Agenda and minutes

National Park Authority - Friday, 7th August, 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

72/20

Correspondence

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all to the meeting and noted apologies.

 

He reminded all members of the need to review their Register of Interests on line and submit for sign off, irrespective of any changes.

 

73/20

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:

Mr J Stedman declared and personal and prejudicial interest in item 13 (Crickhowell and Llangattock Conservation Area) as his house was affected by the proposed boundary changes and he had been a consultee.

 

Cllr G Thomas declared a personal interest in item 6 (Chief Executive’s announcements) in light of his involvement in Penderyn Quarry.

 

74/20

Minutes pdf icon PDF 92 KB

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

as a correct record:

 

National Park Authority 26 June 2020

 

2. To receive the following minutes:

 

Audit and Scrutiny Committee 31 January 2020

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that a member had requested an amendment to minute 44/20. The following changes were made:

Deletion of:  “A member pointed out that some changes had already been implemented through the reduction in funding to the Sustainable Development Fund.”

 

Insertion of:

 

“A member stated that the Chief Executive could not have it both ways, ie it is easy to reduce the spend on the Sustainable Development Fund but a lot less easy to carry out much more difficult, and human, aspects of the Change Programme.  The member argued that SDF funding should only have been reduced in tandem with action on other fronts, but that was a discussion for another day.”

The Democratic Services Manager advised that the title of Enclosure 1 to this item was wrongly titled as 31 March 2020 rather than 31 January 2020 but confirmed that the document was the correct one.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)     To approve the minutes of the National Park Authority meeting held on 26 June 2020, as amended, and authorise the Chair to sign them as a true record;

 

b)     To receive the minutes of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee held on 31 January 2020.

 

75/20

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 but the Chair encouraged members of the public to request this in relation to items on future agendas.  Details of how to do this were on the website.

 

76/20

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 advised that he had received requests for Other Business and that he would invite the Chief Executive to speak to these in respect of dates of scheduled meetings, but asked members to remain after the meeting to discuss other matters.

 

77/20

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 to members and drew attention to some key points.  He was asked to provide further information on the Afon Llynfi pollution incident when available and to brief Cllr Thomas on Penderyn Quarry.

 

78/20

2020/21 Borrowing limit approval and prudential code indicators pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered a proposal to retain existing precautionary borrowing limits in line with the requirements for CIPFA’s Prudential Code for treasury management.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Authority continues the present arrangements in relation to operational and authorised borrowing limits and Treasury Management for 2020/21.

 

79/20

Employer's Discretions - Powys Pension Fund pdf icon PDF 30 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered proposals on discretions the Authority would apply in cases of requests for retirement.  The Finance Manager referred to a correction to the enclosure to the report at item 6 in the list of discretions where text from item 5 had been repeated.  It should read “The Authority’s policy is to pay up to the statutory maximum number of weeks’ pay”.

 

A member highlighted the need for a policy statement as a point of reference when responding to requests for retirement, which would give staff confidence and ensure equal treatment.  This point was supported by other members who saw the ‘case by case’ approach as unhelpful in terms of process.  It was also felt that there should be  a clear decision making process over and above the Corporate Governance Team, to avoid any conflict of interest.  In response to questions the Finance Manager advised that the Authority’s Flexible Retirement Policy provided criteria for such decision making and the case by case approach allowed discretion to consider individual and personal factors.  She advised that officers could review this. 

 

A member felt that the pension scheme was a good one which obviated the need for exceptions, particularly given the potential term financial impact on the Authority.

 

There was support for a transparent process, avoiding the ‘exceptions’ rule in order to ensure a transparent and equitable process.

 

The Monitoring Officer advised that decisions in relation to requests for retirement were currently delegated to the Chief Executive in the Scheme of Delegation.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Employer’s Discretions for the Pension Fund set out in Enclosure 1 be approved.

 

 

80/20

Appointment of suppliers pdf icon PDF 38 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were advised that this item had been withdrawn from the agenda pending further advice on changes in procurement law.  Officers confirmed that there was no issue with current suppliers who were delivering on workstreams at present.

 

81/20

State of the Park Report 2020 pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the final draft of the State of the Park Report (SOPR) which had been subject to revision and improvements following consultation with members, officers and partners.  They congratulated officers on an excellent report and the valuable input from the Chair of Policy Forum was noted.

 

It was suggested and agreed that reports would be brought back to members at intervals to be decided by officers, in order to apply updated data.

 

In response to a question the officer advised that data on upland erosion was still being sought but it was hoped to include this in the final version.  The prevalence of algae blooms was highlighted and it was suggested that the Scottish National Parks might be able to provide some information on potential sources of this.  Examples on the River Wye were also noted.

