Agenda and minutes

Council
Tuesday, 5th March, 2019 10.00 am

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

Contact: Jacquelyn Tranter  Senior Business Support Officer - Democratic Services

Items
No. Item

1.

Attendance / Presenoldeb

Minutes:

Stewart Greenwell

In memory of Stewart Greenwell, Chief Officer of Social Care and Housing 2006-2009, members and officer stood as a mark of respect.

 

Officers on the dias

 

Nigel Aurelius, Assistant Chief Executive (Resources)

Delyth Harries, Monitoring Officer and Assistant Chief Legal Officer

Jacquelyn Tranter, Senior Business Support Officer (Democratic Services)

Alison Ward, Chief Executive

 

Other Officers attending or observing from the gallery for parts of the meeting

 

Justine Cass, Deputy Monitoring Officer

Neil Jones, Head of Communications

Darren Joseph, Head of Safeguarding and Business Support, Education

Rachel Jowitt, Chief Officer, Neighbourhoods, Planning & Public Protection

Jason Lewis, Head of Strategic Human Resources

Matt Lewis, Chief Operating Officer, SRS

David Lilly, Head of Financial Services

Lyndon Puddy, Head of PSSU

Tom Roberts, Senior Corporate Improvement & Scrutiny Officer

Keith Rutherford, Chief Officer, Social Care & Housing

Kate Williams, Equalities, Cohesion and Community Safety Manager

Dave Weaver, Group Finance Officer

 

Other people attending

 

Harald Thomas, Mayor’s Chaplain

Saul Cooke-Black, South Wales Argus

Member of the public

2.

Apologies for Absence / Ymddiheuriadau am absenoldeb

Minutes:

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – COUNCILLORS:

 

Huw Bevan, Leonard Constance and Stuart Evans

3.

Declarations of Interest / Datganiadau o fudd

Minutes:

3.1       The Monitoring Officer & Assistant Chief Legal Officer (MO&ACLO) referred to Agenda Item 15 – Pay Policy Statement 2019, and advised that members should declare a prejudicial interest and leave the room if a close personal associate was employed by the authority. The following members declared prejudicial interests:

 

Councillor Giles Davies has a sister and niece who work for the Authority;

Councillors Alan Slade and Sue Malson both have a son working for the Authority;

Councillors Neil Waite and Ray Williams both have a daughter who works for the Authority;

Councillor Chris Tew’s wife works for the Authority;

Councillor Kathy Evans has a close friend who works for the Authority.

 

3.2      The MO&ACLO explained that all officers would leave the meeting for this item, with the exception of Jason Lewis, Head of Strategic Human Resources, who would remain to answer members’ queries, Jacquelyn Tranter would remain to take the minutes and Chris Slade would remain to operate the Webcast.  

4.

Confirmation of Council minutes - 29.01.19 / Cadarnhau cofnodion y Cyngor - 29.01.19 pdf icon PDF 757 KB

Minutes:

4.1       Council CONFIRMED the minutes of the Council meeting held on 29th January 2019 as a correct record of the meeting.

5.

Updates on Actions / Y diweddaraf ar y camau gweithredu pdf icon PDF 201 KB

Minutes:

5.1       Council NOTED the updates listed on the action sheet.

6.

Receipt of Petitions / Deisebau a dderbyniwyd

Minutes:

6.1       No petitions has been submitted for this meeting.

7.

Public Question Time / Cwestiynau gan y Cyhoedd

Minutes:

7.1       No public questions had been received for this meeting.

8.

Announcements from the Leader or Chief Executive / Cyhoeddiadau gan yr Arweinydd neu'r Prif Weithredwr

Minutes:

8.1       The Leader commented on:

 

8.2       Stewart Greenwell - The Leader associated himself and all other members to the condolences and best wishes expressed to the family of Stewart Greenwell who is remembered within the Authority with much respect.

 

8.3       Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) - The Leader welcomed the fact that Torfaen has been praised as the best authority in Wales for paying Discretionary Housing Payments.

He explained that Shelter Cymru’s ‘Waste Not Want Not’ campaign aims to raise awareness of DHP’s which is an important source of financial help for people struggling to pay their rent. The money is provided annually by UK Government and it’s up to the Council to give the money to the people who need it most. If the money isn’t spent by the end of the year the UK government takes it back and the authority gets less the following year so it’s good that the authority has spent all the allocation and the Council are topping it up to prevent homelessness. A DHP grant maybe awarded to someone affected by the bedroom tax or benefits cap, for thousands of people in Wales, DHPs are all that stands between them and homelessness.

 

9.

