Meeting documents

Ordinary Meeting of the Council
Thursday, 21st March, 2019 10.30 am

Date: Thursday 21st March 2019 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 M. MOORE (THE CHAIR,
PRESIDING)


Councillors:

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

Managing Director
Corporate Director of Education
Chief Officer Commercial
Head of Children's Services
Head of Community Services
Head of Regeneration
Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance
Head of Organisational Development
Chief Accountant Capital Services
Policy, Partnerships & Engagement Manager
THE CHAIR AND MEMBERS OF THE COUNCILSENIOR BUSINESS 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 (177K/bytes)
Noted
2. CHAIR'S ANNOUNCEMENTS

Condolences

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Condolences were expressed to:-

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�� The family of former Mayor and County Borough Councillor John Taylor who had sadly passed away.

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

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Members paid tribute to John commenting that he had previously served with the Council for a considerable number of years. John had been a true gentleman, dedicated professional and had always supported and provided advice to other Members. John would be sadly missed and Members requested that a condolence letter be forwarded to his family.

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The Leader of the Council also paid tribute and said that he had known John for a very long time and in fact, it had been John who had pursued him to stand for Council in 1990. Whilst at the Council, John had served in many roles including that of Leader, Deputy Leader, Mayor and Executive Member. John had also served as the Abertillery Local Ward Member for many years and would be a sad loss to the community.

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RESOLVED that an appropriate letter be forwarded.

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Congratulations

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Congratulations were expressed to:-

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�� Bethany Paull who had won 3 gold medals and 2 silver medals in the Special Olympics held in Abu Dhabi representing Great Britain in the following disciplines:-

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Women�s Level 3 Balance Beam, Uneven Bars, Floor Exercise and Vaulting.

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RESOLVED that an appropriate letter be sent.
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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:-

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Councillors P. Baldwin, M. Day, M. Holland, T. Smith, B. Summers, B. Thomas, H. Trollope, J. Wilkins.
�

Noted
5. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

The following declarations of interest were reported:-

Item No. 7 : Pay Policy Statement 2019/2020

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- Michelle Morris � Managing Director
- Lynette Jones � Corporate Director of Education
- Anne-Louise Clark � Chief Officer Commercial
- Tanya Evans � Head of Children�s Services
- Andrea Jones � Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance
- Andrea Prosser � Head of Organisational Development
- Clive Rogers � Head of Community Services
- Ellie Fry � Head of Regeneration
- Dave McAuliffe � Chief Accountant Capital Services
- Andrew Parker � Policy, Partnerships & Engagement Manager
- Ceri Edwards-Brown � Senior Business Support Officer � Democratic Services

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The following officers would remain in the meeting when this item was considered:-

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- Michelle Morris � Managing Director
- Andrea Jones - Head of Corporate and Legal Compliance
- Dave McAuliffe � Chief Accountant Capital Services (representing S151 Officer)
- Ceri Edwards-Brown � Senior Business Support Officer � Democratic Services (minute clerk)
�

However, Members were advised that should a debate ensue and further clarification was required, Andrea Prosser � Head of Organisational Development would return to the meeting.

Noted
6. CAPITAL STRATEGY
Report (332K/bytes)
Appendix (323K/bytes)

Members considered the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

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At the invitation of the Chair, the Chief Accountant Capital Services explained that The Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy�s (CIPFA) Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities had introduced a new requirement for local authorities to produce a Capital Strategy with effect from 1st April, 2019.

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The capital strategy was intended to give a high level of overview of how capital expenditure, capital financing and treasury management activity contributed to the provision of services along with an overview of how associated risk was managed and the implications for future financial sustainability.

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This was the first Capital Strategy for this authority and it was the intention that in the future, further strategies would be subject to full scrutiny prior to be being considered by Council and would also include a revised capital programme.

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Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

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RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Capital Strategy be agreed.
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Agreed
7. CAPITAL PROGRAMME 2018/19 - 2023/24
Report (347K/bytes)
Appendix 1 & Appendix 2 (94K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

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The Leader of the Council advised that the purpose of the report was to consider allocating �1.35 million of capital funding to projects already agreed by separate reports and projects requiring Council approval prior to the end of the financial year.

