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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 20/10/21
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of a meeting of Council dated 21 October 2021, 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 past month has been relatively quiet, but I am sure that will not be the case leading up to Christmas over the next few weeks. Please don’t forget that this week is the last chance to grab a ticket for the Charity Fundraising evening taking place on Sat 27 November 2021 at the Heronston Hotel with a buffet, comedy stage hypnotist and music by Lee Jukes of Bridge FM and all are welcome.
In addition to this, there is a grand Christmas raffle taking place with a 1st prize of £200 cash and around 20 other prizes with the draw taking place on Wednesday 15 December 2021 after the next Council meeting. If you would like any tickets at £2.00 each, please just drop me a message and arrangements can be made to secure your tickets. All proceeds from these events will be going to Lads & Dads and Bridgend Carers Centre.
Over the past month I had the pleasure of being invited to the opening of Bridgend College STEAM Academy at their Pencoed campus. This is science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics and it was amazing to see the facilities being made available to students across these disciplines and well done to Bridgend College for bringing such an amazing facility to the county borough.
At the end of October, I opened the Lions Club of Bridgend Book Fair at Westward Community Centre and came away with a heavy load of books. The Lions have raised in excess of £180,000 since this first started in 1995 and it was great to hear about the partnership, they have now formed with the volunteer management committee of Westward Community Centre ably helped by our very own Councillor David White.
Following on from this I was invited to the opening of what is I believe Bridgend first mobile veterinary service based in Aberkenfig. Mobivet has been set up in what was previously a furniture shop and has been transformed into a modern well equipped veterinary surgery with equipment to rival that seen in any hospital. This is such a welcome service where they are available 24 /7 to call out to your home and will surely be of use to people who cannot easily travel to a vet or they would prefer their pet to be seen in the comfort of their home.
Last week I was pleased to be invited to an open-air performance by Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend Town centre and was accompanied by Councillor Dhanisha Patel. They performed their own short and adapted version of Hansel & Gretel and it was great to see the whole year group there as well singing along to the performance with a great crowd of people watching as well. More of this for the town centre would be welcomed.
This past weekend I visited Tremains Wood along with the Leader and Councillor Stuart Baldwin to congratulate Tremains Woodland Rangers on achieving a Green Flag award for the work they have been doing ... view the full minutes text for item 598.
To receive announcements by the Leader
Modern multi-storey car parking at Hillsboro Place, a luxury waterfront hotel, landscaping and pedestrianisation along the Eastern Promenade, improved public transport, the extension of Dock Street and new community spaces, are just some of the proposals that feature in Bridgend County Borough Council’s new ‘placemaking’ consultation.
Organised in line with the Placemaking Wales Charter, the consultation is inviting businesses and residents in Porthcawl to give their views on the proposals either online, or by visiting drop-in sessions where they will be able to view exhibition boards and speak to regeneration officers.
The drop-in sessions will take place at the Grand Pavilion between 9am-5pm on Wednesday 24 November, and 9am-8pm on Thursday 25 November.
Following this, the exhibition boards will be placed on hoardings at Cosy Corner for three weeks, and the Council’s website will feature more details and a short survey to enable people to provide further feedback.
We remain extremely ambitious for these plans, and want them to deliver realistic, sustainable regeneration in Porthcawl.
I hope that Members will help to promote this important consultation and also encourage people to take part and have their say.
UK Government has confirmed which projects have been approved to receive funding from the new Community Renewal Fund in Bridgend County Borough.
This is the precursor to the Shared Prosperity Fund, which will be launched next year as a replacement for EU structural grant funding.
A total of £46m has been allocated to projects across Wales, and Bridgend County Borough will receive £785,000 of this.
£213,000 will go to Enterprise Bridgend, an initiative which helps people who have been furloughed or who may be economically inactive to find new employment.
£200,000 has been allocated to The Life You Want, which supports people who want to develop and improve their skills or undertake new training in order to gain new work and improve their lives.
Transforming Young Minds for Tomorrow will receive £86,800 to encourage more pupils to consider careers in manufacturing and engineering, while Bridgend Elevate and Prosper will benefit from £125,000 to support new business start-ups.
The Incubator for Ambitious Entrepreneurs programme is aimed at helping female entrepreneurs to develop trusted business networks and will receive £92,700.
A further £56,700 has been allocated to Connecting Teachers with Industry, which enables local teachers to encourage pupils who want careers in creative, digital, environment and advanced materials and manufacturing sectors.
Bridgend will also benefit from a further bid submitted by Torfaen Council on behalf of the 10 local authorities working together through the Cardiff Capital Region – a Connect, Engage, Listen, Transform project, designed to add further value to the council’s existing Employability Bridgend programme.
These are all very worth-while projects that will have a positive impact upon the lives of local people and I welcome investment from UK Government towards these.
However, it remains a matter of serious concern that Bridgend County Borough has not been included within the top 100 priority places marked for support through the forthcoming Shared Prosperity Fund.
The Chief Executive presented the above report, part of which introduced the representatives present from the South Wales Police.
