Agenda and minutes

Ordinary Meeting of the Council
Thursday, 29th July, 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:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors G. Collier, W. Hodgins, J. C. Morgan, B. Thomas, Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services and the Chief Officer Resources.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To consider any declarations of interest and dispensations received.

Minutes:

The following declarations of interest were reported:

 

         Item Nos. 59-61 – Longlisting JNC Officers, Shortlisting JNC Officers, Appointments Committee JNC Officers

Bernadette Elias – Chief Officer Commercial & Customer

 

4.

Chair's Announcements

To receive.

Minutes:

Condolences

 

Condolences were expressed to:

 

-      Councillor Bernard Willis and his family whose daughter, Kym Lewis had sadly passed away. Kym had been Bernard’s consort during his year as Mayor.

 

-      The family of former Borough Councillor and Mayor, Gareth Morgan, M.B.E on his sad death.

 

-      The family of former County Borough Councillor and Town Councillor, Bob Pagett on his sad death.

 

Members and officers paid their respects with a minute’s silence

 

Tributes were paid to former County Borough Councillor and Town Councillor, Bob Pagett. It was reported that Bob had served as a Town Councillor for Nantyglo and Blaina since the late 1970’s up until the present day and during this time had served as Mayor on several occasions. Bob had cared deeply about his community and would be sadly missed.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group echoed the comments made and said that Bob had been a very loyal servant to the County Borough.  He also paid tribute to Kym Lewis.  Kym had served as Mayor’s Consort when her father, Councillor Bernard Willis had been appointed Mayor.  Kym had been a fantastic ambassador for Blaenau Gwent in this role and would be sorely missed.

 

RESOLVED that appropriate letters be sent.

 

Congratulations

 

Congratulations were extended to:

 

-      The ‘A’ Level Team at Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone, Coleg Gwent.  The team had won a prestigious bronze award at the Pearson Teaching Awards Further Education Team of the Year 2021, for the valuable contribution made by the teaching staff and the difference that had made to young people in the area.

 

An appropriate letter had been sent to Coleg Gwent.

 

-      Defence Employer Recognition Scheme – Gold Award: Notification had been received from the Ministry of Defence advising that Blaenau Gwent had achieved Gold status under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. This was a prestigious award and Blaenau Gwent was one of only 127 organisations who were adjudged to reach the required standard.

 

Chair’s Appeal 2021/2022

 

The Chair announced that her chosen Appeal for 2021/2022 would be the Blaenau Gwent Foodbank.  This organisation had played a vital borough wide role supporting the vulnerable throughout the course of the pandemic.

 

5.

Minute Book - March - June 2021

Minutes:

The Minute Book for the period March – June 2021 was submitted for consideration.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

6.

Annual Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 577 KB

To confirm and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 27th May, 2021.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

7.

Ordinary Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 562 KB

To confirm and if thought fit, approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 25th March, 2021.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

8.

Special Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 265 KB

To consider the minutes of the special meeting held on 29th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

9.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (Planning Matters) pdf icon PDF 291 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 15th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

10.

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

To consider the Minutes of the meeting held on 11th June, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

11.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (General Licensing Matters) pdf icon PDF 232 KB

To consider the Minutes of the Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (General Licensing Matters) held on 14th June, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

12.

Statutory Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To consider the Minutes of the Statutory Licensing Committee held on 24th June, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

13.

Special Executive pdf icon PDF 205 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 24th March, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

14.

Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 441 KB

To consider the minutes of the Executive held on 14th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

15.

Special Executive pdf icon PDF 373 KB

To consider the minutes of the Executive held on 21st April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

16.

Special Executive pdf icon PDF 339 KB

To consider the minutes of the special meeting held on 9th June, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

17.

Executive pdf icon PDF 417 KB

To consider the Minutes of the Executive held on 16th June, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

18.

Special Executive pdf icon PDF 356 KB

To consider the minutes of the Special Executive held on 23rd June, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

19.

Community Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 317 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Community Services Scrutiny Committee held on 1st March, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

20.

Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 367 KB

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

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

21.

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 253 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 5th March, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

22.

Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 342 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 9th March, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

23.

Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) pdf icon PDF 257 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Joint Scrutiny Committee (Budget Monitoring) held on 15th March, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

24.

