Venue: Siambr Hywel Dda, Council Offices, Caernarfon, Gwynedd. LL55 1SH
Contact: Lowri Haf Evans 01286 679878
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To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors Keith Jones, Linda Morgan and Catrin Wager.
DECLARATION OF PERSONAL INTEREST
To receive any declaration of personal interest
The following members declared a personal interest in the following items for the reasons noted:
· Councillor Annwen Hughes in item 8 on the agenda as her son was a tenant at 3 Morfa Mawr, Llanbedr.
The Member was of the opinion that it was a prejudicial interest and she withdrew from the Chamber during the discussion on the item.
To note any items that are a matter of urgency in the view of the Chairman for consideration.
None to note
The Chairman shall propose that the minutes of the meeting of this Committee, held on 11th October 2018 be signed as a true record.
The minutes of the previous meeting of this committee, held on 10.10.2018 were accepted as a true record of the meeting.
Cabinet Member: Councillor Nia Jeffreys
Consider the report submitted by the Delivery Manager of the Gwynedd and Môn Community Safety Partnership on the strategic development of the Partnership
A report was submitted by the Delivery Manager of Gwynedd and Anglesey Community Safety Partnership and she updated the Committee on the Partnership's field of work. It was explained that the Partnership was required to report formally to the Committee on an annual basis, to present an overview of the main strategic developments of the Partnership over the year, along with the commissioning work that set a framework for the priorities. It was added that this ensured that the Partnership delivered its obligations in accordance with sections of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2006, by working with the Police, Health Service, Probation Service and the Fire and Rescue Service.
Attention was drawn to the main messages that stemmed from the 2017/2018 activities, together with the year's main achievements. Reference was made to a questionnaire that had been shared with the public to have their say about crime in their communities. The 987 responses received had been analysed and it was highlighted that Gwynedd was one of the safest Counties in Wales.
The main milestones for 2017-2018 were highlighted and the Scrutiny Committee was asked to support the priorities listed in the report together with the future direction of the work.
In response to a question about the 13.3% increase in victim based crime in Gwynedd, the analysis showed that this could be attributed to an increase in the efficiency of recording these crimes, rather than an increase in the number of crimes. It was reiterated that the changes to the process of recording some cases, such as stalking and harassment had contributed to the increase as they were now recorded as relevant cases, rather than as one case. It was also noted that there had been an increase in the number of people who came forward to report crimes.
· to accept the report;
· to support the Partnership's priorities and direction of work to the future.
Cabinet Member: Councillor Gareth Griffith
Consider the Head of Highways and Municipals report
A report was submitted by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Municipal, providing an update on the street enforcement trial and reporting that the Service would submit a further recommendation on the way forward in an attempt to improve the provision for the purposes of ensuring the cleanliness and appearance of Gwynedd's streets.
Following a request from the Scrutiny Committee for the Service to consider possible options to change the public's behaviour that would lead to an improvement in the quality of the local environment and the cleanliness of streets, feedback was provided on three possible options and the steps taken by the Service in an attempt to move forward.
During the ensuing discussion, the following points were highlighted by individual Members:
· issuing penalties in urban areas was much easier than issuing penalties in the countryside
· that there was a need to hold campaigns to raise awareness and educate
· beach rubbish - creating enforcement areas
· consider installing hidden cameras in communal bin sites
The Cabinet Member noted that he accepted the observations regarding the problems of issuing penalties in the countryside and he reiterated the importance of educating children on a primary level by highlighting respect towards their environment.
In response to a comment regarding the fact that some refuse collection workers were rushing and untidy, it was highlighted that the Service was looking to introduce new refuse collection arrangements with a 37 hour shift pattern and having one team responsible for the same weekly routes. It was expected that the workers would have more ownership of the route, as well as an improved understanding of residents' needs. Discussions with the Unions would be held before Christmas with the intention of introducing the arrangements in Dwyfor in February 2019, in Meirionnydd in July 2019 and in Arfon in February 2020. It was agreed to submit a report / update on the impact in October 2019.
In response to a question regarding how the Service would monitor the use of cameras by maritime staff, it was reported that everything would be copied into the back office system so that every situation could be monitored when the cameras would be on. It was reiterated that guidelines were being prepared and an implementation policy was in the pipeline. It was also noted that the cameras gave officers more confidence to issue a penalty.
