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.

 

At this juncture, the Leader of the Labour Group requested that a short brief statement be provided to update Members on the return to school of children and the numbers of COVID-19 cases that had subsequently been reported.

 

The Corporate Director of Education reported that the position as of 24th March, 2021, was that 130 pupils were currently self-isolating because it had been recognised that these pupils were part of contact groups where positive cases had been confirmed and 6 positive cases (of teaching staff and pupils) had been confirmed.  However, this position was changing daily as information had been received that day of a further reported positive case that had been identified in a primary school in the Tredegar area.

 

A Member referred to a previous discussion that had taken place regarding local Members being informed of any cases within schools and expressed her concern that on this occasion that this information had not been received.

 

The Corporate Director of Education referred to the agreement which reflected back to the autumn term, which was that if there were any particular school closures, Members would be advised and periodically Members would also be updated on the overall position.  However, at this juncture school closures were not required.

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.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Chief Officer Resources explained that the purpose of the report was to consider the Treasury Strategy Statement, Investment Strategy and MRP Policy Statement for adoption for the 2021/2022 financial year.  It was pointed out that the report had been prepared in accordance with the CIPFA Code of Practice on Treasury Management, which required an annual Treasury Strategy Statement (TSS) to be approved in advance of the relevant financial year. 

 

The Annual Investment Strategy which formed part of the Treasury Strategy Statement (TSS) and the Prudential Indicators for 2021/2022 would be kept under review throughout the year and any required changes would be reported to Council at that point in time. The Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy Statement 2021/2022 was also included as part of the TSS. It was noted that the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee had scrutinised the TSS prior to recommendation for formal approval by Council and in response to comments made by the Scrutiny Committee previously, the strategy now included a section relating to Ethical Investments – this could be found at Section 4.7 of Appendix 1.

 

The Code also recommended that Council created and maintained a Treasury Management Policy Statement (TMPS), stating the policies and objectives of its treasury management activities. Although the Code did not require authorities to seek approval of the TMPS, it had been attached to the report as Appendix B for information.

 

The Chief Officer advised that the strategy been updated to take account of recent forecasts (the primary objectives of the strategy statement which would be adhered to were the security and liquidity of investments) and reported that there were no significant changes compared to 2020/2021 financial year.

 

The Chief Officer concluded by making reference to Item No. 41 on the agenda – Ebbw Valley Railway and advised that should this report be agreed, the operational boundaries and authorised limits contained within the strategy would be required to be revised.

 

It was, thereupon, 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 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.

 

The purpose of this report was to provide Members with the opportunity to consider and adopt the Capital Strategy for the financial year 2021/2022, following its annual review.

 

It was noted that the Capital Strategy provided a high level overview of how capital expenditure, capital financing and treasury management activity contributed to the provision of services and how associated risk was managed and the implications for future financial sustainability.  The strategy outlined the principles and framework at a very high level that shaped the capital investment proposals. 

 

The Chief Officer Resources continued by advising that the principal aim of the strategy was the delivery of an affordable programme of capital consistent with the Medium Term Financial Strategy, that contributed to the authority’s achievement of priorities and objectives as outlined in the Corporate Plan (i.e. it would inform the way in which long term service objectives were delivered).  In addition, it considered associated risks particularly, those associated with commercial opportunities and recognised financial constraints over the longer term.

 

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.

 

The Chief Officer Resources advised that the report provided an update on the full Capital Programme (to 2025/26) and the impact upon the capital contingency as a result of recent capital investment approvals.  It was noted that as at October 2019 a capital contingency of £2.843m remained for allocation at a future date.

 

The additional schemes approved recently (detailed in paragraph 2.2 of the report) totalled £2,026,000 with further funding of £650,000. This resulted in a net increase in the capital programme and a subsequent reduction in the capital contingency of £1,376,000.  The opportunity had also been taken to revisit the level of available funding and table 2.3.2 identified an additional £630,000 that could be included for capital investment – this was as a result of the budgeted funding being reviewed upon receipt of the recent settlement received from Welsh Government. 

