Agenda and minutes

Ordinary Meeting of the Council
Thursday, 27th January, 2022 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

Contact: Democratic Services  6139

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Holocaust Memorial Day - 27th January, 2022

Minutes:

Members and officers paid their respects with a minute’s silence to remember those who had lost and gave their lives during the Holocaust.

 

2.

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.

 

3.

Apologies

To receive.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors N. Daniels, L. Elias and B. Thomas.

 

4.

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To consider any declarations of interest and dispensations received.

Minutes:

The following declarations of interest were reported:

 

Item No. 25: Waste Transfer Station and Household Waste

               Recycling Centre

 

               Councillors M. Cook and B. Summers

 

5.

Darcey Howell - Outgoing Youth Mayor

To receive an overview from Darcey Howell, outgoing Youth Mayor on her democracy journey.

 

Minutes:

 

 

A warm welcome was extended to Darcey Howell, outgoing Youth Mayor of Blaenau Gwent.  

 

Darcey commenced that stating that it was a huge privilege to be able to speak to Council about what she had achieved being Youth Mayor and to highlight some of the amazing opportunities that had been presented to her. 

 

Darcey explained that she had joined the Youth Forum back in 2018 as a little year 7.  By 2019 she had managed to pluck up the courage and stand for Deputy Youth Mayor.  Little did she know at the time what she was in for and what she would get up to in the next few years.  When elected, Darcey had decided that her priority would be improving mental health through sport and physical activity.  She had chosen this priority because it fitted nicely into the priority of the previous Youth Mayor, Charlotte and the overall Forum priority of mental health and also because she was a very sporty and active person and an active participant in her swimming club (also Vice-Captain) and netball club.  However, Darcey did recognised that not all young people had the opportunity to do this and she had tried to raise awareness that physical activity was not just about being part of a club or gym, it took many forms.

 

Darcey attended a local community gym with her mother and recognised that some of the equipment would not be suitable for the younger age group. She worked with the owner of the gym to submit a Cash4U funding application for sporting equipment so that young people could take part in a Youth Academy Programme which involved volunteering. The funding bid was successful and all the equipment was purchased on behalf of the gym.  Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic hit and the project did not go according to plan and the Youth Academy Programme was put on hold. In September 2021 Darcey together with members of the Youth Forum attended the gym to take part in a session using the new equipment that was purchased as part of the bid and was pleased to report the first parts of this programme had now started with 16 young people signed up and 20 youth sessions having been delivered to date. Darcey had also recently submitted another funding bid for the swimming club she trained at – this would provide training for the members, enable them to volunteer as coaches and would also provide new equipment such as medicine balls and diving blocks. 

 

Being part of the Youth Forum had also provided Darcey with a platform to be involved in many opportunities, one being the first Climate Change Assembly in Wales. In January 2021 as Youth Mayor, she along with another member of the Youth Forum, Mara had been asked to be part of the planning group for the Climate Change Assembly. This involved attending regular meetings, working with different partners across the council, outside agencies and the community of Blaenau Gwent. The Climate Change Assembly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Chair's Announcements

To receive.

Minutes:

Welcome

 

A warm welcome was extended to Councillor David Wilkshire.

 

Councillor Wilkshire took the opportunity to express his appreciation to Members and officers for the kind messages he had received during this difficult time.

 

Illness

 

Although an apology for absence had been received, a welcome was extended Councillor Lyn Elias following his surgery.

 

Armed Forces Gold Award

 

The Chair announced that the Council had been notified that it had been successful in achieving the Armed Forces Gold Award and in the absence of the Armed Forces Champion, advised that the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award reflected the Council’s long standing commitment to supporting the Armed Forces Community.  The Council valued the transferable skills that service leavers and reservists brought to delivering public services to the communities.  The Council was delighted to receive this recognition and were committed to continuing this work.

 

The Gold Award recognised the work the Council had done putting in place supportive employment policies for Veterans, Reserves, and families of those serving in the Armed Forces and actively promoting job opportunities at the authority to the Armed Forces community.

 

The Award also reflected the Council’s wider commitment to supporting the Armed Forces community in Blaenau Gwent, including:

 

·        providing training to over 200 front-line staff about identifying and supporting the needs of the current and former service members and their families; and

·        revising the housing policy to ensure that service leavers and their partners were not disadvantaged when applying for housing when they returned to civilian life in Blaenau Gwent.

