Venue: Remotely via Teams
To select appropriate items from the Cabinet Board agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)
The Committee chose to scrutinise the following Cabinet Board items:
Environment Update Report
Members were presented with the extensive work programme which was delivered during the pandemic by the Environment and Regeneration Directorate.
The Director of Environment and Regeneration explained that the report identified the work streams that continued to operate, which was noted to be most of the business as usual activity; as well as a significant increased workload in response to the pandemic, and the other work undertaken in response to the climate change crisis.
It was stated that the report was produced in the summer of 2021, and was updated before the end of 2021. Officers expressed that the report was a snapshot of some of the work undertaken during 2020 and 2021; work continued to place demands on the identified services, and there had been a significant amount of work undertaken since the report was initially prepared.
The Committee was informed of the Directorates original response to the pandemic; staff were instrumental in setting up the field hospitals, organising the transport hub and food distribution hub. It was added that Officers also undertook a lot of cross cutting work such as the Councils response to the energy agenda, decarbonisation agenda and the City Deal Project.
The Director made reference to the following two projects which the Council was currently leading on:
· Homes as Power Stations (HAPS) Project – this was a regional project which was requiring funding of £15m from the Government; it will bring in £490m as a consequence. Officers hoped that this will enable housing stock across the region to become more energy efficient in terms of retrofit work, as well as new build.
· Supporting Innovation Low Carbon Growth Project – this project had already brought in £47.5m and will bring in a further £51m.
It was stated that staff were active in terms of other business as usual activity. The following work streams were highlighted:
· The Council was currently reviewing the Local Development Plan (LDP), and was currently in the candidate site stage process; Officers were working with colleagues across the region to secure evidence to inform the Strategic Development Plan, which the Council had a statutory duty to provide for the South West region of Wales.
· The Council had undertaken a successful consultation in terms of the Active Travel Network maps; Officers had been renewing and reviewing those during the pandemic.
· There had been a number of successful ecological projects that had been implemented.
· Neath Port Talbot (NPT) Council was leading on major regeneration and planning projects including the Wildfox Resort (formally known as the Afan Valley project); this was a very exciting project and could be transformational for the Afan Valley. It was noted that the outline planning permission had been granted, the Section 106 had been signed and the decision notice had been released; staff within the Directorate were now working with the developers to progress through to the next stage (detailed reserved matter stage). Officers were also working with ... view the full minutes text for item 1.
(whether public or exempt) at the discretion of the Chairman pursuant to Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972
Because of the need to deal now with the matters contained in Minute No. 3 below, the Chairperson agreed that these could be raised at today’ s meeting as urgent items pursuant to Statutory Instrument No.2290 (as amended).
Reason for Urgency:
Due to the time element
Hackney Carriage Fare Increase
Members received a report relating to determining a hackney carriage fare increase.
It was asked how the proposed tariff compared to surrounding and neighbouring Local Authorities. Officers mentioned when comparing tariffs with other Authorities, it was important to be mindful that there were different starting rates and different rates of which they increase. Having said that, Members were informed that there was a magazine that published the tariffs, and compared tariffs on a two mile trip, day time tariff (also known as tariff one). The following comparisons were given:
· Out of 359 Councils across England and Wales, NPT was currently 283rd place (the highest rated tariff being 1st place)
· In Wales, out of the 22 Local Authorities, NPT was placed 18th. It was confirmed that NPT currently had a two mile, tariff one cost of £5.46. This compared locally with the following;
- Powys - £5.40 (lowest)
- Merthyr - £5.50
- Swansea - £5.70
- Bridgend - £5.80
- Carmarthenshire £6.20
Officers added that when implementing the proposal contained within the circulated report, this would take NPTs two mile journey on tariff one up to £5.80; this will bring the Council in line with Bridgend and just above Swansea. However, it was noted that Bridgend and Swansea last implemented an increase in 2018; therefore, these Councils will be due an increase in their rates in upcoming months.
The Committee queried whether the increase of the cost of living and inflation factored into the increases in the tariffs. It was confirmed that the cost of living was the reason why tariffs were increased. Officers stated that the tariffs were last increased in 2019; at this time the Councils Legal Regulatory Manager had spoken with the various trade organisations in the hackney carriage trade in NPT, and suggested that the tariffs should be reviewed on an annual basis. Due to the pandemic, it was noted that the tariffs weren’t reviewed in 2020 and 2021; this was the first opportunity to look at increasing the tariffs to cover the cost of living from the last three years. It was added that the annual review of the tariffs would continue on a yearly basis going forward.
Following scrutiny, the Committee were supportive of the recommendation to go to Cabinet Board.