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.
Minutes of 25 January 2022 were accepted as a true record.
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. The motion was seconded by Councillor Fouweather.
Resolved: That the f appointments set out in the report to Council be agreed, together with the following additional appointments.
Governing Body Appointments
Outside Body Appointments
Newport Norse Board Director - Rhys Cornwall
The Cabinet Member also advised Council about the following Heads of Service appointments made by the Appointments sub-Committee. This was just for information purposes, as the appointments do not require ratification by full Council. The Cabinet members congratulated the officers on their appointments.
Head of Service Appointments
Head of Regeneration and Economic Development – Tracey Brooks
Head of Environment and Public Protection – Silvia Gonzalez-Lopez
Head of People, Policy and Transformation – Tracy McKim
Head of City Services – Stephen Jarrett
Head of Children’s Services – Natalie Poyner
Head of Prevention and Inclusion – Caroline Ryan-Phillips
Police Issues (30 minutes)
30 minutes is allocated for questions to the Gwent Police representative.
Notice of Motion - Suspension of Standing Orders for Ukraine
The Leader moved that Standing Orders be suspended to allow her to present an emergency motion to Council, without prior written notice. This was seconded by Councillor M Evans.
Resolved: That Standing Orders be waived to enable the emergency motion to be presented.
The Leader then presented the following emergency Motion and reserved the right to speak later in the debate:
“That Newport City Council deplores the unacceptable aggression that President Putin has taken against the people of Ukraine; bringing war once more to the continent of Europe
We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
Newport has a long and proud tradition of giving sanctuary to refugees and we are ready to do what we can to help those having to flee their homes and country as a result of this cruel and unwarranted invasion.
The actions of the Russian government do not respect the rule of international law or the United Nations and are rightly being condemned by democratic nations across the world.
We will support all efforts to secure a peaceful and diplomatic solution, and for conflict and loss of life to be avoided.”
The Motion was seconded by Councillor M Evans, who took the opportunity to speak. Cllr M Evans thanked the Leader for inviting him to second the Motion.
No amendments were proposed.
The Mayor also added that he supported the Ukrainians in their struggle.
Councillor M Evans went on to say:
It gives me great pleasure to formally second the motion. I don’t think there is a single person across the city who hasn’t been deeply shocked by the terrible scenes we are witnessing in Ukraine.
Ukrainians have displayed awe-inspiring bravery and heroism in the face of Russia’s attack on their sovereignty and freedom, and we need to keep providing all the economic and military support we can to help those protecting their country.
Locally I am heartened to see so many residents and organisations providing much needed clothes, toys for children and even items for pets.
It is incredibly difficult to really understand the pain, trauma and fear these people are going through, but just watching the news and pictures of a mother, whose young child has cancer having to flee, and no doubt leave her husband behind to fight, puts our problems into perspective.
We take our freedoms for granted and I guess there will be a significant number of Russians who are also horrified by Putin’s actions, but fear reprisals, you can still watch Russian TV and their distorted view of the situation, but it’s important at times like this, that we recognise how lucky we are.
Mr Mayor, I must confess I have seen some pretty atrocious statements on social media from all sides of the political spectrum, but thankfully from a mindless minority.
At times like this we need to show unity and solidarity as a city and stand together with Ukraine
Comments on the Motion from Councillors:
§ Councillor Wilcox was shocked by the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Notice of Motion: Cost of Living
Notice of Motion - National Cost of Living Crisis
This council recognises the unprecedented cost of living crisis facing many households across Newport, Wales and the UK. In the coming months more and more households will see increases of a magnitude never seen before as the energy price cap is removed or energy deals come to an end. This comes on top of a cost of living crisis created by the impacts of Brexit and the Covid Pandemic which have already seen an unprecedented squeeze on peoples incomes.
Inflation remains is at the highest level for over 30 years which is putting huge pressure on household budgets as earnings have not kept pace with prices, leaving family budgets squeezed and people worse off. The additional costs of day to day living are already impacting negatively on every household across Newport but even more so on families who are living close to the bread line many of whom still need to visit food banks and will now be faced with the terrible choice of heating their home or putting food on the table.
