Venue: Gwent Archives, Ebbw Vale, NP23 6AA
Contact: Rachel Beale Senior Business Support Officer - Democratic Services
Attendance and Apologies/Presenoldeb ac Ymddiheuriadau
1.1 Apologies were received from the following:
Councillor D Davies, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council
Councillor B Jones, Caerphilly County Borough Council
Councillor S Woodhouse, Monmouthshire County Council
Canon Arthur Edwards, Diocese of Monmouth
Professor Russell Deacon, Coleg Gwent
Mr Steve Duffin, Coleg Gwent
Declarations of Interest/Datganiadau o fudd
2.1 There were no interests declared.
3.1 Councillor Mayer pointed out that he had attended the previous meeting, however his attendance was not recorded in the minutes.
3.2 An amendment was made to paragraph 4.1 of the minutes, the minutes stated that the Service would be left with a pressure of £24,000 against the £95,000 however it should read that there was a pressure of £26,000.
3.3 Subject to the two above amendments the minutes of the meeting held on 14th December 2018 were agreed as a true and accurate record.
3.4 The Chair asked for an update on the proposals agreed at the last meeting as budget savings.
3.5 The County Archivist stated that Torfaen County Borough Council (TCBC) Officers were liaising with Asset Management in Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (BGCBC) and were trying to get a breakdown for the costs on a room by room basis. He had ideas for how the Service was going to utilise the existing space but did not want to vacate the rooms until it was certain what rooms they were vacating.
3.6 The Head of Financial Services added that he had spoken to Asset Management at TCBC who were in discussions with BGCBC. BGCBC indicated that their preferred option would be for Gwent Archives to vacate the whole suite of outside rooms, but it was explained to them that Gwent Archives wanted to keep the Education Room and vacate the other three rooms. There was also an ongoing discussion regarding the network cabinet in the “public” room that Gwent Archives wanted to vacate, SRS have estimated that it could cost £7,000 to remove it. Officers were currently trying to determine whether it was used by the whole of the building or just by Gwent Archives. There had been no update on amending the lease, however the level of insurance had been reduced as agreed by committee.
3.7 The Chair pointed out that the Gwent Archives Committee paid for the area of space to the side of the building which the Service did not use and the College were utilising, she said that negotiations were needed in order to make a saving. The Head of Financial Services responded stating that the County Archivist would need to liaise with TCBC Asset Management regarding that.
3.8 It was mentioned that car parking was an issue for the Service, people had arrived to visit Gwent Archives but could not park and had to leave. Councillor Millard reported that there was a lack of policing of car parking in the area, however BGCBC would be taking over the responsibility of parking enforcement from the Police and would hopefully be able to resolve the current parking issues.
3.9 It was re-affirmed by the Committee that the rooms would be vacated as part of the budget process and it needed to be done as soon as possible so it did not affect the balance of the budget. The Chair asked the County Archivist to develop a plan to start moving items from the offices ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
4.1 The County Archivist informed Members of activities during the quarter from 1 December 2018 – 28 February 2019 highlighting the following:
· The visitor figures were stark and showed a downturn in footfall. During the quarter March 2017 to May 2017 there was a high number of visitors which was as a result of a lot of events being organised for the WW1 Centenary.
· There were a number of reasons that the visitor figures were declining which was due to the pressure on parking, the failing IT and the ongoing work on the Heads of the Valleys Road.
· He felt that the car parking situation was detrimental and parking enforcement was required.
· The Service was having issues with the IT and two out of three of the public computers were out of order. The public were struggling to carry out work on their family trees due to the problems on the computers. He had reported the issue to the SRS and had been told there was a solution however the issues were not easy to resolve. There was a new Officer in BGCBC with the responsibility for IT, he had met with her and she had been in favour of Gwent Archives dealing directly with the SRS. He had since emailed the Director at the SRS to ask for Gwent Archives to have their own Service Level Agreement with the SRS.
· The ongoing work on the Heads of Valleys Road was causing problems, last Saturday the building was open, however the Heads of the Valleys Road was shut which prevented members of the public from visiting.
· The visitor figures included the two week closure of the building for a stock take.
· The number of visits to the Social Media pages and the Website were however increasing.
