Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Conference Room 1a, County Hall, Ruthin

No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillor Hugh Irving and Co-opted member Gareth Williams.



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


Declarations of a personal interest were submitted by Councillors:


·         Ellie Chard – Governor Ysgol Tir Morfa and Ysgol Mair

·         Martyn Holland – Governor Ysgol Bro Famau and St Brigid’s

·         Huw Jones – Governor of Ysgol Caer Drewyn and Ysgol Carrog

·         Arwel Roberts – Governor Ysgol Y Castell and Ysgol Dewi Sant

·         Peter Scott – Governor Ysgol Brynhyfryd and St Asaph VP School and

·         Graham Timms – Governor Ysgol Dinas Bran





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.


There were no urgent items.



To receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 07 December 2017 (copy attached).



The minutes of the meeting of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 7 December 2017 were submitted. There were no matters arising.


RESOLVED that, subject to the above, the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 7 December 2017 be received and approved as a correct record.


Prior to the commencement of the discussion on the following item of business the Chair thanked the Head of Education and Children’s Services and the Principal Education Manager for the excellent training event on scrutinising education data they had facilitated earlier that week for all councillors.  The session had been well received by all who had attended who had found it to be extremely useful for the purpose of understanding educational performance data.




To consider a joint report by the Principal Education Manager and GwE’s Secondary Lead (copy attached) detailing the verified performance of Denbighshire’s schools in external examinations at Key Stage 4 and post 16.


10:05 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People introduced the joint report of the Principal Education Manager and GwE’s Secondary Lead (previously circulated) which presented the Committee with the verified performance of Denbighshire schools’ external examinations results at Key Stage (KS) 4 and post 16. 


During his introduction the Lead Member advised that the validated statistics presented to the Committee did not differ significantly from the data presented to the Committee in September 2017.  However, the Head of Education and Children’s Services confirmed that since the Committee had considered the provisional data the Welsh Government’s (WG) Cabinet Secretary for Education had issued a statement cautioning local authorities against comparing the 2016/17 academic year external examination results with those of previous years, due to the introduction of the new examinations framework for the 2016/17 year.  Under the new framework neither English nor Welsh Literature qualifications counted towards the Level 2+ (L2+) GCSE Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and there was a 40% cap on any vocational qualifications counting towards L1, L2 and L2+ KPIs.  


The Head of Education and Children’s Services and GwE’s Secondary Lead advised the Committee that whilst it was pleasing to report that Denbighshire had two of the highest performing schools across the North Wales region, Ysgol Brynhyfryd and St. Brigid’s, it also had two of the region’s most challenging schools with respect to the number of pupils entitled to Free School Meals (FSMs) within its county area, Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High School and Rhyl High School, both of whom had in excess of 30% of pupils entitled to FSMs.  Having schools in both these categories accentuated the diverse and complex profile of the county in general, as well as its schools and highlighted the need for intensive targeted specialist support in certain schools.


Nationally the performance data had shown a country-wide dip in performance where there were high levels of deprivation, measured on numbers of pupils entitled to FSM.  The Welsh Government were well aware of this statistic and there was a national debate was taking place with regards to the challenges of the new qualifications for some pupils entitled to FSMs. 


GwE’s Secondary Lead informed members that:

·         it was pleasing to report that Prestatyn High School and St. Brigid’s were both out of Estyn monitoring;

·         the county’s GCSE L2+ performance had been strong for the past 4 years.  However, there had been a dip in performance during 2016/17 which was attributable to the new qualification requiring a higher level of reading and resilience skills.  This aspect had proved difficult for some pupils entitled to FSMs;

·         Welsh first language performance in Denbighshire was amongst the best in the region and in Wales.  The Welsh first language examination paper and assessment had parity with the English Language assessment and examination.  It was interesting that Denbighshire pupils’ strong performance in Welsh first language was not reflected elsewhere in Wales;

·         performance in the English language examination and assessment dipped in 2016/17;

·         the general ‘Science’ qualification disappeared during 2016/17, pupils were now required to sit a specific science subject paper and two mathematical examinations – numeracy mathematics along with a mathematics and science exam; and

·         for ‘A Level’ purposes WG required data to be reported on attainment of 3 A Level at A* to C.  However, Welsh Baccalaureate (Welsh Bacc) statistics were not permitted to be included in this data.  They were reported separately;


The Council’s Principal Education Manager advised the Committee that the Authority was applying consistent strategies in a bid to improve school attendance.  Whilst the Council’s pupil exclusion rates for up to 5 days was one  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



To scrutinise information (copy attached) on Services’ performance in complying with the Council’s complaints procedure and examine the customer effort and satisfaction results for Denbighshire County Council.


