Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Conference Room 1a, County Hall, Ruthin

No. Item




Councillors Meirick Davies, Colin Hughes, Dewi Owens and Joe Welch




Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.


No declarations of interest had been raised.




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 had been raised.




To receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 9 June 2016 (copy attached).


The minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 9 June 2016 were submitted.


Matters Arising –


Page 8 – Item No. 5 Minutes: BT Superfast Cymru Rollout in Denbighshire – Councillor Gareth Sandilands expressed concern that the Council had issued a press statement regarding its disappointment with the Welsh Government’s response to the request for it to share the map identifying superfast fibre optic ‘not spots’ in Denbighshire.  He felt it would have been more productive for the Council to engage in dialogue with Welsh Government on the matter rather than go public.  Officers advised that the Leader had written to the Minister again requesting the information so that the Council could inform residents on superfast broadband availability.  The Minister’s response was still awaited.


Page 9 – Item 6 Corporate Plan Performance Report: Quarter 4 2015/16 – In response to concerns raised at the previous meeting the Highway Operations and Streetscene Manager (South) was in attendance to brief members on the situation regarding the grass cutting contracts for the county’s lawned cemeteries.  He advised that both contractors engaged to undertake the grass cutting work at the county’s seven lawned cemeteries had ceased to trade.  As a result the Council’s Streetscene Team had assumed responsibility for the work for the remainder of the 2016/17 financial year.  He confirmed that problems had been encountered with one of the contractors during the first cut as they had not undertaken the work to the standard specified in the contract.  All problems relating to the work undertaken by the contractors had been rectified by the Streetscene staff and the Cemeteries Officer.  Discussions were currently underway within Highways and Environmental Services on the most appropriate method for delivering grass cutting services at the cemeteries for the 2017/18 financial year.  The Service was experiencing financial pressures with respect to cemeteries income recently following the opening of the new crematorium at St. Asaph, and those pressures would need to be factored into any future budget discussion and decisions.  The Lead Member for Modernisation and Housing advised that the Council’s Housing service had a separate grass cutting contract which seemed to be delivering to a satisfactory level.  She therefore suggested that officers from other services should explore whether it was feasible for that contract to be extended to include cemeteries or could benefit from a similar contract.  Councillors Ray Bartley and Arwel Roberts reiterated some of the problems encountered at Denbigh and Rhuddlan Cemeteries and had been pleased with the way in which the Streetscene Team had responded to the issues raised.  It was hoped that the current standard of maintenance would continue.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 2016 be received and approved as a correct record.




To consider a report by the Lead Officer – Community Housing (copy attached) seeking members’ views on the performance outcome for the re-letting of Council homes and their support for the approach adopted by the Council and associated revised performance target.

9.40 a.m. – 10.10 a.m.

Additional documents:


Councillor Barbara Smith, Lead Member for Modernisation and Housing introduced the report (previously circulated) on the Council’s performance in re-letting Council homes and the approach taken with respect to delivering better outcomes for tenants rather than meeting the designated performance indicator.  The report was being presented in response to a request from an elected member who had concerns that the Council was not meeting the target for re-letting properties as set out in the Corporate Plan.


The Head of Facilities, Housing and Assets and the Lead Officer – Community Housing explained that whilst the Council had met the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) the work to meet that standard had centred around specific aspects of social housing, i.e. kitchens, bathrooms, windows, heating systems, etc.  Following the conclusion of that work a review had been undertaken on the standards of homes re-let by the Council to tenants.  That review had concluded that whilst WHQSs had been met, to meet the performance indicator for re-letting council housing the authority was in a many cases re-letting houses in a poor state of maintenance both internally and externally.  This was unfair on the new tenants, who more often than not did not have sufficient disposable income to improve them to a reasonable standard of decoration, etc.  Powerpoint slides were shown to the committee to illustrate the condition of some of the houses re-let to tenants in the past and those re-let now that the council had adopted the approach of ensuring that its properties were re-let in appropriate standards.  The rationale behind the approach was that re-letting properties in a good state of repair and decoration both inside and outside, including neat and tidy gardens, would encourage the tenants to take pride in their homes and also reduce anti-social behaviour in some areas.  The cost to the Council of refurbishing these properties averaged circa £1k per property, money to undertake the work was available in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).  Officers explained the process for decanting council properties and co-ordinating the required maintenance and decorating work to bring them up to the required standard prior to re-letting them.  At present this was taking 43 days, however in future it was anticipated that this would reduce to circa 35 days which was still higher than the 26 day target set in the Corporate Plan.  With a view to seeking assurances that a new target of 35 days was feasible and that the new approach taken with respect of re-letting Council properties was as lean as it could be in order to deliver better outcomes for tenants, the Housing Service had commissioned Internal Audit to review the processes involved.


