Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Conference Room 1a, County Hall, Ruthin

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Barry Mellor and Colin Hughes for both sessions.  Councillors Raymond Bartley, Meirick Lloyd-Davies and Dewi Owens sent apologies for the morning session only, all three were present during the afternoon session.


In the absence of the Chair (Councillor Barry Mellor), the Vice-Chair (Councillor Arwel Roberts) chaired the Committee’s proceedings.





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


Co-opted Members Debra Marie Houghton and John Piper declared a personal interest in Item 5, Teacher Assessments and Provisional Examination Results.




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 receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 14 July 2016 (copy attached)

9.35am – 9.40am


The minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 14 July 2016 were submitted.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2016 be received and approved as a correct record.




To consider a joint report (copy attached) by the Principal Education Manager and GwE’s Senior Challenge Advisor which seeks the Committee to review the performance of schools against previous performance and external benchmarks that are currently available, and identify any potential areas for improvement.

9.40am – 10.10am

Additional documents:


The Head of Education introduced the report (previously circulated) to provide Performance Scrutiny Committee with the information regarding the performance of Denbighshire’s schools in recent teacher assessments and external examinations.


The Senior Challenge Advisor, GwE (Conwy and Denbighshire Hub), summarised the report which detailed the result of final teacher assessments for 2015/16 and the provisional external examination results for the same period. 


During the introduction, he:


·       detailed the data contained within the report;

·       confirmed that the + / - figure for Ysgol Brynhyfryd in the unverified external examination results table should read plus and not minus 4.8%;

·       advised that Denbighshire’s results were demonstrating an overall improvement on the previous year’s results, nevertheless the majority of schools had not met the very ambitious targets they had set themselves;

·       performance in Welsh Language skills had declined in all stages of teacher assessments and because of this, GwE would be monitoring this area very closely for the foreseeable future.


Discussion took place and responding to Members’ concerns and questions, the Senior GwE Advisor, Lead Member for Education, and other senior officers:


·       advised that the number of pupils who did not achieve Core Subject Indicator (CSI) in each stage and who had not been identified as having Additional Learning Needs (ALN) were reducing.  This was because the County had detailed data on every pupil and were able to intervene at an early stage in their education.  This provided the support required to ensure that they did achieve the CSI;

·       confirmed they did have concerns with respect to the potential to lose a number of pupils from the Welsh medium sector to the English medium sector during the transition from primary to secondary education, and during the early stage of their secondary education.  Officers would be supporting pupils identified as “at risk” at this stage.  The Lead Member for Education cited Ysgol Dinas Bran’s Welsh-medium stream’s success in supporting pupils to achieve better results and outcomes;

·       outlined the process followed by schools when setting targets, emphasising that the targets were extremely ambitious and were unlikely to be met.  If a school achieved within 5% of the set target it was regarded as having met its target;

·       the majority of schools had achieved within 5% of the target they had set themselves, with Ysgol Brynhyfryd exceeding its set target by 4.8%.  However, three schools had missed their target by more than 5%.  The three schools were:

Ø  Prestatyn High School

Ø  Denbigh High School, and

Ø  Blessed Edward Jones High School.

Blessed Edward Jones High School had missed their target, despite showing a 15.4% improvement in performance on the previous year.  GwE would be working closely to support these individual schools;

·       a new Headteacher had recently been appointed to Prestatyn High School.  He had been working alongside the former Headteacher for a period of time and would be applying similar teaching strategies as the new Headteacher of Ysgol Brynhyfryd had been utilising.  The Lead Member and Officers were, therefore, confident that Prestatyn High School results would improve considerably in the future;

·       detailed GwE’s school categorisation process, where schools were given either a Red, Amber or Green (RAG) status.


The Head of Education and Members both registered their concerns about the potential detrimental effect of the RAG system.  They felt that schools awarded “green” status were at risk of not achieving their targets in future as all support from GwE would be channelled to the “red” and potentially some “amber” schools.  There was a collective feeling that all schools should receive an element of support in order to achieve continuous improvement.


Prior to the conclusion of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



To consider a report (copy attached) by the Strategic Planning and Housing Manager on the delivery of the Council’s Housing Strategy Theme 2: Creating a supply of affordable housing.

