Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Ruthin

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES

Additional documents:

Decision:

There were no apologies.

Minutes:

There were no apologies.

 

2.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS pdf icon PDF 116 KB

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

Additional documents:

Decision:

Councillor Meirick Davies – Personal Interest – Agenda Items 6 & 8

Councillor Glenn Swingler – Personal Interest – Agenda Item 5 & 8

Councillor Rhys Thomas – Personal Interest – Agenda Item 8

Minutes:

Members declared a personal interest in the following –

 

Councillor Meirick Davies – Agenda Item 6 as Chair of the North Wales Fire Authority and Agenda Item 8 because he rented a council garage

 

Councillor Glenn Swingler – Agenda Item 5 as a Support Worker for people with learning disabilities and Agenda Item 8 because he was a Denbigh Town Councillor

 

Councillor Rhys Thomas – Agenda Item 8 because he was a Denbigh Town Councillor

 

3.

URGENT MATTERS

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.  

Additional documents:

Decision:

No urgent matters had been raised requiring a decision.

Minutes:

No urgent matters had been raised requiring a decision.

 

A question had been received from Councillor Rhys Thomas which the Leader had agreed could be dealt with under urgent matters.

 

Councillor Rhys Thomas submitted the following question –

 

“In the light of the news that Hitachi have put on hold their work at Wylfa Newydd due to escalating costs, has the Cabinet considered the implications of this news on the North Wales Growth Bid relying heavily as it does on two other major projects connected to the nuclear industry?”

 

The Leader responded to the question advising that because the announcement had only been made at the end of the previous week the Cabinet had not yet had opportunity to consider the matter.  However the North Wales Economic Ambition Board (NWEAB) had met with representatives from Welsh Government and Horizon Nuclear Power the previous day and had issued the following statement –

 

“The Board fully supports the development of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey and the economic benefits this will deliver for the entire region.


We are committed to building on the close working relationships already established with the UK and Welsh Governments, the private sector and Horizon Nuclear Power, and together are exploring next steps and the best way forward.


The Board would like to make it clear the decision to suspend work on Wylfa Newydd will in no way impact on any projects in the North Wales Growth Deal. Those projects stand alone with approved business cases and will be crucial to the further economic prosperity of the area.


We will now enter into further discussions with the UK and Welsh Governments to look at additional support and funding opportunities in light of this decision.”

 

A supplementary question was permitted and Councillor Rhys Thomas asked whether there would be opportunity for other renewable energy projects for North Wales more advantageous to Denbighshire if the project did not proceed.  The Leader responded that the NWEAB continued to support the development and discussions were ongoing with those involved to progress the project as originally intended if possible.  If that could not be achieved there would be opportunities to revisit existing projects within the Growth Bid which might not require so much focus on nuclear energy for the region.  There was also an opportunity to seek additional funding from the UK Government for the Growth Deal which if successful would enable other projects to emerge.

 

4.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 406 KB

To receive the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 18 December 2018 (copy enclosed). 

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 18 December 2018 be received and confirmed as a correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 18 December 2018 were submitted.

 

Matters Arising – Page 8, Item 4 Minutes – Cabinet 30 October 2018 (Gypsy and Traveller Site Provision) – Councillor Peter Scott queried progress with analysing the pre planning consultation responses and given the rumours circulating about the issue he requested clarity for St. Asaph residents.  Councillor Tony Thomas confirmed that the analysis was nearing completion, no decision had yet been made, and a report would be presented for a decision in the Spring.  To address the rumours the Leader agreed that the Council publicly confirm the current position.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 18 December 2018 be received and confirmed as a correct record.

 

5.

NORTH WALES LEARNING DISABILITY STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To consider a report by Councillor Bobby Feeley, Lead Member for Well-being and Independence (copy enclosed) seeking Cabinet approval of the involvement of Denbighshire in the Regional Learning Disability Strategy.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED that Cabinet approves the involvement of Denbighshire County Council in the Regional Learning Disability Strategy.

Minutes:

Councillor Bobby Feeley presented the report enclosing the North Wales Learning Disability Strategy 2018 – 2023 and seeking Cabinet approval of the involvement of the Council in that Strategy.

 

The Strategy had been developed jointly by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and the six North Wales councils and was supported by Public Health Wales.  It involved a regional approach working towards integrated learning disability services in North Wales and had been informed by people with a learning disability and their carers with a view to achieving a better quality of life for those with learning disabilities.  The Strategy included five work areas and was in line with the Council’s corporate priorities.  The costs of delivery had been supported by £1.7m Welsh Government funding and should not create an additional pressure locally.

