14TH DECEMBER 2009
Councillor M. Gravell (Chair)
Councillors: W.J.W. Evans, M.H. Evans, Mrs P.E.M. Jones, W.H. Jones, K. Madge, P.A. Palmer, H.C. Scourfield and G.H. Wooldridge.
Present in respect of Agenda Item 4 – Councillors T.J. Jones and Mrs S.E. Thomas
Also present as observers:-
Councillors W.T. Evans and P. Hughes-Griffiths.
The following officers were also in attendance: -
Mr. M James
Mr. R. Jones
Director of Resources
Mr. R. Workman
Director of Technical Services
Mr. V. Morgan
Director of Education and Children’s Services
Mr. B. McLernon
Director of Social Care, Health and Housing
Mr. R. Sully
Director (Strategic Projects)
Mr. C. Burns
Assistant Chief Executive
Mr. L. Thomas
Head of Administration and Law
Mr. C. Moore
Head of Financial Services
Mr. T. Sage
Head of Transport and Engineering
Mr. J. Fearn
Head of Corporate Property
Mr. R. Staines
Head of Housing
Mr. J. Owen
Scrutiny and Consultancy Manager
Mr. A. Williams
Assets and Policy Manager
Ms. B. James
Corporate Parenting Manager
Ms. D. Williams
Ms. G. Morgan
Democratic Services Officer
(Chamber, County Hall, Carmarthen – 10.00 a.m. – 11.30 a.m.)
An apology for absence was received from Councillor P.M. Hughes.
The Leader advised that Councillor Hughes was currently indisposed due to ill health but was improving; she had, in the interim period, authorised Councillor P.A. Palmer to attend an Executive Board Member Meeting on Councillor Hughes’ behalf and determine any outstanding reports.
No declarations of interest were made by Members.
The Executive Board was reminded that at its meeting held on the 7th September 2009 (Minute 10 refers) it had agreed a proposal to discontinue Cefnbrynbrain and Ystradowen Schools and to commence formal consultation thereon.
The Director (Strategic Projects) advised that consultations had taken place with regard to the proposal that both schools should close at the end of the summer term 2010 with provision for pupils residing within the catchment areas of these schools being made at Brynaman CP from the beginning of the autumn term 2010 onwards. The report provided, information on notes taken at the meetings with Staff, Parents and Governors (Appendix 1) together with details of the observations received as a result of the wider consultation process as well as the Authority’s response to the issues raised (Appendix 2).
It was reported that having considered the observations received the consultation process has not identified a credible alternative detailed proposal which addresses the educational, social and resource issues faced by both schools.
Concern was expressed regarding the financial implications of undertaking a school closure consultation process and the Chair advised that she had raised this issue with the Welsh Assembly Government. All Welsh local authorities were required to undertake a full consultation process on proposals to change the organisation of schools and if only one objection was received to the statutory notice proposing the change, the Council was obliged to refer the matter to the Welsh Ministers for decision. Members noted that the time and costs implications thereof were significant and it was suggested that the matter be raised with the Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning who would be officially opening the new Peniel CP School in the near future.
3.1. that a statutory notice be published immediately to implement the proposal to discontinue Ysgol Cefnbrynbrain CP School and Ystradowen CP SchooL by the beginning of the autumn term 2010
3.2. that the Executive Board receives a report on any objections received as a result of the statutory notice at the end of the statutory objection period.
The Executive Board considered the report of the Environment Scrutiny Committee's Task and Finish Group to investigate the option of implementing a ‘part-night’ lighting scheme in Carmarthenshire in a bid to make financial and environmental savings.
The report had culminated in the formation of 15 recommendations which would generate savings of approximately £67k on current public lighting budgets and achieve environmental savings of over 370 tonnes of CO2 emissions (an approximate 11% saving on the current emissions from the public lighting stock). The report had been produced following detailed consultation with the Authority’s key partners and had considered the potential impact on issues such as crime and disorder. The Board was reminded that lighting on trunk roads and those under the control of Town and Community Councils would not be affected by the recommendations.
