Minutes of the Projects Committee of the Council held on Monday 17 March 2014 at 7pm in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Abergavenny

Present: Cllr Mrs S Woodhouse (Mayor)

Cllrs C Woodhouse, D Edwards, Miss M Toombs, R Harris, Mrs M Harris, N Tatam (for part of the meeting)

In attendance: The Town Clerk, Mrs J Barnes, Mr R Hoggins, Ms J Boothroyd and Ms S Welton, and Mrs A Armiger and Mr D Evans.

1. Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs J L Prosser, R Harries, P Wadsworth, Ms S Dodd, M Hickman, P Jordan, Mrs M Powell.

2. Declarations of interest would be made as and when necessary.

3. Tudor Street Day Centre

Ms Boothroyd and Ms Welton had attended to outline the County Council`s intentions for the services which used the Day Centre. The social services are undergoing significant changes at present. Delivery of Adult Services are trying to focus on delivery of services to individuals to more closely fit their wants and needs rather than the “institutional model which used to exist. Tudor Street was a multi-purpose day centre; what it will become depends on what service users need.

The service is trying to deliver tailored services to individuals via the “My Day, My Life” programme. It is showing results for individuals who would have been classed as institutionalised, and staff and clients are really being invigorated by the changes. The programme seeks to build networks of support for individuals so that it can happen. At present the programme is focusing on Abergavenny but will be rolled out to the rest of the County. Staff are acting as “Support Brokers” and many new opportunities have been created. This builds independence and confidence for clients.

At present it is not clear how Tudor Street will be used in future. That will be determined in due course. The emphasis now is on people not premises.

Cllr C Woodhouse noted that there is a very broad spectrum of Learning Disabilities. He felt that some families had not been consulted and deserved apologies for that to try to clear the air and get people on board with the new programme.

Ms Boothroyd made it clear that all service users and families had been consulted but not all liked what is proposed. There were fears that the accustomed services were going and confidence had not yet been achieved for some of the new arrangements. Time frames in particular are giving problems, but no time scales have been set as yet. Statements such as “people are saying” are not helpful as the service is dealing with specific clients and their families.

Mr Hoggins noted that a property review is under way which will report to members in about six months.

Cllr R Harris suggested that as there were some opposing views it might be worth having a group to resolve the problems. This would be considered. An Open Day for the “My Day- My Life” programme is being planned and others would be welcome to help with the planning of that.

Cllr Edwards felt that the communication with County Councillors had been very poor as had the Public Relations of the exercise. He hoped that this would improve.

(Cllr Tatam left the meeting at this point)

Cllrs M Toombs and M Harris commended the change in approach and wished the programme every success.

Cllr C Woodhouse then asked for responses to a series of questions that he had already passed to Ms Boothroyd.

Answers were given to explain why certain things had happened and what was being done to improve the situation. Some of the criticisms were as the result of unexpected problems in the service and these were being put right.

The Mayor thanked the two officers for attending and improving the understanding of those present and they left the meeting at this point.

4. Community Cafe

The Mayor welcomed Mrs Armiger and Mr Evans who had come to explain what the Community Cafe is all about and to invite members to lunch at the Cafe to see for themselves.

Lunch is served from 12 tro 2pm on Thursdays and an all-day breakfast is available on Mondays. The system works on a donations-only basis (people contribute as much or as little as they can) and initial funding had come from Bernadette Kelly. The Community Matters Group were invited to set up the Cafe to operate two days a week at the Leisure Centre. They are trying to engage with more difficult to contact people. They are attracting people who have GP referrals to the Centre. At present there are some 10 volunteers and they are liaising with Monmouthshire Housing, Adult Education, Remploy and others. There are three disabled adults working there.

The scheme attracts more people to the Leisure Centre and work is being done to promote Healthy Eating and Fitness. They are also teaching yound mums to cook on Tuesday afternoons – cooking on a budget. Some work is being done with the Acorn Centre. On Thursdays they have bread baking and coffee sessions worked around nursery school hours. The scheme so far has been a pilot scheme and the scheme proper starts in April. About 20 to 30 people are being fed on Thursdays at present but this is flexible. The scheme is funded by voluntary payments and volunteers run it.

Members commended the scheme and the Mayor thanked Mrs Armiger and Mr Evans who left at this point.

5. Managing our Public Highways

The Mayor welcomed Mr Hoggins and thanked him for waiting during the other presentations.

He explained the present policy which is quite rigid, and the background to the proposed policy.

Cllr C Woodhouse felt that it would be bad policy to charge £75 for the installation of memorial seats and trees. He felt this was insensitive.

Cllr Edwards noted that several County members had walked the town some three years ago to talk to A-Board users to explain the need to keep good walkways and avoid obstructions. In general they had met with a good reception and understanding. He is currently asking for some improvements- the town needs tidying up.

Mr Hoggins explained that charging by implication permitted A-Boards and by doing so it opened the door to some liability from claimants who might trip over them. They would need to police the new system well.  Charitable ones might be exempt but this would need careful examination.

Cllr Mrs Harris was not keen on large hoardings on roundabouts.

The Town Clerk explained his concerns about the two roundabouts which over the years were maintained by Abergavenny in Bloom. He felt that charging for the county to maintain them in exchange for advertising was not likely to be favoured and he would prefer it if Mr Hoggins would consider specifying the size of adverts and a small charge for placing them in exchange for a sponsor maintaining the roundabout. Mr Hoggins invited him to send an e-mail to that effect which he would consider favourably.

There was a discussion about what sort of advertising on the roadside would be acceptable. This was to be determined but should not be too obtrusive.

On another matter Cllr C Woodhouse expressed the view that the Town Council was unlikely to wish to proceed to refurbish White Horse Lane toilets and asked Mr Hoggins whether the County would follow that line. Mr Hoggins agreed that if the Town decide not to proceed they would not have the funds to do it. It was noted that we need to set up a meeting shortly to review service issues with the County in view of further cuts likely next year. This would be included in the issues for discussion.

The Mayor thanked Mr Hoggins for attending and he left at this point.

The meeting ended at 8:45pm.