 

Cabinet discussed the documents with the Lead Member and officers who –

 

·         provided assurances with regard to equality issues and accessing services

·         confirmed the challenges presented in meeting the needs in rural areas which had been identified and much work was ongoing in that regard to mitigate negative impacts in terms of safeguarding and promoting independence

·         confirmed that a regional approach would strengthen services not dilute them

·         explained the grant funding provision which continued for future years and the need to keep up with increasing demand for services.

 

Responding to questions from non-Cabinet members the Lead Member and officers –

 

·         confirmed that services could be provided through the medium of Welsh

·         reported upon the position with regard to the response of bus companies in terms of fair play for people with learning disabilities through self-advocacy

·         advised that safeguarding and the digital age was a wider issue and there were clear protocols around internet abuse which was a separate issue

·         confirmed that relevant training could be arranged for councillors

·         explained that the regional funding must be used for specific purposes and one of the five work areas in the Strategy focused on workforce development

·         indicated that the Strategy was currently being translated and a Welsh version would be made available as soon as possible.

 

RESOLVED that Cabinet approves the involvement of Denbighshire County Council in the Regional Learning Disability Strategy.

 

6.

HOUSING RENT SETTING & HOUSING REVENUE AND CAPITAL BUDGETS 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To consider a report by Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets (copy enclosed) seeking Cabinet approval for the Denbighshire Housing annual rent increase, the Housing Revenue Account Capital and Revenue Budgets for 2019/20 and Housing Stock Business Plan.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED that –

 

(a)       the Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2019/20 (Appendix 1 to the report) and the Housing Stock Business Plan (Appendix 2 to the report) be adopted, and

 

(b)       rents for Council dwellings be increased in accordance with the Welsh Government Policy for Social Housing Rents to an average weekly rent of £89.77 with effect from Monday 1 April 2019.

Minutes:

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill presented the report seeking Cabinet approval for the Denbighshire Housing annual rent increase, the Housing Revenue Account Capital and Revenue Budgets for 2019/20 and Housing Stock Business Plan.

 

Councillor Thompson-Hill guided members through the budget figures and income level assumptions which had been calculated taking into account the Welsh Government Rent Policy for social housing rents and mechanism for uplifting rents.  The uplift for 2019/20 was 2.4% and would leave 40% of homes at target rent levels.  The current policy ended in 2018/19 and the increase for 2019/20 was a one year interim policy with an announcement from Welsh Government on future rent policy expected in April 2019.  The annual review of the Housing Stock Business Plan showed it remained robust and financially viable and there were sufficient resources to support the management and supervision of the housing service and the investment needs of the stock.

 

During consideration of the report the following issues were discussed –

 

·         the requirement to include bad debt provision was explained together with the impact of Universal Credit and the Council’s proactive approach in that regard and providing financial advice and support to tenants – it was noted that rent collection rates remained high and arrears were amongst the lowest in Wales

·         in terms of the loss of income on Voids it was acknowledged that time was taken for completion of works to ensure the empty property was of a high standard – benefits included minimum disruption to future tenants and a high quality home with less repairs costs going forward which was appreciated by tenants

·         it was noted that garages were not dealt with in the report because they were not subject to the Welsh Government Rent Policy and would be reviewed by the Head of Service under delegated authority – historically garage rents tended to be increased in line with housing rents.  Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts felt there would be merit for Cabinet to set garage rent levels when setting housing rent levels.  The review of garages was nearing completion and the Leader asked that members be informed on conclusion of the review which would also be an opportune time to consider the point raised by Councillor Hilditch-Roberts

·         it was accepted that the Denbighshire Tenants and Residents Federation could be more representative however a good relationship existed with tenants and there was a detailed engagement plan to gain feedback and inform future plans

·         it was appreciated that any increase in rent could have an impact on some tenants’ ability to meet their financial commitments and officers would continue to help customers manage their finances effectively and maximise their income.  The need to ensure affordability and value for money was acknowledged and initial feedback from the latest STAR survey indicated 89% of tenants considered their home provided value for money.

 

RESOLVED that –

 

(a)       the Housing Revenue Account Budget for 2019/20 (Appendix 1 to the report) and the Housing Stock Business Plan (Appendix 2 to the report) be adopted, and

 

(b)       rents  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE STRATEGIC INVESTMENT GROUP pdf icon PDF 226 KB

To consider a report by Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets (copy enclosed) seeking Cabinet’s support of projects identified for inclusion in the 2019/20 Capital Plan.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED that the projects detailed in Appendix 1 to the report for inclusion in the 2019/20 Capital Plan be supported and recommended to full Council.

