Agenda and minutes

Budget, Council - Thursday, 29th February, 2024 5.00 pm

Venue: Council Chambers - Civic Centre

Contact: Anne Jenkins  Governance Team Leader


No. Item



        i.           To receive any apologies for absence.

      ii.           To receive any declarations of interest.

     iii.           To receive any announcements by the Presiding Member.

Additional documents:


1.i  Apologies


Councillors Jordan, Reeks, Hourahine and R Howells.


1.ii  Declarations of Interest


The following Councillors declared an interest in Item 6: Councillors Corten, Marshall, Horton, and Linton


1.iii  Presiding Member’s Announcements


The Presiding Member led a minute’s silence for former Councillor Sally Mlewa who sadly passed away earlier this month. Sally Mlewa was Councillor for Rogerstone Ward during 2012-2017. The Presiding Member passed on his thoughts to Sally’s family and friends.


The Leader also added that Sally was part of the 2012 intake and that it was a pleasure to work alongside her.  Sally was incredibly intelligent and diligently dedicated herself to Rogerstone ward. Sally was also a preacher and gave many of her colleagues’ comfort and strength with her wise words.


Councillor M Evans agreed that she was a passionate and intelligent woman who had made a difference.


Councillor Morris observed that Sally’s achievements were astonishing and that he was proud to be her friend.


Councillor Whitehead recalled the support Sally gave him when he joined the scrutiny committee.


Councillor Reynolds had attended Sally’s funeral and was in awe at all of Sally’s achievements. Councillor Reynolds reflected on how much she would be missed.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 212 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the last meeting.

Additional documents:


The Minutes of the last meeting held on 23 January 2024 were accepted as a true record.


Police Issues

30 minutes is allocated for questions to the Gwent Police representative.

Additional documents:


The Presiding Member introduced Superintendent J White of Gwent Police, who provided Council Members with an update on police issues within East, West, and Central Newport including tackling organised crime, thefts in shops, and e-bikes.


The Presiding Member invited the Leader to address Superintendent White.


The Leader offered her thanks to Gwent Police on behalf of the Council regarding the collaboration shown in relation to a number of public protests recently.  The Leader was pleased to see the police city centre team working with protestors and passed on her thanks.

The Leader asked for clarification on work being done to address knife crime in Gwent, following the recent publication of an article on this topic, and asked how councillors could support residents to access the facts regarding the work being done across the region.  Superintendent White confirmed that Inspector Welti had been given the portfolio regarding public engagement and the Police were benchmarking other forces to understand the level of knife crime issues being experienced. Street surgeries were being conducted to support communications. Inspector White considered this visibility within the community combined with transparency and working alongside councillors and stakeholders to get the message out to the community as being the right way to take this forward. As Superintendent of Newport, positive news was something that would be pushed further as well as conveying positive news at Council.


The Leader also mentioned that there were still safety issues relating to Almond Drive that were reported at last Council and asked if this could be picked up outside the meeting with Superintendent White.


The Leader thanked Superintendent White and staff for their support following recent security incidents she had experienced.


Councillor Cockeram thanked Police for their work in Shaftesbury.


Questions to the Police raised by Councillors:


§  Councillor Mogford had read online that some children were going to school on e-scooters and there was a near miss relating to this.  Councillor Mogford asked if the there was a police liaison with schools and if the police aware of this happening. Superintendent White advised that the police were committed to bridging the gap with funding police officers as school liaison until the end of the academic year. The police would also consider how to maintain the gap longer term.  Chief Superintendent Carl Williams was leading this and there was currently engagement with school liaison officers as part of an All-Wales approach including tackling e-scooters and knife crime. Preventative work to make sure young people did not get involved in criminal activity is key and the Superintendent would update Council on this matter. Changes around the sale and management of e-scooters would also be required to tackle the issue, taking a preventative approach.


§  Councillor Batrouni commended police for their work concerning bikes.  At a recent ward surgery with Maesglas and Gaer, residents had a fear of being hit by bikes. Councillor Batrouni asked if more could be done in relation to public engagement and building intelligence.  The Superintendent agreed that engagement  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Council Tax and Budget 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 174 KB

This item will include a motion by the Lliswerry Independent Group to amend the proposed budget.  A copy of the proposed amended budget may be found in in the report pack for this meeting.  No other alternative budgets were received prior to the deadline set out in Rules of Procedure in the Council’s Constitution


Additional documents:


The Presiding Member reminded members of the Council’s procedural rules in relation to proposed amendments and advised that there was an alternative budget proposal to amend the Council proposal which was circulated for information.


