Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Ruthin and by video conference
Webcast: View the webcast
At this juncture Members of all Political Groups paid tribute to Ken Hawkins who had recently passed away.
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
Councillor Eryl Williams declared a personal interest in Item 5 as he owns a self-catering holiday cottage.
Councillor Huw Williams declared a personal interest in Item 9 as he is a grazier on Moel Famau.
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 items
Question put forward by councillor Chris Evans –
Many residents in my ward, as well as myself, have concerns that following the first minister, Mark Drakeford comments, in Wales there will be no more roads projects and Welsh Government have put a stop to over 50 new projects in Wales. Where does that leave the issue with the Llannerch bridge as we are over three years from when the bridge was taken in the storms. I am aware that it is written in the Corporate Plan but what commitment have Welsh Government to get this project moving in the right direction to link the villages of Tremierchion and Trefnant. Democratically this bridge was in much need by the majority of the residents that I represent with the cost of living of living at all the time high and the price of fuel still high in many fuel forecourts in the area this link is really much needed.
Response by Councillor Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport –
Councillor Mellor thanked Councillor Evans for his question. Replacing the bridge was an aspiration in the Corporate Plan. Talks have taken place with senior officials in the transport division of the Welsh Government. It is not a case there are to be no more road projects in Wales, Welsh Government have stated they will continue to invest in road infrastructure in cases where it is compatible with the sustainable transport hierarchy and the tests set out in the roads review. The roads review does not impact on this project because was focused on the development of new road structures. Llanerch Bridge is an existing highway asset and it is my understanding that maintenance of an existing structure is not affected by the roads review. In terms of Welsh Government commitment to the project, we have recently received a grant of £380k which enables us to go to the next phase of this project. We can now go to the detailed design stage and that would take us to the point where we have a business case for a replacement bridge. This next phase will span 2 financial years and we will, therefore, submit a further bid for funding to complete that phase in 2024/25. Welsh Government have confirmed this is a multi year scheme and that further funding to complete the next phase is part of their planning assumptions of the 2024/25 financial year subject to formal ministerial approval. Welsh Government are not going to confirm financial support for reconstruction of the bridge which is likely to cost in excess of £8million before full business case is available but there is a commitment to support the development of the full business case
Supplementary question from Councillor Chris Evans - I know the aspiration is there but where is the demand? With costs of the bridge going into millions why has WG had £155million which was not spent. It was in the bank account. Why was it not spent?
The Monitoring Officer confirmed a written response will be provided to the supplementary question.
Question put forward by member of the public, Carol Smith –
Agenda item 5, Cabinet Meeting of 19th July 2023, considered a report on legislation introduced by Welsh Government (WG) to increase the maximum level of council tax premiums for second homes and long-term empty properties.
“The reasoning for the proposals was to increase housing stock in the county and provide more housing for local people” (as stated in the Minutes). How can the Council justify raising the level of premium for private owners when: ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To receive the minutes of the meetings of County Council held on 4 July 2023 and 20 July 2023 (copy attached).
The minutes of Full Council held on 4 July and 20 July 2023 were submitted.
4 July 2023
Accuracy – Councillor Julie Matthews asked for her attendance to be noted.
Councillor Bobby Feeley requested that feedback from all Notices of Motions put forward to Full Council could be provided on an annual basis. It was agreed this could be provided.
Matters Arising –
Councillor Mark Young referred to the Blue Flag status.
Planning applications coming in for pieces of land where there are capacity issues in the sewage system. There was a recent application for which there were no objections from NRW or Welsh Water, but correspondence had recently been received stating that no objection but unlikely to be sufficient capacity in the sewage system. I understand land is allocated but I would like a meeting with the relevant officers, Lead Members about how this is approached from a Planning Committee perspective. The Chief Executive was requested to facilitate the meeting to which he agreed.
RESOLVED that, subject to the above, the minutes of the Council meetings held on 4 July and 20 July 2023 be confirmed as a correct record.
To consider a report (copy attached) to seek a decision on an increase to the current Premium rates on properties in Denbighshire.
Councillor Eryl Williams declared a personal interest as he owns a self-catering holiday cottage.
Councillor Gwyneth Ellis, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets introduced the report to seek a decision from members on an increase to the current Premium rates on these properties in Denbighshire. The proposal was presented at Cabinet Briefing on 3 July and to Cabinet on 8th July 2023, who supported the recommendations which had resulted in this report to full council for a decision.
The Authority had worked proactively to raise awareness of the consultation resulting in 2,142 page views (37 Welsh) on the Council’s page that promoted the consultation to the general public, with 898 visits directly to the consultation survey. 175 customers completed and submitted a response. 71 responses out of 175 were received from the second home owners or long term empty home owner group, and 17 from second home owners that live or work in Denbighshire.
