Agenda, decisions and minutes

Council
Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020 15:00

Venue: Remotely via Skype for Business

Note: Note: Please note that due to the requirement for social distancing this meeting will not be held at its usual location. This will be a virtual meeting and Council Members and Officers will be attending remotely. If you have any queries regarding this, please contact cabinet_committee@bridgend.gov.uk or tel. 01656 643147 / 643148 

Media

Items
No. Item

418.

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. 

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest.

419.

Approval of Minutes pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To receive for approval the minutes of 26/02/20 and 11/03/20

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:            That the Minutes of the meetings of Council of 26 February and 11 March 2020 2020, be approved as a true and accurate record

420.

To receive announcements from the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor announced his sincere thanks to all the staff of BCBC who have truly stepped up to the challenges presented to them over the last four months. Staff across all departments had worked extremely hard to ensure that services have continued to run smoothly and successfully for its residents.  Staff had adapted very quickly to new and different working environments and brought innovation to areas where a rapid response was necessary, working over and above for an extended period while also facing their own personal challenges brought on by the pandemic, their dedication and hard work is admirable.

 

The Mayor also announced that he had adapted to a new way of working and had attended engagements via Skype and will continue to do so.  He was honoured to provide video messages on behalf of BCBC to mark VE Day and commemorate the victims of the genocide in Srebrenica.  Despite the current situation he felt it was important to continue to mark important events and remember the people affected.

 

The Mayor announced with sadness the passing of former Mayor and Councillor Reg Jenkins, who served as a member of the Council for two terms before stepping down to enjoy retirement in 2017.  He was not only a very active ward member for Pontycymer but also infamous for his annual stint as Santa, raising thousands of pounds for local charities.  On behalf of the Council, he extended the Council’s condolences to his wife Teresa.

421.

To receive announcements by the Leader

Minutes:

The Leader announced that the Council is aiming to reopen children’s play areas by 30 July.  He stated that all sites could not be opened immediately as each site had to be properly risk assessed and inspected to make sure they are safe to use, the play equipment is not damaged or vandalised and we are able to take all necessary precautions to limit the potential for exposure to the coronavirus.  To accommodate this new signage has to be introduced to advise people on requirements of social distancing and use of hand sanitizer in the play area and more. 

 

He also announced that the annual electoral canvas is underway and the Council is encouraging as many eligible householders as possible to complete their registrations online as part of efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus.  He informed Council that following the Bill passed by members of the Senedd in November last year, teenagers aged 14 and 15 years of age can now register as pre attainers so they can vote at the age of 16.  He hoped Members will encourage local residents to complete the canvas where ever necessary and the electoral pages of the Council’s website contain more details about how they can do this. 

 

The Leader also announced that throughout the pandemic the Council has undertaken a range of initiatives designed to help local sports clubs, this includes setting up the Bridgend Sport Support Fund to provide clubs with grants for up to £1,000.  There had been a recent decision to waive fees for the 2019-20 season and ongoing support for clubs that are already developing community asset transfers.  More support has been made available through the Sports Wales De-active Wales Fund this is enabling clubs to apply for grants for between £300 to £50,000 to help pay for utilities, insurance and other fixed costs that may be in place for facility or equipment hire.  It can also help clubs make adaptations to ensure that activities are safe such as introducing one way system, providing hand sanitizer and online booking platforms or installing health and safety signage.  If Members are aware of any local clubs within their communities who may benefit from this full details are available at the Sports Wales website and we would encourage sports clubs to take full advantage of the funding opportunities available.

 

He also wanted to inform constituents know that with the pandemic still in effect a range of financial support is available for anyone who is facing difficulty paying their Council Tax.  More than 6,000 letters had been issued to advising residents of outstanding balances on their accounts.  He stated this was a particular challenging and uncertain time and the Council has sought to work with residents whenever possible.  A range of options are available including reductions, discounts and referrals and he hoped Members will encourage anyone who may be experiencing issues to contact the authority in order to find a way forward.

 

The Leader announced that today’s meeting of Council would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 421.

422.

Update On Bridgend County Borough Response To Covid-19 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive delivered a presentation on the response to the Covid-19 Pandemic and the steps being taken towards recovery, and to update Members on the approach to recovery, including the establishment of a Cross-Party Recovery Panel.

 

He informed Council that in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, on 23 March 2020 the UK Government imposed a nationwide lockdown in an effort to help minimise the spread of coronavirus.  Since then, Council has undergone significant change over the last four months, often responding urgently to changing circumstances, guidance and regulation.  New

services have been created, some services stopped, staff redeployed and new working practices put in place including enabling those that can work from home to do so.  He stated that the focus throughout the last four months has been on the delivery of essential services, in particular those for the most vulnerable in its communities, and seeking to prevent the spread of the virus to save lives.  He informed Council that services had been adapted at a scale and pace that was unprecedented, while emergency governance arrangements had been out in place.  Throughout this process, there had been one Council approach and enhanced partnership working. 

