested an assurance that this review would not be reconsidered again during this administration.

�

The Leader of the Council stated that, whilst he remained as Leader, it was his intention that this service review would not be reconsidered at a future date.


Another Member expressed his appreciation to the Leader of the Council for not supporting the reduction in the school crossing patrol service because it was highly valued by schools and was paramount for the safety of children. He also pointed out that the report also indicated that adults could also use school crossing patrol service because at some locations it was the safest place for older people to cross the highway.

�

Another Member said that he also welcomed the retention of the school crossing patrol service and said he was glad children�s safety was of paramount importance and said the school crossing patrollers deserved a medal for the role they undertook.

�

SS19002 � Initial Reduction in Assisted Transport following Implementation of a New Assessment and Eligibility Criteria from April 2019

�

SS19003 � Phase 2 Review of Lake View Community Options Service Review � Reconfiguration of Management Structure

�

Reference was made to both the above-named proposals when a Member indicated that from speaking with officers, he was somewhat assured that the two reports which would affect the most vulnerable in the community would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration and requested confirmation that this would happen.

�

The Executive Member � Social Services confirmed that the reports would be presented to Scrutiny Committee. It was noted that the proposal in relation to Assisted Transport had originally been presented to the Scrutiny Committee and Executive Committee where it had been endorsed.

�

ENV19013 � Increase in Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Income � a Member pointed out that the �5,000 savings target would equate to a �54 increase per licence.

�

The Leader of the Council pointed out that this proposal was only recommendatory because it would be the remit of the General Licensing Committee to make a decision on this matter.

�

A Member expressed his concern that a considerable number of older people relied on taxis as public transportation was being reduced in the County Borough there was more reliance on this form of transport which needed to be protected. He said that an increase in line with inflation could be argued but questioned the legality of the proposal. The Leader of the Labour Group said as the proposal had been included as part of the budget, this indicated that a decision could be taken on this matter.

�

ENV9011 � Reduction in Street Lighting Provision - a Member welcomed the reinstatement of the street lighting on the main highways but requested a commitment and guarantee that the infrastructure would also be brought up to a suitable standard. He expressed his concern regarding the low lighting levels on both the Ysguborwen and Waen Deg Housing Estates which had attracted problems of anti-social behaviour.

�

The Leader of the Council advised that part of the reason for the delay in relation to lighting on industrial estates was due to the issue of 3 different systems that were currently being used to operate the lighting. This issue would form part of the review i.e. to standardise the infrastructure to one system. He concluded by stating that whilst there were issues that needed to be addressed, it was his intention to ensure that the review provided a more than adequate level of street lighting.

�

It was noted that as the lights were switched back on this could lead to faults being identified on a piecemeal basis. The cost of switching on the lights (including a 20% uplift in utility costs) was �60,000. �30,000 would be allocated to address any identified faults and this work would be undertaken as and when faults occurred.

�

Another Member said that it was important that the lighting on the industrial estates be addressed including lighting on �B� roads as it was very dangerous for pedestrians walking along these routes in the dark.

�

Adjournment

�

There was a necessity to adjourn the meeting at this juncture for a period of 10 minutes (11.00 a.m. � 11.10 a.m.) to check the legitimacy of the amendment proposals.

�

Upon the return to the meeting, the Leader of the Labour Group presented the following amended proposals:-

�

Labour Group Amended Proposals

�

Income:

�

As an alternative proposal to increasing Council Tax by 4.9%, the Labour Group proposed to increase income by increasing the Council Tax level by 1.38% to 3.98% which would equate to �438,000. (Namely a 1% increase equating to �317,000; 0.30% increase equating to �96,000 and 0.08% increasing equating to �25,000).

�

ENV19004 � Reduction in the number of staff in the Cleansing Team � it was proposed that Option 2 (rather than the preferred Option 3 which would achieve a saving of �128,000) be endorsed which would generate a saving of �260,000. The difference of �132,000 could be utilised towards the Council Tax.

�

If approved, the above proposals would generate �570,000 income which would equate to an increase in the level of Council Tax by 3.98%.


Expenditure:

�

The Leader of the Labour Group proposed the following measures in order to address the funding gap of �358,738:-

�

RES19001 � Cease the Award of General Grants, Special Levy and Allotments Grants - �79,970 � it was proposed to protect the Special Levy and Allotment Grants but reduce the allocation to �800 per Member and �200 per allotment association and remove the �20,000 General Grants allocation. If this proposal was agreed with would equate to �34,400.

�

The following proposals were not supported:-

�

ENV9011 � Reduction in Street Lighting Provision - �75,000

ENV19013 � Increase in Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Income � �5,000

ENV013 � School Crossing Patrollers � Service Reduction - �30,000

�

However, the other elements of street lighting provision were welcomed including investment in order to reinstate the street lights on the main roads at cost of �90,000 and the comments relating to further work being undertaken in relation to the lighting on the industrial estates. The Leader of the Labour Group said he was sure that the Group would support this going forward.

�

If approved, the above proposals would equate to �596,400 expenditure.

�

It was proposed that this funding shortfall of �26,400 which could be met from the windfall received from Gwent Crematorium Fund.

�

The Leader of the Labour Group proposed that Council Tax be set at 3.98%.

�

A Member of the Labour Group requested that a recorded vote be taken.

�

The Leader of the Council, thereupon, proposed the following:-

�

Recommendation 3.1 � The national and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council RSG settlement information be noted.

�

Recommendation 3.2 � The in-year cost pressures detail in Appendix 3 of the report, up to the level of �1.43m for 2019/2020 be agreed.

�

Recommendation 3.3 � The former specific grant be pass-ported and new responsibility funding transferred into the settlement in order to continue to fund the activities formerly funded by the specific grant and the pass-porting of the following un-hypothecated grants be approved in their entirety:-

�

� �172,000 funding to Social Services to compensate for the loss of care fees.
� �58,000 additional resources for further discretionary rate relief for businesses and other ratepayers.
� �468,000 funding to schools in respect of the teacher�s pay award and free school meals.

�

Recommendation 3.4 � The current assessment of achievement against 2019/2020 savings proposals agreed in January 2018 be agreed � summarised in Appendix 5 of the report apart from ENV013 - �30,000 saving School Crossing Patrollers Service Reduction which would not be supported. The full complement of school crossing patrollers i.e. 35 would remain.

�

Recommendation 3.5 � The 2019/2020 savings proposals summarised in Appendix 6 (detailed in Appendix 7 of the report) be agreed apart from the following proposals which were not supported:-

�

RES19001 � Special Levy �57,270

ENV9011 � Reduction in Street Lighting Provision �75,000

�

The total savings proposals contained in Recommendations 3.4 and 3.5 that were not agreed amounted to �162,270, which, would leave a funding gap of �521,621.

�

Recommendation 3.6 � The Council Tax increase for 2019/2020 be set at 4.9%, enabling a replenishment of reserves.

�

This was a 0.7% increase on the current financial year. Increasing Council Tax by 4.9% and would provide an additional �728,995 and would leave a contingency fund of �207,374. In addition a growth item of �90,000 was proposed which would reduce the contingency this item would enable street lighting to be reinstated on the main roads.

�

This would reduce the contingency to �117,374 which it was proposed would be used to replenish the general reserves to begin to address the trend of reducing reserves.

�

With regard to street lighting a cost could not be attributed to the industrial estates at present which would be reinstated during the course of the year. This cost would be known once the appropriate work had been undertaken but it was anticipated would be funded from capital highways maintenance monies.

�

With regard to the upgrading of the street lighting a review of street lighting would identify how many lights would require to be switched on and would require upgrading to tele cells and it was anticipated this work would conclude in the summer months.

�

Recommendation 3.7 � The assumptions in the MTFS 2019/2020 to 2021/2022 be endorsed and a further review take place in the spring of 2019.

�

The Leader of the Council again proposed that the above recommendations be endorsed. These proposals were seconded.

�

Labour Group Amended Proposals

�

The Leader of the Labour Group, thereupon proposed the following amendments:-

�

Recommendations 3.1, 3.2 & 3.3. � be endorsed.

�

Recommendation 3.4 � be endorsed subject to the School Crossing Service Review in the sum of �33,000 not being supported.

�

Recommendations 3.5/3.6 -

�

Income:

�

As an alternative proposal to increasing Council Tax by 4.9%, the Labour Group proposed to increase income by increasing the Council Tax level by 1.38% to 3.98% which would equate to �438,000. (Namely a 1% increase equating to �317,000; 0.30% increase equating to �96,000 and 0.08% increasing equating to �25,000).

�

ENV19004 � Reduction in the number of staff in the Cleansing Team � it was proposed that Option 2 (rather than the preferred Option 3 which would achieve a saving of �128,000) be endorsed which would generate a saving of �260,000. The difference of �132,000 could be utilised to offset the reduced Council Tax.


