Agenda item

Agenda item


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.


At this juncture, Councillor Arwel Roberts put forward a Petition to Full Council regarding the Abergele Road in Rhuddlan.   He stated there had been a problem with drivers ignoring the speed limit along the Abergele Road and the petition was to lower the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph along the length of the road.  Councillor Roberts expressed his thanks to Rhuddlan Town Council for purchasing a speed indicator device and also to Denbighshire County Council for organising the device to be located.  The petition was also requesting a pedestrian crossing for walkers, residents and visitors for safety reasons when attempting to cross the road and there was a great need for more dropped kerbs for wheelchair users.  Councillor Roberts confirmed he would pass on the petition to the highways officers in Denbigh.


The Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services confirmed on receipt of the petition by the relevant department, a response would be sent to Councillor Arwel Roberts within 14 days.



At this juncture, Councillor Glenn Swingler put forward a question:


Has progress been made over the last 4 difficult years to prevent and also to support those Denbighshire families that are at risk of becoming homeless through no fault of their own?”


Response from the Lead Member for Bobby Feeley – “thank you for the question and for your continuing interest and empathy towards homelessness.  As you say anyone can find themselves homeless through no fault of their own. Progress has been made and every effort has been made to support families at risk of homelessness.  My ultimate ambition would be to see the end of homelessness here in Denbighshire although, strategically good progress has been made, some solutions will take a little more time to be delivered fully.  The last few years has been a difficult time, particularly for this service.  The pandemic has undoubtedly increased the workload and staff vacancies continue to impact on our homelessness service. We have a new structure which will focus on prevention and we have linked closer with housing.  There has been a reduction in the number of families presenting as homeless.  This is, obviously, partly to the Welsh Government preventing evictions during the pandemic but this lifts, we may well see more people coming through again.  We are in the process of tendering for HSG funding early intervention contract to prevent homelessness.  This will involve mediation, for example, with Landlords, maybe clearing debts, helping with rent arrears and help with all sorts of other family issues.  Over the last 12 months we have run a pilot project with Civica, which has been successful and, in fact, it has prevented 84 households from becoming homeless.  We have also used HSG monies to develop a specialist tenancy support workers team working across the county and the private rented sector to try and avoid people becoming homeless in the first place.  Welsh Government launched a tenancy hardship grant earlier this year to help those in arrears.  We have encouraged people to apply for this grant but, unfortunately, the take-up has not been as high as expected.  We have also worked with housing and Registered Social Landlords to take advantage of suspension of SARTH which has resulted in 99 households being given permanent tenancies.  When I read recent updates from internal audit, which goes to Partnerships Scrutiny Committee on 16 December, I was re-assured it had progressed well, in fact, I was surprised when I got towards the end I noticed it was still low assurance and I was perturbed by this so spoke to Lisa Harte in Internal Audit and she did agree with me that we had made progress but because certain areas had not been addressed sufficiently, we had to remain at a low assurance.  

A full and frank report will go to Partnerships Scrutiny on 16 December and there will be time for as many detailed questions and answers as members may have but, I hope this brief explanation will suffice for now.  Ann Lloyd who is Head of Service and Nicola Stubbins, Corporate Director covering social services are here this morning and if you wish to ask a supplementary question”


Councillor Swingler confirmed he would ask a supplementary question and thanked the Lead Member for the comprehensive response and wanted it noted that he supported the Homeless Prevention Team who did an awesome job.  “Has reorganisation worked or is there still more work to do and how bad are staffing levels?”


Councillor Bobby Feeley responded to the supplementary question as follows:

“it is going to work but very early days. The more holistic approach to homelessness and preventing it happening in the first place was required and hence the new structure.  We have improved regarding the staffing now but still have 1 vacancy.”


Ann Lloyd responded as follows:

“Following consultation, we did get everyone in post but, unfortunately, we lost some members of the team because they applied for other posts within the Council, so we have actually seen a significant change in the staffing team since the consultation and for a lot of them, that was promotion, so it was good for them, not good for us.  It has taken us a little while to get the team into a stable position but all the posts we wanted in our multi-disciplinary team are there.  We have a dedicated counsellor, a dedicated mental health practitioner, dedicated offending manager role, and social worker in the team.  We are just in the process of bringing in the final role of a substance misuse/ mental health person who has come on secondment from Betsi Cadwaladr who will still have access to all the mainstream provision through Betsi Cadwaladr services for substance misuse and mental health but will be dedicated to the homelessness team so picking up those individuals who have got lower level needs and medium level needs but still also being able to access some of the services there.  Biggest issue we have the moment is moving people from emergency accommodation into permanent tenancies and that is something we will struggle with for some time.  The housing market over the last 12 months has not helped at all because, obviously, rents have soared, property prices have soared so we are battling against getting affordable properties, but we have the corporate approach to that now.  We are working closely with other departments, Planning and Public Protection, Community Housing, and we have got the Senior Leadership Team Sub-Group who look at this from a corporate perspective.  Working together, we are really moving forward and we have recently received the Welsh Governments Ending Homeless High Action Plan which now needs to be looked at and we need to develop Rapid Re-Housing Transition Plan which is a five year plan as to how we are going to move to the Welsh Governments Rapid Re-Housing model that means as soon as someone comes into homelessness we virtually offer them a tenancy.  We are putting that support in place right away.  It is quite ambitious but with the support of the whole council we will get there.”


The Chair, Councillor Alan James suggested if any further statements were released, they could be circulated to all councillors and if any queries arose, they could contact the relevant officer direct.