Venue: via Video Conference
Webcast: View the webcast
At this juncture, the Chair, Councillor Alan James paid tribute to the ex Councillor, Lloyd Williams who had recently passed away. Councillor James mentioned Councillor Williams’ dedication to the council and his hard work. Silent reflection was held in respect.
Councillor Gwyneth Kensler also paid a tribute to Nancy Fletcher Williams who had passed away on 3 January 2022 who was a former Councillor who represented Rhyl.
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
URGENT MATTERS AS AGREED BY THE CHAIR
Notice of items which, in the opinion of the Chair, should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency pursuant to Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972.
No urgent matters.
Question put to Full Council by Cllr Rhys Thomas
“The UK Government announced in December that they were going to relax immigration rules for overseas care workers. The Department of Health and Social Care then announced that these measures would come into effect early next year and be in place for 12 months.
We are all aware of the critical shortage of care workers in Denbighshire so is the Lead Member aware of these welcome changes and have they come into effect locally”?
Response by Lead Member Cllr Bobby Feeley:
We are aware of these welcome changes. Locally, here in Denbighshire, we are also aware of the new ruling and are supporting providers who are keen to maximise any opportunities to recruit care workers in line with the UK Government’s relaxation of the immigration rules. It was, indeed, announced in December that care workers, care assistants and home care workers will be eligible for the health and care visa on a 12 month period. This will mean that we will be able to recruit additional care workers to boost the adult social care workforce which should make it quicker and easier for social care employers to recruit eligible workers to fill the gaps.
The corona virus pandemic has highlighted a range of staff shortages in the social care sector placing pressures on the existing workforce despite the incredible and tireless efforts of social care staff. Although I am quite sure my letter to the Prime Minister sent on your behalf helped it a bit, it has to said, the changes to the legislation also followed on from a recommendation from Migration Advisory Committee to make care workers and home carers eligible for the Health and Care visa and to add the occupation to the skilled workers occupation list. At the time, the response from UK Government which I shared with you all was rather disappointing but looks as if a short time later we got the result we wanted. This, obviously, won’t solve the problem overnight but it will help and for that I am very grateful.
Question put to Full Council by Cllr Graham Timms
“Could you please give an update to the council on the problems relating to the provision of social care in the Dee Valley and across Denbighshire?”
Response by Lead Member Cllr Bobby Feeley:
“We are still experiencing challenges with the provision of social care across Denbighshire. However, the unmet demand has reduced in the last month by 138 hrs. The Contracts and Commissioning Team are in discussions with Wrexham around a sub-regional rural approach for the south of the county which has been problematic.
A range of measures and initiatives have been agreed and monitored by a new Denbighshire County Council Social Care Recruitment and Retention Group Chaired by Nicola Stubbins, the Corporate Director for Communities. This will include looking at pay rates for all roles across adult and children social care and promoting our benefits. Additional dedicated HR Resource has been put in place to support social care recruitment and retention. We have accessed additional covid recovery funding to support recruitment to care for both external care providers and our internal services. Providers are also taking initiatives on recruitment and retention which includes such incentives as;
· Financial support towards driving lessons for new applicants
· Funding to purchase bikes for non-driving applicants
· A variety of different golden hello and employment referral schemes
· Boosted advertising on social media
· Online application platform
· Supporting providers to apply for oversees workers permits via Home Office initiatives
The Contracts Officers are currently looking at fee setting ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To receive the minutes of the meeting of County Council held on 7 December 2021 (copy attached).
The minutes of Full Council held on 7 December 2021 were submitted.
Item 9 – Notice of Motion – Councillor Gwyneth Kensler stated that it should read “Councillor Graham Timms proposed that the question be put”.
Cllr Arwel Roberts – Petition re: Abergele Road, Rhuddlan. A response had been received but not the one I wanted. I hope they will reconsider the situation because people with disabilities live along that road and they have to travel far just to cross that road. We must remember people less fortunate than ourselves who are in wheelchairs so, hopefully, the County Council and Officers will look at the matter again.
RESOLVED that, subject to the above, the minutes of Full Council held on 7 December 2021 be confirmed as a correct record.
To consider a report by the Head of Finance and Property (copy attached).
The Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets, Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, introduced the Budget 2022/23 – Final Proposals report (previously circulated).
The Council was legally required to set a balanced and deliverable budget before the start of each financial year and to set the resulting level of Council Tax to allow bills to be sent to residents.
The Draft Local Government Settlement for 2022/23 had been received by the council on 21 December 2021 and resulted in a positive settlement of 9.2%, compared to the Welsh average of 9.4%. The Final Settlement was expected on 1 March but the Welsh Government (WG) had indicated that there should be very few changes.
Within the announced figure the WG advised that there were a number of new responsibilities, not all of which had clear funding consequentials within the data. The expectations required to fund included the following:
· All pay increases for both teaching and non-teaching posts were included within the RSG;
· The responsibility to pay both in-house social care and the private sector social care the Real Living Wage;
· The core operational costs in connection with the new Corporate Joint Committee; and
· Mitigation for the fact that the Covid Hardship Fund would cease as from the end of the existing financial year.
