Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet
Tuesday, 10th September, 2019 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Hanbury Road, Pontypool, NP4 6YB

Contact: Rachel Beale  Senior Business Support Officer (Democratic Services)

Items
No. Item

1.

Attendance / Presenoldeb

Minutes:

            Executive Members (with Portfolios):

            Councillors:

            Anthony Hunt - Leader

Richard Clark – Deputy Leader
Fiona Cross – Executive Member for Environment 

           David Daniels – Executive Member for Adult Services & Housing

           Alan Jones – Executive Member for Corporate Governance & Performance

            Mandy Owen – Executive Member for Children, Families and Communities

           Kelly Preston – Executive Member for Resources

           David Yeowell – Executive Member for Education

 

           Officers:

           Nigel Aurelius – Assistant Chief Executive (Resources)
Rachel Beale – Senior Business Support Officer (Democratic Services)
James Griffin - Head of Transformation and Improvement

            Delyth Harries – Monitoring Officer and Assistant Chief Legal Officer
Stephen Jarrett –
Assistant Chief Officer, Environment and Technical

           Jason Lewis - Head of Strategic Human Resources

           Lyndon Puddy – Head of PSSU

           Keith Rutherford – Chief Officer, Social Care and Housing

           John Tushingham – Head of Access & Engagement

           Alison Ward – Chief Executive
Dave Weaver – Group Finance Officer

                                  

In the Public Gallery:

Neil Jones, Head of Communications, Engagement and Civil Contingencies

 

2.

Apologies for absence / Ymddiheuriadau am absenoldeb

Minutes:

2.1       There were no apologies received.

3.

Declarations of Interest / Datganiadau o fudd

Minutes:

3.1       Councillor Mandy Owen declared a personal interest in agenda item 7 as she was a Council appointed member of Greenmeadow Community Farm Shadow Board.

4.

Confirmation of Cabinet minutes - 09/07/2019 / Cadarnhau cofnodion y Cabinet - 09/07/2019 pdf icon PDF 413 KB

Minutes:

4.1       The Leader referred to the comments he made at the last meeting at 7.4 of the minutes in relation to lobbying the Welsh Government. He informed Cabinet that he recently co-signed a letter to the UK Treasury and Welsh Government stating the importance of a fair settlement for Local Government going forward and lobbying would be going ahead in earnest to enforce the important of funding for Local Government. The Leader hoped that the comprehensive spending review pay level would signify a change of direction in terms of funding for Public Services and he looked forward to working with Welsh Government.

 

4.2       The minutes of the meeting held on the 9th July 2019 were confirmed as an accurate record of the meeting.

5.

Updates on actions / Y diweddaraf ar y camau gweithredu pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Minutes:

5.1       It was noted that there were no outstanding actions.

6.

Financial Forecast 2019/20 / Rhagolwg Ariannol 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 328 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet agreed that:

(i)            The forecast position in respect of each service area were noted;

(ii)          The actions being taken by the relevant service Chief Officers to address their adverse variances were endorsed;

(iii)         The budget for intervention, prevention and T22 was supplemented for 2019/20 by the carried forward reserve as outlined in paragraph 5.5 of the report.

(iv)         Specific approvals relating to the use, or amendment, of reserves were only actioned by the Executive Member for Resources in accordance with normal practice.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: As set out in the report.

CONSULTATION: As set out in the report.

MEMBERS’ INTERESTS: None declared.

Minutes:

6.1       The Executive Member for Resources introduced the report which outlined the financial forecast for the 2019/20 revenue and capital budgets and provided an update on the reserves position, commenting on the following:

·         The forecasted overspend was £2.4 million however it was against a net budget of £176.9 million.

·         One of the main areas for the overspend was within Children Services, all Council’s across the Country were facing the same financial challenges within this area, however there was a lot of work ongoing to address this both locally and nationally, and it was a key focus of the Council’s T22 Programme.

·         The second area for overspend was within Neighbourhood Services, however the Executive Member was reassured that the Chief Officer was pushing ahead with an action plan to address the challenge.

·         The decade of austerity had a massive effect on Council budgets and the financial situation was not unique to Torfaen.

