Agenda item

Capital Programme Update Quarter 1 2023-24


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented the Capital Programme Update Quarter 1 2023-24 which included an update of the capital budgets and expenditure as at 30 June 2023, the revised

capital programme for 2023-24 to 2032-33 and the projected Prudential and Other Indicators for 2023-24. Appendix A showed the budgets and spend to 30 June 2023 for the individual schemes in 2023-24. Appendix B provided details of the revised capital programme for 2023-24 to 2032-33 and appendix C provided details of the projected Prudential and Other Indicators for 2023-24.


The Chief Officer explained that since March, the capital programme had changed, and it currently totalled £96.9 million. Most of the increase in that programme was the result of slippage from the last financial year into this year's programme. Table one of the report detailed how the capital programme was split between the different directorates. The detail of the funding of the programme was shown in table two of the report. The key changes were reported at paragraph 3.15 of the report. She confirmed that Council was operating in line with the approved indicators.


The Cabinet Member for Finances, Resources and Legal apologised for the budget briefing not going ahead as planned and he encouraged all members to try to attend the rescheduled briefing because of the challenges they were currently facing. He welcomed the additional money from Welsh Government but acknowledged revenue pressures and added that officers would be looking into this further. 


A Member asked how much of the capital programme was allocated to risk.

The Chief Officer replied that the capital programme was allocated on the basis of priorities and many of those priorities would be about risk for the Council. Risk was not identified within the capital programme however many of the individual schemes were about either upgrading, replacing or enhancing the assets that they had to make sure that they were fit for purpose.


The Member replied that he was referring to contingency and asked how much was build cost and how much was being held for contingency? 


The Chief Executive explained that within each project, there was a contingency element within the contract, usually an estimate of what might cover an unexpected cost during the course of any particular project. Within the capital programme, they would rarely max out the whole of the available balance on schemes and therefore there was some contingency available within the programme. Not all items in the capital programme would be taking place at the same time, so if things early in the capital programme required additional funding, there would be an impact on things that had been identified later in the programme. They had to manage that risk in that way as opposed to just identifying one sum for risk. They were very aware of risk at the moment as they were also facing unprecedented increases in capital spend. Their focus on the capital programme was greater than it had ever been, and they were proposing to create a Capital Board with greater oversight of what was going on.


A Member referred to the suggested virement of £460,000 from unallocated capital for fleet vehicles related to waste management. He questioned if this was an approach which delivered the best value for money, given the precarious financial position they were in. This would be a two-year interim contract for waste management from March 2024, after which he assumed the vehicles would be redundant. The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee had unanimously recommended that Fleet Services consider leasing vehicles and machinery rather than purchasing them outright to determine whether this could provide savings, given that these vehicles were seven years old and only had a life span of nine to 10 years. He asked the Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment to guarantee that all options had been considered and that this proposal represented value for money as opposed to leasing more environmentally friendly vehicles until such time as the new waste management contract was awarded.


The Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment explained that the waste contract currently out to tender was a 2-year contract. They were

not at a stage to decide where they would go in the future with the types of vehicles required and Welsh Government targets could change how they would proceed from 2026 and beyond. A decision had been made to go for an interim 2-year contract for waste and the method collection remained the same. The cost for all the equipment including the vehicles was £460k compared to the cost for new equipment which would be millions. 


The Corporate Director for Communities explained that a decision had been made to have a two-year interim waste contract in BCBC from April 2024 through to March 2026 and then they would be looking at a new service model for the Council. There was the uncertainty of the future Welsh Government recycling targets. They currently used 5 very large refuse collection vehicles that took residual waste and 14 recycling vehicles that were bespoke to Bridgend for their methodology of collection and they would not be able to lease or buy those, so it was very important that they had them as part of this contract. If the recycling target changed, they would have to have a different fleet and a different configuration. From 2030 there would be decarbonisation, and a need for them to consider ultra-low emission vehicles so it would be irresponsible to spend that money now, knowing that these variables could change.


The Corporate Director for Communities provided more detail regarding the existing plant they would be getting for the £460k, a considerable part of which was less than seven years old. There was at least three years more life in the asset and an important part of the 2030 agenda was to get the most use out of it. The cost of getting all the items new, would be in excess of £10 million.  This was a prudent option providing value for money at this time.


A Member referred to the overspend and the built in contingencies and asked how often these were being reviewed. He referred to the Waterton Upgrade which still had an allocated budget of £8.144 million even though the Corporate Director for Communities had said that they did not want to stay at that depot site. She also conceded that £3.5 million of that £8.144 million was predicated on an unlikely receipt from Parc Afon Ewenni. He asked how much faith they could have in the capital programme when it contained projects that were not going to come online and had budgets that were contingent to items that were very unlikely to materialise.


The Chief Executive replied that individual project boards looked at risks and cost increases and escalated issues to Corporate Management Board on a very regular basis. He was suggesting that they needed to do more than that in governance terms so they were proposing a Capital Board that could meet possibly every other month then report to Cabinet CMB. They were living in an inflationary society where the focus on the capital programme probably needed to be greater because it was clearly a financial risk to the organisation in terms of the rising costs.