The charity National Energy Action (NEA) has warned that a record 6 million UK households will be in fuel poverty when the next increase in the energy price cap comes into force in April, and this view is compounded by the findings of the Resolution Foundation think tank, which warned that millions of UK families face a "year of squeeze" in 2022 thanks to rising energy bills, stagnant wages and tax rises. The Bank of England has also said it expects inflation to reach 6% by the spring.
The Resolution Foundation have said that an increase in National Insurance contributions from April, along with an expected rise in energy bills in the same month could amount to a £1,200 hit to household finances, with low-income families forced to bear the brunt of these rises as they spend a greater proportion of their income on electricity and gas.
As a Council, we will continue to do everything within our power to help mitigate energy costs by signposting residents to the number of financial support options available. We have administered over £1.5million to our eligible residents through the winter fuel support grant. We have also increased our support for food banks and related charities to £100,000.
However, the help families need to deal with the cost of living crisis can only be fixed by decisive action by the UK Government
This Council therefore calls upon the Leader of the Council to write to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer and call for the immediate implementation and action for the following:
· Suspension of the proposed increase in National Insurance contributions
· A reduction in VAT for Energy Bills to help families and householders
· An introduction of a new lower price cap on energy bills to protect households from excessive price rises
The Motion is to be proposed by Councillor Jason Hughes and seconded by the Leader.
“This council recognises the unprecedented cost of living crisis facing many households across Newport, Wales and the UK. In the coming months more and more households will see increases of a magnitude never seen before as the energy price cap is removed or energy deals come to an end. This comes on top of a cost of living crisis created by the impacts of Brexit and Public Document Pack the Covid Pandemic which have already seen an unprecedented squeeze on peoples incomes. Inflation remains is at the highest level for over 30 years which is putting huge pressure on household budgets as earnings have not kept pace with prices, leaving family budgets squeezed and people worse off. The additional costs of day to day living are already impacting negatively on every household across Newport but even more so on families who are living close to the bread line many of whom still need to visit food banks and will now be faced with the terrible choice of heating their home or putting food on the table. The charity National Energy Action (NEA) has warned that a record 6 million UK households will be in fuel poverty when the next increase in the energy price cap comes into force in April, and this view is compounded by the findings of the Resolution Foundation think tank, which warned that millions of UK families face a "year of squeeze" in 2022 thanks to rising energy bills, stagnant wages and tax rises. The Bank of England has also said it expects inflation to reach 6% by the spring. The Resolution Foundation have said that an increase in National Insurance contributions from April, along with an expected rise in energy bills in the same month could amount to a £1,200 hit to household finances, with low-income families forced to bear the brunt of these rises as they spend a greater proportion of their income on electricity and gas. As a Council, we will continue to do everything within our power to help mitigate energy costs by signposting residents to the number of financial support options available. We have administered over £1.5million to our eligible residents through the winter fuel support grant. We have also increased our support for food banks and related charities to £100,000. However, the help families need to deal with the cost of living crisis can only be fixed by decisive action by the UK Government This Council therefore calls upon the Leader of the Council to write to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer and call for the immediate implementation and action for the following:
§ Suspension of the proposed increase in National Insurance contributions
§ A reduction in VAT for Energy Bills to help families and householders
§ An introduction of a new lower price cap on energy bills to protect households from excessive price rises”
The Motion ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
The report considered adopting two schemes, firstly the Welsh Government’s Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Rate Relief scheme 2022 (Part A of the report) and a new Newport City Centre Local Rate Relief Scheme (Part B of the report).
Firstly, the Leader highlighted the Welsh Government Scheme, which outlined a continuation of the previous relief arrangements, but at a reduced maximum rates relief of 50% to qualifying businesses across the city.
This was fully funded by Welsh Government and was a national scheme in Wales. It was an extremely valuable scheme offering support for up to 1,200 businesses in Newport and recognised that support was still required for this sector as they attempted to ‘recover’ from the impacts of the pandemic over the last two years.
Secondly, the Leader highlighted the local city centre scheme. This was completely new, and unique to the City Centre.
It represented a significant investment and focus on businesses in the city centre and illustrated how the Council proposed to help them ‘recover’ after the last two years.
Whilst the national Welsh Government funded scheme was welcomed and would provide rate relief to those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, the Council recognised that the scheme alone would not be sufficient to address the problems faced by the Newport city centre. The second innovative scheme therefore, was designed to assist existing businesses to remain viable post-covid and to incentivise new businesses to open in empty city centre retail units, building on the national scheme.
