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Venue: Virtual Meeting (at present Members of the public are unable to attend)
Contact: Mrs Mairwen Hughes
As noted above.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declaration of interest by any Member or Officer in respect of any item of business.
To submit, for confirmation, the minutes of the meeting held on 9 February, 2021.
The minutes of the meeting held on 9 February, 2021 were confirmed as correct.
The Chair said that a letter was sent on behalf of the Committee to Welsh Government expressing the Committee’s disappointment and concerns that there were no plans in place as regards to GCSE’s and A Level examinations for the Summer of 2022. The Chair noted that a response has been received by the Minister for Education, Ms Kirsty Williams AS which states that a letter will be received before 6 April, 2021 to address the concerns expressed by this Committee.
To submit a report by the Programme Manager, Gwynedd and Anglesey Public Services Board.
Submitted – a report by the Programme Manager, Gwynedd and Anglesey Public Services Board in relation to the above.
The Leader of the Council said that the report highlights the progress and delivery of the Well-being Plan by the Public Services Board. She noted that the pandemic has slowed the progress of the Sub-Groups which support the implementation of the work of the Board, but now all the Sub-Groups are revisiting their work plans. The Public Services Board has continued to meet during the pandemic period which demonstrates the commitment of the Board to the work.
The Programme Manager, Gwynedd and Anglesey Public Services Board gave an update on the progress of the Sub-Groups. She noted that of each of the Sub-Group are led by a member of the Board. A workshop was undertaken in September 2020 to discuss the Board’s role in the recovery of the pandemic. It was agreed that the role of the Board is to keep an overview of the work that is currently undertaken by the organisations. At the last meeting of the Board the Sub-Groups were challenged to report on their work undertaken as regards to their work plans and achievements; each Leader of the Sub-Groups will give an update report to the next full meeting of the Board. The Programme Manager reported on the each Sub-Group as follows:-
· Homes Sub-Group – the sub-group has a part-time project manager who ensures that the project operates to an expected timetable and resources. The purpose of the sub-group is to look for opportunities to develop innovative housing, which complement and not duplicate the work arising from the Anglesey housing strategy. One site at Maes Mona, Amlwch has been identified for development in the near future.
· Climate Change Sub-Group – the sub-group over the last few months has focused on revising their work plan since the delay due to the onset of the pandemic. A workshop was undertaken in January, 2021 to attract a wider representation of public organisations. The sub-group has identified that they need to consider how to engage with communities, to focus on long term
objectives and to identify the role of each organisation when faced with flooding issues.
· Health and Care Integrated Sub-Group – this sub-group is an example of good practise that has added value towards current plans with professional officers being able to share experiences and joint working. The Sub-Group continues to address specific aspects such as children, adults, mental health, learning disabilities and transformation. The need to work together, share information and ensure easy access to services was recognised as a common purpose for all work streams.
· Welsh Language Sub-Group – Mr Aled Jones Griffith of Coleg Llandrillo a Menai has now agreed to take the role of leading the sub-group which will be approved by the Board at the meeting in March. The Sub-Group is to consider its work plan for the coming months. The Sub-Group was to view the use of the Welsh language as members of the ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To submit a report by the Policy and Strategy Manager.
Submitted – the Equalities Annual Report 2019/20 for consideration by the Committee.
The Leader of the Council said that Welsh Government introduced specific duties to help public bodies in Wales to meet the Equality Act 2010 general duty. These specific duties include a requirement to develop and publish equality objectives and Strategic Equality Plans. She referred to the data within the report and it was encouraging as to the young people that the Authority has employed and the way the Council has also been able to sustain a wide range of age groups as employees of the Council.
The Policy and Strategy Manager gave an overview of the report and as to how the Authority meet it Equalities responsibilities and specific equality duties. She noted that the Equalities Annual Report is statutory documentation to meet the general duty of the Equalities Act. The report covers the period from 1 April 2019 to 31 March, 2020 where it relates to employment data. The remainder of the report includes an outline of developments up to December 2020 so as to provide a more up-to-date focus as well as to complement the Council’s Strategic Equality Plan. The Policy and Strategy Manager said that whilst it has been a challenging year for the Authority dealing with the pandemic there are encouraging examples and a number of activities carried out by the Council and its partners to promote equality and protect the most vulnerable communities as can be seen at Page 16 of the report. The Authority has also adapted to challenges of the pandemic with staff working from home and meetings been convened virtually. Staff have needed to adapt to the challenges of home schooling and child care responsibilities.
