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Contact: Democratic Services
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.
To receive for approval the minutes of 19/05/21 and 23/06/21
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the following meetings of Council be approved as a true and accurate record:-
Annual meeting – 19 May 2021
Ordinary meeting – 23 June 2021
To receive announcements from:
(i) Mayor (or person presiding)
(ii) Members of the Cabinet
(iii) Chief Executive
A further meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee has been scheduled for 9 September at 2.00pm. This was agreed by the Committee at its meeting held on 18 June 2021. The reason for this meeting being added to the Programme of Meetings, is to accommodate business scheduled on the Forward Work Programme that needs to be considered before the next scheduled meeting of the Governance and Audit Committee in November 2021
Since the last Council meeting I have had the pleasure of being present at the ground breaking ceremony of the new Welsh school / child care facility at Blackmill.
The opening of Joe’s Flower shop at Cefn Cribwr (and I need some practise at cutting the ribbon as it took 3 attempts to cut, I blame the scissors being too small).
On Sunday 27th June it was a pleasure to spend a few hours at the annual Cefn Cribwr open gardens day. There were some stunning displays and the weather was kind to us as well. A great event and one that should not be missed especially if you like taking a look at how your garden should be. Later that day we visited a resident in a care home at Maesteg who was celebrating her 101st. birthday and I know the following week the Deputy Mayor visited another resident at the same home who was celebrating her 100th birthday.
On 28th. June I was invited to join the Polish Ambassador on his visit to Porthcawl museum and the war graves of 5 Polish servicemen who paid the ultimate price in the 2nd. World War and are buried at Porthcawl Cemetery. It was a very moving experience as I accompanied the Ambassador to pay our respects as he laid a wreath at each one of the war graves. If you have not visited Porthcawl museum then I suggest you consider taking a trip there as while it may look small on the outside, it’s like a Tardis inside with lots of interesting memorabilia and information about our local area.
The most recent visit this month was to Kenfig Nature Reserve as part of its Open Day and it was great to see how the trustees have started to make the visitor centre more sustainable and have plans for the future to provide an indoor café looking out onto the reserve. It was great to see that this important landmark in our County Borough is in safe hands and has a prosperous future.
I recently attended a “Not Forgotten” Charity Summer Party at Ewenny Priory for Veteran Soldiers. This was a very poignant occasion and should any Member wish to donate to this Charity, which is for an extremely worthwhile cause, please let me know.
Finally, just a few words about the Mayors charity fund. While there is no longer a Mayors Charity Committee, my wife and I fully intend to try and raise as much as possible for Lads & Dads and Bridgend Carers Centre. Therefore on Saturday ... view the full minutes text for item 554.
To receive announcements by the Leader
The latest changes to pandemic restrictions have been confirmed by Welsh Government and the majority took effect in Bridgend County Borough from Saturday 17 July.
While face coverings will remain a legal requirement in all indoor public places and on public transport, educational settings and hospitality will be exempt.
Up to six people will be able to meet indoors within private homes and holiday accommodation, and there will no longer be a limit on how many can gather outdoors.
Outdoor premises and events now have greater flexibility around physical distancing, and organised indoor events will be able to take place for up to 1,000 people if seated and 200 people if standing.
The previous restriction requiring people attending events to be seated in order to consume food and drink has been lifted.
In other changes, up to 30 children from organisations such as the Brownies and Scouts are able to attend residential centres over the summer holidays, and businesses will be required to share information with their staff about the risk and mitigation details contained within their individual Covid-19 risk assessment plans.
Fully-vaccinated adults and under-18s no longer need to self-isolate when returning from amber-list countries, but it should also be pointed out that official advice remains to avoid non-essential foreign travel and to holiday at home this summer.
While the changes are welcomed, we must also remember that coronavirus cases are rising, particularly in Bridgend County Borough and particularly among people who are aged 25 and under.