On legal advice, a communication exercise had undertaken to make over 1,000 second home and long term empty home owners aware of the consultation. The council were conscious that proactively engaging this group could have had a disproportionate impact on the results of the consultation, and so noted the importance of identifying these groups of customers.
The recommendations made by officers had tried to strike a balance to consider how to effectively administer the scheme, whilst considering the regional context and wider legislative factors.
During discussions, the following points were raised –
(a) What measures could be put in place to show the success or not of the Policy? It was confirmed that the numbers were within the report showing how the Policy would illustrate success. Businesses run with higher occupancy rates were a good thing for the area as they brought in tourists by utilising less houses.
(b) Within the report there had been numbers of long term empty and second homes. There were no numbers showing how many holiday lets may fall foul of the 182 day limit. Could more information be available? The Valuation Office would need to take the decisions as to whether a building was able to go on to business rates.
(c) The Wellbeing Impact Assessment (WBIA), had not shown information on specifically impacted groups. There seemed to be particular groups who felt dissatisfied by the Policy and would be useful to receive more information regarding those, following which the impact as a whole, could be assessed. It was confirmed the information requested could be included.
(d) The over-arching aim was to increase affordable housing, and reduce homelessness which was rising in the area. It would be difficult to separate the number of second homes directly. There was a management pack which was monitored monthly showing the figures but would be difficult to translate the information for homelessness, and affordable housing but it was part of the Corporate Plan which would contain performance indicators. It was confirmed that a report could be put together to review the figures and show the impact of the Policy which would be presented in 2024.
(e) The validity of the consultation or survey was questioned. 175 responses had been received - 88 of which were against the new tax and 87 were in favour. The question was put forward how few responses had been received out of the 96,000 residents which made it difficult to accept the conclusion that Denbighshire residents thought there was a need to increase the Council Tax by 150%. Also it was raised that the recommendation revolved around empty homes rather than holiday homes.
The Lead Member ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
At this juncture (12:30 pm) there was a 20 minute break
The meeting re-commenced at 12:50 pm
To consider a report (copy attached) for Council to consider the Annual Report of the Scrutiny Committees for 2022/23.
Councillor Hugh Irving introduced the report outlining the activities during 2022/23.
The report was presented to County Council to comply with Section 7.4.4 of the Council’s Constitution which stipulated that the Authority’s scrutiny committees must report annually to full Council on their work and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods if appropriate.
It had been reported that 2021/22 had been very much a year of adapting to the ‘new normal’ following the pandemic. 2022/23 on the other hand had been a year of transition. Transition out of the Covid recovery measures with service delivery practices having more of familiar feel about them, although the majority of services had adapted to a greater or lesser extent and adopted new ways of working.
In 2022, 48 councillors were elected to serve on Denbighshire County Council, 23 of whom were elected for the first time.
During the year Scrutiny continued the practice of engaging with both public and private partner organisations with a view to effectively working together to improve services and outcomes for residents.
Councillor Emrys Wynne requested that information be placed in all libraries/One Stop Shops to encourage public engagement.
It was confirmed that all information was available online but paper copies of the proposal forms could be made available in libraries to aid public participation.
The Chief Executive agreed public participation was very important and also should encourage schools to become involved with the scrutiny process for items of particular interest to them.
The Chief Executive also stated that rather than putting Notices of Motions forward to Full Council, perhaps consider whether it would more appropriate for the item to be put to a Scrutiny Committee who could then make recommendations back to Full Council or Cabinet.
The following training events were to take place which were open for anyone to attend. The training events were facilitated by the WLGA.
Scrutinising Education – 18 September 2023
Scrutiny Chairing Skills - 11 October 2023
Scrutiny Questioning Skills – 3 November 2023
Councillor Huw Williams as Chair of the Communities Scrutiny Committee offered his thanks I would like to thank all staff who work behind the scenes and to Rhian Evans and Karen Evans the Scrutiny Co-ordinators.
Councillor Gareth Sandilands offered his thanks to all staff in Democratic Services who do a wonderful job and especially Rhian Evans and Karen Evans.
It was proposed and seconded that the report be approved.
Following a vote by a show of hands, it was unanimously agreed to approve the report.
RESOLVED that Council having considered the Annual Report of the Scrutiny Committee for 2022/23, approve its publication.
To consider a report (copy attached) to present the work of the Committee and its findings and observations.
Julia Hughes, Chair of Standards Committee, introduced the Annual Report of Standards Committee.
