Agenda and minutes

Ordinary Meeting of the Council
Thursday, 25th March, 2021 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:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor G. Collier.

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. 31 – ICT Investment Strategy

Councillor Wayne Hodgins

    

Item No. 35: Pay Policy Statement 2021/2022

 

-      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

-      Rhian Hayden – Chief Officer Resources

-      Bernadette Elias – Interim Chief Officer Commercial

-      Andrea Jones – Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance

-      Andrea Prosser – Head of Organisational Development

-      Gina Taylor – Service Manager Accountancy

-      Sean Scannell - Communications, Marketing and Customer Access Manager

-      Ceri Edwards-Brown – Democratic Officer

-      Michelle Hicks – Democratic Support Officer

 

The above-named officers would leave the meeting whilst this item of business was considered.  However, the following officers would remain in the meeting to note proceedings:

 

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

-      Michelle Hicks – Democratic Support Officer

 

Item No. 40 – NMC Site, Brynmawr

Councillor John C. Morgan

 

4.

Chair's Announcements

To receive.

Minutes:

 

Congratulations were expressed to:

 

Tyler Allen, a 10-year old boy from Six Bells who had completed a challenge to read 2 million words as part of the Accelerated Reader programme. Tyler had started the challenge in September and had read his first 1 million words by Christmas and he’s since read the second 1 million words at home.

 

Tyler was due to have a special recognition assembly held at Six Bells Primary but with schools being closed this had not been possible.

 

The Executive Member for Education and Chair of Council had, therefore, sent letters to Tyler to congratulate him on this fantastic achievement.

 

COVID-19 – Remembrance Day – 23rd March, 2021

 

To mark the one year anniversary since the start of the pandemic Members and officers took a minute of silent reflection to remember those who had sadly passed away from COVID-19.

 

5.

Minute Book - November 2020 - March 2021

Minutes:

The Minute Book for the period November 2020 – March 2021 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 607 KB

To consider and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 28th January, 2021.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

7.

Special Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 461 KB

To consider and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 4th March, 2021.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

8.

Special Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 268 KB

To consider and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 11th March, 2021.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

9.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 256 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee held on 4th February, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

10.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (General Licensing Matters) pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the General Licensing Committee held on 8th February, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

11.

Statutory Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 195 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Statutory Licensing Committee held on 8th February, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

12.

Statutory Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 197 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Statutory Licensing Committee held on 8th March, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

13.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 297 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee held on 4th March, 2021.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

14.

Special Executive pdf icon PDF 340 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Special Executive held on 22nd February, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

15.

Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 436 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Executive Committee held on 24th February, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

16.

Democratic Services Committee pdf icon PDF 289 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Democratic Services Committee held on 9th November, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

17.

Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) pdf icon PDF 331 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) held on 23rd November, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

18.

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 273 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 2nd December, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

19.

Community Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 259 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Community Services Scrutiny Committee held on 7th December, 2020.

Minutes:

Agreed.

20.

Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 298 KB

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

Minutes:

Agreed.

21.

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 323 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 6th January, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

22.

Social Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee held on 21st January, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

23.

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 232 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 22nd January, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

24.

Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 473 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Audit Committee held on 2nd February, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

25.

Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 261 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 11th February, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

26.

Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) pdf icon PDF 322 KB

To confirm the minutes of the special Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) held on 23rd February, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

27.

Members Questions

To receive questions, if any, from Members.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted by Members.

 

28.

Public Questions

To receive questions, if any, from the public.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted by members of the public.

 

29.

Treasury Management - Treasury Strategy Statement, Investment Strategy & MRP Policy Statement 2021/2022 (including Prudential Indicators) pdf icon PDF 511 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Annual Treasury Strategy Statement & Annual Investment Strategy & MRP Policy Statement for 2021/2022 financial year and the Treasury Management Prudential Indicators contained therein be agreed.

30.

Capital Strategy 2021/2022 pdf icon PDF 501 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Capital Strategy 2021/2022 be agreed.

 

31.

Capital Programme 2020/21 to 2025/26 pdf icon PDF 535 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

-      The re-profiling of the City Deal funding be agreed and the updated Capital Programme and the impact the recent approvals, revised funding and re-profiling of the City Deal funding had on the capital contingency be noted.

 

-      Maintaining a capital contingency with a target of £1m equating to 5% of Blaenau Gwent’s own resources within the capital programme (2020/21 to 2025/26) be agreed.

 

32.

