Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices Angel Street Bridgend CF31 4WB. View directions
Contact: Andrew Rees Democratic Services Manager
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest from Members/Officers in
accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1 September 2008.
The following Declarations of Interest were made:
Councillor E Venables declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 10 – Council tax: Council Tax Discretionary Discount on Empty Properties and Second Homes as she has an empty property which is subject to probate. Councillor Venables withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item.
Councillor L Walters declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 10 – Council tax: Council Tax Discretionary Discount on Empty Properties and Second Homes as she is currently selling an empty property which is subject to probate. Councillor Walters withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item.
Councillor C Webster declared a personal interest in agenda item 7 – Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019-20 to 2022-23 as her son is in receipt of school transport to a specialist school out of county.
Councillor B Jones declared a personal interest in agenda item 10 – Council tax: Council tax Discretionary Discount on Empty Properties and Second Homes as his brother has an empty property.
Councillor G Thomas declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 10 – Council tax: Council Tax Discretionary Discount on Empty Properties and Second Homes as he has been a left a share in a property which is empty which is subject to probate. Councillor Thomas withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item.
To receive for approval the minutes of 23/01/19
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of Council of 23 January 2019 be approved as a true and accurate record.
To receive announcements from:
(i) Mayor (or person presiding)
(ii) Members of the Cabinet
(iii) Interim Chief Executive
The Mayor informed Council of the engagements which he and his Consort had attended in the past month which included a charity concert in aid of young carers held at the Sony Theatre, Bridgend, a thanksgiving service marking 30 years since the inception of the Sandville Self Help Trust, the annual Winter Olympage Games and the presentation of certificates at the Military Preparation College awards. In addition, the Mayor and Consort had also attended the Porthcawl School production of the show ‘Oliver’, the Holocaust service in Cardiff, building excellence awards, Citizenship awards judging, the Launch of the Welsh veterans awards Cardiff, Reading café at Bryntirion infants and the Employment Bridgend Launch.
The Deputy Leader informed Council of the progress being made to create a new community facility at the Nantymoel Boys and Girls Club, which involved the creation of a charitable trust, with the facility being launched officially later this week. The facility will provide a permanent base for the community policing team and will also act as the Ogmore Heritage Centre and a visitor attraction to link Bryngarw Country Park via the new Ogmore Heritage Trail. Bike hire facilities would also be provided at Bryngarw and voice-app information displays along the trail. He stated that the site of the former Berwyn Centre would also be the location for new public artwork and community seating.
Cabinet Member Communities
The Cabinet Member Communities informed Council that Porthcawl residents are being invited to attend a drop-in information session where they can help influence the next phase of work on the town’s flood defences. Participants will be able to ask questions and offer feedback on the proposals, which support Bridgend County Borough Council’s wider regeneration plans for the town. The drop-in information session will take place at the Grand Pavilion on Thursday 28 February between 1pm - 7pm.
He also informed Council that the annual Local Authority Building Control Building Excellence Awards were marked recently to highlight excellent examples of safe, sustainable, innovative high-quality development within the County Borough. He stated that the Building Control team carry out 7,000 inspections every year and the winners will now go forward to the South Wales regional awards to be held in April.
He hoped Members will welcome the Smart Energy Plan which was approved by Cabinet yesterday. He stated that the County Borough will be one of only three areas chosen by the UK Government to pioneer low carbon energy schemes with it being estimated that up to £7.4bn could swell the local economy by 2050. Projects under development include a Bridgend heat network connecting homes and public buildings, and the Caerau Minewater scheme which involves using underground water as a heat source to warm homes in the Llynfi Valley. The Council is the first local authority in Wales to develop such an energy strategy and is intended to act as a catalyst for Bridgend County Borough to grow into a low carbon innovation zone and work has been undertaken with the ... view the full minutes text for item 278.
To receive the report of the Leader
The Leader reported that he had recently attended the launch of the Employability Bridgend project which is designed to help people overcome obstacles that may otherwise prevent them from developing new skills and find work. He stated that the benefits of helping people get back into work are many and varied, and within the family unit, breaking the cycle of unemployment sets a positive example to children and helps provide role models that are essential for their successful development. It also decreases the reliance upon public services as households become economically stronger. A Pop-Up Business School event will be held next month, to help people to find out more about setting up their own business. He urged Members to contact the Employability Bridgend team should they wish to learn more about the initiative.
The Leader informed Council that he had previously updated Members about how the Council is supporting Bridgend Ford and that he had met with managers, staff and trade unions at the plant. He was due to return to meet with them again very soon and he would provide Members with a further update as soon as this has taken place. He hoped that the plant is successful in its bid to build the new Ineos Automotive four-by-four, but if the worst happens, schemes such as Employability Bridgend are standing ready to help affected workers.
The Leader informed Members that the Council is also continuing to engage with ABMU regarding Maesteg Hospital, and he was pleased to see that the decision regarding day services has been deferred so that the new health authority, Cwm Taf University Health Board, will ultimately make a decision on how this will be provided in future. The Council would be working closely with them on proposals for enhancing the hospital’s future role.