In response to a question regarding the service's plans for the next six months, it was noted that discussions were being held about work that could be done jointly with other authorities. It was reiterated, since various authorities in the north had wound up their contracts with external companies, that regional meetings had been held to consider how to deliver this type of service, share resources and raise awareness. It was noted that every authority did not agree with a single procedure, but that the majority favoured an in-house provision. It was explained that some already had plans to submit to Cabinet. Collaborating across the North would improve consistency in ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Cabinet Member: Councillor Dafydd Meurig
To receive the Head of Regulatory Departments report
The Head of Environment Department submitted a report which responded to concerns regarding the delegation procedure in the context of decisions relating to Plas Pistyll. As part of the report, a detailed account of the application's planning history was noted, along with the current and previous Planning Delegation Schemes in Gwynedd. The Cabinet Member noted that he had commissioned a piece of work to gather information that would respond to the local discontent and the lack of understanding of how the decision had been made for the purpose of identifying whether the delegation procedure had been followed properly.
The following initial points were highlighted by an individual Member:
· that substantial modifications and alterations to what had been agreed in 2012 had been done under the delegation procedure.
· a new application should have been submitted in 2016 due to modifications to the size, height and design of the plan
· as the nature of the alterations was more than what was considered reasonable, the decision should have been called into the Planning Committee
· that the site was sensitive and within landscapes that needed to be protected
· that the modifications had angered local residents and members
· Officers were the only ones who could not see the impact
· Who had the right to modify and define what a 'minor impact' was?
In response, the Chair noted that there was no intention to re-open the planning application but there was a need to try to learn lessons from the situation. It was reiterated that the Planning department needed to justify that it was happy with the procedure and that the correct path had been followed and whether the delegation scheme addressed the challenges.
The Monitoring Officer reiterated the constitutional situation for the members and reported that the arrangements had been followed in accordance with the thresholds in the Delegation Scheme that applied at the time. It was noted that the application submitted in 2016 was an application to amend conditions that included reducing the number of units and modifying the design - therefore, the principle of the development was not being considered when determining the application and it did not meet the relevant thresholds for reporting on this type of development to the Planning Committee.
During the ensuing discussion the following observations were highlighted by the Local Member:
· Accepted that the 'technical' procedure had been followed, but in light of the substantial impact of the plan, should 'alarm-bells' have been heard?
· Should the morality of the situation have been considered?
· The Community Council had received a letter referring them to the website which provided information about 'minor alterations' to the application.
· The report was self-righteous.
· Was a threshold such as 'an application that the Head of Environment considers should be referred to Committee', relevant on this occasion?
In response to the observations, the Head of Environment Department noted that he sympathised with all opinions received, the impact on the community and the history of the application. He reiterated that the report referred to the procedure ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Cabinet Member: Councillor Dafydd Meurig
To receive the Senior Property Managers report
A report was presented by the Senior Property Manager detailing the principles of managing the Council's smallholdings estate. It was noted that, in 2008, a comprehensive review had been held to look at the purpose of the estate, its financial performance and the management arrangements. A decade had passed since the review, therefore it was considered timely to revisit the field and confirm the logic behind the importance of continuing to provide the County's smallholdings.
It was reported that an officer within the Estates Unit had been released to assist with the work of managing the Council's smallholdings which had allowed the unit to give more attention to matters relating to increasing rent income and dealing with a number of contractual matters which were awaiting attention. It was added that this resource was only a temporary arrangement and had been at the expense of performance in the Estates Unit's other work fields.
Members were reminded that the Cabinet Member for the Environment had responsibility for making operational decisions on managing smallholdings with advisory panels set up to assist with matters such as empty holdings or bringing tenancies to an end. It was highlighted that there was a panel for Meirionnydd and a Panel for Dwyfor.
It was noted that the estate's financial position had changed greatly over the last decade and the estate was now self-sufficient and generated an income to the Council above running costs. It was added that should there be a wish to reinvest in the estate this would lead to the need to find an equivalent saving in another field. Should the income increase in future (through rent reviews or by transferring to new terms under modern arrangements) allocating the additional amount to be reinvested in the estate could be considered.
During the ensuing discussion the following points were highlighted by individual Members:
· That the long-awaited report / update was to be welcomed
· That smallholdings contributed to keeping young people in our rural communities giving them an opportunity to work within farming
· There was a suggestion to retain the staff resource and keep the profit in order for expenditure to be reinvested on improvements. Some of the houses were in a very poor condition.
· Consider targeting some of the houses that needed a lot of work doing to them
· A suggestion was made to establish a cross-County panel to ensure farming expertise
· If there was a request for the tenant to invest in the building, more certainty than 5 years must be given to the tenant
· A suggestion was made to let the land
· There was a need to agree on the terms of reference and hold discussions to prioritise expenditure
· There was a suggestion to establish an arm's-length company to attract capital / grant funding as a way forward to improve and modernise standards. Managing smallholdings was not a statutory requirement, therefore, ensuring ... view the full minutes text for item 8.