Contact: Hannah Williams - Council Business Unit 01443 424062
Declaration of Interest
To receive disclosures of personal interest from Members in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
1. Members are requested to identify the item number and subject matter that their interest relates to and signify the nature of the personal interest; and
2. Where Members withdraw from a meeting as a consequence of the disclosure of a prejudicial interest they must notify the Chairman when they leave.
In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct, the following declarations made pertaining to the agenda:
· The Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being & Cultural Services declared a personal interest in Item 4 of the agenda, Welsh in Education Strategic Plan Annual Update 2020: ‘I am Chair of Governors at YGG Abercynon, which is referenced within the report’,
· County Borough Councillor J Harries declared a personal interest in Item 5 of the agenda, 21st Century Schools Programme - Proposals to Improve Education Provision for Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-Y-Forwyn: ‘I am a former pupil of Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-Y-Forwyn, I have family members who are pupils at the school and I am a Member of the Governing Body.’; and
· County Borough Councillor S Morgans declared a personal interest in Item 5 of the agenda, 21st Century Schools Programme - Proposals to Improve Education Provision for Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-Y-Forwyn: ‘I have a close relationship and personal interest in Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-Y-Forwyn.’
To receive the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on the 18th December 2020.
The Cabinet RESOLVED to approve the minutes of the 18th December 2020 as an accurate reflection of the meeting.
To receive the report of the Service Director, Democratic Services and Communication, which provides the Cabinet with the recommendations of the Climate Change Cabinet Steering Group, which met on the 16th November 2020, to consider reports on Nature’s Assets, Strategic and Local Development Plans and Energy Generation.
The Service Director, Democratic Services and Communication provided the Cabinet with the recommendations of the Climate Change Cabinet Steering Group, which met on the 16th November 2020, to consider reports on Nature’s Assets, the Strategic and Local Development Plans and Energy Generation.
The Service Director drew Members’ attention to Section 4 of the report, which detailed the comments and subsequent recommendations made by the Steering Group in respect of each of the reports considered.
The Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being & Cultural Services and Chair of the Climate Change Cabinet Steering Group was pleased to note that the Steering Group continued to work well and recognised that climate change was the challenge of the age. The Cabinet Member highlighted the key recommendation of the Group, which was for the Council to consider the most suitable land for peatbog restoration and water sequestration and how, along with the use of green spaces and electrical vehicle charging points, it can link into the Council’s Local Development Plan.
The Cabinet Member continued and spoke of Energy Generation and the reference to the Taffs Well Thermal Spring Project, which was currently underway and when completed would make use of renewable geo-thermal/underground energy using water from the River Taff. The Cabinet Member extended his thanks to the Director of Corporate Estates for the amount of work undertaken to develop such projects and looked forward to further updates in the future.
The Leader echoed the Cabinet Member’s thanks to the Director and commented that in addition to the work of the Climate Change Cabinet Steering Group, a plethora of work had been undertaken over a number of years in terms of energy generation.
The Cabinet RESOLVED:
1. To note the content of the three reports considered by the Climate Change Cabinet Steering Group on the 16th November 2020, which are attached to the report;
2. To note the feedback and discussion of the Steering Group and;
3. The recommendation of the Climate Change Cabinet Steering Group in respect of the Nature’s Assets report:
I. That the Director, Corporate Estates and the Council’s Ecologist undertake a review of the publicly owned land, to identify those sites which are most suitable for peatbog restoration and the cost implications; with a report presented back to the Steering Group for its consideration.
To receive the report of the Director, Education & Inclusion Services, which provides the Cabinet with an update on the actions outlined in Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council’s (RCTCBC’s) Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) for the period between 2017 and 2020 as approved by the Welsh Government (WG) on the 15th of March 2018. The previous 2019 to 2020 annual update was due to be the last annual update for this WESP, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this WESP has been extended to cover the period between 2020 to 2021.
