Agenda and minutes

National Park Authority - Tuesday, 26th May, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Conference Room, Plas y Ffynnon, Cambrian Way, Brecon LD3 7HP. View directions

Contact: Julia Gruffydd or Angharad Hawkes  01874624337

Media

Items
No. Item

23/20

Correspondence

To receive and consider the attached Schedule of Correspondence and any recommendations thereon (below).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all to the first virtual meeting of the Authority. He advised that while not required to hold meetings in public under the COVID-19 Regulations the Authority was committed to continuing to broadcast and archive its meetings, subject to technology.

 

He also welcomed Liz Davis and Aled Edwards to their first meeting as Welsh Government appointed members of the Authority, and wished Cllr John Hill a speedy recovery.  He advised that Powys County Council had appointed Cllr James Evans to replace Cllr Iain McIntosh.

 

24/20

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest from Members relating to items on the agenda.  Members’ attention is drawn to the sheet attached to the attendance sheet and the need to record their declarations verbally and in writing, specifying the nature of the interest.

 

If Members have declared an interest in an item please ensure that you inform the Chair when you are leaving the room, so that this can be recorded in the minutes.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

25/20

Minutes pdf icon PDF 89 KB

1. To approve the following minutes and authorise the Chair to sign them

as a correct record:  National Park Authority - 11 February 2020

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

One amendment was highlighted:  a reference to the meeting held on 24 January 2020 which should be entitled Extraordinary General Meeting rather than National Park Authority Meeting.

 

A member asked the Chief Executive to provide feedback on learning points from his attendance at the Leadership Winter School.

 

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the National Park Authority, as amended, held on 11 February 2020 be approved and the Chair authorised to sign them as a true record.

 

26/20

Public Speaking

To give opportunity for members of the public to address the meeting in accordance with the Authority’s Public Speaking Scheme.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no requests to speak. The Monitoring Officer advised that the Authority would be changing its standing orders to allow the public to address the meeting via various methods including the use of video, in order to facilitate the process in virtual meetings.

 

27/20

Chairman's Announcements

To receive a verbal report on meetings and events attended by the Chairman since the last meeting of the Authority.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair thanked those members who had stood down or completed their terms of office on 31 March 2020 when the Authority reduced from 24 to 18 members.  He regretted that due to lockdown they had not had the opportunity to thank members in person but would arrange an occasion to do this in future.

 

He reported that he had attended weekly meetings of the Crisis Management and Emergency Planning meetings with officers. He had done interviews with Sky and Radio Wales on the current closures.  He thanked officers and members for the way in which they had carried out the additional work needed to deal with the COVID-19 regulations.

 

The Chair highlighted the launch by the Education Team this week of the Young Ambassadors Award which had already had a high level of response.  He thanked the Democratic Services Officer for her work in supporting the members’ use of new technology and for livestreaming this meeting.

 

28/20

Chief Executive's Announcements

To receive a report from the Chief Executive on meetings attended and progress made on Authority business since the last meeting of the Authority.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive had circulated his announcements which provided an update on his work and the challenges facing the Authority as a result of COVID-19.

 

A member asked whether the Chief Executive had provided some feedback from the Academi Wales Winter School;  the Chief Executive agreed to do this.

 

Members asked questions relating to the Brecon Beacons Park Society’s concerns about Dark Skies status continuing, the Change Programme and expressed concern about the losses incurred by the Authority which would not be supported by Welsh Government.  The Chief Executive confirmed that due to capacity the Authority would be looking to work with partners on Dark Skies.  He advised that he would be sharing further information on the Change Programme, and acknowledged the need for members to have information on ongoing work during the current situation where meetings were not taking place face to face.  A member highlighted the opportunities which could arise and cited the need for an engagement plan and the Chief Executive agreed to work with the member before the next Policy Forum.

 

A member reported some comments from local residents about mixed messages from the Authority on path closures and the Chief Executive offered to take this up with him outside the meeting.

 

29/20

Virtual Meetings and Urgent Decisions pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer presented proposals to add transparency to decision making and to ensure clear delegation to the Chief Executive in consultation with the senior members and statutory officers in cases of emergency or urgency.  Additions to the standing orders were recommended to take account of the COVID-19 regulations in respect of virtual meetings.

 

Members sought clarification on points relating to the proposals.  The Monitoring Officer advised that if a member left a meeting for technological or other reasons then then would not be able to vote, although the Chair could take a view as to whether to wait for reconnection or defer the item to the end of the agenda.

 

Members welcomed the work that had gone into the proposals as this would facilitate a different way of working in future although meetings should be time limited in view of the additional levels of concentration needed to participate virtually.  In response to a question the Monitoring Officer confirmed that delegated decisions would be reported back to the relevant committee for which the decision had been taken, but that this could be amended to the full Authority.  The Chief Executive confirmed that delegated decisions would still be subject to equality and Welsh Language compliance.

 

There was some discussion about the Deputy Chair post which was vacant at present but should play a role in delegated decisions.

 

A member suggested that this needed to be considered in the context of emergency planning and capturing any lessons learned.  The Chief Executive would send the member the Authority’s Crisis Management Policy.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)To adopt the additional Standing Order to facilitate decisions using remote meetings of the Authority, subcommittees, forums and working groups.

 

b)To amend the Urgency Delegation in the Scheme of Delegation

 

30/20

Interim Member Appointments pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered proposals to fill a number of appointments pending the rescheduling of the Annual General Meeting, and welcomed the Chair’s intention to rearrange this.

