Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Conference Room 1a, County Hall, Ruthin

No. Item


Councillor Huw Jones (Chair) received a warm welcome on his return and he conveyed his thanks for all the good wishes and visitors he had received during his absence.






Councillor Hugh Irving (Vice Chair) together with Co-opted Member David Lloyd


Councillors Julian Thompson-Hill (Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets) together with Karen Evans (Head of Education and Children’s Services)


Members noted that Co-opted Member David Lloyd’s term as a Parent Governor was due to end in December following which he would cease to be a member on the Committee.  It was agreed to send a letter to Mr. Lloyd conveying the Committee’s appreciation for his service and contribution to scrutiny meetings.




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 26 September, 2019 (copy enclosed).


The minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 26 September 2019 were submitted.


Matters Arising –


Page 8 – Item No. 5 Hafan Deg, Rhyl – the Scrutiny Coordinator agreed to ascertain whether the new leaflet promoting the service had been distributed and to check on progress with arrangements for a members visit to Cefndy Healthcare.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2019 be received and approved as a correct record.




To consider a report by the Principal Education Manager (copy enclosed) on the performance of Denbighshire’s schools and provisional level 2 examination results for members’ review.

10.05 a.m. – 10.45 a.m.

Additional documents:


[The Head of Education and Children’s Services and officers from GwE had been unable to attend for this item due to a meeting with the Welsh Government and apologies for absence had been submitted on their behalf]


The Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement introduced the Principal Education Manager’s report (previously circulated) on the performance of Denbighshire’s schools and provisional level 2 examination results.  The report included the unverified performance of Denbighshire schools and draft external examinations results at Key Stage 4 together with provision of drafts results against national information and performance.


During his introduction and in response to the Committee’s concerns regarding the lack of comparable data in which to scrutinise performance results the Lead Member explained that the information contained in the report complied with national guidance and reflected recent changes in the recording of performance data.  He referred to a joint communication from Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association and Estyn which strongly advised that a broad range of un-aggregated data and information be used when reporting on school performance.  In following that guidance local authorities were not sharing performance data and therefore the report data had been restricted to the information currently available and did not include comparisons with other local education authorities.  In addition, given the new interim KS4 measures as part of the education reform programme in Wales and differences across several indicators (as a result of first entry counting rather than best outcome data) it had not possible to compare 2019 figures with previous performance.  In considering future performance data it was recommended that provisional performance results be considered by the Committee in September 2020 and a comparison with the previous year’s verified results be made in February 2021.


In reporting on the headlines messages the Lead Member referred to slight dips but overall consistency.  Both Rhyl High School and Blessed Edward Jones situated in Wales most deprived ward areas had improved on the previous year and reference was made to a recent Schools Standards Monitoring Group (SSMG) meeting at the new Christ the Word school and positive outcomes found in that regard.


During his address to the Committee the Principal Education Manager –


·         referred to previous discussions with the Committee on the reporting of performance data information and the need to provide scrutiny with as much information as possible to ensure an open and transparent process

·         confirmed the report conformed to national guidance and due to new school performance measures the data was not comparable with previous years

·         referred to the new curriculum with the main indicator of 5 GCSEs and schools were focusing on ensuring improvements in that area together with providing a broad and balanced education for pupils

·         explained the reasoning behind the capped 9 measure that for pupils to have a broad and balanced education GCSEs should be capped to 9 subjects including core subjects English and Maths with greater opportunities for higher scores

·         proposed that in future performance data should include an information sheet and draft examination results in September/October with presentation of the verified results in February together with exclusion and attendance data to provide an overall picture of performance

·         advised that whilst there was no formal comparable data with other local authorities some had seen a general dip whilst Denbighshire had seen a slight improvement – where local authorities published their verified performance results it would be possible to gauge Denbighshire’s performance in comparison

·         reported upon the use of the Free School Meals (FSM) indicator in terms of performance with Denbighshire’s results generally being below the Welsh average and described how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



To consider a report by the Strategic Planning and Performance Officer (copy enclosed) presenting the findings and recommendations/action plan of the Use of Plastics Members Task and Finish Group for consideration prior to submission to County Council.

10.45 a.m. – 11.30 a.m.

Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment introduced the report which had been produced by the Use of Plastics Task and Finish Group following a Notice of Motion (July 2018) to Council where it was resolved that the Council ‘supports in principle the reduction in the use of plastic but asks that it be referred to Scrutiny for detailed consideration and a further report back to Council’.


Councillor Emrys Wynne, Chair of the Use of Plastics Task and Finish Group detailed the work of the Group and considerations as to how best to meet the objectives set by Council.  It had been agreed to focus on what was achievable and in the first stage to remove single use plastic where possible in Denbighshire’s council offices.  Councillor Wynne proceeded to present the report findings and recommendations/action plan of the Group and explained how the Council could avoid and reduce its use of plastics in its own offices in a deliverable and sustainable way and he sought the Committee’s support for that report and its submission to County Council in January 2020.


Members’ attention was drawn to the proposed action plan which also included the impact of taking those actions and any savings made as a result – however the driver had been to reduce single use plastic and not to make savings.  Councillor Wynne proceeded to elaborate upon each of the proposed actions as follows –


·         stop the provision of plastic water cups at water coolers within council buildings

·         encourage the reuse of water bottles to refill at water coolers

·         remove water coolers altogether

·         stop the provision of cups at refreshment points within council buildings

·         staff campaign to ‘bring your own cup’ to work/office/meetings

·         remove refreshment stations altogether from council offices

·         reduce provision of plastic milk containers ‘jiggers’ at refreshment points  / plastic stirrers (not applicable) – wooden stirrers

·         promote behaviour change to either avoid or reduce plastic use to council staff

·         stop purchase of plastic stationery wallets in all services

·         remove vending machines completely

·         arrange consultation with School Forum to challenge ‘avoidance and reduction of plastics’ in our council offices.


The Committee was asked to support continuation of the Group to further explore and investigate options to avoid and reduce plastics in other areas of the Council (with the next focus on school catering), and to encourage staff to look at how to avoid or reduce plastics within the Council.  The remainder of the report highlighted ways to reduce plastic use.  Finally Councillor Wynne thanked the Strategic Planning and Performance Officer for producing the report and also welcomed a member of the public in attendance who had an interest in the environment and who had attended a recent talk he had given at a Friends of the Earth meeting.


The Committee welcomed the report and thanked the Group for their hard work in devising ways of reducing and removing plastic use and fully supported their continuation to identify measures to support more environmentally practices.


The following matters were raised during the ensuing debate –


·         the Committee was keen to publicise the good work being undertaken and in encouraging environmentally friendly practices and it was noted that in the event the recommendations were approved by Council a press release would be timely; the Scrutiny Coordinator also reported upon more general work to raise scrutiny’s profile and identify key messages and themes from meetings to highlight via the press office and social media

·         it was acknowledged that reduction in the use of plastics across the authority was a massive undertaking and therefore an incremental approach was proposed by the Group  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



To consider a report by the Highways, Asset and Risk Manager (copy enclosed) seeking members’ views on the new Highway Code of Practice prior to its submission to Cabinet for formal adoption.

11.45 a.m. - 12.15 p.m.

Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Waste, Transport and the Environment and the Highways, Asset and Risk Manager presented the new Highways Code of Practice for members’ views prior to its submission to Cabinet for formal adoption.


Members were advised that the highway authority had a statutory duty to maintain the adopted highway network safely but, to a degree, the standard to which it should be maintained was at its discretion.  Some background was provided in terms of the legislative responsibilities placed on highway authorities and the potential for litigation from claimants as a result of perceived failure of the Council to fulfil those duties.  To maintain the highway network safely and defend against such claims the Council had aligned its practices with an industry wide Highways Code of Practice (CoP) which was put in place in 2005.  In 2016 a new CoP was produced by the UK Roads Liaison Committee based on a risk assessment type approach and, in recognition of diminishing budgets, allowed for a focus on areas of greatest need.  To enable a more consistent approach across Wales a joint CoP document had been produced by Welsh highway authorities setting out minimum standards all authorities would work to and it was recommended that, following scrutiny, the Committee endorse the new CoP for submission to Cabinet and formal adoption.


