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Two minutes silence for tributes paid to the late Councillor Philip White and in respect of Sir David Amess
Prior to proceeding into the business of the agenda, the Mayor asked Members and Officers to join him in a two minutes silence, as a mark of respect to the recent passing on of Councillor Philip White, former Cabinet Member and member of BCBC for the Caerau Ward and Sir David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West.
The Mayor then added that words were not enough to express the extent of the very sad loss of friend and colleague Councillor White. He added that his thoughts were with his family at this most tragic time, to which he offered his sincere condolences.
The Leader then gave the following tribute on behalf of the Council.
‘All colleagues will have been informed of the sudden passing of our friend and colleague, Councillor Phil White.
As you know, Councillor White was hospitalised with Covid-19. He fought it to the very end, but sadly was lost to the virus late last week.
Phil was passionate about people, his community, and his beliefs long before he became a member of the authority in 2008.
He earned a place in the industrial history and folklore of our nation when he played a crucial role as one of the leading coal miners in the buyout and re-opening of the Tower deep mine. Becoming the first colliery in British history to be owned and run by its own workers it was run successfully and profitably until all the coal reserves were fully mined in 2007.
I won’t forget how, when the UK Government was conducting their 2006 energy review, he sat alongside Tyrone O’Sullivan and NUM Secretary Wayne Thomas to address the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs at the House of Commons. Phil was not backward in coming forward when he believed in an issue, and he certainly made his views known on that occasion.
It was shortly after this that he stood for election and became the representative for the community of Caerau and Nantyffyllon.
Councillor White’s qualities quickly saw him appointed to the position of Cabinet Member for Communities.
He continued to serve as a Cabinet member throughout the majority of the thirteen years he served as a councillor, and until he retired from the role last year, he was most recently our Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help.
This was, of course, only the tip of the iceberg when it came to Councillor White’s public service.
Among the many responsibilities that he fulfilled, Councillor White was an enthusiastic and active council champion for both older people, and for children and young people. This including chairing our Corporate Parenting Committee and becoming a passionate vice-chair of our Fostering Panel. He was a keen mental health advocate and proud to represent us on Bridgend Care and Repair and the Welsh Local Government Association.
At Nantyffyllon Primary, he was a chair of governors and the school described him in their tribute to him as a hugely loyal and supportive friend to staff and pupils, a dedicated ... view the full minutes text for item 582.
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 HM Williams personal interest in Agenda item 8, as Chair of Governors at Abercerdin Primary School.
Councillor Amanda Williams personal interest in Agenda item 8, as an LA Governor on Brynteg Comprehensive School.
Councillor N Burnett personal interest in Agenda item 8, as an LA Governor at Brynteg Comprehensive School as well as a prejudicial interest in the same item, due to a close family member being with an organisation that could benefit from the report. Councillor Burnett left the meeting whilst this item was being considered.
Councillor J Gebbie personal interest in Agenda item 13, as a member of the NJC Committee.
To receive for approval the minutes of 15/09/21
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of a meeting of Council dated 15 September 2021, be approved as a true and accurate record, subject to Councillor E Venables being added to the list of meeting attendees.
To receive announcements from:
(i) Mayor (or person presiding)
(ii) Members of the Cabinet
(iii) Chief Executive
The Mayor started off his announcements to Council today by first of all making a personal statement as follows:-
It seems a recent comment I made in conversation with someone while using my own personal Facebook account has offended some members of the opposition as it has been copy and pasted by them across various pages on social media along with calls for me to resign. For the sake of clarity, my comment concerned the perceived rivalry between my role as Mayor of Bridgend County Borough, and the role of the local Bridgend town mayor. More specifically, I said that I was looking forward to ‘winding him up’ at a forthcoming event we were both attending, referred to him in jest as a ‘minor mayor’, and joked that his chain was ‘probably bigger than mine’.
It was never meant to be a public post as I was under the impression this was a private conversation I was having, but as soon as I realised it was open to the public, I immediately deleted the post in order not to upset or offend anyone. No harm or insult was ever intended by any of this, and I am sorry if it caused offence to any individual or organisation as that was never my intention.
Since our last Council meeting there has not been a great deal of Mayoral visits, but I was pleased to be invited by Steve Brace of Bridgend Athletics to re-launch their re-furbished athletic track and facilities at Newbridge Fields. There were a number of sporting stars there, including previous Cllr. Eric Hughes who is still running on a regular basis after major heart surgery and now being in his 80’s. Bridgend Athletics have produced a number of regional, national, world and Olympic stars over the years and long may this continue as they embark upon the next chapter in their development as a club.