In response to members’ questions the Lead Member and officers advised that –


·         a strict monitoring process was now in place to ensure that tenants were taking pride in their properties and maintaining them accordingly

·         the Council let in the region of 200 properties per year

·         it was anticipated in time that the time taken to re-let properties would reduce as it was hoped that tenants who had entered into tenancy agreements on properties which were of a high quality standard would take pride in them and vacate them in due course in a reasonable condition

·         the Service had taken a conscious decision to use higher specification materials when refurbishing council properties as it felt that superior quality products would pay dividends in future and realise value for money in the long run

·         the Head of Service regularly visited council properties with a member of the Housing Team

·         the minimum performance indicator for re-letting social housing was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



To consider a report by the Head of Planning and Public Protection and Public Protection Manager (copy attached) on the progress made against the Council’s Dog Fouling Strategy and seeking members’ support for the work undertaken to tackle dog fouling in the county.

10.10 a.m. – 10.40 a.m.

Additional documents:


Councillor David Smith, Lead Member for Public Realm introduced the report and associated appendices (previously circulated) on progress made against the Council’s Dog Fouling Strategy and detailed the number of reported incidents and known hot spots.


Members were advised that the Dog Fouling Strategy formed an integral part of the Council’s corporate priority of ensuring clean and tidy streets.  The problem of dog fouling was raised with councillors by residents on a regular basis and whilst the Council could never eliminate the problem, recent data was definitely showing a reduction in the number of reported incidents and considered a success overall.  Denbighshire had been the first Council to engage Kingdom Security Ltd to undertake certain aspects of environmental crime enforcement work, however five out of the six North Wales authorities now commissioned them to undertake enforcement work on their behalf and UK wide they were engaged by 35 authorities.  Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member, Public Protection and Streetscene Service officers advised that –


·         Kingdom were managed on the Council’s behalf by the Council’s Senior Community Safety Enforcement Officer and any queries/complaints regarding their work should be directed to him

·         currently there were no enforceable prohibition orders relating to dogs on beaches, there may be historical by-laws and the only way to enforce these was by instigating court proceedings

·         with a view to improving the Council’s enforcement powers in relation to dog fouling officers were proposing to introduce Pubic Space Protection Orders (PSPOs).  These Orders, which Councils could make under powers conferred on them in the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, could include excluding dogs from certain land and/or require dogs to be on a lead in certain areas.  The Council expected to be in a position to consult on the proposed Orders before the end of the year, as officers were at present in the process of identifying the most appropriate areas for designation within the Orders

·         despite numerous requests to the Police they had not engaged with the Council for the purpose of enforcement action in relation to dog fouling, they were also very reluctant to share information with the Council on dog fouling incidents

·         concerns relating to dangerous dogs should be referred to the Police as it was a criminal matter rather than a civil enforcement matter

·         where there was a high concentration of dog fouling incidents officers would highlight the fact by marking the pavements with yellow chalk once the Streetscene officers had cleared up the mess.  This approach formed part of the promotional campaign to reduce dog fouling

·         ‘hotspots’ were designated based on the number of incidents reported by councillors and/or members of the public in specific areas and recorded on the CRM system

·         during the last six months approximately 82 complaints had been received by the Council against Kingdom, this equated roughly to less than 2% of the Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued for environmental crime offences.  Upon receipt of a complaint the Council’s Senior Community Safety Enforcement Officer would review all the evidence submitted, including footage from the Enforcement Officer’s body camera, before determining whether or not to uphold the complaint.  In all cases he would write to the complainant outlining his decision and the basis of his determination

·         if complaints against staff employed by Kingdom were judged to be founded the Senior Community Safety Enforcement Officer would inform Kingdom and they would deal with them in accordance with the terms of the Council’s contract with them.  Staff had been removed out of the area via this procedure during the term of the Council’s contract with Kingdom

·         the Public Protection  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



To consider a report by the Strategic Planning Team Manager (copy attached) seeking members’ views on the latest version of the Corporate Risk Register.

