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Contact: Democratic Services 7785
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.
Apologies for absence were reported for Councillors G.L. Davies, D. Wilkshire, M. Cross.
Councillor S. Healy also submitted apologies due to technical issues.
Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
Councillor L. Parsons declared an interest in Item No. 7 Destination Management Plan.
Councillor W. Hodgins declared at interest in Item No. 8Cardiff Capital Region City Deal Performance Review 2020/21 Quarter 1
To receive the minutes of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 21st October, 2020.
Please note the minutes are submitted for points of accuracy only.
The minutes of the special Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 21st October, 2020 were submitted.
The Committee AGREED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.
To receive the Action Sheet.
The Action Sheet arising from the meeting of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee held on 21st October, 2020 was submitted.
Forward Work Programme
A Member said the report on the Business Improvement District had been requested as a matter of urgency, and expressed concern that the report would not be received until the New Year. He said a date when the report could be expected should have been provided.
In response the Business Innovation Manager said the current priority was dealing with economic stimulus packages, however, he confirmed that the report would be included in the Forward Work Programme and undertook to discuss with the BID’s legal entity as to when an update on the business plan could be expected.
The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.
To consider the report of the Service Manager
Business and Regeneration.
The report of the Service Manager Business & Regeneration was submitted consideration.
The Service Manager Business & Regeneration presented the report which sought endorsement and nominations to form a ‘Transport Strategy and Review’ Task and Finish Group.
He said transport needed to evolve to meet new challenges and adapt to changing demands, and in order to address these issues, a Strategy and Review was currently being procured to identify a programme of work that would provide a strategic vision and plan for transport within Blaenau Gwent. Given the breadth of issues which need to be looked at as part of the Review and Strategy, there was a clear need for Member representation to support the work and oversee its development and implementation via a Task and Finish Group.
A Member asked what arrangements had been put in place to provide public transport to the new Grange Hospital.
The Officer said in terms of transport available there was already an existing transport route to the Grange and working closely with colleagues in Health Board to identify a specific need and demand. Those discussions ongoing to make sure adequate provision to allow people to access the hospital.
The Member said this needed to be monitored, and said the public transport system had been decimated as a result of the pandemic.
The Officer said the pandemic had had a significant impact on the commercial viability of a number of routes. Part of the IRT pilot project was to identify and plug those gaps in services, in particular looking at areas that are particularly isolated and linking those areas into the network both in terms of bus and rail.
Councillor J.C. Morgan said he would like to sit on the Task and Finish, and said it was important for all areas of the Borough to be represented. In relation to comments regarding transport to the new Grange Hospital, he said this should be considered as part of the work of the IRT, and should also be an area for consideration by the Task and Finish Group.
In response the Officer said the IRT was a flexible service, and we need to be mindful that it was a pilot project, the idea of which was to act as a service where there were gaps and to link them into the core provision. He said it would evolve as a project, but it was important that dialogue continued with existing operators.
The Member said he understood it was a pilot project, but it was also an opportunity to ensure adequate service provision to the new Grange Hospital and also Nevill Hall, as these Hospitals were very important to Blaenau Gwent, and should be included as part of the work of the Task and Finish Group.
A Member referred to the proposed frequency of meetings of the Group, and said quarterly meetings was not sufficient. He also said the public should be informed that a Group had been established to look at public transport as this was ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider the report of the Destination
Consideration was given to report of the Destination Management Officer.
Councillor L. Parsons declared an interest in this matter.
The Destination Management Officer presented the report which provided a summary of the Blaenau Gwent Destination Management Plan, which was a strategic document setting out the priorities for tourism development in Blaenau Gwent over the period 2020-2025, and which complemented the new Visit Wales Tourism Action Plan over the same period. The aim of the Plan was to ensure that people, businesses and organisations work together in a coordinated way to deliver agreed targets and priorities for investment.
The Plan identified six cross cutting themes and five main themes and priority areas, and these were highlighted at section 2.3 of the report. The Plan and associated Action Plan have taken account of national, strategic and local trends and priorities, and has been developed by the Destination Partnership which included representatives from the private, public and third sectors.
A Member said there seemed to be a lack of information leaflets promoting Blaenau Gwent available in other tourist areas, and asked whether there were plans to address this moving forward, and also more information for the local community.
The Officer said there were a number of leaflets available, however, due to the Covid pandemic establishments were reluctant to stock them. However, some postal deliveries of leaflets had been undertaken, and information on local walks etc. was available on the Blaenau Gwent website. The Officer confirmed that an electronic version of the Blaenau Gwent Destination Guide was currently in the process of being upgraded, and once completed would be circulated. She undertook to e.mail a copy of last year’s Guide to Members for information.
A Member commended the work of the Team, but felt that the Communications Section could be more proactive in promoting the work of the Team.
In response the Officer said most of the communications for the Team was done through Southern Wales, and hopefully in due course when restrictions are lifted, promotion of tourism within Blaenau Gwent would continue.
A Member said he was disappointed with a number of areas within the report, namely:
· The reference to ‘good transport links’, in light of the fact that the Scrutiny Committee had agreed to develop a Task and Finish Group to look at transport provision within the Borough.
· Page 38 ‘expanded locations and installed public counters’, he enquired as to the location of the counters.
