Agenda and minutes

Ordinary Meeting of the Council
Thursday, 26th November, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Virtually Via Microsoft Teams - if you would like to attend this meeting live via Microsoft Teams please contact committee.services@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

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 G. Collier, T. Sharrem and the Corporate Director of Social Services.

 

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. 21 – Data Centre Business Case

Councillor W. Hodgins

 

Item No. 30 – Appointments Committee JNC Officer

Corporate Director of Education

 

4.

Chair's Announcements

To receive.

Minutes:

No announcements had been received.

 

5.

Minute Book - March - October 2020

Minutes:

The Minute Book for the period March – October 2020 was submitted for consideration.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and confirmed as a true record of proceedings.

 

6.

Ordinary Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 412 KB

To confirm and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 24th September, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

7.

Special Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 275 KB

To confirm and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 22nd October, 2020.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

8.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 226 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee held on 3rd September, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

9.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 253 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee held on 1st October, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

10.

Special Executive pdf icon PDF 240 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Special Executive Committee held on 21st September, 2020

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

11.

Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 467 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Executive Committee held on 14th October, 2020

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

12.

Special Executive pdf icon PDF 341 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Special Executive Committee held on 19th October, 2020

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

13.

Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) pdf icon PDF 321 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) held on 9th March, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

14.

Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 247 KB

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

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

15.

Social Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 258 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee held on 17th September, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

16.

Special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 356 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 23rd September, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

17.

Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 472 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Audit Committee held on 29th September, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

18.

Members Questions

To receive questions, if any, from Members.

 

Minutes:

The following question was received from Councillor H. Trollope and was responded to by the Leader of the Council:

 

Question:

 

Councillor Trollope commenced by stating that this was not a ‘political’ question. He was posing this question because of the position he had recently found himself in losing a very good friend and also because the pandemic had affected every person in Blaenau Gwent.

 

“Given that Blaenau Gwent had, sadly, had such a high incidence of Covid-19, there was some public concern about the views of Councillor Mark Holland expressed on social media. The question was posed why, after Cllr Holland had left the Independent Group of his own accord, you asked Councillor Holland to reconsider and return to the Independent Group? This was reported in the local press.

 

Please explain whether, in hindsight, you now think your leadership should have been more proactive in expelling him yourself; and whether you consider that Councillor Holland was in breach of the code of conduct?

 

Response:

 

The Leader commenced by stating that he was mindful of Councillor Trollope’s unfortunate personal circumstances and did not consider this as a political question. He continued by stating that he had considered this matter very carefully and seriously and when it had first been brought to his attention his immediate course of action was to have a conversation with both the Monitoring Officer and the Managing Director regarding Councillor Holland’s comments particularly, in relation to any potential conflict in terms of the code of conduct and said that if those conversations had left any major doubt in his mind, his approach and decisions would have been much different as he had clearly demonstrated in the past and particularly in 2017.

 

It was in the light of those conversations he had written to Councillor Holland and asked him to reflect and would have possibly have hoped to have had a conversation with him on a one to one basis.  To contextualise the word ‘reflect’ - asking an individual to reflect was a form of consistency he had tended to adopt in matters such as this as indeed other colleagues who had indicated to leave the Independent Group could testify.  He would always respect an individual’s choice because for independent councillors there was no written contract or obligation but whatever the circumstances he would always value a conversation with any individual because this was the style he adopted.

 

However, in this instance and Councillor Holland’s subsequent comments and the very clear reasons he had provided in writing to the Leader for leaving, created a position whereby he could not and probably would not want to be readmitted to the Independent Group.

 

With regard to the comments with regard to hindsight and being proactive in relation to his actions, mindful of the content of his response so far together with leadership style that he had chosen to adopt, the Leader said that he had dealt with the situation as he considered then and still considered this appropriate.  With regard  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Public Questions

To receive questions, if any, from the public.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted by members of the public.

 

20.

Authorised Absence - Councillor Garth Collier

To consider.

Minutes:

The Leader advised that as Members were aware, Councillor Collier had been taken ill earlier in the year and did not feel that currently he was in a position to return to normal Council duties although his health was slowly improving and he was anticipating returning to duties fairly shortly. As the 6-month attendance rule for Councillor Collier would lapse in January and this was the last formal Council meeting prior to that period, he proposed that an authorised absence be granted to cover any further absence beyond January 2021.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group endorsed the comments made and gave his total support for this action and wished Councillor Collier the very best in his recovery.