The Mayor introduced the Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael and DCC Jenny Gilmer to speak on policing covering the 3 basic Command Units and 7 Police Authorities that covered the area of South Wales.
He began his submission, by explaining how hard the last 18 months had been for the Police due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which had also affected other large scale organisations, such as the Health Service and local authorities such as BCBC. The situation was also still ongoing, he added.
During this time however, he assured that the South wales Police had still maintained a clear focus on its priorities, with local delivery of services and support still being at the heart of the Police and Crime Delivery Plan, the detail of which had previously been shared with local Councillors.
The likes of the NHS and Social Care services had been left ‘reeling’ as well as the Police he added, with the Police facing some massive demands during the above period. He confirmed that during the first lockdown, crime had reduced but as society began to re-open, levels had once more increased to as they had been previously and even above that level.
Today’s discussion he advised, would look at neighbourhood policing, the role of PCSO’s, responsiveness to 999 and 101 calls, crime levels, violence against females and community and neighbourhood safety. He was pleased to advise Council, that Welsh Government had funded 100 extra PCSO’s across Wales, with 41 of these covering South Wales. Neighbourhood teams also supported these Officers, confirmed the Police Commissioner.
With levels of work starting to increase and at times, to an unprecedented demand, the Police had previously looked at ways where they could be contacted other than by 999 or 101 calls. They had therefore added to these methods of contact also, through email and a new single on-line social media system.
The Police and Crime Commissioner advised that in July 2021 there had been a peak in demand in terms of 999 calls, ie 18,000 which had slightly reduced at the present time. 99% of these were responded to very quickly. Calls made by 101 were not classed as emergency, however, these were also responded to by the Police as quickly as possible. These had also peaked last July, he further added. The latest statistics in terms of 101 calls, reflected that 85% of these were responded to as soon as possible after they were made.
Most of the calls were dealt with by the Control Room initially, with the most urgent calls responded to quickly by a police presence visiting the caller/their location in person.
As was probably expected, crime levels had fallen during the period where there had been complete lockdown, as there was no night time economy and only essential retail food outlets were open. But certain serious acts of crime, such as for example, drug dealing ... view the full minutes text for item 600.
The Corporate Director – Communities submitted a report, the purpose of which, was to advise Council of the necessity to revise the LDP Delivery Agreement (DA); to seek approval of the extension to the LDP Timetable and to the submission of the revised DA to Welsh Government for agreement.
The Strategic Planning Policy Team Leader, advised that DA was a mandatory requirement of the LDP process and considered to be a key tool for the speedier production of land use plans. It comprised of the following two elements:
An extension to the timetable of the LDP was the subject of the report, he added.
Public consultation on the Council’s Draft DA was undertaken during April and May 2018 and Council approved the document for submission to WG, which subsequently approved the initial final DA on the 25 June 2018.
WG advised all Local Planning Authorities that DA’s should be adjusted to account for any necessary changes to the LDP timetable in light of delays caused by the pandemic.
As a result, the Council approved a revised DA on 16 September 2020, which was subsequently approved by WG on 5 October 2020.
Since that date, Bridgend County Borough Council had prepared the LDP Deposit Draft (LDPDD), which Cabinet approved for consultation on 18 May 2021. Public consultation was held for 8 weeks between 1 June and 27 July 2021.
Progress towards the next key stage of the replacement LDP, submission of the LDPDD to WG and the Planning Inspectorate, had been delayed and this was the subject of the necessary changes to the DA, set out in the next section of the report.
The Strategic Planning Policy Team Leader continued by stating, that Council now needed to prepare a new DA with WG following the LDPDD consultation. The reason for this, was that the LDP’s supporting evidence base needed reviewing and refining as a result of the representations received from our communities and key stakeholders. In approving the Deposit Draft for consultation Council made a commitment to those communities. This was that the Authority would consider, formulating and publishing a response to each of the representations received to the LDPDD. The Council had been in receipt of over 1,200 representations, which proved to be a considerable administrative exercise.
In addition to responding to the individual representations, the LDP evidence base needs to be reviewed and refined as a result of new information coming to light, as a result of changes to legislation, updated national planning guidance and the completion of supporting technical information.
These strands of work were set out in paragraph 4.3 of the report and expanded upon for the benefit of Council, by the Strategic Planning Policy Team Leader.
The proposed extension to the ... view the full minutes text for item 601.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change submitted a report, in order to provide Council with details of the council tax base and estimated collection rate for 2022-23 for approval.
She reminded Council, that the council tax base is the measure of the relative taxable capacity of different areas within the County Borough and is calculated in accordance with prescribed rules. Every domestic property in the County Borough has been valued by the Valuation Office. Once valued, properties are allocated one of nine valuation bands (Bands A to I). Each band is multiplied by a given factor to bring it to the Band D equivalent, as set out in the table shown in paragraph 3.2 of the report.
