Agenda and minutes

Ordinary Meeting of the Council
Thursday, 23rd July, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Remotely Via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Democratic Services  6139

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Simultaneous Translation

You are welcome to use Welsh at the meeting, a minimum notice period of 3 working days is required should you wish to do so.  A simultaneous translation will be provided if requested.

 

Minutes:

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

 

2.

Apologies

To receive.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors D. Bevan, G. Collier, T. Sharrem and J. Wilkins

 

3.

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To consider any declarations of interest and dispensations received.

Minutes:

The following declarations of interest were reported:-

               

Item No. 36: Pay Policy Statement 2020/2021

 

-      Michelle Morris – Managing Director

-      Richard Crook – Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services

-      Damien McCann – Corporate Director of Social Services

-      Lynn Phillips – Corporate Director of Education (Interim)

-      Rhian Hayden – Chief Officer Resources

-      Anne-Louise Clark – Chief Officer Commercial

-      Andrea Jones – Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance

-      Andrea Prosser – Head of Organisational Development

-      Bernadette Elias – Head of Policy and Performance

-      Gemma Wasley – Service Manager Performance and Democratic

-      Sean Scannell - Communications, Marketing and Customer Access Manager

-      Ceri Edwards-Brown – Democratic Officer

-      Deborah Jones – Democratic Support Officer

 

The officers would remain in the meeting unless a detailed debate took place.  In this event, the following officers would remain in the meeting whilst this item was considered:

 

-      Michelle Morris – Managing Director

-      Andrea Jones - Head of Corporate and Legal Compliance

-      Rhian Hayden – Chief Officer Resources

-      Ceri Edwards-Brown – Democratic Officer (minute clerk)

 

Item No. 47 – Service Review

 

The following declarations of interest were reported:

 

Councillors N. Daniels – had been advised by the Monitoring Officer that he would be able to remain in the meeting whilst this item was considered and participate in any discussions, if necessary.

 

Councillors P. Edwards, J. Millard, and H. Trollope – Members of the Working Group.

 

Councillors W. Hodgins and L. Parsons – Board Members appointed to the Aneurin Leisure Trust.

 

The Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance confirmed that the above-named Members may remain in the meeting whilst the item of business was discussed.

 

4.

Chair's Announcements

To receive.

Minutes:

Covid-19 Pandemic

 

Members and officers took a minute of silent reflection to remember those who had sadly passed away from Covid-19 and their friends and families who had been affected by this devastating virus.

5.

Minute Book - November 2019 - July 2020

Minutes:

The Minute Book for the period November 2019 – July 2020 was submitted for consideration, whereupon:

 

Following a briefing discussion at which Members raised concern that the minutes had not yet been considered by individual Scrutiny Committees before being presented to Council, it was confirmed by the Democratic Officer that the sets of minutes that had been agendaed for consideration had gone through the Scrutiny process.

 

Annual Meeting of the Council – 2nd April, 2020 – Item No. 15 – Recruitment – Statement Made by Member No. 3

 

A Member reported the following correction to the first paragraph of the above minute.  He advised that it was during 2011 and not 2012 as reported that education had been placed in special measures under the previous administration.

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing correction, that the minutes be approved and confirmed as a true record of proceedings.

 

6.

Annual Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 585 KB

To consider and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 2nd April, 2020.

 

 

Minutes:

Annual Meeting of the Council – 2nd April, 2020 – Item No. 15 – Recruitment – Statement Made by Member No. 3

 

A Member reported the following correction to the first paragraph of the above minute.  He advised that it was during 2011 and not 2012 as reported that education had been placed in special measures under the previous administration.

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing correction, that the minutes be approved and confirmed as a true record of proceedings.

 

7.

Ordinary Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 308 KB

To consider and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6th February, 2020.

 

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

8.

Special Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 398 KB

To consider and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 2nd March, 2020.

 

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

9.

Planning, Regulatory & General Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 399 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Planning, Regulatory & General Licensing Committee held on 6th February, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

10.

Special Planning, Regulatory & General Licensing Committee (General Licensing Matters) pdf icon PDF 209 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 11th February, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

11.

Statutory Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 11th February, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

12.

Planning, Regulatory & General Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 283 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 12th March, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

13.

Planning, Regulatory & General Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 309 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 25th June, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

14.

Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 460 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 29th January, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

15.

Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 643 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 11th March, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

16.

Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 672 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 24th June, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

17.

Special Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 482 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 8th July, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

18.

Democratic Services Committee pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 5th November, 2019.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

19.

Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 423 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 19th November, 2019.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

20.

Democratic Services Committee pdf icon PDF 255 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Special Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 19th November, 2019.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

21.

Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) held on 2nd December, 2019.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

22.

Special Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 256 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Special Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 5th December, 2019.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

23.

Social Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 246 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee held on 13th January, 2020

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

24.

Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 236 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 15th January, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

25.

Community Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 305 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 16th January, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

26.

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 295 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 23rd January, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

27.

Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) pdf icon PDF 210 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 28th January, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

28.

Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 348 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Audit Committee held on 28th January, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

29.

Members Questions

To receive questions, if any, from Members.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted by Members.

 

30.

Public Questions

To receive questions, if any, from the public.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted by members of the public.

 

31.

Covid-19 Emergency - Transition to the Next Phase pdf icon PDF 672 KB

To consider the report of the Managing Director.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Managing Director.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Managing Director explained that the report had been considered and endorsed by the Executive on 24th June, 2020. However, since June matters had progressed and this report provided an update on the Council’s strategic response to the Covid-19 emergency and outlined the next steps and transition to the recovery phase, as the whole country was now seeing a welcome pause in the pandemic.

 

It was noted that on 23rd March, 2020 a national health emergency had been declared and the Council had activated its emergency response prior to 23rd March, 2020 which had resulted in the delivery of critical services only with non-essential services and normal council business ceasing. 

 

Whilst the emergency still remained there had been a pause in the pandemic with a significant decrease in the number of new cases and deaths being reported across Wales and the Gwent region.  The Council was now at a stage along with other Councils across Wales where it was moving into a recovery phase.

 

The Managing Director continued to highlight the key elements of the response over the last few months and these were:

 

-      Emergency planning structure had been operational since mid-March via a multi-agency approach to the pandemic and this continued.

 

-      All non-critical services had ceased with a particular focus on Adult Social Services, supporting some of the most vulnerable in the community, refuse collection and recycling and public protection, with Councils taking on significant new enforcement responsibilities under the Coronavirus legislation.

 

-      School closures had resulted in the creation of School Hubs to support key workers by providing childcare for their children and for vulnerable workers.

 

-      The Council had continued to support families eligible for Free School Meals with over 2,000 families being supported through this service.

 

-      The creation of locality multi agency response teams who had worked alongside volunteers to support those residents who had to shield due to health reasons.  In addition, the Council had identified over 1,300 vulnerable residents who had been offered support during lockdown.

 

-      Business sectors across Wales had been badly affected with many companies closing their operations and furloughing their employees. Unprecedented support had also been provided to local businesses, enabling them to access Government financial support schemes, with the aim of protecting the local economy from the worse impact of the pandemic. Up to the 5th June, the Council had supported over 1,300 businesses and had facilitated the payment of 1,212 grants totalling £13.56m. In addition, to this a number of businesses had also been supported through the process to apply for funding through the Economic Resilience Fund (administered by Business Wales).

 

-      The workforce had quickly adapted to the new working arrangements and staff wherever possible were now working from home.

 

The impact of Covid-19 on Blaenau Gwent had been huge with 60 deaths reported to date due to the virus.  In addition, the pandemic had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

The Impact of Covid-19 on the 2020/2021 Revenue Budget and Update on Bridging the Gap Proposals pdf icon PDF 776 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Chair Officer Resources explained that the report gave an early indication of the impact that Covid-19 would have on the revenue budget in terms of expenditure and income.  The report assumed that the lockdown had lifted at the end of June and that some normal activity would resume in July and future forecasts would be updated to take account of any revisions to the current situation.

 

Overall a net increase in expenditure of £2.4m was forecast together with a net reduced income of £1.6m which resulted in an adverse impact on the overall budget of £4m.

 

Welsh Government had announced a number of financial packages to support local government and these included £30m Hardship Funding, £14m Adult Social Services, support for Free School Meals, Homelessness and £78m was being provided across Wales to fund loss of income.

 

The report assumed all the additional costs incurred for the Council’s response to Covid-19 would be fully funded and this would result in the cost pressure reducing to £1.465m. However initial indications from Welsh Government were that ICT costs would be only 50% funded and some costs were likely to be deemed ineligible. 