 

The Leader thanked the Leader of the Labour Group for his comments and gave an assurance that when he spoke to Councillor Collier he relayed that the thoughts and best wishes of the Council (across the whole political spectrum) and he would continue to do so.

 

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that Councillor Garth Collier be granted approved absence for a further 6-month period effective from January 2021.

 

21.

Assessment of Performance 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 487 KB

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

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Service Manager Performance and Democratic.

 

The Head of Governance and Partnerships in presenting the Assessment of Performance explained that it fulfilled the statutory obligations placed on the Council as part of the requirements of the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009 and fulfilled some of the Well-being Objectives which were required as part of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act.  retrospective report covering the period 2019/2020 also included an assessment of the work undertaken as part of the response to the global pandemic, Covid- 19.

 

The officer continued by advising that the Council had a requirement to measure a number of national performance indicators known as Public Accountability Measures (PAMs) which reflect those aspects of local authority work, which were considered to be important in terms of public accountability. All Council’s in Wales were required to submit their performance against the PAMs. However, for the year 2019/20 a number of these indicators had not been collected nationally owing to the global pandemic, Covid-19. Where information was available this had been included within the Assessment of Performance at appendix 1.

 

The Head of Governance and Partnerships concluded by outlining the format of the document and advised that the document was subject to external audit.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the Council’s Assessment of Performance which provided a retrospective account of the 2019/20 year and fulfilled all required statutory legislative requirements, be endorsed.

 

22.

Data Centre Business Case pdf icon PDF 699 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor W. Hodgins declared an interest in this item but remained in the meeting whilst it was discussed.

 

Members considered the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

 

The Chief Officer Resources spoke in detail to the report and highlighted the salient points contained therein. The purpose of the report was to:

 

     i.        Present the Business Case for the relocation of the SRS Data Centre at Blaenavon to Next Generation Data (NGD) in Newport.

    ii.        Agree the transfer of Blaenau Gwent’s Data (currently housed at the Computer Room in the Civic Centre and the Data Centre at Blaenavon) to NGD.

  iii.        Agree the Blaenau Gwent element of the capital and revenue investment required to progress the project.

 

The Chief Officer Resources explained that the physical data centre at Blaenavon was established to house the IT servers required to host the software systems for the original partners of the SRS and it also currently housed the NHS Wales Informatics Service, however, this contact would shortly be coming to an end.  However, upon Blaenau Gwent and Newport joining the SRS, the business cases for both Blaenau Gwent and Newport had included an agreement that all servers would be transferred to the data centre at Blaenavon but to date there had been limited progress made.

 

The physical data centre at Blaenavon had been an asset for the SRS and partners for the last 10 years but without investment the data centre was assessed as a very high risk for all SRS partners as a result of environmental factors.  It was noted that £2.6m investment was required over the next 4-year period.  In addition, the computer room at the Civic Centre was not built to data centre standards and wasalso considered a very high risk due to building concerns and age of the equipment (coming to the end of its useful life) and would require investment to improve the resilience of the provision into the future.   Furthermore, the Council was currently considering the future of the Civic Centre which may result in alternative location(s) needing to be considered to house the IT infrastructure supporting all Blaenau Gwent services.

 

In July 2020 the SRS Strategic Board agreed an SRS Strategy to 2026 with a shared aspiration towards a ‘cloud’ based provision away from an on premise data centre and as a consequence of this it was expected that there would be a decreasing need but an increasing cost for an on premise data centre provision, therefore, future alternative provision had been explored.

 

The Chief Officer Resources, thereupon, gave details of the 4 options outlined in the business case together with the revenue/capital and decommissioning costs and funding arrangements attributed thereto.  The 4 options were:

 

-      Option 1 – Business as Usual

-      Option 2 – Do Minimum

-      Option 3 – Reduce to a Single Hall in Blaenavon

-      Option 4 (Preferred Option) – Alternative Provision

 

Paragraph 5.1.9 (table 1) summarised the financial implications of each of the options. The SRS Strategic Board and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Proposed Council Forward Work Programme 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 380 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report detailing the Council Forward Work Programme for 2020/2021.

 

The Leader of the Labour referred to the Council Forward Work Programme and stated that a report in respect of the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal would be useful being included in the Forward Work Programme particularly, as a point was now being reached where decisions were being made.  He also referred to the previous discussion in respect of the Members Question and pointed out a report issued by CCRCD in June 2020 did indicate that the Leader had been appointed the lead Member for Technology and 5G.