10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.


Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Developing Community Infrastructure introduced the Statutory and Corporate Complaints Officer’s report (previously circulated) which provided an overview of compliments, suggestions and complaints received by the Council under its customer feedback policy ‘Your Voice’ during the third quarter of the 2017/18 year. 


The report also included the statistics on the number of complaints received under the Social Services statutory complaints procedure for the same period, along with charts illustrating performance trends in dealing with complaints over a four year period.  


During Quarter 3 of 2017/18 whilst two Stage 1 complaints had not been dealt with within the corporate target, the Council had still exceeded its target by dealing with 98% of complaints within the 10 working days target.  Details were contained within the report on the reasons why the target had not been met in respect of the two complaints not dealt with within the set timescale.


Responding to questions the Lead Member, Head of Community Support Services and Corporate Complaints Officer:

·         confirmed that the purpose of the report was to measure the Council’s performance in dealing with complaints within the set timescale, it reported on the number received and the time it took the Council to respond to them.  It did not analyse the nature of the complaint;

·         advised that whilst Services had a maximum of 10 days to deal with a complaint, they were in most cases dealt with much sooner; and

·         confirmed that the data generated under the performance monitoring process was used by services and departments to identify trends in the types of complaints received and to help instigate measures to improve in areas were complaints were deemed to be increasing.


The Service Improvement Manager introduced the ‘Customer Dashboard – Update Report’, appended to the ‘Your Voice’ report.  This report provided an overview of customer effort and satisfaction results for Quarter 3 of 2017/18 following the contact they had made with the Council.  The report outlined the number of responses received to requests for customer feedback, along with the main positive and negative responses received. 


During her introduction the Service Improvement Manager acknowledged that there had been some reduction in satisfaction levels in November and December compared to October’s results.  However, October’s customer satisfaction rate of 80% was the highest recorded to date. Work was currently underway to extend the customer satisfaction survey to certain public-facing services within the Council.  These were services which generated the highest volume of calls into the Council.  It was envisaged that this development would help improve customer services across a number of customer facing services.


Responding to members’ questions the Service Improvement Manager, Head of Community Support Services and Corporate Complaints Officer:

·         advised that the reason why 60 customers felt that the service received at the initial point of contact with the Council had not met their expectations was in the main due to them expecting their problem to be resolved immediately at the point of contact;

·         confirmed that the Council was currently in the process of recruiting a Welsh Language Officer, whose role would include ensuring compliance with the Council’s Welsh Language Standards;

·         advised that all customer facing staff, and all other staff, were expected to show empathy and compassion when dealing with the public even if they were dealing with an irate complainant.  However, it was important to remember that not all members of the public treated officers with mutual respect and courtesy;

·         confirmed that if members had concerns about a Service’s performance in dealing with complaints or on customer satisfaction rates in relation to a particular Service the Committee could invite them to a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



To consider a joint report by the Legal and Procurement Operations Manager & Category Manager (Professional Services) Collaborative Procurement Service (copy attached) on the procurement exercise undertaken for the provision of a managed service for the supply of agency workers for the Council, including potential alternative options that may be available, and formulate a recommendation to Cabinet to appoint a provider to supply agency staff for use across Council Services.


11:25 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Additional documents:


Introducing the Legal and Procurement Operations Manager and Category Manager (Professional Services) Collaborative Procurement Service’s joint report (previously circulated) the Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Assets advised members that the report was being presented to the Committee at Cabinet’s request. 


During his introduction the Lead Member advised that approximately 10 years ago the Council, for best value purposes, entered into a Framework agreement for the purpose of employing temporary staff.  As the Council now operated a joint Procurement Service with Flintshire County Council both authorities had decided to align its current Framework contract end dates to enable them to jointly go out to tender on a new Framework to commence on a mutually convenient date with a view to realising maximum financial benefits for both councils. 


