Agenda and minutes

Gwent Archives Joint Committee
Friday, 14th December, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Gwent Archives, Ebbw Vale, NP23 6AA

Contact: Rachel Beale  Senior Business Support Officer - Democratic Services

No. Item


Attendance and Apologies/Presenoldeb ac Ymddiheuriadau


1.1         Apologies were received from the following:

Councillor A Higgs, Caerphilly County Borough Council
Councillor J Guy, Newport City Council
Canon Edwards, Diocese of Monmouth



Declarations of Interest/Datganiadau o fudd


2.1       There were no interests declared.


Minutes of meeting held on 12/10/2018 / Cofnodion y cyfarfod a gynhaliwyd ar 12/10/2018 pdf icon PDF 489 KB


3.1       The County Archivist pointed out that the minutes included ‘Kai Richards, Senior Archivist’, however it should state ‘Kai Michael, Senior Archivist’.  


3.2       Subject to the above correction the minutes of the meeting held on 12th October 2018 were confirmed as an accurate record.


Gwent Archives Service Budget Monitoring 2018/19 & Estimates 2019/20 / Monitro Cyllideb Gwasanaeth Archifau Gwent 2018/19 ac Amcangyfrifon 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 292 KB

Additional documents:


4.1       The Head of Financial Services presented the report which provided an update on the budget position for 2018/19, outlined the estimates for 2019/20 and gave the medium term financial forecast, commenting in particular on the following:


·         The report presented the estimates for the year which was an improved position over the assumptions and showed a £20,000 deficit to be funded from reserves.

·         The County Archivist had managed staffing arrangements effectively which resulted in an underspend and there was a positive position on energy costs, however there was an adverse position on income.

·         The budgetary guidelines of the host authority had been used when preparing the estimates for 2019/20 and the following assumptions were made:

o   That all staff would move to the new scale points as a result of the pay award.

o   The provision for the apprenticeship levy at 0.5% of basic pay.

o   All pay increments would be honoured.

o   Provision for an employer Pension contribution rate of 17.9% plus a contribution of £10,000 as per the most recent actuarial variation.

·         Using the assumptions the total initial net budget for 2019/20 was estimated to be £1,034,000 which without any mitigating factors resulted in being £95,000 over the current budget, £64,000 relating to the original 2018/19 budget pressure funded by reserves and £31,000 relating to 2019/20. The £31,000 pressure related to the creation of a new post and staff assumptions around pay and increments.

·         It was recognised that the premise costs and energy were a big pressure.

·         Local Authorities were having to reduce most of the services they provided due to budget constraints and were looking at their contribution to outside bodies, the contribution from the Local Authorities to Gwent Archives remained flat line.

·         The initial estimates showed a budget pressure of £95,000. The working group had met a number of times to discuss costs and estimates and had made good progress. It was apparent that the premises cost was the largest budget cost area, and had looked at ways to reduce it. The working group came up with two elements and Blaenau Gwent also came up with one suggestion.  The first suggestion from the working group related to the rental space of the new part of the building. The rental costs of the new build were based on the cost of construction and the borrowing costs of the loan, it was suggested to re-profile the loan to a more favourable rate which would result in a saving of £43,000 and there would be no change to the service. The second element related to the rental of the rooms in the Steelworks part of the building. The working group was of the opinion that three rooms could be vacated and the staff relocated into rooms on the other side of the building which would enable a saving of £20,000. Discussion had been undertaken with the Landlord who had indicated that they would look more favourably at the service losing adjoining rooms. Which would result in a change in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Quarterly Bulletin of Gwent Archives/Bwletin Chwarterol Archifau Gwent pdf icon PDF 327 KB

Additional documents:


5.1       The County Archivist informed Members of activities during the quarter from 1 September 2018 – 30 November 2018 highlighting the following:


  • The number of enquiries the Service had received was increasing.
  • The website continued to be a problem and staff were unable to retrieve the statistics for the number of people visiting the website, the issue had been followed up with SRS.
  • The number of visits to the Gwent Archives Social Media pages continued to increase.
  • The Service was still experiencing problems with IT and there has been no progress with the website rebuild or the transfer of the Chartist Trials website, however the County Archivist would shortly be having a meeting with the SRS to hopefully resolve the issues.
  • It was encouraging to see that the Education and Outreach Archivist had been asked for the past four years to been involved in Velvet Coalmine Week at Blackwood Primary School.
  • The Pen-y-Fal Study Group were continuing to visit. A number of the Members of the Group had previously experienced Mental Health issues, and were researching about people who had similar circumstances to them. An article would be published shortly in ‘Gwent Local History’ based on a case study of one of the inmates at Pen-y-Fal Asylum in the Victorian period and how she was treated which resulted her taking her own life. The Members of the research project had grown in confidence since they had started attending Gwent Archives.
  • There were a number of groups visiting the Service and attending workshops and tours. The Conservator recently gave a group of Photo-Journalism Students a guided tour of Gwent Archives and showed them photographs dating back to 1850’s, explaining the challenges of storing and preserving the photographs.
  • Disability Cando, a charity, received HLF funding for a project on the history of disability. One of the conditions of the grant was to put on an exhibition, which Gwent Archives hosted in November.
  • The Sharing Private O’Brien project had come to an end and an event to mark the end of the project was held at the Congress Theatre. It was opened by the Culture Minister, Lord Elis-Thomas and the afternoon session was opened by Nick Thomas-Symonds MP.  A performance was given by pupils from Ysgol Bryn Onnen based on the letters that inspired the project.  Joan Nash, the daughter-in-law of Rose Nash also gave a talk at the event, and attached as appendix one to the report was a letter from Mrs Nash who commented on the event and the project as a whole. In the letter she mentioned how she was impressed by the way the Service had preserved the letters that her Mother-in-Law received from her boyfriend William O’Brien in the First World War. She was pleased to be part of an extremely interesting event to mark the end of the project. The interest shown by Gwent Archives gave her the confidence to be able to go on to the stage and give a talk to the audience. She felt  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Final Accounts 2017/18: Audited Annual Return and Audit Report / Cyfrifon Terfynol 2017/18: Ffurflen Flynyddol Archwiliedig ac Adroddiad ar yr Archwiliad pdf icon PDF 199 KB

Additional documents:


6.1       The Head of Financial Services introduced the report which provided the Joint Committee with the conclusion of the external audit of the Annual Return for the year ended 31 March 2018 and highlighted the following points:


  • The Joint Committee considered the outturn report in June 2018 which set out the year end financial position and the governance and scrutiny arrangements that applied to the Gwent Archives Joint Committee.  The Joint Committee subsequently approved the content of the formal Annual Return and authorised the Chair to sign the return in accordance with the audit process.
  • The Annual return had been audited and the auditors had found one area of qualification and one area of recommendation.
  • The qualification related to a change in approach, historically Torfaen Council and any other bodies that they were responsible for publishing the accounts for, advertised the accounts for people to view before they were agreed. However guidance had since been received from the Auditor which stated that small bodies should advertise their accounts after they had been agreed.
  • Torfaen Council’s Auditors were apologetic as they had thought the process was correct, however the Wales Audit Office gave the advice that the process was incorrect after the accounts were published.
  • The auditors also made a recommendation within the Annual Governance Statement, which related to the question ‘When awarding grants under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972, we have kept a separate account of such grants and considered whether or not the benefits arising from such payments are commensurate with the sums paid’. The Joint Committee answered ‘No’ to the question as Gwent Archives did not give grants to any other bodies, however the auditors stated that the Joint Committee should have answered ‘Yes’ as the statement had been considered.
  • Officers had spoken to the Wales Audit Office and the auditors would be looking at the wording of the Annual Governance Statement to include a ‘Not Applicable’ box.
  • There were no concerns raised in relation to the accounts or figures.  


6.2       The Joint Committee agreed to note the conclusion of the external audit.


Any Other Business/Aelodau Cyfetholedig y Cydbwyllgor


7.1       There were no items of any other business discussed.


Date of Next Meeting 15/03/2019 / Dyddiad y cfarfod nesaf 15/03/2019


8.1       The Chair informed the committee that the next meeting would take place on Friday 15th March 2019, however the Gwent Archives Working Group would meet beforehand.


8.2       The Head of Financial Services reported that the advert for the County Archivist job would be going out in early January.


8.3       In response to questions asked in relation to the job advert, the following replies were given by Officers:


  • The HR Officers at Torfaen Council had created the job specification and advert.
  • Members of the Joint Committee would receive a copy of the job advert and Local Authorities would be given a copy to advertise on their websites.
  • The job would not be advertised internationally, however it would be advertised UK wide and would be available on the internet, it would be uploaded to the archives profession’s Website and the advert would also be going in the Guardian Newspaper.


8.4       A Member of the Committee expressed that the current County Archivist was an asset who was well versed in local history and provided guidance to a lot of people. He hoped the recruitment process would find someone who would keep the existing ethos at Gwent Archives. 


8.5       The Chair wished everyone a Happy Christmas and a healthy and interesting New Year.