The gross estimated council tax base for 2022-23 is 55967.70 Band D equivalent propertiesand the estimated collection rate is 97.5%. The net council tax base is, therefore, 54568.51. The estimated collection rate has been kept at 97.5%, to reflect the current economic circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, the higher number of citizens facing economic hardship and current collection rates.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, added that council tax base is provided to Welsh Government and is used to calculate the amount of Revenue Support Grant that a local authority receives in the Local Government Revenue Settlement. In order to ensure consistency across Wales no account is taken of Councils’ assumptions about collection rates. For the purpose of distributing RSG, collection rates are assumed to be 100 per cent, regardless as to the amount collected.
The council tax element of the Council’s budget requirement will be based on the net council tax base of 54568.51 and although the Council calculates the tax base for the whole of the county borough, separate calculations are provided for each town and community council. This council tax base is used by precepting authorities in calculating their own individual precepts.
She finalised her submission, by confirming that Town and community councils base their precepts on the tax base for each town and community area and details of these were shown in Appendix A of the report.
RESOLVED: That Council:-
· Approved the council tax base and collection rate for 2022-23 as shown in paragraph 4.1 of this report.
· Approved the tax bases for the town and community council areas set out in Appendix A to the report.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented a report, the purpose of which, was to seek Council’s approval to amend the Constitution to incorporate the revised Financial Procedure Rules.
She advised that, the management of the Council’s financial affairs are conducted in accordance with the Financial Procedure Rules set out in Part 4 of the Constitution. The FPRs have not been revised since 2017, during which time new financial processes and procedures, and new legislation and guidance, have come into effect, changing the way in which the Council operates.
The Financial Procedure Rules have been reviewed by officers, including those from finance, procurement, legal and internal audit and a number of changes made to bring them up to date to reflect changes such as those outlined in paragraph 4.1 of the report.
The Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change, added that a report was presented to Cabinet on 16th November 2021, to approve the revised Financial Procedure Rules.
A copy of the revised rules were attached to the report at Appendix 1 for Members information.
RESOLVED: That Council approved amendment to the Constitution to incorporate the revised Financial Procedure Rules as set out in Appendix 1 to the report.
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.
She referred Members to the two Information Reports in question, that were contained in the covering report.
RESOLVED: That Council acknowledged the publication of the documents listed in the report.
To receive the following Questions from:
Councillor Tim Thomas to the Deputy Leader
Can the Deputy Leader outline the allocation and usage for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) for this financial year?
Councillor Ross Penhale Thomas to the Cabinet Member Wellbeing and Future Generations
What assessment has the Cabinet Member made of the availability of good quality, affordable housing in Bridgend county borough?
Councillor Tim Thomas to the Deputy Leader
Can the Deputy Leader outline the allocation and usage for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) for this financial year?
What are Discretionary Housing Payments?
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are paid from a cash-limited budget and are intended to help people meet housing costs, usually where there is a shortfall between their Housing Benefit (HB), or housing element of Universal Credit (UC), and their rent. A DHP can only be awarded if the claimant is claiming HB, or UC with housing costs towards rental liability. The initial legislation governing DHPs can be found in the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001 (S1 001/1167).
‘Housing costs’ are not defined in the regulations and this approach purposely allows broad discretion for interpretation. In general, ‘housing costs’ usually refers to rental liability, although the term can be interpreted more widely to include:
• rent in advance
• rent deposits
• other lump sum costs associated with a housing need, such as removal costs
Processing a DHP application
When processing an application for DHP, consideration is given to:
the total weekly or monthly household income
reasonable weekly or monthly household expenses
the shortfall in income to consider for DHP award
The value of a DHP payment for an ongoing award cannot exceed the value of the UC housing costs element or, for HB recipients, the contractual rent minus ineligible service charges (see paragraph 5.1 below) e.g. contractual rent is £400 per month, and HB is £344, the maximum DHP amount would therefore be £56 per month.
What types of shortfall can DHPs cover?
The various shortfalls of HB and UC that a DHP can cover include (but are not limited to):
• rent shortfalls to prevent a household becoming homeless whilst the housing authority explores alternative options
• reductions where the benefit cap has been applied (the benefit cap limits out-of-work benefit income to a maximum of £20,000 for couples and lone parents, and £13,400 for single adults)
• reductions due to the removal of the spare room subsidy (known as the bedroom cap) or as a result of local housing allowance restrictions
• non-dependant deductions in HB or housing cost contributions in UC from non-dependants
• Other technical legislative restrictions:
o rent officer restrictions such as local reference rent or shared accommodation rate
o Government policy to limit benefit to 2 children
o income taper reduction
o removal of the family premium
• any other policy changes that limit the amount of HB or UC payable
A DHP can be awarded for a rent deposit or rent in advance for a property that the claimant is yet to move into if they are already entitled to HB or UC at their present home, and also payments for past housing costs (including arrears of rent). Further information regarding criteria and considerations can be found in the DWP’s Discretionary Payments Guidance Manual (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/discretionary-housing-payments-guidance-manual).
DWP and DHP funding for 2021-2022
DHPs have been available to local authorities since ... view the full minutes text for item 605.
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.