The number of empty shops in Newport has remained persistently high, as well as being unsightly. The longer these units remained empty, the harder they were to let. It was important that existing viable businesses were supported as well, especially after the economic shock of the pandemic.
If adopted, the Newport City Centre Local Rate Relief Scheme would see eligible businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector receive 25% of the full rates payable in the form of a reduction on their rate bill. Those eligible would also to receive the Welsh Government relief and the Newport City Centre Local Rate Relief, further reducing their bill, and in most cases, they would only have 25% of the rates to pay in 2022-23.
It was proposed that the scheme would run for a second year and eligible businesses will then, assuming no further national scheme is in place, have 25% business rate relief.
It was anticipated that the Newport City Centre Rate Relief would make the centre of Newport a more attractive proposition to new businesses, whilst assisting existing businesses to overcome the covid pandemic and remain viable.
The report detailed those businesses that were eligible and it was predicted that it would assist up to approximately 160 businesses in the city centre. The scheme was carefully designed to:
· target the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors as they were ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The Leader highlighted to colleagues that the report set out some changes to the existing discretionary rate relief policy that mainly affected charities that occupied premises in the city.
The current discretionary rate relief policy required updating to take account any changes to business rates for small properties, and broaden the scope of the rate relief awarded so that more eligible organisations could benefit from full rate relief.
In particular, those local charities and organisations connected to children and young people and those that directly supported the work of the Council.
The provided framework assessed
applications since coming into effect in 2016, although the current
discretionary rate relief policy highlighted some anomalies in the
way that some organisations were treated:
· Charities were liable for 20% rates when a ‘normal’ ratepayer in the same building would pay no rates due to small business rate relief. Some charitable ratepayers that were not commercial in nature, for example the Scouts, had to find considerable sums to pay the 20% rate bill currently payable.
· The significant contribution of organisations that directly assisted the Council in pursuing its objectives were not recognised within the current policy
The changes to the policy outlined in this report, if adopted would therefore resolve these issues and enable charities that directly benefitted the city’s residents to receive full rate relief.
As the report indicated, many of these charities, such as the Scouts, the Guides and Community Youth Clubs had a positive impact on young people and their families, and on the wider communities they operated within.
The Leader was pleased that the policy now reflected the contribution such organisations made and that they were going to be supported financially to carry on their good work. This new policy was a positive move forward in supporting the citizens of Newport and communities across the city.
The Leader moved the adoption of the proposed charitable to-up rate relief scheme, as set out in the Report. This was duly seconded. No amendments were proposed
Comments from Councillors:
§ Councillor Hourahine asked if GAVO would benefit from this change. The Monitoring Officer advised that a written request be submitted to the Head of Finance who would be able to advise on whether they matched the criteria.
The motion was put to the vote and duly carried.
Council agreed to adopt the updated policy in Appendix One applicable from 1 April 2022 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.
The Leader advised Council that the Capital and Treasury Management Strategies, brought to Council was reviewed and commented upon by Governance & Audit Committee at their meeting which took place on 27 January, these were included within the report.
Cabinet also endorsed both strategies, at their meeting of 18 February, and approved the detailed capital programme.
Council was required to approve both strategies and the prudential indicators and limits contained
The two strategies, which were a requirement of CIPFA’s Prudential Code, formed a critical part of short, medium and long term financial planning and were intrinsically linked with the revenue budget setting process.
The purpose of the Capital Strategy was to set out the Council’s approach to decision making regarding capital expenditure and, in the process, demonstrating that those decisions were made in line with service objectives, whilst giving consideration to risk, reward and impact.
The Capital Strategy was inherently linked with the Treasury Management Strategy which, itself, was concerned with the Council’s approach to managing its cash, including, primarily, the approach to borrowing and investing activities. A key aspect of the Treasury Management strategy was the borrowing limits, to be approved today, which formed part of the suite of prudential indicators which governed the Council’s cash management activities.
The Capital Strategy was a
long-term focussed document, which considered the next 10 years as
a minimum. Because of this long-term focus, it was critical that
decisions made were reflective of the need for capital plans to be
affordable, prudent and sustainable.
