Agenda and draft minutes

Swansea Bay City Region Joint Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 2nd September, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Rooms A/B - Neath Civic Centre. View directions

No. Item


Declaration of Interest


The following Member made a declaration of interest at the commencement of the meeting:


Councillor M.Harvey                       Re Agenda item 4 on Homes as Power Stations as he is employed as a Designing Out Crime Officer with the South Wales Police and had given designing out crime advice on the social housing development, and confirmed his dispensation to both speak and vote thereon



Election of Chairperson (and Vice Chairperson, if appropriate) pdf icon PDF 149 KB


RESOLVED:      That the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Joint Scrutiny Committee be Councillors R.James and M.Harvey respectively, for a two year period, to be effective from the date of this meeting.





Minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2019 pdf icon PDF 79 KB


The Minutes of the previous meeting held on 18 June, 2019 were approved as an accurate record.




Homes As Power Stations Status and Next Steps

Report of the Director of Environment for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council enclosed.



The Joint Scrutiny Committee received a presentation from Gareth Nutt, the Director of Environment at Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (NPTCBC), on the regional Homes as Power Stations (HAPs) project, which was led by NPTCBC.  He advised Members that it had not been possible to arrange a site visit today to view the project as the site was not safe to access.  He confirmed however that a site visit would be arranged as soon as construction had been completed.


The project aimed to deliver smart, low carbon, energy efficient homes through a co-ordinated approach across the City Region through a combination of new builds (3,300) and retrofit (7,000).  It was hoped that the project would stimulate the local supply chain and sustain a skilled workforce.  The project would be monitored and evaluated going forward to evidence its energy efficiency, effects on health and its ‘livability’.  The project aligns itself with the decarbonisation agenda and aims to reduce fuel poverty.


The Director advised that there were schemes under development in all four of the counties. It was hoped that approval would be received from both the UK and Welsh Governments following the workshop scheduled to take place in September which would then enable a programme team to be established to deliver on the wider programme ambitions. 


Following the presentation Members raised the following points and the Director provided the associated responses:


·        During the five year delivery programme, how realistic were the target numbers of new build and retrofit properties?  In response, the Director advised that there was an affordable housing targets were not being achieved across the region and it was envisaged that HAPs would help to address this.

·        How would HAPs work in a local authority without housing stock?  The authority would work through the Registered Social Landlords.

·        Members queried the cost-effectiveness of the various models that could be used to deliver homes as power stations. In response, the Director advised that the aim was to deliver properties that would be energy positive, although an analysis of the various models of HAPs would need to be carried out in order to identify the cost-benefits of different approaches. This would help to identify models that could be adopted, standardised and scaled up.

·        In relation to the scheme in Pontardawe, Members were interested to note that this was a private sector development and noted that NPT Council had been able to facilitate this through a land deal with the investor. Members were disappointed to note the limited private sector involvement more broadly.

·        In relation to the various models of HAPs being developed across the City Deal Region, Members asked whether all of these would be progressed and were advised that the Director wanted to keep all types of HAPs within the project to allow for evaluation of the different approaches so as to identify the best value options.

·        Members noted that the project in Neath would become occupied over September and that the site visit would be convened as soon as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Feedback from the meeting with the UK and Welsh Governments' Officials pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Additional documents:


Members received feedback on the recent meeting the Chairman had had with both UK and Welsh Governments.


It was hoped that there would be improved dialogue with not only the UK and Welsh Governments but also the health boards and other partners going forward.




Update on Joint Working Agreement pdf icon PDF 178 KB

Additional documents:


The scrutiny committee considered the amendments to the Joint Working Agreement (JWA) which had been approved by the Joint Committee on 30 July 2019.  The amended version, which was attached to the circulated report, would be sent to the UK and Welsh Governments for information and would be subject to the approval by each partner local authority.


The scrutiny committee requested that the Joint Committee consider the following:


·        Reducing the quorum for the joint scrutiny committee to 6;

·        Point 9.3 be re written to make it clearer;

That the caveat written tinto the JWA which gives the joint scrutiny committee powers to scrutinise all projects be removed – ie the requirement to seek the permission of local relevant scrutiny committees.