· To attract more visitors to the Research Room the Service was trialling a new initiative where a location within the county was selected and the public would be encouraged to find out about its history and the sources available for that area. Tredegar had been chosen as the first place to look at. Members of the public and organisations would be encouraged to visit Gwent Archives and look at the relevant archives available for that specific area.
· Gwent Archives had a quiet quarter engaging with Schools and Pupils in Higher Education, however it had been the Christmas quarter. The Service would be launching a project with the local schools over the next three years and had received a donation to cover the cost for the school transport for pupils to attend Gwent Archives. As part of the project Gwent Archives would host one school visit from each of the 5 Local Authority areas per year. The Service had experience of working with local schools and had enjoyed working with Ysgol Bryn Onnen on the William O’Brien Project. The teacher at Ysgol Bryn Onnen had said that the project work with the Service had been one of the best pieces of work he had carried ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
5.1 The County Archivist presented the report and commented on the following:
· Gwent Archives should be in the second stage of the Strategic Plan 2018-21 however it was deferred last year due to the pressures on the budget and it was felt it was not the right time to produce this year whilst the service was pending a new County Archivist and it had been deferred for a further year. He wanted the new County Archivist to be able to shape her own vision for taking the service forward to meet the challenges.
· He had produced a Service Plan for April 2019 to March 2020. The Service Plan set out the key elements for the Service for the following year.
· There were 14 sections included in the plan which fitted in with Gwent Archives Mission Statement.
· The key priorities for the Service for the year ahead included income generation, the development of the Service, increasing Gwent Archives profile and attracting more visitors and ensuring that the accreditation status was renewed.
· The Service was going to place more emphasis on income generation to try to address the financial problems that they were experiencing and had expanded the table of charges to include conservation advice, conservation work and transcription service. He had tried to look at skills within the Service which were marketable in order to increase the income.
· The table of charges reflected the need to make an income. The charges were fair and were in line with other offices that offered the same service.
· The amount charged for holding an event had been increased, however was not overpriced and was in line with the market. Tours of Gwent Archives would now be charged per person rather than a fixed price per tour, however School tours would not be charged.
· The Service had introduced a donation box for visitors.
· The Education Room was going to be promoted more for people to hire. It was already going to be heavily used in April.
· Gwent Archives would be hosting a Creative Writing Workshop shortly and were trying to use Archives to inspire creative writing, the Service was hoping to be able to host it on a regular basis.
· Gwent Archives were trying to stretch the parameters of the Service to generate an income and were looking at hosting coffee mornings, book sales and were also considering the possibility of introducing an online shop, SRS would need to be asked if they could support it. There would be an upfront cost for the introduction of the online shop.
· The Service currently took online payments and the process was supported by BGCBC, the income received through the till was banked monthly via TCBC. It was dependant on the source of income of which Council supported the Service.
· The online shop would sell digital images, the images would be displayed on the website in low resolution and anyone who wanted to purchase the image would be sent a high resolution electronic copy of the image. The ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 The Head of Financial Services introduced the report which outlined the requirements to prepare an Annual Governance Statement for 2018/19.
6.2 In order to facilitate the completion of the 2018/19 Annual Governance Statement the Joint Committee’s external auditors, Grant Thornton, had provided a copy of the Annual Return document for the year ended 31st March 2019 prior to it being formerly issued.
6.3 The Head of Financial Services took members through the questions and the committee completed the Annual Governance Statement as outlined below.
6.4 It was recognised that Question 4 was answered as a negative, but that in line with the audit requirements the audited and agreed return would be made available for inspection after approval.
Annual Governance Statement (Part 1)
We acknowledge as the members of the Gwent Archives Joint Committee, our responsibility for ensuring that there is a sound system of internal control, including the preparation of the accounting statements. We confirm, to the best of our knowledge and belief, with respect to the accounting statements for the year ended 31 March 2019, that:
Any Other Business/Aelodau Cyfetholedig y Cydbwyllgor
7.1 There were no items of any other business discussed.
Date of Next Meeting - 14/06/2019 / Dyddiad y cfarfod nesaf - 14/06/2019
8.1 The Chair informed the Committee that the next meeting would take place on Friday 14th June 2019, however the Working Group would hold a meeting before the Easter break.
8.2 The Committee noted that the new County Archivist would be in post at the next meeting and gave thanks to Tony for all his hard work over the years.