The Committee considered the report and made the following main points:-
· Questions were raised as to what extent the Council successfully achieved the equality objectives. The Policy and Strategy Manager responded that it is considered that the objectives of the Equalities Plan has been addressed by the Council;
· Reference was made to priority 8.2 within the Annual Report – An effective corporate process is established to ensure the ongoing assessment of impact across services. Questions were raised as to whom assesses the corporate process. The Policy and Strategy Manager responded that assessing for impact on equality is an ongoing process which should be incorporated into the development of proposals.
· Reference was made as regards to the educational gaps between girls and boys and children receiving schools meals and especially during the pandemic. Questions were raised as to what the Authority’s priorities to address this gap in the future. The Leader of the Council responded that it will be a challenge to identify and evidence the gap especially whilst children have had to receive their education at home and to measure the effect it has had on pupils. She noted that when pupils return to the schools they will need to be assessed to gauge the potential and achievement of pupils and to balance their well-being; ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To submit a report by the Deputy Chief Executive.
Submitted – a report by the Deputy Chief Executive in relation to the above.
The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Public Protection said that the climate crisis is relevant corporately within every services of the Council with a target of being carbon neutral by 2030. There will be expectations of residents, communities and businesses for the Council to take specific action to respond timely and effectively will increase. He noted that to respond effectively to the climate crisis there will be a need for leadership, policies and the change of practices together with financial and technical solutions and there will be a need to start to adapt to the ways of working by the Authority.
The Deputy Chief Executive reported that the County Council declared a climate emergency at the full Council held on 8th September 2020 and committing the Authority to become carbon neutral by 2030. There are several National and Regional Strategies that have since been drafted to respond to the challenges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst the authority is fully committed to continue engagement and collaboration with all partners, at all levels, there is also a recognition that all delivery is local. The authority is committed to providing local leadership on the Island, and to act corporately to deliver decisive changes to enable the effective transition into being a carbon neutral organisation. Whilst some decisions and actions are within the authority’s control, others will need assistance and additional resources form the Welsh Government and UK Government to co-ordinate, develop and deliver. Together with UK Climate Change Act (2008), the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environmental Act (Wales) 2016 provide the legal framework for action on climate change and sustainable management of Wales’ natural resources, with each underpinned by strategies and frameworks. Local Government is recognised as being fundamental to delivering decarbonisation, particularly in providing local leadership and championing ambitious sustainable solutions and behavioural change.
The Deputy Chief Executive further reported that the Local Government Decarbonisation Strategy Panel has been set up to help lead, support, encourage and give a strategic overview. The establishment of the Panel was agreed by the Partnership Council for Wales in June 2020, with representation by local authority Chief Executives, WLGA, other public sector organisations, Welsh Government and relevant advisors. It reports to the Partnership Council who provides political direction and leadership for the work. North Wales local authorities are represented by the Chief Executive of Conwy County Borough Council. Each local authority is committed to :-
· Understanding their carbon footprint, in line with guidance for public sector greenhouse emissions reporting;
· Agreeing to set of net zero commitments/pledges for COP26 (scheduled to be held in Glasgow in November 2021);
· Closely monitoring and reporting on their current and future carbon emissions;
· Ensuring there is a robust, evidence-based net zero action plan in place, as a living document by March 2021;
· Working with the new Decarbonisation Strategy Panel
It was further reported that the authority does not currently have ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To submit a report by the Interim Director of Social Services.
Submitted – a report by the Director of Social Services in relation to the above.
The Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Social Services said that the report meets the statutory requirements that the North Wales Safeguarding Board publishes its Annual Report. The reports provides an overview of the work of both the North Wales Children and the North Wales Adult Safeguarding Boards from April 2019 to March 2020 and the progress made in delivering key objectives across the region to safeguard people. The report outlines the next steps and longer term plans for the Regional Safeguarding Board. She noted that examples of good practice that has been achieved has been highlighted within the report.