10.10am – 10.45am

Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Finance, Corporate Plan and Performance, introduced the report (previously circulated) in the absence of the Lead Member for Modernisation and Housing.  The Lead Member confirmed the report was an update to Scrutiny Members on the progress made to date in delivering the key outcomes and actions in relation to affordable housing identified in Denbighshire’s Housing Strategy.  The Strategy had been adopted by Council on 1 December 2015.


The Lead Member advised that the Housing Strategy Delivery Group regularly monitored the delivery of the Housing Strategy in its entirety, and identified solutions for addressing any barriers to delivery.  He advised that all targets in the Action Plan were on target at present.  A key strand for creating a supply of affordable housing, and the development of locality plans for social housing needs in all areas of the county, was underway.  A number of sites had been acquired for the purpose of building new homes.  In addition, properties had also been purchased with a view to increasing the number of social housing units in the county.  These purchases included former local authority houses previously sold under the “Right to Buy” scheme. 


The Strategic Planning and Housing Manager outlined the background to the Housing Strategy’s development via a PowerPoint presentation.  The five themes which made up the Strategy were:

(i)              More homes to meet local need and demand;

(ii)             Creating a supply of affordable homes;

(iii)            Ensuring safe & healthy homes;

(iv)           Homes and support for vulnerable people; and

(v)            Promoting and supporting communities.


The Strategic Planning and Housing Manager explained how the five themes had been incorporated into an action plan, and the progress to date with the implementation of themes 1 and 2.  She advised that with respect to Theme 2, 57 new properties had been enabled as affordable dwellings during 2015-16 (these comprised of 7 homebuys; 10 empty homes; 24 new builds; 6 privately financed by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and 10 leased as accommodation for homeless people).  Feedback received from residents who had benefited from these schemes had been extremely positive. 


It had been acknowledged that major housing developments, which would trigger the affordable housing provision requirement on site, had not been built in recent years due to the economic downturn.  However, there had been indications that developers were looking to build in the near future.  Therefore, the Council had produced housing site prospectuses and issued them to developers in a bid to entice them to start developing the sites. 


With a view to increasing the number of affordable housing units available throughout the county, the Council had approved a Housing Revenue Account (HRA) 30 year business plan and applied for permission to suspend the “Right to Buy” scheme.  The Planning Policy and Housing Strategy teams had also been consolidated under one Head of Service in a bid to reduce the time involved in delivering housing related projects.


Responding to Members’ questions the Lead Member for Public Realm, the Lead Member for Finance, Corporate Plan and Performance, and Officers:


·       advised that the new staffing structure in place should contribute towards the delivery of the Housing Strategy within the intended timescale;

·       confirmed that some residents were now objecting to planning applications submitted for large developments, but as the sites had already been designated under the Local Development Plan (LDP), as housing development land, they had insufficient grounds to object to the application unless they veered considerably from the agreed designation or major safety concerns came to light;

·       advised that now the Council had opted out of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Subsidy System and was administering its  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

At this juncture (10.55 a.m.) there was a 20 minute break.


The meeting reconvened at 11.15 a.m.




YOUR VOICE REPORT - QUARTER 1 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To consider a report (copy attached) by the Corporate Complaints Officer which seeks the Committee to review the Council’s performance in dealing with customer feedback and learning from complaints.

11am – 11.30am

Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Customers and Libraries introduced the report (previously circulated) to provide an overview of compliments, suggestions and complaints received by Denbighshire County Council under the Council’s Customer feedback policy “Your Voice” during Q1 2016/17.