 

Asked about the potential to include darkness and tranquillity in the SOPR the Chief Executive advised that he was in discussion with the Park Society on the potential for data on this.  In relation to noise he had spoken to the Police about the increase in high performance motorbikes since the easing of lockdown.  The Systems and Performance Manager advised that there was a task in the timeline for the SOPR and other key documents, and that discussion with stakeholders would enable views about values and perceptions.  He referred to new technology that was in the early phase of being able to gather sensor data, for example the impact of parking in the Waterfalls Area, but could also look at noise and light.

 

The Heritage Champion felt that the culture and heritage section was light on indicators but he felt the Heritage Environment Action Plan (HEAP) would provide the means to enlarge the scope of this section.

 

A member welcomed the report and wanted to see the dashboard used for communication via the website, press releases, and engagement through social media and learning resources, notwithstanding that it will generate difficult conversations.  For the next iteration she felt members would welcome indicators on how people feel about being in the park.  She was supported in this by a member who suggested that a communications plan was needed in light of the Authority publishing several key documents this year.  The Chief Executive noted this for discussion with the Public Engagement Manager.

 

A member asked whether pollution levels were being monitored during lockdown and the Biodiversity Champion advised that the regulatory authorities continued to monitor this.

 

RESOLVED:  To approve the State of the Park Report 2020

 

 

 

 

 

82/20

Well-being objectives 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members consider proposed wellbeing objectives to be included in the Corporate Plan for 2020-21.

 

A member queried the use of the phrase ‘green infrastructure’ in the priority work programme rather than ‘green economy’.  The officer advised that while he accepted the point this had already been changed once and agreed by members, and drew attention to the objectives needed to be approved.

 

RESOLVED:  That members approve the proposed amendment to the Authority’s Corporate Plan 2020-21.

 

 

83/20

Welsh Language Promotion Strategy pdf icon PDF 34 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered and welcomed the Welsh Language Promotion Strategy.  The Welsh Language Champion thanked the officer and highlighted the importance of events such as the National Eisteddfod and the Urdd which enabled people to gain understanding of the language and culture.  The Chief Executive advised that National Parks Wales had previously had a presence at such events and had sponsored events at the Urdd.  A member suggested that singing was an excellent way to support Welsh culture.

 

The Equality and Diversity Champion highlighted the need to link with the Authority’s Equality duty and referred to statistics that could be updated.

 

A member asked whether the Authority could be more ambitious and aim to increase the number of Welsh speakers in the park.  The officer applauded this ambition but advised that the Authority’s resources and remit were limited in this respect.  She referred to the Welsh language course of 10 hour long units which were already seeing benefits amongst the staff.

 

A member wondered whether more could be done to encourage young people in environmental careers in Wales through links with academic institutions. The officer advised that there was a reference to supporting environmental careers.  She noted the comments about Welsh events, and advised that she had recently run a Welsh Language writing competition for children, on which there would shortly be a press release.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)  For the Authority to note the good work which has already been accomplished which this strategy builds on.

 

For the Authority to ratify the five year Welsh Promotion Strategy before publication on the Authority’s website and intranet.

84/20

Crickhowell and Llangattock Conservation Area pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the consultation responses to the conservation area and the officer highlighted the changes made in response to this.  The Chair thanked the public for engaging with this.

 

A member commented that this was another high quality report reflecting a lot of hard work.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)     To approve the conservation area appraisal and designate the proposed new boundary for Crickhowell;

 

b)     To approve the conservation area appraisal and designate the proposed new boundary for Llangattock.

 

85/20

Member Reports

To receive any reports from members.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no member reports.

 

86/20

Gifts & Hospitality

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

 

87/20

Any Other Business

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

notified to him in advance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that he had had several requests for other business to be considered.  He proposed to take some of these in the meeting but other matters would be discussed with members after the meeting.

 

A request had been made for a summary report on the financial outturns from 2019-20.  This was not available but members were advised that reports had been included in the Audit and Scrutiny Committee agenda for 24 July 2020, which was publicly available to all.

 

In response to issues raised by members the Chief Executive advised that he would be meeting with members on 14 August to discuss the Change Programme, during which he would share the report from the consultant and also the Covid-19 report from Powys County Council.  The Appointments Committee was meeting on 17 August, and the Chair asked any member not on the committee who wished to attend to advise Angharad Hawkes so that the appropriate information for the meeting could be shared.

 

A member expressed the view that the Authority was becoming too academic in its discussions which was placing additional burden on staff.  The Chair asked the Governance and Member Development Working Group to consider this.

 

The Chair stressed that if any member wished to raise anything urgent under Other Business then they should advise him in advance to allow him to chair the meeting effectively and ensure that any sensitive issues were considered in the appropriate forum.