Venue: Civic Centre, Hanbury Road, Pontypool NP4 6YB
Contact: Jacquelyn Tranter Senior Business Support Officer - Democratic Services
Attendance / Presenoldeb
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 and Solicitor
Dave Congreve, Assistant Chief Executive (Strategy)
Stephen Jarrett, Head of Highways, Transportation and Property
Neil Jones, Head of Communications
Jason Lewis, Head of Strategic Human Resources
David Lilly, Head of Financial Services
Dermot McChrystal, Chief Officer Education & Lead Director for Children & Young People
Jason O’Brien, Head of Children’s Services
Tom Roberts, Senior Corporate Improvement & Scrutiny Officer
Nansi Salkeld, Acting Head of Democratic Services
Dave Weaver, Group Finance Officer
Kate Williams, Equalities, Cohesion and Community Safety Manager
Other people attending
Harald Thomas, Mayor’s Chaplain
Apologies for Absence / Ymddiheuriadau am absenoldeb
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – COUNCILLORS:
Christopher Tew, Mike Jeremiah and Jason O’Connell
Declarations of interest / Datganiadau o fudd
3.1 The Monitoring Officer & Assistant Chief Legal Officer (MO&ACLO) referred to Agenda Item 10 – Pay Policy Statement 2020, 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 Joanne Gauden has a daughter who works at a school in the authority;
Councillor Giles Davies has a sister who works 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 Stuart Evans has a daughter who works for the authority.
Councillor Rose Seabourne’s son works for the authority;
Councillor Kathy Evans has relatives and close friends 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. This was agreed by members.
4.1 Council confirmed the minutes of the meeting held on 28th January 2020 as an accurate record.
5.1 Council NOTED the action sheet.
Receipt of petitions / Deisebau a dderbyniwyd
6.1 There were no petitions submitted for this meeting.
Public Question Time / Cwestiynau gan y Cyhoedd
7.1 There were no public questions.
Announcements from the Leader or Chief Executive / Cyhoeddiadau gan yr Arweinydd neu'r Prif Weithredwr
8.1 The Leader:
· Congratulated Councillor Kathy Evans on the birth of her daughter;
· Thanked staff, volunteers and other agencies for assistance provided during the recent flooding incident;
· Appreciated additional work being undertaken around public health with the increasing threat of the coronavirus.
9.1 The ACER presented the report, budget book report, and annexes and highlighted the key messages, in summary as follows:
· This has been the most difficult budget given the political uncertainty within which it was prepared;
· The significantly improved provisional settlement position and the welcome prioritisation of local government by the Welsh Government (WG) within their deliberations which has allowed for the protection of services;
· Major changes are not expected on the final settlement;
· The UK budget is scheduled for 11th March 2020 – after all local authorities set their budgets;
· The positive dialogue between WG and LG ensured we were fully informed;
· Medium term plans could be diverted as a result of flooding and coronavirus, particularly capital to help communities;
· The increase in budget was 4.5%;
· There are sums included that are hypothecated and assumptions around some funding e.g. teachers’ pay and pensions;
· Planning is difficult without forward indications;
· Risks include service demand;
· Reserves must be carefully managed, these have never been high in Torfaen;
· The revenue budget:
- Fully funds the estimated £3.4million school pressures;
- Funds children’s services at the 2019/20 level of demand;
- Has mitigations included which can be classed as modest service change proposals;
- Includes budget proposals that form part of the T22 programme;
- Has reduced the proposed increase in TCBC Council Tax from that originally modelled to 3.95% or an increase of £51.96 per annum;
- Resources are available to invest in accordance with member priorities and a further capital strategy will be presented to Council in June 2020.
· The Audit Committee scrutinised the Capital Strategy and prudential indicators;
9.2The ACER concluded by expressing his appreciation to David Lilly, Dave Weaver and their teams as well as the scrutiny team for the improving process provided each year.
