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Venue: Committee Room 1 - Council Offices, Llangefni and virtually via Zoom
Contact: Ann Holmes
In the absence of Councillor Dyfed Wyn Jones, the Vice-Chair of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Sonia Williams was elected to serve as Vice-Chair for this meeting only.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declaration of interest by any Member or Officer in respect of any item of business.
Councillor Douglas Fowlie declared a personal but not prejudicial interest with regard to item 4 on the agenda as an employee of Grwp Llandrillo Menai.
Councillor Carwyn Jones (Portfolio Member for Corporate Business and Customer Experience), (not a member of the Committee) likewise declared an interest regarding item 4 as an employee of Grwp Llandrillo Menai.
To present the minutes of the previous meetings of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee held on the following dates –
· 19 April, 2023
· 23 May, 2023 (election of Chair/Vice-Chair)
The minutes of the previous meetings of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee held on the following dates were presented and were confirmed as correct: -
19 April, 2023
23 May, 2023 (election of Chair/Vice-Chair)
To present the report of the Head of Profession (HR) and Transformation.
The report of the Head of Profession (HR) and Transformation incorporating the Corporate Scorecard for Quarter 4 2022/23 was presented for the Committee’s consideration. The scorecard report portrayed the Council’s end of year position against matters relating to customer service, people and financial management and performance management.
The report was presented by Councillor Carwyn Jones, Portfolio Member for Corporate Business and Customer Experience who provided a summary of the contents confirming that 91% of indicators were performing to, or within 5% of target. The report highlighted a number of positive performance stories in relation to homelessness prevention, Adults’ Services, timeliness of planning decision-making, improvements in road condition, street cleanliness, the number of empty homes brought back into use and the recovery of visitor numbers to leisure centres to pre- pandemic levels. The contribution made by the Council’s staff to this positive performance over the year is recognised and commended. Where performance remains off target, those areas, specifically the percentage of FOI requests dealt with within timescale, average number of days taken to deliver Disabled Facilities Grant and percentage of planning appeals dismissed are being investigated and monitored by the Leadership Team to secure improvements into the future. To close, Councillor Carwyn Jones said that he hoped the report provided Scrutiny with assurance that performance is important to the Council, that it is being managed robustly and is being given due attention both politically and operationally.
The Committee welcomed the report as reflecting positive progress over the year overall as well as consistency of performance. Members discussed the Scorecard report in detail and challenged the Portfolio Members on several issues including how to raise awareness of good performance both internally and externally, customer service in relation to telephone call monitoring and quality of responses, the delivery of Disabled Facilities grants and adaptations, and management of children on the Child Protection Register (CPR) – specifically performance against Indicator 23 and how this can be reported to reflect the true situation and whether it should be a matter for the Social Services Scrutiny Panel to look into. Consideration was also given to financial management, specifically the projected underspend on the 2022/23 budget and how that might help the Council in addressing expected additional service pressures in 2023/24. Further questions were asked about the performance management framework in general including how actions to tackle underperforming areas/indicators are monitored to ensure they are meeting performance aims and objectives. The Portfolio Members and Officers responded to the issues raised as follows –
· Explained that the best way of demonstrating that the Council is performing well and delivering services that improve outcomes for the people of Anglesey is through regulators’ reports many of which have been positive for the Council recently and testify to the progress and improvements made. Recognising, promoting, and celebrating successes is also a matter of informal internal communication and should perhaps be the starting point. It is the intention to incorporate such messages in the publicity process for the Council’s Corporate Plan 2023-28 ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To present the report of the Director of Education, Skills and Young People.
The report of the Director of Education, Skills and Young People setting out the findings from the public consultation on the “Modernising Learning Communities and Developing the Welsh Language Strategy” was presented for the Committee’s consideration and comment. The consultation report and summary of responses from all sources was provided at Appendix 1.
Councillor Robin Williams, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Member for Finance presented the report saying that it reflected the responses to the public consultation process. The views of the Scrutiny Committee are sought including any recommendations and/or amendments it may wish to make in relation to the Strategy in light of the responses and ahead of their being considered by the Executive.
The Director of Education, Skills and Young People reported that the public consultation process took place between 31 March and 18 May, 2023. A total of 298 responses were received via the online survey and in the form of letters and e-mails most of which (55%) were in agreement with the reasons for change, the vision and leading principles (58%) and the drivers for change and strategic objectives (53%) contained in the draft strategy. He referred to the consultation arrangements as set out in the consultation report and confirmed that the process had been comprehensive and robust and had involved engaging with a wide range of stakeholders. Whilst a summary of respondents is provided within the report in Appendix 1, a more detailed analysis is provided in appendices 2 to 8 including the consultation with children and young people which was conducted through meetings with children of both primary and secondary school age in which 150 took part from 28 schools. In terms of the substance of the responses, this can be grouped into 4 main themes around the number and sufficiency of schools and school buildings, the Welsh Language, clarity and detail and the Net Zero Agenda. There is a clear connection between these themes and the strategic aims of the Council Plan. A number of valid points were raised under each theme and these will be further considered when developing specific proposals in future. In response to the feedback received the report recommends that the three amendments outlined be made to the draft strategy relating to the implementation timetable, sources of information and governance model. These changes do not affect the strategy’s vision. An Equalities Impact Assessment was also conducted and is included in the documentation under Appendix 9.