I have been visiting recipients of the Mayors Citizenship awards from when Councillor Stuart Baldwin was Mayor, that could not be presented due to the pandemic. Last week it was a pleasure to visit Isabella Evans who at 15 years old has done some amazing work in learning sign language known as Makaton to help with her siblings and their development. She is clearly a star of the future.
Then it was Pencoed Comprehensive School and their Young Carers Group. It was great to learn of the support they are getting from the school and hearing some of their stories as to how they help and support their parents and siblings prior to school and after school made me realise how remarkable these young adults are who will surely grow into even more remarkable adults in the future.
Lastly it was on to Kenfig Hill RFC to present the award to Chris Leyshon who is doing some amazing work in raising vital funds and awareness of Prostate Cancer. It’s the most common form of cancer in men in the UK, with 1 ... view the full minutes text for item 585.
To receive announcements by the Leader
The Leader announced that everyone was shocked last week by the killing of a dedicated member of parliament when he was holding an advice surgery. In an act of terror, Sir David Amess MP was stabbed to death in a church in his own constituency of Southend West when he was just doing his duty, as an elected representative.
In the aftermath, very moving tributes were made to Sir David and his contribution to parliament and the way he championed Southend. Sadly, we also heard in that session of parliament, how commonplace abuse of our MPs has become, with all having received abuse, attacks and threats and many having received death threats.
Parliamentarians from across the chamber reminded us that what we have in common matters far more, we must cherish those bonds and shared values. A point was made consistently that whatever political difference we have, we are all here for the same reason, which is to try and do what we think is best for the people who we represent.
The Leader was thinking of this when he heard another news report, this time about the MP for the Rhondda who had received a death threat on the weekend from a member of the public. It was especially sobering to learn that an arrest of a man was subsequently made right here in the county borough.
If we are to learn anything from these tragic events, it must surely be the need for a greater focus on mutual respect and the simple ability to be able to discuss and disagree, without having to destroy or attack individuals or resort to the deliberate, harmful spread of disinformation.
He was not interested in that type of politics, and hoped that Members all agreed that there needs to be far greater focus on mutual respect, respect for one another as political colleagues, respect for one another as human beings, and respect for all of our democratically elected representatives, regardless of what party they may or may not belong to.
The Chief Executive submitted a report presented by the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, the purpose of which, was to present the Annual Report 2020-21 (at Appendix A to the report) for Council to consider and approve.
By way of some background, she explained that under section 15 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and in accordance with the related statutory guidance issued by the Welsh Government, the authority must publish its assessment of performance for the previous financial year before 31 October.
In March 2020, the Council published its new Corporate Plan 2018-23, revised for 2020-21. To take account of the impact of COVID-19 on priorities which was significant, the Plan was revised and some adjustments were made to it, which were agreed at Council in September 2020. The Plan as a result of Covid-19, then concentrated upon the more urgent priorities from March 2020 onward.
The revised Plan defined 32 commitments to deliver the three well-being objectives and sets out 46 success measures to monitor progress. However, to take account of COVID-19 and redirect resources, targets were removed for 14 success measures. At year-end, data was unavailable for 7 success measures, which are predominantly in education following the Welsh Government decision to postpone exams and use alternative arrangements to determine grades.
The Annual Report, prepared under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, evaluates how well the Council succeeded in 2020-21 in delivering its commitments and planned outcomes for the financial year, using success measures and other associated evidence.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change confirmed, that the Council made 32 commitments to support the delivery of its well-being objectives. 13 (40.6%) of these were fully completed with 19 (59.4%) achieving most of their milestones.
Of the 46 indicators identified for the Corporate Plan, 25 can be compared against their target: 14 (48%) met their target, 2 (8%) were off target by less than 10% and 11 (44%) missed the target by more than 10%. Detailed information about the Council’s performance was included at the report’s Appendix A. The Annual Report during this period including the Council’s performance against its objectives and the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, commended the report given the difficulties experienced by local authorities since the pandemic. The Annual Report showed some considerable progress against the Council’s wellbeing objectives and its seven goals.
Once approved, she confirmed that the Annual Report will be published on the Council’s website and shared with stakeholders. Hard copies of the report will also be produced and placed in the Council’s public libraries.
The Leader commended the Annual Report for 2020-21 and all staff in BCBC who had worked tirelessly to make it so pleasing to read. He felt staff had gone over and above the call of duty considering the pressures of the pandemic which was still ongoing and gave examples of this in the different Council service areas. Where there was room for improvements, these would ... view the full minutes text for item 587.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented 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’ to produce interim Treasury Management reports;
· seek Council approval the Council’s Treasury Management activities for 2021-22 for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021 and the projected Treasury Management Indicators for 2021-22.
