Agenda and draft minutes

Gwent Archives Joint Committee
Friday, 20th December, 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 D Mayer, Newport City Council

Councillor J Millard, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Councillor S Woodhouse,  Monmouthshire County Council


Declarations of Interest/Datganiadau o fudd


2.1       There were no interests declared.


Minutes of meeting held on 27/09/2019 / Cofnodion y cyfarfod a gynhaliwyd ar 27/09/2019 pdf icon PDF 451 KB


3.1       Councillor Guy stated that he was ill when the previous meeting took place, and that his apologies should have been tendered.


3.2       The minutes of the meeting held on 27th September 2019 were agreed as a true and accurate record.


3.3       Canon Edwards and Councillor Crick entered the meeting.


Gwent Archives Service Budget Monitoring 2019/20 and Estimates 2020/21 / Monitro Cyllideb Gwasanaeth Archifau Gwent 2019/20 ac Amcangyfrifon 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Additional documents:


4.1       The Lead Finance Officer introduced the report and highlighted the following points:-


·         There was an underspend on day to day provision and also in staffing of around £13k.  This was mainly because of staff turnover, with new staff on lower points in grades than budgeted.  The underspend was able to offset pressures in the premises budget.

·         Mitigation measures from the previous year had been agreed with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (BGCBC). A large proportion of the savings against rental costs had been achieved but not all.  Some of the rooms had been vacated but BGCBC were not in a position to take the rooms back, and so no savings were able realised here. Utility costs had stayed in line with the estimate but the service charges had significantly increased.

·         It was difficult to get service charge costings from BGCBC in advance and so estimates had to be used..

·         Supplies and services were showing a £3k overspend, mostly because of insurance.

·         Due to the mitigations from the previous year, a £6k saving was expected against the insurance budget but unfortunately there was only £2k, giving a pressure of £4k. 

·         Additional monies coming in from income at around £30k helped to alleviate a lot of pressures and helped to significantly bolster the service. 

·         There was a total underspend of £20k forecasted for 2019/20.

·         Besides running costs, it was approved that reserves could be utilised for lifting equipment, office moves, IT equipment and software purchases, which totalled around £17k.  That taken from the £20k underspend left £3k to add into the reserve giving a reserve total of £270k.

·         In terms of the year 2020-21, a 2% pay award along with other pay inflation factors, had been applied which left a pressure of around £5k on employees.  There were also pressures coming from premises of around £13k and also from supplies and services.  The archiving service were having new software installed with ongoing maintenance costs which equated to approximately £6k. 

·         The service was looking at a pressure going into the next financial year mainly due to the extension of a temporary post.  During the current year there had been funding identified for it, but this was not certain going forward.

·         There were some mitigations that the committee could approve.  The first was to use the £20k underspend from 2019/20 to part-balance the following years’ budget and another was to reinstate the funding target in relation to the temporary post.  The County Archivist commented that they had received new records from the NHS which would generate some income.

·         Going forward, there would be a focus on increasing general income.

·         That morning, there was some welcome news that pension contribution costs had been reduced, which would mean an ongoing saving of around £12k.

·         A lot of work had been done on the budget but there was more information to consider year on year.  Reserves were still being impacted and so the service was not quite where it wanted to be, but at least  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Quarterly Bulletin of Gwent Archives/Bwletin Chwarterol Archifau Gwent pdf icon PDF 342 KB


5.1       The County Archivist introduced the report and highlighted the following points:-


·         Research room visitor numbers were low that quarter, with the lowest being in November.  The numbers had been compared to the previous year and it seemed as though it was a seasonal trend and so there was no concern.  Further analysis showed that around half of the visitors were new, which was a significant positive.  However, they didn’t want all new users as it could highlight an issue with visitors returning.

·         The number of documents produced was lower during the quarter, although it did seem quite stable.

·         The number of remote customers was higher than the previous quarter.  This was probably due to the weather.

·         The Facebook and Twitter pages were growing in terms of followers, which was a significant positive as information was able to be shared easily.  Although, it was noted that it would never replace traditional forms of communication, due to their audience.

·         The team had visited Glamorgan Archives in order to look at their cataloguing software and to receive a demonstration of the system that they were using.  It had reinforced that the system would prove to be a great benefit to them and they were looking into training, software and licensing costs.

·         A lot of outreach events had taken place.  “Journey to Democracy” was excellent and well attended.  It took place in partnership with the Parliamentary Archives who publicised, arranged and sponsored the event.  The exhibition was re-run in London where attendees got to hear about Gwent Archives.  The “Explore Your Archive” was also a great success.  As part of the launch, Paper making sessions took place where items were made up and collected at the end of the week.  They were looking to repeat the event for children in the future.  The week proved to be a good team event where all staff were on hand to assist people and take them on tours.  However, although tours were available, they weren’t well booked and so this would probably not be repeated in future.  They had found that a lot of people didn’t know about Gwent Archives and staff were able to tease out information from people about their ancestry and information about where they lived.  Mr Strong commented that awareness was difficult to measure but that it was important that people were aware that they existed.  Raising awareness would bring about more information.  Mr Evans stated that part of the problem was that only people of a certain age could recognise exactly what Gwent meant.  He had spoken with teachers in Pontypool who were unaware that Gwent Archives existed.  The County Archivist responded that they were looking to do more marketing going forward.