ICT Investment Roadmap pdf icon PDF 563 KB

To consider the joint officers’ report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Wayne Hodgins declared an interest in this item but remained in the meeting whilst it was considered but took no part in the discussion.

 

Consideration was given to the joint officers’ report.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the ICT infrastructure investment be approved.

 

33.

Annual Report of Head of Democratic Services pdf icon PDF 622 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Officer Commercial.

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Interim Chief Officer Commercial.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely it was noted that there was a sufficient level of support for Elected Members.

 

34.

Annual Scrutiny Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 410 KB

To consider the joint officers’ report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the joint officers’ report.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the ‘scrutiny activity’ that had been undertaken by each Scrutiny Committee during 2019/20 be approved and the report be published on the Blaenau Gwent website.

 

35.

Annual Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 715 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.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the determinations as set out in the annual IRPW report be noted.

 

36.

Pay Policy Statement 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 412 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following officers declared an interest in this item and left 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

-      Rhian Hayden – Chief Officer Resources

-      Bernadette Elias – Interim Chief Officer Commercial

-      Andrea Jones – Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance

-      Andrea Prosser – Head of Organisational Development

-      Gina Taylor – Service Manager - Accountancy

-      Sean Scannell - Communications, Marketing and Customer Access Manager

 

The following officers remained in the meeting whilst this item was considered to note proceedings:

 

-      Ceri Edwards-Brown – Democratic Officer

-      Michelle Hicks – Democratic Support Officer

 

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

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Pay Policy Statement 2021/2022 be approved.

 

37.

New Council Operating Model & Working Arrangements pdf icon PDF 545 KB

To consider the report of the Managing Director.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

Consideration was given to the report of the Managing Director.

 

Following a lengthy discussion,

 

The Leader of the Council proposed that Option 1 be endorsed.  This proposal was seconded.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group, on behalf of the Labour and Minority Independent Group, thereupon, proposed the following alternative recommendation:

 

To defer the decision for 12 months taking into account the following:

 

·        The need to gain a better understanding of where the country would be in another year with regard to the pandemic.

·        Persistent concerns around the conditions at Anvil Court and the lease arrangement.

·        Possible change of political direction at the Senedd regarding the future of local government.

·        The lack of proper scrutiny on the project, particularly on the impact of homeworking on staff.

 

This alternative proposal was seconded.

 

A recorded vote was, therefore, requested.

 

In Favour of the alternative proposal – Councillors P. Baldwin, D. Bevan, M. Cross, P. Edwards, L. Elias, K. Hayden, M. Holland, H. McCarthy, J. Millard, J. C. Morgan, K. Pritchard, T. Sharrem, T. Smith, S. Thomas, H. Trollope, D. Wilkshire, B. Willis, L. Winnett.

 

Against the alternative proposal – Councillors J. Collins, M. Cook, N. Daniels, D. Davies, G. A. Davies, G. L. Davies, M. Day, D. Hancock, S. Healy, J. Hill, W. Hodgins, J. Holt, J. Mason, C. Meredith, M. Moore, J. P. Morgan, L. Parsons, G. Paulsen, K. Rowson, B. Summers, B. Thomas, G. Thomas, J. Wilkins.

 

The vote on the alternative proposal was not carried.

 

It was, therefore, proposed and seconded that Option 1 (preferred option) be endorsed and approved.  As no Member had abstained from voting, a further recorded vote was not required and Option 1 was carried.

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the new Operating Model based on Agile Working, Democratic Hub and Community Hubs be approved and work could now proceed to decommission the Civic Centre. 

 

38.

Motion - Free School Meals pdf icon PDF 311 KB

To consider the attached motion from Unite Wales.

Minutes:

 

The Council considered the following Motion from Unite Wales.

 

Whilst the move by Welsh Government to extend the provision of free school meals (FSMs) to those currently eligible until Easter 2022 including school holidays was welcomed, this unfortunately meant that not all those children living in households on benefits, whether universal credit, working tax credits or legacy benefits, due to the threshold being set at £7,400 or monthly earnings were less than £610, actually meant that more in poverty go-without than get.

 

The Council therefore unanimously RESOLVED that:

 

-      It recognised the distressing fact that 30% of children in Wales live in poverty and yet just 13% were entitled to free school meals This was mainly because the remaining 17% of children live in low paid households that took them just over the present eligibility criteria.

 

-      It noted that England and Scotland have universal infant FSMs with all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils eligible, which was not the case in Wales.