The Interim Principal Manager: Support Services detailed the reports contents and explained the areas of performance highlighted within the report.  Responding to Members’ questions, the Lead Member, Corporate Director: Communities, and officers advised that:


·       if the Committee had concerns on the number of complaints received with respect to services administered on the Council’s behalf by external providers e.g. Civica, Kingdom etc., or their performance in dealing with those complaints, the Committee could invite the external providers to a future meeting to discuss those concerns.  Members were advised that the types of services delivered by these providers tended to be “unpopular” services and, therefore, they were more likely to register a higher number of complaints.  Officers undertook to provide data on the number of complaints lodged against the Revenues and Benefits Service whilst it was part of the Finance Department in comparison to the number received since it had been under the management of Civica;

·       enquiries would be made as to whether appeals lodged against the issue of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for parking offences were classed as “complaints”;

·       with regard to potential financial risk to the Council having outstanding unresolved complaints, the Committee had been informed that there would always be a risk that the Public Services Ombudsman may impose a fine on the Council.  However, the Council required to balance this risk against the need to obtain a satisfactory resolution that would eventually lead to improving things for the customer and residents generally in the long-term;

·       all complaints had to be logged as individual complaints, even if they were lodged by the same individual.  Nevertheless, the Council did have a Difficult Customer Policy for the purpose of dealing with vexatious complaints.


Attached to the report at Appendix 2 was the Social Services Customer Feedback Annual Report for 2015/16.  The Corporate Director: Communities, advised that this was a key report for the Service as it summarised the Service’s effectiveness in dealing with feedback and complaints and learning from them.  This was now a key requirement of Social Services’ work as per the provisions of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. 


An extract from a recent report published by the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales was read out by the Interim Principal Manager: Support Services, in which it was reported that the number of complaints lodged with the Ombudsman against Denbighshire had increased by 10 last year in comparison to the previous year. 


The number lodged in relation to Social Services in Denbighshire had increased to 7, which had been 2 above the national average.  There had also been 5 code of conduct complaints against Denbighshire Councillors, none of which had proceeded to investigation by the Ombudsman.  Responding to the statistic relating to the number of complaints lodged against Denbighshire’s Social Services Department, the Corporate Director: Communities, advised that these related to the implementation of an unpopular policy.  In response to complaints received, the Service had listened to families and were working with them to address the situation.


Following detailed discussion, the Committee:


RESOLVED that subject to the above observations, to receive the report on the Council’s performance in dealing with complaints, compliments and suggestions under the “Your Voice” corporate procedure during the first quarter of the 2016/17 year.




To consider a report (copy attached) by the Locality Manager on the impact of local safeguarding arrangements and practices in Denbighshire, and the progress made in response to areas of concern raised by the Regulator in its Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2014-15.

11.30am – 12pm

Additional documents:


The Head of Community Support Services introduced the report (previously circulated) to provide Members with an overview of the impact of local Safeguarding arrangements and practice and to review progress in this key area of work over the last 12 months.  Members were also to refer to data which reflected figures submitted by the Local Authority on an annual basis to the Welsh Government Data Unit.  The report also showed the progress made in response to the areas of concern raised by CSSIW in their Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2014-15.


He advised that the number of referrals received during 2015/16 under the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) arrangements had been similar to the number received during the preceding year.  The majority of referrals did not pass the threshold for further investigation.   However, during 2015/16 there had been a significant increase in the number of referrals made by Social Services staff, those reported within a hospital setting, and those referred by care regulators.  There had been a decline in referrals received direct from care providers.  It was emphasised that complaints on quality of care were dealt with under a separate process.  The Committee was advised that the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) had raised concerns in its Annual Review and Evaluation of Performance 2014-15 in relation to the Council’s performance in areas of the protection of vulnerable adults.  In light of the CSSIW’s findings, a decision was made to change the approach taken in Denbighshire regarding POVA arrangements.  The changes implemented included:


·       Training more social workers to be Designated Lead Managers (DLMs) for the purpose of undertaking POVA enquiries and to chair Strategy Meetings;

·       Strengthening the Team’s capacity to meet the requirements of the POVA process, and confidence building when dealing with multi agency work;

·       Strengthening links with the Safeguarding Team at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd to enable poor quality or incomplete referrals to be effectively challenged; and

·       The appointment of a Team Manager to ensure that process deadlines were met and statistics reported on time to Welsh Government.