 

The Chief Officer Resources advised that during Quarter 1 it was forecast that there would be a £1.7m loss of income with significant losses in the catering service (school meals) and waste.  Welsh Government had advised that the £78m to support lost income would be released in tranches, with the first tranche covering car parking, waste, cultural services and school meals.  The remaining loss areas would be considered by the Wales Government Panel subsequently.  Officers were currently in the process of finalising the quarter 1 claim submission which needed to be received by Welsh Government the following day.  Any support received would improve the reported position, however given the fact that Covid-19 was still in the community, the resulting financial impact could continue to impact on the Council for future quarters and the quarterly budget monitoring reports would reflect this going forward.

 

Paragraph 5.2 of the report provided details of the additional expenditure incurred as a result of the pandemic and these included an increase in council tax support, adult social care, waste services and free school meals.  There were also some cross cutting areas of expenditure which relating to ICT, personal protective equipment and sanitiser products.

 

Paragraph 5.3 of the report provided details of the loss of income that would be incurred as a result of the pandemic which included an overall reduction in Council Tax Collection whilst the report quoted 2.6% this had been revisited and was now 1.1%.  It was hoped that this would be delayed income rather than a loss, however, given the current economic situation there was a high risk of non-collection and the possibility of debt write off was increasing.

 

The forecast assumed a loss of income from industrial units of £68,000 for the month of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.

33.

Establishing the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Contact Tracing Service pdf icon PDF 429 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Commercial.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Chief Officer Commercial.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Chief Officer Commercial gave details of the report the purpose of which was to establish a Blaenau Gwent Contact Tracing Service.

 

The Chief Officer Commercial explained that on 13th May Welsh Government had published their Test, Trace and Protect overarching plan which was supported by Public Health Wales Public Health Protection Response Plan which had been designed to support the move out of lockdown. As part of the Welsh Government Plan each region was required to develop its own regional regular response to the Plan and a Gwent wide service commenced on 1st June, 2020.

 

In order to achieve this, some staff were redeployed into the service to undertake contact tracing and contact advising.  This was not sustainable arrangement beyond September and authorities had been asked to established a permanent arrangement from September 2020 to March 2021.  The Gwent Co-ordinating Group had subsequently submitted a business case to Welsh Government which had resulted in £9.6m being awarded across Gwent to establish the service.

 

The model for the GCTS was based on an integrated model whereby the Local Authorities took the lead responsibility for their respective local teams and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) would take lead responsibility for the Regional response.

 

The Chief Officer Commercial continued by providing details of the model and explained that staff would be specifically employed directly to resource the team in Blaenau Gwent and would work remotely from home to deliver the service.  Based on the interim solution it was proposed to create a team in line with other Gwent models a service consists of i.e. Service Team Manager, Contact Tracers and Advisers, Shift Co-ordinators providing an 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m., 7-day service.

 

The number of staff required was based on the population of Blaenau Gwent and the potential positivity rate i.e. 20% tests would be positive. Appendix 1 provided details of the governance arrangements and the team would report directly into the Strategic Co-ordinating Group as part of response to Covid-19 and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which included the Health Board and local authorities in Gwent was currently in development. 

 

It was, therefore, proposed that the Chief Officer Commercial be provided with delegated authority to sign off the MOU in consultation with the Executive Member.

 

RESOLVED accordingly.

 

The Chief Officer Commercial concluded by advising that the performance management of new service would be in line with the Council’s regular performance management arrangements.

 

In reply to a question, the Chief Officer Commercial confirmed that officers employed within this service would be provided with the offer of support such as counselling.  In addition, at the beginning and end of every shift there would be a briefing and de-brief respectively.  The Council had an employee assistance programme for those officers who had particular welfare issues and needed to speak to someone outside of the team and these team members would be fast tracked to receive  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Forward Looking Plan - Corporate Plan Refresh 2020/22 pdf icon PDF 514 KB

To consider the report of the Managing Director.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Managing Director.

 

The Managing Director advised as a result of the pandemic it was acknowledged that the corporate priorities up to 2022 needed to be revised and more importantly there was a need to reflect and build on the learning of the response to the pandemic and embed the good practice and good work into the future priorities and aspirations.  This piece of work had been undertaken in conjunction with the Executive.

 

No priorities had been removed from the original plan but the document had been redrafted and reworded to try to focus on the outcomes to be achieved as a Council and to ensure the one council approach to delivery which, had been so successfully deployed over the last few months continued.

