Agenda and minutes
Venue: The Council Chamber, County Hall, Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA
Contact: Democratic Services
Declarations of Interest
County Councillor A. Easson declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest pursuant to the Members’ Code of Conduct in respect of agenda item 5 - Revenue and Capital Monitoring 2018/19 Outturn Statement regarding car parking implications in respect of blue badge charges, as he is a blue badge holder.
Public Open Forum
The Chair invited members of the public present to put questions to the Select Committee, or to raise issues of concern:
Speed Management Strategy
A resident outlined the following points:
· Concern was expressed that the time allowed for public consultation was less that originally proposed by the Select Committee over 18 months ago.
· The Head of Operations had informed the resident in February 2018 that public consultations were anticipated to be underway within weeks of that date.
· The Select Committee, in July 2018, had stated that it was hoped that the public consultations would be arranged before August 2018.
· The resident considered that the Speed Management Policy had been put in as an appendix to a Road Safety Policy, which had been made available for public consultation via the Area Committees. It was considered that this process fell short of the commitment to public consultation that had been proposed.
· The Speed Management Policy, established via a working group that had not included any representation from the public, is an 80% copy of Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Speed Management Policy produced in 2009.
· Caerphilly’s policy does not have the same impact on rural communities. Monmouthshire is 97% rural. The rural problems regarding traffic speeds differ from the problems occurring in urban areas. Measurement of these problems also differs.
· It is difficult to undertake accurate speed measurements in rural areas. Tubes across the road measure all traffic speeds including bicycles. This can result in a low level of average speed recordings. Therefore, making it difficult for rural communities to obtain a lower speed limit due to the data being skewed.
· The 85th percentile ignores the top 15% of highest speeding vehicles. However, it is this 15% of speeding vehicles that residents are concerned about.
· The Policy does not give enough weight to these facts for communities to be successfully campaigning for lower speed limits.
· The Police are unaware of the traffic issues relating to the area in which the resident lives. Local people know what the problems are. However, under the policy, local people will not be invited to meetings. Local people need to be included in working groups.
· The Policy does not meet the needs of the rural community.
· The Policy needs to have an appeals process.
· The results of consultations should be published including the complaint assessment.
· Amendments from the consultation process need to be included in the Policy.
· Remove reference to ‘complainants’ and re-word appropriately.
Llanbadoc Community Council
The following issues were raised by a representative from Llanbadoc Community Council:
· The representative thanked officers for the work undertaken at Usk Island car park in improving the security there.
· It was hoped that ongoing discussions regarding moving the barrier nearer to the road could be pursued, as it is considered that this will further improve the security at the site.
· The Community Council has submitted a bid to Welsh Government for the resurfacing of Llanbadoc Island car park.
· The representative endorsed the comments raised by the resident in respect ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
1. Chartered institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) produced a revised regulatory Code in December 2017, which included a need for local authorities to produce a Capital Strategy. The requirements were staggered with an aim for reporting compliance during 2018/19 with a full Capital Strategy implemented for 2019/20. This report concentrates on the former in evaluating the governance, planning and priority setting involved in presenting 2019-20 capital budget proposals and the 3 years thereafter making up the collective capital medium term financial plan.
2. CIPFA reported that a Capital Strategy should be tailored to individual circumstances and consequentially does not volunteer a prescriptive format. The overall intent is that any Capital Strategy should allow Members to understand how stewardship, value for money, prudence, sustainability and affordability will be secured. The overall purpose of a capital strategy being to provide opportunity for engagement with Full Council to ensure overall strategy, governance procedures and risk appetite are fully understood by all elected members.
3. The code, in describing the Capital Strategy, reports it can be delegated to Cabinet (or similar body) with Full Council being responsible. The Authority’s approach is to report budget setting process through Cabinet, with consideration and approval of the future capital programmes resting with full Council. The Council’s Constitution is consistent with compliance requirements. It is anticipated that the actual resulting capital strategy will be reconciled and consistent with a wider financial strategy and both available for consideration during the spring cycle of meetings.
Strong Communities Select Committee to consider and provide feedback upon the budget assumptions, pressures and savings proforma affecting this Select portfolio area.
1. That Cabinet considers the capital strategy requirements and assesses the preparedness of current practices to satisfy capital strategy compliance obligations for onward endorsement to Council as part of capital strategy report in January 2019.
2. That Cabinet considers the annual core capital programme identified in Appendix 2 for 2019-20, together with the additions proposed in paragraphs 6.14 to 6.18, and issues its draft capital budget proposals for 2019/20 to 2022/23 for consultation purposes.
3. That Cabinet reaffirms the principle that during the financial year, any new schemes volunteered can only be added to the programme if the business case demonstrates that it is self-financing or if the scheme is deemed a higher priority than current schemes in the programme and therefore displaces it.
4. When considering the relative merits of projects and potential displacement, that Cabinet considers the indicative priority matrix supplied in paragraph 4.15, either endorsing or amending it for onward consideration by full Council.
5. That Cabinet considers the extent of proposed sale of assets captured in exempt Appendix 5, in order to support the capital programme, and that once agreed, no further options are considered for these assets.
6. That Cabinet notes the potential forecast of capital receipt levels, prior to the consideration of using £75,000 of receipts balance to afford condition survey work to update historic condition survey information and a ceiling of ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
The backing main report is being shared with all Select Committee members so that they can understand the holistic budget position being considered by Cabinet. The holistic nature of that report recognises that savings proposals should not be viewed in isolation, and may be necessary to allow other service priorities to be maintained.