The Executive Board welcomed the report and expressed its appreciation to the Task and Finish group together with officers on their role in producing the recommendations contained therein.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the following recommendations of the Policy and Resources Task and Finish Group be approved:-
4.1. To implement a part-night lighting initiative in Carmarthenshire which will involve switching off 6,000 street-lights during the night e.g. between the hours of 12:30am and 5.30am
4.2. That certain parts of the county are to be classed as ‘core areas’ to be exempt from the scheme (as detailed within Appendix A of the report).
4.3. Where the scheme is applied, it will implemented in line with general principles as identified in Appendix B of the report. However, the scheme should incorporate a degree of flexibility at officer discretion, and this may involve switching off a certain number of lights in suitable locations.
4.4. The Part-night lighting scheme is also implemented at Council Car-Parks, Industrial estates and administrative grounds/car-parks.
4.5. That appropriate works and remedial measures are put in place, if appropriate, to mitigate any potential risk that may rise from implementation of the scheme.
4.6. That a further review is undertaken within 12 -18 months to evaluate the impact of the proposals with a view to possibly extending the scheme.
4.7. Discussions are held with partners/ representatives of the commercial sector with a view to encouraging other bodies to participate in the energy saving schemes in relation to lighting.
4.8. On-going communication is undertaken with key stakeholders in relation to aspects of implementation and review of the scheme, in order to address issues such as the fear of crime.
4.9. A review of the first stages of the roll-out of the scheme is undertaken after 6 months and the findings reported to Environment Scrutiny Committee.
4.10. Following this initial review period, consideration could be given to adopting a simple appeals procedure, where appeals would be considered against strict criteria.
4.11. That the Local Development Plan reflects the commitment to rationalise public lighting in respect of new developments and encourages the use of appropriate energy reducing initiatives
4.12. The above is also incorporated into highway design guides and within the s38 agreements for housing developments and in respect of new transport schemes.
4.13. A pilot to assess the benefits of adopting a ‘dimming’ initiative is undertaken on new lighting developments with the results reported back to the Environment Scrutiny Committee.
4.14. A bid (if considered appropriate) is submitted to the Council’s Energy Efficiency development fund to resource the capital investment requirements associated with the dimming initiative.
4.15. There is on –going evaluation of advances in relation to the use of solar technology as an energy source for public lighting.
The Executive Board considered a report providing an update on the capital programme 2009-10 to include new schemes and officer approved virements and variances.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the virements in the capital programme as outlined within the report be approved and the variances be noted.
The Executive Board was reminded that the Council was required to determine, on an annual basis its Council Tax Base for the purpose of calculating its Council Tax for the forthcoming Financial Year.
It was reported that under the provisions of Section 84 of the Local Government Act 2003 and the Local Authorities Executive Arrangements (Functions and Responsibilities) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2004, the annual calculation had been delegated to the Executive Board.
Consideration was given to the report which set out the financial details relevant to the setting of the Council Tax for 2010/11 together with the Council Tax amounts in respect of the different Council Tax Valuation Bands, as applicable to each of the individual Community and Town Council areas.
3.1. that the Council Tax Base calculations for the financial year 2010/11, as detailed within the report, be approved
3.2. that a Council Tax Base of 67,028.60 in respect of the County Council area be confirmed.
3.3. that the relevant tax bases for the financial year 2010/11 in respect of the individual Community and Town Council areas, as detailed within Table 2 of the report, be confirmed.
The Executive Board considered the report which provided an overview of the Revenue Budget for 2010/11 and the following two financial years. The report detailed the budget process timetable, summarised the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) provisional settlement and identified the validation and budget pressures that needed to be considered by members in setting next year’s revenue budget.
The report also formed the basis of the budget consultation process that would be undertaken during December 2009 and January 2010.
Reference was made to page 12 of the report and the projected Council Tax increases of 3.30% in 2010-11; 4.68% in 2011-12 and 9.40% in 2012-13 and the Chief Executive advised that the Authority would be facing considerable budgetary pressures over the next three years due to the anticipated reductions in grant from the Assembly and would need to identify very significant savings in order to reduce the projected Council Tax levels. In order to avoid major service reductions and possible large scale job losses, the Authority would need to identify alternative means of delivering its current services.