 

There were new areas of activity identified in this refresh including the ambition to become a low carbon Council and Borough; strengthened the need to look at how the Council would work in future taking on board the benefits of some of the new working and moving to a more sustainable model going forward in terms of agile working. Making sure as the Council going forward we continued to live with the pandemic, that a safe workplace was provided for employees and a safe environment for the service users when they came into contact with the Council and were receiving its services.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group said that he supported the report and pointed out that the outcome statements were still flexible enough to add elements over time.

 

He continued by advising that straying animals were becoming an issue in the County Borough and there were particular problems in the Nantyglo and Blaina wards and asked if this could be looked at again in the future.  Another Member said that whilst other areas were more affected than others he requested if the issue of an impounding service could be prioritised and this pursued sooner rather than later.

 

The Leader of the Council said he would not have any issue with this request and said that was adequately captured in the outcome statement – “protect and enhance our environment and infrastructure to benefit our communities”.  Whilst it would not be embedded in the Corporate Plan as this detailed ‘strategic’ priorities he gave a commitment that he would raise the matter with the Executive Member for Environment and suggested it could be included in the remit of the Community Services portfolio.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Forward Looking Corporate Plan 2020/22 be approved for publication.

 

35.

Capital Strategy 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 513 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

 

The Chief Officer Resources spoke briefly to the report and explained that the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) Prudential Codefor Capital Finance in Local Authorities, revised in 2017, introduced the concept of aCapital Strategy with effect from April 2019.

 

The capital strategy was intended to give a high level overview of how capital expenditure, capital financing and treasury management activity contribute to the provision of services along with an overview of how associated risk was managed and the implications for future financial sustainability. The development of a capital strategy allowed flexibility to engage with full Council to ensure that the overall strategy, governance procedures and risk appetite were fully understood by all elected Members.

 

It was noted that the Capital Strategy had been considered by the Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee during February and it had been the intention to be considered by Council in March.  However, since that time the strategy had been revisited to ascertain if any amendments were required and officers were satisfied that no significant changes were required to the document as a result of Covid-19 and there had not been any significant changes since the last strategy was adopted in 2019.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Capital Strategy 2020/2021 be agreed.

 

36.

Treasury Management - Treasury Strategy Statement, Investment Strategy & MRP Policy Statement 2020/2021 (including Prudential Indicators) pdf icon PDF 512 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

The report was to provide Members with the opportunity to consider the Treasury Strategy, Investment Strategy and Minimum Revenue Provision Policy (including prudential indicators) for adoption for the 2020/2021 financial year.

 

It was noted that the suspension of formal meetings of the Council due to the coronavirus lockdown had resulted in a delay in Council considering this report and consequently, there had been some minor changes to the strategy to reflect recent economic data. However, the strategies had not changed significantly since it had been scrutinised by Corporate Overview on 3rd March, 2020.

 

Apart from the one minor change outlined above no other significant changes had been made to the strategy compared to the document agreed in 2019/20.

 

In reply to a question, the Chief Officer Resources confirmed that budget forecast for Minimum Revenue Provision from 2022/2023 would subsequently increase and would be factored into the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy going forward.  In terms of estimated costs, the Chief Officer Resources undertook to pursue the matter and report back to the Leader of the Labour Group accordingly.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Annual Treasury Strategy Statement & Annual Investment Strategy & MRP Policy Statement for 2020/2021 financial year and the Treasury Management Prudential Indicators contained therein be agreed.

 

37.

Pay Policy Statement 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 417 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following officers declared an interest in this item but remained in the meeting whilst the item was considered:

 

-      Michelle Morris – Managing Director

-      Richard Crook – Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services

-      Damien McCann – Corporate Director of Social Services

-      Lynn Phillips – Corporate Director of Education (Interim)

-      Rhian Hayden – Chief Officer Resources

-      Anne-Louise Clark – Chief Officer Commercial

-      Andrea Jones – Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance

-      Andrea Prosser – Head of Organisational Development

-      Bernadette Elias – Head of Policy and Performance

-      Gemma Wasley – Service Manager Performance and Democratic

-      Sean Scannell - Communications, Marketing and Customer Access Manager

-      Ceri Edwards-Brown – Democratic Officer

-      Deborah Jones – Democratic Support Officer

 

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

 

The Leader of the Council advised that this was the traditional report which set out the policies relating to remuneration and he, thereupon, proposed that Option 1 be endorsed.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely the Pay Policy Statement 2020/21 be approved.

