Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall - County Hall. View directions
Contact: Wyn Richards, Scrutiny Manager and Head of Democratic Services Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from County Councillors L George and D Selby.
To receive and consider the report of the Head of Housing and Community Development.
The Committee received the report of the Head of Housing and Community Development.
The Committee noted that the Social Housing Grant (SHG) was year to year grant funding from Welsh Government, whilst the Housing Finance Grant (HFG) was a 30 year revenue grant to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) to support their borrowing. The Rent To Own (RTO) grant scheme did not come under the TAN2 definition of affordable housing i.e. affordable in perpetuity. After 5 years a person could buy a property under the RTO scheme, and after time this would become a market rate property. The current indication was that for 2021/22 Welsh Government funding would be £1.5million.
The Planned Development Programme (PDP) was a 3 year programme. The funding from Welsh Government was provided annually. However, Councils had to provide a 3 year plan with a nominal idea of costs. Powys has eight housing associations operating within its area. The first guide to allocating housing to associations is based on need, the second is deliverability and the availability of land. Two meetings are held annually with housing association development leads to discuss the way forward.
Extra Care Housing – there are currently 2 schemes with a sum or around £13million allocated which is just short of the £13.2million required. However there is an additional year to go in the programme. The Council’s own build programme is set out in appendix 1 to the report.
To receive and consider the report of the Portfolio Holder for Economy and Planning together with associated documents used as part of the consultation exercise which ends on 22nd April, 2019.
The Committee received the report of the Portfolio Holder for Economy and Planning together with associated documents used as part of the consultation exercise which ended on 22 April 2019.
Under the Public Health Wales Act 2017 authorities have to prepare a strategy by May 2019. The focus for the Council has been what toilets are operated / used to be operated by the Council. A request was also made as to what other toilets could be used as public toilets and 96 were identified, but there was not much information on each facility. A survey was also issued to local Members which assisted the process. The data included in the report is only part of the data that was submitted to Welsh Government. Welsh Government’s aim is to collate the information across Wales and to publish it on the “Lle” website. An app is to be developed for smartphones as well.
The Committee was advised that the Council had no resource for this work initially. Later Welsh Government did provide some funding. However the Council does not have the resource to keep this data up to date. The Council is required to monitor and review the data in time.
The findings of the review undertaken are:
· All locations generally well covered;
· There are gaps in more remote / rural areas;
· Some transport routes are lacking provision;
· There is no provision in railway stations / halts;
· There are only 2 adult changing facilities at present. Welshpool Town Council are looking to provide this facility on the Berriew Street Car Park and there will be a facility at Y Gaer in Brecon;
· More equality of provision is required for baby changing facilities.
The issue for the Council is how to do something about these issues without any additional resource. Welsh Government have made it clear that there is no funding available for the direct provision of toilets.
The actions arising from the review were included in the draft strategy issued for consultation. Some of the proposed actions included:
· Use of blue toilet stickers by local businesses to indicate where toilets could be used by the public;
· Adult and children changing places – look to implement such facilities when the Council is redeveloping its own buildings, as well as working with Town and Community councils and partners;
· Business Improvement Districts – seek an increase in toilet provision within these areas;
· Making facilities available to the public when buildings are leased by the Council;
· Use of the Planning system;
· Section 106 agreements;
· Use of regulation;
· Events – issue of guidance to organisers;
· Transport Hubs – no railway stations have toilet facilities but toilets are available on trains. The Council needs to make sure that toilets are kept open on the main transport network;
· Cleanliness of facilities – this is not something that the Council can control;
· Cost – people might not have the specific coins required for set charges but would be willing to make a donation;
The actions are to ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To receive and consider the Performance and Finance Reports considered at the Cabinet on 26th March, 2019.
The Committee received the Performance and Finance Reports considered at the Cabinet on 26th March, 2019. The Committee also noted that the Finance Report showed the position at 28 February 2019.
The Scrutiny Manager advised the Committee that its role in considering these reports was to try and make the links between the objectives set in Vision 2025 and how the budget (both revenue and capital) was being used to achieve those objectives.
The Committee considered those elements of the Performance, Finance and Capital Reports which were within the remit of the Committee. The following comments were provided:
· Page 196 – Overspend on Public Transport due to a loss of income on the T4 bus route. The Committee noted that an operator has the ability to declare a route commercial at any point and the Council would then have to step away. However most routes in Powys are subsidised.
· There is a need to unpick issues within services. Most services seem to be operating within their budgets except Highways, Transport and Recycling.
· Savings – there needs to be assurances that savings targets will be met. Councillors did not enjoy putting Council Tax up by 9.5%, therefore services need to stay within their budgets. There is also no sense of a recovery plan to achieve savings.
· It is difficult for Members to understand the budget without looking at “Making It Happen”. It was questioned why the spend on “Making IT Happen” increased from £24 million (2018/19) to £47million (2022/23) (Page 163) when services are only allowed to spend at or near inflation rates.
· It would be useful if Finance Officers and the Leader could attend the next meeting when the budget was being discussed.
· Do we have sufficient information to scrutinise this subject? Why is the Council hiring equipment when it has that equipment in stock? The Chair suggested that this could be a suggestion to the Co-ordinating Committee for an item for scrutiny.
· Need for this information to be in a far simpler format e.g. pie charts. It was suggested that there is also a need to get the budget out in the next 4 months so that discussions could start with the public. The Council also needs a longer term plan. The Scrutiny Manager indicated that he would speak to the Head of Finance about the issue of the simplification of the information.
· The Council would benefit from an earlier indication as to where we are likely to be in terms of the budget for next year. The Portfolio Holder for Finance to be requested to ask Welsh Government for an earlier position statement.
· Highways, Transport and Recycling (HTR) – is the overspend shown in the services’ risk register and what are the plans to turn this around. The Corporate Director (Economy and Environment) indicated that HTRs turnover was around £100million last year and at year end the deficit was around £200k.
· There is a need for assurances that either savings targets will be met by services ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To receive a copy of the Scrutiny Forward Work Programme and to make any suggestions for items to be added or deleted for consideration by the Co-ordinating Committee.
The Committee received a copy of the Scrutiny Forward Work Programme and was asked for any suggestions for items to be added or deleted for consideration by the Co-ordinating Committee.
· Powys Pound – the Committee would be considering the annual report on the Vision 2025 objectives in May. This may be as part of a joint working group arrangement with the other two scrutiny committees.
· 21st Century Schools – there are issues with the schools already built in that there should be a template model developed for both primary and secondary schools which it was suggested would save cost in building. There were also issues with no solar panels in recent schools and therefore no reduction in carbon costs and the costs of heating were too high.
· Mid Wales Growth Deal. The Scrutiny Manager indicated that discussions were already ongoing as to how this would be scrutinised and it was to be discussed at the Co-ordinating Committee at the end of April. The Corporate Director (Economy and Environment) indicated that he could provide a briefing to the Committee on the current position.
Recommendation to the Co-ordinating Committee:
· Item for scrutiny – 21st Century Schools.