Venue: Civic Centre
Contact: Anne Jenkins, Governance Team Leader Email: Cabinet@newport.gov.uk
Apologies for Absence
Declarations of Interest
Councillor Jeavons, EAS Board Member. This was a non-prejudicial interest.
Councillor Rahman requested the following amendments:
Item 6 Corporate Risk Register
Page 7, Second line “a survey conducted in 2019 by instructions of the Cabinet Member…” was included.
Page 7, Fourth and Fifth line ‘with similar findings to that of the leisure centre.’ Was deleted.
That the Minutes of 10 March 2021 were approved subject to the above.
The Leader presented the report, informing members that due to changes in pupil outcome performance measures and the pandemic, Welsh Government cancelled all statutory pupil data outcome collections for the end of the academic year in summer 2020.
No school end of phase data was submitted to local authorities. Each school continued to record internal teacher assessment for their own pupil progression purposes. No moderation processes were held between schools in Wales.
Key Stage 4 and 5 external examinations were cancelled and replaced with a ‘Centre Assessment Grade’ system. Welsh Government did not collect or publish Key Stage 4 or 5 outcomes.
Due to the significant changes in the make-up of GCSE, vocational, AS and A Level courses and the absence of external examinations, any locally produced outcomes were not to be used for accountability purposes. Data comparisons or trends were not to be used in an attempt to analyse this set of pupil outcomes.
The purpose of the report was to provide a contextual view of anonymised schools rather than the performance of the local authority or individual schools. The information was used sensitively and appropriately.
The local authority used a wider set of information to evaluate each of its schools. This included:
· The schools ability to self-evaluate
· The success of the School Development Plan
· The quality of teaching and learning
· The schools capacity for self-improvement
The report showed that there were significant increases in pupil outcomes but it was not possible to determine if this represented school improvement or sustainable improvement.
Charts within the report showed WJEC outcomes over ten years with noticeable gains of around 10% in the final column, which represented the August 2020 Centre Assessment Grades.
The Newport KS4 and 5 results represented the eight English medium secondary schools in the city. Our Welsh medium secondary school would have its first set of end of Key Stage 4 outcomes in summer 2021.
The Key Stage 4 results showed that Newport schools had the highest and lowest Capped 9 outcomes in the region. This was also evident in Key Stage 5 outcomes. To add context, it was noted that Newport had a diverse set of secondary schools with significant differences between the volumes of learners entitled to free school meals. Newport had one secondary school in the city with highest level of deprivation out of the 32 regional secondary schools, representing five local authorities.
The Council was exceptionally proud of its learners and the Centre Assessment Grades they were awarded.
This was against the backdrop of a pandemic and significant changes in teaching and learning that they adapted to in their last and most significant term of their GCSE, AS and A Level courses.
The Council would continue to work with all of its schools to prepare and support them for the further modifications in Centre Assessment Grades for summer 2021 and beyond, as well as ensuring that learners had the most appropriate transition between the next stages of their lives. This was whether it ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
The Leader introduced the report, advising that the EAS Business Plan 2021/22 was developed in collaboration with Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent. The Business Plan would support all schools and settings, ensuring access to a range of professional learning and bespoke support, which is aligned to their own schools’ improvement priorities.
Full consideration was given to the current climate in which schools and settings were operating. The business plan would build upon the good practice demonstrated during this challenging time (including blended, flexible learning), and support schools and their learners in the recovery phase to secure high quality teaching, learning and support for pupil well-being.
The EAS Business Plan included Newport-specific educational strategic priorities, which were aligned to Estyn recommendations. These ensured that local and regional school improvement priorities were connected in order to have the best opportunity for success.
The Plan went through a robust consultation process with Head teachers, Governing Bodies, Cabinet Members, Scrutiny Committees and young people. The plan will be submitted to Welsh Government later this month.
The plan will be monitored regularly to track its delivery and impact. This will be reported termly through the Joint Education Group (JEG), which includes the Chief Education Officer and Cabinet Member for Education in each of the five local authorities. The EAS Company Board, with representation from each local authority, will also report termly.
At this point, the Leader welcomed Ed Pryce, Assistant Director of the EAS, to describe the overall ambition and eleven key priorities set out within the plan.
Ed Pryce reminded Cabinet that the EAS was owned by the five local authorities and was our school improvement service and was not an independent company.
