Venue: Civic Centre
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.
Apologies were reported from Councillors Dudley and Routley
1.ii Declarations of Interest
1.iii Mayor’s Announcements
The Leader introduced Gavin Horton, new labour councillor for the Victoria ward and the Mayor formally welcomed him to the meeting.
To confirm and sign the minutes of the last meeting.
Minutes of 23 November 2021 were approved and accepted 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.
Governing Body Appointments
Performance Scrutiny Committee: Place and Corporate, Councillor J Cleverly to replace Councillor
C Evans as Chair.
It was moved by Cllr Harvey and duly seconded by Cllr Fouweather that dispensations for extended absence should be granted by Council to Councillor Holyoake and Councillor White.
That Councillors Holyoake and White be granted special dispensation for six months absence under of section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972.
30 minutes is allocated for questions to the Gwent Police representative.
The Mayor was pleased to welcome Superintendent Vicki Townsend to the meeting.
Members were asked to kindly note that this was Superintendent Townsend’s first meeting and she was here today to introduce herself and to set out her policing priorities. They Mayor therefore asked members to confine any questions to any matters arising from her presentation, as opposed to any detailed questions that they may have about specific policing issues in their wards, as Supt Townsend would not be in a position to answer those questions today and they would need to wait until the next Council meeting.
Questions raised by councillors:
§ Councillor Whitehead referred to the use of the off road bikes, near St David’s Hospice, which had been previously reported and was a constant problem as well as being disruptive and upsetting to patients and their family. The Superintendent advised Councillor Whitehead of similar experience when working at Blaenau Gwent and the measures which were put in place to address this. Supt Townsend attended a meeting recent regarding off road bikes and cars with a review on 27 January. Any further information was welcomed by the Police by contacting 101 to provide intelligence in order for the Police to build a picture.
§ Councillor Al Nuaimi mentioned partnership funding between the Council and Police in relation to safety to be spent by March 2022 and asked how the money was being spent and what could be expected by the public. The Superintendent was aware of the Safer Streets initiative and a dedicated Chief Inspector who focussed funding on the identified areas. The Police were at the procurement stage which meant certain processes and requirements needed to be adhered to however the target of March would be met.
§ Councillor Jeavons referred to the inappropriate use of vehicles on SDR during a Sunday night in particular and a Go Safe was requested to be used to address this and Councillor Jeavons asked if the Superintendent could chase Inspector Cawley on this matter. Superintendent Townsend assured the councillor that this would be discussed with Insp Cawley.
§ Councillor Harvey mentioned that Inspector Cawley and S Greening were always very helpful with their outstanding work in Always.
§ Councillor Forsey mentioned the new Highway Code which was to be introduced with changes of right of road for walkers and cyclists, with this in mind, what plans would be put in place to make this effective and promote this in Newport. Supt Townsend advised that the Police were taking a watching brief on when this was legislated with advice from their legal department. Engagement would be led through ‘Go Safe’ and Ops Planning and would be supportive of those actions but would not take the lead because education was something that was done from the centre of the force. The Supt would update the Council when changes took place. In addition Councillor Forsey asked did Operation Closed Path take place. The Superintendent advised that she would look into this and feedback. ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
The Mayor invited the Leader to introduce the above report.
The Leader advised colleagues that this was a compliance report to confirm that Treasury activities in the first half of 2021-22 accorded with the Treasury Strategy previously considered and set by Members. The report also compared activity with the year-end position for 2020-21 to indicate the movements and resulted causes.
The report presented the following information:
§ A reminder of the treasury strategy agreed
§ Details of borrowing and investment activity
§ Details of wider economic considerations such as the pandemic and the economic climate
§ An update to the International Treasury code on commercial investment funding
§ An examination of activity against performance, confirming compliance
The report had been presented to Governance and Audit Committee and Cabinet and was endorsed by them for onward consideration by full Council.
As at 30 September 2021 the level of borrowing decreased by £9.1m on 2020-21 levels to £144m.
This was in relation to the repayment of a PWLB loan which matured in the first half of 2021/22, as at 3 September further borrowing to replenish this loan was not required. This may be needed to be covered by temporary borrowing before 31 March 2022.
There were also a number of loans; Equal Instalments of Principal (EIP), which paid back principal over the life of the loan, and the interest associated with the loan went down as the principal outstanding reduced.
The level of investments also increased by £4.1m to £28.9m, meaning a decrease in net borrowing of £13.3m during the first half of the financial year to £115.1m. Included within the investment figure was £13.9m held in the form of cash.
This was circa £6m less than year-end but due to the continuing pandemic the Authority has continued to keep more cash available at very short notice than is normal, to cover any unexpected calls on cash flow.
