Agenda and minutes

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 15th September, 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  7785

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 reported for Councillors S. Healy and M. Cross.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To receive.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.

 

4.

Special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To receive the minutes of the Special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 9th June, 2021.

 

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the Special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 9th June, 2021 were submitted.

 

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

 

5.

Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 243 KB

To receive the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 30th June, 2021.

 

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 30th June, 2021 were submitted.

 

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

 

6.

Action Sheet - 30th June 2021 pdf icon PDF 197 KB

To receive the Action Sheet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Action Sheet arising from the meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 30th June, 2021 was submitted.

 

Electric Vehicle Charging Points

 

In response to a question raised by a Member the Team Leader Regeneration Opportunities confirmed that the Council had received two electric taxi vehicles.  Arrangements for management of the vehicles was currently being developed, and once this was in place the vehicles would be ready for use.  The Officer undertook to inform Members when the taxis were in operation.

 

Community Municipal Investment

 

In response to a question raised the Officer confirmed that the administration fee was a one-off amount.

 

The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.

 

7.

Special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 210 KB

To receive the minutes of the Special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 15th July, 2021.

 

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

Minutes:

The minutes of the Special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 15th July, 2021 were submitted.

 

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

 

8.

Progress update on Decarbonisation Plan pdf icon PDF 589 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 presented the first progress report since adoption of the Council’s Decarbonisation Plan and the declaration of a Climate Emergency on 24th September, 2020. The Plan sets out how we intend to deliver our commitment to the ambition of the Welsh Public Sector to achieve net Zero by 2030. It outlined how we could reduce our organisational emissions across nine transitions, and these were highlighted at section 2.3 of the report.

 

The Managing Director said a lot of work had been done during the last year to try and embed decarbonisation into how we think and operate as an organisation, and the summary at section 2.4 of the report highlighted that whilst we are making good progress there was still a lot of work to be done. 

 

The Managing Director then went through the report and highlighted points contained therein.

 

A Member asked whether there would be opportunity for financial support from WRAP to adapt our fleet and practices at our HWRC sites.

 

The Managing Director said good work had been done over the last few years and the Council had been successful in increasing its recycling rates and this was having a positive impact on the decarbonisation agenda; and was recognised by the Climate Change Citizens Assembly.  In terms of next steps and decarbonising our fleet, the Managing Director pointed out that WRAP was a facilitator, so any potential funding would come from Welsh Government.  She looked forward to publication of the Zero Wales Plan in the coming weeks, to see what financial support Welsh Government intended putting behind the Plan to help us achieve its targets.

 

The Team Leader Regeneration Opportunities confirmed that work had been done with Community Services to review our fleet, and an analysis had also been undertaken of vehicles / technology currently on the market that would be suitable for the Borough.  She felt the Council were in a good position to present proposals and a business case when funding becomes available.

 

A Member said he was pleased with the progress made since the Plan was adopted by the Council, and felt the Council was being pro-active and commended everyone involved in the BG Climate Change Citizens Assembly.  He asked how the Council intended to develop the recommendations made by the Citizens Assembly.

 

The Managing Director said the response and enthusiasm of Officers to be involved was excellent.  The Council’s response to the Assembly’s recommendations would be reported in due course, and a special Wider CLT meeting was being convened to consider the recommendations and look at what we are currently doing and where more action was needed in response to what our residents are telling us.  Work was also being done through the Public Services Board and collectively across the public sector in Blaenau Gwent, and she was confident that that work would provide good outcomes and actions for the future.

 

A Member referred to renewable energy technology, and pointed out  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Regeneration & Development Performance Report pdf icon PDF 491 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

The Corporate Director Regeneration & Community Services presented the annual service activity report for the period April 2020 to July 2021.  The Corporate Director went through the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.

 

A Member referred to previous discussions in relation to the Audit of Commemoration that went through Welsh Government in November 2020, and asked when a report on this could be expected.

 

In response the Corporate Director undertook to investigate.

 

Another Member enquired as to the current percentage of rented properties against home ownership, and whether there was greater need for social housing or private housing within the Borough.