 

 

38.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave pdf icon PDF 707 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Minutes:

The report of the Head of Organisational Development was submitted for consideration.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the implementation of Option 1 be approved, with effect from 6th April 2020, on the basis that it would meet

 

-      the legislative requirements whilst putting the Council ahead of the statutory minimum requirement;

-      was encouraged by the Government;

-      was consistent with what was offered in other provisions;

-      would incur minimal additional cost; and

-      the Council would be seen to be a modern employer of choice which was linked to the proposals for the new Workforce Strategy.

 

 

 

Option 1

Considerations

·    Benefits

Amend entitlement to 2 weeks leave on full pay, irrespective of age or length of service, or those who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy

 

That the provision was extended to include      in-law and step relatives to ensure consistency with our other provisions of leave (which we would be unable to reclaim in respect of the SPBP).   

 

·   Would incur an additional cost for the Authority (minimal but exact amount unknown)

·   Above what was required by the Act.

·   Front line staff would need to be covered for the additional leave.

·    Links to Workforce Strategy of being a modern employer of choice which promotes the wellbeing of our employees.

·   Would expect additional cost to be minimal given the frequency this provision was utilised and that the statutory payment could be reclaimed for the two weeks.

·   Consistent Provision for all employees (regardless of age) which would mean fairness in the entitlements for all staff.

 

39.

Schedule of Members Remuneration 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 590 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

The Leader of the Council advised that in order to comply with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 and the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) regulations, the Council was required to produce annually a schedule of payments it intended to make to its Members and Co-opted Members.  He, thereupon, proposed that Option 1 be endorsed.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group referred to the list of Senior Salaries Entitlements outlined on page 546 of the report and pointed out that two responsibility allowances were also paid to the appointed representatives on the Silent Valley Board and asked whether these payments should also be included within the schedule.

 

The Chief Officer Resources explained that the schedule referred to the senior salaries allowances which formed part of the IRPW which determinations (which were capped at 17) and clarified that the Silent Valley Board appointments did not form part of these requirements.  However, these payments were reflected in the annual Statement of Payments Schedule made to Members.

 

Another Member in relation to the same point advised that Council had previously agreed that in the interests of openness and transparency that these two payments would be included within future schedules.

 

The Leader of the Council said that he did not have a problem with implementing the suggestion even though this information was included within the annual Statement of Payments made to Members which was a public document.  However, if it was felt that there was a need to duplicate this information and as long as it was within the realms of what could be done from a resources perspective he was sure this would not be an issue.

 

In reply to a question, the Chief Officer Resources confirmed that the Council was reimbursed by Silent Valley for the director’s fees.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed namely, that the Schedule of Members Remuneration for 2020/21 be agreed and published.

 

40.

Statement of Payments Made to Members in 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 595 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

 

It was noted that in order to comply with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 and the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) regulations, the Statement of Payments made to Members needed to be published on an annual basis.  The Leader of the Council proposed that Option 1 be endorsed.

 

In reply to a comment made regarding that there appeared to be an individual that had been paid twice, the Chief Officer Resources said she believed that this was not a duplicate payment and the annual payments received related to two separate organisations and that no Member had received more than one SRA at any one given time.  However, the officer undertook to pursue the matter and report back accordingly.

 

A Member raised concern in the column ‘Amount Paid’ that there were a number of areas where data was awaited and pointed out that this had also happened the previous year.  He requested an assurance that this information would be received as soon as possible.

 

The Chief Officer Resources advised that this information was awaited from external organisations but when the final information was received both the Schedule of Payments and Schedule of Remuneration would be updated to reflect this.  It was anticipated that this information would be received prior to formal publication of the Statement of Payments on the website and would be circulated to Members once received.

 

Another Member advised that the Gwent Police and Crime Panel had published this information on the website and the Chief Officer Resources undertook to pursue this.

 

A Member expressed concern that there was a disparity in the amounts claimed for travel allowances.  The Chief Officer Resources advised that this would depend on the individual claims by individual Members and was dependant on the number of journeys that individuals had to make in the course of undertaking their duties as a Councillor.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed namely, that the Statement of Payments Made to Members during 2019/20 be published, in compliance with relevant legislation.

 

41.