There was not much demand for very short- term borrowing within the marketplace, and in September rates on deposits below 14 days with the Debt Management Account Deposit Facility (DMADF) were still very low at 0.01%. The Authority had investment with other local authorities of £15m with slightly better, but low interest rates. It was anticipated that investments would reduce during 2021/22 as an alternative to borrowing until we reached the balance of £10m, which would remain invested for compliance with Markets in Financial Instruments and Derivatives Directive (MiFIDII).
As a result, no new long-term borrowing was required to be taken out in the first half of the financial year.
It was however anticipated that the Council would need to undertake additional borrowing on a short-term basis for the remainder of the year in order to cover normal day to day cash flow activity. With current capital expenditure forecasts, it was however expected that there would be no specific requirement to undertake long-term borrowing this financial year, although external borrowing might be considered to manage interest rate risks and the Council’s longer ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
The Mayor invited the Leader to introduce the above report.
The Leader explained that the procedural report was a requirement to be considered and approved by full Council. It confirmed that the Council would adopt the national ‘Council Tax Reduction Scheme’ which the Welsh Government updated for 2022/23.
Council was required to consider and approve this each year. The report set out some of the key changes the Welsh Government made to the national scheme.
In approving this scheme, the Council ensured that Wales had one national scheme which was consistent wherever you lived. In addition to our approval of the scheme, the Council considered a small number of discretions locally, which were explained in the report. It was therefore proposed that Council maintained the current position on these.
The Leader also took the opportunity to remind and encourage all residents in receipt of low incomes, who required financial assistance to pay their Council Tax, to contact the benefits department to apply for the scheme. This was a valuable scheme and was there for residents.
That Council approved the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2022/23 in accordance with the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements and Default Schemes) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 ("the Prescribed Requirements Regulations") exercising its local discretions as indicated in the report.
The Mayor invited the Leader to present the report.
The Leader took opportunity to again thank Chris Humphreys for undertaking the Director’s role during this period. The Director of Social Services Annual Report 2020/2021 was completed by Chris Humphrey. Chris undertook the role of Acting Director of Social Services from December 2019 – October 2021. This report reflects the period when Chris stepped up into the role under the most exceptional of circumstances.
The report reflected the unprecedented period of demand and delivery for Social Services across Children’s and Adults social care. In May 2021 Care Inspectorate Wales undertook an Assurance Check which looked back at the period of 2020/2021. In their check they noted:
“We found support was underpinned by a relationship of openness and honesty about the options available for people who need care and support and carers who need support”.
Children’s services were experiencing unprecedented demand and increase in referrals while in adult services they were working under significant pressure. The findings identified a culture of improvement and mutual support and a recognition of positive leadership. It was noted that while staff were exhausted with complex high volume case work morale was generally good.
Across Adults and Children’s Social care delivery of services continued with all levels of provision being maintained despite the impact of the pandemic. From Community Connectors, and children’s preventative services to advocacy, home care, and family support through to statutory interventions in family justice and provision of foster care and residential homes care and support was offered to citizens directly. Staff continued with face to face service delivery as well as seeking out innovative solutions in order to address the restrictions of the pandemic.
Adult Services developed a new outreach service and successfully embedded its hospital discharge processes into the new Grange Hospital that opened in September 2020. The Hospital and Reablement teams were present at hospital sites throughout.
While in Children’s Services the introduction of the Rapid Response team and the delivery of Baby and Me supported families to be able to safely care for their children within the family home.
Working in partnership across the public sector and with our communities was key to being able to continue to deliver positive and robust services. At all levels of Social Services officers and Members continued to represent the Council in regional and National fora including the Safeguarding Boards, Regional Partnership Board, Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking children regional group and a plethora of partnership groups specifically to address the demands of the pandemic and ensure services could be delivered effectively across all agencies.
While 2020/2021 brought enormous pressures across Social Services the report outlined the extraordinary ways in which staff continued to care for and protect our most vulnerable citizens. Going forward into 2021/2022 would bring significant challenges but will undoubtedly create opportunities to continue to improve services.
The Leader invited the Cabinet Member for Social Services to say a few words and also took the opportunity to thank the Cabinet Member for his hard ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation was invited by the Mayor to present the report.
Councillor Truman informed council that once every three years, the Gambling Act 2005 required the council, in its position as the “Licensing Authority” to review its Gambling Policy.
The current Gambling Policy came into force in January 2019, therefore a reviewed policy was presented to Council.
The current policy worked very well and supported businesses and guided the council and its officers. This led to the revised policy containing very few amendments.
The proposed changes were mainly updated references, data, and dates. The main principles of the Policy remain unchanged.