 

Section 2.4 of the report identified a re-profiling of the Council’s contribution to the Cardiff Capital Region City Dealbringing forward a number of schemes, the original profile identified a funding requirement from the Council of £4,940,000 for the period 2017/18 to 2025/26, however the new profile required funding of £5,543,000 during the same period, with the remaining £603,000 required in 2026/27. However, the latest profile provided by the City Deal indicated that the full contribution of £5.54m would be required by 2022/23 and this resulted in an additional £603,000 required within the current capital programme.  It was noted that City Deal was bringing forward the profile due to a number of approved projects and pipeline projects which were expected to commence and incur expenditure during 2022/23.

 

The impact of the changes to the capital programme and capital contingency were detailed in paragraph 5.1.2 of the report - the contingency now remaining was just under £1.5m.  It was recommended that the Council maintain a capital contingency with a target of £1m which, equated to 5% of Blaenau Gwent’s own resources in the capital programme, in the event that should all capital funding be allocated there would be limited funding available for allocation for future projects and to address any potential overspending capital schemes.  Details of the future projects and potential overspends were included at paragraphs 5.2.2. and 6.1.1 respectively.

 

In reply to a question, the Chief Officer Resources confirmed that any use or bid to use the capital contingency would require approval of Council.

 

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.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial outlined the purpose of the report which was to provide the Council with a full set of proposals on investment options required to maintain a stable and resilient ICT infrastructure.

 

The proposals were broken down into three categories which aimed to describe the current challenges and future options, namely:

 

-      Desktop estate – a 5-year refresh of laptops and desktop estate was proposed.

-      Network and telephony estate – it was proposed to replace outdated telephony estate and improve service delivery which included the switchboard functionality.

-      Contract register – there may be an opportunity to reduce expenditure on key software and hardware contracts that were managed on the Council’s behalf by the SRS and some that were managed directly by the Council. This would include a review of the number of PSBA connections which, if reduced could lead to financial savings.

 

The recent experience of the pandemic and the move to agile working had shown how technology could support the Council in delivering its democratic arrangements and service delivery.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial concluded by advising that both the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee on 22nd January and the Executive Committee on 24th February, 2021 had endorsed Option 1.

 

The Chief Officer Resources commenced by advising that Section 5 of the report identified both the capital and revenue investment required to fund the proposals with an initial £464,000 investment in the first two years followed by an annual investment thereafter of £166,000.  However, since the original report had been considered by the Scrutiny Committee and the Executive, the Council had received a Digital Transformation Grant from Welsh Government and as a result the capital funding proposal for this investment had been amended to propose the first three years of the investment be funded from the ICT Reserve (£63,000) and the Digital Transformation Grant (£567,000).

 

In terms of the revenue costs for the implementation of Teams Telephony and the Contact Centre, these were estimated to be £77,000 per annum. This would be funded from the established revenue budget with these costs replacing costs being incurred on the current arrangements which would no longer be required. The Chief Officer concluded by stating that there were however, expected to be some transitional costs incurred whilst transferring from the current provision to the new arrangements and it was proposed that these cost be funded by the ICT Reserve.

 

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 noted that the Localism Act 2011, Chapter 8 (Sections 38 to 43), required Local Authorities to prepare an annual Pay Policy Statement which must articulate the Authority’s policies in respect of a range of issues relating to the pay of its workforce, particularly policies relating to the remuneration of its senior staff (Chief Officers) and its lowest paid employees.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

The officers named above who left the meeting whilst the item was considered returned to the meeting at this juncture.

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.

 

The Managing Director spoke in detail to the report which sought approval for a new Operating Model and Working Arrangements for the Council.  This was a significant decision for Blaenau Gwent - the choice was whether to revert to how the Council operated previously as the country emerged from lockdown and was recovering from the pandemic or to take an ambitious step forward and learn from experience and response over the last 12 months and demonstrate community leadership by creating an agile and modern organisation.