·         A pest survey had started to be undertaken; this was funded by the Archive and Records Council Wales (ARCW).  They had already commissioned a consultant to prepare an analysis of pests in the building and had put out blunder traps.  They would start to gain an idea of what  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Review of Archive Bulletin / Adolygiad o Fwletin yr Archif pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Additional documents:


6.1       The County Archivist introduced the report and highlighted the following points:-


·         The new format would make it easier when making submissions for funding as the information would be more accessible.  All of the information kept also fed into the accreditation process and other statistics.

·         The new update would take the format of a report with key headings such as management, staffing, funding etc. and include highlights on the work they were doing in the sector.  It would also include updates on funding, applications and budget etc.  Access would also appear as a section in order to help spot trends and collect statistics, and also inform performance targets for enquiries.  The current process of reporting enquiries had changed as previously there was no way to count the information apart from manually, which was made easier by collecting it on a spreadsheet.  Collections management was also another heading, which would provide information on what had been deposited and how it was processed and made available.  This would perhaps be reported as an appendix.


6.2       Mr Jack Hanbury-Tenison asked whether there was more information available about the new licence agreement.  The County Archivist reported that it was being worked on by her, Torfaen’s legal team and the company involved, and that things were progressing positively.  She explained that items such as this could be reported through the new update, perhaps in the finance and management section. It was anticipated the work would be finalised early in the New Year.  Once this had been completed, they would then need to invoice the company, who would then attend on-site to film.  They would need to ensure that they were able to provide a suitable room; there were lots of small           details to go over.  Unfortunately, she could not share the legal documents with the Joint Committee.


6.3       Mr Strong requested that any information put in the public domain also be sent on to the Joint Committee and local organisations in order to better inform people of the work Gwent Archives were doing.  The Joint Committee agreed.


6.4       The Joint Committee agreed to approve the proposed new format of the Archive Bulletin.



Review of the Agreement regarding the provision of archive services and the appointment of a Joint Archives Committee, 9th February 2010 / Adolygiad o'r Cytundeb ynglyn â darparu gwasanaethau archif a phenodi Cydbwyllgor Archifau, 9fed Chwefror 2010. pdf icon PDF 33 KB

Additional documents:


7.1       The County Archivist introduced the report and highlighted the following points:-


·         Following her appointment it seemed timely to review the Agreement as everything else was up for review.  She realised that the Agreement was dated 2010 and was made up perhaps when the future was not very clear.  A lot had changed since then, in particular their move to the new premises in 2011.  The move had taken place and Gwent Archives had embedded well and so a review of the agreement was seen as necessary.  There had also been huge changes in the way things were being delivered and how collections were brought in.  There were also changes in legislation; things were being driven more centrally in terms of transparency and usership, and also there were changes in the way things were communicated.

·         It was essential to have an Agreement that was fit for purpose and she was seeking permission to review it, with support from Torfaen Legal Services.


7.2       Councillor Higginson commented that he was there when the building opened and the general consensus was that it was a good move.  He agreed that the Agreement needed to be looked at again as on occasion they had found the Joint Committee to be inquorate.


7.3       Councillor Crick referred to page 80 of the report where it stated populations, and suggested that it could perhaps be updated every 3 years.She believed that there were other sections within the Agreement that the information could change quite quickly.


7.4       Mr Hanbury-Tenison agreed that the Agreement should be reviewed, but warned to be cautious about too much change as there were five separate legal entities at each local authority and he anticipated that any alterations of the Agreement could cause tension.  He thought that it would also take a lot of time and expense.  He suggested that in order to make things easier, perhaps the more trivial parts of the Agreement could be part of a memorandum of understanding and so in this way any changes in protocols and practices could take place outside of the Agreement.


7.5       The Joint Committee agreed to approve a review of the Agreement.


Any Other Business/Aelodau Cyfetholedig y Cydbwyllgor


8.1       No other business was discussed.


Date of Next Meeting - 13/03/2020 / Dyddiad y cfarfod nesaf - 13/03/2020


9.1       The Committee were informed that the next meeting would take place on Friday 13th March 2020. 


Exclusion of Press and Public / Gwahardd y Wasg a'r Cyhoedd

To agree the exclusion of the press and public from the meeting as the report is not for publication because in accordance with Paragraph 14 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) the report contains information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information) and the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.


Cytuno ar eithrio'r wasg a'r cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod gan nad yw'r adroddiad i'w gyhoeddi oherwydd, yn unol â Pharagraff 14, Atodlen 12A,  Deddf Llywodraeth Leol 1972 (fel y'i diwygiwyd) mae'r adroddiad yn cynnwys gwybodaeth sy'n ymwneud â materion ariannol neu fusnes unrhyw berson penodol (gan gynnwys yr awdurdod sy'n dal y wybodaeth honno) a bod budd y cyhoedd wrth gynnal yr eithriad yn gorbwyso budd y cyhoedd petai'r wybodaeth yn cael ei datgelu.


10.1    The Joint Committee agreed to exclude the press and public from the meeting as the report was not for publication because in accordance with Paragraph 14 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) the report contained information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information) and the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.


Exempt Minutes - 27/9/19 / Cofnodion Eithriedig - 27/9/19


11.1    The minutes of the exempt meeting held on 27th September 2019 were agreed as a true and accurate record.