Venue: remotely via Microsoft Teams
Contact: Democratic Services
Note: Note: Please note: Due to the current 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. The meeting will be recorded for subsequent transmission via the Council’s internet site which will be available as soon as practicable after the meeting. If you have any queries regarding this, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 01656 643147 / 643148.
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 interests were declared:
Councillor PJ White declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 7 - Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021-22 as a family member is in receipt of support from the scheme. Councillor White withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item. Councillor White declared a personal interest in agenda item 8 – Appointment to the Standards Committee as he is a colleague and a member of Maesteg Town Council.
Councillor P Davies declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 7 - Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021-22 as a family member is in receipt of support from the scheme. Councillor Davies withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item. Councillor Davies declared a personal interest in agenda item 8 – Appointment to the Standards Committee as he is a colleague and a member of Maesteg Town Council.
Councillor DBF White declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 7 - Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021-22 as a family member is in receipt of support from the scheme. Councillor White withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item.
Councillor RM James declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 7 - Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021-22 as a family member is in receipt of support from the scheme. Councillor James withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item.
Councillor T Thomas declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 7 - Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021-22 as a family member is in receipt of support from the scheme. Councillor Thomas withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item.
Councillor JC Spanswick declared a prejudicial interest in agenda item 7 - Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021-22 as a family member is in receipt of support from the scheme. Councillor Spanswick withdrew from the meeting during consideration of this item.
Councillor R Collins declared a personal interest in agenda item 8 – Appointment to the Standards Committee as he is a colleague and a member of Maesteg Town Council.
To receive for approval the minutes of Council of 16/12/20
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting of Council of 16 December 2020 be approved as a true and accurate record.
To receive announcements from:
(i) Mayor (or person presiding)
(ii) Members of the Cabinet
(iii) Chief Executive
The Mayor informed Members that he had no announcements to make as there had been no Mayoral engagements due to the current lockdown, but he hoped everyone was keeping safe and well and had a good Christmas and New Year.
The Deputy Leader announced that a wide range of grant funding support has been made available to help local businesses since the pandemic began in March last year. To date, 4,931 grant applications have been approved to date, with more than £37 million awarded in financial support. As well as grants for firms, £1.8 million has been provided directly to residents under the Social Care Workforce Payments scheme. £73,500 has been provided to self-isolating residents who have been unable to work, and more than £27,550 thousand supplied using the statutory sick pay enhancement scheme for social care workers. He congratulated staff who continue to work hard to assess applications as quickly as possible, and to also remind businesses and residents of the importance of providing full details and to apply to the correct fund when seeking financial support. More information about the available support is featured at the council’s website.
Cabinet Member Communities
The Cabinet Member Communities informed Members that the Council was recently faced a problem in which 7,000 streetlights decided to repeatedly switch themselves on and off again. This issue occurred all over the county borough, perhaps most notably on large estate areas such as Brackla, but did not affect all of the county borough’s 20,000 street lights. The Streetlighting Team quickly deduced that the problem was a software glitch, and that it only concerned lights which relied on global positioning technology to calculate what time the sun rises and sets. The manufacturers of the street lights were able to quickly reset them, and have provided assurances that this was a one-off problem which should not reoccur.
The Cabinet Member Communities placed on record an apology to the Mayor for a comment he had made at the previous meeting of Council. He informed Members that he had great respect for the office of Mayor and the current Mayor and asked for his apology to be accepted. The Mayor had accepted the apology and considered the matter closed.
Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help
The Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help announced that she had previously advised members that social care in Bridgend County Borough was facing some major challenges, and as anticipated, has proven to be the case. There are very real concerns over whether the Council could continue to meet its statutory duties, bur was pleased to confirm it had been able to do so.
Local care homes and social care staff are, however, still facing extreme pressures in dealing with Covid-19, and the council is working closely with Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to support their efforts in rolling out the vaccine and helping to prevent the spread of the virus. However, significant outbreaks are being seen affecting residents ... view the full minutes text for item 493.
To receive announcements from the Leader
The Leader announced that new information had been received from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board concerning the roll-out of the coronavirus vaccination programme. As of 17 January, 21,857 people have been vaccinated across the Cwm Taf region. For Bridgend County Borough, this breaks down as 3,693 people, with 1,461 vaccinations administered through GP surgeries, 1,715 through vaccination centres, and 517 through local care homes. While not included in the local authority area figures, hospital vaccination centres across the region have accounted for a further 11,377 people. The council is continuing to work closely with the health board, and is supporting the roll-out of the vaccine in Bridgend County Borough.
