Agenda and minutes

National Park Authority
Friday, 14th December, 2018 10.00 am

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

Contact: Julia Gruffydd or Angharad Hawkes  01874624337

Media

Items
No. Item

147/18

Correspondence

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all to the December meeting of the Authority and reminded members that the Christmas thank you to staff would follow the meeting.

 

He announced that this would be the Monitoring Officer’s last meeting before retirement.  On behalf of the Authority he thanked Mrs Foxley for her support for the Authority and wished her well in her retirement.

 

Apologies were noted.

148/18

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:

The Monitoring Officer advised that while all members had a personal interest in item 15 on the agenda (Authority Policy of Cost of Care Allowance) they were able to participate and vote under the Code of Conduct.  She signed the declaration form on behalf of all members present.

149/18

Minutes pdf icon PDF 128 KB

RECOMMENDATION: 

 

a)   To approve the following minutes and authorise the Chair to sign them as a correct record:

·      National Park Authority: 23 October 2018

·      National Park Authority:  2 November 2018

 

b)   To receive the minutes of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee meetings held on 26 January 2018 and 30 July 2018.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that Cllr Ashley had given his apologies for the National Park Authority meeting on 23 October 2018. In the minutes of the Authority meeting on 2 November a member advised that in respect of minute 129/18 (Disciplinary Policy) members had asked that in future draft documents should have tracked changes.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)   To approve the following minutes and authorise the Chair to sign them as a correct record:     

·     National Park Authority: 23 October 2018, as amended    

·     National Park Authority:  2 November 2018, as amended

 

b)   To receive the minutes of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee meetings held on 26 January 2018 and 30 July 2018.

 

150/18

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.

151/18

Chairman's Announcements

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised of meetings and events attended since the last Authority meeting.  He outlined his work with other Chairs and officers to reduce the length and complexity of committee agendas and welcomed any comments from members.  The Chair of Planning, Access and Rights of Way Committee advised that he was working with planning officers to find more effective ways of using the technology available to improve planning agendas.

 

A member suggested that given recent issues of being quorate  it was worth reviewing the policy of excluding members from planning decisions if they had not attended the site visit.  The Chief Executive confirmed that he had asked officers to review the Planning Protocol which would be brought to the Authority in February.

 

The Chair referred to the Open for Business event which he would be attending.  He would be seeking to understand the aspirations of businesses in the Park, and would report back after the meeting.

 

Members noted the useful work with graziers emerging through the Meithrin Mynydd Working Group focusing on land management and increasing cattle grazing on the hill.

152/18

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 advised of progress on various issues and responded to members’ comments.

 

In relation to the proposed combined communications strategy for the UK National Parks the Deputy Chair reported on the recent Chairs Forum at which he had represented the Authority.  A useful discussion had taken place on how the Parks branded themselves.  He reminded members that this was different from selling ourselves locally, and advised that the three Welsh Parks continued to work closely on this.

153/18

Revision to Financial Regulations pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Finance Manager presented changes to the Authority’s financial regulations to take account of changes to legislation and internal structures.  She advised that a member had raised some issues in relation to the proposed draft which had been addressed and the document modified.  She advised that this document represented the mechanism by which the Authority managed its money.  Asked which area might give the Authority problems in future the officer responded that a reduced workforce could have an impact on decision making if key officers were not available.

 

A member suggested that on page 34 there needed to be a definition of ‘significant reduction in budget’.  He advised that there needed to be member scrutiny on the implementation of the process in terms of management of income generation, how physical assets were managed and the need to relate to purposes and duty in respect of biodiversity.  He also advised that the document needed to be gender neutral.

 

The Chair of Policy Forum noted these points for further discussion at a future meeting.

 

Asked whether he was confident that the Authority had the expertise to discharge functions under these regulations, the Chief Executive said that he did and that the auditors had not picked up any issues.  Delays in external grants could lead to cash flow issues and this was carefully monitored.  A member suggested that the risks were sometimes not financial but related to human resources; he cited the lack of a rural surveyor and legal expertise.  The Chief Executive had recognised the need for surveyor expertise and had issued a tender.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Authority approves the revised Financial Regulations as amended.

154/18

Strategic Equality Plan pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The HR Officer presented an updated Strategic Equality Plan which met the requirements of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. She advised that there were opportunities to work with other authorities on this in future.  The Member Champion for Equality and Diversity advised that she had met with officers on the Plan and discussed what might be included in the next version.  There was scope to compare and contrast with other authorities but the size of this Authority inflated the statistics in terms of percentages.

 

RESOLVED: To Approve the Equality Plan 2016-2020.

155/18

Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Officers presented the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report on behalf of the National Park Management Plan Officer who was unable to attend.  The Report had been the subject of some debate at the Policy Forum and with partner organisations.  They advised that both the Local Development Plan and National Park Management Plan would be subject to a sustainability appraisal.

