Venue: Council Chambers - Civic Centre. View directions
Contact: Anne Jenkins Governance Team Leader
i. To receive any apologies for absence.
ii. To receive any declarations of interest.
iii. To receive any announcements by the Mayor.
To confirm and sign the minutes of the last meeting dated 27 February 2020 and 28 July 2020.
The Minutes of the Council meeting held on 27 February and 28 July 2020.
Resolved: That the Minutes of 27 February and 28 July 2020 be recorded as a true record.
To consider any proposed appointments.
To consider the proposed appointments set out in the report
Councillor Harvey moved the appointments set out in the Report, as agreed by the Business managers, subject to the additional appointments set out below.
Resolved: That the following appointments be agreed.
Appointments to External Organisations
Governing Body Appointments
In addition to the above appointments, Councillor Harvey informed Council of the need to agree dispensations for Councillor absences, in accordance with section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972.
To approve and extend absence ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
30 minutes is allocated for questions to the Gwent Police representative.
Superintendent M Richards gave the Council an update on current police matters before inviting questions from councillors.
Crime had decreased during the past five months with 2,000 fewer offences; Covid would have played some part in this. Burglaries had reduced by comparison to other forces in Wales. August saw a low crime month with around 40/50 fewer incidents than the previous year. May and July this year saw the pro-active team deal with seizure of 200 vehicles, anti-social behaviour and supplying of drugs. Huge quantities of Class A drugs to the value of £5M was seized. Operation Washington resulted in seven drug dealers being arrested and most had received significant sentences.
Newport Central – Tackling antisocial behaviour was a priority as well as dealing with begging and drug misuse by the main bus station. The night time economy changed during the pandemic and footfall was very low. The Superintendent thanked M Cridland, Regulatory Services Manager, Commercial Standards and the Licensing Team for support visiting nightclubs. The Police, working in partnership with the local authority at the beginning of lockdown were able to re-house over 100 rough sleepers, this had a positive impact on anti social behaviour and begging.
Newport West – There was a spate shed burglaries in the early summer months in Allt-yr-yn and a number of people were arrested and charged. A new mutli-agency governance meeting as established; Safer Pill which was attended by members and residents. There were 25 arrests in the Pill area in August with numerous vehicles seized. The Travellers encampment at Sandpiper Way, Duffryn that had arrived in May had now gone. There had been several calls regarding off road bikes within the Bettws, Malpas and Shaftesburyarea, a number of these bikes were seized. The Superintendent was part of the Peterstone and Wentloog group; PRAID which met recently. There was an unsightly incident on Saturday 12 September where a number of travellers riding around on pony traps completely disrupted the City Centre, this took place during 2.30pm to 6pm. The Police had no intelligence it was taking place, the Travellers met in a pub car park in Duffryn before parading through Newport. The Police would be regularly monitoring the licenced premises in the future. Maseglas anti social behaviour teams were also looking into the issues.
Newport East - Car cruises in Spytty area were not taking place after a recent meeting with the Police. Inspector Cawley updated the Superintendent advising that anti social behaviour under George St Bridge, Corporation Road, Old Barn Estate and Black Ash were priorities. The Caerleon anti social behaviour team were also spending more time in this area.
The Leader thanked Superintendent Richards and the Police for their hard work during the pandemic. Both the Council and Police had seen challenging times and at every level, the engagement with Gwent Police had been really effective. The Leader recently met with the new Chief Superintendent and also wished to pass on her thanks. ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
The Leader presented the above report, highlighting that the covid-19 pandemic resulted in a shutdown of all non-essential businesses earlier this year. In response to this, Welsh Government provided a raft of measures intended to help businesses adversely affected from not being able to trade.
One of these measures was the introduction of a new rate relief scheme for businesses in the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality sectors which removed the need to pay any rates in 2020-21.
This important scheme required approval as it was based on the discretionary rate relief provisions. As Council was not sitting at the time, and due to the need to act quickly the scheme was approved by the Leader under emergency provisions.
This removed the worry of ratepayers paying their rates in 2020-21and the rate relief was swiftly applied to their rate accounts and notifications issued before the first instalment was due in April.
This report sought formal retrospective approval and ratification of the resolution agreeing to adopt the scheme.
That Council agreed to adopt the Welsh Government's Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rate Relief Scheme for 2020-21 by making the appropriate determination and decision, as required by Sections 47(1)(a) and 47(3) respectively of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, as set out in the Appendix to this report.
The Leader presented this report, detailing the treasury management activities of the Council for 2019/20. It was a backwards looking report confirming that all borrowing and investments undertaken during the financial year were expected and in line with the agreed limits set by full Council. It also confirmed that 2019/20 Prudential Indicators for treasury management were also met in line with those set by Council.
The Council’s current strategy was to fund capital expenditure through reducing investments (our internal borrowing) rather than undertake new borrowing where it can ie, we deferred taking out new long term borrowing and fund capital expenditure from the Council’s own cash resources -mainly reserves. By using this strategy the Council could also minimise cash holding at a time when counter-party risk remained relatively high, especially with the current economic implications during Covid-19.
The level of internal borrowing was around £87m, and by using this strategy it was estimated that Council saved about £2.6m in revenue costs based on current interest rates. This strategy could not be maintained as the council would be reducing its reserves over the medium term, for example, PFI reserves, therefore the council would need to ‘swap’ the internal borrowing for real borrowing in future.
The level of external borrowing the Council held at 31 March 2020 was still significant at £166m, this would increase in future years as our ability to internally borrow reduced as reserves were utilised as noted above.
Of this £166m, it was important to note that an additional £15m of borrowing was undertaken to enable the Council to be a front-runner in supporting the response to Covid-19 and administering business grants to businesses in Newport, prior to the funding being received by Welsh Government.