Funding Options - Aberbeeg Road pdf icon PDF 431 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services.

Minutes:

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

 

The Leader of the Council advised in the absence of the Executive Member – Environment, that this report was primarily for information because it had been a matter of necessity that the work needed to commence on Aberbeeg Road as a matter of urgency for obvious reasons therefore, the Executive had taken this decision on behalf of Council.  It was highlighted that the funding methodology was detailed in the report and that Option 2 had been approved.

 

A Member requested reassurance regarding the level of impact that the closure of Aberbeeg Road would have on the Covid-19 testing facility that was located in Cwm and asked whether it would have been more sensible to stagger the closure in negotiation with Costain with the Heads of the Valleys closure at Brynmawr.

 

The Corporate Director of Regeneration and Community Services advised that at the time the search for a testing site was being undertaken, the consultants had been advised of the pending road closure but they still felt for accessibility for the majority of the County Borough and wider than the County Borough the site was acceptable and they went forward fully aware of the pending road closure. In terms of reassurance, people were accessing the site and booking tests and it was fully operational at this stage.

 

In terms of the Heads of the Valleys (HoV) the impact of this was trying to be minimised but it had not been until a late stage that the Council had received confirmation when the road closures on the HoV would be taking place.  As soon as this information was received the Executive Committee was requested to approve the works to the Aberbeeg Road in order to minimise this impact.  It was pointed out that if the work to Aberbeeg Road had not been undertaken until after the work on the HoV work it would have run the risk of heavy duty damage to that section road and it may have had to be closed.  Once the work had been completed the road would re-open and become part of the diversionary route for the HoV.

 

The Corporate Director concluded by stating that the Council continued to work with the HoV team and would continue to try and minimise the impact that this and had done its best to avoid this.  However, it may be a possibility that there may be an overlap of a couple of weeks between the two pieces of work.

 

Another Member referred to Option 2 and said that residents was concerned regarding the Big Arch project going forward and was seeking reassurance that as soon permission and commitment had been received from Cadw that work would on the Big Arch would commence within a short period of time and that the funding would also be reinstated swiftly.

 

The Leader of the Council gave an absolute assurance that this would be the case.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Annual Cycle of Meetings 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 483 KB

To consider the report of the Service Manager Performance and Democratic.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

Members considered the report of the Services Manager – Performance and Democratic.

 

The Leader of the Council said that this report demonstrated that from September there was commitment that the democratic process would return to some degree of normality.  The following week Scrutiny Committees would meet to discuss forward work programmes in order that each Committee would be ready for their first meetings in September.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

(i)           The proposed annual cycle of meetings 2020/2021 be approved.

 

(ii)         The following decision making process to deal with any urgent business during the August recess be approved:

 

a.   the Leader and Deputy Leader in conjunction with appropriate Executive Members and Officers deal with any urgent items from 1st - 31st August 2020 (i.e. a Special Meeting of the Executive would be convened at short notice recognising that the matter was urgent and the call-in procedure would apply).  The Managing Director / Head of Paid Service in conjunction with the Leadership would determine if a matter was urgent; and

 

b.   decisions should be limited to urgent matters and recorded on a decision schedule presented to the next Ordinary Meeting of the Council.  No controversial or sensitive matters should be dealt with during this period.

 

43.

Standards Committee pdf icon PDF 208 KB

To receive the report of the meeting held on 29th January, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the meeting held on 29th January, 2020.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be noted.

 

44.

Standards Committee Appointment pdf icon PDF 389 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance (Monitoring Officer).

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance (Monitoring Officer).

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

-      the appointment of Mr. Francis Roy Lynch be approved; and

 

-      the second vacant appointment which had not been filled be re-advertised.

 

45.

Membership Report pdf icon PDF 453 KB

To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to:

 

Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council

-      to appoint a replacement representative.

 

The Leader requested that expressions of interest be submitted if any Member was interested in taking up this vacant position.

 

Advisory Panel for Local Authority School Governors

 

The following recommendations were made by the Panel on 25th February, 2020 to appoint:

 

-      Debra Fields – Sofrydd Primary

-      Pat Smail – Sofrydd Primary

 

The following recommendations were made by the Panel on 10th July, 2020 to appoint:

 

-      Claire Gardner - St. Mary’s CIW

-      Richard Bevan and Daryl Tovey - Abertillery Learning Community

-      Joanne Davies - Glanhowy Primary

-      Councillor John C Morgan - Georgetown Primary

-      Councillor John C Morgan - Tredegar Comprehensive

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the above appointments be endorsed.