The Director of Public Health at Cwm Taf University Health Board, has warned that in recent days hospital cases due to cases of Covid 19 having risen again. The headroom we had in the second wave no longer exists. The NHS are now trying to bring back as many cases as possible in relation to people who need treatment for other health issues, that have built-up since the pandemic had come about. We still need to take precautions and act as a single, unified community in order to protect others from the risk of exposure.
Local vaccination rates remain very high with almost 83,000 residents having now benefitted from both doses of the vaccine, but it remains vitally important for everyone to take part and do their bit to protect others.
Depending on how the situation changes between now and then, the next pandemic review by Welsh Government could see us safely moving further out of alert level one and into alert level zero.
We will know more about this when the results of the review are announced next month and of course we will keep Members updated accordingly.
Members will be aware that in many of our local communities, the issue of ongoing maintenance for streets that have not been adopted by the council remains a source of concern.
That could all be about to change thanks to a new Welsh Government initiative which we are about to pilot here in Bridgend County Borough.
Using the results of a previous survey, ... view the full minutes text for item 555.
The Chief Executive submitted a report, which sought Council approval of the proposed changes to Corporate Plan targets for 2021-22, as outlined in Appendix A to the report.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented the report and confirmed that as part of the approval process for the refreshed Corporate Plan, it was acknowledged that COVID-19 had an impact on BCBC’s planning cycle, making it more challenging to set targets for 2021-22. It was therefore agreed by Council that a flexible approach to setting corporate plan targets was necessary to ensure business planning is robust and effective.
As part of BCBC’s COVID-19 recovery planning, each directorate had the opportunity to consider targets for 2021-22, based on verified year end data. Proposed changes to targets have been considered at Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee (COSC) meeting on 5 July 2021 to ensure appropriate challenge and transparency.
On 20 July 2021 Cabinet considered the proposed changes to Corporate Plan targets for 2021-22. Appendix A to the report, sets out the proposed target changes, and will be published as an addendum to the current Corporate Plan.
As part of a wider review of performance and governance due to the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021, the Council was proposing that corporate planning adopts this approach to target setting in future planning cycles. This will ensure that the published corporate plan remains up to date with the most recent year end data and avoids the issue of publishing the corporate plan without targets due to lack of data.
The Leader thanked Officers for their work on refreshing the targets in and some aspects of the wider Corporate Plan, some of which had inevitably been delayed due to the pandemic. There had been an obvious impact on the target relating to rough sleepers and the homeless, as well as Wi-Fi connectivity in Primary and Secondary Schools. He thanked Members of the CO&SC in their recent analysis and scrutiny of the refreshed Plan.
A Member noted from the report’s Appendix, that the number of additional dwellings created as a result of bringing empty properties back into use, was showing as 2 for 2020/21 while in 2019/20 this had been 20. A revised target had now been set for 2021. He asked if this decrease had been as a result of the pandemic.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change confirmed that this was the case.
The Cabinet Member – Future Generations and Wellbeing added that this was further compounded by the Lead Officer dealing with this having been seconded to head up the TTP Enforcement Team. As we moved out from the pandemic, this target would look to be increased in future years.
RESOLVED: (1) That Council approved the revised Corporate Plan targets for 2021-2022.
(2) That Council also approved the proposal to introduce a flexible process to review the setting of targets informed by year end data. Any revised targets will then be published as an addendum to the ... view the full minutes text for item 556.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change submitted a report, the purpose of which was to:-
· comply with the requirement of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s (CIPFA) ‘The Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities (2017 edition)
· provide an update on the capital outturn for 2020-21 (Appendix A to the report)
· provide an update of the capital position for 2021-22 as at 30 June 2021 (Appendix B)
· seek approval for a revised capital programme for 2021-22 to 2030-31 (Appendix C)
· note the projected Prudential and Other Indicators for 2021-22 (Appendix D)
The report provided Members with an update on the Council’s capital programme for 2020-21. The original budget approved by Council on 26 February 2020 had been further revised and approved by Council during the year to incorporate budgets brought forward from 2019-20 and any new schemes and grant approvals. The most recent programme for 2020-21, approved by Council in February 2021 as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy, totalled £35.440 million, of which £12.419 million was met from Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) resources, including capital receipts, revenue contributions from earmarked reserves and borrowing, with the remaining £23.021 million coming from external resources.