The Annual Report of Standards Committee covered the calendar year January to December 2022. It was agreed that the Chair would present the report to the Full Council, in order to keep Members informed of trends; issues in respect of compliance with the Members’ Code of Conduct generally across the County and the work of the Committee in driving up standards of behaviour at County level, but also at Town, City and Community levels.
Standards Committee main role was to monitor adherence to the Members Code of Conduct. All members were aware that their Code was founded (and should be read in conjunction with) the 7 Nolan Principles of Public Life. In Wales there were ten principles namely Selflessness, Honesty, Integrity and Propriety, Duty to uphold the law, Stewardship, Objectivity in decision making, Equality and Respect, Openness, Accountability and Leadership.
By way of reminder, Standards Committee consists of the following Member types – 2 County Councillors,4 Independent (co-opted) Members, and 1 Community Council Member (who is not also a twin hatted Member). The majority of the Members were therefore not elected, but recruited from members of the public as per the requirements of legislation in Wales. Following the May 2022 elections a new chair and vice chair were in place for the Council term and a new lay member recruited.
During 2022 the Committee met on 4 occasions.
Training events in respect of Ethics and the Code of Conduct have been taking place in consultation with Standards Committee who fully support and encourage attendance by all elected members – via online and face to face sessions for County Councillors and Town City and Community Council Members.
During the year in question the established ‘North and Mid Wales Standards Forum’ has been formally replaced by an All Wales ‘National Standards Committee Forum’. The National Standards Committee Forum met for the first time on the 8th December 2022 in order to agree Terms of Reference and appoint a Chair and Vice Chair.
During 2022 there had been no Standards Committee Determinations (hearings) as to whether there had been a breach of the Code of Conduct.
All members approved the Annual Report of Standards Committee and thanked the Chair, Julia Hughes for all her work.
RESOLVED that members note the contents of the report.
To consider a Notice of Motion by Councillor Jon Harland on behalf of the Green Party (copy attached).
Councillor Jon Harland put forward the following Notice of Motion on behalf of the Green Party –
● Is concerned about the number of cases reported to the RSPCA each year, regarding pets given as prizes via fairgrounds, social media, and other channels
● Is concerned for the welfare of those animals that are being given as prizes
● Recognises that many cases of pets being as prizes may go unreported each year
● Supports a move to ban the giving of live animals as prizes, in any form, on Denbighshire land
The Council agrees to:
● Ban outright the giving of live animals as prizes, in any form, on Denbighshire land.
● Write to the UK Government, urging an outright ban on the giving of live animals as prizes on both public and
A vote took place by a show of hand and members were unanimously in agreement to the Notice of Motion
RESOLVED that members agree to the Notice of Motion
To consider a Notice of Motion by Councillor Huw Williams (copy attached).
Councillor Huw Williams put forward a Notice of Motion –
‘That all dogs are kept on leads on Denbighshire owned and managed Common grazing land excluding sheep dogs owned by grazers’
The Notice of Motion was proposed and seconded.
A vote took place by a show of hands and was unanimously approved.
RESOLVED that members agree to the Notice of Motion.
To consider a Notice of Motion by Councillor Hugh Irving (copy attached).
Councillor Hugh Irving put forward the following Notice of Motion –
‘Denbighshire County Council continues to consult with members and the general public on the implementation of the 20 mph default speed limit proposals and officers prepare a report for members on the methodology as to how the decision to only nominate five roads throughout Denbighshire for exemption was made. In particular how the general public were made aware that applications for exemption could be made.
The Council confirm that they will closely monitor and keep members informed of the impact the proposals are having on Police and emergency service response times, retained fire fighter call out times and general traffic flows.
That the Council confirm that they will engage with Members on these concerns through the Member Area Groups and the Scrutiny process and that requests for further exemptions or consideration of any other issues regarding the new limits are promptly dealt with.’
Councillor Martyn Hogg proposed an amendment that if the Notice of Motion were to be passed that the wording of the second paragraph be amended as follows –
The Council confirm that they will closely monitor and keep members informed of any impact of the proposals both negative and positive.
The amendment was proposed and seconded.
A vote took place for the amendment of the Notice of Motion by a show of hands. The majority were in favour and 1 member voted against.
The amended Notice of Motion now became the substantive Motion and a vote took place by a show of hands.
The majority were in favour and 1 member voted against.
RESOLVED that members agree to the amended Notice of Motion.
To consider the Council’s forward work programme (copy attached).
The Monitoring Officer introduced the Council’s Forward Work Programme.
RESOLVED that the Council’s Forward Work Programme be noted.
THE MEETING CONCLUDED AT 2.05 P.M.