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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bob Murray and Pete Prendergast and from the Chief Executive, Graham Boase. The Head of Highways and Environmental Services was in attendance deputising for the Chief Executive in his absence.
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
No interests of a personal or prejudicial nature were declared.
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 matters of an urgent nature had been raised with the Chair prior to the commencement of the meeting.
The Chair advised that he would have to leave the meeting at circa 11am and that the Vice-Chair would chair the remainder of the meeting. He thanked everyone for their support and dedication to the Committee’s work during the Council term, and to him during his tenure as Chair. He also paid tribute to the late Councillor Huw Ll Jones for his work as Chair of the Committee from 2017 until he untimely passed away. The Chair extended his good wishes to those members standing for re-election in the forthcoming local authority elections. He also thanked those who had decided to retire from public office for their services to their communities during their terms as county councillors, wishing them health and happiness for the future.
To receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 27 January 2022 (copy enclosed).
The minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on the 27 January 2022 were submitted. It was:
Resolved: - that the minutes of the meeting held on 27 January
2022 be received and approved as a true and correct record of the proceedings.
No matters were raised with regards of the contents of the minutes.
To consider the Absence and Turnover Data Report along with the associated documentation (copies attached) and determine whether any further monitoring of staff absence and turnover rates are required.
The Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets introduced the report and appendices (previously circulated) which provided information and data on staff absence and turnover rates for the reporting years 2020/21 and 2021/22 (up to the end of Quarter 3 - December 2021). Also attached to the report was the Council’s Workforce Plan 2022 and its associated Delivery Action Plan.
Introducing the wide-ranging report which provided staff absence and turnover data along with details of future plans for workforce recruitment, retention and development the Lead Member advised that pre-Covid Denbighshire was the best performing authority in Wales in relation to staff absences. Not unexpectedly during the first lockdown period, with the majority of staff working from home and strict restrictions in place on people’s movements and interactions, staff absence rates reduced further. As a result, and in line with other Welsh local authorities, staff absences during 2020/21 were considerably lower than during a ‘normal’ year. As restrictions eased during 2021/22 staff absences rose slightly, with the estimated number of days lost to sickness per employee by the end of March 2022 expected to be 9 days, which would be slightly higher than the pre-pandemic figure. Not unexpectedly the highest rates of staff absences occurred in frontline services, services which had greater face to face contact with the general public. It was anticipated that sickness absence figures would remain slightly higher than ‘normal’ for the forthcoming couple of years due to the removal of social distancing restrictions, Covid still circulating within the community, and personnel now accessing pre-planned surgery and treatments delayed due to the pandemic.
In relation to staff retention Denbighshire’s staff turnover rates were below the Welsh average, this was a trend which had continued for at least the last 5 years. Nevertheless, some services had higher staff turnover rates than others, namely Highways & Environmental Services, Planning, Public Protection & Countryside Services, and not unexpectedly in recent times Social Care Services. During the pandemic the biggest group of leavers were in the Grade 4 and below salary points, with the second highest number of leavers being in the Grade 10 and above salary groups. The reasons for leaving for the latter group were predominantly retirement or re-evaluation of work/life balance priorities, the reasons for leaving for Grade 4 and below seemed generally to be for personal reasons.
A draft corporate Workforce Plan, based on each Service’s workforce plan, had been drawn up with a view to supporting resilience, retention and career development within the Council whilst also providing health and well-being support to staff and providing access to flexible and agile working opportunities. A copy of the draft Plan and its Delivery Action Plan were appended to the report.
Members were advised by the Lead Member that all public sector organisations were facing difficulties in recruiting to some posts, particularly specialist technical posts. One of the reasons for this was that the private sector paid far higher salaries and were able to offer more attractive employment packages for these types of posts. However, recruiting to other posts, at the lower end of the salary scale such as catering and cleaning, was proving difficult for both the public and private sectors alike. Despite these challenges the Council’s workforce had been extremely resilient throughout the pandemic, as a result there had not been any significant adverse effect on service-delivery throughout the two-year period. Covid had, without doubt, resulted in many people reassessing their lives in general, including where and how they wanted to work in future. As a result, the Council like a number of other employers, would need to re-assess ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
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 Coordinator introduced the report (previously circulated) updating members on relevant scrutiny related matters and seeking the Committee to review its forward work programme in readiness for its presentation to its successor Committee, following the local authority elections in May 2022. It would be a decision for the ‘new’ Committee whether it wished to continue with the inherited work programme.
Due to its proximity to the date of the forthcoming local authority elections, the Committee’s next scheduled meeting, on 28 April 2022, had been cancelled. Following the elections, the ‘new’ Committee’s first meeting would be held on 9 June 2022. Immediately preceding that meeting a short training and familiarisation event would be held for Committee members on performance and risk management, including the requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
Members’ attention was drawn to the draft forward work programme at Appendix 1, in particular the education items listed for consideration at the Committee’s July meeting. Both these topics had been identified as ideal matters to help aid new members’ understanding of the requirements entailed with recent changes in education legislation and policy in Wales.
Members’ attention was also drawn to the various documentation attached as additional appendices to the report and to the ‘Information Brief’ document circulated to Committee members earlier in the week, which contained the Corporate Plan Quarter 3 Performance Report.
In relation to questions raised by members with respect of Cefndy Healthcare the Scrutiny Coordinator confirmed that a report was already listed on the Committee’s draft forward work programme for presentation at the November 2022 meeting. At that time, with further easing of Covid restrictions, Committee members may feel it apt to request a visit be arranged to the facility to see first-hand the production work and opportunities available there.
Resolved: - subject to the above to confirm the Committee’s
draft forward work programme for presentation to the new Committee post the
Local Authority elections in May 2022 for consideration.
FEEDBACK FROM COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES
To receive any updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups
Councillor Hugh Irving informed the Committee that he had been attending meetings of the Queen’s Building Project Board on a regular basis and that, based on the Project Board’s work, Cabinet had recently approved the next phase of the project.
Councillor Peter Scott advised the Committee that the Flood Risk Management and Riparian Land Ownership Task and Finish Group had concluded its work and presented its final report to Communities Scrutiny Committee the previous week. The Group’s findings, conclusions and recommendations in relation to strengthening working relationships and ensuring robust communication and information sharing channels between all flood risk management authorities, riparian land owners and the public in general, had been well received. The Committee had also supported the Task and Finish Group’s recommendation that a Working Group of all the organisations involved with the work should continue to meet on an annual basis for the purpose of highlighting any major issues or problems which were being encountered, and for sharing information on major projects that were being planned.
Resolved: that the
feedback received from representatives following their attendance at various
meetings on the Committee’s behalf be received and noted.
The meeting concluded at 11.30am.