 

It was noted that the new working arrangements would involve a move to an agile working model for the workforce on a permanent basis based upon the learning and experiences of how the Council had operated over last 12 months.  This would require a decision to permanently vacate the Civic Centre and release the land for regeneration purposes, create a new Democratic Hub at the General Offices for formal council business and create a network of Community Hubs co-located with libraries. 

 

These proposals had been developed over a number of months and the Managing Director outlined the sequence of reports that had been presented to Council since July 2020 (paragraphs 2.5 – 2.7 of the report) which had concluded in November 2020 with a report which recommended that the position previously agreed at Council, to proceed with acquisition of Festival Park, be left to private investors who had expressed an interest in the site to take it forward but that the Council should take forward the other aspects agreed at Council (October 2020) to develop the democratic facility at the General Offices, Community Hubs in town centres, and vacate and demolish the Civic Centre.  It was pointed out that capital allocations to undertake this work had previously been agreed by Council.

 

Since the decision of Council in November, the Member Working Group had worked with officers and Trade Union representatives to develop a model for the new working arrangements, based on agile working, which would allow the organisation to operate out of its remaining offices at Anvil Court, ViTCC, General Offices and other appropriate Council buildings.  These proposals were detailed in Section 5 of this report. 

 

There were a number of benefits associated with the operation of an agile working model and these included:

 

-      The creation of flexible and agile working arrangements for staff and it was proposed because there would be contractual changes that an allowance would be provided for home and agile workers.

-      Based on evidence there would be an improved work/life balance reducing the daily commute and continuation of the high level of productivity.

-      Reduction in days lost to sickness absence.

 

The Managing Director recognised that the arrangement would not suit all staff and the model would allow for adjustments to be made for those members of staff who may be categorised as either home or agile workers but who would be unable to do this on a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

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.

 

The Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services spoke and provided details of the scope and background of the project.  This information was detailed in sections 2.1 – 2.11 of the report. 

 

In reply to a question, the Corporate Director advised that he was unaware of any particular insurance that could be taken out to indemnify the risk but said that this could be explored.  However, it was noted that a premium would have to be paid for this type of insurance which had not been budgeted for.

 

The Executive Member – Regeneration and Economic Development expressed his appreciation to officers for bringing this project to fruition and proposed that Option 2 be endorsed.

 

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 the Deed of Priority be authorised allowing the project to proceed. 

 

A Ward Member expressed his appreciation to Council for supporting this project which, would allow a currently derelict brownfield site back into operation.

 

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.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Corporate Director gave details of the proposal which would assist with the implementation of the infrastructure necessary to achieve the objective of both Welsh Government and the Council of increasing service frequency.  It was noted that the loan would be interest free and would not be taken out until due diligence and the establishment of a Joint Venture arrangement had been agreed – should this not be agreed the monies would be repaid in full.

 

The views of Members were, thereupon, sought (summarised below) and were responded to by the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services/Chief Officer Resources:

 

-      A Member indicated that he would only support the proposal if the Newport link was guaranteed and that work be undertaken in partnership with Caerphilly and Newport and the financial burden was shared between the three authorities.

 

The Member acknowledged the opportunity of an Abertillery spur but pointed out that Abertillery town centre had been ravaged during the pandemic with shop closures and asked whether an impact assessment would be undertaken to assess any potential impact that this would have on existing businesses.  He concluded by stating that increasing the number of trains to 4 per hour may be too many and could potentially make the line unviable at a future point in time.

 

The Corporate Director advised that there had been some considerable debate when the railway had first opened regarding passenger patronage and this modelling had been based on known patronage levels – the WelTAG Study would determine if patronage numbers were realistic.  With regards to the town centre, this would be reassessed to determine how the town could be changed over time to maximise the opportunities between the town and rail link.   It was noted that an economic impact assessment would be undertaken, as part of the project.

 

The work in terms of the Newport link would be reliant on a third party and this would be incorporated as part of the Joint Venture agreement which would set out key deliverables for the project. In terms of partnership working with the other two authorities, there was no reason why the three councils could not work together to maximise the benefits going forward and the Corporate Director said that this could form part of future engagement.

 

In reply to a question regarding risk in terms of an increase in the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) it was confirmed  ...  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).