Budget 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Plan / Cyllideb 2019/20 a'r Cynllun Ariannol Tymor Canolig pdf icon PDF 431 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

9.1       The Assistant Chief Executive Resources (ACXR) introduced the budget report. He explained that he would present the budget in terms of its construct and conclusion, the overall financial standing of the authority and financial prospects going forward and Leader would present the policy direction of the budget.

 

9.2       In summary the ACXR commented as follows:

·         With continued contraction in public sector funding setting a balanced budget gets harder;

·         Whilst overall settlements this year are marginally better the cumulative effect is significant and continues to be the most challenging time for public services;

·         In real terms funding is below what it was before this period started and is well short of what is needed to stand still let alone improve public services;

·         all local authorities are facing similar difficulties in setting budgets – not just Torfaen;

·         difficult without a real term funding increase as demand for complexity and scrutiny of services continues to grow;

·         as an authority efficiencies are always sought and endeavours made to do more for less, difficult choices cannot be ignored as a balanced budget must be set;

·         the general fund balance could only support seven days of spending power on recurring spend and  difficult choices must be made;

·         Pressing the authority’s case individually and within the local government community for adequate funding must continue, particularly around social care.

9.3       The ACXR outlined the budget 2019/20 report and appendices presented. In particular he highlighted the following:

 

·         Local authorities still receive a single year settlement from WG despite discussions around multi-year settlements. Forward indications would assist planning and this is not in line with the Wellbeing Act;

·         Final mitigations recommended by scrutiny and agreed by Cabinet;

·         Small cash uplift of 0.54% was received in 18/19 which equated to almost £600,000, also there was extra grant funding for social care and reference was made to further regional funds being available;

·         £3.5m budget mitigations required are detailed in the report, these were found in efficiencies, restructures, grant assumptions and service provision change;

·         Overall approach was to deliver and protect corporate plan priorities;

·         Budget/financial and service planning brought closer together this year, effective scrutiny has contributed to this;

·         Medium term financial plan up to 23/24 forecast shortfall of £19.5m, inclusive of school pressures. This is ‘stand still’ forecast and assumes WG cash flat-line which falls short of real terms forecast. This would be funded through efficiencies, fundamentally challenging services, potential for capital to reduce revenue and T22 which is to be refocussed but will not provide all solutions;

·         Most significant of key risks is related to the decision around the employers costs of teachers’ pension and fire levy;

·         Reserves policy remains unchanged but overall levels are falling and will continue with likely outturn 18/19; options to be explored as accounts closed to improve reserves position. imperative not to repeat next year as impact financial standing;

·         Capital strategy has 21st century schools as focus but WG announcement of new capital monies and changes to funding intervention rates which releases some resource  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Amendments to the Constitution / Diwygiadau i'r Cyfansoddiad pdf icon PDF 553 KB

Minutes:

10.1    Members and officers returned to the meeting. Councillors Giles Davies and Ray Mills did not return.

 

10.2    The MO&ACLO presented a report regarding changes to the Constitution to revise Executive portfolios, Overview and Scrutiny, updating decision making responsibilities and amendments to the attendance of co-opted and non-voting members.

 

10.3    The revisions required were outlined in the report and appendices and included:

 

·         Revising the Executive Portfolios for implementation at the Council’s 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) (Appendix 1);

·         Revising the Overview and Scrutiny Portfolios for implementation at the Council’s 2019 AGM (Appendix 2);

·         Revising the arrangements for some of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees to have standing non-statutory co-opted members (Appendix 3);

·         Updating the decision-making responsibilities associated with the current Leadership structure (Appendix 4); and

·         Amending the wording associated with the attendance of co-opted and non-voting members of committees (Appendix 5).

10.4    In respect of Executive portfolio revisions, the MO&ACLO outlined further minor amendments to Appendix 1 as follows:

·         Archives to be included in the Executive Member, Corporate Governance & Performance portfolio ( removed from Executive Member, Resources);

·         Play Service and Youth Service to be included in the Executive Member, Children, Families & Communities portfolio (removed from Executive Member, Education)

·         The title ‘Executive Member, Economy & Skills’ to be amended to include Regeneration.

10.5    The MO&ACLO explained that in line with Local Government Measure 2011 guidance - that the number of co-opted members on a scrutiny committee should not exceed a third of the total membership of the committee, amendments to the Constitution to reduce the number of co-opted members on the Committee whose function relates to education were set out in Appendix 3.

 

10.6    Amendments to Overview and Scrutiny Committees would be made to align with the Executive Member portfolios as outlined in Appendix 2.