The Director, Education and Inclusion Services provided the Cabinet with an update on the actions outlined in Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) for the period between 2017 and 2020 as approved by the Welsh Government on the 15th of March 2018. It was noted that the previous 2019 to 2020 annual update was due to be the last annual update for this WESP, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this WESP had been extended to cover the period between 2020 to 2021.
Members were informed that Welsh Government had changed some of the regulations relating to the WESP, including the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (Wales) Regulations 2019 and the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (Wales) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020. The two key changes in relation to the regulations were highlighted to Members:
· The extension of the duration of the WESP from its current three year implementation cycle to a ten year implementation cycle (2022 to 2032); and
· The removal of the current duty on Local Authorities to plan their provision of Welsh medium education based on demand with the requirement that Local Authorities achieve targets set by the WG, which aim to increase the percentage of year one learners in Welsh medium education over the duration of the WESP.
The Director drew Members’ attention to the table at Section 5.2 of the report, which outlined the total percentage of statutory school aged learners who access their learning through Welsh Medium Primary, Middle and Secondary Schools and noted that RCTCBC had the highest percentage across each of the five Local Authority areas that comprise the CSC JES for the previous three academic years.
The Director advised that the majority of the Welsh medium primary schools in the County Borough of RCT currently have surplus places, which was currently 28.1% in Welsh medium primary schools. The Director went on to speak of the small capacity pressures within the Welsh medium primary schools and advised that the actions taken to address the issues were outlined at Section 5.7 of the report. An example of this was the Council’s commitment to invest £3.69 million at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdar to provide a further 48 places. Furthermore, the Council had invested a further £4 million on increasing the quality and availability of early years Welsh medium provision co-located on primary school sites.
The Cabinet Member for Education & Inclusion Services thanked the Director for the Annual Report, which had been challenged by the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee on the 27th January 2021. The Cabinet Member was pleased to note the many investments made by the Council and in particular, the commitment made to early years Welsh medium provision, which enables progression onto Welsh medium primary schools.
The Cabinet Member was of the view that report clearly evidenced the Local Authority’s commitment to support the actions outlined within the WESP and to contribute to Welsh Government’s vision of one million people in Wales being Welsh ... view the full minutes text for item 54.
To receive the report of the Director, Education and Inclusion Services, which seeks Members approval to begin the relevant and required statutory consultation for the proposal to carry out a regulated alteration to Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-y-Forwyn (“YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn”), by way of transferring the school to a new building on a new site.
The Temporary Service Director of 21st Century Schools and Transformation presented the report, which sought Cabinet approval to begin the relevant and required statutory consultation for the proposal to carry out a regulated alteration to Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-y-Forwyn (“YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn”), by way of transferring the school to a new building on a new site.
The Service Director explained that YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn was one of the Council’s poorest buildings, with a building condition grading of ‘D’ and a maintenance backlog in excess of £1.01Million. It was explained that the building was not accessible and as such not compliant with the Equality Act 2010. Furthermore, the opportunities for outdoor play were limited, with no external green spaces available and all of the hard play areas affected by the sloping topography.
In order to address the issues, the Service Director proposed a new Welsh medium primary school be created on a new site, with an investment in the region of £8.5Million to improve and expand facilities. The investment would include:
· modern, flexible learning environments for all learners, a hall/dining area, and a multi-purpose learning resource area;
· accessible internal and external facilities for wider community use;
· enhanced outdoor spaces to support the full range of curriculum activities, including an outdoor classroom and a ‘forest schools ’area; and,
· improved traffic management including on site pupil bus drop off, and on site staff parking.
The Service Director advised that the catchment area of YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn would not be altered and the proposal would create additional Welsh medium capacity within the Rhondda Fach area of Rhondda Cynon Taf. Furthermore, it was explained that 65% of pupils that attend YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn use Home to School Transport and that the current site lacked drop off facilities with vehicles utilising the neighbouring streets for drop off and pick up at the beginning and end of the school day. Members were informed that the new school site would have dedicated on-site drop off and pick up facilities making the process safer, less disruptive for the community, and more manageable for staff at the school.