The Interim Chief Executive sought approval of the Corporate Plan 2018-22.
He reported that the Council has a duty to set well-being objectives under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and to set improvement objectives under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009. He stated that the current Corporate Plan covering 2018-22 sets out three corporate well-being objectives and has been reviewed for 2019-20. In reviewing the Plan, the Council has further developed its well-being objectives and these priorities, once approved, will be the Council’s well-being objectives under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and improvement objectives under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.
The Interim Chief Executive reported that the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 14 January 2019 had considered the revised draft plan and made a series of constructive comments for amendment and inclusion. The comments had been considered and wherever feasible, appropriate amendments had been made to the draft Plan. Cabinet on 12 February 2019 considered the Corporate Plan 2018-2022 revised for 2019-20. The Plan will be reviewed annually taking into account changing circumstances and progress made against the well-being objectives to ensure that the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 are met. Once approved, the Plan will replace the current Corporate Plan and will be supported by the Medium Term Financial Strategy, Directorate business plans and service plans.
The Leader placed on record his thanks to the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee which had been very thorough in its scrutiny of the Corporate Plan and had contributed to the revised Plan. He stated that within the Plan there is a commitment to develop a water sports centre in Porthcawl to enhance it as tourist destination; the redevelopment of Maesteg Town Hall into an arts and cultural hub, the development of low carbon heat schemes, the rationalisation of the estate, driving forward the digitalisation transformation programme and the continued investment in the Band B School Modernisation Programme.
A Member of Council questioned the absence of footfall figures for the town centre in Maesteg. The Leader commented that footfall was not measured in Maesteg at present and officers would provide information to Members as to the feasibility of measuring footfall. The Interim Chief Executive informed Council that there are no means to accurately count footfall in Maesteg town centre due to the absence of cameras, however the cost of installing cameras could be explored.
RESOLVED: That Council approved and adopted the Corporate Plan 2018-22, reviewed for 2019-20.
The joint report of the Interim Chief Executive and Interim Section 151 Officer was presented on the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019-20 to 2022-23, which included a financial forecast for 2019-23, a detailed revenue budget for 2019-20 and a Capital Programme for 2018-19 to 2028-29.
The Interim Section 151 Officer reported that MTFS has been significantly guided by the Council’s priorities and while there had been year-on-year reductions in Aggregate External Finance (AEF) has necessitated significant budget reductions across service areas. The Council still plays a very significant role in the local economy, responsible for annual gross expenditure of around £400M and is the largest employer in the County Borough. The Interim Section 151 Officer informed Council that the Corporate Plan is being presented to Council for approval alongside the MTFS 2019-23. The two documents were aligned to each other, enabling explicit links to be made between the Council’s priorities and the resources directed to support them.
The Interim Section 151 Officer reported that the MTFS outlines the principles and detailed assumptions which drive the Council’s budget and spending decisions, the financial context in which the Council is operating and to mitigate any financial risks and pressures going forward, at the same time taking advantage of any opportunities that may arise.
The Interim Section 151 Officer provided Cabinet with a Corporate Financial Overview and commented that the Council’s gross budget will be around £420m while the net revenue budget is planned for 2019-20 is £270.809m. She set out the Strategic Financial Context and informed Council that the MTFS is set within the context of UK economic and public expenditure plans, Welsh Government priorities and legislative programme. Following the announcement of the provisional local government settlement in October 2018, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Welsh Government will receive an extra £550m over the next three years, with the Welsh Government being able to decide how to spend this allocation. The then First Minister confirmed a package of additional funding proposals for local government, which would be incorporated in the final budget. The Council received its final settlement from the Welsh Government in December 2018, which for this Council resulted in a reduction of 0.1% in Aggregate External Finance or £258k. This was offset by new responsibilities with the true impact for the Council estimated to be a reduction of £1.182m or -0.61% compared to 2018-19, the real position for this Council would be reduction of -1.07% or £2.07m.
The Interim Section 151 Officer reported that 2019-20 final Revenue Budget includes a Council tax increase of 5.4% in the draft MTFS which was reported to Cabinet in November 2018, which was deemed necessary to fund the significant pressures facing the Council, particularly significant pay, price and pensions pressures.
The Interim Section 151 Officer reported on a comparison of budget against projected outturn as 31 December 2018, with the overall projected position being an under spend of £5.312m, comprising a £592,000 net under spend on Directorates and a £6.642m net ... view the full minutes text for item 281.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer reported on the Council Tax requirement for the County Borough together with the requirements of the Police & Crime Commissioner for South Wales and Town / Community Councils.
She outlined how the Council proposed to spend the Net Revenue Budget for 2019-20 of £270.809m which it had approved at this meeting of Council. The amount to be funded from Council Tax is £79,001,854m, which equated to a Council Tax of £1,470.87 on a Band D property, an increase of 5.4%. The net budget would also be funded by Revenue Support Grant of £145,354,407 and Non Domestic Rates of £46,452,373.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer reported that the Police & Crime Commissioner had notified the Council that their precept for the financial year ending 31 March 2020 will rise to £13,831,719 which equates to a Council Tax of £257.52 on a Band property, resulting in an increase of 10.28%. She stated that the increase is in line with a recent Home Office announcement which doubled the precept flexibility for locally accountable Police and Crime Commissioners by giving Police and Crime Commissioners the freedom to ask for an additional £2 a month in 2019-20, and to increase their Band D precept by £24 in 2019-20 without the need to call a local referendum.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer reported on the Council Tax requirement per Town and Community Council.