 

The Leader of the Council referred to the Leader of the Labour Group’s final point and confirmed that this had now been corrected by CCRCD.  He added that a report regarding CCRCD was due to be presented to the next scheduled meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee and would subsequently be considered by Executive and Full Council.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Council Forward Work Programme for 2020/2021 be agreed.

 

24.

Standards Committee Appointment pdf icon PDF 395 KB

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

Minutes:

The report of the Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance (Monitoring Officer) was submitted for consideration.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and

 

-      Mrs. Sarah Rosser be appointed as a member of the Standards Committee, effective from the date of Council approval (26th November, 2020).

 

-      The term of office would initially be for 6 years; however, the relevant Regulations enable members to sit for a further consecutive term of up to 4 years.  A report would be brought before Council prior to the end of the initial term, in order for the re-appointment to be considered.

 

-      Ms. Sarah Manuel be approved as a reserve appointee should a vacancy become available within 12 months.

 

25.

Membership Report pdf icon PDF 480 KB

To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to:

 

Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council

-      to appoint a replacement representative.

 

The Leader advised that he had received no nominations for this position and requested that expressions of interest be submitted from the Labour Group and Minority Independent Group, if any Member was interested in taking up this vacant position.

 

PROPORTIONALITY CHANGES

 

Due to changes being made to proportionality to 9:5:1 on the Committees below, it was RESOLVED that the following be appointed:

 

CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE 

15 MEMBERS – PROPORTIONALITY 9:5:1

 

1.           Chair -                  Councillor S Healy

 

2.      Vice Chair -         Councillor M. Cook

 

3.           Councillors          P. Baldwin

 

4.                                       G. Collier

 

5.                                       M. Cross

 

6.                                         G. A. Davies

 

7.                                        L. Elias

 

8.                                        J. Hill

 

9.                                        H. McCarthy

 

10.                                     C. Meredith

 

11.                                     J. P. Morgan

 

12.                                     L. Parsons

 

13.                                     G. Paulsen

 

14.                                     S. Thomas

 

15.                                      T. Smith

 

REGENERATION SCRUTINY COMMITTEE 

15 MEMBERS – PROPORTIONALITY 9:5:1

 

1.      Chair -                  Councillor J. Hill

 

2.      Vice Chair -         Councillor G. A. Davies

 

3.      Councillors          M. Cook

 

4.                                  M. Cross

 

5.                                  G. L. Davies

 

6.                                   P. Edwards

 

7.                                   K. Hayden

 

8.                                  S. Healy

 

9.                                  W. Hodgins

 

10.                                H. McCarthy

 

11.                                J. C. Morgan

 

12.                                 J. P. Morgan

 

13.                                L. Parsons

 

14.                                 K. Rowson

 

15.                                 B. Willis

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY SERVICES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE 

15 MEMBERS – PROPORTIONALITY 9:5:1

 

1.      Chair -                  Councillor M. Moore

 

2.      Vice Chair -         Councillor C. Meredith

 

3.     Councillors            P. Baldwin

 

4.                                    M. Cook

 

5.                                    M. Cross

 

6.                                    M. Day

 

7.                                    P. Edwards

 

8.                                   S. Healy

 

9.                                   W. Hodgins

 

10.                                 J. Holt

 

11.                                 J. C. Morgan

 

12.                                 G. Paulsen                            

 

13.                                T. Sharrem

 

14.                                 B. Summers

 

15.                                L. Winnett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education & LEARNING SCRUTINY COMMITTEE –

15 MEMBERS – PROPORTIONALITY 9:5:1

 

1.           Chair -                 Councillor H. Trollope 

 

2.      Vice Chair -         Councillor J. Holt

 

3.      Councillors          D. Bevan

 

4.                                  G. Collier

                                     

5.                                  M. Cook

 

6.                                   M. Day            

                            

7.                                   L. Elias

                                     

8.                                   J. Hill                           

                                     

9.                                   C. Meredith

 

10.                                 J. C. Morgan

                                     

11.                                 J. P. Morgan

 

12.                                  L. Parsons

 

13.                                  T. Smith

 

14.                                  B. Summers

 

15.                                  D. Wilkshire

 

 

 

* Would also include 2 Members of religious bodies and between 2-5 parent governors with voting rights only when dealing with education matters.

