Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Conference Room 1a, County Hall, Ruthin
Apologies were received from Committee members Councillors Rachel Flynn, Hugh Irving, Martyn Holland, Bob Murray and David Williams.
In addition apologies were received from Councillors Bobby Feeley and Richard Mainon Lead Members for items five and seven respectively.
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
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.
There were no urgent matters.
To receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 31 January 2019 (copy attached).
The minutes of the meeting of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 29 November 2018 were submitted and agreed for accuracy.
Verified External Examination Results:
· (page 8) the Scrutiny Coordinator had asked the Head of Education and Children’s Services for suggestions on which aspects of the management of school governing bodies may benefit being reviewed by scrutiny.
· (page 9) a letter had been sent to the Chief Executive of Qualifications Wales and a response had been received (both were included in the Information Brief document previously circulated). The Chair had a meeting scheduled the following week with North Wales Regional Assembly Member Llŷr Gruffydd to discuss the matter. A number of other Assembly Members had responded to the letter stating that similar concerns to those of the Committee had been raised with them by constituents and schools etc.
Library Standards (page 10) –the Council’s Team Leader: Tourism, Marketing and Events and Assistant Manager of Rhuddlan and St. Asaph Libraries had been in discussion regarding the provisio of tourist information panels at Rhuddlan Library. It was anticipated that this could be facilitated in the next financial year.
Resolved that, subject to the above, the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 31 January 2019 be received and approved as a correct record.
To consider the findings of the Wales Audit Office (WAO) Service User Perspective Review (copy attached) of August 2018.
The Lead Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Environment introduced the joint report by the Lead Officer Community Housing and the Lead Officer Corporate Property and Housing Stock (previously circulated). The report presented the Council’s response to the findings of the Wales Audit Office (WAO) Service User Perspective Review of August 2018, in relation to the Welsh Quality Housing Standard and the Authority’s work with tenants.
During his introduction the Lead Member thanked the Committee for the opportunity to respond to the two proposals for improvement proposed by the WAO following its review. The lead Member drew members’ attention to the results of the Survey of Tenants and Residents (STAR) 2019 (Appendix 3 to the report) which had returned a 90% satisfaction rate in response to the question on their views on the overall quality of their home, which was extremely pleasing.
The Lead Officer Community Housing reminded the Committee that Denbighshire County Council had achieved the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS), nevertheless maintenance and improvement works to the Council’s housing stock continued, albeit on a smaller scale than that to achieve the WHQS. Referring to the WAO Service User Review the Lead Officer Community Housing advised that the WAO had undertaken doorstep interviews with 122 tenants out of the Authority’s total number of 3,385 housing tenants. That survey had concluded that the Council should consider:
· providing help to those experiencing damp and homes that were not adequately heated, fuel efficient, or well insulated and
· reviewing the long-term impact of the ending of the resident warden service from its sheltered housing schemes
With respect to damp and the fuel efficiency of homes the Lead Officer advised that it was important to understand that 23% of tenants surveyed by the WAO had mentioned that they suffered “damp and condensation” issues, however the WAO had not undertaken any follow-up investigations to the tenants’ problems or their sources.
A similar survey had been undertaken in other North Wales local authority areas, the sample size in Ynys Môn was similar to that in Denbighshire and 37% of tenants there stated they had experienced similar problems. The Head of Service advised that condensation problems could be caused by inadequate heating of a home through inefficient or intermittent use of the heating system, and/or inadequate ventilation measures not being taken by the occupier.
In order to provide advice and support to tenants the Council had produced an information leaflet (Appendix 2 to the report) on how to help avoid condensation in the home. It had also, in partnership with Citizen Advice Denbighshire (CAD), arranged a dedicated advisor to support council tenants in relation to fuel poverty, damp and condensation issues.
If damp was an issue, structural work could be undertaken to address the problem. As Denbighshire had achieved the WHQS all properties renovated under that programme would have sufficient heating and be free of damp related problems. The head of Service advised that it was extremely pleasing to report that the STAR survey had rated ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider the new draft Fleet Management Strategy (copy attached) including the evaluation of the use of potential alternative fuel sources.
The Lead Member for Highways, Planning and Sustainable Travel introduced the joint report by the Principal Manager: Service Improvement and Fleet and the Fleet Manager which presented the Committee with the revised draft Fleet Strategy for the Council’s vehicle fleet. Copies of the report and draft strategy had been published and circulated in advance of the meeting. During his introduction the Lead Member emphasised the need for the Council to reduce its carbon emissions, but in doing so it was important that its fleet was fit for purpose to deliver vital services.