Appendix A provided details of the individual schemes within the capital programme, showing the budget available in 2020-21 compared to the actual spend. The revised programme was only approved in February 2021, so there had been few amendments since then other than the main changes outlined in paragraph 4.1.2 of the report.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, confirmed that a total expenditure as at 31 March 2021 was £23.461 million which, after slippage of £14.376 million into 2021-22 and adjustments to grant funded schemes of £0.842 million, resulted in a total under spend of £0.139 million, which will be returned to Council funding.
A net slippage into 2021-22 of £14.058 million was required, for the main schemes as outlined in paragraph 4.1.4 of the report.
The next section of the report provided Members with an update on the Council’s capital programme for 2021-22 since the budget was last approved by Council and incorporated any new schemes and grant approvals. The revised programme for 2021-22, currently totalled £87.347 million, of which £53.067 million is met from Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) resources, including capital receipts, revenue contributions from earmarked reserves and borrowing, with the remaining £34.280 million coming from external resources, including General Capital Grant. Table 1 in the report showed the capital programme for each Directorate from the June 2021 approved Council position to quarter 1.
Table 2 in the report, then summarised the current funding assumptions for the capital programme for 2021-22. The capital resources are managed to ensure that maximum financial benefit for the Council is achieved. This may include the realignment of funding to maximise government grants.
Appendix B provided details of the individual schemes within the capital programme, showing the budget available in 2021-22 compared to the projected spend at 30 ... view the full minutes text for item 557.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change submitted a report, in order to:-
· Comply with the requirement of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s ‘Treasury Management in the Public Services: Code of Practice’ (the Code) to report an overview of treasury activities for the preceding financial year; and
· Report on the actual Treasury Management Indicators for 2020-21.
By way of background information, she confirmed that Treasury management is the management of the Council’s cash flows, borrowing and investments, and the associated risks. The Council is exposed to financial risks including the loss of invested funds and the revenue effect of changing interest rates. The successful identification, monitoring and control of financial risk are therefore central to the Council’s prudent financial management.
The Council’s treasury management advisors are Arlingclose. The current
services provided to the Council include:-
· advice and guidance on relevant policies, strategies and reports
· advice on investment decisions
· notification of credit ratings and changes
· other information on credit quality
· advice on debt management decisions
· accounting advice
· reports on treasury performance
· forecasts of interest rates
· training courses
In terms of the economic context (of the report), the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change confirmed that the coronavirus pandemic dominated 2020-21, leading to almost the entire world being in some form of lockdown during the year. This very much had a detrimental effect on finances and in particular interest rates, including that of the Council’s. This had been compounded also by the still ongoing uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
The local authority has administered a number of the Welsh Government Schemes, including payment of over 2,400 business and charity Business Rates Grants worth over £30 million; over 1,700 Lockdown Grants totalling just over £5.4 million; and 4500 Business Restrictions Grants totalling £14.96 million, as well as bearing the upfront costs of additional support required throughout the pandemic in advance of receiving WG funding. This has clearly had an impact on the Council’s cash flow during the year and measures have had to be put in place to manage the significant sums of money flowing into and out of the Council’s bank account, including receiving earlier payments of Revenue Support Grant and interim business grant payments from Welsh Government, making short term deposits until funding is required and increasing our daily BACS limits, to enable more payments to be processed quickly.
In terms of the Treasury Management Outturn for 2020-21, the Council had complied with its legislative and regulatory requirements during 2020-21. The TMS 2020-21 and the Half Year Report were reported to Council on 26 February 2020 and 18 November 2020, respectively. In addition, quarterly monitoring reports were presented to Cabinet during 2020-21, added the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change.
A summary of the treasury management activities for 2020-21, was shown at Appendix A to the report. The Council’s external debt and investment position for 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 was shown in Table 1 in the report and more detail was ... view the full minutes text for item 558.