Council representatives had recently met with the CSSIW to discuss the measures taken to improve processes in Denbighshire.  Nevertheless, the regulators still had concerns in relation to DLMs’ confidence in chairing Strategy meetings.  It had recently emerged that similar concerns had been raised by the CSSIW in relation to the same matter across North Wales and consequently the matter would be referred to the North Wales Adults Safeguarding Board for consideration.  The Council’s capacity to deal with Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) requests, which had increased drastically in the wake of a Supreme Court Judgement in March 2014, and which would continue to increase in the future due to the requirement to review each case every 12 months, was an added pressure on the Service.  Whereas in previous years, the Local Authority would have received between 10 and 15 DoLS assessment requests annually, this had increased last year to in excess of 300 requests for DoLS assessments.  In a bid to address this demand, circa 15 social workers had been trained to undertake DoLS assessments and each trained individual was expected to undertake a minimum of 8 DoLS assessments per year in addition to their day to day duties.  In addition to the workload pressures caused by the DoLS assessments, they also entailed financial pressures on the Local Authority as they were required to pay for the mandatory medical assessments associated with the process.  In Denbighshire, this cost was anticipated to be in the region of £50,000 per annum, but no additional funding had been allocated towards  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.



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.

12pm – 12.30pm

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Co-ordinator submitted a report (previously circulated) seeking Members to review the Committee’s Forward Work Programme and providing an update on relevant issues.


The Scrutiny Co-ordinator elaborated upon forthcoming items to be considered at future meetings and responded to Members’ questions thereon.


It was agreed that Lead Members be invited to attend the next Performance Scrutiny Committee scheduled to take place on 8 December 2016.


The Scrutiny Co-ordinator asked for a Member of the Committee to serve on the Community Support Services – Service Challenge Group.  Councillor Joe Welch volunteered to sit on the Group.



·       the Forward Work Programme as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report be approved and the relevant Lead Members be invited to attend for items within their portfolio at the next meeting on 8 December 2016.

·       Councillor Joe Welch be appointed to be the Committee’s representative on the Community Support Services – Service Challenge Group.


At this juncture (12.20 p.m.) there was a break for lunch.


The meeting reconvened at 2.00 p.m.





To consider the report of the Task and Finish Group (copy attached) on the progress to date with respect of the consultation on the future of the Council’s in-house social care provision for older people at Hafan Dȇg (Rhyl), Dolwen (Denbigh), Cysgod y Gaer (Corwen) and Awelon (Ruthin) and to seek the Committee to make recommendations to Cabinet with respect to future provision at Hafan Dȇg and Dolwen.

2pm – 3pm

Additional documents:


The Chair of the Task and Finish (T&F) Group established to examine the future delivery of in-house social care services presented the Committee with a progress report on the Group’s work to date (previously circulated), which included its recommendations in relation to the future provision of services at Hafan Dȇg Day Centre, Rhyl and Dolwen Day Centre and Residential Care Home, Denbigh. 


In her introduction the Chair outlined the background to the Group’s establishment, the process followed to date and the key democratic milestones and decisions which had led to the report being presented to the Committee at the current meeting.  She also read out the Cabinet’s decision of the 26 May 2016 which authorised the T&F Group to undertake the exploratory work, the conclusions of which were detailed in the report to the Committee.  The exploratory work was continuing in relation to potential proposals for Awelon, in Ruthin and Cysgod y Gaer in Corwen.  The conclusions of those would be reported to the Committee at a later date, when the requested information was available and all options had been fully explored. 


The Head of Community Support Services explained that whilst an initial engagement event had been held for potential providers for services at both Hafan Dȇg and Dolwen, the level of comparative detail elected members had requested in order to formulate recommendations in relation to the future of both establishments could only be achieved if the Council commenced a formal tender process.  Instigating such a process would not commit the Council to transferring the services over to an external provider, but it would provide it with sufficient detailed information to enable an informed decision to be taken on a way forward for the future.  All risks identified with the entire project were detailed in the report.  Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member for Social Care (Adults and Children’s Services), T&F Group members and officers confirmed in relation to the recommendations put forward for both establishments:

·       that all tenders would be evaluated by the T&F Group before recommendations were formulated and presented to Performance Scrutiny Committee and then Cabinet on the future service provision;

·       if following the tender process none of the tenders met the required criteria for the services the Council wanted to deliver, the Authority would need to review its approach to the delivery of these services.  It was emphasised that none of the establishments would close and that services would continue as at present;

