select appropriate items from the Cabinet Board agenda for pre-decision
scrutiny (reports enclosed for Scrutiny Members)
The Committee chose to
scrutinise the following Cabinet Board items:
Active Travel (Wales)
Act 2013 - Review of the NPT Active Travel
*Cllr S. Pursey
reaffirmed his interest at this point and withdrew from the meeting for this
Members were presented
with a report relating to the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013; a Review of the
NPT Active Travel.
It was highlighted
during the meeting that information had been omitted from Appendix 3 of the
circulated report. An updated version was circulated at the meeting and
appended to the minutes for information.
The Planning Policy
Manager provided a brief overview of the proposals contained within the
The Local Member for
Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, in attendance at the meeting, had encouraged residents to get
involved in the recent consultation; there was a lot of interest from them, and
many did submit a response. However, they were
disappointed to see that the high priority areas appeared to be in the
populated areas; the importance of having more connectivity in the valley
communities was highlighted, and concerns were raised in regards to the
conflicting policy developments.
Officers made reference
to the Welsh Government Prioritisation Matrix which was used as a guide to
score the routes by using a criteria, which was detailed in the circulated
report; the scoring system was automated via a GIS
system, and the resulting scores determine whether a route was prioritised as a
high, medium or low priority. Members were informed that this system was
indicative, and it was confirmed that Officers had liaised with Welsh
Government to see if this could be changed; Welsh Government informed Officers
that the system was simply a tool for Councils to use. The circulated report
proposed a further two week consultation, to inform the public of the
classification and prioritisation of the routes; and to gather comments from
the communities with regards to this, which Officers will take on board.
Additional to this, it
was stated that there will be another, more detailed and robust, assessment
which will look in detail at elements such as; if the route has planning
permission, the land ownership, and the impacts on biodiversity.
Members that there was scope to add in strength of feeling and local need, and
hoped that the extra two week consultation will achieve this; ideally Officers
would have liked to extend this period, however, the timescales and deadlines
for this work were extremely tight and fast approaching. It was noted that the
next few weeks would be important in terms of gathering further comment from
communities, in order to identify particular routes that may stand out,
especially in the valley areas.
It was acknowledged that
since the Active Travel (Wales) Act was established, the focus of the funding
had been allocated to built-up areas such as town centres; these areas had the
biggest impact, and were places in which Active Travel could be easily
achieved. However, it was mentioned that the Council had a role to identify
where gains could be achieved in the more isolated communities; conscious
efforts had been made, through the various stages of the maps, to try and
better connect the valley communities.
Members were encouraged
to signpost their constituents to the additional two week consultation, which
will capture final comments on the Active Travel routes.
presentation that was received earlier in the meeting on the Rhondda Tunnel
Project, Members highlighted that there were no significant Active Travel
routes linked to this location. Officers explained that they had been involved
in discussions with the Rhondda Tunnel Society regarding this matter. It was
noted that Active Travel had a specific meaning in Wales; it facilitated short
distance, purposeful journeys to places such as schools and shops. Members were
informed that the Rhondda tunnel site was more tourism related, and on that
basis it would be extremely difficult to justify the inclusion of routes based
on the criteria and how the Act was written; routes that were only for tourism
and recreational related purposes, did not align with the ideas and underlying
principles of Active Travel. Officers added that there could be opportunities
in the future, which could boaster the argument for these schemes to be in
place at these types of locations.
The Committee raised
concerns with the current staffing issues in the service, and stated that
additional resource could help Officers to achieve more out of the Active
Travel agenda. The Head of Planning and Public Protection confirmed that
resource was a significant issue at the moment. It was explained that the
delivery of the Active Travel function in NPT Council was split between two
services; the Planning Policy Service dealt with the strategic side in terms of
the development of the maps, and the Engineering and Transport Service dealt
with the delivery and implementation. It was stated that the Teams were
currently discussing how the service could be improved internally; questioning
if the delivery of the Active Travel agenda needed to be restructured or
realigned. It was recognised that since the Act was established, the agenda had
developed significantly; there was far more work required now.
It was asked if there
would be a continued programme of funding from Welsh Government going forward
with the Active Travel agenda. Officers anticipated that the funding would
continue, and projected that the pot of monies available for Active Travel
would likely increase due to the ambition to roll this out more extensively
across Wales; the Active Travel was very much at the heart of Welsh Government
policy and was embedded into a lot of what was being pushed out to Local
Authorities. However, it was stated that the pot of money for this was finite
as it was shared amongst all Local Authorities across Wales.
were encouraged to lobby Members of the Senedd; this could improve the share
out of the money. It was noted that Officers had a role to ensure that the
correct narrative was included when submitting the funding bids to Welsh
Government, in order to support the bids.
Following scrutiny, the
Committee was supportive of the proposals to be considered by the Cabinet
Indicators 2021 2022 – Quarter 2
The Key Performance
Indicators 2021/2022 for Quarter 2 were presented to the Committee.