· Reference to local events, he questioned why the Remembrance Parade was included as this was an annual event, but other key events that regularly took place had been omitted.
· P.39 where it referred to a new Ebbw Vale Business Group, and said he was not aware of this Group.
· Accommodation within the Borough and whether they were subject to regular checks.
· The condition of the Cholera Cemetery at Cefn Golau, and lack of signage and information.
· Whether the proposed information boards on walkways had been installed.
The Officer responded was follows:
· Extra counters had been installed ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To consider the report of the Managing
Consideration was given to report of the Managing Director and Head of Regeneration.
The Head of Regeneration presented the report which provided the performance information of the Cardiff Capital
Region City Deal (CCRCD) during 2020/21 Quarter 1. The report summarised and highlighted key programmes of work the Council was engaged in and was of interest to Blaenau Gwent, and these were highlighted at section 2.2 of the report. The Officer then went through the report and highlighted progress made against some of the key projects.
A Member referred to page 59 of the report, namely the proposed 51% reduction in domestic heating and power, and asked how this would be achieved and whether the costs would fall to the homeowner and Registered Social Landlords.
The Officer said she did not have the details on this, however, she was aware that work had been undertaken on the Welsh Quality Housing Standards over the last 10 years, and RSL’s had been tasked with reducing domestic heat and power. Welsh Government was pushing this agenda, and she confirmed that discussions would take place with partners in terms of resulting issues and funding. She also reported that sustainability funding had recently been secured for some of the Council’s industrial properties.
The Member expressed concern that many of the houses within Blaenau Gwent were old and that the cost of the measures required to be taken would likely fall to the homeowner. In relation to new housing he asked whether the provision of energy saving initiatives like solar panels etc. could become a planning requirement.
The Officer said the current housing standards for new builds ensured significantly reduced heat loss. Reducing power emissions would be more difficult in the future, however, there were new building regulations emerging requiring sustainable energy in developments.
In response to a further question regarding the proposed availability of land for tree planting, the Officer said she was unaware of any regional proposals, however, work was being done locally with RSL’s and the Environment Section.
The Service Manager Development & Estates explained that developers were encouraged to incorporate sustainable homes during pre-application enquiries, and the main issue emerging is that this would be captured by buildings regulations which would provide a far better framework to push this agenda.
In relation to tree planting, the Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities referred to the Welsh Government Plant Cymru initiative launched a number of years ago, and said she would be happy to revisit any funding opportunities via this scheme.
A Member referred to the Metro Plus and said he felt that without the link to Newport, the proposed 4 trains per hour into Blaenau Gwent from Cardiff would be excessive, and said the Council should be actively pushing the link to Newport. He also said there should be links to the Heads of the Valleys, particularly industrial estates, and questioned how the Abertillery link would bring economic benefits with 2 trains to Ebbw Vale and 2 to Abertillery.
The Member also referred to the ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To consider the report of the Team Manager
Consideration was given to report of the Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities.
Team Manager Regeneration Opportunities presented the report which provided an update on the Energy Prospectus and the activities carried out since its approval in 2019. An annual review report which contained highlights for each of the Projects identified within the Energy Prospectus was attached at Appendix 1, and the Officer went through the report and highlighted points contained therein.
A Member referred to the District Energy Network and asked whether there was any potential for this within domestic dwellings.
The Team Manager said the cost of connection on The Works site was difficult, however, there was potential for future projects to link into domestic dwellings and all those aspects were included within the Smart Living Programme.
The Member also referred to the low emission fleet, and a timeframe when the smaller electric powered Council vehicles could be expected.
In response the Officer said she was not aware on the exact timescales, but the Team was quite keen to get this progressed, and she understood that proposals were coming forward quite quickly.
A Member commended the report, particularly news of the hydro power project.
Another Member also referred to the District Energy Network and enquired as to the heat loss at the General Offices.
The Officer said there was work that could be undertaken to understand the level of heat loss in the building, however, the measures that could be taken to reduce heat loss was
was restricted as it was a listed building.
The Corporate Director Regeneration & Community Services explained that the General Offices was refurbished to the lowest energy loss standards for a listed building, so in terms of the fabric of the building there was little else that could be done. He said at the time he was disappointed that CADW refused permission to allow the windows and doors to be changed, but as far as energy and heat loss the building was quite efficient.
The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Scrutiny Committee:
· Continue to support, promote and develop projects within the Energy Prospectus, and to ensure that the document be updated to reflect any additional projects that have emerged; and
· To also continue to identify future projects that would also meet the vision and objectives of the Council with respect to energy and decarbonisation (Option 2).
To consider the report of the Chair of the
Regeneration Scrutiny Committee.
The Forward Work Programme for the meeting scheduled to be held on 6th January, 2021 was submitted.
The Chair reported that the Chair’s update of the Joint CCCRD Scrutiny Committee would be deferred.
The following additional reports were requested by Members:
A breakdown of money spent on consultancy fees across the Portfolio during the last 2 years.
Tech Valley progress update.
A Member proposed that the report on the Turkish glass factory visit be an agenda item instead of an information pack item.
A brief discussion ensued and upon a vote being taken it was agreed that the report on the Turkish glass factory visit would remain as an Information Pack item.
The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted.