IRVINE, 3 February 2004 - At a Meeting of the Corporate Policy Committee of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
David O'Neill, Margaret McDougall, Thomas Barr, John Bell, Drew Duncan, Jane Gorman, Jean Highgate, Alan Hill, Peter McNamara, John Moffat, David Munn, Margaret Munn, Alan Munro, Donald Reid, and Samuel Taylor.
B. Devine; Chief Executive, A. Herbert, Assistant Chief Executive (Finance); I. T. Mackay, Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective); B. MacDonald, Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion); S. Bale, A. Osborne and M. McKeown, Corporate and Democratic Support Officers, G. O'Brien, Head of Communications and P. Palmer, Assistant Communications Officer (Chief Executive's).
Councillor O'Neill in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Jacqueline Browne, John Reid and Richard Wilkinson.
The Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 9 December 2003, copies of which had previously been circulated, were confirmed.
2. Special Meeting of the Corporate Policy Standing Sub Committee
Submitted the annexed report (Appendix CP1) being the Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Corporate Policy Standing Sub Committee held on 19 January 2004.
The Committee agreed to approve the Minutes.
3. Minutes of Area Committees and Liaison Meetings with Community Planning Partners
Submitted the annexed reports (Appendices CP2, CP3 and CP4) being the minutes of the meetings of Area Committees, and Liaison Meetings with Community Planning Partners, held on the following dates:-
14 January 2004
Three Towns Area
15 January 2004
Irvine, Kilwinning, Dreghorn and Springside Area
16 January 2004
Garnock Valley, North Coast, Arran and Cumbrae Area
The Committee agreed to approve the Minutes.
4. Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002: Publications Scheme
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective) on the requirement contained in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, that public bodies prepare Publication Schemes which (i) provide information on the categories and classes of information which they hold that is available to the public as a matter of course; (ii) provide information on the manner in which this information is available; and (iii) set out any charges for the receipt of such information.
Each public body is required to prepare a draft Publications Scheme for submission to and approval by the Scottish Information Commissioner by the end of February 2004. Subject to approval, Publications Schemes will come in to operation in June 2004.
Following consultation with all Council Services, a draft Publication Scheme, copies of which were tabled, has been prepared in respect of the information held by the Council that is already available to the public through the Council's website, or from other sources. Once in operation the Publications Scheme will be reviewed and updated regularly as Services make more information available.
The Committee agreed (a) to approve the draft Publication Scheme and authorise the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective) to submit it to the Scottish Information Commissioner for adoption and approval in terms of Section 23 of the 2002 Act; and (b) that the Publication Scheme be kept under review and updated regularly in compliance with the Act.
5. Working for Families Fund
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Development & Promotion) on the offer of funding to the Council from the Scottish Executive's "Working for Families Fund", which aims to help disadvantaged people in deprived areas into work by providing access to flexible and affordable childcare.
The Council is one of ten local authorities that will benefit from the Fund. The Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) on behalf of the Council has accepted the offer of £1M per annum in 2004/05 and 2005/06. A Working Group has been established to develop the Council's proposals for childcare solutions that will assist disadvantaged people to move into or towards employment, and which also meet the specific targets established by the Scottish Executive in respect of parents on low incomes, parents with other stresses in the household, and lone parents. External partners/agencies and Council Services will be consulted before final proposals are submitted to The Scottish Executive by 10 April 2004. Appropriate evaluation arrangements will be put in place to monitor the success of the childcare measures adopted.
The Committee agreed (a) to approve the acceptance on behalf of the Council of £1M in 2004/05 and 2005/06 and the proposal for taking the project forward, as detailed in the report; and (b) that the Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) report on the terms of the final submission the Scottish Executive.
6. West Kilbride Craft Town
Councillor Hill declared an interest in the following item of business.
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Development & Promotion) on a request from Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire that the Council agree to commit funding over the next four years to support the development of West Kilbride as a Craft/Design Town.
Over the past three years, the Council has provided support to West Kilbride through its Town Centre support budget which has mainly been used to employ consultants to undertake a feasibility study and create a business plan for the proposed West Kilbride Craft/Design Town. Whilst the business plan produced in 2002 expressed doubts about the capacity of the project to attract funding, a re-evaluation and re-appraisal of the project commissioned by Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire, now suggests that the proposal is viable.
Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire has identified that the works required to take the project forward will total some £248,000 over a four year period, of which North Ayrshire Council's requested allocation would be £5000 in the current year, £15,000 in 2004/05 and £20,000 in 2005/06 and 2006/07. The Council has already agreed to focus its town centre regeneration strategy on the towns of Irvine, Ardrossan and another town as yet to be identified in the Garnock Valley. Resources are not currently available to allow the Council to commit to the contributions suggested by Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire. Nevertheless, in recognition of the efforts of the Initiative so far in taking the project forward, it was proposed that an award of £5,000 should be made to meet the Council's suggested contribution in 2003/04.
The Committee agreed to (a) award £5,000 in the current financial year to the West Kilbride Craft/Design Town project; and (b) remit to the Corporate Policy Standing Sub Committee to examine the project in more detail and to consider possible options for future funding or other assistance by the Council.
7. Revenue Budget - Budgetary Control
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Finance) on the budgetary control position for the Council to the end of November 2003, and on projections for the end of the financial year.
8. Complaint regarding report to Corporate Services Committee on Hunterston Container Transhipment Hub
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective) on a complaint regarding a report submitted by the Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) to the Corporate Services Committee in April 2002 on a project being taken forward by Clydeport, together with Scottish Enterprise and the Council, to develop an opportunity for an International Container Transhipment Terminal at Hunterston.
The report submitted by the Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) to the Corporate Services Committee set out the background to the proposed development at Hunterston, and highlighted the results of a report commissioned by the partners, and undertaken by T.R.I Maritime Research Group of Napier University, which concluded that a container terminal at Hunterston could provide a viable location as a regional hub for global carriers.
The Council has now received a complaint from Messrs Macfarlanes Solicitors, representing P&O and the London Gateway Port Harbour Authority, in which it is alleged that the report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) to the Corporate Services Committee in April 2002 was at odds with " the broad consensus of industry experts", misled the Committee into believing that the Napier University report was an authoritative statement, and did not make suitable reference to proposed developments elsewhere. The complainers have submitted papers in support of their allegation, which include expert evidence submitted to a Department of Transport Public Inquiry in Autumn 2003 that the development being taken forward by P&O and London Gateway Port Harbour Authority at Shellhaven on the River Thames, was best for Britain.
The complaint was investigated by the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Protective) who, having considered both the paper prepared by Napier University, and the evidence submitted by the agents of P&O to the Public Inquiry, has concluded that the report submitted to Corporate Services Committee by the Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) did not mislead the Council in any way.
The Committee (a) noted the findings of the report; and (b) agreed to reaffirm the acceptance of the recommendations of the Assistant Chief Executive (Development and Promotion) as contained within his report to Corporate Services Committee on 30 April 2002.
9. Community Safety Forum Strategy and Action Plans 2004/05
Submitted report by the Chief Executive on North Ayrshire Community Safety Forum's proposed Community Safety Strategy and Action Plans for 2004/05.
The Community Safety Forum is now one of the Themed Working Groups established by North Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership. The overarching aim of the Forum is the strategic aim contained in North Ayrshire Community Plan "to make North Ayrshire a safer place to live, work, visit and invest". The Forum is chaired by Strathclyde Police and is made up of representatives from organisations with an interest in preventing crime, promoting safer communities, and improving the quality of life of local people.
Under existing funding arrangements the Scottish Executive has allocated £4 million per annum to fund Community Safety Partnerships until the end of 2004/05. Funding has two elements - a formula award based on Council area populations and crime figures, and a variable amount based on the quality of the Community Safety Strategy Documents and Action Plans that individual Partnerships are required to prepare and submit to the Scottish Executive for approval. Based on population size and crime statistics, North Ayrshire has been allocated £93,806.82 per annum over the three year period.
The Community Safety Forum has prepared and submitted to The Scottish Executive a revised Strategy Document and Action Plans, which reflect the Forum's priorities for 2004/05 in terms of reducing crime and the fear of crime, tackling domestic abuse, lowering drug misuse, creating a safer environment, and reducing accidents. The Action Plans are based on the allocation of the formula award plus a variable amount, as well as allowing for further funding leverage. Announcements on the variable awards will be made in due course once the Executive has reviewed all the bids.
The Committee agreed to approve the Community Safety Strategy and Action Plan for 2004/05.
10. Children's Inpatient Services
Councillor O'Neill declared an interest in the following item of business, vacated the Chair and withdrew from the meeting. Councillor McDougall assumed the Chair for this item of business.
Submitted report by the Chief Executive on the terms of a consultation by Ayrshire & Arran NHS Board regarding the future provision of Children's Acute Inpatient Services in Ayrshire and Arran.
Acute Inpatient Services are currently provided across three sites at Ayr Hospital, Crosshouse Hospital, and Ayrshire Central Hospital. Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board, prompted by issues associated with providing care in three separate paediatric sites, the need to ensure that senior doctors are on site to support junior doctors in the evening, and difficulties in complying with new regulations about the number of hours junior doctors can work, established a group to carry out an extensive option appraisal exercise and consultation on the future provision of Children's Inpatient Services in Ayrshire and Arran.
As a result of this review the NHS Board is proposing, as their preferred option, to merge all Children's Inpatient Services and provide them from Crosshouse Hospital. A new short-stay Assessment Unit and a dedicated facility for teenagers will be provided on the same site, and accommodation for children with special needs will also be improved. Following an earlier review, Neo-Natal Services are also moving from Ayrshire Central Hospital to Crosshouse Hospital. The NHS Board is seeking feedback on the proposed merger and will consider a final report and recommendations in March 2004. Meantime the NHS Board is carrying out a survey of car and public transport arrangements at Crosshouse Hospital.
The Committee agreed that the Chief Executive advise Ayrshire & Arran NHS Board that the Council supports the proposed merger of all Children's Acute Inpatient Services at Crosshouse Hospital as set out in the report, but wishes to highlight the need for improved parking and public transport arrangements at Crosshouse Hospital.