Because of the meaningful data the annex was not included but the EAS were working with partners to have more useful data to retrieve from schools rather than the end of stage data during this recovery phase.
It was critical that we returned with positivity and learned lessons with partners from what had happened over the last year.
Extensive training for over 200 school governors had also taken place over the Easter period. The service reached school leaders and practitioners in a way that had not been done before. Collaboration was key for this result.
Ed Pryce did not go through each of the 11 priorities as they reflected the five strategic priorities as also discussed at Performance Scrutiny Committee – Partnerships.
The EAS also ensure that schools using blended learning had the appropriate networks in place, and were continuing with the curriculum for Wales at the right pace.
The Finance elements of the plan saw that the delegation rate would remain at 94% and above, with small element of LA contribution.
Sarah Davies, EAS added that the relationship between themselves, schools and Local Authorities were a great strength and would continue to work together in the best interest of all learners, families and communities in Newport. Schools were a positive place and EAS were looking to build on ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
The Leader presented the report, highlighting that the Replacement LDP Review Report was a document which set out the key legislation and policy changes that had occurred since the adoption of the LDP back in 2015. The document also included an assessment of what LDP polices were working well and which needed to be reviewed.
The Replacement LDP Delivery Agreement was a timetable setting out how the Council intended to manage and deliver the LDP. It also set out who, when and how the Council would consult and engage during the production of the Replacement LDP.
Both of these draft documents were brought before Cabinet in October 2020 and it was agreed they would be subject to public consultation. This public consultation had taken place and Cabinet is being asked to consider the comments received, approve the suggested responses to those comments, and endorse both documents for presentation to full Council at the end of April. Following the endorsement by Full Council we would be able to formally submit to Welsh Government. Acceptance from Welsh Government would signal the legal commencement of the LDP review.
In respect of Consultation Feedback on the Review Report:
Appendix A of the Cabinet Report set out all responses received. In general, comments were supportive of the Review Report and agreed that a review of the LDP should progress.
Some responses to note included:
· The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales noted that planning is a priority area in delivering the well-being goals.
· Requests to halt any development in the Gwent Levels. The impact of large renewable energy schemes was a particular concern.
· With the Welsh Government declaring a biodiversity and climate change emergency, the effectiveness of current policy to protect and enhance ecology was raised.
· The continuation of a brownfield strategy was supported along with the need to ensure the plan’s strategy does not lead to social detriment.
· The role and importance of mineral planning for Newport and the region.
· The need to consider access to the river for recreation and lifeboat services.
· The need to review tourism policy and recognised important this was to Newport’s economy.
· The impact from Covid 19 and using planning as a tool to aid recovery.
· The importance and opportunities that resulted from Heritage and its role in the Newport Offer.
· The need to focus on the regeneration of the City Centre, and
· The opportunities arising from national and regional public transport improvements.
In relation to the Delivery Agreement:
Appendix B of the Report set out all responses received. Again, there was general support for the Delivery Agreement and some of the comments received included:
· Support for the proposed timetable.
· Helpful links to stakeholders not identified in the draft.
· Questions on the impact on engagement with Covid-19, and
· The need for transparency of decision making throughout the Replacement LDP process.
As a result of the public consultation, a small number of minor changes were made to both documents. These changes were set out in the appendices and ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
The Leader presented the report advising that it was important for the Council to have an up to date and relevant Anti-fraud, bribery and corruption policy statement in order to deter such activity within the organisation and with our partner organisations, to deal with any allegations appropriately and to strengthen overall governance arrangements. This was the first revision of this statement for a number of years.
The Council’s Audit Committee agreed to note and endorse the Anti-fraud, Bribery and Corruption Policy Statement and recommended it to be formally approved by Cabinet.
Newport City Council was one of the largest organisations in the City. It controlled millions of pounds of public money and took seriously the high expectations of the public and the degree of public scrutiny to which the Council’s affairs were subject.
Good corporate governance required that the Authority must demonstrate clearly that it was firmly committed to dealing with fraud and corruption and would deal equally with perpetrators from inside (Members and officers) and outside the Council. In addition, there would be no distinction made in investigation and action between cases that generate financial benefits and those that did not. The intention was to encourage a culture of deterring fraud and corruption whilst sending a very clear message that if such activity was identified it would be dealt with firmly, consistently and appropriately.