The Chief Executive also referred to the growth pressures on the Adult Social Care budget and advised that unless action was taken, this would greatly exacerbate the financial situation. The Director of Resources advised that, as part of the Chancellor’s recent pre budget statement the Authority would see an increase in its National Insurance liability of approximately £1m; a potential additional 0.5% pay increase which had not been included within its budget and the possibility that some services would suffer a 7.5% reduction in budgets, if others were ‘protected’. The Board being mindful of the serious budgetary pressures faced by the Authority suggested that the Chief Executive and the Director of Resources should meet with all political groups to brief them. The Chief Executive advised that he would arrange briefing sessions prior to the full Council meeting which would consider the budget process.
In view of concern regarding a proposed 3.30% increase in Council Tax for the period 2010-11 it was suggested that Chief Officers should be asked to investigate whether it would be possible to reduce this level to below 3%.
7.1. that the contents of the Budget Report be noted and the three year budget strategy be endorsed for consultation.
7.2. that the Improvement Agreement Grant (IAG) received to date be utilised as part of the capital programme and that the notified award for 2010-11, (£1.916m) be not allocated until the actual performance was known and payment received.
7.3. that a sum of £1.49m be utilised from General Reserves to meet projected recessionary pressures over the next two years.
The Executive Board considered a report detailing an initial view of the 3 year Capital Programme for the period 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 and included an update on the outcome of the Provisional Settlement.
It was noted that the report would form the basis of the budget consultation process with Scrutiny Committees and other relevant parties, which would take place during December 2009/January 2010 and feedback from the consultation process, along with the outcome of the final settlement, would inform the final budget report which would be considered in February 2009.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that :-
8.1. the contents of the report be noted and endorsed for consultation purposes.
8.2. the Improvement Agreement Grant received for 2008/09 and 2009/10 be used to assist with the funding of the Capital Programme
8.3. the funding shortfall in 2012-2013 be reviewed during the forthcoming year.
A request was received to defer consideration of the above report in order for further information to be obtained and to allow officers and the event organisers the opportunity to discuss the staging of the event with Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council.
Reference was made to the budgetary pressures faced by the Leisure and Recreation Division and it was felt that the Beach Break Live event could bring in much needed revenue investment and boost tourism in the area.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that consideration of the report be deferred.
The Executive was reminded that at its meeting held on the 2nd November 2009 (Minute 3.2 refers) it had requested a report on whether local authorities in the South West Wales region could work collaboratively and support each other in matters of looked after children. The Board thereupon received a briefing note on looked after children in Carmarthenshire.
Concern was expressed regarding the number of Looked after children placed in care within Carmarthenshire by other Welsh Councils. It was noted that the Authority currently had 184 children placed with private foster agencies who were the responsibility of other local authorities, and although there was no direct cost to the Authority, the Authority bore indirect costs due to additional pressure on health, education and social care services, for which Carmarthenshire received little or no additional funding. The Chair advised that she had raised the issue with the Director of the WLGA and it was felt that representations should also be made to the Welsh Assembly Government in this regard.
10.1. that the report be noted
10.2. that representations be made to the Deputy Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning regarding the lack of funding provided for health, education and social care costs associated with looked after children from other local authorities which had been placed with private foster carers in Carmarthenshire.
The Executive Board was reminded that Carmarthenshire Local Safeguarding Children’s board was the independent, multi agency board that oversaw all child protection and Safeguarding in the county. All parties had agreed that the statutory role of the Lead Member for Children would be enhanced if he, or another elective member reporting back to him, were a member of the Safeguarding Children’s board in Carmarthenshire.
It was therefore recommended that the Lead Member for Education and Children’s Services or his nominated representative be authorised to sit on the Safeguarding Children Board.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED That the Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services or their nominated representative be authorised to sit on the Safeguarding Children’s Board.
