Venue: Remotely via Teams
Members were presented with an update report on the progress being made implementing and revising the Council’s Active Travel Network Map.
A discussion took place in relation to the active travel routes. It was stated that a consultation was undertaken in January 2021 which received a great response from the public, with over 1,040 people contributing. However, there were certain areas that did not participate, particularly the rural areas, Croeserw and the Upper Afan Valley; Officers had spoken to the local Councillors in those areas to try and promote and raise awareness of the consultation as it was important to obtain feedback from the communities to ensure that particular issues could be identified. It was added that the first phase consultation response will feed into the second phase, which will be a formal consultation taking place for 12 weeks from July 2021 to October 2021. Officers mentioned that if there was a need for change identified from the consultations, they would always look into it.
Members were informed that Officers had been using the Welsh Government engagement tool ‘Commonplace’ to map out the locations of issues and what those issues were. It was noted that the tool enabled Officers to review the issues and identify if they were easily resolved; these would then be passed onto the relevant departments in the service and the response would be coordinated with active travel.
It was highlighted that Officers were currently looking at the outcomes from the first consultation and working with Sustrans to map out new routes; the new routes were identified from the consultation as some of the public had identified gaps in the system, and Officers had taken that on board and started to map where those gaps were. The Committee was informed that the new guidance was also being taken into consideration and would be fundamental in the work going forward.
Officers added that they had used radio, social media and South Wales Evening Post to promote the consultations, however more work needed to be done around this to promote it further; infographics were being used to show the areas which didn’t provide a response in order to try and get those communities involved.
In some areas of the County Borough, it was noted that there were issues with barriers and it was a priority for Officers to try and remove those barriers that prevent people, especially those with disabilities, from accessing the routes; in this financial year the team was going to look at elements such as removal, replacement of access, control measures and seating.
Members emphasised the need to consider the longer term vision of active travel, which may need to include longer and bigger routes and those used for recreational purposes.
It was asked if the Council had the capacity to carry out all of the work included with the new guidance and maps that were issued, and if there were plans to build up the team in anticipation of this. Members were informed that the ... view the full minutes text for item 1.
To select appropriate items from the Cabinet Board agenda for pre-decision scrutiny (reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)
The Committee scrutinised the following Cabinet Board item:
Examination by Audit Wales into the Council's Regeneration Service as part of its Well Being Objectives
Members were informed of the findings and recommendations of the Audit Wales report.
It was highlighted that the Audit Wales report was issued in August 2020; Members asked why it had taken this amount of time to be brought to the Committee. Officers explained that although the report was issued at a particular date, it takes a while to finalise the reports.
In regards to engagement with consultation, it was noted that this had always been an issue; unfortunately the times that Officers were given between the information coming out and when the submissions needed to come in, were incredibly short. It was added that even if there was plenty of resource within the team, it would not be possible to get to consultation due to the tight timescales.
Members were informed that there was a Local Strategy Board for Economic Regeneration and the Public Services Board (PSB) in which Officers work through to try and obtain as many consultations as they can; local Member representation was very important to make links between the Council and the communities.
Officers were asked if the recommendations contained within appendix 2 of the circulated report had been completed. It was highlighted that all of the recommendations were at various stages; staff resource had effected completing some of this work due to temporary re-location of staff and staff that had left and not been replaced.
A discussion took place in relation to stakeholders and the importance of having contact with both internal and external stakeholders. Officers mentioned that the Council could always do more with the stakeholders, however often timescales and capacity affect the ability to do this. It was added that Officers will identify gasp following informal and formal consultations.
Members asked if there was comparative information available on the Audit Wales reports across the Local Authorities in Wales. It was highlighted that this information wasn’t available; however, Neath Port Talbot Council was well regarded and had a number of schemes that were seen as innovative and will have a significant impact within the community.
It was queried if there were any penalties to timescales in completing the recommendations and if the Council had to comply with all of the recommendations provided by Audit Wales. It was confirmed that there were no penalties, however if Audit Wales felt that the Council was not performing well enough then it might potentially impact on the ability to access grant funding. Officers took on board all of the points raised by Audit Wales and were more than happy to comply and address these points; Officers had to work with the resources at hand, therefore a lot more could be done if the resources were available.
It was agreed that the Regeneration and Sustainable Development Scrutiny Committee would be provided with an update report in relation to the recommendations from Audit Wales which ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme for 2021/22 and Officers noted the points raised by Members during pre-decision scrutiny on the Cabinet Board item ‘Examination by Audit Wales into the Council's Regeneration Service as part of its Well Being Objectives’.