Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Ruthin and by Video Conference
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jeanette Chamberlain-Jones.
The Scrutiny Co-ordinator informed the Committee that since the publication of the agenda and reports for the meeting the Independent Group had made some changes to its membership on the Committee – Councillors Hugh H Evans and Huw Hilditch-Roberts had replaced Councillors Bobby Feeley and David Williams as representatives on the Committee.
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
No interests of a personal or prejudicial nature were declared.
To appoint a Vice-Chair for Partnerships Scrutiny Committee for the municipal year 2023/24 (copy of Role Description attached).
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 matters of an urgent nature had been drawn to the Chair or the Scrutiny Co-ordinator’s attention prior to the commencement of the meeting.
To receive the minutes of the Partnerships Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 9 February 2023 (copy enclosed).
The minutes of the Partnerships Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 9 February 2023 were submitted. The Committee:
Resolved: that the
minutes of the meeting held on the 9 February 2023 be received and approved as
a true and correct record of the proceedings.
No matters were raised in relation to the accuracy or the contents of the minutes.
To consider a report by the Scrutiny Co-ordinator (copy attached - which includes some confidential appendices) the purpose of which is to seek the Committee, in accordance with the Council’s Call-In Procedure Rules, to review the decision taken by Cabinet on 25th April 2023.
10.15am – 11.15am
The Chair welcomed Members, Officers and
the Leader, Councillor Jason McLellan to the meeting. Members were provided
with background information and reasoning for the call in
Members were reminded of the reasons for
the call in as stated in the report:
“An allocation of £25.6 million had been
made to Denbighshire through the UK Prosperity Fund. An open and transparent
process must be adhered to for the allocation of those funds”.
“Lack of understanding of the application
process and shortlisting process. There was no evidence of a scoring matrix and
was described as and art not a science. No sufficient
evidence on how projects had been awarded and approved. A lack of evidence
aligning the process with the UK Government guidelines. No evidence of a right
of appeal for applicants or extra information gathering to support the
applications. Lack of consultation with all Members throughout the process”.
The Scrutiny Co- ordinator
provided Members with a detailed description of the call in
The Chair allowed all signatories present
at the meeting to put forward their reasoning for calling in the Cabinet
Signatories explained to the Committee
that the reason for the Call In was to fully understand the process for
applying, shortlisting and awarding the Shared
Prosperity Fund (SPF) monies, it was not to hold up the process in any way.
They highlighted their disappointment in the lack of communication that Members
had received regarding the process and therefore this had led to minimal
opportunities for Members to contribute.
The Signatories expressed their concerns
over the matrix and scoring system and stated that clarity on this would be
beneficial. They stated that Members felt isolated from the process and were of
the view that many opportunities throughout the process to gain Member
involvement had been missed. The discussions continued by signatories
questioning the deliverability of the projects that had moved to the next stage
of the SPF process.
Signatories continued to stress that they
were disappointed by the lack of transparency of the process and the lack of
communication with Members. They had signed the call-in request because they
felt unsure how to answer potential questions from residents in and applicants
in their wards due to the lack of information available to them.
Responding to the points raised by the
signatories the Leader stated that he understood the motivations of the
signatories in that members should be able to answer questions from residents
and applicants within their wards with confidence.
The Leader continued by explaining that
the process adhered to the UK Government guidelines which had previously been
set out. The timescales given for the SPF were tight and the Group Leaders and
the Chairs of all Member Area Groups (MAGs) were written to and asked to
circulate the relevant information to Members (copy of the latter e-mail, dated
15 February 2023, had been included at Annex C to the report). 48 organisations
were contacted to be involved with the SPF with 12 organisations responding. 1
Elected Member responded to a particular project with no other responses being
received from other Members.
The Leader explained that all guidelines
were adhered to. Information regarding the SPF was available via social media
outlets and on the Denbighshire County Council website, they stated that the
SPF was there to be engaged with. At the
close of the application stage the Fund was oversubscribed, with the
applications far outstripping the funding available.
The Head of Housing and Communities informed Members that the application process was published online and there was a short list developed according to the availability of funds and in ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider a report (copy attached) from the Lead Officer – Community Housing which details the extent of the Council’s role and responsibilities in relation to mould, condensation and disrepair matters in Registered Social Landlords and private rented sector properties in Denbighshire.
11.30am – 12.15pm
Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services gave a brief
background on Mould and Condensation in Housing Association (RSL) Housing Stock
and Private Rented Sector Properties. He began by explaining that it was very
much team effort, working closely across many services.
The report was based on the management of
mould and condensation in properties owned and managed by registered social
landlords and in the private rented sector. The report followed on from a
recent report regarding the same issue within Council housing stock.
There were two main aspects to the report as
To provide an update on the situation in the
Private Rented Sector.
To provide an update on the positive actions
that had been taken by Registered Social Landlords to address and respond to
the current situation.
It was explained that the RSLs were
responsible to their own Boards and to Welsh Government in relation to the
management of the standards of their own properties.