 

Item No. 25 – Waste Transfer Station and Household Waste Recycling Centre

 

The Managing Director advised that the above item had been deferred and would be considered at a Special Meeting of the Council, which was scheduled to be held on 7th February, 2022.

 

7.

Minute Book - October - December 2021

Minutes:

 

 

The Minute Book for the period October – December, 2021 was submitted for consideration.

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

8.

Ordinary Meeting of the Council pdf icon PDF 489 KB

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

 

Minutes:

Agreed.

9.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (Planning Matters) pdf icon PDF 394 KB

To confirm the Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (Planning Matters) Minutes held on 4th November, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

10.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (Planning Matters) pdf icon PDF 217 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 24th November, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

11.

Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (Planning Matters) pdf icon PDF 251 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Planning, Regulatory and General Licensing Committee (Planning Matters) held on 6th January, 2022.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

12.

Executive Committee pdf icon PDF 593 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 15th December, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

13.

Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 292 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 19th October, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

14.

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 226 KB

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

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

15.

Governance & Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 384 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Governance & Audit Committee held on 2nd November, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

16.

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 303 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 3rd November, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

17.

Social Services Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee held on 18th November, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

18.

Special Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 209 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Special Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 19th November, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

19.

Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 268 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 30th November, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

20.

Governance & Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 374 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Governance & Audit Committee held on 7th December, 2021.

Minutes:

Agreed.

 

21.

Members Questions

To receive questions, if any, from Members.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted by Members.

 

22.

Public Questions

To receive questions, if any, from the public.

 

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted by members of the public.

 

23.

Treasury Management Mid-Year Review Report - 1st April, 2021 to 30th September, 2021 pdf icon PDF 593 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 spoke to the report which provided a summary of the Treasury Management activity undertaken between 1st April and 30th September, 2021 in accordance with the CIPFA Treasury Management Code of Practice.  The Chief Officer continued by highlighting the following salient points:

 

-      The forecast bank rates had been updated since the report had been scrutinised to reflect the impact of the unexpected Bank of England bank rate change which had increased by 0.25% in December 2021.  This increase had previously been expected in the second quarter of 2022.  The table in the appendix of the report had been updated to reflect this change in order to provide Members with the most up to date information that was available.

 

-      A summary of the activities was detailed in the table at paragraph 5.1.6 of the report and despite the financial climate in relation to the pandemic, the authority had performed well in the first half of the year with regard to its treasury management activities, with investment returns of £13,000 being achieved during that period with an average interest rate of 0.02% which, was above the benchmark rate of -0.8%.  However, this reflected the impact the pandemic was having on bank base rates and in turn the market interest rates offered on investments.

 

-      The annual budgeted investment interest was £6,000 which had been exceeded in part due to the investment in relation to the railway infrastructure monies.

 

-      An average interest rate 0.31% had been paid on temporary borrowings during the year against a benchmark rate of 1.7% which had resulted in £49,000 being paid in interest payments for the 6-month period against a £425,000 full year budget.  It was noted that the interest payable for the full year was well in budget and the interest payable by the authority had been minimised as far as possible and this was evidence of good performance.

 

-      All the treasury management limits and prudential indicators had been complied with during the year and no institutions in which investments had been made during the period had had any difficulties in repaying its interest.  Therefore, the authority had not been exposed to any financial loss as result of the difficult economic climate.

 

-      The Chief Officer concluded by advising that other financial investment opportunities would continue to be monitored during the remaining part of the financial year and would be reported to Members at the end of the current financial year.

 

Members were then given the opportunity to raise questions/comment on the report.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group referred to paragraph 5.2.2 of the report and in particular, the £70m rail loan and sought reassurance and asked whether the Chief Officer Resources was confident that other investment opportunities would become available.

 

The Chief Officer Resources commenced by stating that she was confident that other investment opportunities would become available.  The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Cardiff Capital Region City Deal Performance Review 2020/21 Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 606 KB

To consider the report of the Managing Director.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Managing Director.

 

The Managing Director commenced by stating that this was a regular report which detailed the progress and activities delivered by the Cardiff Capital Region. It was noted that Blaenau Gwent was part of the South East Region partnership and the report specifically provided an update on the projects being delivered in the County Borough, which were being progressed as part of the partnership.  These key projects included Metro Plus, promoting and introducing ULE vehicles (particularly taxis), housing scheme in Ashvale, Tredegar and recognising the success of the Aspire Apprenticeship Programme a regional pilot was planned with the aim of rolling the programme out across the region.