The health board has provided further information indicating that they intend to vaccinate a further 22,834 residents across the region this week, 6,913 of which are Bridgend County Borough residents. This will include 593 vaccinations in a total of seven care homes, with 3,980 doses delivered by GP practices and 2,340 provided within a vaccination centre. Vaccinations are targeting the most vulnerable and exposed members of the community in a series of priority groupings which have been determined on a UK-wide basis by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation. As an immediate priority, the initial roll-out is restricted to staff and residents at care homes, frontline health and social care staff, and people in local communities who are aged over 80.
All local GP surgeries have signed up to take part in the vaccination programme, and people are being contacted directly when it is their turn to receive the vaccination. The Leader requested Members explain this to residents, and encouraging them not to tie up resources by enquiring about it at pharmacies and GP surgeries. The system has been designed to prevent ‘queue jumping’, so nobody should attempt to attend a vaccination centre without having an appointment in place to do so. When it is our turn, we will be contacted with details of where and when to go.
He informed Members that residents also need to be alert for scammers who have been taking advantage of the situation to try and trick people, especially the elderly, into handing over confidential information, or to even pay for a fake inoculation. These criminals are knocking on doors and are sending professional-looking texts and emails, and he asked Members to remind constituents that the NHS will never ask for payment as the vaccine is free to receive. They will also not turn up at your home unannounced, and will not ask for your bank details or for you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents, such as a passport.
As the effects of the vaccine may not be seen nationally for many months, the advice on keeping Wales safe remains the same, to keep a two-metre distance from others, wash hands regularly, and wear a face covering where required. Mobile testing facilities remain fully available in Bridgend County Borough for anyone who is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, and ... view the full minutes text for item 494.
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 2017; provided an update of the Capital Programme for the period 1 April to 31 December 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 the Local Authorities (Capital Finance and Accounting) (Wales) Regulations 2003, as amended contain detailed provisions for capital finance and accounting controls, including the rules on the use of capital receipts and what is to be treated as capital expenditure. Additionally, the Council manages its Treasury Management and Capital activities in accordance with associated guidance. The Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities requires Local Authorities to have in place a Capital Strategy 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.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported that Council on 26 February 2020, approved a capital programme as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy, and was last updated on 21 October 2020. She stated that the revised programme for 2020-21 totals £33.888m, of which £17.960m is met from the Council’s resources, with the remaining £15.928m met from external resources. She summarised the position per Directorate and the current funding assumptions for the capital programme for 2020-21. She provided detail of the projected spend on individual schemes within the programme compared to the budget available. A number of schemes had been identified as requiring slippage into future years, which shows unprecedented levels of slippage as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. At quarter 3, the total requested slippage is £14.536m in relation to:
· Children’s Residential Accommodation Hub (£1.564 million)
· Road Safety Improvements Heol Mostyn Junction (£0.540 million)
· Economic Stimulus Grant (£0.887 million)
· Coastal Risk Management Program – Porthcawl (£0.750 million)
· Maesteg Town Hall Cultural Hub (£3.050 million)
· Caerau Heat Network (£1.939 million)
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported that a number of new externally funded schemes and internally funded schemes have been incorporated into the capital programme:
· Trem y Mor (£0.435 million)
· Berwyn Centre and Ogmore Vale Washeries (£0.186 million)
· Covid recovery for town centres (£0.360 million)
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change informed Council of minor additions to the programme as follows:
· Porthcawl Resort Investment Focus - £0.074 million ERDF grant
· ICF capital funding - £0.035 million for the purchase of 2 vehicles for
· Complex and Medical Needs Work in Schools - £0.025 million revenue contribution for provision of ALN at Cefn Cribwr Primary School
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change also informed Council that the following schemes have had material changes:
· Active Travel Pencoed Technology Park
· Cardiff Capital Region City ... view the full minutes text for item 495.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change presented a report, the purpose of which was to provide Council with information regarding the implementation of the 2021-22 Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTR) and to set out the requirement for Councils to adopt a CTR scheme by 31 January 2021, together with the funding implications.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported that CTR provides assistance for those on low incomes with a liability to pay Council Tax. The Welsh Government has developed a single nationally defined scheme set out in regulations for the provision of Council Tax support in Wales. The Council adopted the CTR for 2020-21 in accordance with the Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations 2013, which will end on 31 March 2021. There were currently 13,216 households receiving CTR, 8,454 of these were of working age and 4,762 were of pensionable age. Of the 13,216 households receiving CTR, 10,212 were entitled to a full CTR reduction.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported that the CTR scheme in Wales is set by regulations made under Schedule 1B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (as inserted by the Local Government Finance Act 2012). The Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 had now been laid and made amendments to:
· make provision that compensation payments made under the Windrush Compensation Scheme are disregarded from capital when determining an applicant’s eligibility for a reduction, and the amount of that reduction.