The Presiding Member invited the Leader of the Council to present the Council Tax report, approved by the Cabinet on 14th February 2024, for the 2024/25 financial year. 

Leader’s comments on the proposed budget


The Leader said that the Cabinet continued to develop the Council’s budget in a very challenging environment. Whilst inflation decreased over the year, the legacy of the covid pandemic, societal issues and the cost-of-living crisis were significant issues affecting the Council services.


Within that context, several key issues had to be addressed in the budget, including:


o   The demand on Council services continued to increase, particularly in housing services and children’s social care. There continued to be huge pressure on the most vulnerable families, individuals, and communities.


o   The Council’s spending levels were historically lower than comparable Councils in all service areas. The increased capacity required to deal with increasing demand for services and support must be acknowledged.


o   The Council has a vast amount of infrastructure and assets it is responsible for, and this is integral to delivery of services. Additional funding was required so that these could be maintained.


o   Inflation increases must be considered. Newport is a Living Wage employer, and the budget continued to ensure the external organisations the Council works with also pays a living wage.


The budget consultation was extensive with nearly 1,400 public responses received for the draft budget. The summary responses from the consultation and the minutes of the meetings with scrutiny, schools’ forum and unions were included in the papers. On those budget savings specifically consulted on; the consultation confirmed that almost all of them met with the majority or relatively high levels of support and agreement with the public.


The funding increases and decisions on budget investments recommended would ensure:


o   Increased school funding – both by investing more funds over and above cost inflation increases and by not making savings from school budgets. The Council is investing nearly £10m into school budgets for increased costs and increased pupil numbers.


o   Continued support for the most vulnerable families and individuals in communities. Investing nearly £12m in homelessness services, social care and additional learning needs budgets for cost increases and higher demand.


o   The need for investment in highway infrastructure and assets for service delivery.  Direct investments in these areas and the capital financing budgets contributed towards this.


The budget proposed £4.5m of new savings of which nearly £4m were efficiency savings with no service impacts. The consultation confirmed that residents understood and agreed with the vast majority of those savings.


Councils across the UK are finding it difficult to deliver more services with the funding available to them. Savings which do not have significant impact on the services provided are becoming harder and harder to find.



The overall budget therefore struck  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Capital Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:


The Presiding Member invited the Leader to present the Capital and Treasury Management Strategy for 2024/25.


The Leader stated that this is an annual report focusing on the Council’s capital expenditure plans, the financial impact of those in terms of borrowing, and investment strategy for the year.


The Council was asked to approve both strategies for the year, including the prudential indicators and limits within them.


It was noted that both the Cabinet and the Governance and Audit Committee considered the report in their most recent meetings. Governance and Audit Committee endorsed the proposed strategies, with no concerns raised.


It was also noted that this version of the strategy was updated to reflect the announcements made in Cabinet on 14 February, in relation to additional annual sums investment and an increase in borrowing capacity.


In terms of the report itself, there were a number of key points to draw Council’s attention to the 5-year capital programme was managed on a rolling basis, meaning that a new year (2028/29) was added to the programme.


The programme itself continued to reflect the challenging financial circumstances and, as such, continued to comprise ongoing and previously approved schemes, as well as annual sums (for activities such as asset maintenance and highway maintenance).


Whilst there were no new schemes being included, the programme, especially in 2024/25, was still significant and contained a number of the Cabinet’s highest priority schemes such as new school projects, the Transporter Bridge project and new leisure and wellbeing provision.


Beyond the £7m new borrowing headroom recently agreed by Cabinet, there was no new borrowing headroom to be approved at this point. The programme included indicative new borrowing from 2027/28 onwards, which, if still affordable nearer the time, would be available to pursue new schemes, such as the next wave of school development projects under the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme.


Until the point at which that new borrowing could be formally approved, it meant that capital headroom (which was used to pursue new schemes or address cost increases on existing schemes) was limited to the new borrowing headroom, those amounts already held in specific earmarked reserves and uncommitted capital receipts. As a result, careful prioritisation would be required when making new commitments from the headroom and every opportunity would need to be taken to boost it via one-off sources, to continue to respond to emerging pressures as and when they arise.


