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 were contained within appendix 2 of the circulated report: Delivering Strategic Regeneration Programmes – Well-being of Future Generations Examination – Neath Port Talbot Council Action Plan.
Members also asked that a report in relation to one of the recommendations contained within the report be added to the Forward Work Programme: An internal and external communications and stakeholder engagement strategy.
Following scrutiny, the Committee noted the report.