Venue: Remotely via Teams
The Committee was informed of a change to the following report on the Cabinet Board Agenda:
· Agenda Item 7 - Proposal to extend the current service provided by the Primary Substance Abuse Liaison team (PSALT)
Following the update, Members were happy with the changes, therefore chose not to scrutinise the report.
· 4 December 2020
· 23 December 2020
The minutes of the following meetings were approved:
· 4 December 2020
· 23 December 2020
Members received an update on the impact of Covid-19 on the Tourism sector within Neath Port Talbot and the current and forthcoming activities of the Council’s Tourism Team.
Officers highlighted the significant negative impact that the outbreak of the pandemic had on the Tourism sector; the report detailed figures which showed a drop in the number of visitors (63.5%) and a decrease in economy (66.4%). It was noted that the data did not represent the full 12 months of 2020, and further lockdowns that were announced towards the end of the year will further impact this data.
Moving forward, one of the main focuses was stated to be looking into how the Tourism sector could be helped in order to recover from Covid-19; the past 12 months Officers had kept in touch with the tourism providers.
Members were informed that the Tourism Team had worked alongside the Business Teams to support all businesses across the sector to ensure that they were able to access all the financial support made available by UK and Welsh Government and any other grant support. It was noted that the accommodation approval process of key workers had also been managed by the Tourism Team, working in partnership with the Environmental Health Team, as all visitor accommodation were required to close in line with the various lockdowns; the approval process allowed access to those who had a valid reason for being in the area, those who were key workers and those who needed accommodation in an emergency.
It was mentioned that throughout the pandemic, Officers had a lot of collaboration with public sector partners, particularly with Visit Wales, and there had been liaison with organisations including Brecon Beacons National Park to ensure areas, such as the waterfalls, were being managed in the best way possible; these meetings and communications were continuing.
Officers provided an update on some of the Tourism sectors ongoing projects, which included:
· Vale of Neath Hub at Resolven Canal Car Park - the refurbishment of the former toilet block facility in Resolven had now been completed and the new occupier would be in place shortly;
· Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre Valleys Regional Park Gateway – the Council had gained funding to do a range of work including upgrading some existing facilities around the toilets and showers, adding in an additional car parking area, providing electric hook up points for camper vans, creating a digital information point for visitors, putting in extra lighting and building a children’s playground;
· Gnoll Park Master Plan – the development plan had been completed, and as stated in the circulated report the Tourism Team will now be working alongside colleagues at Gnoll Country Park to deliver the proposals;
· Destination Marketing – this campaign, to launch the new Neath Port Talbot place brand, was going to be a key piece of work going forward. It was mentioned that the launch date had been delayed due to the pandemic;
· Other – signage had been delivered at Aberavon Seafront, as well as ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
An overview was received on the Planning and Public Protection and Property and Regeneration draft budget proposals 2021/2022, as detailed in the circulated report.
Members were informed that there were no proposed cuts in budgets for the Planning and Public Protection and Property and Regeneration divisions in 2021/22.
The report captured that
there was a budget pressure of £30k on Planning and Public Protection; Officers
provided detail on the particular pressures which included:
· Asset Sponsorship Management Service – this scheme had been in place for some time and provided the opportunity for local companies to sponsor Council assets and promote their businesses. It was anticipated that the income generated from this service would be significantly affected given the financial impact of the pandemic on businesses and their ability to sponsor assets; the identified pressure of £15k in 2021/22 reflected the anticipated gap in income generation below the target threshold;
· Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being Grant (ENRaW) – Welsh Government was continuing to assess funding commitments and priorities, and as a consequence of this the Countryside and Wildlife team were yet to receive confirmation of whether they had been successful in a significant grant award associated with the South West Wales ‘Connecting Green Infrastructure’ Project. The initial grant application amounted to a budget of £2.42 million over 3 years, of which £981k was direct spend for the Council. A lot of the project delivery and staff were dependant on grant funding generally; the identified pressure of £15k in 2021/22 reflected the fixed staff costs to be funded from the unconfirmed ENRaW Grant;
· Local Development Plan – there wasn’t a pressure identified for the next financial year in regards to the LDP, primarily due to the delays in the formal commencement of the LDP process, therefore there was currently enough funding within the LDP reserve to meet the projected spend for next year. There was a £100k pressure identified in 2022/23 however, which provided for the ongoing commitment to cover the costs of LDP preparation.
The following risks to be carried forward for the Planning and Public Protection division were highlighted (these risks were not currently reflected in the pressures):
· Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) Service and Covid Enforcement Officer Workforce – the current position was that the TTP workforce was fully funded by Welsh Government until 31 March 2021, and partially funded for the duration of the first quarter of 2021/22. The Covid Enforcement Workforce was noted to only be fully funded until 31 March 2021; this workforce was currently funded out of the Local Authority Hardship Fund, and Officers had received confirmation that this particular funding stream would not be extended into 2021/22. Officers were currently in conversation with Welsh Government in order to confirm what their expectations were of the TTP Service and the Covid Enforcement Workforce going into next year;
· Environmental Health and Trading Standards Backlog of ‘Business as Usual’ Work – Officers across the service had been deployed to the front line of the Council’s wider response ... view the full minutes text for item 4.