The WG draft settlement included indicative average settlement increases of 3.5% for 2023/24 and 2.4% for 2024/25 (estimated DCC figures would be 3.3% and 2.2%). Although this was welcome from a planning perspective, it did indicate that difficult decisions would be required over the coming years.
As part of the settlement there were “transfers in” of £0.275m which had been passported to the relevant service areas as in previous years:
· Gate Fees for Regional Waste Recycling £0.109m
· Social Care Workforce Grant £0.166m
The final proposals to balance the 2022/23 budget were shown in the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) in Appendix 1.
The pressures identified amounted to £17.628m. A draft settlement of around 11% would have been required in order to fund all the pressures. The net +9.2% settlement generated £15.005m additional revenue leaving a funding gap of £2.623m. The following items were included in the proposals in order to bridge the gap:
· Fees and Charges Income Budgets had been inflated in line with agreed Fees and Charges policy which increased external income by £0.120m;
· Operational efficiencies amounted to £0.634m had been identified which were within Head Service delegated responsibility in consultation with Lead Members (shown in Appendix 2 of the report for summary by category);
· No savings had been requested from Community Support Services or Schools;
· It was recommended that the Council Tax increased by 2.95% which, along with minor changes to the Council Tax Base, would generate £1.869m additional revenue. This compared to the previous year’s increase of 3.8% and 4.3% the year prior to that.
The Section 151 Officer confirmed that work had taken place with other Local Authorities in Wales for a joint approach and the WLGA in relation to allocation for pay and the Real Living Wage in Social Care settings. The Section 151 Officer stated this to assure members regarding the figures within the report.
Councillor Paul Penlington expressed concern if council tax were to be raised by 2.95% and raised the point that approximately £14m per year was to service loans for council projects. Councillor Penlington also raised horizon scanning for capital works and enquired as to what were the capital works, what would be the cost of the works and would there be further debts due to the works.
The Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets, responded by confirming ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider a report by the Head of Finance and Property (copy attached).
The Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets, Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, introduced the Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022/2023 report (previously circulated).
Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill PROPOSED to accept the Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022/2023, SECONDED by Councillor Peter Scott.
A zoom poll took place and it was unanimously agreed to accept the report.
· Members adopt the Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations 2013 and the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Scheme)(Wales)(Amendment) Regulations 2022 in respect of the 2022/2023 financial year
· Members approve the discretionary elements of the scheme, shown in section 4.4 for 2022/2023 financial year.
AT THIS JUNCTURE (11.55 A.M.) THERE WAS A 20 MINUTE BREAK
THE MEETING RECONVENED AT 12.15 P.M.
Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Brian Jones for consideration by Full Council (copy attached).
Councillor Brian Jones withdrew the Notice of Motion.
Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Paul Penlington for consideration by Full Council (copy attached).
Councillor Paul Penlington put forward the Notice of Motion for consideration by Full Council –
“That this council tasks officers to seek additional Welsh Government funding in order to fund a complete re-build of Prestatyn High School”
At this juncture Councillor Penlington informed members that he wished to amend the wording of the Notice of Motion slightly.
The Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services confirmed this would be acceptable.
Councillor Penlington read the amendment as follows –
“This Council tasks officers to seek additional Welsh Government funding in order to fund a complete re-build of Prestatyn High School based on earlier designs drawn up for the 21st Century Schools programme that modernised to meet the current needs of secondary pupils of Prestatyn and our climate change and ecological emergency declaration”.
Councillor Penlington PROPOSED the Notice of Motion, SECONDED by Councillor Glenn Swingler.
The Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts explained procedure in place was that the Modernising Education Board assessed the condition of all schools in Denbighshire and that was the process which had been in place for the past 14 years. Over £2m had been spent at Prestatyn High School to address urgent areas which had included refurbishment of laboratories, heating upgrade, new windows, new toilets etc. The standard construction costs for a complete new school together with net carbon costs would be in the region of £55million. Therefore, the cost of the feasibility study alone would cost £850k. The Lead Member confirmed that he was not aware of plans which had been drawn up for a new building for Prestatyn High School or a feasibility study in 2017. He would confirm with officers.
Councillor Hilditch-Roberts stated that the way forward, taking into account the sums involved it is important the council had a process to determine the priority order for investment in school buildings. The process is evidence based, taking into account the respective needs of all schools to ensure that those in greatest need are dealt with first. A comprehensive condition survey of all schools was undertaken in order to identify the schools that required improvements. This was undertaken prior to the submission of the 21st Century Band B proposals to Welsh Government which had been put forward to Cabinet and Scrutiny on numerous occasions. This survey was considered by the Modernising Education Board and provided evidence based information upon which they could recommend the priority order of schools which needed work.
Councillor Hilditch-Roberts PROPOSED an amendment in light of the Notice of Motion that the Modernising Education Board be asked to review the condition surveys of all schools to see whether those had been significantly changed to the condition of the school estate which would call into question that the current priority order of schools is still current and correct. The outcome of this review could be reported to Cabinet together with any recommendations the Modernising Education Board may have as a result.