Social Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 258 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee held on 17th March, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

25.

Democratic Services Committee pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Democratic Services Committee held on 22nd March, 2021.

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

26.

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 259 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 24th March, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

27.

Special Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 232 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Special Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 1st April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

28.

Community Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 229 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Community Services Scrutiny Committee held on 12th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

29.

Public Service Board Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 252 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 15th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

30.

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 271 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 16th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

31.

Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 258 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 20th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

32.

Social Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 246 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee held on 22nd April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

33.

Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) held on 26th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

34.

Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 353 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Audit Committee held on 27th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

35.

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 230 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 28th April, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

36.

Community Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Community Services Scrutiny Committee held on 7th June, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

37.

Governance & Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 371 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Governance & Audit Committee held on 29th June, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

38.

Members Questions

To receive questions, if any, from Members.

 

Minutes:

Question No. 1

 

The following question was received from Councillor Hedley McCarthy and was responded to by Councillor Joanne Wilkins, Executive Member for Environment:

 

Question:

 

“Could the Executive Member explain to Council what urgent action was to be taken to ameliorate the unacceptable noise nuisance from Blackwood Engineering at Glandwr Industrial Estate?”

 

Response:

 

The Environmental Health Team had confirmed receipt of one noise complaint from a local resident relating to this matter.  The Management Team at the company was co-operating with the Council to address some of the specific noise related issues that had been raised and had proposed a series of actions to deal with these matters which, it was hoped would resolve the on-going and outstanding noise issues.  However, as this was an on-going investigation it was not appropriate at this current time to comment any further.

 

Supplementary Question:

 

No supplementary question was presented.

 

Question No. 2

 

The following question was received from Councillor Phillip Edwards and was responded to by Councillor Nigel Daniels, the Leader of the Council:

 

Question:

 

“When would the delegating of powers during the pandemic, including the Gold Group, come to an end?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Response:

 

The additional delegation to officers came to an end on 24th June, 2020 when the suspension of Council Committees was lifted.  However, the Gold Group had continued to operate as part of the national and regional response to the pandemic but since 24th June it had operated in parallel to the normal democratic arrangements.   The Gold Group was stood down in May 2021, following the standing down of the Gwent Strategic Co-ordinating Group.  

 

Supplementary Question:

 

No supplementary question was presented.

 

39.

Public Questions

To receive questions, if any, from the public.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted by members of the public.

 

40.

Proposed Council Forward Work Programme 2021-2022 pdf icon PDF 378 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the proposed Council Forward Work Programme 2021-2022.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Council Forward Work Programme 2021/2022 be approved.

 

41.

Annual Scrutiny Report 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 408 KB

To consider the joint officers’ report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely the ‘scrutiny activity’ that had been undertaken by each Scrutiny Committee during 2020/21 be approved and the report published on the Blaenau Gwent website.

 

42.

Schedule of Members Remuneration 2021-2022 pdf icon PDF 674 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

In the absence of the Chair of the Democratic Services Committee, the Vice-Chair advised that the Democratic Services Committee had considered and agreed both reports and proposed that Item Nos. 41 and 42 be approved simultaneously.

 

A Member referred to a previous meeting of the Council held in May whereby she had asked the Leader about the case whereby a Member had been appointed to two paid positions and said at that time the Leader had denied knowledge of this case.  The Member concluded by asking whether these monies had now been repaid to the Council as paragraphs 2.3 and 2.6 of the Schedule of Members Remuneration indicated that only one senior salary was payable to a Member of the authority.

 

The Leader of the Council on a point of correction advised that the Member had misinterpreted his comments and clarified that he had not denied knowledge but had said at that time that he was genuinely not aware of the case.  However, he had subsequently been made aware of the area referred to and confirmed that the additional allowance which was being paid to a Chair who was in receipt of a special responsibility allowance, was permissible within the regulations.

 

The Member said that she found that this was confusing and contradictory to the information contained in the Schedule of Members Remuneration, specifically paragraphs 2.3 and 2.6 i.e.  that only one senior salary was payable to a member of the authority and concluded by stating that whilst the Leader indicated that he had been unaware of the case, this could be taken that he was denying knowledge of it.