The Head of Highways and Environment advised that the default position would be, when replacing vehicles, not to automatically replace them with diesel vehicles. When a Service required to replace a vehicle it would need to consider replacing it with electric or alternative fuel vehicles in the first instance. If the Service was of the view that such vehicles would not be fit for the purpose for which they were required, they would then need to evidence the case why a diesel vehicle was the only suitable replacement. He emphasised that the Strategy related to how the Authority purchased and disposed of its vehicles and how that process fitted in and contributed towards the Corporate Plan, specifically to the work stream relating to reducing the Authority’s carbon emissions.
Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member, Head of Service, Principal Manager: Service Improvement & Fleet, and the Fleet Manager:
· confirmed that, as a pilot project, two electric vans had already been purchased for use by the Council’s Business Improvement and Modernisation Service. These would be brought into service once electric charging points were installed in the main office and depot locations;
· advised that for the foreseeable future charging points installed on Council premises would be restricted for use to charge Council vehicles only;
· reassured that work was currently underway on a regional basis with partners to explore who was interested in working with local authorities in relation to establishing an electric vehicle charging infrastructure across North Wales;
· confirmed that the Council currently purchased its vehicle and heating fuel via the national fuel framework. The contract for its provision had recently been out for tender;
· asserted that, whilst purchasing electric vehicles could contribute towards reducing carbon emissions from the Council’s fleet, driving techniques for all vehicles had a greater contribution to make to the carbon reduction agenda;
· assured that all Council vehicles were required by law to be equipped with Tachographs in order to monitor driver activity. Of the Authority’s 400 vehicles, all but approximately 15, the majority of which were school minibuses, were fitted with telematic systems. Schools were advised when enquiring on replacing minibuses to ensure that they were fitted with telematics systems;
· agreed that all new vehicles in future would be fitted with more detailed information systems which would detail driving techniques data and their impact on fuel consumption and carbon emissions etc.;
· emphasised that all vehicles currently had to meet European emission standards and that diesel ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To review the Council’s Street Naming and Numbering policy (copy attached).
The Head of Business Improvement and Modernisation introduced the Street Naming and Numbering Officer’s report (previously circulated) which provided the Committee with the current Street Naming and Numbering Policy. The report sought members to review and determine whether any changes were required to the policy.
Members were advised by the Street Naming and Numbering Officer that the policy had been adopted in 2014, with the latest amendments to it being approved, via a Lead Member Delegated Decision, in August 2018. The Policy stipulated that all new street names in Denbighshire should either be Welsh or bilingual. It was important that street names were consistent with the local heritage for the area and clear for the purpose of property location for deliveries and emergency services’ purposes. Of the 20 street names approved in recent years 18 had Welsh only names, with the remaining 2 having bilingual names.
Responding to members’ questions officers:
· advised that where English only street/road names were currently shown on signs, they would not be replaced with bilingual ones until such time as the signs were broken/required replacing due to the additional costs involved. If town and community councils were willing to fund the costs of new signage, the Council would replace the English only ones with bilingual signs;
· confirmed that where bilingual names existed it was Royal Mail’s policy to publish the English version of the address and hold the Welsh version in the background;
· explained that, whilst the policy discouraged the practice of naming streets after specific individuals, alive or deceased, the Authority had permitted the naming of six new streets in Rhyl after local servicemen killed in action. As the Town Council had put forward the names of a total of eight local service personnel killed in action, the names of the next two streets to be built on the development would bear the remaining two servicemen’s names;
· affirmed the latest addition to the list of approved names that could be used was ‘Cae’;
· advised that whilst postcodes were useful when attempting to locate the area where a property was located, as they covered quite a large area having easily identifiable street names was helpful when narrowing the search down for a specific property, particularly for the emergency services and for delivery purposes;
· confirmed that the local authority had the final decision on the naming of a street or road; and
· agreed that all street names should be displayed in a standard format and a standard font size. If this was not adhered with members should raise the matter with the Council’s Highways Service
Members queried a number of anomalies or inconsistencies within the Policy. Amongst these were the following:
· English version - Section B: paragraph 2 ‘mead’ should read ‘mede’;
· no direct translation of ‘cae’ included in the English version;
· Welsh version – Section B: paragraph 2 ‘heol’ should be included as it did exist in local street names already;
· Section B: paragraph 2.2 – ... 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.
The Scrutiny Co-ordinator introduced 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.
The Scrutiny Coordinator highlighted the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting scheduled for May only contained one agenda item – the Corporate Risk Register.
With the Committee’s consent it was agreed that unless any items were, in the meantime, agreed for the Committee’s examination that the Corporate Risk Register in May would be deferred to June’s meeting and May’s meeting would subsequently be cancelled.
Resolved that subject to the above the Forward Work Programme be approved.
FEEDBACK FROM COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES
To receive any updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups
Councillor Ellie Chard reported that she had attended the Education Service Challenge lines of enquiry meeting and was due to attend a further meeting in April.
Meeting concluded at 12:35pm