The Executive Board considered the 2010/11 Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan which outlined how the Authority proposed to use its resources to provide an excellent housing service that would improve the health and well being of the people in Carmarthenshire, our tenants, residents, leaseholders and communities.
The Board congratulated the staff involved and stressed the importance of quality homes in promoting the health and wellbeing of all Carmarthenshire residents.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL:-
12.1. that the content of the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan for 2010/11 be accepted.
12.2. that Morfa Maen Sheltered Housing Scheme in Kidwelly and the Llysnewydd Sheltered Housing Scheme in Llanelli be demolished.
12.3. to proceed with the sale at auction of 14 properties, as detailed within the report, that were not economical to repair
12.4. to progress new build schemes in accordance with current guidance issued by the Welsh Assembly Government
The Executive Board received the Supporting People Operational Plan 2010/11. It was reported that the Authority had a statutory requirement to produce a Supporting People Operational Plan (SPOP) on an annual basis, and the Welsh Assembly Government had provided detailed guidance regarding the content and format of the plan. The SPOP included results of the Needs Mapping Exercise, strategic reviews and prioritised bids for Supporting People funding.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL :-
13.1. that the shared priorities for new development be included in the Supporting People Operational Plan 2010/11 to be sent to the Welsh Assembly Government by 30th September 2009 as detailed within Appendix 1 of the report..
13.2. that the summary of consultation feedback on priorities for development across all client groups (Appendix 2) and general comments on Supporting People in Carmarthenshire (Appendix 3) be noted.
The Executive Board considered a report on the St David’s Park staff travel plan which had been developed to meet the Council’s aspirations to encourage more sustainable travel choices, including walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing. St David’s Park, Carmarthen had been chosen as a suitable site to pilot such an initiative, which could provide the framework for it be rolled out across other County Council establishments. The draft Staff Travel Plan comprised a series of measures designed to reduce the transport impact of the Council offices at St David’s Park on the Council, the surrounding community and the environment.
The Chief Executive advised that more than 350 staff would shortly be relocated to St David’s Park and the office accommodation provided thereat was of a high standard at reasonable cost. The integration of staff would improve communication between divisions and particular tribute was paid to the Project Officer for co-ordinating the works required.
RESOLVED that the draft Staff Travel Plan for the Council offices at St David’s Park, Carmarthen be approved
The Executive Board was reminded that last Christmas the Authority had approved the introduction of free Christmas parking in all town centres in response to community concerns along with economic conditions, and in order to consider a further short term initiative to provide support for traders over the forthcoming Christmas period, it was recommended that free car parking be provided in all the Council's public car parks from 10.00 hours in the two weeks leading up to Christmas i.e. Thursday 10th December - Thursday 24th December inclusive, as it was felt that these hours prevented commuters using the best spaces all day; income was still generated by commuters and shoppers were encouraged to the Town Centres in the run up to Christmas.
The Executive Board noted that the Council's Civil Enforcement Officers would continue to patrol to ensure that parking was managed and that on-street parking was discouraged, the financial implications of the proposal would result in a loss of income anticipated to be approximately £70k for the whole County.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the introduction of free car parking after 10.00 hours in all towns in the two weeks leading up to Christmas 2009 be approved.
The Executive Board was reminded that 27 and 29 Stepney Street were acquired by Carmarthenshire County Council as part of the former Stepney Estate and for the past 18 months feasibility studies had been carried out into the renovation of 27 Stepney Street with a view to letting the property to Elim Church to run as a coffee and gift shop along with a venue for local artists and art students to display their work.
The report detailed issues in respect of the refurbishment of 27 Stepney Street together with investigations regarding the refurbishment of 29 Stepney Street and the Executive Board was asked to consider the future use of both properties.
16.1. to spend the remainder of the £350,000 budget approved for 27 Stepney Street (Executive Board Meeting 3rd November 2008 (Minute 8 refers)) on 27 and 29 Stepney Street.
16.2. to let 29 Stepney Street to Elim Church.
16.3. to dispose of 27 Stepney Street on the open market at an appropriate time once market conditions have improved.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Executive Board held on the 30th November 2009 be signed as a correct record.