If approved, the above proposals would generate �570,000 income.

�

Expenditure:

�

The Leader of the Labour Group proposed the following measures in order to address the funding gap of �359,000:-

�

RES19001 � Cease the Award of General Grants, Special Levy and Allotments Grants - �79,970 � it was proposed to protect the Special Levy and Allotment Grants but reduce the allocation to �800 per Member and �200 per allotment association and remove the �20,000 General Grants allocation. If this proposal was agreed with would equate to �34,400.

�

The following proposals were not supported:-

�

ENV9011 � Reduction in Street Lighting Provision - �75,000

ENV19013 � Increase in Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Income � �5,000

ENV013 � School Crossing Patrollers � Service Reduction - �30,000

�

However, the other elements of street lighting provision were welcomed including investment in order to reinstate the street lights on the main roads at cost of �90,000 and the comments relating to further work being undertaken in relation to the lighting on the industrial estates. The Leader of the Labour Group said he was sure that the Group would support this going forward.

�

If approved, the above proposals would equate to �596,400 expenditure.

�

It was proposed that this funding shortfall of �26,400 could be met from the windfall received from the Gwent Crematorium Fund.

�

Recommendation 3.7 � this proposal was supported. However, the Leader of the Labour made a plea that the Labour Group be included in deciding the future of the local authority. It was noted that Welsh Government had formed a Working Group to look at all kinds of measures such as collaboration, voluntary mergers etc. He concluded by reiterating his plea for the Labour Group to be included in any discussions.

�

The above amended proposals were seconded.

�

A recorded vote on the proposed amendment was, thereupon, taken:-

�

In Favour of the amended proposals put forward by the Labour Group � Councillors P. Baldwin, D. Bevan, M. Cross, K. Hayden, H. McCarthy, J. C. Morgan, T. Sharrem, T. Smith, S. Thomas, H. Trollope, D. Wilkshire, B. Willis and L. Winnett

�

The vote on the amended proposals was not carried.

�

A recorded vote on the original proposal was thereupon, taken:-

�

In Favour � Councillors G. Collier, J. Collins, M. Cook, N. Daniels, D. Davies, G. L. Davies, M. Day, P. Edwards, D. Hancock, S. Healy, J. Hill, M. Holland, J. Holt, J. Mason, C. Meredith, J. Millard, M. Moore, J. P. Morgan, L. Parsons, K. Pritchard, K. Rowson, B. Summers, B. Thomas, J. Wilkins

�

This vote was carried.

�

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and

�

Recommendation 3.1 � The national and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council RSG settlement information be noted.

�

Recommendation 3.2 � The in-year cost pressures detail in Appendix 3 of the report, up to the level of �1.43m for 2019/2020 be agreed.

�

Recommendation 3.3 � The former specific grant be pass-ported and new responsibility funding transferred into the settlement in order to continue to fund the activities formerly funded by the specific grant and the following un-hypothecated grants be pass-ported in their entirety:-

�

� �172,000 funding to Social Services to compensate for the loss of care fees.
� �58,000 additional resources for further discretionary rate relief for businesses and other ratepayers.
� �468,000 funding to schools in respect of the teacher�s pay award and free school meals.

�

Recommendation 3.4 � The current assessment of achievement against 2019/2020 savings proposals agreed in January 2018 be agreed � summarised in Appendix 5 of the report apart from ENV013 - �30,000 saving School Crossing Patrollers Service Reduction which was not supported. The full complement of school crossing patrollers i.e. 35 would remain.

�

Recommendation 3.5 � The 2019/2020 savings proposals summarised in Appendix 6 (detailed in Appendix 7 of the report) be agreed apart from the following proposals which were not supported:-

�

RES19001 � Special Levy �57,270

ENV9011 � Reduction in Street Lighting Provision �75,000

�

Recommendation 3.6 � The Council Tax increase for 2019/2020 be set at 4.9%, enabling a replenishment of reserves.

�

Recommendation 3.7 � The assumptions in the MTFS 2019/2020 to 2021/2022 be endorsed and a further review take place in the spring of 2019.

�

Appreciation

The Leader of the Council wished to place on record his appreciation to the Chief Officer Resources, the accountants and the Managing Director and her team for the tremendous amount of work undertaken in respect of the budget setting process.

�

The Leader of the Labour Group echoed the above comments.

�

The Chair, thereupon, thanked everyone for attending and declared the meeting closed.
�

Agreed