Whilst there was no new large-scale borrowing included in the next few years of the programme, previously and recently approved borrowing would be incurred over that timeframe and would increase the overall Capital Financing Requirement and the Council’s level of debt.


The borrowing limits proposed in the report took this into account and the revenue consequence of additional borrowing (e.g. interest payable on loans) is already budgeted for, following the budget investment made in 2021/22 and planned for 2024/25. The programme proposed was affordable, prudent, and sustainable, based on current information and assumptions.


In terms of Treasury Management, the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


National Non-Domestic Rates - Discretionary Relief: High Street Relief Scheme 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Additional documents:


The Presiding Member invited the Leader to present the final report which dealt with the legislative requirement for Council to formerly adopt the Welsh Government’s Retail, Leisure, and Hospitality Rate relief scheme for 2024-25.


This scheme was fully funded by Welsh Government and provided a 40% reduction in business rates due by businesses that met the criteria set by Welsh Government.  This scheme was set out in Part A of the report.


The report also included a proposal to extend the Newport City Centre Local Rate Relief Scheme for one year.


Initially, the scheme was introduced in April 2022 and was intended to conclude on 31 March 2024.


This is a local scheme which was fully funded by the Council and provided additional financial support in the form of a 25% rate reduction for City Centre businesses that operated in the retail, Leisure, and hospitality sectors.


The Newport City Centre Local Rate Relief Scheme that Council was considering extending was unique to the City Centre.


This innovative scheme was designed to assist existing businesses to remain viable and also incentivised new businesses to open in empty city centre retail units.


To date, the scheme has helped more than 100 businesses, and provided additional financial assistance to city centre businesses.


Due to the fact that there was less expenditure to date than anticipated, it is possible to fund the proposed extension to the scheme from unspent funds originally set aside for this purpose.


Councillor Davies seconded the report.


Comments of Councillors:


§  Councillor Fouweather said that this was good news, but the results would be reflected in how many businesses would remain and thrive as well as how many new businesses this would attract to the city centre.


§  Councillor Thomas welcomed the report and considered that all measures within the report supported new and existing businesses.


§  Councillor Horton felt that this support for businesses was helpful. He therefore supported the report and felt that individuals should actively support Newport by spending within the city.


§  Councillor Bright referred to the Corn Exchange, a brand-new venture opening this weekend with a capacity for 500 people to come into the city centre and therefore welcomed the report.


The report was unanimously supported.


It was therefore Resolved:


That the Council –


a)     Adopts the Welsh Government’s Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rate Relief Scheme 2024-25 as set out in this report and in Appendix 1 thereto.


b)     Extends the Newport City Centre Local Rate Relief Scheme so that the scheme, as described in the report and in Appendix 2 thereof, operated during the 2024-25 financial year; AND


c)      Delegates to the Head of Finance the authority to take such decisions as may become necessary to enable the operation of both schemes, including but not limited to:


i.      the setting-up and operation of an appropriate application procedure.

ii.    the power to determine whether or not an individual application was within the scope of the scheme; AND

iii.   the power to revoke a grant of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


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.

Additional documents:


Before Questions, the Leader gave the following announcements.


Leader’s Announcements


Royal Visit


The Mayor and the Leader welcomed Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne on a recent visit to the Newport Ship and the transporter bridge earlier in the month.


Both are key parts in the story of Newport. They show the city’s heritage as a trading port and an industrial city. They evoke memories of the past and amazing work is taking place so that they can be enjoyed and celebrated by generations to come.


At the Newport Ship centre, Her Royal Highness was given a tour of the works, from the initial excavation through to the current day, as well as future plans. She also became the first person to sign the Centre’s brand-new visitor book.


Students and professors from Cardiff University were on hand to talk about some of the artefacts that were found during the excavations, and how these have been conserved.


Her Royal Highness was also able to step back in time to experience what life was like on the ship, thanks to a virtual reality headset which the project team has developed in conjunction with researchers at Swansea University.


The Leader paid tribute to former councillor Charles Ferris and thanked him for his work and continued work to support heritage assets in Newport.


Her Royal Highness has a keen interest in engineering, so naturally a visit to the city’s engineering icon, the Newport Transporter Bridge, was necessary.


It was amazing to be able to include staff, volunteers, The Friends, and local students in the visit who were all able to share their involvement in our cultural gems. Her Majesty was extremely interested in their work.