 

The Leader of the Council raised a point of order and stated that being ‘unaware’ and ‘denying’ were grammatically two different things and could be interpreted differently.  He affirmed that he had been unaware of the case and this had was a genuine comment made at that time.  However, he had been subsequently assured by both the Monitoring Officer and the Chief Officer Resources that a Member in receipt of a Committee Chair Band 3 (the level that Scrutiny Committee Chairs were paid) could be in receipt of a salary from another organisation.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group said that he was under the assumption that it was the Leader who made the appointments to these external positions and said it was important that there was transparency, particularly for the public regarding senior responsibility allowances.

 

The Leader of the Council advised that he was content to go on record that he had recommended that the individual in question be appointed to that particular body because of his experience and knowledge.  The organisation in question was a crucial partner and he believed the Member was the best individual to undertake this role.  It was pointed out that this appointment had been wholly endorsed by his colleagues and endorsed when the Committee structure and outside bodies were approved by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

Statement of Payments Made to Members in 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 671 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Additional documents:

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, in order to comply with relevant legislation that theStatement of Payments Made to Members during 2020/21 be published.

 

44.

Workforce Strategy 2021 -2026 pdf icon PDF 568 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.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Head of Organisational Development explained that the purpose of the report was to seek endorsement of the Workforce Strategy 2021-2026.  It was noted that the Council’s Organisational Development Strategy 2015 -2020 focussed strategically on preparing the Council and its workforce for transformation and change, and successfully promoted the ‘one Council’ approach, supported the transformation of the organisation in response to financial efficiency which included a review of services and the introduction of new and alternative service delivery models.

 

This 5-year strategy focussed on the future, integrating the Council’s vison, objectives and financial planning arrangements.  It would link service outcomes with the workforce required to deliver them and would have an on-going understanding of how the workforce should look in the future through continual review, re-alignment and measurement of how outcomes were achieved.  It would also support the workforce to transition from responding to the emergency situation in relation to the pandemic Covid-19 and act as a key lever to facilitate cultural change. 

 

The strategy had been developed from workforce information, staff surveys, and engagement and consultation with key stakeholders and trade unions and the suggestions that had been made had influenced the development of the strategy.  The Head of Organisational Development concluded by advising that the strategy would have an annual action plan which, would be monitored through the Corporate Leadership Team and the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group referred to paragraph 2.2 of the report which stated that “the New Operating Model would introduce modern working practices, would seek to enhance employees’ working experience, maximise performance and productivity and deliver the greatest value to the organisation….” and asked whether this statement was reliable. 

 

He continued by explaining that the situation currently being experienced in the Planning and Building Control Sections was disgraceful.  The public were being told that the Council would become a modern local authority, with aspirations to create new housing and become a low carbon authority.  However, there were people in the County Borough complaining bitterly about the ridiculous amount of time it currently took for applications to be considered.  He requested that Corporate Leadership Team and the political Leadership implement measures to address this situation.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group concluded by stating that with regard to the report, he had made his comments previously at the Scrutiny Committee and supported endorsement of the recommendation.

 

The Leader of the Council commenced by stating that he was aware of the current situation being experienced within the service but said he believed that this was the correct strategy for the Council.  The Trade Unions had supported the strategy and had raised no reservations regarding the strategy or any other areas of the authority.  He continued by stating that he was aware that work was progressing to improve the digital service in relation to the Planning Department which would help support remote and agile  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.

45.

Diverse Council Declaration pdf icon PDF 422 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

The Chief Officer Commercial and Customer spoke briefly to the report which presented the Diverse Council Declaration for approval.  Members were advised that Welsh Government was committed to increasing diversity across all aspects of public life and this included tackling the barriers which prevented individuals’ active participation in local democracy. 

 

Paragraph 2.4 of the report set out the number of expectations on the Council to support diversity within the democratic process and also with political parties to support the process of becoming a councillor and providing support for councillors once they became elected.  Paragraph 2.5 outlined the additional expectations as part of the Local Government and Elections Act.

 

The Chief Officer continued by advising that an action plan would be developed which would span up to and beyond the Local Elections 2022 and this would be presented to the Democratic Services Committee for consideration prior to approval at Council on 30th September.  It was noted that in some of the areas, the Council was already making some progress for example, flexibility of business via remote attendance at meetings.