 

These projects resulted in just over £2m investment in the County Borough at present.  It was noted that the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee considered and supported the report in December 2021.

 

The Managing Director, thereupon, concluded by provided an update in relation to the development of the Regional Corporate Joint Committees (CJC’s) and advised that government legislation now required the four regions in Wales to establish a CJC in 2022.  The inaugural meetings of the CJC’s were currently taking place and the inaugural meeting of the South East Wales CJC would take place the following week to set the budget (by 31st January, 2022) for the forthcoming year.  The new committee powers for these Committees would come into effect in June 2022.

 

Members were then given the opportunity to raise questions and comment on the report at this juncture.

 

Metro Plus Scheme – Abertillery Spur - the Leader of the Labour Group referred to paragraphs 2.4 to 2.6 of the report which related to the Abertillery Spur of the Metro Plus Scheme and expressed his concern that whilst there had been on-going discussions about this project for some time, no definitive conclusion had been reached with regard to the funding for this venture.  He stated in his opinion if the scheme did not come to fruition then perhaps the monies should be invested elsewhere.  The Leader of the Labour Group requested an update in respect of this project and the discussions that had taken place to date.

 

The Corporate Director of Regeneration and Community Services advised that discussions were on-going with U.K. Government.  It was noted that U.K. Government had announced the previous year a programme called ‘Restoring Your Railways – RYR’ and had sought bids across the U.K. as part of the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda for railways to be developed in various stages.  As part of that programme the Welsh Government had submitted a number of schemes, the Abertillery Spur being one such scheme.  On-going dialogue was taking place between U.K. and Welsh Governments regarding the scheme and an announcement in respect of the RYR Programme from U.K. Government was awaited – this would give an indication of where the scheme was in terms of funding priorities. It was noted that the Abertillery Spur scheme was interrelated with the project work that was progressing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Membership Report pdf icon PDF 356 KB

To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to:

 

Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council

-      appointing two representatives to the above.

 

No nominations for these positions were received.

 

Advisory Panel for Local Authority Governors

 

The following recommendations were made by the Panel on 25th January, 2022 to appoint:

 

Georgetown Primary School – Donna Hardman

 

Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg and Brynmawr Foundation Schools – Councillor John Hill

 

Abertillery Learning Community – Councillor Nigel Daniels

 

Abertillery Learning Community – Deborah Mary Field

 

Ysgol Gyfun Tredegar Comprehensive School – Peter Harriman

 

St. Joseph’s Primary School – Councillor Malcolm Cross.

 

Coed y Garn Primary School – Rafi Abbas (approved at the last Panel on 15/11/2021)

 

Rhos-y-Fedwen Primary School – Councillor Gareth A. Davies

 

It was noted that Councillor David Wilkshire’s term of office on Rhos-y-Fedwen Primary School had been extended for an additional 6 months.

 

It was, thereupon unanimously,

 

RESOLVED that the above appointments be endorsed.

 

26.

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 exemption were available on a schedule maintained by the proper officer).

 

27.

Waste Transfer Station and Household Waste Recycling Centre

To consider the joint officers’ report.

Minutes:

It was noted that this item had been deferred and would be considered at a Special Meeting of the Council on 7th February, 2022.

 

28.

Application to Lease Land

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

Minutes:

Having regard to the views expressed by the Proper Officer regarding the public interest test, that on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information and that the report should be exempt.

 

RESOLVED that the public be excluded whilst this item of business is transacted as it is likely there would be a disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 14, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act, 1972 (as amended).

 

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

 

It was unanimously,

 

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

 

The Council as Charitable Trustees were satisfied, that the terms on which the disposition was proposed to be made were the best that could reasonably be obtained for the charity and agreed to enter into a lease of the area of land shown edged red on the plan attached to Appendix 1 for a term of three years or until such time as the development of the new Tredegar HWBC had concluded subject to:

 

·        The organisation named in the report paying a yearly rental of £900.00 per annum.

 

·        Any revenue receipt being ring fenced for use by the Charity in furtherance of the objects of the Charity and not pooled for use within the Council’s General Fund.