The Policy continued to support the three licensing objectives:
1 crime reduction
2 maintain fairness and
3 protect children.
It was likely that the UK Government would conduct a wide-reaching review of gambling regulation during the year. If this was the case, a more in-depth policy review to deal with any new approaches may need to be carried out.
The proposed policy went out for formal consultation between 16 August 2021 and 31 October 2022.
Just one representation was received from the firm of solicitors representing the Betting and Gaming Council. This representation was reproduced within the report. As a result of their input several minor changes were made to the policy. These changes had the effect of making the policy more ‘reader friendly’. Councillor Truman thanked the Betting and Gaming Council for their input.
The Policy did not cover either online gambling or games run by the National Lottery as these were governed and enforced by the Gambling Commission.
Councillor Truman therefore, moved that Council approved the revised Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005.
That Council approved and adopted the revised Statement of Principles under the Gambling Act 2005.
The proposed schedule of meetings attempted to structure the diary with a series of meetings to facilitate the decision making process through the Council, Executive and Regulatory Committees. The schedule of meetings set a pattern of meetings for Scrutiny Committees and other bodies.
The diary did not include dates for meetings of individual Cabinet Members as Cabinet Members would take a view on when they needed to meet to make decisions, rather than be bound by a diary of meetings. This would of course, not affect members' opportunities for consultation on proposed decisions or to request to meet the Cabinet Member before decisions were taken.
It was suggested that the dates, times and locations of all meetings other than the Council meeting were to be left to each individual committee. It was suggested that the needs of Councillors who had work or other commitments at any time during the day were taken into account by the various committees and groups.
The schedule would remain a guide, was subject to change and amended to meet the needs of the work programmes of each committee or other group.
That Council adopted the schedule of meetings as the basis for arrangements for May 2022 to May 2023.
The Mayor advised that the Democratic Services Committee Meeting Minutes from 13 December were before colleagues for noting. There was however, one matter that was referred by Democratic Services Committee to full Council for a decision and that matter would be put to council members.
Under Item 5 there was a minuted discussion about whether the Committee should recommend that Council appoint a Presiding Member to chair Council meetings as from May 2022. At the meeting, there was a tied vote and the Chair declined to exercise a second and casting vote.
The matter had therefore been referred to full Council without any recommendation.
Before there could be any debate and vote on this matter, it would, therefore, be necessary for a member of the Council to formally move and second a motion as to whether or not the Council should appoint a Presiding Member.
The Mayor invited colleagues to move a formal proposal to appoint a Presiding Member. Councillor Hourahine moved the proposal and reserved the right to speak at the end of the debate. Councillor Whitcutt also seconded the proposal and reserved the right to speak later in the debate.
Councillor Fouweather raised a point of order, querying whether it was a legal motion as it was not itemised on the Council Agenda.
The Monitoring Officer assured Councillor Fouweather and the rest of Council that this was a valid motion, in line with the Council Standing Orders. The matter had been referred to Council and was referenced in the minutes of the Democratic Services Committee, which had been published with the Council agenda. It was not necessary for the motion to be written down. The motion that had been moved and seconded was simply to appoint a Presiding Member.
The Mayor then asked if any Councillors wished to request an amendment to the substantive motion. Councillor M Evans, therefore requested an amendment which was seconded by Councillor Fouweather, that further information on the job description and remuneration be referred back to the Democratic Services Committee for further discussion.
Council then debated the amendment first.
Comments from councillors:
§ Councillor M Evans spoke in support of the amendment., The appointment of a Presiding Member was originally turned down in 2019 because there was a cost to this role and was not sure if it was a fixed term appointment of five years. In addition to this, it was felt that the role of the Mayor would be diminished and under valued and should therefore go back to the Democratic Services Committee. At this point, Councillor Evans asked for a recorded vote on the amended motion.
§ Councillor Whitcutt spoke on the amendment and advised that if the substantive motion was passed the details of the role could be discussed at Democratic Services Committee and would then come back to Council. The role of Presiding Member would be able to carry out the role as well as their normal duties, similar to committee chairs. Councillor Whitcutt therefore asked that the ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
Mayoral Nomination for 2022/23
The Mayor invited the Leader to nominate the Mayor for 2022/23.
The Leader was delighted to formally move Councillor Kellaway as the Mayor for 2022/23, which was also seconded by Councillor M Evans.
The Mayor was very pleased that the Deputy Mayor would be Mayor.
That Council nominated Councillor Martyn Kellaway as Mayor for 2022/23.
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 updated council on recent announcements.
Support for residents and businesses
Many residents and businesses faced a challenging two years and the post-Christmas period could be particularly difficult for some.