 

A Member welcomed the report and asked who would be developing the action plan and whether the public would be consulted on the plan prior to it being presented to the Democratic Services Committee.  He pointed out that the Council needed to be actively engaging with people to ascertain what they perceived the barriers were to becoming a councillor were.

 

The Chief Officer Commercial and Customer advised that initial discussions had taken place with the Equalities Officers to make those connections with certain under-represented groups to ascertain their views.  In addition, the current Digital Democracy Bid included work with 16-25 year olds to understand their experiences and barriers they faced connecting with the democratic arrangements and some of this learning would help support the development of the plan.  The Citizens Panel was a further opportunity to engage and engagement would take place through other identified networks as there were various aspects of the declaration that different groups could take forward.  It was noted that some initial research had been collated with individuals in the County Borough and all this information would be collated and considered.  The Chief Officer added that the views of Members would be considered via the democratic process.

 

A Member welcomed the declaration and stated to illustrate the Council’s commitment requested an undertaking from the Leader that Members would be given an opportunity to discuss the Welsh Audit of Commemoration which had been approved by Welsh Government in November 2020.

 

The Leader confirmed that he was content for this document to be discussed.

 

Another Member expressed his concern regarding digital democracy and his experience of virtual meetings as he felt that these were not helpful or practical and said that vigorous consultation should take place with members of the public and Councillors.

 

A Member said she agreed with the report but would like some form  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Move Towards Regional Gwent PSB pdf icon PDF 941 KB

To consider the report of the Managing Director.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Managing Director.

 

The Managing Director spoke in detail to the report which sought approval for Blaenau Gwent to join the other Councils in Gwent and statutory partners to form a Regional PSB.  The report also provided an update on the progress made in relation to a regional well-being assessment and well-being plan, the formation of the regional scrutiny committee and the development of a local delivery partnership in Blaenau Gwent to ensure local priorities continued to be a focus in the County Borough.

 

The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 focussed on improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales.  The Act set out a collective well-being duty on specified public bodies to act jointly via Public Service Boards (PSBs) to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of their area by contributing to the achievement of the well-being goals.

 

The existing PSB structure included within Appendix 1 of the report highlighted that in Gwent currently there were 5 PSB’s centred on the 5 local authority areas and those PSB’s brought together local authorities and statutory and non-statutory partners to act collaboratively to produce the well-being plan and assessments as set out in legislation.  The next local well-being assessments were due in May 2022 and there was a requirement for the new Well-being Plans to be published by May 2023.

 

The Act also made provisions for two or more PSB’s to merge and proposals for the creation of a Regional PSB for Gwent were brought forward for all 5 PSB’s to be merged into one Regional PSB and local PSB’s disbanded.  However, the PSB had agreed to continue to focus on local priorities through local delivery partnerships.

 

The Managing Director continued by advising that Appendix 2 of the report set out the proposed structure of the Regional PSB and paragraph 2.9 detailed the benefits associated with this change.

 

If the proposal to move to a single Regional PSB was approved, the first task to be undertaken would be a Gwent wide Wellbeing Assessment by May 2022 and the publication of a Regional Wellbeing Plan by May 2023.  It was noted that there were two years remaining on the current Well-being Plan for Blaenau Gwent and this would continue to be delivered and overseen by the local delivery partnership and the work of the PSB and scrutiny of the existing Well-being Plans would continue through local scrutiny in each individual area until 2023 to ensure that priorities were delivered.  Operating parallel to this arrangement, a regional scrutiny structure would be set up in advance of May 2022.

 

Council was advised that colleagues in Gwent had already considered and endorsed the move towards a Regional PSB and the statutory and non-statutory partners had also endorsed the report.  Blaenau Gwent’s Public Service Board Scrutiny Committee had considered and agreed the report earlier that week at which debate had ensued in terms of administrative support and cost, the legal basis for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.

47.

Updated Concerns and Complaints Policy pdf icon PDF 417 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance.

 

The Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance advised that Complaints Standards Authority (CSA) had produced a model Concerns and Complaints Policy and there was an expectation that public authorities would adopt the model policy to ensure consistency of complaints handling throughout Wales.  The policy had been presented to the Audit and Governance Committee on 29th June and the comments made by that Committee including the final comments from the Ombudsman had been included in the policy.  Therefore, the policy that had been presented was the model policy with slight local adaptions.