 

The Corporate Director said balance was key in meeting the needs of the community and having the right mix of housing to meet those needs.  In terms of the percentage of rented properties, he said this was approximately 30% including social landlords and private rented.  He confirmed that the Housing Market Needs Assessment was used to identify trends and demands coming through, and there was currently a demand for people wanting to move to Blaenau Gwent, and also for people wanting to move-up the property ladder, which had resulted in interest from private housing developers, however, it was important not to lose sight of the needs of our existing community.  He confirmed that the Housing Market Needs Assessment would be brought to Scrutiny in due course to ensure we have the right balance and understanding of future demand.

 

The Team Leader Connected Communities said moving forward a more blended approach to new housing developments would be encouraged i.e. a mix of social rented and intermediate products, and also low cost home ownership.

 

Another Member asked how many long term empty properties there were currently in the Borough.

 

The Corporate Director said this figure was currently in the region of 800-900 vacant properties.  There were a number of initiatives to reduce this figure, i.e. reduced empty property discount, and there was also a very active grant and loan programme in place to bring empty properties back into use.  In 2019/20 56 properties were brought back into use, however, this number was less during 2021 due to the redeployment of staff in response to the Covid pandemic.  However, there were less properties vacant for a period of 6 months which meant the work being done in this area was proving beneficial.

 

A Member expressed concern regarding the impact of the rental increase of the Council’s business units, which had resulted in some businesses leaving the Borough.  She also felt that the new Box Works units had not been sufficiently advertised.

 

In response the Corporate Director said Members would be aware that as part of the Council’s plans to become a more commercial organisation and to manage our units more effectively a service charge was introduced for our business units.  Whilst this resulted in an increase in rental for occupiers, they were now getting an improved service.  He said  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Investment in Micro-Hydro Development pdf icon PDF 546 KB

To consider the report of the Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given report of the Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities.

 

The Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities presented the report which provided an update on progress of the Micro-Hydro Feasibility Study for Cwm and Llanhilleth wards, and sought support for the next steps for this part of the Project.

 

A Member said he was disappointed that the project would not be progressed and asked whether it was possible for a trial to be undertaken in one location in the Borough.

 

In response the Team Leader Regeneration Opportunities said it was a good scheme, however, due to the costs of the technology and grid costs at the present time the scheme would not offer the financial returns that the Council would expect.  However, if any community groups etc secured funding the feasibility studies could be offered and the Council could work to support those organisations.

 

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and that the Council choose not to take these schemes forward for further investigation and development. The projects be closed from the current point and would only be revisited should costs significantly reduce or new technologies become available. (Option 1)

 

11.

Partnership Delivery Approach – Town Centres pdf icon PDF 488 KB

To consider the report of the Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given report of the Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities.

 

The Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities presented the report which sought support for the formulation of Town Centre Advisory Boards across the Town Centres of Abertillery, Brynmawr and Ebbw Vale to support a partnership delivery approach for future project delivery.

A Member expressed concern that Blaina had been omitted from the report.

 

In response the Officer explained that Blaina had been omitted due to current resources within the Team.  However, it was intended to establish a Town Centre Advisory Board for Blaina in the future and the Officer undertook to amend the report to include Blaina prior to the report being submitted to the Executive Committee.

 

A discussion ensued regarding representation on the Advisory Boards and the importance of everyone working towards the best outcomes and improvements for their towns.

 

The Committee AGREED to recommend, subject to the addition of Blaina, that the report be accepted; and

 

·        Members support and recommend approval by the Executive Committee for the formation of a series of Advisory Boards for the Town Centres of Abertillery, Brynmawr and Ebbw Vale based upon the Tredegar Advisory Board approach, and acknowledge the draft Terms of Reference (Appendix One). The Advisory Board shall act as a consultative body to oversee development and delivery of Town Centre Strategies and Plans.

 

·        Each shall start with a small membership identified by members of the Town Centres Task and Finish Group alongside Officers. The membership can then be expanded and developed further as discussions develop. (Option 1)

 

12.

Forward Work Programme: 3rd November 2021 pdf icon PDF 396 KB

To consider the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Forward Work Programme for the meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee scheduled for 3rd November, 2021.

 

It was reported that the Tredegar Placemaking Plan report would be moved to the December meeting.

 

The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and the Forward Work Programme for 3rd November, 2021 be approved.