 

10.7    Amendments in respect of the Leadership structure were outlined and it was noted that following the departure of the Head of Strategic Services, the role was replaced with the Head of Transformation & Improvement as a chief officer decision maker.

 

10.7    Also, there is an amendment to the title of Assistant Chief Executive (Strategy).

 

10.7    A further amendment to the wording in respect of co-opted member attendance as outlined in the report.

 

10.8    The Leader welcomed the amendments to the Constitution and added that the deliberations of the Overview and Scrutiny Task and Finish group would be considered before any decisions were made in respect of Executive portfolio responsibility of the community farm.

 

 

10.9    Council AGREED that the Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Member Constitution Working Party be granted delegated authority to make amendments to the Constitution to reflect the changes set out in the report.

 

11.

Improving Well-Being in Torfaen / Gwella Iles yn Nhorfaen pdf icon PDF 267 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

11.1    The Chief Executive presented the ‘Improving Well-Being in Torfaen’ report, attached as Appendix one, which included the statutory annual well-being statement and report and annual improvement plan.

In summary the Chief Executive highlighted:

 

11.2    The Corporate Plan 3 contains three politically selected and agreed priorities. During 2019/20 financial year, improvements in these priority areas will be delivered, monitored and reported through activities, performance measures and targets set out in the Council’s service plans;

 

11.3    The service plans’ key activities and service measures had been used to populate the Council’s statutory well-being statement for 2019/20. The document requires the Council through the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to publish a set of well-being objectives, whilst also setting out its agreed improvement objectives for the year ahead as required under part one, section 15 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and related Welsh Government guidance;

 

11.4    The well-being statement should set out how the Council has used the five ways of working to develop and plan services, considering how those services  will contribute to improved well-being in Torfaen, as defined by the 7 national well-being goals;

 

11.5    The Council had revised its approach for 2019/20 moving from a project based approach to a set of well-being objectives aligned with the Council’s corporate plan priorities;

 

11.6    The ‘Improving Well-being in Torfaen’ report demonstrates significant progress has been made delivering the Council’s 2017/18 well-being objectives;

 

11.7    Council AGREED to approve the report ‘Improving Well-Being in Torfaen’ which included the statutory annual well-being report and statement and annual improvement plan.

 

12.

Annual Strategic Equality Report / Adroddiad Blynyddol Cydraddoldeb Strategol pdf icon PDF 332 KB

A progress report on the Strategic Equality Plan for the period April 1st 2017 - March 31st 2018

Additional documents:

Minutes:

12.1    The Equalities, Cohesion and Community Safety Manager (EC&CSM) presented the annual progress report on the Strategic Equality Plan 2. The report outlined the Council’s ten Strategic Equality Objectives and progress made during April 2017-March 2018.

 

12.2    In summary the EC&CSM highlighted:

·         The statutory duty placed on all local authorities by The Equality Act 2010 to develop and publish a Strategic Equality Plan every four years;

·         Torfaen’s Strategic Equality Plan (2012-2020) was published in April 2016;

·         work towards the 2020 plan is ongoing and will be aligned with Welsh Government objectives;

·         the Council’s progress in relation to its statutory responsibilities is compliant and satisfactory with significant progress in a number of key areas;

·         The next progress report will be presented in July 2019.

12.3    In response to questions raised around monitoring of employment opportunities for disabled people the EC&CSM agreed to include trends in future reports and give consideration to influencing a positive increase in these trends.

 

12.4    Reference was made to the increase in the number of hate crimes reported on page 319.The Executive Member suggested that Gwent Police be invited to provide a seminar on the hate crimes recorded in Gwent and reasons behind the figures.

 

12.4    Council AGREED to note the content and approve the Annual Strategic Equality Monitoring report 2017-2018 as set out in the Appendix to the report.

 

13.

Appointment of Lay Member Audit Committee / Penodi Pwyllgor Archwilio Aelodau Lleyg pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Minutes:

13.1    The MO&ACLO presented a report which sought approval on the selection procedure for the appointment of a lay member of the Audit Committee in compliance with the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.

 

13.2    Council were told that Audit Committee’s lay member appointed in 2012 had indicated that he no longer wishes to serve on the committee due to work commitments, his term of office will end in May 2019.

 

13.3    To enable the audit committee to carry on its business and in view of the limited time available it was AGREED that the independent members of the Ethics & Standards Committee be invited to express an interest in sitting on the Audit Committee. This appointment to continue until the next elections in 2022 so that a public recruitment exercise can then be undertaken to appoint a lay member for two full terms of the local authority.

 

 

14.