 

It was reported that in future, the Council would need to provide the Complaints Standards Authority with data on a quarterly basis and this information would need to be reported into the Governance and Audit Committee twice yearly i.e. October and April.

 

It was noted that the reference to complaints within the policy related to service complaints and the regime relating to conduct complaints remained unchanged. In addition, the Civic Centre address referred to in the policy document would be updated to the service address, which had recently changed.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely thatthe Concerns and Complaints Policy be adopted and a complaints report be presented to the Governance and Audit Committee on a bi-annual basis in October and April each year.

 

48.

Annual Report of the Director of Social Services 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 505 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director of Social Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Corporate Director of Social Services.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Corporate Director of Social Services spoke briefly to the report and advised that it was a statutory responsibility of the Director of Social Services to assess the effectiveness of the delivery of Social Services and produce an Annual Report which formed part of the Annual Council Reporting Framework.

 

Owing to the pressures that Social Services were under to respond to the emergency Covid pandemic, the Welsh Government had agreed to postpone the development of the Annual Report 2019/20.  However, it had subsequently been agreed by Welsh Government that the outstanding 2019/20 report be developed and approved as well as a separate report for 2020/21 which would be presented to Council later in the year (autumn). 

 

The headline updates relating to Children’s and Adult Services were contained in paragraph 6 of the report. The Corporate Director concluded by advising that the Social Services Scrutiny Committee had endorsed Option 1.

 

A Member requested that his appreciation be placed on record for the work undertaken by the department throughout the course of the pandemic.  Staff had gone beyond expectations and said that the work undertaken by the department was exemplary and requested that appreciation be passed onto all staff.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group echoed these comments and said that this had been a magnificent achievement and he also requested that his appreciation and congratulations for a job well done.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the detail contained within the Annual Report of the Director of Social Services 2019/20 be approved.

 

49.

Licensing Act 2003 - Statement of Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 508 KB

To consider the report of the Service Manager Public Protection.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Service Manager Public Protection.

 

The Executive Member Regeneration & Economic Development spoke briefly to the report and proposed that Option 1 be endorsed.  This proposal was seconded.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the revised Licensing Act Policy be approved.

 

50.

Highways Capital Works Programme 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 550 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Community Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Community Services.

 

The Head of Community Services spoke to the report which provided an updated position and progress on the capital programme 2017/2021 and presented options for the 2021/22 work programme.  He explained that to date £4.4m had been made available through Welsh Government grants and prudential borrowing to provide improvements to the highway network and the focus of these works for the last 3 years had been on the residential highways which made up 74% of the network.

 

The overall percentage of poor conditioned un-classified roads pre-commencement of works was 17%.  As a result of the previous three years this figure had been maintained at 11.4%.  To date 82 residential highways had been resurfaced along with priority works to the A & B classified roads.

 

£602,000 was currently available in the capital programme 2021/22 and it was intended to concentrate on the worst condition residential highways in each ward.  Another option along with roads in each ward, was to look at priority A & B roads at a total cost of £912,000 which would leave a shortfall of £310,000.  It was noted that the current level of the capital programme contingency fund was £1.26m and if this additional funding was agreed, this would reduce the contingency to £950,000.

 

The Head of Community Services concluded by stating that the preferred option was Option 2.

 

A Member asked whether Councillor’s recommendations would be considered as part of the process because he had made previous recommendations to the department which had not been acknowledged.

 

The Head of Community Services said he could only apologise if this had been the case and confirmed that whilst the policy had been adopted, if Members had specific concerns these were considered and the matrix re-evaluated in line with those concerns.  To date this had happened on several occasions and he undertook to pursue the specific concern raised by the Member and contact him following the meeting.

