Minutes of the Projects Committee held on Thursday 23 November 2017 at 7pm in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Abergavenny

Present: Cllr D Simcock (Mayor)

Cllrs Ms S Dodd, T Konieczny, M Hickman, S Head, Mrs P Simcock, L Van de Vyver, N Tatam, Mrs T Davies and F Morgan.

In attendance: The Acting Town Clerk and Mr D Haswell for the first item.

  1. Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs T Thomas, R Harris, M Groucutt and G Jones.
  2. No declarations of interest were received.
  3. It was agreed to suspend Standing Orders to hear a short presentation from Mr D Haswell, a representative of the Environment Theme Group of Team Abergavenny.

The Mayor welcomed Mr Haswell and invited him to speak to the Committee concerning the development of the Police Station and Magistrates Courts site.

Mr Haswell outlined the views of the group he represents they had looked at need, adjoining uses, the state of the existing buildings, what is missing in the town and the appropriateness of the proposed development by McCarthy and Stone. He also acknowledged that the County Planning Department are looking at key issues.

His Group felt that the layout is logical, they prefer the modern design to mock Georgian that had been used elsewhere, the roofscape fits well into the surroundings, the materials are acceptable but they would like to see some stone to match surrounding buildings and generally they feel it is a reasonable design.

They would however like to see a way of linking the site with the adjoining Griffiths site and feel that could be achieved by constructing a two storey business centre with units for mall businesses which would be located behind the main structure and close to existing business units in Nevill Street. If that is added together with an underground car park to take cars out of the rear yard it would allow a better area for a residents` garden to be provided, and would make a more coherent development on the site. Mr Haswell distributed a copy of the sketch and notes he had been referring to during his talk.

Members asked some questions about Newbridge House being incongruous, and the security of the site as well as the value of the different roof lines.

The Mayor then thanked Mr Haswell for attending and he left the meeting at this point.

The Acting Clerk explained that the existing computer system used by the Council Office is slow and not very user-friendly. Some time ago the Council had agreed to look at this but the likely alterations to the Town Hall had put it on hold.

After some discussion it was agreed that a further report be prepared setting out the improvements needed and the costs involved to put the Telephone and Internet connections on an independent system  as well as improving the interconnection of equipment in the office.

The Clerk distributed hard copies of the plan document to all members present. He noted that it had been submitted to the Bryn y Cwm Area Committee who had agreed o receive nd adopt it, and they would be monitoring its progress at their regular meetings. Members welcomed the report and formally received it.

The Clerk submitted a draft list of meeting dates for next year for members` approval. There was some discussion about changing the day for Projects Committee but after due deliberation it was agreed to leave it as at present. Subject to the dates in August being noted as provisional, the Dates were agreed and the rooms would be booked accordingly.

Members had no specific proposals to change the Standing Orders and Financial Regulations, but it was noted that the Internal Auditor had commented that it is unusual to have all of the Council as signatories, as was now the case. It was suggested that when the new Clerk is in office and is changing the Bank Mandate to include herself on the list it would be a good time to reduce the number of signatories to about 4 or 5 as had been previous practice. This would be done in February.

Following the discussion at Council this matter was considered in more detail here. Main concerns were focused on Bailey Park and the inevitable clash of use as a dog exercise area and a recreation area. It might be possible to allocate the old swimming pool area as a fenced area for dogs to exercise, but any effective management would need policing of the site, which is not available at present. Also it might be possible to require dog owners to have bags with them to clear up after their dogs whenever they are out with the dog.

After considerable discussion it was agreed to find out if bye-laws are in place to support effective control and then to ask MCC to enforce the rules if they are in place. The Clerk would report back to Council.

It was agreed to meet the Y Fenni Business Community Representatives at the January Projects meeting to try to develop and improve relations with them.

  1. Other Business Agreed by the Mayor to be urgent.
  2. Henstaff Development.

It was noted that an e-mail to invite the Council to participate in pre-planning consultations had been overlooked so that the opportunity had passed. After discussion it was agreed that there are several important issues concerning the proposed development and a letter should go to the company asking if another opportunity could be given for members to comment.

The Mayor told members that two letters had been received from Arriva Trains and the Welsh Government and he was in the process of compiling answers. He suggested that this matter should be a fixture on the Projects Agenda for the time being. This was agreed.

Letter from the Funding Director of the Abergavenny Arts Festival was noted. After discussion it was agreed that they should be invited to the January Projects Meeting so that if a significant grant is being sought it can be incorporated in the budget in time.

Cllr Mrs Simcock had arranged for interested Councillors to meet Professor Walkerdine on 26 November in the Mayor`s Parlour. Any other members not so far intending to come would be welcome.

The Meeting ended at 8:45pm