Cabinet when considering whether to approve the commencement of a procurement exercise with a view to entering into a contract to appoint an agency to supply temporary staff for use by the Council at its December 2017 meeting requested Scrutiny to examine in detail the following areas associated with the Framework and appointment of an agency to undertake this work:

·         comparative data on Denbighshire and Flintshire’s spending on agency staff in recent years;

·         Denbighshire’s spend prior to the commencement of the current Matrix agency contract and its spend with Matrix under a previous contract up until 2014;

·         comparative details on rates of pay and conditions of service for the Council’s permanent staff and those employed via an agency to undertake the same duties;

·         potential alternative solutions to the Framework which were available for sourcing temporary staff at short notice; and

·         the reasons why the Council required to use agency staff.


The requested data was included in the report and associated appendices and the Lead Member detailed their contents to Committee members prior to inviting questions.  He advised that Cabinet had instructed officers to commence the tender process on the understanding that Scrutiny report its findings to Cabinet prior to it being asked to appoint a provider.  The procurement exercise would be commenced using the Eastern Shires Procurement Order (ESPO) MSTAR 2 Framework.


Responding to members questions the Lead Member and Legal and Procurement Officers:

·         explained how the Framework operated and advised that if staff were required all details would be entered onto the selected agency system (currently Matrix) which would then notify all recruitment agencies registered on the Framework of the Council’s requirements and invite them to submit details of potential candidates;

·         confirmed that the majority of large employers utilised agency staff to source specialist staff at short notice to for the purposes of relieving unforeseen pressures or to undertake time limited project work;

·         advised that domiciliary care staff and supply teachers were not sourced using the Agency Workers framework, they were hired or commissioned using other systems or contracts;   

·         confirmed that the Matrix system currently utilised for the provision of agency staff had a section which included a list of all mandatory verified documentation which potential staff were required to provide i.e. professional qualifications, proof of residency/right to work documentation etc.  The Council could also add to this list other verified documentation/checks staff would require to provide i.e. Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) checks etc.;

·         when entering details of posts which required to be filled on a temporary basis onto the Framework the Council would specify its rate of pay for the post.  However, dependent upon the specialist skills required an agency may approach the Council requesting a higher rate/premium rate for such posts if they were encountering difficulties in attracting applicants at the Council’s rate of pay.  Only a handful of agency  ...  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.


12:00 p.m – 12:15 p.m.

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Co-ordinator (SC) presented the report (previously circulated) seeking

Members’ review of the Committee’s work programme and providing an update on relevant issues.


A copy of the “Member’s proposal form” had been included in Appendix 2. The Scrutiny Co-ordinator requested that any proposals be submitted to herself. The Cabinet Forward Work Programme had been included as Appendix 3, the table summarising recent Committee resolutions, advising on progress with their implementation, had been attached as Appendix 4.


In response to the number of enquiries raised during the earlier discussion regarding verified key stage 4 examination results it had been agreed to expand the forthcoming report on Behaviour and Absenteeism Management to include those queries for the Performance Scrutiny Committee in April 2018.

The Committee had also earlier requested that invitations be sent to the Headteacher and Chair of Governors of two of the county’s consistently low performing secondary schools to attend a meeting of the Committee in the near future to discuss progress in delivering their school improvement plans.

The SC referred the Committee to the Information Update report (previously circulated) and a letter received from the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport indicating that he was happy for WG officials to attend a Performance Scrutiny Committee to discuss capital funding for highways projects. It was agreed to send an invitation with several date options.

The SC asked the committee for expressions of interest in representing the Performance Scrutiny Committee on the Adult Services In-house Social Care Task and Finish Group. Councillor Huw Jones responded that one of the care centres under discussion was in his ward and that he would like to be considered.



(i)    subject to the above observations and amendments, the Forward Work Programme be approved; and

(ii)Councillor Huw Jones be appointed as the Committee’s   representative on the Adult Services In-house Social Care Task and   finish Group



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


12:15 p.m – 12:30 p.m.


Councillor Geraint Lloyd Williams informed the Committee that he would be attending the Facilities, Assets and Housing Service Challenge on the 14th February.



The meeting concluded at 13:15