Agenda and minutes

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 23rd January, 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Contact: Democratic Services  7785

No. Item


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.


It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.




To receive.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors P. Edwards, J. Hill, J. Millard and M. Holland.



Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To receive.


There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.



Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 288 KB

To receive the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 9th December, 2019.


(Please note the minutes are submitted for accuracy points only).


The minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 9th December, 2019 were submitted.


Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously,


AGREED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.



Action Sheet - 9th December 2019 pdf icon PDF 95 KB

To receive action sheet.


The action sheet arising from the meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 9th December, 2019 was submitted, whereupon:


Action Sheet – 14th November, 2019 – Leisure and Culture Service Review


A Member expressed his disappointment that the Chair of Community Services Scrutiny Committee had declined the request to allow all Scrutiny Members to participate in the discussion relating to the Leisure and Culture Service Review at the Committee’s meeting in February 2020.


It was noted that at the time that the original proposal to establish the Leisure Trust had been presented, a meeting of the relevant Scrutiny Committee had been opened up to all Scrutiny Members to discuss the proposal (with only those Members appointed to the Committee allowed to vote on the proposal).


The Member continued by pointing out that a Working Group had undertaken a considerable amount of work over the last 12 – 18 months in respect of this issue and that it was unfortunate that as the Members of the Working Group were not Members of the Community Services Committee, they would be unable to participate or provided with the opportunity to provide feedback to the newly established Task and Finish Group on the work undertaken to date.


It was noted that the Wales Audit Office had commented previously that the review of Leisure Services lacked timely and meaningful Scrutiny Member involvement.


The Member concluded by reiterating his disappointment that the request for a Joint Scrutiny Committee had been declined and suggested that even if the Members of the original Working Group were not invited to the Committee at the very least, the Chair - Councillor P. Edwards should be invited to attend that meeting.


The Scrutiny Officer suggested that a proposal be made to the Chair of the Community Services Scrutiny Committee i.e. that Councillor P. Edwards (Chair of the Working Group) be invited to the February Committee to participate in the discussion in respect of the Leisure and Culture Services Review.


The Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services confirmed that the work undertaken by the Working Group had been incorporated within the final Leisure and Culture Services Review report.


The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the action sheet be noted.



Regeneration Workforce Sickness Absence Performance pdf icon PDF 413 KB

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

Additional documents:


Consideration was given to the joint report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services and the Head of Organisational Development.


The Corporate Director of Regeneration & Community Services presented the report which provided Members with the opportunity to scrutinise and challenge the sickness absence performance and the proposed actions for improvement for the directorate.


The Corporate Director advised that this was the first report of this nature that had been presented to Committee (each department would be producing a similar report to be presented to their respective Committees) and it was acknowledged that the report was ‘work in progress’ as further work needed to be undertaken with colleagues in Organisational Development to shape and focus the report to ensure that the statistics and information contained therein related to the Regeneration Service only.  It was noted that currently information relating to the Community Services Service had also been included within the report.


The Corporate Director spoke in detail to the report and highlighted points contained therein.  He emphasised that the vast majority of Council employees had excellent attendance levels as data indicated that 2463 employees had attended work every day during the period from April to March 2019 with the Council having an attendance level of 94.3%.  It was the front line service areas that experienced higher levels of absence.


As a Directorate, sickness absenteeism was discussed at every monthly management meeting. An independent review of the top ten absences had been undertaken which had confirmed that managers were adhering to and applying the Attendance Management Policy.


The Corporate Director continued by stating that whilst there was evidence of managerial action in managing sickness the Regeneration Service acknowledged that better use of the iTrent system was required as at present only 16.48% of return to work meetings were recorded on the iTrent system.  It was noted that not every department had access to this system, particularly front line managers and whilst return to work meetings were being held, they could not always necessarily be recorded.  Therefore, work was required to improve this position.


Members were then given the opportunity to raise comments/questions in respect of the report.


Attendance Levels - a Member referred to the fact that the vast majority of Council employees had excellent attendance levels as the data indicated that 2463 employees attended work every day and said that this was to be commended.  He asked whether these members of staff were commended for their excellent attendance levels.


The Corporate Director acknowledged this valid point and agreed that excellent attendance levels should be celebrated and undertook to pursue this matter at both the departmental management meeting and with Corporate Leadership Team.


Chronic Sickness – in reply to question relating to ‘chronic sickness’, the Corporate Director confirmed that this was largely attributed to stress.  It was reported that the Council was currently rolling out mental health training for managers in order to better equip them to have appropriate discussions with individuals.  It was noted that mental health and stress was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Transport Strategy pdf icon PDF 512 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Regeneration.


Consideration was given to report of the Head of Regeneration.


The Head of Regeneration presented this initial report which sought Members views on the content and scope of the proposed transport strategy for Blaenau Gwent.  The officer explained that further projects in relation of Metro Plus was on the cusp of being developed and the regional transport work with neighbouring authorities would shortly be drawing to a conclusion.  Therefore, it was now the opportune time to develop a local strategy for the next 5 years.


