Agenda item

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


Question 1 – Deputy Leader/ Cabinet Member: City Services


Councillor Mogford:

Considering Measures to Reduce (Toxic) Emissions Across the City.


With the new impetus to combat Climate change in Wales does the Cabinet Member have a plan or a vision to ensure that access to local recycling centres can be optimised in terms of distance and time taken.


A practical case in point is the five lanes recycling centre on the A48. Many residents are having to take the longer journey both in time and distance to the NCC recycling centre, which can be up to a 20 plus mile round trip rather than just a few miles in some cases.


In making it easier and quicker to travel to the nearest recycling centre does the cabinet member also see the potential for a reduction in fly-tipping on top of the beneficial reduction in vehicle emissions?



Monmouthshire County Council took the decision to close access to their Five Lanes Recycling Centre to Newport residents back in 2019; and while we regret the inconvenience caused to residents in the area, unfortunately it is for Monmouthshire County Council to decide on the access rules to their recycling sites, over which we have no control.


Newport City Council’s Corporate Plan, details plans for a second household waste recycling facility to be built, in the east of the city, Also, all Newport residents receive a weekly collection of all common recyclable household waste, plus refuge and garden waste collections. A special collection is available upon request for bulky materials.


Finally, we have seen no correlation between fly-tipping and access to the HWRC. Fly tipping is a criminal activity that the vast majority of our residents would not entertain. A significant proportion of fly-tipping is carried out by commercial operators, who cannot not use the HWRC and have a legal obligation to dispose of their waste in line with relevant legislation.



‘In the future if the Council was interested in an agreement to joint fund facilities such as Five Lanes, we would be happy to enter into these kind of discussions’. This was in an email received on 25 September 2019 from Monmouthshire Council.  Had this offer been taken up and would it be beneficial for the two councils to share in this facility.



The Deputy Leader advised that Monmouthshire Council had closed these facilities to residents in 2019.  There had been conversations in the past but these were not promising.


Question 2 – Deputy Leader/Cabinet Member: City Services


Councillor Kellaway:

I have received a number of emails from concerned residents regarding the risk of flooding in Llanwern, you may recall the rain over the festive season in December 2020 which resulted in residents homes being damaged and some residents being evacuated.


What reassurance can you and the administration provide to residents that they will not see a repeat of the overtopping of Monks Ditch and subsequent flooding of Llanwern village and wider area so all residents can at least look forward to a peaceful and stress-free Christmas.



We have carried out a thorough CCTV investigation to the drainage system along Station Road, and carried out numerous pipe repairs, root removal and jetting of the system to ensure an improvement in the performance of the system. We have recently received a high rainfall event which did not appear to have any flooding issues in the area, which we may have otherwise seen issues prior to the remedial works being complete.


This issue is highly reliant on water being able to discharge from the system in to the associated reens.  If the reens downstream of the system remain in working order, then we are confident that the residents should not experience any issues in future.  We have also issued two breach of condition notices on Redrow to ensure that the development proceeds in accordance with the approved details, particularly in relation to drainage.  Redrow were required to cease the provision of further hard surfacing and soil stripping until details of surface water drainage had been agreed and implemented.  This is considered necessary in order to ensure that surface water run off from the site does not increase issues of flooding for the village.


NCC are seeking Welsh Government grant funding to both reline some of the existing system and upgrade other parts to ensure better performance in the area



Two or three years ago the Council was given £100K to upgrade the drains from the developer.  Why was the money not utilised to fix the repairs sooner to avoid the flooding last year.



There was an original scheme in 2005 but the site was not developed for many years.  When the site was developed, the original design did not meet the current standards due to climate change and would clash with multiple utilities, a more suitable design has since been progressed.


Question 3 – Deputy Leader/Cabinet Member: City Services


Councillor Routley:

Will the Cabinet Member for City Services outline his political vision and leadership with regards to how he is going to build momentum going forward on road safety and the environment within Newport?



Newport City Council is committed to the delivery of the objectives set out in The Wales Transport Strategy which makes people and climate change a priority when looking at highways and transportation.