She reminded Members, 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 as Council was aware, was Arlingclose. The current services provided to the Council included:
· 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
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, confirmed that the TMS 2021-22 was approved by Council on 24 February 2021 with the Half Year Report scheduled to be presented on 20 October 2021.
A summary of the treasury management activities for the first half of 2021-22, was shown in table 1 at Appendix A to the report. Since the start of the financial year the Council has had surplus funds for investment, she added. The Council receives two instalments of Welsh Government core funding (Revenue Settlement Grant) during April at £12.6 million per instalment and was able to carry forward additional grant funding from 2020-21. As a result, the balance on investments at 30 September 2021 was £79.84 million with an average rate of interest of 0.06%. This was a significant reduction from the same time last year when the average rate was 0.24% and showed the impact of the reductions in interest rates as a result of the pandemic.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, advised that Council has not taken long-term borrowing since March 2012. The TMS 2021-22 anticipated that the Authority would need to borrow £30.37 million during the year. However, this was on an assumption that the Council would have £43 million held in usable reserves that it could use in the short term to finance expenditure. As at 31 March 2021 the Council’s usable reserves stood at £114 million, an increase from £83 million as at 31 March 2020, which was not foreseen when the TMS was approved. The Council received £20.6 million from the Welsh Government Hardship Fund, which was more than had been anticipated during the year, as well as further additional grants from Welsh Government in the final quarter of 2020-21 of £8.9 million and capital receipts during the year of £2.9 million
Based on the ... view the full minutes text for item 588.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented 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 of the capital position for 2021-22 as at 30 September 2021 (Appendix A)
· seek approval for a revised capital programme for 2021-22 to 2030-31 (Appendix B)
· note the projected Prudential and Other Indicators for 2021-22 (Appendix C).
She explained that the Local Authorities (Capital Finance and Accounting) (Wales) Regulations 2003, as amended, contain detailed provisions for the capital finance and accounting controls, including the rules on the use of capital receipts and what is to be treated as capital expenditure. They modify accounting practice in various ways to prevent adverse impacts on authorities’ revenue resources.
As well as this legislation, the Council manages its Treasury Management and Capital activities in accordance with the associated guidance shown in paragraph 3.2 of the report.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change reminded Members that on 24 February 2021, Council approved a capital budget of £62.363 million for 2021-22 as part of a capital programme covering the period 2021-22 to 2030-31. The programme was last updated and approved by Council on 21 July 2021.
This report provided an update on the following:
• Capital Programme monitoring quarter 2 2021-22
• A revised Capital Programme for 2021-22 to 2030-31
• Capital Strategy monitoring
• Prudential and other indicators
This section of the report provided Members with an update on the Council’s
capital programme for 2021-22 since it was last approved by Council and
incorporated any new schemes and grant approvals. The revised programme for 2021-22 currently totals £76.600 million, of which £54.378 million is met from Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) resources, including capital receipts and revenue contributions from earmarked reserves, with the remaining £22.222 million coming from external resources, including General Capital Grant.
Table 1 in the report, reflected the capital programme for each Directorate from July 2021 (quarter 1) approved Council position to quarter 2.
Table 2 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.
A number of schemes had already been identified as requiring slippage of
budget to future years (2022-23 and beyond). At quarter 2 the total requested slippage is £12.826 million. Details of these were outlined in paragraph 4.4 of the report.
Since the last capital report approved by Council in July 2021, there has been a number of new externally funded schemes approved and internally funded schemes, which have been incorporated into the capital programme, as itemised in paragraph 4.5 of the report. The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change gave a resume of these for the benefit of Members
In February 2021, Council approved the Capital Strategy ... view the full minutes text for item 589.
The Chief Executive presented a report, the purpose of which, was to seek approval of the Market Supplement Policy.
He explained that currently, there was no provision within the Council for the payment of market supplements. The implementation of the Council’s Single Status Job Evaluation Collective Agreement in September 2013, meant that all former market supplements ceased with the introduction of the new pay and grading structure.
The Chief Executive advised further, that the Pay Policy agreed by Council on 10 March 2021 confirmed this position. It was, however, referenced that consideration would be given to the introduction of market supplements, in recognition of the challenges faced in recruiting and retaining staff in some professions on the current pay structure.
The introduction of the Market Supplement Policy would address the issue that the council’s job evaluation scheme and grading structure did not take into account, market factors such as market pay rates or fluctuating demand for skills in the market place.