The Director of Social Services reported that safeguarding requires effective partnership working and the Annual Report 2019/20 acknowledges good practice across the region, as well as areas of development. These areas for development are reflected in the North Wales Safeguarding Board business plan for 2020/21. The Boards continues to mature in the last year to one where they demonstrate effective co-operation and challenge are part of everyday business. The Boards can demonstrate how they have influenced the national agenda on the National Procedures and the All Wales Practice Guides. He noted that a Wales Safeguarding Procedures has been implemented and numerous training sessions have been held virtually for staff within children and adult services.
The Director of Social Services further said that there were concerns during the first months of the pandemic that referrals within children services had decreased and the Safeguarding Board was able to raise awareness to the Welsh Government as to the shortcoming within the system.
The Committee considered the report and made the following points:-
· Councillor R Ll Jones as the Older People’s Champion expressed that there are concerns as to the abuse of elderly people and he questioned as to how the Safeguarding Board was safeguarding the elderly. The Director of Social Services responded that efforts were made locally to raise awareness of all age groups and people were encourage to report concerns as to any person they had concerns over within their communities. He noted that training is given to all staff who are involved with the care of the elderly;
· Reference was made to children who are educated at home and the lack of educational inspection by educational bodies. Questions were raised as to how the Safeguarding Board deals with issues relating to children educated at home/home schooling. The Chair expressed that the Children’s Commissioner has raised the issue recently. The Director of Social Services responded that discussions are currently been undertaken as regards to new guidelines for the education of children at home. He noted that the Social Services and Educations Departments work closely to share any concerns as to these children that receive home schooling. However, he noted that this is a complex matter and some children flourish with home schooling but it is important to note that safeguarding of children is also a ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To submit a report by the Scrutiny Officer.
Submitted – a report by the Scrutiny Officer in relation to the above.
The Scrutiny Officer reported that the report gives an overview of the work undertaken by the Scrutiny Committee between June 2019 and November 2020. She noted that the task of scrutinising partnerships needs to continue to be done in a managed way, focusing on the key strategic partnerships which enable the Council to deliver on its objectives and priorities. In order to add value, arrangements for scrutiny of partnerships need to continue to be timely and proportionate. The County Council has extensive experience in working in partnership, locally, regionally and on national level. The Scrutiny Officer further referred that as a result of the current pandemic, the Council has to prioritise its resources and the efforts of its workforce in maintaining business as usual is not possible. The Coronavirus Act 2020 and the subsequent Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Meetings) (Wales) Regulations 2020 reduce the legal obligations on local authorities in relation to meetings, whilst permitting remote attendance by members for any required meetings. Additionally, as a result of the pandemic, the requirement to scrutinise some annual reports was put aside, or the schedule was extended in order to undertake the work.
Both Scrutiny Committees met for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic during September 2020, and since then, the Partnership and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee has met regularly and resumed the scrutiny work on partnerships and has complied fully with all statutory requirements. However, some partners that were scheduled have been postponed as a result of the pandemic, and the Committee’s work programme has had to be prioritised to complement local requirements and consider the pressure these partners were also facing; these partners were outlined within the report. Reference was also made to Appendix 2 attached to the report which outlined the partnerships that needs to be prioritised and invited to attend this Scrutiny Committee in due course. The Scrutiny Officer further said that it is an intention to invite those partnership who have been unable to attend the meetings of the Scrutiny Committee due to the pandemic to discuss the partnership working with the Authority on the Island to correspond with the recovery phase.
The Committee considered that an invitation needs to be afforded to following organisations to attend the Scrutiny Committee in due course:-
Natural Resources Wales
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service
It was RESOLVED to note and support:-
Scrutiny of key partnerships undertaken during 2019/20;
The partnerships it is intended to prioritise in the Committee’s work programme over the next year;
Proposed next steps as detailed in paragraph 5.11 of the report;
To invite the partnerships where there has been slippage in the work programme as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic to discuss their partnership work to coincide with the recovery period.
ACTION : As noted above.
To submit a report by the Scrutiny Officer.
Submitted – a report by the Scrutiny Officer.
It was RESOLVED:-
· To agree the current version of the Forward Work Programme for 2020/21;
· To note the progress thus far in implementing the Forward Work Programme.