 

He highlighted a graphic showing the Council’s response to Covid-19.  He also highlighted the number of Covid-19 cases and sadly the number of deaths in the County Borough. 

 

The Chief Executive outlined the steps being taken with the gradual easing of lockdown, together with the ongoing challenges affecting the Council.  He highlighted the financial challenges on the Council, namely the additional cost pressures, lost income to the Council and that savings in the Medium Term Financial Strategy of £2.413m may not be achieved.  However unanticipated savings had been made in home to school transport, premises and fuel.  He stated there was likely to be a shortfall in Council Tax collection, especially given the delay in starting recovery and an increase in Council Tax benefits.  He informed Council of the range of financial support which had been available by the Welsh Government across Wales.  He highlighted the position of the monthly claims for additional expenditure submitted to the Welsh Government together with the financial challenges facing the Council, with a £3.8m overspend at quarter 1.  

 

The Chief Executive outlined the process of Restart, Recover and Renew, the establishment of a Cross Party Recovery Panel.  There would be a need to reset the 2020/21 budget and Corporate Plan taking account of circumstances and revised priorities.  He highlighted the recovery priorities facing the Council together with a coordinated response to recovery.  He informed Council of the need to embrace the new normal but also to understand the opportunities and risks.  He concluded by informing Council that it had been a uniquely challenging 4 month period, with unprecedented change and the Council’s response had been excellent, with the response by some staff being heroic.  He stated that the economic hit was likely to be severe with increased unemployment and benefit claimants.

 

A member of Council questioned how confident  ...  view the full minutes text for item 422.

423.

Capital Programme Outturn 2019-20 and Quarter 1 Update Report 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 568 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change presented a report to comply with the requirement of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities; provided an update on the capital outturn for 2019-20; provided an update of the Capital Programme for the period 1 April to 30 June 2020; sought approval for a revised capital programme for 2020-21 to 2029-30 and for Council to note the projected Prudential and Other Indicators for 2020-21.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported that Council on 20 February 2019, approved a capital programme of £35.474m, which was last updated on 26 February 2020 and which had been further revised and approved by council during the year to incorporate budgets brought forward from 2018-19 and any new schemes and grant approvals.  She stated that the most recent programme for 2019-20, approved by Council in February 2020 as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy, totalled £30.137m, of which £13.964m is met from BCBC resources, including capital receipts, revenue contributions from earmarked reserves and borrowing, with the remaining £16.173 million coming from external resources.   

 

The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change informed Council that few amendments had been made other than new approvals of £1.964m as a result of a new grant scheme from the Welsh Government - the Hwb Infrastructure Grant and £0.403m funding brought back from 20-21 to more reflect more accurately the spend profiles, which brought the revised budget to £32.504m.  She informed Council that total expenditure as at 31 March 2020 was £22.822m, resulting in a total under spend of £9.682m. During the year a number of schemes have commenced but not been completed during the year, or have been moved wholly into 2020-21. These include the refurbishment of Waterton Depot, Bridge Strengthening at the A4061 Ogmore Valley, City Deal and regeneration works at Llynfi Valley.  She stated that slippage has arisen due to a number of reasons

including delays in starting projects due to the need to undertake more detailed survey works, ongoing discussions with funding bodies and other general programme delays.  There was also likely to be significant slippage during 2020-21 as a consequence of the Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent regulations on social distancing.  

 

The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change informed Council that net slippage into 2020-21 of £9.073 million was required, the main schemes being:

 

·         £2,246,000 in respect of the Llynfi Development – Welsh Government has agreed an extension to the loan of 6 months to enable the Council to undertake further feasibility work

·         £908,600 of funding for minor capital works has slipped due to the delay in completing a number of schemes

·         £564,000 in respect of the Children’s Residential Hub due to delays in finalising funding approval

·         £471,000 in respect of Bridge Strengthening. Substantial elements of the works were delayed by the utility company and as such many elements of the contract spend were deferred until later within the revised contract period.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 423.

424.

Information Report for Noting pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Officer Legal, HR and Regulatory Services and Monitoring Officer reported on the following Information Report which had been published since the last meeting of Council.

 

Title                                                                          Date Published

Urgent Delegated Decisions                                    16 July 2020

 

RESOLVED:            That Council acknowledges the publication of the document listed in this report.

425.

To receive the following Questions from:

Councillor MC Voisey to the Deputy Leader

 

How many court actions, (fines, attachment to earnings orders etc.) and the use of bailiffs have BCBC used in the last 12 months to recover unpaid council tax, and how much has been recovered in such actions?