The policy statement embodied a series of measures designed to frustrate any attempted fraudulent or corrupt act and the steps to be taken if such action occurred, providing key contacts to report suspected fraud or corruption along with the responsibilities of key officers, Members and employees. It incorporated The Fraud Act 2006 which defined fraud through three key offences, provided a definition of corruption and also outlined The Bribery Act 2010 where there were four key offences.
The maximum sentence was 10 years imprisonment when found guilty of Fraud and or Bribery, with the potential of an unlimited fine when found guilty of Bribery.
This policy statement embodied a series of measures designed to frustrate any attempted fraudulent or corrupt act and the steps to be taken if such action occurs. For ease of understanding, it is separated into five areas as below:-
Detection and Investigation
The Fraud Act 2006 defined fraud through three key offences:
· Fraud by false representation (where a person dishonestly made a false representation and intended by making the representation, to make a gain for himself or another or to cause or expose the risk of loss to another);
· Fraud by failing to disclose information (where a person dishonestly failed to disclose to another person information which he was under a legal duty to disclose; and intended by failing to do so, to make a gain for himself or another; or to cause or expose another to the risk of loss); and
· Fraud by abuse of position (where a person occupied a position in which he was expected to safeguard or not to act against the financial ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The Leader presented the report, informing colleagues that it was important for the Council to have an up to date and relevant Code of Corporate Governance. The Council’s Annual Governance Statement was based on the Code of Corporate Governance. The Code was last revised in 2014 and approved by Cabinet.
Newport City Council’s Code of Corporate Governance was updated and revised to comply with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy (CIPFA) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE)’s published good practice “Delivering Good Governance in Local Government Framework 2016” and “Delivering Good Governance in Local Government Guidance Notes for Welsh Authorities 2016”, which embraces the elements of internal financial control required by the “Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom”.
In order to meet the requirements of the Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2014, Newport City Council needed to present an Annual Governance Statement (AGS) with its Annual Statement of Accounts. The AGS was based on this revised Code of Corporate Governance since 2016/17.
This Code set out Newport City Council’s approach to achieving and maintaining good corporate governance.
The Council saw Corporate Governance as aiming to do the right things in the right way for the right people, in a timely, inclusive, open, honest and accountable manner. It comprised the systems and processes, cultures and values by which the Council was directed and controlled whilst demonstrating its accountability and engagement with its citizens.
Strong, transparent and responsive governance enabled the Council to put citizens first by pursuing its aims and priorities effectively, and by underpinning them with appropriate mechanisms for managing performance and risk. In order to maintain citizens’ confidence these mechanisms must be sound and be seen to be sound.
The system of internal control was a significant part of this framework and was designed to manage risk to a reasonable level. It provided reasonable but not absolute assurance of effectiveness. Internal control was based on an ongoing process designed to identify and prioritise any risks to the achievement of the Council’s policies, aims and objectives, ensuring the Council’s resources are used in an effective, efficient and economic way.
The Governance Framework
The Council’s Code of Corporate Governance was revised in line with the following principles:
Overarching requirements for acting in the public interest:
A Behaving with integrity, demonstrating strong commitment to ethical values and respecting the rule of law
B Ensuring openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement
In addition, achieving good governance in the Council required effective arrangements for:
C Defining outcomes in terms of sustainable, economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits
D Determining the interventions necessary to optimise the achievement of the intended outcomes
E Developing the entity’s capacity, including the capability of its leadership and the individuals within it
F Managing risks and performance through robust internal control and strong public financial management
G Implementing good practices in transparency, reporting and audit to deliver effective accountability.
The Council’s Commitments to Corporate Governance were clearly set out ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
The Leader presented the report, which was an update on the Council’s (and its partners’) response to the Covid-19 crisis supporting the City (Residents and Businesses) to comply with the current restrictions and progress in the Council’s Strategic Recovery Aims and Corporate Plan.
The 23 March marked the anniversary of the United Kingdom going into its first lockdown and remembering all of our loved ones, friends and family members who have sadly lost their lives to Covid.
It was also an opportunity to reflect back and thank those people working on the front-line in our hospitals, social services, care homes, emergency services, teachers, refuse workers, shop workers and those who have given up their time to volunteer and support their communities, neighbours and those in need.
For Newport City Council this was an unprecedented year where we had faced many difficult decisions, seeing our residents and businesses in our wards impacted by Covid and the restrictions to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. There was not been one person who had not been impacted by this pandemic.