9.3The Executive Member for Resources, Councillor Kelly Preston commented, in summary, as follows:
· Appreciation to Nigel Aurelius, David Lilly and their teams of officers for their work in preparing the budget and in doing so, continuing to meet Council priorities;
· The expanded scrutiny process has been invaluable, particular thanks to Tom Roberts and the team;
· A better than expected settlement is most welcome and evidence of ongoing constructive dialogue with WG and the Leader continuing to push the local government’s case;
· This one year settlement provides a positive but challenging outlook after ten years of austerity and pressure;
· This budget is driven by values of caring for the Borough, a willingness to protect vulnerable communities and investing in essential services;
· Gratitude to staff for delivering our public services particularly in recent weeks with the flooding problems.
9.4 In response to the presentation of the budget report, Members expressed views and commented in summary as follows:
· Appreciation to all officers involved in preparation of the budget and those involved in the scrutiny process which worked exceptionally well and allowed all members to be involved and make contributions;
· The WG settlement could be better to enable the provision of more services;
· The perceived waste of ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
10.1 As agreed earlier in the meeting at Item 3 - Declarations of Interest, officers and members with a prejudicial interest left the meeting. Other members, Jason Lewis and Jacquelyn Tranter remained.
10.2 The Executive Member, Resources, Councillor Kelly Preston introduced the 2020 Pay Policy Statement in accordance with the Localism Act 2011.
10.3 Members noted that the Council is required to consider its Pay Policy Statement every year; it is a position statement setting out the current pay arrangements within the Council.
10.4 The Executive Member commented, in particular on:
· The Council’s commitment to providing a fair wage to the lowest paid staff through maintaining the rates recommended by the ‘foundation living wage’;
· The pay ratio of senior officer staff and average pay within the council continues to decline year on year;
· Thanks to Head of Strategic Human Resources, Jason Lewis for preparing the report.
10.5 Council APPROVED the 2020 Pay Policy Statement, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report, as an accurate summary of the Council’s current pay policy for the purpose of publication under the Localism Act.
To seek approval for publication of
Torfaen’s Strategic Equality Plan 2020 - 2024.
11.1 The EC&CSM highlighted the key areas of the report which was presented for approval for the publication of Torfaen’s Strategic Equality Plan 2020-2024.
11.2 Members noted:
· The Council’s current Strategic Equality Plan (SEP) comes to an end in March 2020;
· The new Strategic Equality Plan and objectives need to be published in English and Welsh by 31st March 2020;
· The objectives have been developed in line with the Welsh Government’s proposed equality objectives and with consideration of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘Is Wales Fairer? Report 2018’.
11.3 The EC&CSM outlined the Council’s five proposed Equality Objectives 2020-2024 and explained the legal duties, requirements of public bodies and consultation on the plan. The five objectives of the plan are embedded in all service delivery plans ensuring they are embedded throughout the authority.
11.4 The EC&CSM thanked the Prosperous Communities O&S Committee for their recommendations, the plan was amended to reflect their contribution; Councillor Joanne Gauden and Stephen Honeywell for their work on the plan.
11.5 The Executive Member, Councillor Gauden suitably responded and thanked officers for their work on the plan. She commented on the plan’s improvement and Torfaen’s serious commitment where diversity can be celebrated.
11.6 The Leader thanked officers and commented on the five objectives being a sensible and pragmatic approach to equality. He particularly welcomed the socio-economic duty and the focus on poverty and the need for and accessing services.
11.7 Members comments and officers responses are summarised as follows:
· the recommendation of Prosperous Communities O&S Committee had been incorporated to contribute to a valuable and welcome plan;
· requirements around the socio and economic duty is currently uncertain however there will be a members’ seminar and training sessions for officers with decision making responsibilities to ensure this is implemented across the authority; guidance will be available in April on the way forward; Torfaen could be challenged on not giving due regard to socio economic circumstances but look forward to guidelines;
· The WLGA and councillors from local authorities are working on related issues; suggestions were invited;
· The plan does not mention every group e.g. people and carers living with dementia and Motor Neuron Disease, however could be included in the detailed action plan to build on the excellent work already undertaken;
· Officers try to attend all EHRC events;
· The inclusion of children from all sectors in the youth parliament is key;
11.8 Council AGREED to approve the Strategic Equality Plan 2020-2024 for publication in English and Welsh.
12.1 The SCI&SO presented the ‘Improving Well-being in Torfaen’ report - comprising the statutory annual well-being statement and report and annual improvement plan.