The Corporate Director Communities explained that they did not want to be at the Waterton Deport but the reality of the financial situation was that they would not be able to afford to move from that area in the near future. A new depot could require at least £14 to £15 million and there was a budget allocation of just over £8 million. As stated, £3 million of that was predicated on the capital receipt from disposal of that land which had since been designated as in a flood zone so they were not able to put residential housing on it. That allocation had been in the capital programme for some time and would remain at £8,000,000. They had a Project Board which was working on what was possible at that depot and ways of being more innovative. 


A Member noted that there was a £430k allocation in the capital budget for unadopted roads in addition to the half a million allocated the previous year. He asked for clarity on how the money would be used this year and if there would be a cumulative assessment on how effectively the money had been used in adopting roads. 


The Corporate Director for Communities explained that the money he was referring to was a one off allocation of £500,000 and they had only spent £70,000 from that allocation. They could not adopt many roads for the £430,000 and this was a one-off pot of money. They were currently looking at unadopted roads and lanes to establish which ones would benefit most to spend the money wisely. She assured the Member that the money would be spent on the capital works required to put into those roads.


A Member referred to the Grand Pavilion and the change in the original spend from 2022/23 to 2023/24 and asked if the closure of the Pavilion would be delayed as a result of this. She also asked if the actual placement of the tennis courts in Griffin Park, had been decided.


The Chief Executive explained that the closure of the Grand Pavilion would be sometime in the first quarter of the next calendar year. The anticipated timeline was that they would hope to engage a contractor to start on site in the first quarter next year to coincide with the closure. He added that there was a very tight timeline to deliver the project and along with a number of other authorities, they were lobbying for an extension of a year in terms of the delivery until 2026.


The Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment explained that there was still work being done regarding the position of the tennis courts in Griffin Park. Work was ongoing to establish a position for the courts without impacting on the road, and work was due to begin in the autumn. 


A Member referred to the pledge made in the Labour manifesto, that by working with the Welsh Government, Labour and Bridgend would deliver free school meals for all primary school children by September 2023 and asked if they would meet that pledge and if not, by when could they expect each and every primary school in Bridgend to be delivering free school meals.


The Cabinet Member for Education replied that there was a pledge originally given back during the election. Unfortunately, when that pledge was written, it was at a very different time prior to the Ukraine invasion and the whole process had become clouded. Costs had spiralled, inflation had gone through the roof and it had meant that they had had to delay their plans. They were now expanding the offer to year three children from September, nursery children by January 24, year four in the summer term and then year five and year six for September 2024. It was taking a little longer than they expected and longer than originally hoped.


A Member noted that £33.8 million would be coming from external grant funding and welcomed this and added that it was a good indication that they were reaching out to see what funding was available. He asked how the Cardiff City Deal Investment fund fitted into that table. In Appendix B there was mention of a Cardiff City Deal and £4.9 million but he asked for more information to see how it would be allocated and the funding application process.


The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change explained that all of the capital city monies would be shown within that grants total of £33.8 million. That was not all Cardiff Capital Region monies as it would also include monies from Welsh Government and from other funding streams. She would provide a breakdown for Members if required.


The Corporate Director for Communities added that these grants mainly sat in the Communities Directorate. The £33 million was made-up of a significant amount of grants that had been sourced via the Regeneration and the Economic Development Team, including the levelling up funding for the pavilion. They had received £23 million form the Shared Prosperity Fund, and an allocation of £3 million for the Metro scheme in Porthcawl.  

They had an allocation of £3.5 million for Ewenny Road, Maesteg and nearly £800,000 for ultra-low emission vehicle charge out. The drawdown of the £4.9 specifically mentioned was in relation to those grants.


A Member was advised that he could not submit a question as he had left the Chamber during consideration of this item.


A Member asked for a recorded vote.


Members discussed attending meetings remotely, assurances that they had been in attendance for the whole debate, trust and transparency and the WG requirement to provide hybrid meetings. Members asked the Democratic Services Committee to review procedures going forward and to report back to Council.


A recorded vote was conducted, the result of which was as follows:


For: Councillors H Bennett, A Berrow, JP Blundell, E Caparros, N Clarke, Chris Davies, HJ David, N Farr, P Ford, J Gebbie, R Goode, H Griffiths, S Griffiths, D Hughes, M Hughes, RM James, P Jenkins, M Jones, M Kearn, W Kendall, J Llewellyn-Hopkins, J Pratt, R Smith, JC Spanswick, R Penhale Thomas, J Tildesley, G Walter, H Williams, R Williams, E Winstanley = 30 votes


Against: Councillors F Bletsoe, S Bletsoe, S Easterbrook, D Harrison, M John, I Spiller, T Thomas, A Wathan, Amanda Williams, M Williams, T

Wood, E Richards = 12 votes



·        Democratic Services Committee to review procedures going forward with regard to remote attendance and voting at meetings, to report back to a future meeting of Council.

·        Council noted the Council’s Capital Programme 2023-24 Quarter 1 update to 30 June 2023 (Appendix A)

·          Council approved the revised Capital Programme (Appendix                 B)

·          Council noted the projected Prudential and Other Indicators for 2023-24 (Appendix C) 


Supporting documents: