Agenda and minutes

Economy and Development Select Committee - Thursday, 21st October, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: County Hall, Usk with Remote Attendance


No. Item


Declarations of Interest.


There were no declarations of interest.


Public Open Forum.

Select Committee Public Open Forum ~ Guidance


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No public submissions were received.


Employment and Skills - To scrutinise progress of the employment, skills and apprenticeship programmes. pdf icon PDF 2 MB


Hannah Jones, Gareth James, Stephen Cooper and William Austin presented the report. Hannah Jones answered the members’ questions with Stephen Cooper and Cath Fallon.


What is the difference in the numbers of apprentices mentioned?

Where 168 are mentioned, this is existing staff who are looking to upskill: anyone who is undertaking a Level 2-4 qualification or NVQ is considered an apprentice as well.

The elephant in the room is funding. For the projects outlined, £2.2m is coming from the European Social Fund, of which £1.1m is for the Infuse scheme. For the other schemes, where do you expect to achieve funds to cover that shortfall?

We are working with the other CCR authorities to develop a co-designed collaborative model for future employment and skills – this will give us more flexibility and value-based cost-effectiveness. There are workshops this week to look at the model. But finances are a concern – there is a big financial implication for the authority, which we want to minimise. We are looking at local and regional solutions, and will work up more detailed proposals to take to Cabinet. We haven’t heard about the community renewal fund, which is unfortunate.

Adding the schemes together comes to roughly £1m. Will that come from Welsh Government? How much will MCC contribute?

Annually, we receive approximately £327k of grant funding for the Inspire2Achieve, Inspire2Work, and Skills@Work projects. We fund the other £187k delivery costs from our core budget, taking up the majority of our total £199k core funding.

If no European Social Fund money comes in, you will look for a significant increase from MCC to keep these schemes going?

We are looking to successive programmes but unfortunately are still waiting for details from UK and Welsh Government.

In Item 3.2, ‘Next Steps’ mentions Torfaen leading on an employability paper for the 10 CCR authorities. How do we make our voice heard, as a rural council and something of an outlier, compared to the others?

Newport is our lead authority on the current schemes. When developing the model for Monmouthshire, our voices were heard. We have been meeting for 18 months as 10 authorities, developing the model, and looking at local intelligence. Going forward, we think we are in a stronger position to reduce risk. There are bigger contractors coming into the local authority, working pan-UK and pan-Wales – we want to be in that space. We have a 10-authority approach to employability and skills, with the local delivery plan sitting behind it, that is flexible and adaptable to the needs of our county.

Regarding Key Stage 2 Inspire To Achieve and supported children, can the low Chepstow numbers be explained?

We have a data system in which we…attendance, behaviour, and wellbeing at Key Stage 2. One of the criteria identifies young people who need the most support, then the worker will have a professional discussion with the primary school. Everything has been taken into consideration to support the young people at Chepstow stepping up from primary into  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


To scrutinise the annual monitoring report for the current adopted Local Development Plan (LDP) prior to submitting to Welsh Government. pdf icon PDF 387 KB

Additional documents:


Rachel Lewis and Craig O’Connor presented the report. Craig O’Connor answered the members’ questions.


Are we not, to a large extent, at the behest of developers as to whether these targets will be reached? Is this not a moveable feast, regarding the figures changing from week to week?

As a council, we don’t hold all the levers within the construction industry. What we can do is have a proactive LDP that allocates enough land, and there is enough opportunity, for developers to come forward – both residential and economic. What the existing LDP has shown is that 6 of the 7 strategic sites have planning consent, so we have created that opportunity, as a council. And there is currently a planning application for the 7th, Vinegar Hill. Over this planning period we have issued 4,378 planning permissions, against a 4,500 target – so we are doing really well.

River Wye quality and phosphates are a great concern. It is a huge problem to resolve – is that really possible in the timeframe of the next LDP?

Yes, the phosphates issue is a significant one. It is a national problem; we sit on a pan-Wales board with NRW, Welsh Government and Welsh Water to try to find ways in which developments can progress while water quality is improved. There needs to be a detailed funding programme for the drainage system to allow phosphate-stripping in our most sustainable settlements. But we also need to look at natural solutions with multiple benefits. It is a massive challenge, but we are working very hard on it. Drainage infrastructure needs to be improved in Abergavenny and Monmouth, in particular.

Are you working with the English authorities as well, regarding the Wye?

Yes, we also sit on a board relating to the Wye, with cross-border discussions taking place.

How realistic is the housing development trajectory on p41 of the AMR in light of the phosphates problem?

The trajectory is embraced by existing planning permissions as well, so some of those sites already have planning consent. The phosphates issue is set at a point in time from the beginning of this year. Therefore, if a development has planning consent prior to that, it can continue – the phosphates problem is affecting developments that haven’t been given consent. We are confident that the trajectory can continue, based on applications that have already been granted, and those that lie outside the area concerned, such as Vinegar Hill.

Are Phosphates a north of the county or north of the M4 problem?

Phosphates affect the river catchment areas, so the matter doesn’t affect all of Monmouthshire, and doesn’t follow the M4’s route. There is a map under the Water Quality section of the website that shows the areas. Severnside and Chepstow, for example, are not in that phosphate area.

Do we know what percentage the water board has of phosphate-stripping facilities?

We have very limited stripping capability in the county. The only drainage system which does is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Planning Annual Performance Report - Scrutiny of the annual performance report prior to submission to Welsh Government. pdf icon PDF 658 KB

Additional documents:


Philip Thomas presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Craig O’Connor.


Paragraph 6.1 on p5 mentions 8 weeks (56 days) to determine applications, but paragraph 6.7 on p8 says that the average time to determine applications has increased to 92 days. What is the discrepancy?

The end-to-end time for all applications is 92 days. Once an application gets to 8 weeks, we agree an extension with the developer.

Regarding enforcement, there are 297 complaints but only 14 actions. Is something else taking place? Is there a possibility of educating the complainants? How much work is entailed?

There is a lot of work, but the amount varies from complaint to complaint, as does the scale. All are investigated. Some are closed quickly while others take many months, often due to someone not realising that their action required permission. We have done training previously with community councils so that they understand the limits of what we can do, and when it’s appropriate to complain. Training will need to be updated for the new cohort of councillors following next year’s elections.

Regarding actions for 2021-22, we have two buildings at risk in Usk: The Priory gatehouse and old stable block, and old council building beside the King’s Head. Can these, especially the gatehouse, be addressed urgently?

Yes, we will keep a close eye on these.

What is the timescale for the digital tree project?

We are currently looking at how to move forward with this piece of work. A lot of information needs to be digitised and put on the system. We hope to commence in the new year but how long it takes is still up for discussion.

Chair’s Summary:

The committee recommends that the report be submitted to Welsh Government.



Economy and Development Select Committee Forward Work Plan. pdf icon PDF 497 KB


Note the Special meeting on 8th November on the topic of the Replacement Local Development Plan.



Council and Cabinet Work Planner. pdf icon PDF 183 KB


To confirm the following minutes:


Economy and Development Select Committee dated 7th September 2021. pdf icon PDF 460 KB


The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.



Special meeting of the Economy and Development Select Committee dated 16th September 2021. pdf icon PDF 28 KB


The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.



Next Meeting: Thursday 9th December 2021 at 10.00am.