Additionally, in other cultural news, the Leader had welcomed Benji Webbe as a guest to the Civic Centre and showed him the murals as part of a tour of the Civic Centre. Benji Webbe is the Leader of Skindred who recently received Best Alternative Must Act at the MOBO Awards. The Leader congratulated Benji and his band members on their success and MOBO Award.


Electric cleansing vehicle

The Leader made reference to the electric street washer which is active in the city centre - harnessing the power of renewable energy to help clean the streets of Newport.


The Addex Electra 2.0 Hydro Street Washer is the latest addition to our electric vehicle fleet. The Council is currently trialing its use to see what impact it has on cleaning schedules. This was important as there was a lot of queries about street cleansing. The Street Washer runs on 100% electric power and is estimated to save around 22,500 kgs of CO2 annually when compared to a diesel-powered equivalent.


As well as running on clean energy, the vehicle does not use chemicals so reducing impact on paving, while still delivering the same results as a manual jet wash.


Using the street washer in key areas will also free up cleansing operatives to help cover more of the city.


Equipment  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Questions to the Cabinet Members

To provide an opportunity to pose questions to Cabinet Members in line with Standing Orders.



No more than 10 minutes will be allocated at the Council meeting for questions to each Cabinet Member.


Members must submit their proposed questions in writing in advance in accordance with Standing Orders.  If members are unable to ask their question orally within the allocated time, remaining questions will be answered in writing.  The question and response will be appended to the minutes.


The question must be addressed through the Mayor or the person presiding at the meeting and not directly to the person being questioned.


Questions will be posed to Cabinet Members in the following order:


        i.           Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education and Early Years

      ii.           Cabinet Member for Community and Wellbeing

     iii.           Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Regulation and Housing

    iv.           Cabinet Member for Social Services

      v.           Cabinet Member for Organisational Transformation

    vi.           Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Bio-Diversity

   vii.           Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Assets

Additional documents:


Question 1: Question to the Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Assets


Councillor Fouweather:

Can the cabinet member report on the progress that she has made with regard to reviewing the 20mph speed limit on all arterial routes into the city? 


Response from Councillor Lacey:

As you will be aware from previous correspondence, Newport City Council has consistently applied Welsh Government guidance when considering where the “place criteria” would dictate the defaulting of the speed limits to 20mph, and exceptions where the 30mph speed limit should remain.


The Deputy Minister for Climate Change has advised local highway authorities that Welsh Government is reviewing how the “place criteria” has been used across the whole of Wales, with a view to whether further guidance is required by local highway authorities in the excepting of certain roads.


During November 2023, a series of meetings were held, led by the WLGA to gather feedback on the application of the exceptions guidance by highway authorities’ officers. The aim was to gain a better understanding of how the exceptions guidance had been applied, whether the officers had encountered any difficulties when applying it and how that feedback could help shape any revisions to the exception’s guidance going forward.


Therefore, until the review is completed and revised guidance is received on the use of the “place criteria” in the setting of excepted speed limits in Wales, there are no immediate plans to revisit the original assessment of any roads within the city.


I provide a link to a recent Welsh Government statement which includes preliminary speed data since the 20mph roll out and information on Welsh Governments ongoing review into the exceptions process, which may be of interest.


The link provided for inclusion in the minutes can be found here:

Reduced speeds on 20mph roads a ‘turning point’ says Deputy Minister (


Supplementary Question:

Councillor Fouweather felt that this would be a disappointment to the residents of Newport by comparison to Cardiff which had arterial routes of 30mph.



A full review had taken place and as an example, Western Avenue residents wanted 20mph.  This was not an easy process, but the Council needed to listen to feedback.


Question 2: Question to the Cabinet Member for Organisational Transformation


Councillor Mogford:

In December 2023 the South Wales Argus ran an article which outlined: - “The council's contact centre received 148,362 calls in the first three quarters of 2023. From July, more than one in three callers hung-up the phone due to lengthy wait times.” 


Could the Cabinet Member share what measures have been or are being put in place since December to improve the quality-of-service levels at the Council’s Contact Centre and at what level is the CM involved in ensuring real improvements are made to these services in their portfolio?


Response from Councillor Batrouni:

As Councillor Mogford had mentioned this information is available in the public domain, as the Council and public expect an excellent service.


At the moment the average waiting time is 6 minutes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.