The Committee considered the documentation and raised a number of issues regarding the strategy and consultation including the robustness of the consultation process as conducted, specifically whether the process had sufficiently captured the views of children and young people and whether it could be improved for the future, the ways in which the consultation had influenced the draft strategy, how the strategy will help deliver education provision and a learning environment of the highest standard for Anglesey’s children and young people, the risks and challenges in realising the strategy’s vision, links with the Council Plan ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To present the report of the Head of Regulation and Economic Development.
The report of the Head of Regulation and Economic Development on the outcome of the public consultation on the Draft Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan was presented for the Committee’s consideration and comment.
Councillor Neville Evans, Portfolio Member for Leisure, Tourism and Maritime provided some background information saying that the AONB Management Plan is a statutory document which must be reviewed every five years according to set guidelines. The Plan, although it is focused on the special qualities and significance of the AONB and presents a vision for its future, is cross departmental in that it also has social, economic, cultural, linguistic, and educational significance and as such it aligns with the relevant objectives and priorities set out in the Council Plan. The draft AONB Management Plan was subject to a six-week public consultation which ran from 28 April to 9 June, 2023 and has been updated to reflect the comments received. A total of 73 responses was received which are analysed in the consultation response report many of which reference the Penrhos development which was under consideration at the time. A user-friendly version of the Plan will be produced once the consultation period is completed and changes made, as will an Action Plan which will be monitored to ensure that the vision for the AONB is implemented and that communities and stakeholders are engaged in that process.
In the ensuing discussion on the Strategy and the public response to it, a number of matters were considered including the reasons for preparing an AONB Management Plan and its links to the Council Plan, the robustness of the public consultation process given that there were only 73 responses and the ways in which that process influenced the final document, the relationship between the AONB Management Plan and the planning development process, the need for a communication plan, the relationship with services internally within the Council especially with education and the youth service, and improving engagement and collaboration with landowners and farmers. Specific issues around the situation in Llanddwyn and Newborough were also raised in connection with protection and conservation.
The Portfolio Member and Officers present provided further information as follows –
· That local authorities which administer AONBs are required by law to prepare and publish management plans for their area and to review these plans every five years. Although the Management Plan review is 3 years behind schedule because of the Covid pandemic, the additional time as well as the experiences gained in responding to the pandemic has allowed the Service to ensure that the contents and priorities of the Plan are appropriate and robust and capable of meeting the challenges which the Island faces. The AONB is a living, working landscape and as such the needs of communities and people’s ability to earn a livelihood from the areas in which they live are important. While the AONB designation relates to landscape, ensuring community and economic benefits is important and is acknowledged as is nature and addressing climate change. ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To present the report of the Head of Profession (HR) and Transformation.
The report of the Head of Profession (HR) and Transformation incorporating the Annual Delivery Document for 2023/24 was presented for the Committee’s consideration and comment.
The Annual Delivery Document was presented by Councillor Carwyn Jones, Portfolio Member for Corporate Business and Customer Experience as an outline of the Council’s annual work programmes for 2023/24 which are designed to deliver the expectations of the Council Plan. He referred to the six strategic objectives of the Council Plan under which were listed the specific work streams that would be undertaken during 2023/24 to help achieve those objectives. The Delivery Document has been collectively developed with services across the Council and will be implemented within the resources determined as part of the budget set for 2023/24 alongside the Council’s day to day activities. All front line and support staff will be integral to the document’s successful delivery.
The Committee in discussing the document raised questions about the challenges and risks in seeking to realise the priorities set for 2023/24, the arrangements put in place to monitor the progress in delivering the work streams as outlined, the extent to which the Plan accords with the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 as well as ensuring that staff are fully engaged in its delivery.
The Chief Executive and Programme, Business Planning and Performance Manager responded to the matters raised as follows –
· That to ensure successful delivery, it is important that none of the strategic objectives or work streams are considered in isolation but are considered within the local context. One of the main challenges and risks is the significant additional pressures under which some key services are operating most of which the Council is statutorily required to deliver on a day-to-day basis which makes planning for the future in terms of remodelling more challenging. The financial context is also concerning and is a risk with increasing pressure on services on the one hand against the need to modernise, to create greener buildings, to invest and create jobs whilst also protecting the environment on the other hand which makes achieving a balance between these competing claims very challenging. Capacity and staff retention are foremost priorities in ensuring that the aspirations of the Council Plan, and the specific objectives of the Delivery Document for 2023/24 are achieved. The Council is confident that those are realistic and can be met, and to ensure their delivery and to identify and address any risks along the way, it will be putting in place performance management arrangements mindful of the fact also that some of those risks may come from external sources and will need to be mitigated.
· Regular updates on progress on delivery are provided to the Corporate Programme Boards and the new corporate scorecard for 2023/24 will be aligned with the Council Plan. Additionally, the Delivery Document is closely aligned with the Council Plan in that it sets out the details around the critical activities that will be prioritised in 2023/24 to help deliver the objectives of ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To present the report of the Scrutiny Manager.
The report of the Scrutiny Manager incorporating the Committee’s Forward Work Programme to April, 2024 was presented for consideration.
It was resolved –
· To agree the current version of the Forward Work Programme for 2023/24.
· To note the progress thus far in implementing the Forward Work Programme.