· provide how payments of universal credit to claimants who have reached state pension credit qualifying age are to be taken into account when determining eligibility for a reduction and the amount of a reduction.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change stated that the new regulations did not contain any significant changes from the claimants’ perspective to the current scheme, and the maximum level of support that eligible claimants could receive remained at 100%. She explained the limited discretion given to the Council, to apply discretionary elements that were more generous than the national scheme as follows:-
· The ability to increase the standard extended reduction period of 4 weeks given to persons after they return to work (where they have previously been receiving CTR that is to end as a result of their return to work);
· Discretion to increase the amount of War Disablement Pensions and War Widows Pensions which is to be disregarded when calculating income of the claimant; and
· The ability to backdate the application of CTR with regard to late claims prior to the new standard period of three months before the claim.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported that the Council is required to adopt a CTR Scheme regardless of whether it applies any of the discretionary elements. If the Council fails to make a scheme, then a default scheme shall apply. The Council can only apply discretion if it makes its own scheme under the Prescribed Requirements ... view the full minutes text for item 496.
The Monitoring Officer reported that a vacancy had arisen on the Standards Committee for a Town and Community Council Member due to the resignation of Town and Community Councillor Graham Walter and in accordance with the previous delegated authority to the Monitoring Officer had overseen a recruitment process and to report to Council any successful appointment. Following formal interviews at a meeting of the Standards Committee on 21 December 2020, the Committee approved the appointment of Cllr Gavin Thomas as a Town and Community Councillor representative of the Committee.
RESOLVED: That Council noted the appointment of Cllr Gavin Thomas as a Town and Community Councillor representative with immediate effect.
The Chief Executive reported on an update regarding the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill and an Action Plan to ensure that the Council is prepared for the various elements of the Bill that will come into force in due course.
He stated that the Bill was passed by the Senedd on 18 November 2020, with Royal Assent received today. He informed Council it is a substantial piece of legislation covering electoral reform, public participation, governance and performance and regional working. It also set out a new for local government to be more streamlined, flexible, sector-led approach to performance, good governance and improvement. It also intended for councils to be proactive in considering how internal processes and procedures should change to enable more effective planning, delivery and decision making in order to drive better outcomes.
He reported that an action plan had been prepared to ensure that this Council is prepared for the introduction of the Bill. The Action Plan will be updated accordingly as various provisions of the Bill come into force.
A member of Council stated that the Bill was a long time in the making, however it need to be fully funded as it would bring budget pressures. The Chief Executive informed Council that the Bill will be accompanied by guidance and that the Bill needs to be fully funded.
A member of Council questioned whether there would be an opportunity to scrutinise the effectiveness of campaigns for extending the voting franchise to 16 and 17 year olds and foreign citizens and also to determine the first past the post’ or the ‘single transferable vote’ voting systems. The Chief Executive informed Council that there is a detailed plan for elections and work will take place with schools and colleges. The Monitoring Officer informed Council that the determination of a voting system would be the subject of a report to Council.
A member of Council asked whether the general power of competence could be used for the adoption of unadopted roads and to clear up land where its ownership was unknown. The Monitoring Officer informed Council that officers will examine the regulations and guidance when published and look at case law in England to establish where those powers can be used.
A member of Council was pleased to see the introduction of a petitions scheme and committee. The Group Manager Legal and Democratic Services stated that a petitions scheme is in the process of being drawn up and clarified that it would not be a petitions committee.
RESOLVED: That Council:
1. Noted the report and Action Plan attached as Appendix 1;
Noted that further reports on individual elements of the Bill will be submitted to Cabinet and Council in due course.
To receive the following Questions from:
Councillor M Voisey to the Cabinet Member Communities
Only 2 out of 10 speed and red-light cameras are working in the county borough, and how can this level of defects be allowed, and tolerated, and what is the Cabinet Member going to do about it?
Councillor T Thomas to the Cabinet Member Communities
What is the Council doing to ensure that the public are safe on County Borough roads and highways against the dichotomous threat of winter conditions and reduced resources from Covid 19?
Councillor A Hussain to the Leader and Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help
In Wales, 60% of the adult population and 1 in 8 children age 4-5 years are overweight or obese and each year this figure is increasing. There is consistent evidence that obesity (excess weight) is associated with an increased COVID-19 risk in addition to the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases which themselves increase the risk of complications in someone who contracts COVID-19. Knowing that excess weight is one of the few preventable risk factors for COVID-19, could the Leader let us know what measures he is taking to help those residents who are living with overweight or obesity to lose weight in a sustainable manner, together with interventions to prevent weight gain and reduce risk of COVID-19 in our Borough?
The Mayor had consented to accepting an urgent question in accordance with Rule 4 of the Council Procedure Rules as he was of the opinion by reason of special circumstances it be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.
Question from Councillor Alex Williams to the Leader
After remarks made by the First Minister on Monday regarding potential delays in the deployment of the vaccination programme, significant concerns have been expressed by residents and frontline healthcare professionals across Bridgend County Borough.
Given that an expeditious rollout of the vaccination programme will have a direct impact on the delivery of Bridgend County Borough Council's core services, will the Leader provide details of how the local authority has engaged with the Welsh Government; Cwf Taf Morgannwg University Health Board; health and social care providers; educational establishments and other stakeholders on the ongoing handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Bridgend County Borough and how it is having an impact on the provision of the County Borough Council’s services?
Response of the Leader
The Leader informed that as of 17 January, 17 care homes had been visited and by the end of January every care home in the county borough vaccines will have been delivered to all care home residents. From the 24 and 25 January, 2 community vaccine centres will be operational from 9am-5pm 7 days a week. He stated that by the end of this week, all GPs will have supplies of the Oxford Astra Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines. A thousand volunteers had been processed by the health board. Residents and staff in care home staff, frontline staff, residents over the age of 70 and vulnerable people are receiving the Pfizer vaccine, while residents over the age of 80 are receiving the Oxford vaccine. The Leader stated that the current risk is the supply of the vaccine, and he commented that the Pfizer was in a greater supply. He informed Council that he along with the Leaders and Chief Executives of the Councils which make up the Cwm Taf Health Board meet weekly with the Health Board and have made it clear that the Council will provide support to them and it had been explained to the Health Board the importance of residents receiving as much information as possible as to when they will receive the vaccine.
Councillor A Williams referred to a GP practice receiving a third of the vaccines due which has resulted in a slower roll out of the vaccine and an increase number of deaths in care homes and asked what pressure is being brought on the health board to avoid deaths as a result of the delays of the vaccine roll out. The Leader informed Council that he had made it clear to the health board that care home residents have to be vaccinated due to their fragility and the risk to them of not being vaccinated and this had also been made clear to the Health Minister. Clarification had been sought in order to ... view the full minutes text for item 499.
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.
The Mayor had consented to accepting an urgent question in accordance with Rule 4 of the Council Procedure Rules as he was of the opinion by reason of special circumstances it be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.
Exclusion of the Public
The Minutes relating to the following item are not for publication as they contain exempt information as defined in Paragraph 14 of Part 4, and Paragraph 21 of Part 5 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) (Wales) Order 2007.
If following the application of the public interest test the Committee resolves pursuant to the Act to consider this item in private, the public will be excluded from the meeting during such consideration.
RESOLVED: That under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) (Wales) Order 2007, the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item of business as it contained exempt information as defined in Paragraph 14 of Part 4 and/or Paragraph 21 of Part 5 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Following the application of the public interest test it was resolved that pursuant to the Act referred to above, to consider the following item in private, with the public excluded from the meeting, as it was considered that in all circumstances relating to the item, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.
Approval of Exempt Minutes
To receive for approval the exempt minutes of Council of 16/12/20
RESOLVED: That the exempt Minutes of the meeting of Council of 16 December 2020 be approved as a true and accurate record.