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Appointment of Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson
It was proposed and seconded and agreed that Cllr Rebecca Phillips be the Chairperson for this meeting.
It was proposed and seconded and agreed that Cllr Phil Rogers be the Vice-Chairperson for this meeting.
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Declarations of Interest
The Head of Legal and Democratic Services provided advice to members on this item.
As you will know, when arriving at decisions relating to any of the Councils business, you must do so with an open mind and consider all the information before you objectively, and have due regard to the advice of your Council’s officers. During the decision-making process, you must act fairly and in the public interest. You are required to make your decisions on the basis of the facts in front of you, and not to have made your mind up in advance of the meeting.
If you consider that you have come to a settled view or decision in respect of this matter prior to the meeting on the 19th April 2023 and are will be unable or unwilling to take into account any other representations or advice, you will
in all likelihood have predetermined the matter. Whilst it is expected that this is unlikely, should you find or consider yourself to have predetermined the decision, please declare this at the earliest opportunity to the Monitoring Officer. If you have pre-determined this matters you will be unable to take any part in this decision and are unlikely to be able to participate if any further decisions fall due to be made.
The proposal which falls due to be considered on the 19th April 2023 is a new and fresh decision that members will make, so the fact that you may have voted in a particular way at a previous meeting, will not amount to pre- determination provided you retain a genuinely open mind in respect of this new meeting.
You are also entitled to hold a preliminary view about a particular matter in advance of a meeting (otherwise known as pre-disposition) as long as you keep a genuinely open mind and are prepared to consider the merits of all the arguments and points made about the matter under consideration before reaching your decision.
Pre-determination, on the other hand, as I have indicated earlier would be where you have clearly decided on a course of action in advance of a meeting and are totally unwilling to consider the evidence and arguments presented on that matter during the meeting. Accordingly if you feel you have predetermined your position you should not be taking part in any decision making process. Pre-determination could not only invalidate the decision, lead to proceedings being brought against the Council and it may also amount to a breach of the Members Code of Conduct.
To make you aware there are two different types of predetermination you must consider:
· Actual predetermination – this is when a person has closed their mind to all considerations other than an already held view.
· Apparent predetermination – this is where a fair-minded and well- informed observer, looking objectively at all circumstances, considers that there is a real risk that one or more of the decision-makers has refused even to consider a relevant argument or would refuse to consider ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Pre-Decision Scrutiny - Strategic Schools Improvement Programme - Proposal to Establish An English - Medium 3-11 School to Replace Alltwen, Godre'rgraig and LLangiwg Primary Schools (enclosed within Cabinet Papers)
Officers provided a brief overview on the report outlined within the circulated agenda. This included an outline of the process and options available to Cabinet when considering the report.
Members of the scrutiny committee first considered the consultation process. Members referred to the risk outlined within the report concerning the staff and community resisting any change to education as a result of any decision made. Officers advised that the Risk Assessment contained mitigations around this and officers also emphasised their knowledge and experience in delivering school reorganisation across the borough.
Officers confirmed that there were 13 different face to face meetings with various representatives from the community. There was also one face to face public meeting and one online public meeting. Members had been provided all the consultation responses received. Where possible, the consultation report had outlined facts and evidence to respond to comments received.
It was confirmed that the political aspects of any correspondence that was sent out during the consultation period, had nothing to do with officers.
Officers outlined that the intention of consultation was to assist with shaping a proposal and to ensure that officers have thought of everything to assist with formulating recommendations for Cabinet to consider. From officers’ experience, the majority of consultation responses usually received are against a proposal.
It was confirmed that the £14.7million capital grant from Welsh Government has been ring fenced for school reorganisation within Neath Port Talbot. However, members could not determine where this money could be spent if the proposals were not agreed by Cabinet. A further satisfactory grant funding application would have to be made to access any money from Welsh Government.
As part of the process, officers are obliged to undertake a community impact assessment. It was undertaken and included as part of the consultation documentation. That concluded that there was very little use of the schools by the community. The use that is being made by the community is mainly by parents or family groups. It was confirmed that new schools are obliged to have properly considered and thought out community access. Members were concerned that the new facilities would not be within the same communities that they are currently situated.
With regards to the playing fields, it was confirmed that the new site does have sufficient room for the school and to maintain the current number of playing fields. Further that they would be compliant with requirements of various sports.
Welsh Government are keen to promote community use of new school provisions. It would be incumbent on the governing body of the school to ensure that this happens.
Officers outlined that the LDP is currently undergoing a review. The LDP has to ensure that sustainable communities are delivered going forward and has to be aligned with various other policies and strategies. It was acknowledged that the site identified for the potential new school is a difficult site. However, a long list of sites was considered prior to this one being agreed and the identified site ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Any urgent items at the discretion of the Chairperson pursuant to Section 100BA(6)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended)
There were no urgent items.