The Service Director advised that following a site appraisal of 11 areas, all located within the Rhondda Fach , the new school building was proposed to be built on the land north side of Highfield, Ferndale, CF43 4AD, known locally as the former ‘Chubb Factory’.
The Service Director concluded by stating that, if agreed by Cabinet, a consultation in respect of the matter would run from 1st March 2021 to 30th April 2021.
The Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services praised the report, commenting that, if approved, one of the poorest buildings within the education portfolio would be replaced with a new and modern learning environment for pupils with additional capacity for Welsh medium provision.
With the permission of the Chair, County Borough Councillors S Morgans and J Harries spoke on this item.
The Leader noted comments made in respect of ... view the full minutes text for item 55.
To receive the report of the Director, Finance and Digital Services, which provides the Cabinet with information in respect of the 2021/2022 local government settlement and the outcomes of the budget consultation phase 1 exercise, to assist with its deliberations in formulating the revenue budget strategy for the financial year 2021/22, which it will recommend to Council, for approval.
The Director, Finance and Digital Services provided the Cabinet with information in respect of the 2021/22 local government settlement and the outcomes of the budget consultation phase 1 exercise, to assist with its deliberations in formulating the revenue budget strategy for the financial year 2021/22, which it will recommend to Council, for approval.
The Director referred the Cabinet to the discussion paper prepared by the Senior Leadership Team in response to the 2021/22 local government settlement, which was attached at Appendix A to the report.
The Director reported that the Council’s General Fund Balances currently amounted to £8.709M and remained of the view that the Council should hold a minimum of £10M as General Fund Balances. The Director noted that during the last financial year, the reserves were used to support residents and businesses in the immediate aftermath of Storm Dennis, which is the appropriate purpose; and was satisfied that plans had been put in place to replenish General Fund Reserves to the minimum level over the period of our Medium Term Financial Plan (at £0.5M per year for the next 3 years). The Director went onto speak of the Council’s Transition Funding Reserve, which currently stood at £4.330M, and for many years, had been used sensibly as part of the balanced budget strategy.
The Director referred the Cabinet to Section 3 of the report and informed Members of the key points of the 2021/22 Provisional 2021/22 Local Government Settlement, which was announced on 22nd December 2020.
In respect of setting the level of Council Tax, the Director spoke of targeting adequate funding towards the delivery of key services whilst, at the same time, ensuring that the resultant Council Tax levied next year is reasonable and can be justified to residents. Members noted that the original modelled proposal was to increase Council Tax in 2021/2022 by 2.85%, but it was proposed that Council Tax be increased by 2.65% instead, which would increase the remaining budget gap by £182,000.
In respect of the Schools Budget, the Director proposed an increase of £2.2M from £161.6M to £163.8M to cover, in full, all inflationary and pupil number pressures, including NDR increased costs.
The Director provided detail into the following proposals detailed at Section 9 of the report, which would seek to protect front line services and to prioritise or reallocate resources to areas of priority:
· NDR Local Relief Scheme
· Car Park Charges
· Climate Change and Carbon Reduction
· Wellbeing Support
· Fees and Charges
· Public Health and Protection Services – Additional Resources
· Flood Prevention Support
· Overgrowth Team
The Director continued by informing the Cabinet of the feedback from Phase 1 of the consultation process, which sought the views of the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Committee, the School Budget Forum, residents and stakeholders and concluded by informing the Cabinet that should they be minded to approve the proposals before them, Phase 2 of the consultation would commence with immediate effect. The draft Budget Strategy would be presented to Cabinet for approval on 25th February ... view the full minutes text for item 56.
Leader's Scheme of Delegation - 3A
To receive the updated Leader’s Scheme of Delegation following recent changes to the Senior Leadership Team.
The Cabinet RESOLVED to note the updated Leader’s Scheme of Delegation following changes to the Senior Leadership Team.