The Head of Regeneration, thereupon, spoke in detail to the following paragraphs in the report which outlined:


Paragraph 2.2 – the scope of the strategy and the elements which should be included.

Paragraph 2.3 – the main strategic recommendations that needed to be considered around developing a long term vision for the strategy that commits to long-term planning.

Paragraph 2.4 – operational improvements and new opportunities that could be explored and utilised.


It was noted that relevant stakeholders would also be consulted as part of the process.  The Head of Regeneration emphasised that the strategy would not only relate to connectivity for trains but would also include buses, taxis and community transport – i.e. various vehicular movements and the areas/services that required improved access e.g. links were needed to the Rassau and Tafarnaubach Industrial Estates, G.P. surgeries.  Discussions would also have to take place with third party organisations e.g. GAVO in order to plug any gaps in the network.


The Head of Regeneration concluded by requesting that discussions primarily focus around paragraph 2.2 i.e. the scope of the strategy and elements that should be included.


Members, thereupon, commented as follows:


ØThe importance of links to transport people to work.

ØTransport links were required to care homes as a matter of urgency as people living in these care settings felt isolated specific mention was made to Red Rose Nursing Home where the nearest bus service was located outside the hospital.

ØThe provision of bus routes should be a priority.


The Head of Regeneration advised that on occasions commercial bus routes were not available, therefore, alternative forms of transport and options needed to be investigated, for example GAVO ‘book a bus’ for specialist journeys that not were not necessarily commercially viable.  There were a number of digital sites available that provided information on the different forms of transport that were available but this needed to made easier for people to use.


Ø A Member expressed his concern regarding the digital aspect of booking a service and said that some older people did not have access to and use IT facilities.


Another Member suggested that enquiries be made with local bus companies to ask whether they could change their routes to include care homes as there should be direct bus routes provided to these facilities.


The Head of Regeneration undertook to pursue this matter with the Transport Section.


Ø A proactive approach should be taken to obtain data from subsidised transport companies.


Ø As young  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Tech Valleys pdf icon PDF 436 KB

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


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


Members were advised that Welsh Government announced the Tech Valleys programme in the summer of 2017 and this was a £100 million Welsh Government commitment over ten years to create 1,500 sustainable jobs focused on Blaenau Gwent and hinterland. In 2027 the South Wales Valleys and Blaenau Gwent in particular, would be a globally recognised centre for development for new technologies, to support cutting edge industry.


As part of the wider review of the governance of the Enterprise Zone programme in Wales, Welsh Government had decided to wind up the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone Board and in respect of Blaenau Gwent introduced the Tech Valleys Advisory Group – the role of which was outlined in paragraph 2.3 of the report.


Councillor H. McCarthy, B.A. (Hons) left the meeting at this juncture.


The Corporate Director, thereupon, gave details of the projects totalling in the region of £18.5m that had been included as part of the programme (outlined in paragraph 2.6 of the report) and in addition, details of two further business cases outlined in paragraph 2.7.


At this juncture, Members commented as follows:


ØIt was pleasing to hear details of all the projected ideas and said that inward investment was paramount for the authority succeeding and improve people’s perception and it was hoped that this would come to fruition.


ØIndustry in Schools (STEM) – it was hoped that this pilot project could be rolled out to all schools in order to provide equal opportunity and delivery for all pupils in the County Borough.


The Chair advised that the Cardiff City Region Director had spoken at length at a recent meeting regarding STEM and that every authority had been sent an invite for schools to go to Sandhurst STEM Training but that no positive responses had been received from Blaenau Gwent.  This had been discussed with the Executive Member.


The Corporate Director confirmed that the original bid that had been submitted required a pilot to be undertaken in the first instance and subsequently, this would be rolled out to all schools throughout the County Borough.


Upon a vote being taken it was unanimously that,


The Committee AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the work of the Tech Valleys Programme be noted.



Forward Work Programme - 5th March 2020 pdf icon PDF 396 KB

To receive the report.

Additional documents:


Consideration was given to the Forward Work Programme for the meeting scheduled to be held on 5th March, 2020.


Members were advised that the Information Item – ‘Annual Monitoring of the Regeneration Business Plan’ had been withdrawn.


The following items would be presented to the April Committee:


ØDestination Management Report.

ØReport relating to the establishment of a Task and Finish Group relating to Public Transport.


Bi-annually an update be provided in respect of:


ØCardiff Capital Region City Deal Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


Member Briefings be convened in relation to:


ØTech Valleys. 

ØCardiff Capital Region City Deal.


The Committee AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and the following items be submitted to the scheduled meeting on 5th March, 2020:


ØReview of Asset Management Disposal Policy

ØTargeted Regeneration Funding (TRI) Update

ØEmployment and Skills Plan

ØCrowd Funding