Councillor Jeanette Chamberlain-Jones SECONDED the amendment put forward by Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts.
The Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services clarified that debate should take place on the amendment and if the amendment was carried then that would become the Notice of Motion which would be voted on as the substantive Notice of Motion. If the amendment was not agreed members would refer back to the Notice of Motion as put forward by Councillor Penlington.
Councillor Paul Penlington supported the amendment put forward by Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts.
The zoom poll vote took place on the amendment put forward by the Lead Member for Education, ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Tony Flynn for consideration by Full Council (copy attached).
Councillor Tony Flynn withdrew his Notice of Motion.
Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Rachel Flynn for consideration by Full Council (copy attached).
Councillor Rachel Flynn put forward the Notice of Motion for consideration by Full Council –
Councillor Flynn stated that the Notice of Motion was put forward on behalf of the Womens Cross Party Group of the Women in Politics Group.
“We ask that Denbighshire County council take a more decisive stance with its grievance policy and procedure. In light of the updated diversity and equalities act, we ask that the council forms a new internal procedure to ensure the behaviour of councillors can be held to account.
We also ask that the council reviews it policies and procedure for reviewing grievances concerning bulling and harassment, involving Councillors, Officers, and others whether it be virtually, physically or on social media.’
1. That the Democratic Services Committee look at the current grievance process to ensure it is fit for purpose.
2. That the council create a diversity and ethics working group to examine how the council protects and promotes diversity and good ethics in Wales, including awareness of how women are still being treated unequally and the effects of misogyny and sexual discrimination on women.
3. That we are more forthright as a council in tackling unacceptable behaviour in any Community, Town or County Council forum.”
Councillor Rachel Flynn PROPOSED the Notice of Motion, SECONDED by Councillor Barry Mellor.
The Leader, Councillor Hugh Evans responded by thanking Councillor Flynn for bringing forward the Notice of Motion. As Lead Member for Equality and Leader of the Council he was committed the Council continually strived to place equality at the heart of all work carried out. The Council was committed to diversity and made a declaration in September 2021 to commit to become a diverse council and the Democratic Services Committee would, later this week, consider a draft action plan related to some of the barriers to participate in local democracy. In terms of disputes between members, a new legal duty on Group Leaders would take effect after the May elections to promote and maintain high standards of conduct amongst their Groups.
In addition, the recent independent Penn Review of ethical framework in Wales, had reported to the Wales Government and had made recommendations regarding the use of ambit of local resolution processes. The Government’s response to the Review was awaited, and details of any proposals to change guidance and/or legislation as a result.
Councillor Hugh Evans responded to the recommendations contained within the Notice of Motion as follows -
1. This recommendation refers to the local resolution process used to try and resolve issues between members of the County Council on an informal basis without the need to involve the Ombudsman. Councillor Evans agreed there should be a review of the process. Councillor Evans PROPOSED that a Working Group of members be established to undertake a review of work with the Standards Committee and the Monitoring Officer to develop a suitable process in the context of the new duty to which he referred, and any changes introduced as a result of the Penn Review.
2. The Council did, at one time, have an Equalities Group which was removed as part of an agenda to mainstream equalities issues. However, there is ongoing work being done by the Business Improvement and Modernisation team to consider the establishment of an Equalities Group and Councillor Evans proposed that the work should continue and take into account any overlap between equalities issues and the ethical framework.
3. The Council would provide support, training and guidance to Town and Community Councils but it had no direct role in resolving disputes within those Councils other than through the Ombudsman ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
To consider a report by the Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services (copy attached) to seek the appointment of a Young Persons’ Champion.
The Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services introduced the Appointment of Young Person’s Champion report (previously circulated).
On 7th December 2021 Council resolved to create the role of Young Persons’ Champion in accordance with the role description attached as Appendix 1.
Nominations had been sought from the political groups in order that Council may elect a member to be appointed as Young Person’s Champion.
Councillor Joan Butterfield nominated Councillor Cheryl Williams, seconded by Councillor Brian Blakeley.
Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill nominated Councillor Rachel Flynn, seconded by Councillor Peter Scott.
A vote by zoom poll took place and the results were as follows -
Councillor Cheryl Williams – 19
Councillor Rachel Flynn – 15
Therefore, it was
RESOLVED that Councillor Cheryl Williams be appointed as the Young Person’s Champion.
To consider the Council’s forward work programme (copy attached).
The Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services introduced the Council Forward Work Programme together with the Council Briefing Forward Work Programme (previously circulated).
It was stated that it was normal practice not to hold Full Council during the pre-election period which was due to commence on 18 March and, therefore, the Council meeting due to take place on 5 April would be cancelled.
14 March 2022 – Special Council and Council Briefing were to take place.
RESOLVED that, subject to the above, the Council and Council Briefing Forward Work Programme be approved and noted.
THE MEETING CONCLUDED AT 1.15 P.M.