Reference was made to
the number of PM10 breaches in the Air Quality Management Area (Port Talbot /
Taibach); Members asked for clarity on the figures included in the circulated
Officers informed the
Committee that the actual target of exceedances each year was 35; the figures
in the circulated report indicated that the Council was currently below the
target. It was explained that the half of year target for 2021/22 was 18 breeches,
and the Council was at 17 breeches. However, it was highlighted that the
Council was experiencing more exceedances this year in comparison to the
previous year; the Head of Planning and Public Protection had spoken to
Officers regarding why this was the case. It was noted that Officers recently
had a meeting with Welsh Government on this particular issue, and it was found
that the likely source of the breeches were from TATA Steelworks; Welsh
Government requested Natural Resource Wales (NRW), who were the regulators of
the TATA operation, to investigate what the increases could be related to.
Members were informed
that the investigation was still ongoing, and there was no obvious reasons for
the increase that had been reported at this stage; NRW had suggested that it
could be related to the fact that production had reduced on site, which could
sometimes cause fugitive emissions from the stock piles. It was added that TATA
had been asked specifically to treat those stock piles in case they were the
source. Officers mentioned that there were also parts of the operation which
would shortly need replacing or renewal; when these were actioned, the situated
could be improved. Officers stated that the increase in breeches was a concern,
however this was being closely monitored, and would continue to be through
Quarters 3 and 4 of the reporting year.
It was highlighted that
if the pilot study regarding the sensors that was currently underway was
successful, it could allow for Officers to gain a better understanding as to
the location of the localised pollution; this could assist as part of the
investigation going forward.
Following scrutiny, the
Committee noted the report.
Neath Port Talbot
Replacement Local Development Plan (RLDP) 2021-2036
Officers provided a report
on the Neath Port Talbot Replacement Local Development Plan (RLDP) 2021-2036.
Members were pleased to
see the inclusion of in person engagement, where appropriate, in the report;
this provided a balance, and the ability to target a wider demographic, as not
everyone was able to engage online. Furthermore, it provided the Council with
much more flexibility in regards to community engagement. Officers stated that
the pandemic highlighted the need to be flexible and that circumstances can
change quite quickly; the flexibility that had been built into the delivery
agreement will ensure that whatever the circumstances at any given time, the
Council will be able to engage efficiently with the community.
Members that the RLDP review would be comprehensive, and would look at every
single topic that the LDP covered; it will also look at any policy areas that
the Council did not have policy framework coverage for. It was noted that the
LDP will be backed up by a significant amount of evidence; if the evidence
suggests that a policy would be required, then the Council was duty bound to
develop that policy accordingly.
A discussion took place
in relation to the timeframe for submitting candidate sites; the Team were
currently working on the candidate site assessment methodology and the guidance
notes. It was hoped that these would be published on the website mid-January
2022; the call for candidate sites officially started in March 2022 and would
run through until May 2022. It was mentioned that the register would be
published in May 2022, after the Local Government Elections. Members were
informed that the circulated report contained the full timeline of the RLDP.
Following scrutiny, the
Committee was supportive of the proposal to be considered by the Cabinet Board.
Transforming Towns Place
Members were updated on
the funding received from the Welsh Government to deliver the Transforming
Towns Programme, South West Wales, Place Making Grant (TTPM).
It was asked if the
Council had made preparations in order to make the most of the grant. It was
explained that there was £4.5 million allocated to the Region; this provided
NPT Council with around £1.1million, however there was an opportunity to ask
for more if needed. Officers predicated that the allocated amount would be
spent, and more money may be required in order to deliver the projects that
were lined up; some of these included renovating commercial premises, and some
smaller jobs such as the markets and pop up shops.
The Team recognised that
a lot of Welsh Government money was being allocated to the larger urban areas;
Officers put forward a long list asking of proposed works in secondary
settlements, such as Taibach, Skewen, Cymmer and Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen. However, it
was noted that this was not backed up by Welsh Government, and Officers were
told that they had to focus on the larger settlements. Members were informed
that this did not prevent any other settlements from being put forward, if
Officers were able to submit a strong case to Welsh Government; Members were
encouraged to contact the Team if they had a specific case.
A discussion took place
in regards to the digital agenda for transforming towns, and it was queried if
the Transforming Towns Place Making Grant could be utilised for digital works.
Officers stated that the circulated report looks at providing an understanding
of how digital could be used to improve footfall and measure footfall etc.; and
that the City Deal work was more aligned to the digital agenda, and will have
its own funding streams to carry out some of that work.
The difficulty of
applying and proceeding with grant applications was raised; Members asked if
Officers were still able to meet the support needs for the businesses who were
able to qualify for the grant. It was noted that Officers would help in
whatever way they were able to; however, this was limited due to staffing hours
and limited resources. Officers acknowledged the challenge, and mentioned that
it was difficult to distribute the money; a lot of infrastructure needed to be
put in place to ensure that the money was distributed fairly and fitted in with
the criteria of the grant.
Officers confirmed that
they would provide a follow up report outlining the funding opportunities that
the Council was going to take forward and how the money was going to be used.
Following scrutiny, the
Committee noted the report.