The Chief Executive Officer referred to the Market Supplement Policy, at Appendix 1 to the report, which would enable the Council to respond to any established recruitment and retention issues, by temporarily increasing the pay awarded to a post, without altering the determined job evaluation grade. This will ensure that the principles within the job evaluation scheme in maintaining equal pay are preserved.
He emphasised, that Market Supplements would be used as an exception rather than the rule and must be considered through submission of a robust business case, comprising clear objective evidence on all the relevant factors in place.
The Chief Executive concluded the report, by stating that Trade Union representatives had been fully engaged with the report’s proposals and indeed had contributed to the development of this new policy. In the event that Council approves the policy, Trade Union partners have acknowledged that it will be necessary to agree an addendum to the council’s Single Status Job Evaluation Collective Agreement accordingly.
The Deputy Leader supported the report, given that it addressed an issue the Council had been experiencing for some time, and that the Policy would assist in filling key posts it had previously had difficulty recruiting to, which would in turn contribute to making our services more resilient.
A Member whilst not being against the Policy, enquired how the Authority intended putting steps in place to try and dissuade members of staff in key posts leaving the Council for another Authority with the same type of policy in place supporting a similar job only offering a better salary.
The Chief Executive advised that if other Authorities were paying a better salary than BCBC were for a similar job, there was always a risk of that employer leaving. However, the Policy was aiming at recruitment and retention of staff and this was one of a few tools the Authority was putting in place, including enhanced payments for some jobs where there had traditionally been problems experienced around recruitment and retention.
A Member noted from the Policy, ... view the full minutes text for item 590.
The Monitoring Officer submitted a report, the purpose of which, was to consider changes to the membership of the Governance and Audit Committee to take effect following the Annual Meeting of Council on 18 May 2022.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented the report and explained, that whilst the Authority already has a Governance and Audit Committee, the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 made this a statutory requirement. The Measure makes a number of requirements in relation to the Audit Committee’s membership, including the appointment of the Chairperson and the Committee’s remit.
The Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021, has now added additional responsibilities to the Committee linked with governance, including consideration of aspects of performance and complaints.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change advised that the current membership of the Governance and Audit Committee comprises 12 Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) Members and one Independent (Lay) Member.
Members will recall that under the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021, it will be a legislative requirement from 5 May 2022 for one third of the membership of the Committee to be Lay Members. It is therefore proposed that the membership of the Governance and Audit Committee is changed to 12 Members consisting of 8 BCBC Members and 4 Lay Members and that Council approve the appointment of additional Lay Members to ensure it is compliant with the legislation from 5 May 2022 onwards.
The guidance recommends that a Lay Member should not be appointed for more than two full terms of a local authority. Any Lay Member with voting rights is subject to the provisions of the Code of Conduct for Members.
The next sections of the report outlined the recruitment process for Lay Members, which the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change elaborated upon for Council, as well as the criteria to be adopted for suitable candidates to be considered suitable to be shortlisted for interview.
Shortlisted candidates would then be interviewed by an Officer Panel.
A Member sought confirmation that a Lay Member would have to be Chairperson of the Governance and Audit Committee following next year’s Elections and, if so, would they receive training for the role. He also asked what level of remuneration the Lay Member would receive as Chairperson.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change confirmed that extensive training would be made available both internally from Officers and from an external provider, probably the WLGA.
The Group Manager – Legal and Democratic Services added that there would be an enhanced daily payment rate for the Chairperson and statutory guidance was still being awaited on the detail of this and on the training regime for Lay Members, including the Chairperson.
RESOLVED: That Council:
(1) Approved the changes to the membership of the Governance and Audit Committee as outlined at paragraph 4.2 of the report to take effect following the Annual Meeting of Council on 18 May 2022;
(2) Delegated the process ... view the full minutes text for item 591.
The Chief Officer Legal and Regulatory Services, HR and Corporate Policy (and Monitoring Officer), reported on the Information Reports which had been published since the last meeting of Council.
The Chief Executive referred Members to the two Information Reports in question, contained in the covering report.
RESOLVED: That Council acknowledged the publication of the documents listed in the report.
To receive the following Question from:
Councillor Altaf Hussain to the Leader
Leader, we are all responding to competing needs, the environment and future of the planet at the same time as responding to a housing crisis. Can you confirm how you will balance the need to both develop our environment and reduce carbon emissions at the same time as engaging communities about proposed developments which are sometimes poorly thought through?”