The Public Protection, Regeneration and
Economic Development Manager (PPREDM) guided Members through the elements of
the report relating to the private rented sector and the work that was ongoing
via the Council’s Public Protection Team and Housing Enforcement Officers. The housing enforcement legislation was
set out in the Housing Act 2004. Any enforcement that was taken, was enforced
under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System
(HHSRS). The process set out in the guidelines allowed time for landlords to take action before any enforcement was taken.
Enforcement action figures over the last 4 years (previously circulated)
had gradually reduced with the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard and the
Renting Homes Wales Act potentially being contributing factors.
In conjunction with the commencement of the Renting Homes (Wales) Act
2016 earlier in 2023, the Housing Enforcement Team had made a change to the
complaint investigation process to ensure that the landlord was made aware of
any complaint by their tenants, in order to give them
the opportunity to address the disrepair issues before formally involving the
Council’s Housing Enforcement Team. If after 21 days the problem still existed,
or significant progress had not
been made, then Housing Enforcement would arrange to carry out an inspection.
The new process applied to all complaints received except for emergencies which
were prioritised and inspected as soon as practicable.
The PPREDM continued to explain that in
respect of RSLs very few complaints had been received. Where such complaints
were received, Housing Enforcement would advise the tenant in the first
instance to contact their housing provider so that their landlord had the
opportunity to address their concerns directly. To date no cases with RSLs had
required any further escalation or involvement.
The Strategic Planning and Housing
Manager explained the second aspect of the report relating to the positive
actions that had been taken by RSLs. Two out of the six local RSLs had provided
the Council with a copy of their response to Welsh
Government to reassure the Committee that, as responsible landlords they had
responded to the issue. A brief summary of their
response was given as follows: -
· All reports
of damp, mould and condensation were recorded, inspected and the case load
monitored by a senior officer with reports to senior leadership teams and
boards of management.
processes were in place to manage all reports from households to ensure prompt
action was taken.
· The most at risk households and properties had been targeted for
intervention and support.
· All frontline
staff had received training and awareness to be able to identify and report any
issues with mould and condensation.
· Partnerships to deliver advice to ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To consider a report by the Scrutiny Coordinator (copy enclosed) seeking a review of the committee’s forward work programme and updating members on relevant issues.
12.15pm – 12.30pm
The Scrutiny Co-ordinator introduced the
report and appendices
(previously circulated) seeking Members’ review of the Committee’s work
programme and which provided an update on relevant issues.
next Partnerships Scrutiny Committee meeting was due to be held on the 6 July
2023. There were 3 substantial items listed for the next Partnerships Scrutiny
Committee on the 6 July 2023:
Wales Economic Ambition Board Annual Report
Adult Safeguarding Annual Report
Re-ballot for potential Rhyl Business
Improvement District (BID) 2nd term (deferred with the Chair’s permission from the current meeting’s
At the April meeting of the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice Chairs Group it was
requested that a report on the Setting of Affordable Rent Levels be brought to the Partnerships
Scrutiny Committee. It was also requested that a representative from the
Private Landlord Sector be invited to the meeting. The Scrutiny Co-ordinator
had spoken with the Strategic Planning and Housing Manager, and they were
hopeful to present a report at Committee’s October meeting.
Members were reminded of the Service
Challenge Groups (information
previously circulated) and due to the restructure of Services there were 3 more
groups that required representatives from the Committee these were: -
Support Service: Performance, digital and Assets
Support Service: People
Martyn Hogg nominated himself for the representative role on the Corporate
Support Service: Performance, Digital and Assets Group and Members were in favour.
No other expressions of interest were
received for Housing and Communities and Corporate Support Service: People
Service Challenge Groups and it
was agreed that representatives for these Groups would be sought at the
Committee’s next meeting.
At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee:
(i) subject to the amendments and potential inclusions outlined above and during the course of the meeting, to confirm the Committee’s Forward Work programme as set out in Appendix 1; and
(ii) to appoint Councillor Martyn Hogg as the Committee’s representative on the Corporate Support Service: Performance, Digital and Assets Service Challenge Group, and that expressions of interest in serving as the Committee’s representatives on the Housing & Communities and the Corporate Support Service: People Service Challenge Groups to be sought at the Committee’s next meeting.
FEEDBACK FROM COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES
To receive any updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups.
Councillor Peter Scott reported on a meeting of the Capital Scrutiny Group (CSG) which he had recently attended as the Committee’s representative. As this was the Group’s inaugural meeting it had received an overview of the new capital process and formally approved its terms of reference. Members also received information on the funding available for the Medium Term Capital Strategy and considered capital bids relating to Nantclwyd y Dre and the WG’s Empty Homes Grant Scheme. In addition, information was presented to the Group on potential future schemes for funding it would be expected to consider and the progress achieved to date in relation to Levelling Up and Shared Prosperity Fund projects.
The Chair thanked Members for their contributions and
comments at the meeting.
Meeting concluded at 1.25pm