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.


Before Commencement with questions, the Leader made the following announcements to Council:


Coleg Gwent

Colleagues were aware that proposals to create a city centre college campus, providing first-class further education facilities, was taking another step forward.


Pre-planning consultation was launched ahead of an outline application being jointly submitted by the Council and Coleg Gwent.


The Council was working closely with Coleg Gwent and Welsh Government on its plans to bring further education provision into the heart of the city centre.


The Newport Knowledge Quarter would offer excellent learning environments for further and higher education helping to inspire generations of young people.


the Council is also submitting a bid to the UK government’s levelling-up fund to support a National Technology Institute in a city centre location. Such an institute would deliver high quality, higher level technical education and training, which would be another valuable and much-needed asset for the city.


These developments were part of our masterplan for the city centre, regeneration projects that would deliver employment, learning and training opportunities, create a more diverse mix of uses and make Newport an attractive place to live in, work in and visit.


Details of the pre-planning consultation were available on the Council’s website, and the Leader encouraged colleagues to take a look, share and submit their views.


Continuing on the skills and education theme, the Leader was pleased to advise that the latest community learning offering was launched ready for a September start. After a tricky few years, due to the pandemic we are very pleased to be able to present an extended and extensive offer – including essential skills, GCSEs, modern languages, British Sign Language, digital literacy and independent living skills, to subjects such as carbon literacy where learners could understand their carbon footprint and take steps to reduce their impact on the planet.


From next week, the Kingsway Centre would be home to a new pop-up library.  The unit, located very close to the main library building, would ensure that we could continue to provide lending services, access to public computers and some family research resources, while improvement works were carried out on the central library and museum.


Following the completion of the work, some services based at the Information Station would be delivered from the newly refurbished building. The Council’s contact centre staff would also be based there.


The move followed the decision to let two floors of the former railway station in Queensway to Tramshed Tech to create co-working space for start-up businesses in the digital, tech and creative sectors.


Upper floors of the building were already occupied by Cardiff University’s prestigious National Software Academy making the former railway station home to the cutting-edge digital entrepreneurs of the future.


Our very own Pride Staff Network partnered with Newport Live and PROUD to launch the LGBTQAI+ Community Summer Art Project.


The Pride Staff Network were celebrating a year in formation by working on the project, which was supporting the community Pride event ‘Pride in the Port’ which would take place in September.


The project would allow community art to be showcased in celebration of 50 years of Pride in the United Kingdom and Newport’s first ever community Pride.


As part of the project, they were asking for submissions of artwork that would form the special collection to be displayed at The Riverfront. The art could be in any form; a painting or sculpture, physical form or digital for online use and the subject of the artwork should be someone who’s either Welsh or has strong links with Wales, and who openly identifies as LGBTQAI+.


Further details and how to make a submission was available on our website.


Earlier this month, the Deputy Mayor and Leader were honoured to welcome the Queen’s Commonwealth Baton relay to Newport, hundreds of Scouts, Guides, Beavers and Brownies helped us ensure it was a very warm welcome!


The baton was making its way to Birmingham, host city of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and would have travelled 90,000 miles around the 72 nations and territories of the Commonwealth before finishing its journey later this month.


Athlete Christian Malcom and boxer Sean McGoldrick joined the baton bearers, who had all been nominated for their contributions within Scouting and Guiding, as the striking baton made its way around the track at Newport Stadium.


After the relay, a range of activities including boxing, cycling, aerobics, tennis, squash, football, netball and table tennis were enjoyed by the young people and their leaders alike!


Since Council last met, the Leader was pleased to announce that we have received the official Purple Flag accreditation for the city’s evening and night-time economy.


Similar to the Blue Flag for beaches, the Purple Flag scheme aimed to raise the standard and appeal of town and city centres between 5pm and 5am.


Areas awarded the Purple Flag were recognised for providing a vibrant and diverse mix of dining, entertainment and culture while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and residents.