Together with its partners, the Council could offer a wealth of advice and support – from help with bills, to assistance in finding work or accessing training. If anyone was struggling financially, the Leader urged them to get in touch. There was also information on the website contact via the City Contact Centre.
The Leader was pleased that the council was able to commit £100,000 to support local organisations dedicated to helping people affected by food poverty. Local food banks provided a lifeline to some individuals and families by providing essential supplies to those struggling to cover the most basic needs.
Demand for the food banks was very high and the Council was putting money into services at the heart of communities, as they were making a real difference to people’s everyday lives.
The funding would help community food initiatives meet increased demand or difficulties sourcing sufficient donations.
The council was also administering the Winter Fuel Support scheme for Newport residents and the Leader urged people eligible to apply for this extra financial help before the deadline of 18 February.
The continuation of help for local businesses was available by distributing grants to those whose livelihoods were impacted by the pandemic.
The Council also supported those who wanted to start or expand a small business through its City of Newport Business Fund. This offered grants of up to £10,000 towards costs such as rent, or the purchase of equipment.
City centre graffiti initiative
The Council was working with Newport Now, the Business Improvement District (BID), to tackle graffiti in the city centre. Member businesses could have graffiti removed free of charge by the council thanks to funding from Newport Now.
The initiative was aimed at making the city centre a more desirable place to shop, live and work and promote the local economy.
This remained one of the Council’s priorities and the Leader was pleased to see some new, independent businesses opening their doors in recent months. Shop local had never been a more-important message – as well as being better for the environment was so vital, these businesses could only thrive and survive if they were used.
The Leader announced that last week Cabinet agreed to put social value at the heart of its work.
The Council would adopt the Welsh national themes, outcomes and measures framework for measuring social value (known as TOMS).
It set out seven themes, 35 outcomes and 93 measures that were produced to help public sector bodies gain more social value through their commissioning, procurement, and contract management processes.
This would allow the council to ensure that its work generated as much social value as possible, benefitting the people and communities it served.
Participatory budgeting scheme
In February and March, residents could vote for projects put forward as part of the ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
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 City Services
ii. Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
iii. Cabinet Member for Assets
iv. Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development
v. Cabinet Member for Community and Resources
vi. Cabinet Member for Streetscene
vii. Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation
viii. Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure
There were five written questions to the Cabinet Members:
Question 1 – Deputy Leader/ Cabinet Member: City Services
Many of us have viewed the fascinating footage of the new Devon Place footbridge installation which took place during the Christmas break. Can the Cabinet member give council an update on the project and set out the anticipated completion date?
The installation of the main decks over Christmas was completed successfully. As the members are aware, rail track possession to enable such activities can only take place when there are no trains running, and so required staff to be working overnight and through Christmas day.
I would therefore like to thank the dedication and effort of staff within City Services, our contractors Alan Griffiths and Welsh Government for the funding of the project.
Contractors are currently undertaking de rig works to remove the temporary concrete pads and supports that were required for the crane to lift in the bridge sections and undertake alterations to the overhead electric lines.
The final fabrication of stairs, ramps and parapets are progressing to programme at the Prosteel Engineering workshop in Pontypool. These will be delivered to site in March and then lifted into place from Queensway and Devon Place.
Following completion of the structural bridge element, works will commence to the public realm which will include paved areas, planters and sustainable drainage.
Works are programmed for completion this summer.
Question 2 – Deputy Leader/Cabinet Member: City Services
Please can the Cabinet member provide council with an update on Active Travel schemes and outline future plans for active travel in Newport.
This year’s active travel (AT) schemes have progressed well with all schemes complete or programmed for completion by 31st March. The schemes delivered this year are:
The route runs through Tredegar park, continuing through the pedestrian subway under Forge Road to provide a link to the route through the old golf course.
The route through Monkey Island includes a new unsegregated bridge connecting the north footway of the main road, the open space area and the housing estate, so users do not have to use the multiple pedestrian crossings on the Southern Distributor Road junction. Both routes will also benefit from the introduction of low-level street lighting which has also been designed to minimise the impact on wildlife and the environment.
New Bridge at Fourteen Locks Canal Centre
A new active travel bridge has been constructed at the Fourteen Locks canal site. The bridge is located below the Canal Visitor Centre and provides a safe and convenient crossing point over the pond.
The route runs from Bassaleg Road to Wells Close (Gaer Estate) and provides a link to the northern areas of the city and the City Centre.
Several other projects are under development (outline feasibility study) this year including the Bettws canal link and bridge, fourteen locks road bridge and Old Town Dock bridge. The authority will be submitting further ... view the full minutes text for item 13.