 

 

46.

Time of Future Council Meetings

To consider.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that future Council meetings commence at 10.00 a.m.

47.

Exempt Items

To receive and consider the following reports which in the opinion of the proper officer are exempt items taking into account consideration of the public interest test and that the press and public should be excluded from the meeting (the reasons for the decision for the exemptions are available on a schedule maintained by the proper officer).

 

Minutes:

To receive and consider the following reports which in the opinion of the proper officer were exempt items taking into account consideration of the public interest test and that the press and public should be excluded from the meeting (the reasons for the decisions for the exemptions were available on a schedule maintained by the proper officer).

 

48.

Service Review

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Commercial.

Minutes:

Councillor D. Wilkshire left the meeting at this juncture.

 

Councillors N. Daniels, W. Hodgins, L. Parsons, P. Edwards, J. Millard and H. Trollope declared an interest in this item but upon the advice of the Head of the Legal and Corporate Compliance remained in the meeting whilst it was considered.

 

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 Paragraph 14, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).

 

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

 

The Chief Officer Commercial spoke in detail to the report which presented the findings and recommendations from the review undertaken in respect of Leisure and Culture provision and highlighted the salient points contained therein.  The Corporate Director of Education (Interim) supplemented this information by providing details of the new Strategic Partnership Board and strengthened governance and structure arrangements.

 

It was noted that throughout the review process the Council and organisation had worked collaboratively and had developed a robust business plan that had been checked for due diligence by financial colleagues. The Chief Officer Commercial concluded by outlining the options for consideration within the report.

 

The views of Members were, thereupon sought when Members commented that subject to the governance arrangements being strengthened, the preferred option detailed in the report was supported.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report which related to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority) be accepted and Option 2 be endorsed, namely that Route B be pursued i.e.

 

A time limited contract extension period of five years with a break/review point at year 3 be provided. Using the proposed new governance structure formally reviewing the performance of the organisation’s delivery of the business plan against the new specification and revised financial and management arrangement. Use clear checkpoints to identify risks and take action to mitigate those in a timely manner. If the organisation fully delivered to their business plan the Council would consider a further extension to the contract subject to a further review.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group commended the work undertaken by officers and Members of the Working in respect of the service review.

 

Due to the nature of their declaration of interest Councillors W. Hodgins and L. Parsons did not participate in the vote in relation to this item.

 

49.

Festival Park

To consider the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services.

 

Minutes:

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 Paragraph 14, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).

 

The Managing Director made the following statement prior to the consideration of the report.

 

Council would be aware that a press article, regarding this report and its recommendations, appeared in the South Wales Argus last Friday evening.  This was an exempt and confidential report and it appeared, from the article, that the journalist was given a copy of the report.

 

The publication of the contents of this report had now introduced some significant additional risks for the Council – not least of which was the ability to negotiate a good commercial position and the reputational damage, to the Council, with our partner, and most notably Welsh Government.  

 

As Managing Director, she had written to the Editor of the South Wales Argus regarding this matter.  She also reminded Council that both Officer and Elected Member Codes of Conduct impose a duty of confidentiality on all and that the disclosure of this exempt report amounted to a serious breach of that duty.

 

The Managing Director advised that in making this statement today to impress on Council the impact of the action of sharing this report with a journalist and as a firm reminder that exempt reports must remain confidential.

 

The Leader of the Council supported the statement made by the Managing Director and said that he was aware first hand through discussions the level of disappointment, and anxiety there had been about this issue. Any individual who could do something like this with potential commercial and reputational ramifications had little or no regard for the Council.  He personally felt that this was a leak too far and said that there should be some form of investigation into this to attempt to uncover where this leak had emanated from.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Council concurred with the comments of the Leader and said that all Members and relevant officers should make the relevant electrical devices available as part of the investigation process.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group expressed his concern that some Members had external confidential information available on their devices and the particular organisation in question would not allow this to be accessed as part of the GDPR regulations.

 

Another Member said that this information had been in the public domain long before the report had become available to Members and officers the previous week.  In addition, the Member of Parliament was also aware of the content of the report.

 

A lengthy discussion ensued when various views were expressed when one Member said that whilst he agreed with an investigation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.