 

Another Member expressed his concern regarding the physical size of certain wards and pointed out that Sirhowy Ward was the largest ward in the County Borough and required more than one road being addressed.  However, he felt that some smaller wards were given priority and requested that the process be reviewed going forward.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group said that ward Councillors had made representations and received confirmation that a change had been made but the current schedule did not reflect this and sought clarification whether this would be changed.  The Head of Community Services confirmed that the schedule would be amended to reflect the agreed change.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 2 be endorsed, namely:

 

Option 2: As Option 1 (Highest Priority Residential Road in each Ward [16 total] & Blaenant Industrial Estate Road – Estimated Total Cost £602,000) plus A & B Priority Roads & Highway Safety Works – Estimated Total Cost £912,000

 

A & B Priority Roads:

o   A4048 Heathfield Full  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

Freedom of the Borough - Cross Party Working Group pdf icon PDF 230 KB

To consider the report of the meeting held on 20th July, 2021.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the meeting held on 20th July, 2021.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group proposed that the report and the recommendations contained therein be endorsed.

 

A Member proposed that the application to bestow the Freedom of the Borough on the Royal British Legion be acceded to.  This organisation had supported an army of volunteers for over 100 years and had taken care of the both former and serving armed forces personnel. This proposal was seconded.

 

Other Members commented as follows in relation to bestowing the Freedom of the Borough on the former Councillors Malcom Dally and Brian Scully:

 

-      Concern was expressed regarding bestowing Freedom of the Borough on former Councillors and that it was inappropriate to reward Councillors for the role that they were paid a salary to undertake because this would send the wrong message out to staff and residents and could be detrimental for staff morale.

 

-      Councillors were remunerated for carrying out their roles and the former Councillors long service could be commemorated instead with a certificate/award.

 

-      These senior former Councillors had not been remunerated during the time they had undertaken the role and this in itself was not much of an argument when the Freedom was bestowed recently on a professional sports person, he had been recognised for his achievements in sport and not for being paid.  The Member concluded by supporting the recommendations of the Working Group.

 

-      In previous years, the Freedom of the Borough had been bestowed on a former Councillor for his long service and also a former officer of the authority, therefore a precedent had already been set.

 

-      A Member said he wished to place on record his appreciation to the former Councillors for their long service to the County Borough – over 40 years of service was to be applauded but his view was to bestow the Freedom of the Borough was a step too far.  The role of a Councillor was a paid position and this was reward enough.  He proposed that the applications to bestow the Freedom of the Borough on former Councillors Scully and Dally be not acceded to.

 

-      These former Councillors had served the County Borough well for years had been stalwarts and had worked hard during their time in office and, therefore, proposed that the Working Group recommendations be endorsed.

 

-      A Member said she would like to place on record that she did not know or have knowledge of either to the two former Councillors but had listened to the comments made.  She said their length of service was to be highly commended but pointed out that the Freedom of the Borough was the highest accolade that the authority could bestow and did not agree with the principle of bestowing Freedom of the Borough on former Councillors.

 

-      Freedom of the Borough had been bestowed on former Councillor Rex Herbert because he had served continuously for 52 years and had been the longest  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.

52.

Membership Report pdf icon PDF 454 KB

To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to:

 

Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council

-      to appoint two representatives to the above.

 

The Leader advised that he had received no nominations for this position at this point in time.

 

Advisory Panel for Local Authority School Governors

 

The following recommendations were made by the Panel on 21st June, 2021 to appoint:

 

Blaen-y-Cwm Primary School – Stephen Connolly

 

Willowtown Primary School – Judith Waring

 

Ebbw Fawr Learning Community – Adam King

 

Glanhowy Primary School – Councillor T. Smith

 

Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the above appointments be endorsed.

 

Local Government Association – General Assembly

 

To note the appointment of the Leader and Deputy Leader to the above.

 

RESOLVED accordingly.

 

53.

Time of Future Council Meetings

To discuss.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the time of future Council meetings.

 

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

 

54.

Motion - 999 Emergency Services Day 2021

Minutes:

Due to the need to consider this item as a matter of urgency, the Chair of the Council confirmed that the matter could be considered under the Provisions of Paragraph 4(b), Section 100(b) of the Local Government Act, 1972.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that:

 

-      Council recorded its support for the UK’s annual national ‘Emergency Services Day’ which would be held on 9th September and which was supported by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

-      Council placed on record its sincere appreciation for the two million people who work and volunteer in the NHS and emergency services today.

-      It was agreed to fly the official flag of the ‘Emergency Services Day’ above the town hall on 9th September each year to mark 999 Day.

 

A Member requested that the motion should acknowledge those emergency services workers that had lost their lives during the pandemic.

 

FURTHER RESOLVED accordingly.