 

The Landscape and Biodiversity Champion highlighted some issues that needed to be reviewed relating to length, language and accessibility, and vision and offered to meet with officers urgently to finalise the report.  Other members endorsed these comments.  The Chair thanked the member and agreed that this would be helpful.

 

The Chair of Policy Forum made the point that this document was not the Corporate or Management Plan but rather a tool for measuring sustainability of those documents.  She pointed out that this version was for consultation and not set in stone yet.  A member suggested that an executive summary would be helpful.

 

It was also noted that during the last Local Development Plan public inquiry the sustainability appraisal was a useful tool in providing evidence to back up policy, but emphasised how important the use of language was.  Other members agreed that plain speech was important, even if more technical language needed to sit behind this.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Authority delegates the Chief Executive in consultation with the Chair of the Authority and the Chair of Policy Forum to approve the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report to allow the document to go out to consultation for five weeks, following further work by officers and the Landscape and Biodiversity Champion.

156/18

Annual Human Resources Review pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The HR Officer presented the Annual Human Resources Review for 2017/18.  The Chief Executive advised that the sickness figures were affected by one or two staff on long term sick leave but he had asked the HR Officer to look at trends over the last five years.  The officer clarified that the turnover target of 10% was set by the Welsh Government, but that the Authority’s figures were slightly skewed by short term contracts for specific projects.

 

RESOLVED:  To note the report.

 

157/18

Annual Equality Review pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The HR Officer presented the Annual Equality Report for 2017/18 which she advised complemented the Equality Plan and overlapped with the Pay Policy Statement.  In terms of membership the gender balance continued to be weighted to males but there was younger representation than in previous years.

 

A member suggested that accessibility to the workplace was a key consideration but acknowledged that the Authority had little influence over this.  The Chief Executive advised that the Authority had accommodated the warden trainees to meet their need to use public transport.  The Equality and Diversity Champion suggested that local government members should lobby for better transport to support employment opportunities.

 

RESOLVED: To note the report.

158/18

Reports from Members and Member Champions

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of the Sustainable Development Fund thanked members for approving the large funding application at the last meeting.  She hoped they could look at what they wanted to achieve on a Park-wide basis, and advised that the committee was reviewing its terms of reference for the next Authority meeting.  She was also working with officers to improve the SDF part of the website with links to minutes, which would be translated into Welsh.

 

The Chair advised that Cllr A James attended the Standards Conference recently but was unable to attend today.  He asked members who attended the three Park seminar in Pembrokeshire to forward him any comments.

159/18

Gifts & Hospitality

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No gifts or hospitality was recorded.

160/18

Access to Information

Item 15 - RECOMMENDATION: to exclude the press and public from the meeting during consideration of item 15 in accordance with section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 12, 13 and 17 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.

 

 

Item 16  - RECOMMENDATION: to exclude the press and public from the meeting during consideration of item 16 in accordance with section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3 and 14 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: 

 

a)  To exclude the press and public from the meeting during consideration of item 15 in accordance with section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 12, 13 and 17 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.

 

b)  To exclude the press and public from the meeting during consideration of item 16 in accordance with section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3 and 14 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.

161/18

Authority Policy on Cost of Care Allowance

Minutes:

Members considered whether preparation for meetings should be deemed an approved duty for the purposes of claiming cost of care allowance.  The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) had advised that this was something the Authority could determine, and they supported anything that would remove obstacles to members carrying out their role.  Members noted that while some authorities paid this, it was on an ad hoc basis with no defined policy although there was general consensus amongst many authorities that direction from the IRPW would be helpful.

 

A wide ranging discussion was held with differing views expressed.  A number of members felt that the Panel should direct authorities if they wished payments to be enabled.  Others felt that lack of personal resources could be a barrier to democracy.

 

An amendment to Recommendation (a) was proposed that the Authority was minded to approve preparation for meetings as an approved duty but that the Panel should prescribe this in their annual report.  This amendment was not supported.

 

The original recommendation was considered and put to the meeting.  The Monitoring Officer advised that a way forward was to approve recommendation (a) so that claims could be made under the Cost of Care Allowance and then raise the detail of the proposed policy with the Panel when they made their routine visit to the Authority in January, date yet to be confirmed.  The policy could then come back to a future meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a) To approve preparation for defined meetings as an approved duty for the purposes of claiming costs of care;

b) To raise the detail of the proposed policy with the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales when they visited the Authority in January 2019 with a view to considering the policy at a future Authority meeting.

 

162/18

Potential Hydro Scheme Lease Agreement

Minutes:

The Chair advised that this item should be deferred pending further work on the issue.

 

163/18

Any Other Business

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was no further business.  The Chair thanked members and officers for attending and gave them his best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.