Focusing on road safety, Newport is working closely with Welsh Government in the delivery of the new national default speed limit of 20mph in residential areas, which is due to come into force across Wales in 2023.


The key objective is to make roads and streets safer for all users with greater priority to public transport and active travel as seen in recent projects around the city including Queens hill / Devon place.


With regard to the environment and the meeting of both the 2030 and Net Zero target of 2050, the authority, in collaboration with Welsh Government, is delivering publicly accessible Electric Vehicle Charge Points for the city and making good progress in decarbonising the Councils fleet.


We are also driving forward initiatives to deliver the benefits of a greener city for our communities and the encouragement of bio diversity, especially in the urban environment.  We are currently out to consultation on our climate change strategy.



Magor Road had 30MPH, then 50MPH and went back to 30MPH causing high levels of pollution.  This also led to driver frustration.  Would the Deputy Leader support the traffic order plan.



The Review by WG only considered 30MPH to 20MPH speeding restrictions.  The speed limits on the rest of the roads referred to had been  reduced to 50MPH from 60MPH and this was deemed appropriate.


Question 4 – Deputy Leader/Cabinet Member: City Services


Councillor Forsey:

Many residents have commented on the ongoing construction work at the railway station. Can the Cabinet Member provide Council with an update on the progress of the Devon Place footbridge?



The Devon Place bridge project is to replace an existing subway, connecting Devon Place with Queensway beneath the Great Western Mainline railway.


The subway was unsightly, and the location of much antisocial behaviour including a number of serious assaults and muggings.  This subway route was not safe and not suitable for a 21st Century City. Fortunately the Authority were successful in obtaining funding for a new unsegregated pedestrian and cycle bridge; enabling Newport City Council (NCC) to decommission the existing subway. The funding for the development and implementation has been secured from Welsh Government via their Active Travel Fund, following a series of design development and feasibility stages Although the work is not yet completed it is anticipated that the total cost of the project from development to delivery will be in excess of 9 million pounds.  Part of the process has included effecting a permanent closure of the subway right of way,


One of the most technical elements was modifying the recently installed overhead electric line which was only recently commissioned. Construction phase began fully in August 2021. Early works included site clearance, hoarding installation, and removal of the Network rail owned Harvey Hood sculpture for repair prior to reinstallation close to the main station entrance. Further segments of the bridge will be delivered in the coming weeks as they are released from the fabrication workshop. The support structures above ground will start to be installed through December leading to the main lift of the bridge deck segments. These will be undertaken as a number of individual lifts during the scheduled Christmas railway closure. This closure begins on Christmas Eve and lasts for 72 hours. During this time the central supports, decks and link spans will be lifted into place. 


Following Christmas and New Year the access ramps, steps, parapets and handrails will arrive on site to be gradually installed during the spring. Public realm works will follow and we should see the main structure in place by the end of March/April


Question 5 – Cabinet Member: Sustainable Development


Councillor Mogford:

Hundreds of studies have found harmful biological or health effects from exposure to radio frequency radiation at intensities too low to cause significant heating. The public at this time have no reason to believe 5G is safe.


5G masts are starting to pop-up all around Newport. Their range is very short and effectively cover 'line of sight'


How many of these masts can we expect to be given planning permission if the plan is to get full or significant coverage in Newport?


Following on, could the Cabinet Member attempt to reassure members that in rolling out 5G in and around the Newport area they are convinced that the risk to public health is below a threshold of concern? Have they engaged with Welsh Senedd on the matter at this time in seeking their own reassurance?



Most forms of telecommunication equipment development, including 5G masts, are permitted development.  This means that the principle of the development is accepted and the local planning authority can only consider the siting and appearance of the proposal.  Potential health implications would not be a planning consideration.  All local planning authorities are governed by planning legislation, and Newport City Council cannot vary from this. 


Radiation concerns associated with 5G masts fell under separate regulations.  I was aware of media reports and some perceived health risks, but also aware of scientific research which has counteracted these claims with robust evidence.  For example, last year, the UKs regulator, Ofcom, found no identifiable risks in its first tests since 5G technology was deployed.  The World Health Organisation are of a similar view.