During the ensuing debate members were generally supportive of the new CoP which clearly set out the minimum standards required and the commitment of the authority to safety maintain the highway network in the county, and they took the opportunity to discuss various aspects of the new CoP and the inspection and maintenance regime with the Highways, Assets and Risk Manager.


In response to questions the Highways, Assets and Risk Manager advised that –


·         funding would be targeted at areas of greatest need to help deliver an efficient service within available budgets to manage risk in a cost effective manner

·         during statutory inspections defects were recorded by inspectors on electronic tablets with regard to the highway inspection defect recording manual

·         in terms of defects reported through the CRM system followed up by the service, reports should clearly define the defect which would be assessed against the dimensional criteria measurements to ascertain what action if any was required – it would be useful if reports included a photograph of the defect which could be accommodated under the new CRM C360 system

·         the definition of a pothole had been clearly defined in the CoP in terms of its dimensions and the defect would be categorised in accordance with those levels

·         the CoP did not relate to resurfacing works which was a separate work stream

·         in response to concerns regarding the practice of temporary repair work as a precursor to permanent repair, the new CoP would set minimum standards in order to focus funding based on need and potholes would be filled in such a manner to fulfil the Council’s statutory duty in that regard; there were other highways strategies to address issues raised in terms of resurfacing schemes and patching works which were outside the remit of the new CoP document

·         with regard to concerns over specific works carried out by utility companies and developers resulting in a detrimental impact on the highway it was confirmed that inspections were carried out by the Council and action taken but it was a separate issue outside the remit of the current report item

·         whilst the importance of dropped kerbs was acknowledged it was not a statutory requirement and therefore had not been included within the CoP

·         the minimum frequency of weed removal and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.



To consider a joint report by the Strategic Planning and Performance Team Manager and the Strategic Planning and Performance Officer presenting an update on the delivery of the Corporate Plan 2017 to 2022 as at the end of quarter 2 (July to September 2019) for monitoring purposes.

1.00 p.m. – 1.45 p.m.

Additional documents:


The Strategic Planning & Performance Team Leader introduced the report explaining the use of the new accessibility template format and consequent omission of the ROYG status flags. The report reviewed the Council’s progress at the end of quarter 2 2019/20 in delivering the Corporate Plan.


The Committee were apprised of the abundance of activity on the Housing priority (page 96) including:

·         new homes being provided through the renovation and conversion of the former house in multiple occupation at 40 Brighton Road;

·         the planning application for the development of 22 Passivhaus (extremely low energy usage) homes in Denbigh and

·         69 empty properties being returned to use.

The tranche review had identified further work requirement amongst young people’s needs. The Young People and Housing Board had devised an action plan on changing assessment results and would be reporting back in quarter 3.

Connected Communities.

Referring to the quarterly table of measures comparing 5 data points (page 103) it was explained that status note ‘Does not apply’ was usually due to lack of data (new measure) or data that it would be inappropriate to apportion a target to.

Resilient Communities.

Year to date figures reported an increase of 17.9% in repeat domestic abuse victims. Whilst there had been a decrease over the whole of North Wales there had been a larger increase in Denbighshire than Conwy. It was noted that figures were reported quite late due to the delays in the Courts process.


Support for carers appeared to have made a significant drop compared to the same time last year. Following conversations with the Head of Service, it was understood that this drop was attributable to a data collection issue, which the Service was looking to resolve.”


Most of the data around this priority was recorded annually, most of the projects were on target including:

·         reduction of carbon emissions;

·         launch of nature corridor (ENRaW Project) across Denbighshire, Flintshire and Conwy and

·         reduction of the Council’s use of plastics.

Young People.

The new attainment measure that locally focussed on the percentage of pupils achieving the level 2+ threshold would be reported in quarter 3 once the data had been validated.


Responding to the Committee’s questions the Strategic Planning & Performance Team Leader advised:

·         the Resident Survey sought responses from a broad cross-section of Denbighshire’s residents, being promoted online, at libraries, one-stop-shops and council receptions;

·         figures reflect completed housing and tend to be a year in arrears.  It was anticipated that going forward the rate of progress would increase rapidly:

·         members expressed their frustration with the pace of the roll-out in rural areas, but that a new post, hosted by Wrexham and dedicated to Denbighshire, would hopefully see improvements being made in the county, and

·         a new project would train front facing service staff to recognise domestic abuse in the community.


