ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW 2020 TO 2021
To consider a joint report by the Strategic Planning Team Manager and Strategic Planning and Performance Team Leader (copy attached) providing a quarterly and end of year analysis of the progress in delivery of the Corporate Plan and highlighting specific projects and action for delivery in 2021 to 2022.
11.45 am – 12.15 pm
Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets introduced the report (previously circulated) which provided a quarterly and end of year analysis of the progress in delivery of the Corporate Plan and highlighted specific projects and actions for delivery in 2021 to 2022. Feedback was sought on the draft Annual Performance Review 2020 to 2021 prior to approval of the final document by Council in July.
The Committee was guided through the report which had expanded to combine a number of previously separate reports into one document, meeting the Council’s requirements under a number of pieces of legislation including the new Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. The report provided a retrospective evaluation of the Council’s success in delivering against its plans during 2020 to 2021 and looked ahead to what could be delivered in 2021 to 2022. It included a narrative on progress in delivering corporate priorities, including the current status and programme success. The Project Register and Corporate Risk Register had also been included within the document.
The Strategic Planning Team Manager provided a brief update against priorities –
· Housing – progress was good although numbers on the SARTH waiting list had increased with work ongoing to understand the reasoning behind the increase and explore potential solutions to managing the waiting list. The Council was largely on track to deliver the 1000 extra homes committed by March 2022 although there may be some slippage regarding council housing due to Covid
· Connected Communities – this area was currently a priority for improvement largely due to road conditions and broadband infrastructure. However projects were in place to address broadband infrastructure which were progressing well. The events infrastructure project would be delivered in the next financial year
· Resilient Communities – a number of key projects had been completed and overall good progress was being made against this priority
· Environment – there had been a significant development in terms of adoption of a Climate and Ecological Change Strategy and good progress was being made. Delivery against the timetable in terms of the energy efficiency of council homes remained challenging due to Covid restrictions although the work was still in the pipeline and there was a plan in place for its delivery
· Young People – the impact of Covid had been significant and was still ongoing and therefore it was difficult to draw conclusions about the impact on children’s education and their potential attainment in the future. The level of youth unemployment had also grown exponentially due to Covid and an area of concern however there were numerous interventions in place to address it.
The Lead Member explained the performance measuring definitions where there was comparable data with other local authorities. Assurances were provided that whilst there were areas of priority for improvement it did not necessarily mean that performance levels were poor but that Denbighshire’s performance was below the median level in relation to the other local authorities in Wales.
The Strategic Planning and Performance Team Leader provided an overview of the new corporate health section of the report in order to satisfy the need to self-assess under the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. It focused on seven key governance areas and provided a wider picture about the context in which the Council was operating when delivering its performance objectives. It also sought to draw out any key actions to improve performance going forward.
During the ensuing debate members took the opportunity to raise questions and discussed various aspects of the report with the Lead Member and officers present. Main discussion points focused on the following –
· the Council’s final position on service and corporate budgets for 2020/21 was an underspend of £9.457m. This included a schools underspend of £7.058 largely due to school closures during lockdown and some late grant funding received from the Welsh Government. The remaining balance largely related to delayed expenditure by services as a result of the pandemic
· the report included a high level summary of spend and the outturn position and impact on services was further explained. The Lead Member agreed to provide Councillor Paul Penlington with a detailed cost breakdown relating to Highways, Facilities & Environmental Services and Education & Children’s Services outside of the meeting. With regard to the improved school position, assurances were given that schools would retain that underspend
· elaborated on the situation of Denbighshire Leisure Limited (DLL) which had been set up as a stand-alone company on 1 April 2020 and subsequent impact of the pandemic on trade – practically all of the loss of income that otherwise had been anticipated coming into DLL had been claimed back from Welsh Government as part of their funding package
· Councillor Martyn Holland advised that the report had also been considered by the Governance and Audit Committee and provided an opportunity to identify any areas which may warrant further response or scrutiny. He highlighted (1) the proposed removal of measures relating to C roads and unclassified roads from the framework, and (2) the unsuccessful procurement relating to Ruthin Extra Care Housing due to the high specification as potential issues
· the 20% affordable housing requirement for the development on land adjacent to Ysgol Pendref in Denbigh (which was double the 10% affordable housing stipulation in the Local Development Plan) had been based on market testing
· confirmed the reference to the ‘number of Welsh books borrowed per capita’ (Library Services, page 46) referred to books published in the Welsh Language
· the Chair highlighted that only 42% of residents felt satisfied with the availability of housing in their area and that the number of people on the SARTH waiting list had also increased. The Head of Customers, Communications and Marketing confirmed it was an area of concern that was being explored further and welcomed the opportunity to report back to a future scrutiny meeting thereon
· it was expected that the performance data due in June relating to various measures would be available in time to be included within the final document for submission to Council in July
· confirmed there was no additional cost associated with the creation of the report except in terms of officer time as part of the usual process
· in terms of housing need the location for council homes was largely driven by the Local Development Plan and needs assessment for housing with social housing being built where demand was highest – unfortunately it was not possible to meet all the demand in the county
· with regard to the tree planting programme for disadvantaged communities, a community orchard had been developed in Denbigh and there were plans to develop it further. There had been a challenge in Upper Denbigh to find suitable land on which to plant more trees which Countryside Services had tried to address by adapting outdoor spaces for further planting opportunities and therefore work was ongoing to address the challenges encountered.
At the conclusion of the discussion it was –
RESOLVED that, subject to the comments outlined above, to endorse the information on the Council’s performance during 2020/21 and the projects it aimed to deliver during 2021/22 as detailed in the Annual Performance Review report.