Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Conference Room 1A, County Hall, Ruthin

No. Item





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



Councillors Graham Timms, Glenn Swingler, Meirick Lloyd Davies, Brian Blakeley, Cheryl Williams, Anton Sampson, Tina Jones, Peter Scott, Mark Young, Rhys Thomas and Tony Thomas together with David Lloyd and Neil Roberts all declared a personal interest in item 5, as they were all School Governors.




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 were raised.



MINUTES pdf icon PDF 341 KB

To receive the minutes of the Communities Scrutiny Committee held on 13 December 2018 (copy attached).

10.00 a.m. – 10.05 a.m.



The minutes of the Communities Scrutiny meeting held on 13 December, 2018 were submitted.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Communities Scrutiny meeting held on 13 December, 2018 be received and approved as a correct record.




To consider a report by the Principal Manager: Modernising Education / Lead Officer: Facilities, Assets & Housing (copy attached) for Communities Scrutiny Committee to examine the revised School Meal Debt Policy.

10.05 a.m. – 10.45 a.m.


Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets introduced the joint report by the Principal Manager Modernising Education and the Lead Officer:  Facilities, Assets and Housing (previously circulated) which presented the Committee with the revised School Meal Debt Policy for examination. 


In light of recent high profile and national press coverage in relation to school meal debts, and with a view to ensuring that the policy included tighter safeguarding measures, a decision had been taken to redraft the policy.  Whilst re-drafting the policy, officers had taken the opportunity to tighten the procedures regarding the non-payment of school meal debts and to highlight the support available from the Council in relation to school meals debts to parents. 


During his introduction the Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets emphasised the importance of safeguarding pupils and how the provision of school meals and the application of the school meal debt policy supported the safeguarding agenda, through early intervention and signposting parents to appropriate assistance and support that was available to them.  He emphasised that the issuing of a school meal debt letter was the very last resort, after all other ‘softer’ measures, including the offer of advice, help and support had failed.  He confirmed that the level of school meal debt in the county had reduced significantly since the end of the 2018 calendar year, from circa £48K to approximately £20K.  Letters were used as a last resort, when all else had failed, and issued to those families whom the authority was aware were in a position to pay the outstanding debt.


The Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People advised members that the Council had learnt lessons following the letters issued in relation to school meal debt at the end of 2018.  The County had a clear policy which it now applied consistently across all schools which was to feed every child to ensure that they flourished in all aspects of their education. 


Estyn, when inspecting the Council’s Education Service, had rated the Service as having excellent leadership and concluded that children in the county were well supported.  As both Education Services and Children’s Services were managed by the same Head of Service they were able to share information freely with each other which led to the services having a detailed understanding of every school pupil’s education and welfare needs.  The Head of Education emphasised that whilst poverty could be a cause for the accrual of a school meal debt, that aspect could be counteracted and supported through supporting parents to apply for free school meals (FSMs) and signposting them to other support.  Safeguarding concerns were different as they could occur anywhere, regardless of affluence or poverty. 


She advised that the county’s Headteachers and staff within both Education and Children’s Services had been consulted on the revised policy.


Responding to members’ questions both Lead Members, the Head of Education and Children’s Services and the Lead Officer:  Facilities, Assets and Housing:

·       confirmed that the wording of the letter in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

At this juncture (11.05 a.m.) there was a 10 minute break.


The meeting reconvened at 11.15 a.m.





To consider a report by the Lead Officer: Property and Housing Stock (copy attached) to update Communities Scrutiny Committee following the Pre-Planning Consultation process.

11.00 a.m. – 12.15 p.m.


Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Housing, Regulation and the Environment introduced the report (previously circulated) to update Scrutiny on the Pre Planning Consultation exercise undertaken in respect of the provision of residential and transit Gypsy & Traveller sites.


The report provided a breakdown and overview of the responses to the Council’s Pre Planning Consultation process.


During his introduction the Lead Member advised that over 700 responses had been received to the consultation exercise and he thanked all who had responded for engaging with the process.


The Corporate Director:  Communities, via a PowerPoint presentation:

  • emphasised that Cabinet had chosen to undertake this exercise, although it was not a process it was required by law to undertake in relation to this proposal;
  • gave an overview of the pre-planning consultation process;
  • summarised local activity around the consultation;
  • highlighted the Equality concerns raised as part of the consultation;
  • confirmed that a total of 774 responses had been received from respondents whose addresses covered a wide geographical area.  Of the 774 responses received, 20% of respondents had used a template letter to submit their response, and within the responses received a total of 4526 issues had been recorded;
  • advised that the Equalities Commission had been taking an interest in the proposal and process.  Approximately 17% of the responses received had contained inappropriate comments, however these responses had not been disregarded in their entirety.  Any inappropriate elements had been disregarded, with all appropriate comments considered as part of the overall analysis.  One complaint in relation to an equalities matter had been registered with the Council;
  • advised that 160 people had attended the ‘drop-in’ event held as part of the consultation exercise;
  • advised that the main issues raised in the feedback received were location, information in relation to the proposals, highways matters, economic impact, the Local Development Plan (LDP), security matters and crime rates, impact on the community, financial costs, health and health and safety matters, the proximity of both sites to one another and the visual impact on the local area;
  • confirmed that whilst not all of the issues raised were material planning matters, they were important and of concern to local residents.  Officers were satisfied that the material planning matters could be satisfactorily mitigated against and addressed via the formal planning process, whilst extensive research suggested that the perceived impacts of the sites on the area and community were unlikely to be realised.


Prior to opening the session to the Committee for questions the Chair emphasised that the purpose of the discussion at the meeting was to analyse the pre-planning exercise undertaken, and the responses received, in relation to the proposed transit and residential Gypsy and Traveller sites on the Green-gates Farm (East) site in St. Asaph.  It was not to revisit any earlier decisions in relation to the gypsy and traveller needs assessment or the proposed location as these matters had already been approved, reviewed and confirmed.  The Council Leader advised the Committee that Cabinet had taken Scrutiny’s views very seriously.  Cabinet needed to satisfy itself  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



To consider a report by the Scrutiny Co-ordinator (copy attached) seeking a review of the Committee’s forward work programme and updating members on relevant issues.

12.15 p.m. – 12.30 p.m.


Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Coordinator submitted a report (previously circulated) seeking members’ review of the Committee’s work programme and provided an update on relevant issues.


Due to the number of items on the forward work programme for the meeting taking place on 9 May 2019, it was agreed that two items be moved.  Therefore, the following were agreed:


9 May 2019


(i)              Universal Credit

(ii)             Denbighshire’s Learner Transport Policy: Non-Statutory Elements

(iii)           Ysgol Rhewl


4 July 2019


(i)              Planning Compliance Charter

(ii)             Caravan and Holiday Park Regulation Procedure

(iii)           Seagull Management Update

(iv)           Car Park Asset Management Plan


5 September 2019


(i)              Flood Management Responsibilities in Denbighshire

(ii)             Tourism Signage Strategy for Denbighshire

(iii)           Proposed new Waste and Recycling Service Design


The Scrutiny Coordinator confirmed that a Briefing would be held 45 minutes prior to the commencement of the Special Meeting regarding the Llantysilio Mountain Fire on Wednesday 20 March 2019.


RESOLVED that, subject to the above, the forward work programme as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report be approved.




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

12.30 p.m. – 12.40 p.m.







The meeting concluded at 1.25 p.m.



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