11.00 a.m. – 11.30 a.m.

Additional documents:


Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Corporate Plan and Performance introduced the report (previously circulated) on the June 2016 review of the Council’s Corporate Risk Register.


The Lead Member detailed the main issues highlighted within the report and explained why the risk categorisation of some had been amended and others had been removed or scaled down to Service risks rather than corporate risks.


In response to members’ questions the Lead Members present and Chief Executive advised that –


·         with regards to the result of the recent Referendum on European Union (EU) membership the Council had asked the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) to undertake a county by county and region by region analysis of the impact of the decision to withdraw from the EU.  This would be an extensive piece of work, and due to the UK Government uncertainties at present, it was not anticipated that a clear picture would emerge of the actual impact on local government until the autumn at the earliest.  As EU structural funds had virtually been agreed until 2020, when the new structural funds were due to be available, it was anticipated that the impact on projects already agreed in Denbighshire would be minimal

·         with regards to Corporate Risk DCC032 relating to local government reorganisation it was now clear that local government would not be reorganised in the near future, as the Welsh Government had confirmed that next year’s local authority elections would be for a 5 year council term, up to 2022.  Nevertheless, there was still a risk in relation to the financial sustainability of local government going forward

·         the risk relating to alternative service models had recently come to the fore with the conclusions of the Estyn inspection of the North Wales regional school improvement service, GwE.  Officers from Denbighshire had submitted proposals on how GwE could be reformed for the benefit of Denbighshire pupils, although there was no certainty on whether these proposals would be supported by other local education authorities who were stakeholders in GwE.  If Denbighshire was not happy with the way forward with the regional service it would give notice to withdraw.  No decision had yet been taken with respect of this, but a meeting  was scheduled with Welsh Government officials during the summer to discuss how the model could be improved

·         DCC017 – this risk had now been removed from the Corporate Risk Register and would in future be managed at a Service level as all the strategic IT implementation work relating to migration to Outlook and the telephony system had been completed.  Issues relating to elected members’ IT would be discussed at a joint IT and Democratic Services Working Group due to be established during the summer to discuss potential IT solutions and requirements for elected members post the 2017 local authority elections

·         DCC016 – this risk relating to the impact of welfare reforms having a more significant impact that originally anticipated had been removed from the Corporate Risk Register.  Nevertheless, once Universal Credit (UC) was introduced, a new risk relating to UC may be included on the Risk Register.  The Cutting Our Cloth Task and Finish Group had examined the impact of the withdrawal of the Welfare Rights Unit (WRU) and the transfer of service provision to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and concluded that the impact had not been worse than originally anticipated.  It was due to examine the matter again at its meeting at the end of July as it was eager to see what additional services/advice the CAB had been able to provide.


Rhyl Members advised that the Town Council had  ...  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.

11.30 a.m. – 11. 45 a.m.

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Coordinator submitted a report (previously circulated) seeking members’ review of the committee’s work programme and providing an update on relevant issues.


The Scrutiny Coordinator elaborated upon forthcoming items to be considered at future meetings and responded to members’ questions thereon.  She reported upon the next meeting scheduled for 29 September which included both a morning and afternoon session and emphasised the importance of members’ attendance and meeting quorum requirements.  The committee also noted that the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chair’s Group had directed the committee to scrutinise the performance of Adult Safeguarding in Denbighshire which had been included in the items for consideration at the next meeting.  It was agreed that the relevant Lead Members also be invited to attend that meeting.  Finally members’ attention was drawn to the ‘Your Voice’ report (May 2016) contained within the committee’s information brief.


RESOLVED that the forward work programme as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report be approved and the relevant Lead Members be invited to attend for their particular items at the next meeting in September.




To receive any updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups.

11.45 a.m.


Councillor Arwel Roberts reported upon the last Schools Standards Monitoring Group (SSMG) meeting advising that the two schools considered had performed very well and had been well supported by GwE.  However, during meetings of the SSMGs pupil absenteeism continued to be raised as an issue of concern.  The Scrutiny Coordinator advised that Communities Scrutiny Committee would be considering the School Absenteeism Policy at their meeting on 8 September 2016.


RESOLVED that the verbal report be received and noted.


The meeting concluded at 12.35 p.m.