12.2 Members were reminded of the legal duty, requirements, scope and impact of the Well-being and Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
12.3 The SCI&SO explained that the report sets out progress made in delivering Torfaen’s well-being objectives for 2018/19 which were linked to the Corporate Plan:
- Street-scene based working
- Reviewing post 16 education in Torfaen
- Redesign of adult services
- Changing behaviours towards waste
- Developing a well-being offer for children and young people
- Creating a sustainable domiciliary care/well-being workforce.
12.4 Members were reminded that an update on the Corporate Plan priorities were agreed by Council to form objectives going forward. The delivery of objectives and appropriate measures were outlined in the report.
12.5 The Executive Member commented on the assurance the report provides on the delivery of Corporate Plan priorities across the Council.
12.6 Council AGREED to approve the ‘Improving Well-Being in Torfaen’, comprising the statutory annual well-being report and statement and improvement plan.
The DMO&S presented a report to propose that the existing licensing committee structure is replaced by establishing two Licensing Committees to be entitled ‘the Statutory Licensing Committee’ and the ‘General Licensing Committee’.
The DMO&S explained that following a review and consideration of legal advice and guidance, in order to maintain effective governance arrangements it is proposed to operate separate Licensing Committees as licensing and gambling are run under different rules as opposed to other licensing areas which are run by the Council’s Constitution and Standing Orders.
The relevant regulations and political balance requirements were detailed in the report and noted by members.
To amend the licensing committee structure so that two licensing committees are established to be entitled the ‘Statutory Licensing Committee’ and the ‘General Licensing Committee’.
The Monitoring Officer, in consultation with the Members’ Constitution Working Party has authority to amend the constitution to reflect the proposed changes.
The Leader presented a report seeking agreement to make changes to the allocation of Cabinet member portfolio responsibilities.
The proposed changes were:
The Leader thanked all members, in every role for their hard work. He stated that if approved the members would assume the portfolios immediately on conclusion of meeting.
Council AGREED to approve the allocation of Cabinet member portfolio responsibilities as outlined above.
The Deputy Leader presented a report to consider and review the political proportionality rules regarding committee seat allocation for individual independent members. In doing so, he thanked Councillor Robert Kemp for the work he had undertaken in the preparing the report.
The Deputy Leader outlined the reasons for presenting the report as detailed in the ‘background’ section of the report.
The options presented were also outlined and detailed in the report. The Deputy Leader drew members’ attention to Section 17 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 which allows for alternative approaches to be taken if no member votes against it.
A recorded vote was requested. The request was supported by more than six members.
Members, in summary commented as follows:
· Appreciation to the Deputy Leader and Councillor Robert Kemp for the work they had undertaken in compiling the report;
· The Deputy Leader was in favour and recommends Option Two - Include Individual Independent Members in political balance calculations;
· If supported the proposal would take effect from the next Annual Council – May 2020;
· If supported the proposal would be existing until the whole body of the Council offered a report to revoke the decision or otherwise;
· members cannot be forced to sit on any committee;
· this is about being part of the political balance without being part of a group;
The Deputy Leader underlined the recommendation of Option Two and members would be voting for, against or abstain on that option.
The recorded vote was taken and Members votes are shown in Table 2 below. 36 members voted for the recommendations, 3 voted against, 0 abstentions.
Three members voted against Option two therefore Option One – Do not include the individual independent members in political balance calculations was carried.
The Deputy Leader presented a report to consider and review the allocation of seating in the Council Chamber for Council meetings.
The seating plan illustrated in the appendix attached to the report was approved.
Motions on Notice / Cynigion â rhybudd
17.1 There were no motions on notice.
18.1 Members’ questions with replies are set out in Appendix A to these minutes.
19.1 Council NOTED Cabinet decisions.
Date and time of next meeting 12/05/20 / Dyddiad ac amser y cyfarfod nesaf 12/05/20
20.1 Council NOTED the next ordinary meeting of Council was scheduled to be held on Tuesday 12th May 2020 at 10.00a.m.