 

Councillor A Hussain to the Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help

 

Evidence has emerged during the Pandemic that health professionals from ethnic backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by COVID – 19.

 

Could the Cabinet Member assure us that all health professionals working in Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Authority including our Care Homes had their risk assessments as a precautionary measure including their ethnicity as a risk factor, along with age, weight, underlying health conditions, disability and pregnancy, and what have we learned?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Question from Councillor MC Voisey to the Deputy Leader

 

"How many court actions, fines, attachment to earnings orders etc.) and the use of bailiffs have BCBC used in the last 12 months to recover unpaid council tax, and how much has been recovered in such actions?"

 

Response of the Deputy Leader:

 

Council Tax is payable on all domestic dwellings in the borough and is payable as of 1st April each year. However everyone is given the option to pay by way of 10 or 12 monthly instalments. If an instalment is missed then a reminder notice is issued requesting payment and the recovery process commenced. The process was summarised in the form of a flow chart. 

 

Once a final notice is issued the council tax payer loses the right to pay by instalments and the full outstanding balance for the year becomes payable.

           If full payment is received then no further action is taken

           If part or no payment is received then a summons is received and costs incurred for the outstanding balance

 

Once a summons is issued the council tax payer loses the right to pay by instalments and the full outstanding balance for the year becomes payable

           If full payment is received including costs before the court date then no further action is taken

           If part payment is received before the court date then a Liability Order is obtained from the Magistrates Court for the remaining balance

           If no payment is received before the court date then a Liability Order is obtained from the Magistrates Court for the outstanding balance

 

Currently once a liability order is obtained from the Magistrates Court the following courses of action are available to us in order to recover the Council Tax outstanding debt:-

 

Course of Action                  Comments

Office agreement                   If someone enters into an agreement and payments continue to be paid then no further action is taken. However if an agreement is broken then initially they receive a letter asking them to bring their agreement up to date. If this is not done then an alternative method of recovery is taken which could involve any of the other methods available depending on what information is held on the particular account.

 

Attachment to earnings           This is where the outstanding balance is collected via a person’s earnings at source based on their net income. Only 2 attachment of earnings can be running at one time. Central government stipulate the amount to be deducted by the employer and will continue until the debt is paid in full or the employee leaves employment. The employer is then responsible for forwarding any deductions directly to us in order to clear the debt.  If a person leaves employment then a letter is sent asking them to contact us to make alternative arrangements to clear the debt. However if no contact is received and no alternative method available the debt may be passed to enforcement agents for collection where further costs will be incurred.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 425.

426.

Notice of Motion Proposed by Councillor R Young

Bridgend County Borough Council recognises the overwhelming scientific evidence of changing weather patterns as demonstrated by the recent unprecedented rainfall and flooding both at a local and a UK wide level, and is of the opinion that this represents further evidence of global warming, and therefore firmly believes that a climate emergency now exists, and as such calls upon the UK and Welsh Governments to provide Bridgend County Borough Council with:

 

a.    the necessary powers and resources to make Bridgend County Borough carbon neutral

b.    levels of resource at a scale to respond to the challenges faced and processes for accessing those resources that enable action at the earliest opportunity

 

i)            Establish appropriate engagement mechanisms to work with key stakeholders

 

ii)           Undertake a Bridgend County Borough Council wide review of current action to respond to Climate Emergency

 

iii)           Develop a Climate Emergency Response Strategy and prioritised action plan that sets out short, medium and long term actions. 

 

 

Minutes:

Notice of Motion Proposed by Councillor R Young

 

Bridgend County Borough Council recognises the overwhelming scientific evidence of changing weather patterns as demonstrated by the recent unprecedented rainfall and flooding both at a local and a UK wide level, and is of the opinion that this represents further evidence of global warming, and therefore firmly believes that a climate emergency now exists, and as such calls upon the UK and Welsh Governments to provide Bridgend County

Borough Council with:

a. the necessary powers and resources to make Bridgend County Borough carbon neutral

b. levels of resource at a scale to respond to the challenges faced and processes for accessing those resources that enable action at the earliest opportunity

i) Establish appropriate engagement mechanisms to work with key stakeholders

ii) Undertake a Bridgend County Borough Council wide review of current action to respond to Climate Emergency

iii) Develop a Climate Emergency Response Strategy and prioritised action plan that sets out short, medium and long term actions.

 

The Notice of Motion was seconded by Councillor CE Smith.

 

An amendment to the Notice of Motion was proposed by Councillor R Penhale Thomas, which was seconded by Councillor N Clarke that the words “Bridgend County Borough Council declares a climate emergency” be added to the beginning of the Notice of Motion. 

 

The amendment was accepted by Councillor Young. 

 

RESOLVED:           That the amended Notice of Motion be approved.    

 

427.

Urgent Items

To consider any item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in accordance with Part 4 (paragraph 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. 

 

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.