Councillor Altaf Hussain to the Leader
Leader, we are all responding to competing needs, the environment and future of the planet at the same time as responding to a housing crisis. Can you confirm how you will balance the need to both develop our environment and reduce carbon emissions at the same time as engaging communities about proposed developments which are sometimes poorly thought through?
The Leader confirmed, that in 2020 this authority declared a Climate Emergency and Cabinet created a Climate Emergency Response Programme. These actions highlighted that the authority has a role as:
• A community leader – to work with residents, groups and businesses in relation to their energy use and preparing for climate impacts
• A service provider – to deliver more resource efficient services that are less carbon intensive, encourage more resilience and support the most vulnerable in society.
• The manager of an estate – to ensure that the estate and its operations are as resource efficient as possible, to use clean energy and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
A target for Local Authorities in Wales to be net-zero carbon must be met by 2030. In response, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) with local government Leaders have established a Decarbonisation Strategy Panel, supported by all 22 local authorities, WG, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Cardiff University. The Decarbonisation Strategy Panel, alongside WG, have defined the areas of focus in reaching net-zero carbon as follows:
• Mobility and Transport
• Building and Energy
• Land Use and Biodiversity
The planning system plays a key role in tackling this climate emergency through the decarbonisation of the energy system and the sustainable management of natural resources (Planning Policy Wales 11, 2021).
The recently published Future Wales – the National Plan 2040 is the national development framework, setting the direction for development in Wales to 2040. It is a development plan with a strategy for addressing key national priorities through the planning system, including sustaining and developing a vibrant economy, achieving decarbonisation and climate resilience, developing strong ecosystems and improving the health and well-being of our communities. At a local level, national planning policy is reinforced via the Local Development Plan (LDP) which, is a high level strategy document which must be prepared by the Council. The LDP also expresses in land-use terms the vision, wellbeing objectives and priorities of the Council and sets the strategic direction for development in Bridgend. The LDP is currently being reviewed and consultation on the draft plan has recently ended and a consultation report will be prepared in due course.
The Welsh Government published its Welsh Public Sector Net Zero Carbon Reporting Guide in May 2021. This sets out detailed scope and boundaries of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and a consistent calculation methodology to determine the degree to which Public bodies are progressing towards reaching net-zero carbon. In developing a position of net-zero carbon for Council operations, this authority is seeking to undertake an innovative ... view the full minutes text for item 593.
Quarterly Debate - "How will social care be funded post the Covid pandemic?"
The Leader opened debate on this item.
He confirmed that COVID-19 highlighted just how essential social care is in supporting people to be as independent as possible. The issues facing social care – particularly the increase in demand, scale of funding pressures and workforce challenges – are just as pressing now as they were before COVID, with many having been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Increasing need for services is clearly evident post Covid, and as we reported to Cabinet yesterday, we are providing 8% more domiciliary care than at this time last year. This is as a result of delays in people accessing NHS treatment due to the pandemic, the deconditioning as a consequence of lockdowns and shielding and the impact of long covid. There is therefore a need for much greater funding to support greater levels of social care over the next 5 years
At its centre, social care is first and foremost about human relationships and supporting the care and support needs of individuals and their families, including older people, those that are vulnerable and those with complex needs, to improve their quality of life. An important feature of discussions about the future of social care should be around improving the quality of care and achieving outcomes for the individual, based on ‘what matters to them’. This starts at the local level and should build on the strength of local authorities in their role in place and community, addressing the needs of individuals and families, building resilience and focusing on wellbeing.
Health and social care are equally important and are often inter-dependent in terms of ensuring flow through the health and social care system. Decisions and prioritisations about the future of each service should reflect that and the need to plan and work together, embedding far more preventative approaches to wellbeing that work closely with public health and housing. Councils are best placed to convene partnerships locally to bring these services together, in a locally focused and democratically led way.
When considering the future of social care and support, addressing the most urgent priorities should be the starting point, these include:
· The provision of long-term, sustainable funding that is sufficient to meet the predictable additional demands on social care driven by demographic and other pressures, including of course a rapidly ageing population.
· Additional funding is also needed to tackle unmet need. There is a need to place greater value on an approach to social care which is person centred and recognises the desire of people to continue to live in their communities, mainly in their homes, with meaning and purpose.
· Improving outcomes for children. There remain significant challenges in providing the right placements for children in care, particularly for those with the most complex needs locally. The past 18 months has also put many children and families under immense pressure and strain, with concerns about increased exposure to ‘hidden harms’ as well as lost learning and the impact of social distancing on children and young people’s development and ... view the full minutes text for item 594.
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.