The investment balance at 31 March 2020 was £12.5m, taking net borrowing to £153.8m, this was an increase of £17.2m on the previous year. It was noted that the Council would keep a minimum investment balance to satisfy the requirements of being deemed a professional body for compliance purposes.
The report also detailed non-treasury investments as required by Welsh Government, including investments in directly owned property such as commercial and industrial units, loans to local businesses and landlords and shareholdings in subsidiaries; in our case, Newport Transport. The total value of these investments at 31 March 2020 was £14.5m.
Cabinet approved the report in July therefore the Leader now submitted the report to full Council for approval.
Councillor M Rahman thanked the Leader for taking the quick action and releasing the money for businesses, which saved families and businesses going under.
That Council noted and approved the report on treasury management activities for 2019/20, which were in line with the agreed Treasury Management Strategy for 2019/20.
The Leader of Newport City Council was pleased to be able to present to Council the authority’s third Strategic Equality Plan. The plan represented an evolution from the 2016-2020 plan, with more outcome based objectives that had been developed by working closely in partnership with various teams across the authority and in collaboration with key stakeholders and communities.
The Equality Objectives within the Strategic Equality Plan, had a good mix of internally focused objectives, such as our commitments to improving our workforce diversity through greater positive action, and more externally focused objectives such as the on-going commitment to improving community cohesion across the city. This balance of internal self-reflection and an outwardly focused commitment to improve equality in key areas of society was the strength of this strategy and represented a positive step forward for Newport City Council.
The past few months, and no doubt the next few months to come, were challenging, and had exposed many of the structural and social inequalities that continued to persist in society, from the global Black Lives Matter protests, to our exit from the European Union, and the ramifications of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Council found itself at a societal cross road as it looked to recover and learn from events that affected Newport, but had impacted specific groups in the communities so acutely.
The Council continued to strive to deliver equitable public services for all residents in the face of an increasingly challenging economic backdrop, without allowing the forces of division to create an environment of intolerance and hostility, this Strategy would help achieve this aim.
The Leader thanked both the Cabinet Member for Community and Resources, Cllr David Mayer and Cllr Mark Whitcutt for their contributions to the plan and the Strategic Equality Group over the past four years.
Cabinet approved the strategy at its meeting in July and the Leader moved for the adoption of this strategy by full Council.
The following issues were discussed:
Councillor Rahman, speaking as BAME Champion, welcomed the report and thanked Cllr Mayer and councillors for their time putting together the report’s sharing opinions from all the communities. The Leader and staff met with other groups to discuss bringing about community cohesion. Members of the public had been consulted online and through focus groups putting Newport at the forefront of other councils.
Councillor Wilcox supported the Leader’s comments adding that it was a milestone moving forward. The plan continued to be explicit on how to deliver services for Newport. The visuals and graphics were a step forward in how they talked to people. The Strategic Equality Group would support the delivery and scrutiny committee would have responsibility for monitoring progress. Councillor Wilcox added that she would like to see an opportunity for young people and youth groups to feed into the monitoring at some stage when we return to some form of normality, as they had a vital role to play for the future.
Councillor Whitcutt thanked the Leader for her gracious comments ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Questions to the Leader of the Council
To provide an opportunity for Councillors to ask questions to the Leader of the Council in accordance with the Council’s Standing Orders.
No more than 15 minutes will be allocated at the Council meeting for questions to the Leader of the Council.
The question must be addressed through the Mayor or the person presiding at the meeting and not directly to the person being questioned.
The Leader gave the following announcements, before proceeding with questions:
Joint inspection of child protection services
At the end of last year, children’s services and education were part of the first multi-agency inspection of its kind.
Care Inspectorate Wales, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation and Estyn carried out an in-depth inspection into child protection services in the city.
It evaluated how the Council, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Gwent Police, and the Probation Service responded to child exploitation.
The joint inspection found many strengths in all the services and made recommendations where it was felt improvements could be made.
It was a very welcome award, which had many positive things to say about council services in this very important area.
The council had extremely dedicated staff doing crucial work in collaboration with other agencies to try and keep children safe from physical, sexual or emotional harm.
The recommendations were taken on board to make sure every child in the Newport was protected and properly cared for.
Summer childcare schemes
More than 300 children were cared for and entertained in safe and secure venues in schemes run by the Council and partners.
During school closure, care was provided for the children of key workers and vulnerable children using Covid-19 funding, this came to an end before the school holidays and the Council decided to step in and continue childcare provision using some Welsh Government funding and a donation from First Campus.
As well as schemes for children aged two to 12, there was also a specialist care scheme, working with Duffryn Community Link, Clybiau Plant Cymru and Newport Live in order to offer as many places as possible.
Over five weeks, more than 268 children of key workers were able to use the schemes while more than 60 vulnerable children took up places.
The Leader thanked all staff, and our partners, who provided childcare and First Campus for its kind and generous contribution.
Commendation for scheme aimed at stopping young people getting involved in serious and organised crime
Serious and organised crime was a national problem and preventing young people from being preyed on and becoming involved in such criminality is a great concern. Newport had a successful partnership with Gwent Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, delivering interventions to vulnerable young people at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime.
The team worked with St Giles Trust, Crimestoppers and Barnardo’s to deliver a ground-breaking programme that educated young people about the risk of serious and organised crime, encouraging them to report their concerns to all nine secondary schools in Newport. The partnership was working to deliver more targeted intervention high risk young people. Earlier this month, the partnership was commended in the Gwent Police Awards 2020.
Even more young people are in education, training or work in Newport following a determined and coordinated effort by the council and ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Date of Next Meeting
To view the Webcast, clik on the link below:
Tuesday 5pm on 24 November 2020.