Outside Bodies - Delegated Decisions / Cyrff Allanol - Penderfyniadau Dirprwyedig pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Minutes:

14.1    Council were reminded by the MO&ACLO that in accordance with the Constitution, the Chief Executive and Leader can approve variations to appointments on outside bodies.

 

14.2    The MO&ACLO informed members that following the resignation of Councillor Rose Seabourne from Torfaen Leisure Trust, Councillor Giles Davies was nominated as the Council’s representative.

 

14.3    The Leader thanked Councillor Davies for accepting the position and Councillor Seabourne for her diligent work.

 

14.4    Council NOTED the delegated decision of the Leader and Chief Executive to appoint Councillor Giles Davies to serve on the Leisure Trust.

 

15.

SRS Severance Payment pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Minutes:

15.1    The Chief Operating Officer (COO, SRS) presented a report for permission to contribute to severance costs which will allow the SRS to finalise the restructure of the Senior Leadership Team, align its structures to the new SRS target operating model and to enable the SRS to deliver the saving targets that the five partners require.

 

15.2    Details of SRS saving targets required by all five partners were outlined as well as the voluntary redundancies required to contribute to overall savings. In particular, information on the severance package for a Chief Officer was explained in line with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 and based on guidance issued by Welsh Government Pay Accountability in Local Government in Wales (2017) which require Council to discharge Chief Officer/ Heads of Service severance payments in excess of £100,000.

 

15.3    The Chief Executive clarified that Torfaen is the host Human Resource authority and therefore employer of SRS staff therefore only this Council’s approval is required in line with the regulations referred to above.

In respect of Torfaen’s contribution to severance payments for the Chief Officer, the COO,SRS confirmed that the costs would be split equally across all partners i.e. 20% and this was within budget.

 

15.4    Council APPROVED the severance costs as outlined in the report.

 

 

16.

Pay Policy Statement 2019 / Datganiad ar Bolisi Tâl 2019 pdf icon PDF 216 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

16.1    As agreed earlier in the meeting at Item 3 - Declarations of Interest, officers and members with a prejudicial interest left the meeting and other members, Jason Lewis, Chris Slade and Jacquelyn Tranter remained.

 

16.2    The Head of Strategic HR and Asset Management presented a report on the 2019 Pay Policy Statement in accordance with the Localism Act 2011.

It was noted that the Council is required to consider its Pay Policy Statement every year and it sets out current pay arrangements within the Council.

 

16.3    The HoSHR highlighted:

·         the pay relationship between the remuneration of chief officers and employees who are not chief officers has continued to decline in recent years in a positive way;

·         the introduction of a new pay spine for staff employed on NJC terms and conditions of service in order to comply with nationally negotiated and agreed arrangements;

·         in accordance with Council’s commitment to adopt the ‘living wage’, the bottom point of the new NJC pay spine is £9.00 per hour, which is the same as the current foundation living wage rate;

·         the Pay Policy recommends changes made to the subsistence allowances for officers so that they are in line with the rates provided to councillors and these recommended by the IRP.

 

16.4    The Leader responded by welcoming the report and the national pay award for staff, in particular the decrease in the ratio of senior pay to average pay and the reduction in management costs – both are an indication of how the authority is trying to work as a fair employer.

 

16.5    Councillor Jason O’Connell referred to the fact that the Chief Executive had not taken a pay increase since 2008 and he wished to place on record his view that this is an outstanding leadership quality and that the Chief Executive should be commended for doing so.

 

16.6    Council APPROVED:

·         the Pay Policy Statement 2019, attached as Appendix 1 to the report, as an accurate summary of the Council’s current policy for the purposes of publication under the Localism Act.

·         The proposed changes to the subsistence rates for officers as described in Paragraph 10.2 of the 2019 Pay Policy Statement.

 

 

17.

Motions on Notice / Cynigion â rhybudd

Minutes:

17.1    There were no motions on notice.

 

18.

Member Question Time / Cwestiynau gan yr Aelodau pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

18.1    Questions were asked by members and the replies are set out in Appendix A to these minutes.

 

 

19.

Cabinet decisions - 22.01.19 & 19.02.19 / Penderfyniadau'r Cabinet - 22.01.19 & 19.02.19 pdf icon PDF 287 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

19.1    Council NOTED the Cabinet decisions.

 

20.

Date and time of next meeting - 14.05.19 / Dyddiad ac amser y cyfarfod nesaf 14.05.19

Minutes:

20.1    Council NOTED that its next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday 14th May 2019 to be held at the Civic Centre, Pontypool. NP4 6YB.