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It was noted that following a review of the capital receipts, �3.6 million of additional capital resources had been made available potentially for reallocation to the capital programme � this information was detailed in the balance summary contained on Page 2 of the report.

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Throughout the 2018/19 financial year a number of additional capital priorities had materialised as detailed below and for which approval was sought:-

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- Waste Site, Blaenant Road, Nantyglo
- Community Asset Transfers
- CCTV Upgrade

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The Leader added the following caveat in relation to the CCTV Upgrade project. He explained that the Council had previously agreed to review and upgrade the CCTV stock and had committed �150,000 for this purpose. However, a tacit agreement had now been reached with The Office of the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and there was a strong likelihood that the PCC would provide 50% support towards this scheme.

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It was noted that whilst this had yet not been confirmed in writing, if a �75,000 contribution was received from the PCC, the remaining �75,000 would be vired back into the capital programme.

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A Member said that she had discussed the matter of a contribution at a PCC Scrutiny Meeting some time ago, and said that she was pleased that this may come to fruition.

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The Leader of the Labour Group supported the comments made by the Leader. He pointed out that a CCTV upgrade was desperately needed and said that if at all possible, the Council needed to pursue this further with the PCC to ensure this support was forthcoming.

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Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

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RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 2 be endorsed, namely the allocation of �1.35 capital funding be agreed for the following schemes:-

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- Land at Blaenant Road, Nantyglo - �1.1 million
- Community Asset Transfers - �110,000
- CCTV Upgrade - �150,000

Agreed
8. TREASURY MANAGEMENT - TREASURY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY STATEMENT, INVESTMENT STRATEGY AND MRP POLICY STATEMENT 2019/2020 (INCLUDING PRUDENTIAL INDICATORS)
Report (339K/bytes)
Appendix A (932K/bytes)
Appendix B (75K/bytes)

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

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Councillor G. L. Davies joined the meeting at this juncture.

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The Chief Accountant � Capital Services spoke to the report and explained that Members would be familiar with these regular reports which were submitted for Council consideration and approval.

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It was noted that the strategy had not significantly changed since the previous year and assurance was provided through a range of performance indicators to ensure that any borrowing was maintained on an even keel. The officer continued by pointed out that there would be a significant change towards the end of the strategy in terms of the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP), however, this would not currently have any effect on borrowing levels at this particular point in time.

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The Leader of the Labour Group advised that this report had also been considered by Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee and demonstrated the precarious nature of treasury management activities without an established MRP.

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He continued by expressing his concern that when the MRP backdated element came to an end, budget cost pressure forecasts would increase substantially. Therefore, a sufficient medium term financial plan needed to be established to take account of this.

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The Chief Accountant Capital Services confirmed that the MRP would increase from 2022/23 (the 5 year backdated element would end in 2021/22) but the actual increase would be dependent on borrowing levels over the next few years.

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The Leader of the Council said that he hoped that some of the settlements for local government would start to improve by the end of the MRP period and pointed out that over the lifetime of the MRP, �15.5m of assistance had been provided for the Council.

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The Council was cognisant that the cost would increase from 2022/23 and was about to commence work on reviewing the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) in order to plan for this and this would be strongly reflected in the Strategy. It was noted that this review would be subject to full consultation.

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Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,


RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely the Annual Treasury Strategy Statement; Annual Investment Strategy & MRP Policy Statement 2019/2020 financial year be agreed together with the Treasury Management Prudential Indicators contained therein.
�

Agreed
9. PAY POLICY STATEMENT 2019/2020
Report (274K/bytes)
Appendix (2M/bytes)

The following officers declared an interest in this item and left the meeting whilst it was being considered:-

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Corporate Director of Education; Chief Officer Commercial; Head of Children�s Services; Head of Organisational Development; Head of Community Services; Head of Regeneration and the Policy, Partnerships & Engagement Manager.

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The following officers also declared an interest, but on the advice of the Monitoring Officer, remained in the meeting whilst the item was being considered:-

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Managing Director, Chief Accountant Capital Services (representing S151 Officer); Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance and Senior Business Support Officer � Democratic Services.