Subsequent to the consultation process and feedback from individual Select Committees and other representative groups on particular proposals, the resulting report will be provided to full Council in its consideration of settling a balanced budget for 2019/20.
This abridged report seeks to ensure that all proposals have a designated scrutiny oversight.
It is recommended that the Select Committee considers specifically the table of pressure and savings identified in the report, with a view to providing pertinent feedback on the adoption or otherwise of such by full Council in its subsequent consideration.
The report was introduced by the Cabinet Member, Resources and the Assistant Head of Finance/Deputy Section 151 Officer. Questions and comments were invited as follows:
· A Member raised the concerns of the Monmouth and District Chamber of Commerce regarding increased car parking charges. It was suggested that reduction in usage should be measured and mitigating action taken if necessary to maintain footfall in our towns. The Head of Operations clarified that usage information for each car park with a pay machine can be provided to Members. The Head of Operations explained that the reasons for the decline in high street shopping are complex, related not only to car parking but to the broader high street retail offer in the town. The Cabinet Member added that information on vacancy patterns and general usage is being collected to feed into the decision making process. The Head of Operations reminded the Select Committee that when car parks were last reviewed, a decision was taken that each town would have one free car park.
· A Member shared a preference for 2-3 hours free parking in Usk (or minimal charge with those wishing to stay longer charged more). In response to a query, it was confirmed that the newly installed machines accept contactless, card and cash payment. The Head of Operations informed the Select Committee that car parking in Usk will be part of a broader review of Usk that will include the retail office and public realm.
· A Member asked how the money from car parking can be spent, and a fuller report was requested. It was questioned if available space is sought for parking, referring specifically to Severn Tunnel Junction. It was requested that the money from the joint partnership with Rogiet Community Council is forwarded. It was also asked if the need for restricted parking on Station Road at the junction of Caldicot Road can be addressed to limit commuter parking. The Head of Operations confirmed that the funding can only be used to pay back investment into car parking, public transport and traffic management. Considering Severn Tunnel Junction, it was confirmed that ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
The purpose of the report is twofold:
· To provide all Members with holistic information on the revenue and capital outturn position of the Authority at the end of reporting period 2 which represents the financial outturn position for the 2018/19 financial year based on October inclusive activities.
· To be considered by Select Committees as part of their responsibility to:
- Assess whether effective budget monitoring is taking place.
- Monitor the extent to which budgets are spent in accordance with agreed budget and policy framework.
- Challenge the reasonableness of projected over or underspends.
- Monitor the achievement of predicted efficiency gains or progress in relation to savings proposals.
Recommendations Proposed to Cabinet
1. That Members consider a net revenue forecast of £316,000 surplus, and approves the local education authority costs of compromise agreements being borne by the corporate redundancy budget rather than Children and Young People Directorate.
2. That they also recognise circa £1.3m extra capital resourcing provided recently and note that the revenue forecast is predicated on capitalising £444,000 expenditure accordingly, a decision that still needs to be considered by full Council in January 2019.
3. That Members note the 86% delivery of the budget setting savings agreed by full Council previously and a need for remedial action/savings in respect of £727,000 savings reported as delayed or unachievable by service managers.
4. That Members consider the capital outturn spend of £40.8m, introducing a £1m anticipated overspend and the presumption made around financing such as per para 3.6.7. of the report.
5. That members note the anticipated use of reserve funding predicted at outturn and the low level of earmarked reserves, which will notably reduce the flexibility the Council has in re- engineering services and facilitating change to mitigate the challenges of scarce resources going forward.
6. Members note the extent of movements in individual budgeted draws on school balances, and reported recovery plan intentions as a consequence of their approving changes to Fairer Funding guidelines since month 2.
· A Member asked about street lighting, and the move to LED lights and questioned the increased energy costs to £72,000 per annum. It was responded that lighting columns and lights were changed under a Welsh Government Scheme that incurred some costs to pay the loan. Savings will be achievable in the longer term. The Member asked about the effect of the drop in the value of the pound and oil prices, and a no deal Brexit. It was suggested that prices are rising and the authority is mitigating by undertaking energy efficiencies e.g. PV panels and solar farms. There is an option to apply for generating status to become more self-sufficient. Information was provided that the value of the energy contract has increased by 16%.
· The Chair asked about reserves and the ability of the authority to cope with major problems, and to protect our rural community e.g. in relation to Brexit. It was responded that the council has £7million for the short term and then Welsh ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
The minutes of the Strong Communities Select Committee meeting held on 6th December 2018 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.
The Action List was noted. An update was requested on actions completed.
Strong Communities Select Committee Forward Work Programme
The Forward Work Programme was noted.
13th February 2019: Special Meeting on Toilet Strategy – For information, it was confirmed that site visits to as many Council owned toilets as possible throughout the county, including those adopted by town and community councils, will be undertaken, and previous survey work will be included. Members were encouraged to read all the material provided.
The Cabinet and Council Forward Work Plan was noted. Clarification was requested regarding which Select Committee would consider questions about Mounton House Special School.
· Special Meeting - Wednesday 13th February 2019 at 10.00am.
· Ordinary Meeting – Thursday 21st March 2019 at 10.00am.
13th February 2019 at 10.00am (pre-meeting 9.30am): Special Meeting – Toilet Strategy.
21st March 2019 at 10.00am (pre-meeting 9.30am).