The Monitoring Officer presented a report, the purpose of which, was to approve the Elected Member Learning and Development Strategy attached to the covering report, at Appendix 1.
The Elected Member Learning and Development Strategy has provided the framework for provision and delivery of Member Development for Elected Members from induction and throughout their term of office. The Strategy was coming towards the end of its effective life and in preparation for the 2022 Local Government Elections, and the subsequent induction of newly Elected Members, a desktop review of the Strategy had been undertaken to ensure that it is fit for purpose and updated to reflect a number of factors which have changed since the approval of the original Strategy.
The Strategy was divided into 5 phases, as outlined in paragraph 4.1 of the report.
In the first year after the election, member development activities are primarily for information provision and process development which, should be delivered in-house or by appropriate organisations such as the WLGA. After the first year, the focus in the delivery of member development will change to the provision of wider in-depth topics at a local level and more topics which relate to regional and national issues. Further training opportunities for Members would arise throughout the term of office in order to enhance their development and through suggested topics that emanated from the Democratic Services Committee, the Monitoring Officer added. The Committee will also receive updates regarding the Member Development Budget and any evaluation of the Strategy that is undertaken.
It was proposed that greater use of the e-learning facilities be incorporated into the member development programme, through the methods suggested in paragraph 4.3 of the report.
RESOLVED: That Council approved the Elected Member Learning and Development Strategy attached at Appendix 1 to the report.
The Leader of the Independent Alliance Group presented a report on behalf of the Monitoring Officer and Chairperson of the Democratic Services Committee, in order for Members to receive and note the Democratic Services Committee Annual Report for the period May 2020 to May 2021. The report outlined the work of the Committee during that period.
He explained that the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011, required each council to establish a Democratic Services Committee. The Measure prescribes the functions of the committee and requires the committee to make a report at least annually to the Council. The Committee approved the Annual Report at its meeting of 24 June 2021.
The report then outlined information regarding the following:
RESOLVED: That Council received and noted the Democratic Services Committee Annual Report.
The Monitoring Officer presented a report, in order that Members could receive and note the Annual Report of the Standards Committee for the period 2020/21.
By way of background, the Local Government Act 2000 requires the Council to establish a Standards Committee to promote and maintain high standards of conduct and probity in the conduct of Councillors of the County Borough. The Annual Report covered the period May 2020 to May 2021, whilst the Standards Committee considered the Annual Report at its meeting of 29 June 2021.
The report then outlined information regarding the following:
a) Standards Committee membership, including during the reporting period;
b) Term of Office (for both its Independent Members and its County Borough Members);
c) The role of the Committee
d) The Committees Terms of Reference
e) Dates of the Committee meetings held in 2020-21
f) Training and development initiatives
g) Work areas to look at moving forward
There had been one referral from the Public Ombudsman for Wales in 2020/21, where it had been agreed that a local Community Council Member had failed to comply with the Code of Conduct, in relation to his role as a Community Councillor.
RESOLVED: That Council received and noted the Standards Committee Annual Report.
The Monitoring Officer presented a report, so as to advise Members of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) ‘Diversity in Democracy’ report and seek Council’s endorsement of becoming a ‘Diverse Council’ and the resulting actions that need to be taken forward to achieve a ‘step change’ at the 2022 Local Government Elections.
She explained that the WLGA has committed to making a change in local government diversity at the 2022 Local Elections, as it is acknowledged that despite previous action and campaigns, progress has been slow and it is recognised that there remains a lack of diversity in Councils. Examples of what these were, was shown in paragraph 3.2 of the report and expanded upon at the meeting by the Monitoring Officer.