 

In response to a suggestion that gaps should be replaced by members similarly appointed (ie either local authority or Welsh Government appointed) the Democratic Services Manager advised that committees were subject to legislation but that flexibility could be applied to working groups, although it was good practice to maintain a balance of members.  The member highlighted the need for the right skills for each committee or working group.

 

Cllr M Jones left the meeting during this item and did not participate in the decisions.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)     To note the changes in membership of the Authority from 1 April 2020 as given in Table 1 of the report;

 

b)     To note the effect on committee membership as at 1 April 2020 outlined in Enclosure 1;

 

c)     To make the following interim appointments to committees, working groups and individual roles as follows:

 

That all members be appointed to the Planning, Access and Rights of Way Committee;

 

Deputy Chair:  To defer election to this role until the AGM;

 

Audit and Scrutiny Committee:  Cllr E Roderick, Cllr M Colbran, Cllr S Evans and Mr C Coppock;

 

Standards:  Ms S Holden;

 

Sustainable Development Fund Committee:  L Davis, Cllr E Roderick, Cllr A Webb;

 

Affordable Housing Working Group:  Cllr S McNicholas, Cllr A Webb;

 

Policy Working Group:  L Davis, Mr C Coppock, Cllr E Roderick, Cllr G Ratcliffe;

 

Member Champion for Sustainable Economic Development:  Cllr G Thomas;

 

Member Champion for Equality and Diversity:  Rev A Edwards.

 

 

 

d)   To defer the Authority’s AGM until a time to be agreed by the Chair of the Authority but no later than 1 August 2020.

 

 

31/20

Corporate Plan 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 31 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Systems and Performance Manager presented the draft Corporate Plan and advised of further amendments needed, as well as some appendices.  The Chief Executive highlighted the uncertainty of deliverability with work on the ground on hold pending Welsh Government advice.  He described the Corporate Plan as a transition plan as the Authority worked towards coming out of the Local Government Measure and ahead of the National Park Management Plan.  Following discussions with members over the weekend he had agreed the need to do more work on this and proposed bringing it to the Policy Forum on 19 June and then the Authority for approval on 26 June. 

 

Members were appreciative of the work that had gone into developing the plan during the current crisis.

 

Members made a number of detailed comments on the draft plan which officers would consider before it was brought to the Policy Forum.  The officer thanked them for the constructive feedback and the positive comments on the structure.  He shared their concern about the lack of ambition in the plan but urged caution about blurring the lines between the Corporate Plan and National Park Management Plan, the latter being the place to demonstrate ambition and the former the plan for implementation.

 

Cllrs M Colbran and S Evans left the meeting at this point.

 

It was suggested that the Policy Working Group might be used as sounding board before the Policy Forum but officers asked for the flexibility to engage members as necessary between now and 19 June. 

 

RESOLVED:  That the draft Corporate Plan be amended in line with members’ comments and brought to Policy Forum on 19 June 2020 and the Authority for approval on 26 June 2020.

 

32/20

Annual Governance Statement 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the draft Annual Governance Statement for 2019-20 which had been reviewed in detail by the Governance and Member Development Working Group.

 

RESOLVED:  To approve the Annual Governance Statement for 2019-20 for publication with the Annual Statement of Accounts.

 

33/20

Recruitment Policy pdf icon PDF 27 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In line with a recommendation from Internal Audit the Human Resources Officer presented a draft Recruitment Policy.  She highlighted the use of a category system to assess Welsh language proficiency.  There was also the option for video interviews.

 

A member suggested that more weight be given to options for flexible working and home working, which would also reduce the carbon footprint, as would relocation nearer the place of work.  The officer agreed that these were working options.  In response to a question she explained the job evaluation process.

 

RESOLVED:  To approve the Recruitment Policy.

 

34/20

Travel and Subsistence Policy pdf icon PDF 26 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered updates to the Travel and Subsistence Policy, which had been reviewed in line with good practice from other organisations.  A member asked that carbon friendly methods of transport be looked at as the current policy assumed car travel.  The officer advised that all staff were required to use fleet vehicles which were almost entirely electric, and that increasing use of video meetings would have a positive effect on the Authority’s carbon footprint.

 

RESOLVED:  To approve the Travel and Subsistence Policy.

 

35/20

BBNPA Position Statement on Peatland River and Wetland Restoration pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered a draft position statement presented by the Natural Resources Manager and addressed a number of questions from members on why peat had eroded and how it could be restored.

 

The Biodiversity Champion suggested that a significant capital spend should be applied to this work using a local estate, which would make a strategic difference.  The officer advised that the Authority had submitted a bid to Natural Resources Wales for £915,000 but had received £95,000, but said that the work could be carried out despite the shorter season due to COVID-19 restrictions, as officers always managed to deliver on capital grants.  A number of project proposals were being worked up as the Authority went into lockdown but these had yet to be tested with partner organisations.  A dedicated project officer would be an advantage to progress this work.

 

Asked whether the capital funding discussed at Audit and Scrutiny Committee on 24 January 2020 could be allocated against actions in all three approved Position Statement the Chief Executive responded that these actions needed to be reflected in the Corporate Plan with an indication of resources.

 

RESOLVED: 

 

a)     To adopt the Position Statement on Peatland River and Wetland Restoration;

 

b)  To recognise the policy and resource implications of objectives and actions driven by the position statement.

 

36/20

Member Reports

To receive any reports from members.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no reports from members.

 

37/20

Gifts & Hospitality

To note any gifts or hospitality received since the last meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

 

38/20

Any Other Business

Any other business that the Chair considers of sufficient urgency and has been

notified to him in advance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was no further business.