 

6.2       The Assistant Chief Executive (Resources) added the following further information:

  • It was important to resolve the reserves position collectively and with determination without creating any sense of crisis.
  • Included within the financial forecast was £200,000 from the current assumption in relation to council tax collection surplus.
  • The main pressure within Social Care and Housing related to Children’s Services which was presenting a £2 million adverse projection which was a result of a significant increase in the number of placements which was over the budgeted level. Most other Councils were experiencing the same pressures.

·         The other pressures within Social Care and Housing related to assumed grant money, however Officers would continue to try and secure this resource. The reduction in subsidy at Greenmeadow Community Farm was also causing a pressure on the budget.

·         Children’s Services was a key aspect within the T22 Programme and extensive work was taking place at pace, and ideas were being sought from other Councils. A range of promising change activity was being developed and some of it was expected to impact positively on the 2019/20 budget and some of it would impact in 2020/21. The nature, scale and timing of that impact would be quantified during September.

·         There were a number of factors which resulted in the significant shortfall within the Neighbourhood Services budget, however the Chief Officer had presented remedial action and activities to reduce the shortfall by £400,000.

·         There was a need for all services to reduce spend wherever possible to assist the Councils bottom line.

·         The Early Intervention and Prevention budget had been refocused in 2019/20 to also include support for T22. It was a transitional year and the original base budget allocation would be supplemented through the specific reserve carried forward from previous years.

·         The anticipated achievements of mitigations were outlined, there were a number of high risk mitigations however overall showed a solid position.

·         The reserves showed a deteriorating position and it was important that each service area made every effort to meet the current financial forecast to improve the overall financial standing.

·         The Assistant Chief Executive (Resources) informed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Greenmeadow Community Farm: Update of the Costings for Scrutiny Committee Recommendations / Fferm gymunedol Greenmeadow: Diweddariad ar y Costau ar gyfer Argymhellion y Pwyllgor Craffu pdf icon PDF 847 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet agreed:

 

(i)    To accept that there were a number of areas requiring further exploration and a sub group of Cabinet members working with Officers will be required to work these through.

(ii)  To accept that recommendation 1 was not a financially viable proposal without significant capital works and investments being required to ensure the farm buildings were fit for purpose to accommodate additional office space.

(iii)To accept that, at this stage, the environmental concerns limit the scope for disposing of land to re-invest in the Farm. However, with further exploration there could be possible alternative options which may provide a capital receipt. Therefore, further work was required by the task and finish group to progress this consideration.

(iv)To accept that recommendation 3 in principle does contribute to the budget saving by £45,000 and is a viable option to implement but to note that further consultation would be required to ensure staff were involved in any discussions before a final decision was made.

(v)  That the task and finish group fully review all options for the Catering function and to implement a model ranging between amending the current arrangements and a totally vending only service. With the stipulations being that the new arrangements were implemented as soon as possible and by 1st February 2020.

(vi)To accept that recommendation 5 under scenario 1 would be the most financially beneficial with the least detrimental impact to the farm operation and its staffing structure in comparison to each of the other scenarios.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: As set out in the report.

 

CONSULTATION: As set out in the report.

 

MEMBERS’ INTERESTS:Councillor Mandy Owen declared a personal interest as she was a Council appointed member of Greenmeadow Community Farm Shadow Board.

 

Minutes:

7.1       The Executive Member for Children, Families and Communities introduced the report and highlighted the following points:

·         The report provided an update on the work carried out in progressing with the recommendations made by the Cleaner Overview and Scrutiny Committee to address the Greenmeadow Farm budget mitigations for 2019/20.

·         It should be noted that there was no intention to close the farm and Members wanted to ensure the long term sustainability of the farm.

·         The financial position facing the Council and the farm has resulted in a mitigation being approved to reduce the subsidy required to operate the farm by £200,000 as part of the budget setting process.

·         The approval was subject to a recommendation from the Cross Cutting Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee where members supported the budget proposal to reduce the level of subsidy and wanted a Task and Finish Group set up to look at all options for implementation.

·         In the process of the review the Task and Finish Group met five times and spoke to a range of staff and stakeholders to understand the current situation of the farm and the benefits and challenges it faces.

·         Cleaner Overview and Scrutiny Committee identified possible options for consideration that may deliver against the required savings and agreed for the recommendations to be costed before any decision was made.

 

7.2       The Chief Officer for Social Care and Housing highlighted the key points and made the following comments:

·         Recommendation 1 would require significant capital works and investments to bring the farm buildings up to a suitable standard to accommodate additional office space.