Minutes:

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill presented the report seeking Cabinet’s support of projects identified for inclusion in the 2019/20 Capital Plan as recommended by the Strategic Investment Group (SIG) and detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

Councillor Thompson-Hill guided members through the report and explained the funding available for block allocations for on-going programmes of work which also included provisional allocations pending confirmation of additional general capital grant funding of £1.680m.  The additional grant funding had since been confirmed by Welsh Government and therefore the provisional allocations could also be confirmed.  The work of the SIG in reviewing the bids for allocations was highlighted and the summary of their recommendations was elaborated upon further at the meeting.  In response to a question from Councillor Gwyneth Kensler it was confirmed that part of the block allocation for highways did contain an element for footway repair which would be prioritised as appropriate by that department.

 

RESOLVED that the projects detailed in Appendix 1 to the report for inclusion in the 2019/20 Capital Plan be supported and recommended to full Council.

 

At this juncture (11.30 a.m.) the meeting adjourned for a refreshment break.

 

8.

BUDGET 2019/20 - FINAL PROPOSALS pdf icon PDF 370 KB

To consider a report by Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets (copy enclosed) setting out the implications of the Local Government Settlement 2019/20 and proposals to finalise the budget for 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED that Cabinet –

 

(a)       notes the impact of the Local Government Settlement 2019/20;

 

(b)       supports the proposals outlined in Appendix 1 to the report which were in line with the proposals presented at the members budget workshop held on 11 January 2019, and accordingly recommends them to the full Council in order to finalise the 2019/20 budget;

 

(c)        approves the savings totalling £223k listed in Appendix 2 as part of the budget package;

 

(d)       recommends to Council the average Council Tax rise of 6.35%, which recognises a range of significant pressures, including the increasing cost pressures in adults and children’s social care and supports the allocation of £2.0m of additional funding across the two services, and

 

(e)       confirms that it has read, understood and taken account of the Well-being Impact Assessments submitted as part of the report.

Minutes:

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill presented the report setting out the implications of the Local Government Settlement 2019/20 and proposals to finalise the budget for 2019/20, including the level of Council Tax.

 

Councillor Thompson-Hill provided an overview of the budget process and latest budget position and elaborated upon the proposals for consideration and recommendation to full Council in order to set the budget for 2019/20.  The final settlement had resulted in a cash-flat funding position but for the funding position to have remained neutral in terms of minimum funding pressures the settlement would have needed to be closer to +5%.  Pressures included pay, pension, National Living Wage, price/energy inflation, fire service levy, allowances for increases to the Council Tax reduction scheme, reduction in DWP Administration Grant and central contingencies.  Local budget pressures in priority areas had also been recognised including social care, schools and transport.  A 6.35% rise in Council Tax had been proposed to raise an additional £797k compared to the Council Tax rise in 2018/19, to be used as part of the overall package to address the budget deficit – this included an additional £2m to social care.

 

The Chief Executive thanked Cabinet members and officers for putting the package of savings together which protected frontline services as far as possible whilst also recognising demand pressures.  The package had been achieved by focusing on efficiencies and developing alternative delivery models.  It was acknowledged that difficult choices had been made, including around the level of Council Tax, and it was also recognised that future years would likely be equally challenging.

 

During consideration of the report Cabinet members discussed the proposals at length and, along with officers, also responded to various questions which related to specific areas within their portfolios covering a wide range of different issues.

 

Main areas of debate focused on the following –

 

·        the rationale behind the proportion of proposed additional funding allocation to Community Support Services (CSS) and Children and Education Services (CES) was discussed given the differential in the base budgets.  It was noted that funding proposals had been based on demand projections for the individual services in order to appropriately address the immediate issues in each service area.  The strategy for dealing with CSS also included the use of a specific reserve to manage the pressure and the likely availability of additional grant support for 2019/20 had also been considered.  CSS and CES were both statutory services but whereas the majority of services for adults could be delivered within the county, the needs for some children had to be met outside of the county in specialist provision at a significant cost.  An additional £750k had been allocated to CES in the last financial year and an additional £1.5m was proposed for 2019/20 – it was hoped that the approach to raise the base budget would address the issue long-term

·        the Council continued to support schools by funding pay and related inflation and movement in pupils numbers.  Schools had been asked to identify savings of 2% and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

FINANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 371 KB

To consider a report by Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets (copy enclosed) detailing the latest financial position and progress against the agreed budget strategy.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED that Cabinet note the budgets set for 2018/19 and progress against the agreed budget strategy.