RESOLVED that the content of the draft Corporate Plan Performance Report Quarter 2, 2019 to 2020 be agreed.




To consider a report by the Strategic Planning and Performance Officer (copy enclosed) providing an update on the review of the Corporate Risk Register and revised Risk Management Guide and seeking members’ views thereon.

1.45 p.m. – 2.30 p.m.

Additional documents:


The Strategic Planning & Performance Team Leader presented the Committee with the Corporate Risk Register report (previously circulated) on behalf of the Strategic Planning and Performance Officer.


Attached to the report appendix 2 listed the core changes. There were more amendments than usual due to changes in service structures and lead member portfolios.


In addition there were two new risks:

      I.        00043 - The risk that the council does not have the funds or resources to meet its statutory obligations under the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 and

    II.        00044 – The risk of Ash Dieback Disease (ADB) in Denbighshire leading to serious disruption, budgetary impacts, risks to infrastructure and the increased potential for deaths and injuries.


The Strategic Planning & Performance Team Leader advised the Committee that the Risk Management Guide would now include guidance on Risk Appetite, highlighting to Members the key changes within the document, what this means for analysing risk, and the appetite statements agreed by senior management and Cabinet. Scrutiny Members expressed approval of the Risk Appetite approach and statements. Henceforth, from the February review, Appendix II would contain a new column detailing Corporate Risks against the council’s Risk Appetite Statement – the level of risk prepared to tolerate or accept as a Council in pursuit of long term, strategic objectives.


Responding to Members’ questions the Strategic Planning & Performance Team Leader advised that:

·         guidance had been sought from the Authority’s Strategic Risk Consultant – Zurich Insurance Ltd;

·         in terms of digital security ICT ensures maximum security as an accredited Authority;

·         the Authority’s Geographical Location System would identify whether potentially affected Ash trees were on Denbighshire County Council property and

·         Welsh Government assumed that the ALN obligations would be cost neutral and no additional funding would be provided.


Councillor Martyn Holland asked that consideration be given to potential income generation by disposing of any Council owned felled ash trees profitably for fire wood.


RESOLVED: - having considered the amendments to the Corporate Risk Register, and subject to the provision of the above information, to receive the revised version of the register.




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.

2.30 p.m. – 2.45 p.m.

Additional documents:


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. Members were reminded that the proposal form for scrutiny forward work programme (appendix 2) should be completed for the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-chairs Group to review and allocate.


The next meeting of the Performance Scrutiny Committee would be 30th January 2020. The following amendments were agreed:

·         the Customer Relationship Manager system be moved to the meeting on 19th March 2020 and

·         the Draft Sustainable Travel Plan be deferred to 16th July 2020.


The Scrutiny Co-ordinator advised the Committee that at the previous Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-chairs meeting The Communications and Campaign Management Team Leader had requested that at the end of each scrutiny committee meeting a few key message/points of interest arising could be highlighted for the Communications and Marketing team to highlight on social media. It had been agreed to trial the idea for a few meetings.


The Committee proposed the review of the avoidance and reduction of plastics in Denbighshire County Council offices be the key message from that meeting.


Following a recent service restructure and the establishment of Denbighshire Leisure Ltd. the committee was asked to review their quota of Service Challenge representatives. Councillor Arwel Roberts was nominated to represent the Committee on the Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services Service Challenge.  All other representation remained the same.


The Committee was advised that the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chairs Group had appointed Councillor Huw Williams as the Scrutiny Chair to serve on the Strategic Governance Board of Denbighshire Leisure Ltd.


RESOLVED: - that subject to the above the Forward Work Programme be approved.




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

2.45 p.m. – 3.00 p.m.


Councillor Arwel Roberts had attended the School Standards Monitoring Group (SSMG) for the new Christ The Word school in Rhyl. Despite the challenge of the increased size of the school he reported positive feedback on both the new Head Teacher and school itself from a group of pupils.


Councillor Ellie Chard had the SSMG meeting for St. Brigid’s School and found it very interesting. She was surprised at the number of children with Special Education Needs (30%) and free school meal uptake (7%).


RESOLVED that the feedback be noted.


Meeting closed at 14:35