Whilst Cabinet made decisions regarding the projects that comprised the Capital Programme, it was full Council that determined the borrowing limits that must be adhered to. Many projects were funded from sources such as grants, capital receipts and specific reserves, however there was a number that could not be funded in this way and were ultimately funded via borrowing. The overall Capital Programme, therefore needed to be set within these borrowing limits.
The forthcoming financial year (2022/23) represented the last year of the current five-year Capital Programme. However, two years have been added to the programme to reflect those projects which started in this current programme and extend beyond it to completion. It was a large and challenging programme to deliver, with the programme standing at £288.4m in totality and in excess of £100m in 2022/23 alone.
This included a number of our
key capital priorities, as well as investments such as borrowing
for the Cardiff Capital Regional City Deal and an element of
borrowing headroom to allow flexibility for new schemes or
additional costs to be funded. Some of the larger schemes within
the programme included:
£111.7m for Education and schools, of which
£75m was included in relation to the Council’s
21st Century Schools Band B plans, which would see a
significant improvement in the quality of school
§ Over £25m of funding for the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal which contributed towards a huge level of economic development across the region, including for ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
The Leader presented to colleagues the Council Tax report for 2022/23. It was an integral part of the Council’s budget for 2022/23 which required the increase indicated in February Cabinet meeting, which was 2.4%.
As the ‘Administration’, the Cabinet made decisions on the allocation of resources and full Council then made the final decision on the council tax level only. Council this evening was to agree the Council Tax for 2022/23 and via this, the Council’s total net budget for that year too.
The proposed budget built on this year’s current budget and how the Council invested our underspend from the 2020/21 financial year. It was also mindful, and demonstrated synergy with the support that Welsh Government gave to businesses and communities over the last two years.
A number of key priority areas would receive significant investment, as we recovered from the last two years. They included the following areas of activity:
· Over £8m in schools and over £6.5m in social care; with a focus on prevention and early intervention services. Support for communities, families and young people meant this investment protected and enhanced the ability to do this in a timely fashion. The budget also provided for investment in housing and homelessness services. This would enable the continuity of the good work carried out to support the vulnerable citizens who needed this support with housing and provide capacity to move towards the ambition of net zero carbon.
· Further support for the city centre, investing almost half a million pounds over the next two years to promote the city, encourage tourism, provide capacity to co-ordinate the Council’s and its partners’ work within the centre and improve the environment in and around the city with more cleansing capacity.
· Green spaces, providing greater levels of investment. The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on people’s lives. Being outdoors and spending time in green space was shown to be highly beneficial to both mental and physical wellbeing. It was the Cabinet’s intention that this investment in parks and outdoor spaces would encourage residents and families to connect further with the natural environment and within their local communities.
Cabinet also considered the alignment of the permanent budgets set out within this report with one off funding available from this year’s underspend, and how this could be used to further enhance the Cabinet’s offering.
· In addition to the permanent funding in the city’s parks and open spaces a further £2.5m one off investment in these areas would be funded from the revenue underspend at the end of the year. This would improve access in cemeteries and provide capacity to invest in play areas across the city. This investment would be taken in conjunction with the local residents who used these spaces, prioritising the things that mattered most to our residents.
· In addition, an investment of nearly £1m to support existing retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in the city centre as well as encouraging more businesses to take up our empty premises. ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
The Leader informed colleagues of the recent death of the Welsh Language Commissioner, Aled Roberts on Sunday 13 February. Aled was a former Leader of Wrexham Council and an Assembly Member for North Wales region in 2011.
The Leader presented the report to council which was subject to a number of Welsh Language Standards, imposed by the Welsh Language Commissioner. Standard 145 placed an obligation on the council to publish a five-year strategy which set out how we proposed to promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language in Newport.
The Standards also required that the Strategy includes a percentage target for increasing or maintaining the numbers of Welsh speakers in the area and a statement setting out how this would be achieved.
This was the second Welsh Language Promotional Strategy which built on the links, good work and progress made over the last five years.
This Strategy represented an evolution from the 2017/22 plan, with a focus on delivering a vision for the Welsh language in Newport that included all of its diverse communities, working in partnership with key stakeholders and meeting its statutory obligations.
The Strategy reflected Newport as a Welsh city with rich multicultural, multilingual communities, celebrating the Welsh language as part of our shared identity, and increase opportunities for everyone to see, hear, learn, use and love the national language.
Welsh language work across a range of areas included the new Welsh in Education Strategic Plan and work with Public Service Board partners through the Right Skills Board.