The Leader of the Council had seen how Councillors across all political parties, officers and our strategic partners in health, Newport Live, Shared Resource Service, Newport Norse and other service providers came together to solve emerging issues; finding innovative and new ways of delivering our services, and supporting those who needed help.
This Cabinet also knew that there was more to be done to support people and businesses out of this crisis.
There would be new opportunities for us to continue making Newport a better place to live, work and visit and to also improve the resilience of our communities.
Council’s Covid-19 Response and Progress to date
Since the previous report in March, further restrictions were eased by the Welsh Government enabling residents and businesses to slowly return back to normal routines.
Over April it was hoped to see further restrictions ease enabling non-essential shops and businesses return over the summer period. It will be important for everyone to support local businesses across Newport to reinvigorate and provide a sustainable economy for the future.
However, it is also important for all residents and business owners to keep to the social distancing measures and guidelines from Welsh Government to keep the case rate low and prevent any further lockdowns in the future as we continued on our journey to vaccinate people across our communities.
The rollout of the vaccine has now seen over 1.2 million people receive their first dose in Wales.
This Cabinet’s message to residents in Newport was to take up the vaccine when it was offered and to encourage our family members, friends and our community groups to do the same. Not only would this help us all get back to normal it would enable us to meet our loved ones and do the things that we used to do.
Despite the challenges we have faced, officers and our partners had continued to deliver services across communities in Newport in ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
The Leader presented the report, updating Cabinet Members on the progress in the post Brexit / trade arrangements since 31 December 2020.
Trade Negotiations Update
· Since the United Kingdom left the European Union and the Single Market on 31 December 2020, businesses (importers / exporters) from the UK and EU were having to comply with the new custom arrangements.
· As the report highlighted, it was a difficult few months for businesses in Wales to meet these new requirements and there was a significant drop in the level of exports and imports. It is yet to be seen what the full impact of these arrangements would be over the next 6 to 12 months due to the Covid restrictions.
· The future economic resilience of Newport and South East Wales was vital to ensure that existing and new businesses could sustainably thrive. It was also important that we promoted the ‘Newport Offer’ to homegrown entrepreneurs as well as global businesses.
· Having a diverse and sustainable economy that was able to provide sustainable growth would enable Newport’s communities not just to ‘level up’ but also provided opportunities for our communities to thrive in the long term for Newport’s future generations.
· The report also highlighted the new funding (Levelling Up Fund and UK Community Renewal Fund) that the UK Government were bringing in to replace the EU Structural funding that South East Wales and Newport had benefited from in the past.
· The Levelling Up Fund announced to enable potential large scale investment on transport, regeneration and cultural investment could support Newport in delivering key projects in the City and Newport was identified as a Category 1 area for investment
· The UK Community Renewal Fund was prioritised to 100 areas in the UK based upon their productivity, household income, unemployment skills and population density. Newport Council would be able to submit bids from local community groups, charities, the Council and tertiary education establishments up to £3million for funding as a lead authority.
· It was noted however that both of these Funds were determined by a competitive process and we were not guaranteed to receive any or all of the bids submitted. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that Newport and South East Wales would receive the same level of funding as we would have received under previous arrangements.
· What makes Newport a great City to live in, work in and visit is our diverse and inclusive communities and groups. Newport was always a welcoming City for people from all nations no matter their race, sexuality, and religion.
· It was concerning for Cabinet that we may have many EU citizens living and working in Newport that may still not have applied for EU Settled Status and those who were presenting themselves to the Council with no recourse to public funds.
· Newport Council alongside community groups and other organisations in Newport were promoting this scheme and encouraging people to apply. It was important to encourage family members, friends, work colleagues to apply before the 30 June. Anyone that ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
This was the regular monthly report on the work programme.
That Cabinet moved acceptance of the updated programme.
Finally, the Leader was delighted to announce that the Mayor of Newport had completed a solo sponsored walk around Tredegar House in aid of Alzheimer’s Cymru.
Councillor Tom Suller started his laps of Tredegar House at 10am today and completed is walk at 1pm, achieving 20,000 steps!
As a lot of traditional fundraising activities haven’t been able to take place this year, the Mayor decided a solo sponsored walk would be ideal.
Newport was officially a dementia friendly city and Alzheimer’s Cymru was very close to the Mayor’s heart for personal reasons, it was an excellent charity that offered a wide range of support services to ensure people did not have to face the challenges of this devastating illness on their own.
Cabinet also congratulated Councillor Suller on his achievement.