 

Councillor J. Collins left the meeting at this juncture.

 

55.

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 reason 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).

 

56.

Charitable Land, Former Ysgol Gymraeg, King Street, Brynmawr

To consider the report of the Senior Estates Officer.

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 & Community Services.

 

A Ward Member welcomed the report and said that this was long overdue.  The area was currently in a dilapidated condition and he looked forward to the development of the site.

 

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 1 be endorsed, namely that the following be agreed by the Council acting as Trustees:

 

1)   The Trustees apply for a ‘scheme’.

 

2)   That any income from the sale of the school site would equally benefit Blaen-y-Cwm school, St Mary’s Church in Wales School and St Mary’s Catholic School.

 

57.

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).

 

The report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services was submitted for consideration.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, the Head of Regeneration spoke in detail to the report and highlighted the salient points contained therein.  The officer explained that the report provided details of the Loan Agreement and Quadripartite Agreement.  This proposal would be a joint venture between the Council and the organisations named therein.

 

It was noted that the Quadripartite Agreement detailed the roles and responsibilities of each of the partners to successfully deliver the rail project.  In addition, an Implementation Agreement was a contractual document that sat under the Quadripartite Agreement which would deal with the delivery of the project

 

The Head of Regeneration continued by outlining the roles and responsibilities of each of the partner organisations as detailed in paragraph 2.9 of the report.  The document clearly set out that Welsh Government were responsible for the provision of the loan and the financial liability for programme including overspend risks beyond the loan amount.  Welsh Government would also continue to lobby UK Government Department of Transport for additional funding to facilitate the Phase II work (Abertillery Spur).

 

The Head of Regeneration concluded by advising that the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee had considered the report and had supported Option 1.

 

The views of Members were, thereupon, sought (summarised below) and were responded to by the Managing Director, Head of Regeneration, Service Manager – Accountancy, Executive Member Regeneration & Economic Development:

 

-      The Leader of the Labour Group expressed his concern that the decision that had been made at the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee had been without full knowledge of the Quadripartite Agreement.  He asked, should this proposal be agreed whether a press release would be issued to the public (as this was a confidential report not within the public domain) and if so, whether this would disclose the fact that if there was any shortfall or financial liability associated with the loan that Welsh Government would be responsible.

 

The Executive Member – Regeneration & Economic Development clarified that the Council would not incur any financial liability for the loan or if there was a shortfall, this would be responsibility of Welsh Government.  Discussions would need to take place with Welsh Government regarding the funding aspects but the public would be assured that no financial liability would be borne by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.

 

-      The Leader of the Labour Group referred to paragraph 6.1.2 of the report and asked whether Welsh Government would mitigate the impact upon the Council’s minimum  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Additional Highways Maintenance Works 2021/22

To consider the report of the Head of 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 report of the Head of Community Services was submitted for consideration.

 

The Head of Community Services spoke briefing to the report and advised that if Option 2 was endorsed, the cost of £320,000 would be funded from the Council’s General Reserve.

 

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 necessary works across all 16 wards be identified and a tendering exercise be undertaken with a private contractor to acquire a cost of highways patching works per sq. metre. Targeting around 400 sq. metres of highways repairs per ward covering residential roads in all 16 wards.

 

59.

Shortlisting - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 29th March, 2021.

Minutes:

The Chief Officer Commercial & Customer declared an interest in Item Nos 59 – 61 and left the meeting at this juncture.

 

Item numbers 57 - 62 were, thereupon, considered simultaneously.

 

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 March, 2021.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

60.

Appointments Committee - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 13th April, 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 13th April, 2021

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report which related to staffing matters be accepted and the post be offered to Luisa Munro-Morris on a salary in accordance with JNC 3 (£63,742 - £70,115).

61.

Longlisting - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 19th May, 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 19th May, 2021.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

62.

Shortlisting - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 9th June, 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 9th June, 2021.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

63.

Appointments Committee - JNC Officers

To consider the report of the meeting held on 17th June, 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 17th June, 2021.

 

It was unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the report which related to staffing matters be accepted and the post be offered to Bernadette Elias on a salary in accordance with JNC 5 (£73,137 - £80,450).  

64.

Appeal Committee

To consider the report of the meeting held on 30th April, 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 30th April, 2021.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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