Agenda and minutes

Gwent Archives Joint Committee
Friday, 14th June, 2019 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 J Millard, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Councillor  A Higgs, Caerphilly County Borough Council
Councillor J Guy, Newport City Council
Mr P Strong, Gwent County History Association
Mr S Duffin, Coleg Gwent

Mr Jack Hanbury-Tenison, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Gwent



Declarations of Interest/Datganiadau o fudd


2.1       There were no interests declared.


Minutes of meeting held on 15/03/2019 / Cofnodion y cyfarfod a gynhaliwyd ar 15/03/2019 pdf icon PDF 522 KB


3.1       The Chair asked for an update on matters contained in the minutes.


3.2       The Cataloguing Archivist provided the following responses:


·         There was a great reluctance from Blaenau Gwent Council to remove the network cabinet in the “public” room that Gwent Archives wanted to vacate and they had said that the quote of £7,000 to remove it had been underestimated.

·         Car parking for visitors remained an issue however there were plans to improve the signage in the area directing guests to the nearby multi-story car park.

·         The new Officer in Blaenau Gwent Council with the responsibility for ICT had recently met with the Head of Financial Services at Torfaen Council and was willing for Gwent Archives to deal directly with the SRS and have their own Service Level Agreement.

3.3       The County Archivist added that the ICT problems were affecting the customer feedback and it did not represent the Service very well. Staff were also experiencing problems and were having issues sending emails.


3.4       Members noted that the Gov.Wifi internet signal was strong in the building and asked the County Archivist to explore whether members of the public could also connect to it.


3.5       Members were concerned that the ICT problems were continuing which was preventing the transfer of the National Library website to Gwent archives. Members asked the County Archivist to email the ICT lead officer at Blaenau Gwent Council for an update and if no progress was made, Members suggested arranging a Special Meeting to prevent the issue continuing on until the next committee meeting. Councillor Mayer who was a member of the SRS Board agreed to speak to Mike Doverman at the SRS regarding the ICT issues.


3.6       The minutes of the meeting held on 15th March 2019 were agreed as a true and accurate record.


Final Accounts 2018/19 / Cyfrifon Terfynol 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Additional documents:


4.1       The Lead Finance Officer presented the report which provided the Joint Committee with the outturn position and required approval of the final accounts.


4.2       The Lead Finance Officer highlighted the key areas of the report commenting on the following:


·         The outturn position was better than the initial budget assumed. The original budget expected to use £64,000 out of reserves, however the outturn position showed an over spend of £19,000 which had been set against the reserve.

·         As of the 31 March 2019 the Joint Committee’s Reserves balance was £267,000.

·         Appendix 1 to the report showed the estimates for 2018/19 against the actuals for 2018/19 and the variance to original budget set.

·         The employees budget had accrued an underspend as a result of part year vacancy savings.

·         The service had received a £6,000 windfall from an insurance claim.

·         The energy costs had been lower than expected resulting in an underspend in that area.

·         The service charges had been over and above what was expected.

·         The supplies and services budget had over spend which was due to the purchase of ICT equipment, if the ad hoc spend did not occur then the budget area would have underspent by £5,000.

·         The ICT support charges had been reviewed and a 10% reduction was allowed in recognition of a period of disruption to the ICT service.

·         There was a boost to income due to an increase in donations. A donation of £6,000 was received to support the cost of transport associated with a school visits.

·         Gwent Archives net expenditure was £958,738, against the original net budget of £939,400, the service had overspend by £19,338 which would need to be funded from reserves.

·         The Service had worked on three grant funded projects during the year.

·         Appendix 2 provided the balance sheet which showed that the level of reserves was at £267,000.


4.3       In response to questions the Lead Finance Officer gave the following replies:


·         There was no set amount that the reserves should be at, however it was always good to have reserves for resilience.

·         The Service was looking to reprofile the rent as it was currently 25% of the operating budget.

4.4       The Chair reminded the committee that the reason the Working Group was set up was to look at how the Service could save money, as without change the Service’s reserves would be depleted after 3 years.


4.5       Members added that it was important to cut expenses without affecting the Service.


4.6       The Lead Finance Officer reported that the Joint Committee was required by the Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2014 to publish its accounts. In order to discharge the requirement the Joint Committee, as a small body, needed to complete an Annual Return containing the accounting statement, the governance statement and the internal audit report.


Members considered the Committee’s annual governance statement at the March 2019 Joint Committee meeting. At that time the Joint Committee’s external auditors had provided a copy of the Annual Return document for the year ended 31st  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Quarterly Bulletin of Gwent Archives/Bwletin Chwarterol Archifau Gwent pdf icon PDF 265 KB


5.1       The Cataloguing Archivist informed Members of activities during the quarter from 1 March 2019 – 31 May 2019 highlighting the following:


·         It was encouraging to see the high number of visitors attending the Research Room, from March – May there had been 270 visitors which was the highest in two years.

