Minutes of the Projects Committee held on Thursday 29 January 2015 at 7pm in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Abergavenny

Present: Cllr M J Hickman JP (Mayor)

Cllrs D Edwards, J L Prosser, C Woodhouse, Mrs S Woodhouse, Ms S Dodd, Mrs M Powell, S Horrell, N Tatam, R Harris, Mrs M Harris and P Woodley.

In attendance: The Town Clerk and Mr N Ramsay AM for the first item.

1. Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs P Wadsworth, P Jordan and Miss M Toombs.

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

3. The Mayor welcomed Mr Ramsay who had come to the meeting to discuss the possibility of  tax-raising powers for the Welsh Government. H e handed out some notes to members and spoke on the key issues. In 2018 there will be big changes when tax raising powers are devolved to Welsh Government. Probably stamp duty, business rates landfill tax and other minor revenues will be included. At its discretion Welsh Government might be able to change these taxes for other taxes.

Wales is currently underfunded compared with Scotland and Northern Ireland, so it would not want Income Tax to be devolved as it might make Wales even more disadvantaged. VAT will not be devolved due to European restrictions on how it is levied. Corporation tax would not be devolved either.

The question of whether Wales will benefit from these changes is open to debate.

Mr Ramsay then answered members questions on a variety of issues.

There was a discussion on these points is Wales size-critical? London prosperity feeds out to the regions at present. Welsh Government would need to develop expertise to manage revenue raising powers.

(Cllr Woodley arrived at this point)

The discussion initially focused on reorganisation of Local Government, and where it was likely to go. Councils could work together on large contracts without having to be merged, but it did not seem likely that the Minister would accept this. It looked as if the likely model would be to reduce the number of principal authorities to 6 or 8.

The new Planning Act which will come into force soon will set the scene for how the devolution of Local Government will go. Some decisions may be centralised and some may be localised. This will have an impact on local authorities whichever way it goes. There was a view that planning decisions should be more localised to take account of local knowledge and concerns.

Any changes would have a cost and timing would be an issue in austere times.

There is no news at present as to how this will affect Town and Community Councils.

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

4. Summer Concerts.

There was a discussion about which bands or performers should be invited to attend and take part this year. It was agreed to keep it local and to include the Abergavenny Borough Band, AAODS singers and either Free Beer or Jiveoholics.

This would mean three concerts and a higher payment for each group from 300 to 400.

Friends of Bailey Park and Friends of Linda Vista would be offered one each, but if they are not interested the events can be held I Brewery Yard as before. The AAODS  performance probably needed to be in Brewery Yard as it would involve dancing which need a solid surface.

There was a discussion about a number of issues why not hold all in one day? Do we try to get refreshments laid on? How do we go about improving publicity to attract the public? Should be do this at all? Could we try to get another Paddling Pool event in Bailey Park like the successful one last year?

It was agreed that the Clerk would write to the two Friends groups  to ask if they are interested, and if not, the issue should come back to Projects Committee for further discussion.

5. Workshop with Kellie Beirne.

The Clerk referred to the proposed workshop with Kellie Beirne to discuss possible service devolution in future years. It was decided to ask her for two or three suitable dates and then to canvass members to establish the most suitable. The Clerk would try to do this before Council on 11 February.

Cllr Edwards left at this point.

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6. Museums e-mail.

The e-mail from Rachael Rogers concerning future support for the Museum was noted. Individual members would contact her at their discretion.

7. Information Commissioner.

The Clerk informed members that the re-registration which is needed annually was being done. This would involve registering those member not on the County Council. He had registered the two new members and would pass the relevant information to them shortly.

8. Honours presentation.

It was agreed that Cllr C Woodhouse would read out the basis for the Honour for each of the recipients, and we will also seek to get suitable certificates produced to be given to each to back up the brass plaques ion the Board.

9. SLCC/OVW Conference in May.

It was agreed that Cllr Tatam and the Clerk would go, and any other members who wished to go should let the Clerk know very soon.

10. Correspondence concerning Salmon in the Usk.

It was acknowledged that we have no jurisdiction over this, but it would be reasonable to express support for any initiatives that protect the number of fish in the river.

11. Youth Council.

Cllr Mrs Woodhouse asked if this idea could be progressed. It had been raised at Projects Committee a few months ago and no action had been taken since. It was agreed that Cllrs Mrs S Woodhouse, Ms S Dodd and Miss M Toombs (If she agrees) should try to progress this.

12. There being no other business, the Mayor closed the meeting at this point.

The meeting ended at 8:35pm