Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Conference Room 1a, County Hall, Ruthin
No apologies were received.
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
Councillors Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Geraint LLoyd-Williams, Barry Mellor, Gareth Sandilands and Martyn Holland declared a personal interest in Agenda item 4 - Key stage 4 Examination results as they are all School Governors in local schools.
Councillor Colin Hughes declared a personal interest in Agenda item 6 - Bridge Maintenance Strategy as Cadw was discussed and he is currently employed by Cadw.
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.
To consider a joint report by the Principal Education Manager and GwE Senior Challenge Advisor (copy attached) providing information regarding the performance of school teacher assessments and external examinations.
9.35am – 10.15am
The Head of Education introduced the report (previously circulated) which presented the Committee with the verified performance data on Denbighshire schools’ external examinations results at Key Stage 4 (KS4) and post 16. Benchmarked information was also contained in the report on the Authority’s performance in comparison to other local authorities. GwE’s Senior Challenge Advisor was welcomed to the meeting and he explained the data contained in the report, advising that the county had improved its overall performance in relation to the main KS4 results indicator and met the set target. He advised that due to national changes to the curriculum schools and local authorities were currently experiencing a period of some uncertainty, which was likely to last for up to two years. In addition, some schools had presented pupils for the new qualification a year in advance of other schools, this had impacted on overall performance particularly the Level 2 Threshold results.
Following its establishment GwE’s initial focus had been on supporting the primary education sector to improve. Consequently, this had led to a slippage in performance of secondary schools across the region. In a bid to redress this situation GwE and the local education authority had drawn-up a rapid action plan, which included the introduction of better ways of working with secondary schools to support them through curriculum changes.
Members were advised that Welsh Government (WG) reporting requirements in relation to educational data had changed for the 2015/16 year, with local authorities now being required to include in their data statistical information on the achievement of pupils Educated Other Than At School (EOTAS). However, local education authorities did not have a uniform method for measuring, collating or recording information on EOTAS pupils’ achievements, and consequently this led to some considerable disparity in the overall performance and benchmarking data. All North Wales authorities were concerned on the inconsistent approach to recording EOTAS information across Wales and as a result they and GwE were in discussions with the WG on how the reporting aspect could be improved.
Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member for Education, Head of Education, Principal Education Manager and GwE’s Senior Challenge Advisor:
· advised that there had been some significant changes within GwE recently, including a change of leadership. This had resulted in an evaluation of the organisation which had led to a re-alignment of roles and focus for the service;
· confirmed that the profile of primary education in Denbighshire was now good. The focus had now turned towards the secondary sector where teams would be established to work around individual schools to support them on their journey of improvement;
· confirmed that a strong working relationship existed between GwE and Denbighshire’s Education Service Officers. Both partners worked effectively together as one team whilst also challenging each other;
· confirmed that that local education authority tracked the attainment of each individual pupil in the county throughout their educational journey. Now that both Education and Children’s Services had been merged into one service it would be easier for officers to ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To consider a report by the Strategic Planning Team Manager and Strategic Planning Officer (copy enclosed) which provides an update on the Council’s Corporate Risk Register.
10.15am – 10.45am
Introducing the report (previously circulated), which sought the Committee’s observations on the deletions, additions and amendments to the Corporate Risk Register, the Lead Member for Finance, Corporate Plan and Performance detailed the main amendments to the Register following the recent review. He advised members that the Register was a ‘fluid’ document and officers were keeping a watching brief on the risks and on potential new risks. Potential new risks on the horizon included Brexit, Funding of specific anti-poverty and reducing deprivation programmes, and public sector reform. Not enough information was available on these areas as yet to enable the Council to determine the risks they posed and any measures that could be implemented to mitigate any risks.
In response to members’ questions the Lead Member and officers advised that:
· the Corporate Governance Committee, which had examined the Risk Register process at its meeting the previous day had been satisfied that the process was a thorough one;
· the Future of Adult In-house Social Care Task and Finish Group would continue to meet once the new Council was formed, as the work involved with transforming the delivery of in-house care service would take some considerable time to be delivered in their entirety;
· risk number DCC014 relating to Health and Safety matters would always be classed as ‘high impact’ despite all necessary measures being put in place, due to the life threatening consequences posed by inadequate health and safety measures;
· the risk identified in respect of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) (DCC021) related to the interfaces between the Council and the Health Board. Now that a Regional Partnership Board had been established the risk of poor communication and interaction, which could lead to a misalignment of priorities, had been reduced, hence the decision to reduce the risk score;
· a decision on a potential ‘new approach’ for administering the current ‘Communities First’ fund was expected from the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children on 14 February 2017. The Council was in the process of making representations to the WG on the importance of this source of funding for Denbighshire’s most deprived wards, emphasising that the Authority could utilise the funding and maximise its use for the benefit of vulnerable residents in those deprived communities, ensuring that it was used to empower them to improve their resilience and become sustainable.