 

-      The Welsh Government be called upon to cost, budget and provide as a matter of urgency, the extension of FSMs to all children who lived in poverty in Wales but were excluded from entitlement under the present eligibility criteria.

 

-      It agreed that no child should go hungry and that this should be a step towards the aim of rolling out universal FSMs to all children in Wales as called for by various groups in Wales, including Child Poverty Action Group and the People’s Assembly Wales

 

39.

Membership Report pdf icon PDF 455 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 at this point in time and extended an invitation to other Group Leaders to submit expressions of interest.

 

Advisory Panel for Local Authority School Governors

 

The following recommendations were made by the Panel on 4th March, 2021 to appoint:

 

Deighton Primary Schools – Councillor H. Trollope & Delyth Pearsall

 

Pen Y Cwm Special School – Tim Baxter

 

Beaufort Hill Primary School – Frances Lynch

 

Cwm Primary School - Kathryn Cross

 

Ystruth Primary School – KerysBeese

 

Abertillery Learning Community – Jack Newtown

 

River Centre -  Raymond Harris, Lee Powell & Jan English

 

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the above appointments be endorsed.

 

 

 

40.

Exempt Items

To receive and consider the following reports which in the opinion of the proper officer are an 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 exemption is 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).

 

41.

NMC Site, Brynmawr

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

Minutes:

Councillor J. C. Morgan declared an interest in this item but remained in the meeting whilst it was considered but took no part in the discussion.

 

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 Service Manager – Business and Regeneration.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report which 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 the Deed of Priority be authorised allowing the project to proceed. 

 

42.

Ebbw Valley Railway

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).

 

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

 

Following a lengthy discussion, the Executive Member Regeneration & Economic Development proposed that Option 1 be endorsed.  This proposal was seconded.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group, on behalf of the Labour and Minority Independent Group, thereupon, proposed the following alternative recommendation:

 

The content of Option One be supported with the following stipulations added:

 

·        The Newport link was a firm commitment.

·        That Blaenau Gwent would not carry the burden of the arrangement alone and that discussions with Newport and Caerphilly open immediately.

·        Further detailed assurance and projections showing that income from the extra trains would cover Blaenau Gwent’s loan repayments were produced for Members to examine, and that Members were given more time, with reports provided, to scrutinise the project.

·        A detailed analysis to give assurance around the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) repayments highlighted in the report.

 

This alternative proposal was seconded.

 

A recorded vote was, therefore, requested.

 

In Favour of the alternative proposal – Councillors P. Baldwin, D. Bevan, M. Cross, P. Edwards, L. Elias, K. Hayden, H. McCarthy, J. Millard, M. Moore, J. C. Morgan, K. Pritchard, T. Sharrem, T. Smith, S. Thomas, H. Trollope, B. Willis, L. Winnett.

 

Against the alternative proposal – Councillors J. Collins, M. Cook, N. Daniels, D. Davies, G. A. Davies, G. L. Davies, M. Day, D. Hancock, M. Holland, S. Healy, J. Hill, J. Holt, J. Mason, C. Meredith, J. P. Morgan, L. Parsons, G. Paulsen, K. Rowson, B. Summers, G. Thomas, J. Wilkins.

 

Abstention – Councillor W. Hodgins

 

The vote on the alternative proposal was not carried.

 

As there was no stated intention voiced from any Member present, to oppose Option 1, the proposed course of action in not proceeding to a recorded individual vote on the preferred option was acceptable.

 

It was, therefore, unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report which related to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority) be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that:

 

(i)           the offer of the funding as set out in the report be accepted and authority be delegated to the Corporate Director Regeneration & Community Services, and the Chief Officer Resources, to negotiate on behalf of the Council and act as a signatory to the funding agreement.

 

(ii)         the Council engaged with relevant parties to develop a Joint Venture arrangement for agreement at a future Council meeting.

 

(iii)        the Council agreed to the amended prudential indicators in relation to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

Shortlisting - JNC Officers

To receive the report of the meeting held on 3rd March, 2021.

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 3rd March, 2021.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

44.

Appointments Committee - JNC Officers

To receive the report of the Appointments Committee held on 11th March, 2021.

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 11th March, 2021

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report which related to staffing matters be accepted and

 

-      the post of Service Manager Education Transformation & Business Change be offered to Claire Gardner on a salary in accordance with JNC 1 (£51,407 - £56,544).

 

-      The post of Service Manager Young People & Partnerships be offered to Joanne Sims on a salary in accordance with JNC 1 (£51,407 - £56,544).