Minutes:

Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill presented the report detailing the latest financial position and progress against the agreed budget strategy.  He provided a summary of the Council’s financial position as follows –

 

·        the net revenue budget for 2018/19 was £194.418m (£189.252m in 2017/18)

·        an overspend of £0.756m was forecast for service and corporate budgets

·        detailed agreed savings and efficiencies worth £4.6m including those which had already been achieved with the assumption that all service efficiencies/savings would be delivered – any exceptions would be reported to Cabinet if required

·        highlighted current risks and variances relating to individual service areas, and

·        provided a general update on the Housing Revenue Account, Housing Capital Plan and the Capital Plan (including the Corporate Plan element).

 

Cabinet members responded to a number of questions raised elaborating upon the reasoning behind the overspend in Customers, Communications and Marketing and Highways and Environmental services.  In terms of school transport the issue as to whether the budget would be best placed in Highways and Environment or Education and Children’s Services had been debated previously although it was an acknowledged pressure which need to be resolved wherever it was located.

 

RESOLVED that Cabinet note the budgets set for 2018/19 and progress against the agreed budget strategy.

 

10.

CABINET FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 429 KB

To receive the enclosed Cabinet Forward Work Programme and note the contents. 

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED that Cabinet’s Forward Work Programme be noted.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Forward Work Programme was presented for consideration and it was noted that the following item would be added to the future work programme for March – Implementation of an Alternative Delivery Model for various leisure related activities/functions (to approve the business case).

 

RESOLVED that Cabinet’s Forward Work Programme be noted.

 

11.

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the Press and Public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it would involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 12, 14 and 15 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

12.

IMPLEMENTATION OF AN ALTERNATIVE DELIVERY MODEL (ADM) FOR VARIOUS LEISURE RELATED ACTIVITIES/FUNCTIONS

To consider a confidential joint report by Councillors Bobby Feeley, Lead Member for Well-being and Independence and Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets (copy enclosed) seeking Cabinet approval of the project brief.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED that Cabinet –

 

(a)       approves the Project Brief attached to the report to enable the full Business Case for the Project to be progressed, and

 

(b)       confirms that it has read, understood and taken account of the Well-being Impact Assessment (Appendix B to the report) as part of its consideration.

Minutes:

Councillors Bobby Feeley and Julian Thompson-Hill presented the joint confidential report seeking Cabinet approval of the Alternative Delivery Model (ADM) Project Brief, to enable the full business case for the project to be progressed.

 

The value and importance of the Council’s leisure service provision was highlighted and there had been significant investment in its facilities.  The reasoning behind the project was explained in order to maintain and hopefully improve that provision given the financial constraints facing the authority and the significant savings which could be generated by such an approach.  The purpose of the project brief was to consider the scope in relation to which leisure related activities/functions should be progressed to business case at this stage whilst also acknowledging potential opportunities to add functions/activities in the future as appropriate.  The rationale behind the elements of provision proposed to be included within the scope of the project brief was explained in order to reflect the core leisure business and those elements which lent themselves to a more commercial approach.

 

Cabinet discussed the merits of the project brief and scope of leisure related activities to be included as part of the next stage.  Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts asked that a scoring matrix be used to assess those elements for inclusion to ensure clear reasoning behind the decision to include or exclude particular elements together with detailed costings.  Assurances were provided that the level of detail would be included within the business case.  Further discussion focused on the staffing and resource elements of the proposal and it was clarified that although further work was required in terms of developing the operational costs which would be included as part of the business case, savings could be delivered immediately in terms of business rate relief and VAT exemptions.  In terms of the impact on the Welsh Language assurances were given that the issue would be dealt with as part of any future governance arrangements and adherence to the Council’s policy would be included in the terms and conditions of the new alternative delivery company.  Further assurances were also provided in terms of ensuring that leisure services remained affordable to residents given the focus on a more commercial approach.  With regard to timescales the intention was to provide information on the business case to Cabinet Briefing in February, followed by a Members Workshop in March, a decision on the business case being considered by Cabinet post the Members Workshop with the final decision being made by Council in April.

 

RESOLVED that Cabinet –

 

(a)       approves the Project Brief attached to the report to enable the full Business Case for the Project to be progressed, and

 

(b)       confirms that it has read, understood and taken account of the Well-being Impact Assessment (Appendix B to the report) as part of its consideration.

 

The meeting concluded at 14.15 hrs.

 

 
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