Committee members highlighted a number of areas which in their view could pose some considerable risk to the Council in future. These included:
· the digital era – this would had the potential to transform the way the Council transacted all its business. The Authority would need to be ready for this change and ambitious in the way it approached it to ensure that it was not left behind;
· the cost of social care in future was expected to ‘outstrip’ the available resources. The Council would therefore need to manage this risk closely. Central Government should also be making a concerted effort to try and address resource shortages in this area; and
· risks relating to ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider a report by the Senior Engineer- Highways and Environmental Services (copy enclosed) to aid in understanding the risks that the current condition of the Country’s Highway Structure infrastructure poses, and to enable scrutiny of the Council’s proposed strategy to manage the identified risks.
11am – 11.45am
The Lead Member for Public Realm introduced the report (previously circulated) outlining the method by which the Council managed its highway structure assets and explained how it intended to manage its current backlog of work in relation to those structural assets. Via a PowerPoint presentation a Senior Engineer – from Highways and Environmental Services gave members an overview of the County’s approach to managing its Highway Structures. He outlined the definitions for the different highway structures which made up the Council’s Highways Structures estate along with the number of structures in each category:
· 150 highway bridges (53 of which were listed and a further 6 were scheduled);
· 258 culverts;
· in excess of 300 retaining walls; and
· more than 300 a Public Right (PROW) of Way bridges
If the Council had to replace all of the above it would cost it in the region of £313m. In addition to the Highway Act 1980 the Council also had a duty to maintain all scheduled or listed monuments (including bridges).
The Senior Engineer:
· outlined the Asset Management Process followed by the Council and the myriad of Advice Notes and BSEN safety standards with which it had to comply;
· detailed Denbighshire’s Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP) which set out local standards and the risk based approach adopted to the frequency of inspection – this approach, also adopted by other County Highway Authorities and the North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency, had saved the authority a substantial amount of money compared to complying with National Standards whilst not compromising asset users’ safety;
· outlined the amounts of funding allocated from within the Highway and Environmental Service’s Revenue and Block Capital budget for 2016/17 for highway structure management and advised that this equated to £445K;
· provided data on the number of structures which had been assessed as weak structures, some of which had already been placed under weight restriction orders. Details were given on the various weight restrictions usually applied on structures and the types of vehicles which would be affected by different restrictions. Whilst weight restrictions were applied on safety grounds they could potentially have an adverse effect on residents, business, community life and emergency vehicles’ access to areas and properties;
· displayed photographic evidence of different highway structures and the various types of erosion/material deterioration incurred and repair undertaken or required on the a number of structures across the county;
· advised that the appendix to the report detailed both the revenue and capital costs associated with the structures in the proposed Highway Structures Backlog Works Project. The estimated cost of this project would be circa £6m over a 10 year period and would be jointly funded from the Highway Block Capital Budget, which had been increased by approximately £320K per annum. Undertaking the project over a 10 year period would ensure that other projects funded from within the Highway Block Capital Budget would not be adversely affected too much by having funding diverted from them to the structures project. During the course of this work ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
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.
11.45am – 12.15pm
A copy of a report by the Scrutiny Coordinator (SC), which requested the Committee to review and agree its Forward Work Programme and provided an update on relevant issues, had been circulated with the papers for the meeting.
A copy of the ‘Member’s Proposal Form’ had been included in Appendix 2, Cabinet Forward Work Programme at Appendix 3, and a table summarising recent Committee resolutions and advising on progress with their implementation was attached at Appendix 4.
The Committee considered its draft Forward Work Programme for future meetings, Appendix 1, and the following amendments and additions were agreed:-
· 16th March, 2017: The Committee agreed that Lead Members be invited to attend the meeting.
· To Bring forward the report on Local Housing Strategy from 27April to the 16 March 2017 meeting.
· To incorporate a report on Library Service Standards and performance on the 16 March 2017 meeting as proposed in Appendix 2(a).
· To cancel the meeting scheduled for the 27 April 2017.
RESOLVED – that, subject to the above amendments and agreements, the Work Programme as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be approved.
FEEDBACK FROM COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES
To receive any updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups
Councillor Barry Mellor (Chair) informed the Committee he had recently become a Governor of Blessed Edward Jones R.C High School and was very optimistic that the new Chair of Governors at the school will have a positive impact.
Meeting concluded at 12:50