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Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

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The Leader of the Council commenced by stating that as part of the Council�s commitment to openness, transparency and accountability, the purpose of the report was to seek endorsement of the Pay Policy Statement 2019/2020 in order to comply with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011.

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The Pay Policy Statement articulated the Authority�s policies in respect of a range of issue relating to the pay of its workforce (including remuneration levels) and there was a requirement for the Statement to be approved before 31st March each year.

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The Council had worked very closely with the joint trade unions to assimilate the new National Joint Council for Local Government Services pay spine (part of the pay deal agreed nationally in 2018) into the new framework and said he was sure that officers would want their appreciation recorded to the representatives of the joint trade unions for their work, input and cooperation as part of this process.

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It was noted that the cost of implementing the new pay spine had been considered and planned for as part of the budget setting process for 2019/2020. Therefore, no additional costs would be incurred by the Council as part of the implementation of this new pay structure.

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From 1st April, 2019 the Council had voluntarily committed to paying its lowest paid staff the Foundation Living Wage at �9 per hour. This was reflected in the Pay Policy and this demonstrated the good, solid working relationship the Council had with the trade unions, who had worked together to achieve this.

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The Leader concluded by stating that the Council had a large number of female employees and Blaenau Gwent was bucking the trend regarding gender pay gap and was proud that men and women were paid equally for equivalent jobs across the business.

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Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

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RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Pay Policy Statement 2019/2020 be endorsed.

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The following officers returned to the meeting at this juncture:-


Corporate Director of Education; Chief Officer Commercial; Head of Children�s Services; Head of Organisational Development; Head of Community Services; Head of Regeneration and the Policy, Partnerships & Engagement Manager.
�

Agreed
10. REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT REMUNERATION PANEL FOR WALES 2019/2020
Report (378K/bytes)
Appendix (912K/bytes)

Members considered the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

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The Chair of the Democratic Services Committee commenced by advising that the Democratic Services Committee had considered and unanimously agreed the Annual Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel on 7th March, 2019.

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He continued by reporting that as part of the Committee discussions, Members had felt that the reimbursement of the costs of care i.e. carers provision within the IRP Annual Report was a step in the right direction. Ill health could strike at any time and this provision would ensure help was provided to those in need at the most appropriate time.

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Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

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RESOLVED that the report be accepted and

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�� the determinations within the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales report 2019/20 be noted; and

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�� the following preferred option for the publication of the costs of care be agreed:-

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- reporting the total amount reimbursed by the Authority during the year but not attributed to any named Member
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Agreed
11. CARDIFF CAPITAL REGION CITY DEAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW 2018/19 QUARTER 3
Report (315K/bytes)
Appendices (358K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Managing Director.

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The Leader of the Council in presenting the report said that it was worth reflecting that this was a 20 year project but it should be noted that it was only slightly less than 12 months since the budget had been approved. He, thereupon, provided a brief overview of the Quarter 3 performance highlighting some of the current and future activities:-

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Paragraphs 2.6 � 2.9: provided details of the associated budgets, namely Wider Investment Fund, Approved Project Budgets and 2018/19 In-Year Project Approvals.

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Paragraph 2.10 � detailed performance including progress in respect of Strategy & Direction; Finance & Assurance; Programme Pipeline & Delivery; Partnerships; Communications, Marketing & Reach and Influence & Engagement.

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Appendix 1 of the report (which reflected the above elements) contained the new reporting framework that Cardiff Capital Region City Deal (CCRCD) would now be using. Concerns had been raised regarding this new format at a recent meeting of the Environment, Regeneration & Economic Development Scrutiny Committee in terms of font size. Therefore, in future this information would be disseminated to Members in a larger format and if required, in colour print.

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RESOLVED accordingly.

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Paragraph 2.12 � it was noted that the Joint Cabinet had decided to create 3 specific funds, namely Investment Fund; Infrastructure Fund and Challenge Fund.

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The Regional Cabinet had also agreed a Regional Economic Growth Plan which set out the priorities for developing the regional economic activity and aspirations. A copy of this plan would also be circulated to Members.

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RESOLVED accordingly.

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Paragraph 2.16 � Programme Pipeline and Delivery included the Strategic Outline Plan on Metro Plus including further work on the Abertillery rail link to develop the business case for a �15m bid.