A Member of Council questioned the way in which the Council’s representative on the Police & Crime Commissioner’s Panel had voted. The Cabinet Member Communities informed Council that he had voted against the increase of 10.28% as he could not accept the high level of increase and the policy of the Home Office which was behind that increase. He stated that the police had experienced year on year cuts to its budget and there was no recognition given by the Home Office that South Wales Police should receive an uplift for policing a capital city, unlike the case for the police forces which police the capital cities of Edinburgh and Belfast.
It was moved and seconded that a recorded vote be taken on the proposals contained in the report, but firstly, an electronic vote was required to see that there was a consensus of Members for this.
Therefore an electronic vote was taken, the result of which was as follows:-
For (recorded vote) Against Abstain
39 8 1
As the vote for a recorded vote was carried, this was then undertaken, the result of which was as follows:-
For Against Abstain
40 9 1
RESOLVED: That Council approved:
· A Band D Council Tax for Bridgend County Borough Council of £1,470.87, and
The Council charges for Band D properties for 2019-20 for each of the community areas as outlined in Table 6 of the report.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer sought approval of the Treasury Management Strategy 2019-20, which includes the Treasury Management Indicators, the Capital Strategy 2019-20 to 2028-29, which includes the Prudential Indicators and the amended Financial Procedure Rules for incorporation into the Constitution.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer reported that the revised Prudential Code placed a new requirement on local authorities to determine a Capital Strategy, to be approved by Council, which demonstrates that the Authority takes capital expenditure and investment decisions in line with service objectives and properly takes account of stewardship, value for money, prudence, sustainability and affordability. As a result of changes to the Codes, the Capital Strategy will contain the Prudential Indicators and the Treasury Management Strategy will only contain the Treasury Management Indicators.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer reported that the
The Treasury Management Strategy 2019-20 confirms the Council’s compliance with the Treasury Management in the Public Services: Code of Practice, which requires that formal and comprehensive objectives, policies and practices, strategies and reporting arrangements are in place for the effective management and control of treasury management activities, and that the effective management and control of risk are the prime objectives of these activities.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer reported that the Capital Plans highlight that the Loans CFR, which is the Council’s need to borrow to fund capital expenditure, is increasing year on year due to additional prudential borrowing together with the reduction of internal borrowing opportunities from usable reserves, with new borrowing being £29m. She stated that one of the objectives is to achieve a balance between risk and return.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer that within the Capital Strategy the Council is planning capital expenditure of £36.157m in 2019-20 and she detailed how the Council planned to finance this expenditure. She also highlighted how there will be increased revenue pressure on the capital financing budgets over the MTFS period, with a projected over spend of £595m in 2021-22. The Group Manager Chief Accountant advised that this would be the worst case scenario, with unsupported borrowing being used for future schemes, but the authority would look to bring that down. The Council will endeavour to minimise the revenue pressure by maximising alternative capital resources such as earmarked reserves and capital receipts.
RESOLVED: That Council approved:
· the Treasury Management Strategy 2019-20 including the Treasury Management Indicators 2019-20 to 2021-22;
· the Capital Strategy 2019-20 including the Prudential Indicators 2019-20 to 2021-22;
· the Annual Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Statement 2019-20 and;
the amendments to the Financial Procedure Rules for incorporation into the Constitution.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer reported on a proposal to amend the level of discretionary discount available on Council Tax empty properties and second homes with effect from 1 April 2019.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer informed Council that local authorities were given discretionary powers by the Local Government Act 2003 to reduce or remove the 50% Council Tax discount on unoccupied and substantially unfurnished Council tax chargeable dwellings after the initial 6 month exemption period had expired, known as Class C properties. She stated that this Council has previously awarded a 50% discount to the properties which might fall into this category. Only 10 of the 22 local authorities in Wales still award a 50% discount after the initial 6 month exemption period.
The Interim Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer highlighted the categories where the Council awards a 50% discount to Council Tax properties which remain empty. She outlined a proposal to remove the discretionary power to award a discount and charge 100% of the Council Tax in the categories outlined from 1 April 2019, for the financial year 2019-20 onwards, which would in turn discourage owners of empty properties to allow them to remain empty and fall into disrepair. She stated that a notice of this change will be required to be publicised within 21 days of the decision.
RESOLVED: That Council:
· Agreed the continuation of no Council Tax discount on second homes except where the reduction is granted in respect of a job related dwelling;
· Approved a new level of 100% Council tax payable for all categories mentioned in the report at 4.1 which have been empty for more than 6 months;
Delegated authority to the Revenues Manager to implement the changes.
To consider any other item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in accordance with Rule 4 of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.
There were no urgent items.