The evidence base, barriers and challenges to attracting more diverse councillors were referenced in the WLGA’s submission to the Senedd’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee Inquiry into diversity in local government in September 2018. The barriers and challenges can broadly be summarised as:
• Time-commitment and meeting times
• Political and organisational culture
• Childcare and other caring responsibilities
• Public criticism and online abuse
• Remuneration and impact on employment and
• Lack of diverse role models and incumbency
The WLGA has committed to making a step change in local government diversity at the 2022 Local Elections. At a special meeting during March, its Council endorsed the ‘Diversity in Democracy report’ (attached as Appendix 1 to the report). The report was the culmination of the work of a cross-party working group (represented by Councillors D Patel and CA Green for BCBC) and builds upon the action plans and ambitions of both councils and partners. WLGA will take forward several actions nationally, as outlined within the report including:
At its meeting and through its report, the WLGA Council recognised the diversity work already under way locally but called for concerted and ambitious local action. Through its report and resulting actions, it asks Councils to prioritise action locally, promoting the take-up of members’ allowances and progressing ‘Diverse Council’ Declarations by the summer. The WLGA Council unanimously agreed that all councils should commit to a declaration by July 2021 on becoming ‘Diverse Councils’ in 2022, to provide a clear, public commitment to improving diversity.
The Monitoring Officer continued, by stating that Councils’ local diversity work will be supported by a national awareness raising, publicity and support through the WLGA and Welsh Government. WLGA officials will be meeting with Heads of Democratic Services to share ideas and approaches to develop local declarations and action plans.
As part of the commitment from Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) to support the Diversity in Democracy agenda, all Members were asked to complete a diversity ... view the full minutes text for item 562.
The Monitoring Officer presented a report, the purpose of which, was to:
She explained that, there had been a recent change to the membership of political groups, whereby Councillor C Webster had left the Conservative Group to join the Independent Alliance Group.
The change outlined in paragraph 3.2 of the report, had therefore affected the political balance on Committees.
In view of the contents detailed within paragraph 3.3 (of the report), changes to Committee memberships were now required, as follows:-
1. Town and Community Council Forum – Conservative Group to lose a seat, Independent Alliance Group to gain a seat.
2. Development Control Committee – Councillor M Hughes to lose a seat, Independent Alliance Group to gain a seat.
3. Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2 – Conservative Group to lose a seat, Councillor M Hughes to gain a seat.
4. Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 1 – Councillor JH Tildesley to lose a seat, Independent Alliance Group to gain a seat
The Monitoring Officer verbally advised Members that aside of the above, a further change was also required, namely to add a member of the Conservative Group to the membership of the Development Control Committee.
Following the review of political balance as suggested above, the membership of committees would be updated, to reflect the composition of Council Committees accordingly. The updated political balance figures accounting for these changes, was shown at Appendix 1 to the report.
RESOLVED: That Council:-
(1) Noted the outcome of the political balance of the Authority resulting from changes to the membership of political groups;
(2) Approved the revised political balance (of the Council);
(3) Approved the allocation of seats to political groups in accordance with political balance rules, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report and the resulting changes to the membership of the Committees as outlined in paragraph 4.1 of the report, through the following named Councillor nominations:-
· Town and Community Council Forum – Conservative group to lose a seat (former member Councillor C Webster) and Councillor C Webster, Independent Alliance group to gain this seat;
· Development Control Committee – Councillor M Hughes, Independent to lose a seat and Councillor C Webster, Independent Alliance group to gain this seat. That a seat is also gained on this Committee by Councillor S Vidal, Conservative group;
· Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2 – Conservative to lose a seat (former member Councillor C Webster) and Councillor M Hughes, Independent to gain this seat, and
· Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 1 – Councillor JH Tildesley, Independent to lose a seat and Councillor C Webster, Independent Alliance ... view the full minutes text for item 563.
To receive the following Question from:
Councillor Altaf Hussain to the Leader/Cabinet Member - Communities
Up to £ 20 million could be spent over the next 2 years to improve the look of shops, support and start – up of businesses, subsidise bus fares and increase bin collections in Swansea. Every ward in Swansea will share in a package of support. Swansea Council would be covered by a Council underspending in 2020-2021. Instead,
In Bridgend, there is a 3.9% increase of Council tax in 2021-2022 without any benefit to wards or residents of the borough.
Could the Leader let the Council know about his plans, if he has any, of helping residents of our Borough and what legacy he would like to leave behind at the end of his term in 2022?
Councillor Altaf Hussain to the Leader/Cabinet Member - Communities
Up to £20 million could be spent over the next 2 years to improve the look of shops, support and start–up of businesses, subsidise bus fares and increase bin collections in Swansea. Every ward in Swansea will share in a package of support. Swansea Council would be covered by a Council underspending in 2020-2021.
Instead, in Bridgend, there is a 3.9% increase of Council tax in 2021-2022 without any benefit to wards or residents of the Borough.
Could the Leader let the Council know about his plans, if he has any, of helping residents of our Borough and what legacy he would like to leave behind at the end of his term in 2022 ?
This last year, we have been concentrating on responding to and mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bridgend’s economy and local business by improving the economic climate for business growth and delivering key regeneration projects in our main towns and valley areas. We will continue to invest in key industrial and business infrastructure, for example developing additional starter units for growing businesses in Pyle and Bridgend. The units at the Pyle Industrial Estate will commence development later this this year and we are continuing to explore other potential locations across the Borough for new employment uses. This includes working with the Welsh Government Inward Investment Team to market Bridgend across the UK and Europe and seeking to attract new companies and investment opportunities into the Borough. Attracting grant funding is a key part of this work and the Directorate is currently working on potential projects that could be submitted for the UK Government’s new Levelling Up Fund. This could include a possible “Agri Hub”, which could be a new agricultural livestock market and with associated retail opportunities. If successful, this could deliver significant economic and environmental benefits to the agricultural and local food producing communities in the region. The extension of the Rural Development Programme to December 2022 offers the opportunity to support the progression of this scheme. We will also continue to provide training opportunities and assist our residents back into work through initiatives such as “Employability Bridgend”. This year, from April 2020 to end of March 2021, the Employability Team helped 1255 people from Bridgend engage in the programme, including 60 people who were already in work being supported to improve their labour market position; 408 people have achieved qualifications and 398 have gone into work.
Delivering financial support to businesses and the economy from the Welsh Government Covid Recovery Fund, has been a core function for our Directorate. Over the past year, the Council has assessed and distributed 6,500 business grants and over £50m to businesses in the Borough. This is in addition to supporting retail businesses and our town centres to operate effectively during the pandemic, through initiatives such as Outdoor Improvement Grants and interventions in retail environments such as public health Window Vinyls, social distancing floor markers and ... view the full minutes text for item 564.
Quarterly Debate Item - Post Covid Education and Family Support Priorities
The Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration opened the debate, which he considered was presumably intended to offer advice to cabinet and officers on the priorities affecting the education and family support across the county.
It is presumably not a substitute for another council procedure, such as questions to the executive. Similarly, it is not a substitute for ward-by-ward member referrals.
After hearing the debate, he would sum up, and then invite the Corporate Director – Education and Family Support to comment and make some closing remarks.
In general terms, at this stage our high-level priorities are as follows:-
We will (as a Council):
A Members stated that he would like to concentrate on the provision of Welsh language education in the east of the County Borough and the lack of equality of opportunity and parity of choice for those parents who would like to access Welsh language education for their children.
In his view, there is a strong argument to say that a town the size of Pencoed should have a Welsh language primary school and he wondered whether the Cabinet Member would agree with this long term ambition given the proposed expansion of the town in the Draft Local Development Plan?
However, given the unlikelihood of a primary school springing up by September, I’m given to understand that section 3.5 of the School Admissions Code allows for Cabinet to relax the published admission number of pupils at a particular school if there is a proposal to expand the school as is the case at Ysgol Bro Ogwr in Brackla.
After speaking to the Corporate Director – Education and Family Support at some length, he informed me that this would not only compete with Welsh Government legislation on reducing class sizes below 30 pupils, with a potential clawback of Welsh Government funding as a result, but that it could open a further can of worms in that other over-subscribed schools could ask for a similar relaxation in expanding capacity. I acknowledge the difficulty of this situation.
However, the overall strategic question remains when it ... view the full minutes text for item 565.
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.