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APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Emlyn Dole (Carmarthenshire County Council), Councillor Rosemarie Harris (Powys County Council), Councillor Rob Stewart (Swansea Council), Mr. Phil Roberts (Swansea Council), Mr. Mark James (Carmarthenshire County Council) and Mr. Mark Campion (ESTYN).
The Chair welcomed Ms Caroline Turner (Powys County Council) to the Joint Committee.
DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL INTERESTS
There were no declarations of personal interests made at the meeting.
The Joint Committee considered the Business Plan for 2019-20, outlining the division of functions between the three tiers in the regional system – Region, Sub-region/LA and Schools.
The Joint Committee was advised that the Business Plan had two main parts. Pink pages outlined the main work associated with the aims of ERW, including the new curriculum for Wales, skills of workforce, developing leaders, strong and inclusive schools and supporting a self-improving system. This was followed by detailed regional/local operational plans for each activity relating to the overall aims of ERW. The Business Plan would be updated in response to feedback from LA Leaders.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the Business Plan be approved on basis it can be revised/amended.
The Joint Committee considered the Budget Report 2019-20, which provided an update on the following:
· 2018-19 and 2019-20 Central Team Budget
· Local Authority Contributions
· 2019-20 Progression
· 2019-20 Grant
· 2019-20 Grant Funded Budget
The Chair advised that copies of correspondence in relation to the budget had been circulated at the meeting. This included a letter to the Minister for Education, dated 11th February 2019, asking the Minister to ring-fence ca. £790k grant money to employ central staff, and the Minister’s responses from the 1st March 2019 and 2nd April 2019. The Minister’s response from 2nd April stated that the Joint Committee could lever up to £500k from current grant funding on the condition that LAs addressed the shortfall and total funding was equally split between LA’s and Welsh Government.
The correspondence further included:
· A letter from Pembrokeshire County Council, dated 20th March, asking in their role as Employing Authority and Budget Holder for assurance from all authorities in the partnership;
· A letter from Neath Port Talbot Council, dated 27th March 2019, giving notice of their intention to leave ERW by 31st March 2020 but reserving the right to withdraw that notice if issues could be resolved;
· The Chair’s statement to the press in response to NPT’s notice.
The Joint Committee was advised that the Budget Report was identical to the one received at the last Joint Committee meeting as confirmation from the Minister regarding the use of grant funding had only been received last night.
A number of questions and comments were raised in relation to the report, including the following:
In response a query regarding Schools Causing Concern, the Joint Committee was advised that budget increases were required to establish a sustainable model for schools helping schools and that this was core business for ERW. The number of schools classified as amber or red had reduced from 165 to 87 under ERW and the categorisation of schools was a means of allocating support.
Several comments were made expressing concern that the Minister’s response left a funding gap of £290k which might have to be covered by increasing LA contributions. Neath Port Talbot stated that while they would remain ERW members until 31st March 2020, they would not support an increase in LA contributions. NPT confirmed that they would pay their outstanding 2018-19 contributions and those for 2019-20 at the same level.
In response to a query regarding staff funding, Mr. Geraint Rees advised that, previously, £2.5.m had been used to second 56 ERW FTEs. These were managed locally with payments being invoiced through schools. The Section 151 Officer advised that details regarding the source of the funding were not contained in the present budget report but further details could be provided at the Committee’s request. The Joint Committee was advised that the Finance Team had acted appropriately from an Audit perspective and budget/monitoring reports had been prepared and submitted to the Joint Committee as required. While the Finance Team ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC
THE REPORTS RELATING TO THE FOLLOWING ITEMS ARE NOT FOR PUBLICATION AS THEY CONTAIN EXEMPT INFORMATION AS DEFINED IN PARAGRAPHS 13 AND 15 OF PART 4 OF SCHEDULE 12A TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) (WALES) ORDER 2007. IF, FOLLOWING THE APPLICATION OF THE PUBLIC INTEREST TEST, THE JOINT COMMITTEE RESOLVES PURSUANT TO THE ACT TO CONSIDER THESE ITEMS IN PRIVATE, THE PUBLIC WILL BE EXCLUDED FROM THE MEETING DURING SUCH CONSIDERATION.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED, pursuant to the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information)(Variation) (Wales) Order 2007, that the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item as the report contained exempt information as defined in paragraph 13 and 15 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act.
FINANCIAL STAFFING INFORMATION
Following the application of the public interest test it was UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED, pursuant to the Act referred to in Minute 5 above, to consider this matter in private, with the public excluded from the meeting as the report contained information which might identify individuals and information relevant to negotiations/consultations relating to the workforce.
The Joint Committee considered a report on financial staffing information, which provided information on the finances of potential Central Team Staffing in 2019-20. The report contained the potential ERW Staffing Structure from April 2019 and the current staffing commitments that would roll into the 2019-20 financial year.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the report be noted.
[Note: Following the consideration of the above item, the public was readmitted to the meeting]
The Joint Committee was advised that the following nominations had been received:
· Temporary Lead Chief Executive: Mr Eifion Evans (Ceredigion County Council)
· Lead Director: Ms Kate Evan-Hughes (Pembrokeshire County Council)
The Joint Committee was advised that further discussion was to take place in relation to the apportionment of roles and responsibilities in the consortium.
UANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that
7.1. Mr Eifion Evans be appointed Temporary Lead Chief Executive;
7.2. Ms Kate Evan-Hughes be appointed Lead Director.
ANY OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS THAT BY REASONS OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES THE CHAIR DECIDES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS A MATTER OF URGENCY PURSUANT TO SECTION 100(4)(B) OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972
The Chair advised that there were no other items of business that should be considered as a matter of urgency.