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 urgent items.
(a) Question put forward by Councillor Paul Penlington:
We were asked to come up with proposals to submit to the Westminster Government led Levelling Up Fund on 25 June, the deadline being Friday 2 July. As the deadline has now passed, can you tell us how many proposals have been received from Members, who submitted them, the details of each proposal, and what will the process now be for considering which proposals will be developed for submission to the Local Fund allocation?
Response by the Leader, Councillor Hugh Evans:
An email was sent to the Member Area Groups (MAGs) which fell under the MPs Constituency of Vale of Clwyd and Clwyd West. These were the Elwy, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Denbigh and Ruthin MAGs.
Members were asked to complete a form setting out some initial project ideas to be discussed with the MP for that constituency that could potentially be considered for inclusion in the Levelling-Up bid.
Responses were received from 5 Members suggesting a variety of projects including redevelopment of Town Centre buildings and rural community buildings.
The project ideas will be discussed with the MP and there will be an opportunity to discuss the member project ideas as well as suggestions from the MP and officers in more detail in the future Member Area Group meetings which will be held in July.
Any future bids, including all the projects, require the support of the MP.
Councillor Paul Penlington asked a Supplementary Question –
The promised £20million must be allocated to projects which can be delivered by March 2024, just before the next general election. Continued longevity of this funding is unknown as it has not been set out yet, making proper Local Authority planning for it very difficult. The timescale for bids is shockingly tight and any funding bids put forward will eventually be approved or not by the Local MP and not County Councillors. As there is no knowing what the future will bring and democracy has been subsumed by Westminster, DCC Services and local Members are now being forced to scramble over short term localised funding decisions for their own areas.
Will this levelling up fund support the future Corporate Plan now under discussion and the wider North Wales Growth Deal?
Further response by the Leader, Councillor Hugh Evans:
The £20m is per constituency so the Vale of Clwyd is the constituency of one MP, Clwyd West is between Conwy and Denbighshire.
This is a new way of working for us in Denbighshire. It is a challenge meeting the deadlines as they are very tight. The deadlines are very tight, as you highlighted, and the experience we had in Clwyd South proved to be a challenge for us to get that bid in by June. That said, whether we agree with it or not, there is a potential for investment in our authority here and the only way we can use the Levelling-Up Fund is by embracing the opportunity, working with the two MPs involved and trying to come up with projects that fit our communities.
That is why I think it is important we have created an engagement process with the two MPs and Members to come up with projects that accommodate their aspiration but more importantly, accommodate our aspiration in the locality as well.
The key is we will create a process where the MP’s will engage with Councillors in developing projects which appease the MP but also ourselves. That is really important and both MPs have agreed to come to the MAGs to discuss in July.
The potential for improving our communities is substantial with the Levelling-Up fund. It is not an ideal way of working and I accept that, but this is only the starting point for the shared prosperity fund which will come down the line in a few years.
It is important that we, as an Authority, not only embrace it, but also give confidence to funders that we can deliver and that was the key point that came out in the Clwyd South, that the projects have to be deliverable.
Are they aligned to the existing Corporate Plan? Not necessarily, but we have not really discussed the projects in detail. Could they be aligned to the Corporate Plan of the next Council, yes, of course they could, and the new Members would be better placed to test that out with the next Corporate Plan.
It is an opportunity for investment and it is an opportunity we should seize and make it happen for Denbighshire.
(b) Petition from Councillor Ann Davies:
On behalf of the residents of Nant Close, Rhuddlan, I would like to present this petition against the planting of wild flowers in residential areas, feet from their homes. Whilst we are in favour of biodiversity and understand Denbighshire County Council have a duty to deliver this plan and the Denbighshire County Council Bee Friendly certificate clearly states, involve the community. Residents are disappointed that they were not consulted and feel they have lost their green space, somewhere for the children to play, their security and are calling for the grass to be cut.
The Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services, Gary Williams clarified that in ordinary circumstances, the petition would be handed in personally but as the meeting is being held remotely, it will be sent in to County Hall and forwarded to the relevant Department for a response within 14 days.