·         The number of documents produced had increased from 538 to 803 in the last quarter.

·         The number of enquires had risen to the highest amount in a number of years.

·         The number of visits to the website was continuing to rise, however ICT was still a problem. The Service was using their Facebook and Twitter account which were increasing in popularity to advertise their events, which were well attended.

·         ICT issues continued to be a problem, however a meeting had been held with Blaenau Gwent Council and the SRS to discuss establishing a Service Level Agreement and having a direct relationship between Gwent Archives and the SRS, which would help.

·         Gwent Archives had a quiet quarter interacting with schools but were looking to use the £6,000 donation for transport, and were contacting the schools to arrange for them to visit, undertake guided tours and work on archives. Gwent Archives had two visits from school in the last quarter, one visits was from Blaenavon VC School and the pupils were very engaging.

·         The Pen-y-Fal Study Group were continuing to visit and had seen more new members join the group.

·         Gwent Archives continued to engage with Adult Leaners and had delivered talks, tours and workshops. The Service was working with Coleg Gwent delivering sessions on researching Victorian and Edward Crime, and Palaeography.

·         To mark the end of the ‘Wellcome Trust Project’ an event was held with 3 guest speakers attending. Each speaker benefited from interacting with the guests and other archivists attended, it was a very popular event.

·         The Service hosted a Creative Writing workshop which was very well received.

·         The Education and Outreach Archivist continued to visit groups to inform them of what the Service did and encouraged them to visit.

·         The Service had two sets of volunteers and the group of conservation volunteers continued to stay and help even after the Newport Rugby Club project had ended. The service also arranged placements with Bridges to Work and GOWales.

·         The Unlocking the Chartist Trails Project consisted of 3,500 digitised images which would be uploaded to the website.

·         During the quarter the Service had 12 volunteers and were now having to have a waiting list until work could be allocated.

·         The Gwent Archives collection continued to develop with accessions received from all over the county. One of the interesting accessions received was papers relating to the late Paul Flynn’s career as an MP, some of the files were of specific local interest, including the Newport Ship and the campaign for city status for Newport.

·         During the last quarter the Conservator had been undertaken some strong treatment on damaged documents.

·         Appendix 1 outlined the catalogues completed through the Wellcome Trust Project  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Archive Service Accreditation / Achrediad Gwasanaeth Archifau pdf icon PDF 630 KB


6.1       The Cataloguing Archivist presented the report and made the following comments:


·         Gwent Archives were delighted to be awarded with Accreditation in 2016.

·         The award was recognition that Gwent Archives had attained the required professional level of the care and conservation needs of the collections.

·         The award was valid for three years and was due for renewal in June 2019.

·         Seven new policies and one strategy had been written to be able to meet the standard in order to renew the accredited status.


6.2       The Cataloguing Archivist added that each Archive Service had their own distinct challenges. The Gwent Archive Services were the only service to have a disability policy although it was not required as part of the Standard Accreditation criteria.


6.3       Members complimented the staff at Gwent Archives for their hard work.


6.4       The Joint Committee agreed to:

(i)    Note the contents of the report;

(ii)  Approve the seven policies and strategy attached at appendix 1-8.



Any Other Business/Aelodau Cyfetholedig y Cydbwyllgor


7.1       The County Archivist informed the Joint Committee that during September – November each year all Archive Services were offered to undertake a survey on their visitors. Gwent Archives undertook the survey and the results came in last month.


7.2       The County Archivist stated that the Service had received good, positive feedback and she drew the Joint Committees attention to some of the result received, highlighting the following:


·         Visitors rated the overall visitor experience 9.5 out of 10.

·         The survey asked visitors to score staff and how they interacted with them, how they were welcomed and the quality of information provided and staff were scored 9.5-9.7 out of 10.

·         The areas that the service were not rated as good on were the ease of which visitors found the building, the speed of the computers, the quality of online resources and visitors found it difficult finding what they wanted online.

·         The survey asked what else they were doing when they visited Gwent Archives, 5% said they were eating out, 14% of people were visiting other interesting places, and 10% were on an overnight stay.

·         The survey was undertaken over a two week period and 43 customers were surveyed. The County Archivist was hoping to run the survey over a longer period next time it was carried out.

7.3       Professor Deacon told committee that in liaison with Gwent Archives he was arranging a Festival of History and Politics. The planning was only in the initial stages and he would be having a meeting with Welsh Government to discuss funding opportunities. He was hopeful that the event could take place next year, he would continue to update the joint committee on the progress.



Date of Next Meeting - 27/09/2019 / Dyddiad y cfarfod nesaf - 27/09/2019


8.1       The next meeting was scheduled to take place on Friday 27th September 2019.