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CCRCD Team � the Leader of the Council added that Regional Cabinet had also agreed to invest and strengthen the CCRCD team of officers. At present the team relied heavily on officer secondments and by having a more dedicated, semi-permanent resource of officers would provide continuity. Actions would follow and work on the delivery plan could commence. It was noted that no additional costs would be incurred by local authorities in respect of these arrangements.

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The Leader of the Labour Group commenced by stating that overall he had no issue with the report and was pleased that a decision had been taken to create 3 individual budgets from the wider investment fund. He reiterated that the duration of the plan was for a period of 20 years and would be subject to review by Welsh Government and the Treasury.

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He continued by pointed out that the report had recently been considered by the Environment, Regeneration & Economic Development Scrutiny Committee at which issues had been raised relating to the Abertillery rail link. In addition, he also referred to some contradictory statements that had been published in the local media, i.e.

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- 20th February, 2019 the Leader had made comments about having difficulty with the scheme and raised concerns about the logistics of transporting people across the valleys; and

- 6th March, 2019, the Executive Member � Regeneration & Economic Development welcomed the scheme and said it should be completed during 2022.

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The Leader of the Labour Group continued by stating that he was unable to understand the reason why other areas of the County Borough could not have been incorporated as part of the scheme and would be unhappy if the scheme progressed in its current format because it excluded other areas of the County Borough. He also expressed concern that there was also some confusion about what this aspect of the report actually signified.

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The Leader of the Council said he understood the concerns raised by the Leader of the Labour Group and said that the first time he had seen the suggestion of a station at Abertillery was in the Transport for Wales document. He had highlighted and spoken strongly about this at a meeting of the Regional Cabinet and had advised that this was not the scheme that was required and as the Council understood it to be. He pointed out that this Council had traditionally supported the rail link from Abertillery to Cardiff via Newport.

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He added that the Regional Transport Authority Chair, Huw David and Programme Director, Keillie Beirne had both agreed that the Council could resubmit that part of the scheme for the train link from/to Newport and Cardiff and this revised scheme had now been submitted.

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The Leader of the Council stated that he had also raised the issue that connectivity was not easy in Blaenau Gwent i.e. for people to move across the valleys and from town to town and special regard needed to be paid to this if all areas of City Deal were going to be successful for areas such as ours and he had been assured by the Chair, Huw David and Programme Director, Kellie Beirne that throughout the various stages of the Metro document that those areas of concern would be addressed.

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With regard to the rail link at Abertillery, he and the Managing Director had met with the Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates and the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters who had reaffirmed commitment to two trains per hour to Ebbw Vale by 2021 and supported the Transport for Wales feasibility study, i.e. upgrading the Blaenau Gwent link to four trains per hour.

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In addition, the issue relating to the Abertillery link was raised and it was agreed that a civil servant would meet with representatives of the Council to discuss this in more detail.

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The Leader of the Labour Group said originally when Abertillery rail link was initially supported, this did not form part of the City Deal arrangements and Welsh Government was being sought for this project. He continued by stating that whilst the Metro was crucial for Blaenau Gwent to address the connectivity issues and allow residents to travel across and throughout the County Borough, confirmation should be sought that it would be fitting for the area.

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The Chair of Council advised that she had attended a number of presentations delivered by Transport for Wales relating to this issue and suggested that an invitation be extended to Transport for Wales to deliver a presentation to Members.

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RESOLVED accordingly.

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A Member referred to paragraph 2.16 of the report relating to Programme Pipeline and Delivery including funding further work on the Abertillery rail link to develop the business case for a �15m bid. He pointed out that the Executive Member � Regeneration & Economic Development had previously been quoted as stating that work would begin in 2019 and be completed in 2022.


The Executive Member � Regeneration & Economic Development clarified that the comment referred to had been issued by the Communications Section but the comment he had made related to the Metro System as a whole and said that the Abertillery link would form part of this consultation but would not be completed within the timescales quoted.

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A Member said that clarification should be sought on this matter. The Leader of the Council advised that this matter had been noted and the issue was being addressed.

