Agenda item

Questions to the Leader of the Council

To provide an opportunity for Councillors to ask questions to the Leader of the Council in accordance with the Council’s Standing Orders.




No more than 15 minutes will be allocated at the Council meeting for questions to the Leader of the Council.


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


The Leader gave the following announcements, before proceeding with questions:


Joint inspection of child protection services

At the end of last year, children’s services and education were part of the first multi-agency inspection of its kind.


Care Inspectorate Wales, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation and Estyn carried out an in-depth inspection into child protection services in the city.


It evaluated how the Council, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Gwent Police, and the Probation Service responded to child exploitation.


The joint inspection found many strengths in all the services and made recommendations where it was felt improvements could be made.


It was a very welcome award, which had many positive things to say about council services in this very important area.


The council had extremely dedicated staff doing crucial work in collaboration with other agencies to try and keep children safe from physical, sexual or emotional harm.


The recommendations were taken on board to make sure every child in the Newport was protected and properly cared for.


Summer childcare schemes

More than 300 children were cared for and entertained in safe and secure venues in schemes run by the Council and partners.


During school closure, care was provided for the children of key workers and vulnerable children using Covid-19 funding, this came to an end before the school holidays and the Council decided to step in and continue childcare provision using some Welsh Government funding and a donation from First Campus.


As well as schemes for children aged two to 12, there was also a specialist care scheme, working with Duffryn Community Link, Clybiau Plant Cymru and Newport Live in order to offer as many places as possible.


Over five weeks, more than 268 children of key workers were able to use the schemes while more than 60 vulnerable children took up places.


The Leader thanked all staff, and our partners, who provided childcare and First Campus for its kind and generous contribution.


Commendation for scheme aimed at stopping young people getting involved in serious and organised crime

Serious and organised crime was a national problem and preventing young people from being preyed on and becoming involved in such criminality is a great concern.  Newport had a successful partnership with Gwent Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, delivering interventions to vulnerable young people at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime.


The team worked with St Giles Trust, Crimestoppers and Barnardo’s to deliver a ground-breaking programme that educated young people about the risk of serious and organised crime, encouraging them to report their concerns to all nine secondary schools in Newport.  The partnership was working to deliver more targeted intervention high risk young people.  Earlier this month, the partnership was commended in the Gwent Police Awards 2020.


NEET figures

Even more young people are in education, training or work in Newport following a determined and coordinated effort by the council and its partners by comparison to eight years ago when just under 5% of 16-year-olds were not in education, employment or training.


By 2016 the numbers had fallen to a record low of 1.7% however the figures had steadily improved. Last year's data took the council to sixth in Wales for its performance in this area and figures for 2019 showed it had done even better.


Less than 1% (0.9%) of the year 11 age group was not in education, employment or training, raising the council to second in the all-Wales table and well above the Welsh average.


It was important to identify young people at risk of slipping through the net ensuring they took advantage of the opportunities available to change their future prospects.


New mobile enforcement vehicle

On 24 August, a new mobile enforcement vehicle was launched as part of the council’s ongoing effort to tackle illegal parking.  Since civil parking enforcement was introduced in July last year, almost 22,000 penalty charge notices were issued to motorists parking illegally across the city.


The recognisable hybrid car was fitted with cameras on the roof with clearly displayed logos ‘parking enforcement vehicle’ in both English and Welsh.


Grant to refurbish Newport Stadium

Refurbishment work at Newport Stadium was boosted by more than £150,000 of grant funding.  Working in partnership with Newport Live and in partnership with Newport Harriers, Sport Wales and Welsh Athletics to deliver the refurbishment.  This would see the installation of a new World Athletics’ specification throwing cage and new polymeric surfacing for the track and field areas in addition to works of cleaning, repairs and line marking, establishment of new external throwing cage and area to be used as a training facility.


It was hoped that this strong collaborative partnership would continue to support and maintain athletics as a priority sport in the city.


Leader’s Questions


§  Councillor M Evans thanked staff that excelled during lockdown and would like to formally recognise those staff that had gone the extra mile by resurrecting the award.  Councillor asked what additional measures was the council taking to support the wellbeing of residents in light of the effects caused by the Pandemic.


The Leader responded that measures had been taken and that public protection had worked with businesses to implement safety requirements with positive feedback.  This week a walk in centre at Rodney parade had been opened which meant residents could book a walk in test which greatly improve the system currently in place.


Ken Skates schemes would be opening up along with the business support team advising hospitality businesses on how to apply for funding.  The test and trace team also worked hard, as well as schools and Head Teachers who had responded quickly and appropriately under the circumstances.  The Leader also looked forward to resuming her weekly update with Cllr M Evans.



Councillor M Evans asked if the Leader could do more to ease concerns over mental health as the council could not continue with social aspects for elderly.  Abuse and suicide had risen, could the council adopt a more compassionate and human approach during the lockdown.


The Leader advised that there was a range of schemes in place working closely with various voluntary groups such as MIND and Red Cross as well as helping those with financial difficulties.


WG was considering how to help adults living on their own and how they could engage with other people.  WG was a fantastic support during the pandemic. 

The WG website had FAQs in relation to Newport regarding this, or alternatively, Newport City Council customer support staff would be happy to help by contacting 656656/


§  Councillor Whitehead congratulated Leader and was grateful for keeping him updated on all issues. Councillor also thanked the silent heroes working in hubs.  Would the Leader consider working with officers in creating a portal to enable public access for services around domestic violence, debt, loneliness, isolation and mental health.


The Leader would discuss this with partners and would get back to Councillor Whitehead.