· Bev Owen – Strategic Director – Place
· Paul Jones – Head of City Services
· Alastair Hopkins – Senior Finance Business Partner
The Head of City Services presented an overview of the report providing an update on the recommendations made by the Committee on the Budget Proposals for 2018-19 at its meeting on 22 January 2018.
SS181902 – Closure of Public Conveniences
The Head of Service advised that a full years savings had been achieved. The public convenience in Caerleon had been reopened, which had been funded by the Caerleon Pavilion. There had been no evidence to show that the closures had had an impact on disabled users. Most toilets needed further work to be brought back to standard, whereas 3 toilets had been temporarily close due to antisocial behaviour. Correspondence with business regarding advertising alternative provision was carried out; however no positive responses had been received.
Members asked the following:
· Members felt that the reopening of one of the sites (Caerleon) while the remaining 5 facilities had been lost was unfair. Members also commented that within the report, the Officer’s response to the Scrutiny’s Comment ‘Has the locality and distance to alternative facilities been advertised?’ was weak. This response should have listed what the Council actually did to consult with local businesses. Consultation should have started earlier, and with those who would be effected the most. This was a lesson for the Council to take forward in this year’s consultation on the budget round.
The Head of City Services advised the Committee that while consultation could have been completed earlier, the responses may not have been more positive. Actions from recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee in January had also been undertaken.
The Strategic Director advised that the Tourism Team had been active in consulting with local businesses, with further activity following the letters sent and there had been more response, however more communication was needed on how the community could themselves respond to long term provision in the area.
· Was there confidence that the savings would be achieved? The Committee was advised that the savings would be achieved and there was just an overlap in business rate rebate the cost of which was a few hundred pounds.
WS181904 – Reducing telephone and face to face services within Customer Services
The Head of Service advised that this was delayed although recommendations from Scrutiny had been taken to look at working with Newport City Homes and other agencies. Conversations had been held all across City Services and were especially helpful with cleansing and water issues. The Newport City Council app would be released soon which would make accessing services online more easily along with amended web forms.
Members asked the following:
· Was work on the Council app on track, and how would people be encouraged to download the app? Members were advised that discussions were currently being held regarding how to get people to download the app. It was advised that the app would be cost neutral. It was also advised that the development team would be arranging a Member Briefing upon the app.
· Had telephone and face to face services been reduced yet, and what work had been taken? Members were told there been work undertaken by the CIT Panel such as surveys, but the Officer would have to check the specifics and circulate the information to Members of the Committee via the Scrutiny Officer.
SS181905 – Introduce parking charges within city parks
The Officers advised that this had been partially achieved, however due to staff sickness orders were unable to be completed in time. Pay machines have been installed and charging started a few weeks ago but it was difficult to judge as it was seasonal so a few more weeks were needed to judge. The Leisure & Environment Services Manager was collating data regarding car parking capacity for Tredegar Park and Fourteen Locks ready for the 2019/20 budget consultation.
Members asked the following:
· What physical changes would be made to the car parking in Belle Vue Park and when? Members were advised that there would be improvements to widen the car park and create more parking spaces, once Cadw had responded, and the work was planned to take place before the end of the financial year.
· Reference was made to part of the reasoning for this proposal being to deter people using the free parking all day for work when it was intended for park users throughout the day and the reasoning for charging for parking in Tredegar Park was questioned. It was advised that the original proposal on introducing parking charges within city parks in principal included Belle Vue Park as Phase 1, there had been no decision made about Tredegar Park. Phase 2 would continue to address funding the current costs of maintaining free parks and specific future proposals would be reported back to Scrutiny.
· Were the team proactively recover parking fines, and would fines be shown in the accounts? Members were advised that the figure would be shown in the accounts and there was currently a 95% recovery rate.
· Members commented that the Head of Service’s introduction stated that data was being collated regarding car parking capacity for Tredegar Park and Fourteen Locks. This information had not been included in the Officer Response in Appendix 1 and Members stated that this information would have provided a more complete picture.
· Concerns were raised that car parking charges in Tredegar Park could put people off those taking part in sport. It was queried whether Tredegar Park had been included in the original proposal consultation. It was clarified that the decision to introduce charging for car parking in parks in principle had already been made, but any specific proposal would be reported to Scrutiny.
· Would fines be ring fenced to ensure fines were spent upon maintenance of the related park? It was clarified that income from charges and fines collected would be offset in the related Budget and be used towards the maintenance of the related park. A covenant on Belle Vue Park ensured that income from car parking there had to be spent upon Belle Vue Park.
· It was queried how much outlay would be required to bring the car parks up to a reasonable standard? It was advised that part of the data gathering was to understand how many cars could park there.
SS191901 – Composting at Docks Way
The Head of Service advised two members of staff had been employed, operation had commenced in July, materials were being shredded and health and safety processes had been developed.
SS181903 – Review of Back Officer Cemetery Operations and facilities in some parks
The Head of Service advised that there had been savings in electricity bills with the exception of Belle Vue Park.
The Committee noted the Officer responses in relation to the recommendations made by the Committee at the 22 January meeting upon the 2018-19 Budget proposals and made the following comments:
SS181902 – Closure of Public Conveniences:
· Members discussed the previous engagement in detail in the meeting, and were concerned that issued been identified previously relating to the Council not involving and engaging with effected people, nor at an early enough stage in the process. Members seek assurance that future proposals, including the proposals within 2019/20 Draft Budget, will involve those affected earlier, and learn from and improve upon past engagement.
· Members agreed that the number of businesses approached in Caerleon to ask if they would consider allowing their facilities to be used as an alternative, should have been evidenced within the report to provide a fuller picture of the scale of the exercise.
SS181905 – Introduce parking charges within city parks:
· More comprehensive detail should have been provided within the report in the Officer Update upon Scrutiny’s Comments and Conclusions upon this 2018-19 Budget Proposal.
Lessons should be learned from the consultation
process upon charging with users of Belle Vue car parks when consulting upon future proposals
for charging for car parking at Tredegar Park, Fourteen Locks and
other sites. Belle Vue Car Park users
should have been made aware of the
positives that the charging would deter commuter all day parking
and free up those spaces for park users and that there would be
investment in improvements to the car park. Members seek assurance
that future proposals, including the proposals within 2019/20 Draft
Budget, will involve those affected earlier, and learn from and
improve upon past engagement.
· The Committee welcomes the confirmation provided at this meeting that future car parking proposals in other Parks will be reported to Scrutiny pre-decision, and that the lessons should be learned from past engagement for any future proposals.
In relation to any future proposal relating to
Tredegar Park, Members were concerned of the potential impact of
charging for car parking may have on young people use the
facilities at Tredegar Park, and that this may have the adverse
effect of deterring participation in healthy activities. In line
with the Wellbeing of Future Generation Act, the Committee ask that
this is considered as part of the Fairness and Equalities Impact
Assessment for this proposal.
· Members discussed the ring fencing of car parking income for each park and seek confirmation and assurance of this from the Officers following the meeting.
· The update that the improvements to Belle Vue Car Park would be in place by the end of the financial year was welcomed.