Highlights from Newport’s submission included the invigoration of cafe culture during the pandemic, the proactive work being done around drugs and drink spiking, and the Newport Explorer signage.


There had undoubtedly been a significant change in the evening and night-time offer and atmosphere in the city centre, this was excellent news for businesses and was a tribute to the hard work of our licensing officers and partners, including Newport Now BID and Pubwatch.


Newport had an amazing mix of European-style café culture and traditional pubs, complemented by some excellent restaurants. The city also had fantastic independent businesses providing live music and entertainment. 


On behalf of the Council, The Leader offered huge congratulations after not one, but two Newport wins in the prestigious National Teaching Awards for Wales.


Llanwern High won the first ever Betty Campbell Award for Diversity in the curriculum. Betty Campbell’s family were at the event and Professor Charlotte Williams, who wrote the recent recommendations for exploring cultural heritage and diversity in the curriculum for Wales presented the award with Jeremy Miles.


The second award was ‘New Teacher of the Year’ - a category for teachers in years two and three of their career. This was won by Holly Gordon of Ysgol Bryn Derw. Holly also won the South Wales Argus award for the same category earlier in the year. The Minister for Education went to great lengths to stress Holly’s expertise and the fact that Newport had the only ASD Special School in Wales.


Congratulations on such amazing achievements.


Questions to Leader


Councillor Routley:


Could more be done to promote anti-bullying strategies.




It was important in all work that the Council undertook to promote respect.  There was ongoing work in key areas with education partners and colleagues across the schools.  Also, policies were in place, including how individuals should act in the workplace.  As a learning authority, there was always room for further development.




Councillor Routley mentioned that children were not resilient and asked was there a way to change the narrative.  Was there opportunity to resolve bullying in schools and colleges and support an all-party push to take a brand-new approach on bullying in light of certain tragedies.




The Leader reiterated that the Council realised the seriousness of bullying could happen at any age in any setting.  The Leader mentioned that Councillor Routley was chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee for People and had the opportunity to scrutinize this area and would be most appropriate to discuss in detail.  In addition, the Cabinet Member and Chief Education Officer would also be available to delve into this issue should Councillor Routley want to debate these issues in detail.


Councillor Whitehead:


There was concerns around potential fires starting due to the hot weather, especially with the long grass and asked the Leader if there was any contingency or mitigation regarding this issue.




There were measures in place as well as ongoing discussions. It would be remiss to not point out the work of the climate change strategy and the current severe hot weather was serious evidence of the way the climate was changing.  No Mow May supported the natural habitat, in line with policies.  There were however certain wards within Newport that Newport City Homes had responsibility for as well as Newport City Council and we should be mindful of this.  In terms of the weather and plans to mitigate this, Civil contingencies had been meeting daily to discuss this and ensure continuity of domiciliary care in Newport.




Councillor Whitehead hoped that all members took time to listen to residents and be alert and mindful during this time.


Councillor Morris:


Where were we on the issue of travellers and referred to temporary sites that were previously proposed to be in place for travellers ten years ago.




There was a high level of public engagement at the time, which was an indication of the interest.  From a WG perspective, they required Gypsy Traveller accommodation assessments and although it was stalled during Covid, it was underway.  Some authorities had chosen not to address this, but Newport City Council was looking into this.  The Assessment was resource intensive, and a lot of officers and officer time was involved in this.  These officers were often also dealing with other housing issues.  Other challenges around this was that summer led to an increase Gypsy Travellers attendance and these were being managed in line with existing policies.




Councillor Morris also said that people were frustrated by the lack of progress and if the Leader could inject some urgency as residents and travellers would be happy for it.




The Leader made the distinction between a transit site for those visiting during summer months for example and permanent site, where people would have to join the housing register to be allocated a fixed site.  There was a lot of ongoing work in relation to eligibility and intense assessment of these applications, the Leader therefore assured Councillor Morris that the work was ongoing.