When a prior approval application for a 5G mast is submitted to the local planning authority, we ensure that the submission includes an ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) certificate.  This certificate confirms that the equipment has been designed in full compliance with the requirements of the radio frequency public exposure guidelines of the ICNIRP.  This certificate is a necessary part of the process, and without this, the local planning authority would refuse to consider the application. 


The aim of the network providers is to create superfast connectivity to citizens and businesses in Newport and encourage inward investment however they do not undertake any pre consultation with us in terms of their proposals for mast sharing or the number of new masts required.



Could the Cabinet Member reassure members that in rolling out 5G in the Newport area that he was convinced that the risk to public health was below the concerned threshold and had the Cabinet Member engaged with the Senedd to seek this reassurance.



With regard to the health risks to public the council was confident at this time that according to all research by Ofcom the technology was safe.


Question 6 – Cabinet Member: Social Services


Councillor Marshall:

The Newport City Council Corporate Plan makes a commitment to a reduction in the number of out of county social care placements. Can the Cabinet member give an overview of progress against this objective?



Over the past year we have despite the challenges of the pandemic been able to safely reduce the number of children who are looked after. Our teams have worked to support families and to provide the direct support needed to prevent children coming into care. This has included the development of our Baby and Me team to support parents at risk of losing their children because of the risk of significant harm pre-birth, the implementation of Family Group Conferences to create family solutions and the provision of a Rapid Response team to intervene at times of crisis and provide 24/7 support. We have worked to revoke the number of Care Orders by supporting the reunification of children with family sometimes many years after they first became looked after. We have supported family members and foster carers to care for children using Special Guardianship rather than remaining in care.


The table below gives the decrease in the number of children who are looked after since April 2020


As At Date

Total CLA (inc UASC)

Total CLA (Excluding UASC)























On 19 November 2021 we had 366 children in our care. We have with all our children in care focused on being able to meet their needs in the most effective way possible. For some children this will mean being in care but placed with family members and often this will man being placed outside of Newport.


We have a small number of our foster carers who live just outside Newport so again while these are categorised as out of county the placement is still close to the child’s original school and community. We also have a small number of children placed for adoption out of Newport and these again are part of the group constituting out of authority placement.


As of 30 June 2021 we had 22 children placed out of Wales. All of this group are either placed with family members or are awaiting final adoption orders. A further 98 children were in Wales but outside of Newport with most of this group being in Gwent or Cardiff. This total number of children has been static for the past year but examining the detail demonstrates there are good reasons for the children being placed out of Newport.


We have pursued work to try to ensure that when children do require foster care or residential care we can care for them in Newport. We have slowly reduced our reliance on both Independent Fostering Agencies and external residential care. We will continue to do this as it ensures the safety, wellbeing and future needs of our children are met.


In order to do so we have increased and improved the provision of residential care in Newport. This has included the opening of Rose Cottage and Rosedale, improvements at Forest Lodge and Oaklands, and the closure of Cambridge House. We are currently working on the development of Windmill Farm and the annexes at Rosedale. Over the past eighteen months the number of children placed with out of authority residential providers reduced from 24 to 18. As well being the best outcome for our children this has brought a slow reduction in our spend on these sorts of placements. The total spend has reduced by almost £2 million some of which has then been repurposed to provide our own homes with considerable improvements in outcomes for our children.


Newport City Council staff have taken a proactive approach to ensuring we have a robust group of foster carers with a positive package of support including financial, material and emotional support. The launch of Maethu Cymru/Foster Wales has been interwoven with our local approaches to recruiting and then retaining foster carers.


In the past eighteen months we have seen a reduction in the number of children placed with Independent Fostering agencies from 72 to 58.


The work undertaken in all arenas of Children’s Services contributes to this work and therefore meeting the commitment to reduce the number of children inappropriately placed out of county for social care placements.


The Mayor and Mayoress attended a recent Foster Care event and was happy to support this initiative.


There were no questions for Chairs of Committees.  Therefore, the Mayor asked members to note the date of the next meeting and, there being no further business, declared the meeting closed.