The Council continued its commitment to develop internal structures and policies to support staff who wished to learn Welsh, or to use their skills in the workplace.
This Strategy provided drive and focus for the next five years as Newport continued to raise the profile of the Welsh language, supporting Welsh Government reach its target of 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050.
The Leader moved the acceptance of the Welsh Language Strategy and invited Cllr Jason Hughes, Welsh Language Member Champion to second the motion and comment:
Mae’rstrategaeth yn. Cyflwyno gweledigaeth y cyngor ar gyfer yr iaith gymraeg Yong Ngasnewydd-
Bod pawb yn gallu gweld; clywed; disgu, defnyddio a caru Cymraeg.
Er bod ein targed ar gyfer twf yn canolbwyntio ar addysg, rydym yn cydnabod bod angen uchelgais ehangach ar gyfer y Gymraeg yng Ngasnewydd er mwyn gwneud yr iaith yn hygyrch a gynhwysol fel y gall ein holl drigolion ymgysylltu a hi.
I gyflawni hyn rydym weds datblygu tair thema strategol syn canolbwyntio ar gymunedau addysg, diwylliant ac hefyd chyflogaeth a sgilliau.
Mae cypress o gamau gweithredu syn ymwneud ar themau hyn wedi cynnwys y strategaeth a bydd y rhain yn cael eu hadolygun barhaus, yn enwedig yng ngoleuni data’s cyfrifiad ( sensws) newydd a all dweud mwy wrthym am brofil ieithyddol Casnewydd.
Byddwnhefyd yn defnyddio strwythurau llywodraethu presennol I fonitro cynnydd y strategaeth gynnwys drwy ein bwrdd sgilliau cywir; grwp gweithredu iaith Cymraeg ac hefyd ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
The Leader informed colleagues that, as set out in the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, local authorities and local Health Boards must enter into a partnership to carry out a joint assessment of people who were in need of care and support and to identify the range and levels of social care services required to meet those needs, producing one population assessment report per local government electoral cycle.
This joint regional population needs assessment was overseen by the Gwent Regional Partnership Board and was undertaken in accordance with Welsh Government guidance and in consultation with all partners and key stakeholders.
The Regional Partnership Board was seeking approval from Newport City Council prior to submission to Welsh Government.
Once agreed by each of the partners, it would form the basis of the joint regional action plan, to meet the assessed social care needs through partnership working and collaboration.
The social care assessment process was aligned to the regional well-being assessment undertaken by the Gwent PSB and was consistent with the Council’s corporate plan objectives.
Partners across the PSB and RPB would work together to ensure that the priorities identified by the PNA and those identified as part of the Wellbeing Plan were aligned and provided the best opportunities for joint working.
The statutory PNA themes, as
set out by Welsh Government were:
§ children and young people
§ older people
§ health / physical disabilities
§ learning disability/autism
§ mental health
§ sensory impairment
§ carers who need support; and
§ violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence
Within Gwent, the current PNA
identified and reinforced existing areas of need and priorities for
Continued support for looked after children and
reduction of out of county placements
Ageing population, loneliness amongst older people
and increase in people living with dementia
Carers and the need for access to information,
respite and mental health support
The need for emotional wellbeing and mental health
support across the region
To mitigate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and long
§ Support to vulnerable groups including people living with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and autism
Engagement with citizens was a key requirement under the Social Services and Well Being Act and the PNA developed and included qualitative data from a range of citizen groups.
The Regional Partnership Board would develop a regional Area Plan for publication on 1st April 2023 setting out how the identified need would be met through partnership working and collaboration. The Leader moved the acceptance of the PNA, which was duly seconded.
Comments from Councillors:
§ Councillor Cockeram thanked the Regional Partnership Board as well as the Health Board, LA, third sector and PSB. Councillor Cockeram recommended that councillors read the report as it helped councillors prioritise their needs. Councillor Cockeram went on to read out some interesting facts in relation to the population of Newport which the council needed to give consideration to in due course.
The motion was put to the ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
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.
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 Assets and Member Development
ii. Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
iii. Cabinet Member for Social Services
iv. Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing
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
For information: A digest of recent decision schedules issued by Cabinet, Cabinet Members and Minutes of recent meetings of Committees has been circulated electronically to all Members of the Council.