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

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

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�� the overall progress and completion of the key targets of the 2018/19 Transition Plan be noted; and

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�� the overall progress at Quarter 3 2018/19, including the budget position be noted.
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Agreed
12. THE ANNUAL LETTER OF THE PUBLIC SERVICES OMBUDSMAN FOR 2017/18
Report (242K/bytes)
Appendix (132K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance.

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The Leader of the Labour Group said it was pleasing to note that Blaenau Gwent had the lowest number of service complaints received by the Ombudsman in Wales.

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In reply to a question, the Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance confirmed that the information predominately related to the service elements of complaints, as opposed to Member code of conduct complaints.

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RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be noted.
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Agreed
13. COMMUNITY ASSET TRANSFER OF CHARITABLE LAND
Report (368K/bytes)

Members considered the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services.

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The Executive Member � Environment spoke in detail to the report and highlighted the salient points contained therein.

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A Member referred to the list of properties outlined in the report and pointed out that the reference to Bedwellty House and Park should not be included because it was the �Bowls Green and Pavilion� that was subject to a community asset transfer and not Bedwellty House and Park.

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Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

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

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�� The Council acting as Trustees of the Charities outlined in paragraph 1.2 of the report (detailed below) enter into licences with the transferring groups allowing them to take responsibility of the facilities until the leases were agreed and implemented, namely:-

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- Ebbw Vale Recreation Grounds and Institute
- The Tredegar Recreation Ground
- Cwm Betterment Recreation Fund
- Bowls Green and Pavilion located at Bedwellty House and Park


�� At Ebbw Vale Welfare Grounds and Institute the Ebbw Vale Community Amateur Sports Club be allowed to assign the lease of the Clubhouse that it occupied to a similar organisation or surrender the lease to the Council so that it could offer the premises to one of the organisations seeking to take a Community Asset Transfer of the Ground.

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�� The terms of any agreements be delegated to the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services or appropriate appointed officers in consultation with the Executive Member � Environment and Regeneration and that the Council acting as Charitable Trustees applied the principles of the Financial Efficiency Project as detailed in paragraphs 2.2 and 5.1.1 of the report to the sports grounds which were detailed above, namely:-

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- Paragraph 2.2. � the Council had clearly set out to sports clubs as part of an agreed Financial Efficiency Project that they must seek Community Asset Transfers (CAT) of the sports facilities they utilised by the 1st April, 2019 as Council support for these facilities would cease on 31st March, 2019.

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- Paragraph 5.1.1. � Option 1 would allow Community Asset Transfers to be effected which would facilitate the Financial Efficiency Project (FEP). The savings identified for Grounds Maintenance would contribute towards the Council setting a balanced budget for 2019/20. This proposal would help meet this target by removing the property expenditure costs and removing the liability for the facility from the Council.
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Agreed
14. COUNCIL RESPONSE TO THE WELSH GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION ON IMPROVING PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Report (432K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (226K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (382K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (108K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services.

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The Head of Regeneration spoke in detail to the report which presented a proposed response to the Welsh Government consultation on Improving Public Transport. Appendix 2 of the report detailed a copy of the Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority response and Appendix 3 detailed the consultation response relating to taxis and private hire vehicles.

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It was noted that the Council�s response broadly agreed with the Cardiff Capital Region Transport Authority response, with the exception of the mandatory concessionary fee element which was not agreed.

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The Leader of the Labour Group agreed with response and strongly supported the crucial point raised regarding concessionary fees.

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The Executive Member � Environment proposed that Option 3(a) be endorsed.

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A Member referred to the earlier discussion regarding transportation and advised that a new facility would be opening at The Grange in 2021 and expressed his concern that this had not been subject to any discussions regarding transport links. It was noted that currently residents travelling from the County Borough to the Grange had to make this journey on 3 separate buses. In order to support the people the Council represented, this issue should be registered.

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The Executive Member � Environment clarified that this particular Welsh Government consultation dealt with the overall policy before a White Paper relating to public transportation was presented. He advised that although this was a valid issue it would be unable to be registered as part the context of this consultation document.

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RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 3.1.a be endorsed, namely that the proposed response to the consultation be agreed for submission to Welsh Government by 27th March, 2019 without any changes.
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Agreed