·         Recommendation 2 would require further exploration, due to a number of significant ecological and biodiversity problems which prevented the land from being used for anything other than grazing. 

·         The changes to the staffing structure outlined in recommendation 3 could be absorbed with limited disturbance to the farm operation.

·         Recommendation 4 would require further exploration, Officers had looked at moving to a vending machine option, however the catering facility was making a small profit and it would be useful to look at other options such as a collaboration with the local college or a social enterprise.

·         The next steps would be to set up a task and finish group with officers and a number of cabinet members to take forward some of the ideas and bring another report to Cabinet outlining the further work undertaken.

·         The Chief Officer was pleased that a decision had been made for the farm to remain open, the staff at the farm were aware that further changes would need to take place to maintain the farm and to make it more sustainable.

 

7.3       Members asked a number of questions around the surplus pieces of land and felt that it was important to relook at the options as any capital that could be made from the sale of the land could be reinvested in to the farm.

 

7.4       In response to the questions the Chief Officer gave the following replies:

·         When the Chief Officer had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Business Continuity Management Strategy & Policy Statement / Strategaeth Rheolaeth Parhad Busnes a Datganiad Polisi pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet agreed to approve the Business Continuity Management Strategy & Policy Statement attached to the report at appendix 1, and instruct the Head of PSSU to implement across the Council.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: As set out in the report.

 

CONSULTATION: As set out in the report.

 

MEMBERS’ INTERESTS: None declared.

Minutes:

8.1       The Head of PSSU outlined the key areas of the report commenting on the following:

·         The report seeks cabinet approval to formalise the approach for manging critical and significant issues that affect the Council on occasions in terms of business continuity.

·         The Council managed issues and Business Continuity matters well but did not have a formal approach.

·         The strategy contained all the elements that the Council needed to consider when facing significant disruption to enable service to be back online as soon as possible.

·         All Council Services were important, but priority for recovery would be given to those services identified and agreed by the Business Continuity Executive Group as Super Priority Services and would have a significant impact on life and limb services, have an impact on Council reputation or have a financial impact.

·         The Council’s ‘Super Priority Services’ will have Business Continuity Plans and Business Impact Assessments in place.

·         The strategy provided a more formal approach and gave a clear and concise way to manage situations.

 

8.2       The Leader emphasised the importance of having plans in place to minimise disruption.

 

8.3       Cabinet agreed to approve the Business Continuity Management Strategy & Policy Statement attached to the report at appendix 1, and instruct the Head of PSSU to implement across the Council.

 

9.

Participation in the Patrol Adjudication Joint Committee / Cymryd Rhan yn y Cydbwyllgor Dyfarnu Patrol pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet agreed:

(i)            For the Local Authority to participate in the Patrol Adjudication Joint Committee.

(ii)          That the Memorandum of Participation in the Patrol Adjudication Joint Committee is signed, sealed and the Agreement is executed.

(iii)         That the Executive Member for Environment be nominated to sit on the Patrol Adjudication Joint Committee.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: As set out in the report.

CONSULTATION: As set out in the report.

MEMBERS’ INTERESTS: None declared.

Minutes:

9.1       The Executive Member for Environment outlined the report and made the following comments:

  • Cabinet approved that a joint Civil Parking and Environmental Enforcement service was set up and the report followed that process and related to Civil Parking Enforcement and membership of the Adjudication Joint Committee.
  • There was a statutory duty to make provision for independent adjudication of parking and traffic penalties, which was carried out through the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
  • A joint Committee of over 300 Local Authorities in England and Wales provide resources to support independent adjudicators and their staff who comprised the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
  • The report requested that the Memorandum of Participation in the Joint Committee was agreed and that she was nominated to sit on the Joint Committee.

 

9.2       The Assistant Chief Officer, Environment and Technical added that the Council had to participate in the Patrol Adjudication Joint Committee as it was part of the appeals process for parking penalty charge notices.

 

9.3       Cabinet agreed:

(i)        For the Local Authority to participate in the Patrol Adjudication Joint Committee.

(ii)       That the Memorandum of Participation in the Patrol Adjudication Joint Committee is signed, sealed and the Agreement is executed.

(iii)      That the Executive Member for Environment be nominated to sit on the Patrol Adjudication Joint Committee.