·       statutory care quality monitoring arrangements would apply to both establishments if they were transferred over to external providers.  They would also be subject to Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW ) care monitoring arrangements, in the same way as public and private care providers would be inspected by the Regulator;

·       the Council paid external providers £50 per day for the provision of day care.  The proposed tender documentation for both establishments would specify the fee payable by the Council;

·       the Social Care Welsh Language Champion and the ‘Mwy Na Geiriau’ (‘More Than Words’) Working Group would ensure that the tender documentation clearly specified the Welsh Language requirements for the provision of services at both establishments.  They would also be involved in the tender evaluation process to ensure that all specified criteria were met;

·       that Transfer of Undertakings (Provision of Employment) (TUPE) arrangements would apply to all staff members employed at both establishments if, and when, the services were transferred to an external provider;

·       if potential providers were identified during the tender process, and all required criteria were met, the Council could potentially transfer the assets  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.



To consider a report (copy attached) by the Strategic Planning Team Manager seeking the Committee to review the Council’s performance in delivering the intended outcomes of the Corporate Plan.  The report also informs Members on Denbighshire’s performance during 2015-16 compared with that of other authorities.

3pm – 3.30pm

Additional documents:


Introducing the report on the Council’s performance in delivering its Corporate Plan during the first quarter of the 2016/17 financial year (previously circulated) the Lead Member for Finance, Corporate Plan and Performance informed the Committee that performance to date was good overall, with only one outcome, the one in relation to educational attainment, not being met. 


There had been improved performance in a range of measures relating to the corporate priority of ‘ensuring access to good quality housing’ i.e. performance in delivering Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) – Denbighshire was now the best performing Council in Wales for this Performance Indicator (PI).  Performance in relation to the ‘number of calendar days taken to let empty properties (council housing stock only)’ was still being monitored.  However, Scrutiny had already satisfied itself that there were valid reasons for not meeting this national target.  The Committee at an earlier meeting had endorsed the Service’s approach in this area, of refurbishing houses to a high quality before re-letting, as they were of the view that this delivered better long-term outcomes for residents. 


Data in relation to carbon emissions was now available, and whilst carbon emissions from the Council’s office buildings was reducing, it had increased in schools.  Work was now underway to try and improve performance in this area. 


Attached to the report was an appendix: the Local Government Data Unit (Wales) Local Government Performance Bulletin for 2015-16.  This report illustrated Denbighshire’s performance in comparison to all authorities in Wales in relation to the statutory Performance Indicators (KPIs).  Denbighshire was in the top quartile for 18 of the KPIs and in the bottom quartile for 7KPIs.  Performance against the remaining 15 KPIs was either in the upper middle quartile or the lower middle quartile.  The Lead Member emphasised that a decline in performance for a particular indicator did not necessarily mean that the Council was performing badly, just that there had been a slight decline in comparison to previous years e.g. sickness absence.  The Data Unit’s analysis of relative performance across Wales for 2015-16 ranked Denbighshire third best performing authority in relation to having the most indicators in the top quartile.  Responding to members’ questions and observations the Lead Member and officers:

·       confirmed that initially all public buildings would be radon tested.  Only Council housing in the areas identified on radon maps as ‘risk areas’ would be required to be tested.  If all Council owned accommodation was required in due course to be radon tested then there would be substantial cost implications for the authority;

·       acknowledged that the nature of data reported from surveys tended to just state raw data – it did not quantify or justify the reasons behind the performance or the work underway to address declining or poor performance;

·       in the current Corporate Plan the Council had chosen ‘improving performance in education and the quality of our school buildings’ as one of its corporate priorities, with the latter element of the priority focussing on building new schools/school facilities.  Looking ahead to the new Council and its Corporate Plan it may wish to focus on improving all schools across Denbighshire and not concentrate on a small number of school projects; and

·       confirmed that the Council had set itself a very ambitious target for sickness absences, one that was comparable to private sector industries, hence the reason it was registering ‘amber’ for its performance in this area.  No other local authority in Wales had yet met the target set by Denbighshire.


At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee:


RESOLVED subject to the above observations to receive the report on the Council’s performance in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.



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


No relevant meetings had been held since the Committee’s last meeting for members to feedback to the Committee on the discussions.




Meeting concluded at 3.50pm