 

1.      Mr. T. Baxter                Diocesan Education Body             

                                                (R.C. Church)

 

2.      Mr. A. Williams             (Church in Wales)

 

3.      Vacant                            Youth Forum Representative

 


SOCIAL SERVICES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE –

15 MEMBERS – PROPORTIONALITY 9:5:1

 

1.           Chair -                  Councillor S. Thomas

 

2.      Vice Chair -         Councillor K. Rowson

 

3.      Councillors          D. Bevan

 

4.                                  G. Collier

 

5.                                    G. A. Davies

 

6.                                   G. L. Davies

 

7.                                   P. Edwards

 

8.                                    K. Hayden

 

9.                                    W. Hodgins

 

10.                                 J. Holt

 

11.                                  M. Moore

 

12.                                 G. Paulsen

 

13.                                T. Sharrem

 

14.                                T. Smith

 

15.                                 B. Summers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

15 MEMBERS - PROPORTIONALITY 9:5:1 (to include Corporate Overview Members & Chairs of Scrutiny Committees)

 

1.           Chair -                  Chair - Corporate Overview Scrutiny   

                            Committee

                                  Councillor S. Healy

     

2.      Vice Chair -         Vice Chair - Corporate Overview Scrutiny

                                     Committee

                                      Councillor M. Cook

         

3.                                  Chair - Social Services Scrutiny Committee                           Councillor S. Thomas

 

4.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Exempt Items(s)

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 reason for the decisions for the exemptions is available on a schedule maintained by the proper officer).

 

Minutes:

Councillors D. Bevan and M. Holland left the meeting at this juncture.

 

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).

27.

Festival Park Update

To consider the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and 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).

 

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

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Corporate Director spoke in detail to the report and highlighted the salient points contained therein.  Particular reference was made to paragraph 2.3 relating to the site being placed on the open market, the Heads of Terms and the counter proposal to remove the parkland from the sale.

 

It was noted that if the preferred option (1) was approved, the Working Group would continue to develop the other aspects of the option considered by Council in terms of the Democratic space in the General Offices, the Community Hubs and the alternative arrangements for staff accommodation.  A capital allocation of £180,000 to fund the cost of the required works at the General Offices and the Community Hubs and a further £650,000 for demolition of the Civic Centre would be required. However, the subsequent sale of land was expected to generate a capital receipt of £750,000.

 

The Corporate Director concluded by outlining the risks contained in paragraph 5.2 of the report which included both legal and human resources implications.

 

The views of Members were, thereupon, sought (summarised below) and were responded to by the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services and the Executive Member – Regeneration & Economic Development:

 

-      A Member pointed out that she had raised at the previous Council meeting, that the site had been advertised on the open market prior to the vote being taken to proceed with the site acquisition. The press release that had been issued following this Council meeting had indicated that if there were private investors interested in the site, the Council would withdraw from the purchase.  However, the Member expressed concern that this report did not reflect the reason for withdrawing from the site purchase.

 

The Executive Member confirmed that it had been agreed by the Working Group that the Council would only progress the purchase of the site as a last resort i.e. if there was no private sector interest. 

 

The Leader of the Labour Group referred to correspondence that had been forwarded to himself and the Leader back in July advising of private sector interest in the site.

 

The Executive Member advised that at the time the business case had been developed, the Council had not been aware of any firm offers made for the site but subsequently as information had been received confirming that there was now private interest, it was now proposed that the acquisition be left to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Shortlisting - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 29th September, 2020.

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 Paragraphs 12 & 13, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).

 

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

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

29.

Shortlisting - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 7th October, 2020.

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 Paragraphs 12 & 13, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).

 

Consideration was given to the report of the meeting held on 7th October, 2020.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

30.

Appointments Committee - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 6th October, 2020.

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 Paragraphs 12 & 13, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).

 

Consideration was given to the report of the meeting held on 6th October, 2020.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report which related to staffing matters be accepted and the decision not to appoint to the post of Lead Officer School Improvement be noted.

 

31.

Appointments Committee - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 4th November, 2020.

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 Paragraphs 12 & 13, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).

 

The Corporate Director of Education Lynn Phillips left the meeting at this juncture.

 

Consideration was given to the report of the meeting held on 4th November, 2020.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report which related to staffing matters be accepted and the post be offered to Lynn Phillips on a salary in accordance with JNC Chief Officer (£82,247 - £90,469).