Update on the progress made by the Joint Committee on the Action Plan Developed in response to the various Reviews pdf icon PDF 150 KB

To receive an Update from Cllr Rob Stewart



Additional documents:


The Joint Scrutiny Committee received a presentation from the Chair of the Joint Committee, Councillor Rob Stewart, on the progress of the action plan developed in response to the various reviews. 


He advised that the changes to the JWA, as discussed in the previous report, had been agreed by the Joint Committee and would shortly be sent to both UK and Welsh Governments.  He advised that he did not expect a further round of negotiations in this regard.


In relation to the Programme Director – the advertisement was now live and it was expected that a suitable candidate would be appointed.


In relation to the Swansea Digital Project and Yr Egin, the final terms and conditions were expected shortly which would enable the Joint Committee to draw down £18m.

A further £18m was available before Christmas but is subject to various conditions being satisfied


It was noted that Neath Port Talbot had amended its projects and that these would be considered by the Joint Committee in September.  In addition, it was noted that the Wellness Centre is being revised by Carmarthenshire County Council.


The first phase of the HAPs project in Swansea was now occupied and the programme isworking towards energy positive homes.  It was hoped that this would address fuel poverty and that new builds would adopt this way method going forward. 


Members were pleased that the money would be forthcoming, however, asked why this sum exceed the original amount expected?  Cllr Stewart advised that both Swansea and Carmarthen had already spent money on the 2 projects and this would therefore be allocated to those authorities.  In addition, the UK and Welsh Governments wished to give the City Deal more flexibility locally. This means that the Joint Committee willagree where the monies would be allocated. The initial £18m would have the standard terms and conditions attached to it.  The second tranche of £18m would probably have terms and conditions attached in relation to the action plan developed as a result of the reviews undertaken including the appointment of a managing director.


The Joint Scrutiny Committee asked for an update on the implementation plan and was advised that it was in the process of being developed and would evolve throughout the life of the programme. 


There was concern about the standard of business cases submitted toboth the UK and Welsh governments, particularly the economic cases, and Members asked what was being done to address this?  In response, Members were advised that there had been changes in both the UK and Welsh Governments which had resulted in changes to their expectations and repetition of queries.  The five case business model methodology was an issue, which would now be based on a portfolio approach, together with the risk analysis.  There would be improved training for the staff involved, in order for them to have the correct skill set to successfully complete the business cases. The regional office would be reviewed by the managing director once appointed.  The new process seemed to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Transport Infrastructure - Alignment of Transport Planning with Swansea Bay City Deal Programme.

Discussion with the Chair of the Joint Committee.


The Chairperson welcomed Ben George from the City and County of Swansea who gave members a presentation on the transport infrastructure.  Members were advised that there had not been any transport projects included in the City Deal programme as at that time rail electrification had been promised.  Should transport be added to the programme this would require additional funding.  Members then received a presentation on the South West Wales Metro project which was in the process of being developed which included alternative rail routes, etc. 


Members asked for details of how the bus network would align itself with the rail network.  In addition, the proposed changes to the provision of the bus network generally.  They were advised that the authorities involved would need to exercise the ‘General Power of Competency’ expected in the forthcoming local government legislation and that the services would improve through collaborative working.  It was noted that the UK Government had offered £20m for the Metro however this would not be sufficient.  Therefore, representation would be made to both Governments in addition to regionally.  Members agreed that prices must be set at an appropriate level and that Neath station should remain on the main line.





Scrutiny Support pdf icon PDF 164 KB


Scrutiny Support Survey Results


Report of the Assistant Chief Executive and Chief Digital Officer enclosed.

Additional documents:


It was agreed that future meetings of the Joint Scrutiny Committee be webcast and that the local authorities concerned be contacted with a view to keeping the costs as low as possible.  This would then be reviewed in12 months. 


In relation to the survey undertaken, Members were satisfied with the scrutiny support being provided by officers and were invited to provide regular feedback to ensure support remains fit for purpose.





Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 51 KB


It was agreed that the following additions be made to the forward work programme:


·        An additional meeting be convened to visit the Homes as Power Stations site in Neath and, at that meeting, training be arranged for the joint committee on programmemanagement;

·        A report by the s151 officer on the terms and conditions required by UK and Welsh Governments be added to the agenda in October;

·        A further report in relation to procurement and the local supply chain be added to the October agenda (risk register refers); and

·        An update on the regional digital infrastructure programmebe added to the January agenda.