Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 28th July, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Charlotte Davies / Chloe Plowman - 01639 763745 / 01639 763301 

No. Item


Chairs Announcements


The Committee was informed of a change to the following report on the Cabinet Board Agenda:


·       Agenda Item 7 – Capital Programme Monitoring Report 2021/2022 – The Reason for Decision and the Implementation of Decision had been excluded from the report.

The Director of Finance and Corporate Services explained that the Reason for Decision was to ensure that the Council was compliant with the Constitution and that the budget was updated, and the Implementation of Decision would be after the three day call in period.


Following the update, Members were happy with the changes, therefore chose not to scrutinise the report.



Declarations of Interests


The following Members made a declaration of interest:


Cllr. S. Rahaman -                            Re. Urgent Item 12 – Proposal to provide free town centre car parking for the month of August 2021 as he owns a business within the affected areas mentioned in the report.


Cllr. N. Hunt -                                  Re. Urgent Item 12 – Proposal to provide free town centre car parking for the month of August 2021 as he owns a business within the affected areas mentioned in the report.



Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 63 KB

·        12 May 2021

·        2 June 2021

Additional documents:


The minutes of the following meetings were approved:

·       12 May 2021

·       2 June 2021



Pre-decision Scrutiny

·        To select appropriate items from the Cabinet agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (cabinet reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)

·        To select appropriate items from the Cabinet (Finance) Sub Committee agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (Cabinet Finance Sub - Committee reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)


The Committee scrutinised the following Cabinet Board items:

Budget Monitoring and Update Report 2021/22

Members were provided with an update in relation to current budget projections for the 2021/22 financial year.

Officers highlighted that the Council was very early on in the 2021/22 financial year and that the report was a budget monitoring update position calculated as at the end of May 2021 and projected to the end of March 2022. It was stated that at present, it was forecasted that the Net Authority budget will underspend this year by £178k; there were some variations reflected in the report, along with a number of assumptions that Welsh Government would continue to provide monies from the Local Authority Hardship Fund to support both increase costs and loss of income. It was mentioned that Officers were still waiting for clarification on some of those monies and Members will be updated on the position on a by-monthly basis.

The circulated report predicted that there would be an increased number of children having to go into residential care; Members asked if this was as a result of the lockdown pressures on vulnerable families. The Director of Social Services, Health and Housing confirmed that there was a significant increase in mental health issues amongst young people as a result of the lockdown pressures; there was also an increase in the number of families that were in significant distress as a result of being confined together for long periods of time. It was stated that there was a protracted period in which the Council wasn’t able to provide its intensive support packages to families within their homes, due to the virus and the safety issues around doing so; the normal outlets that families had to reduce stresses, such as children going to school, also weren’t available. The Committee was informed that as a result of this, there was an increased pressure across the Looked after Children sector and in particular the residential care sector; it was predicted that 3 or more extra placements would be needed this year. Members were reassured that where children need to be taken into care or have their needs met within residential care settings, this will be done; and also when appropriate, reuniting children with their families.

In relation to elderly residential care, the report stated that from September 2021 there could be a reduction in the amount of financial support which could impact on the viability of some care settings and providers. Members expressed their concerns with this and asked if Officers could expand on this statement further, elaborating on what the consequences would be for the Directorate and the wider Council. Members were informed that Welsh Government had been providing financial support to residential care homes that were below the threshold of 90% occupancy; in September 2021, Welsh Government planned to reduce this. It was mentioned that there were some caveats to this, however Officers weren’t aware of the details as of yet. The report highlighted that if the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Forward Work Programme 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 90 KB


The Committee noted the Cabinet Scrutiny Forward Work Programme 2021/22.


Urgent Items

Any urgent items (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. 7 and 9 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.



Proposal to provide free town centre car parking for the month of August 2021


(Cllr. S.Rahaman and Cllr. N.Hunt re-affirmed their interest at this point and withdrew from the meeting)

Members were presented with a report which set out proposals to provide free town centre car parking within Neath Port Talbot during the month of August 2021.

Officers were asked to provide confirmation on how the fees would be funded. It was confirmed that the fees would be reimbursed from the Councils existing budget or reserves.

It was queried whether there was a way to monitor the impact of the use of car parks during this period and a way to capture any feedback from businesses. Officers stated that they would need to compare pre Covid data, and the current year’s data for the first quarter, and monitor the monthly income that was received from each car park across the County Borough; this would be the most efficient way to do this, as carrying out surveys on the ground would require a large resource. It was suggested that after the Christmas period, a report be presented to Members to show some trends in how the scheme performed in terms of its income.

It was agreed that the Head of Transport and Engineering would liaise with colleagues in the Regeneration Team, specifically the Town Centre Managers, to identify a way to obtain feedback from the town centre businesses.

A discussion took place in relation to the pilot project on free town centre parking that Welsh Government agreed to a few years ago; Members asked if there was any information available on the outcome of that pilot and the prospects of it being rolled out more consistently. Officers stated that not all Authorities participated in this initiative; Neath Port Talbot Council had some experience from what offers the Council had introduced, and at the time that was linked with the former Neath Business Improvement District (BID). It was mentioned that they introduced footfall counters and had dialogue with the businesses to identify how those initiatives worked, and the Council received some initial feedback from that. Historically, it was noted that Neath Port Talbot Council had always offered free Christmas parking; before the pandemic, Officers received some evidence from the Aberavon Shopping Centre Manager which indicted an 11% increase in footfall at that time. Officers added that it was very difficult for the Council to make a clear statement around what factual difference it made to the high street and prosperity. Members were informed of the Portas Review that was carried out, and from that a number of studies were undertaken about the re-thinking of parking on the high street; town centres have suffered pre-pandemic and even more so now, as a result of the pandemic. It was stated that car parking was a key aspect that affected how a town centre performed and was very much at the forefront of it; however, parking income was only one aspect of the issue, there were serval others which the Recover, Reset, Renew agenda will consider going forward, as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Access to Meetings

To resolve to exclude the public for the following items pursuant to Regulation 4 (3) and (5) of Statutory Instrument 2001 No.2290 and the relevant exempt paragraphs of Part 4 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972




that pursuant to Section 100A(4) and (5) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded for the following items of business which involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 14 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A to the above Act.



Ground Lease of Land and Buildings at Neath Abbey Industrial Estate Neath - Proposed Purchase of Freehold Reversionary Interest


Members were provided with a report which detailed the proposed purchase of freehold reversionary interest related to the ground lease of land and buildings at Neath Abbey Industrial Estate in Neath.


Following scrutiny, the Committee was supportive of the proposal to be considered by the Cabinet Board.