Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest.


Councillor Batrouni declared an interest as the Senior Analyst on European Legislation for the Ministry of Justice, and the Citizen’s Rights organisation attached to it.



Open Public Forum.


No members of the public were present.


Scrutiny of the Strategic Equality Plan (SEP) Annual Report 2019-20. pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Additional documents:


Alan Burkitt presented the report and answered the members’ questions.


This strategy is linked to 8 others – should they all be condensed and more focussed? Is this plan the overarching one, or is it the Social Justice Strategy? In what way do the two plans ‘dovetail’?

Under the Equality Act 2010, we have a responsibility to produce this strategy. A lot of good work is taking place on this agenda, but it is indeed difficult for the work to ‘dovetail’; ‘overlapping’ would be a better description. They could possibly gel more, yes. But we talk together as groups, so there is positive interaction, and the work is discrete. We could work more on linking together, and we should bear that in mind. Perhaps the work isn’t structured quite as neatly as it could be, but that reflects how keen we are to do so much work.

The work on Poverty and Inequality seems to happen after finances have been thought through. To what extent does this Strategic Equality Plan, or the Social Justice Strategy, influence the budget-setting process in the beginning?

The assessment document looks at protected characteristics, ensuring that when we make decisions, people with those characteristics aren’t disadvantaged. We tend to produce these documents when a report is going to Cabinet or Council, rather than using them to shape the process early on. It shouldn’t be that way, as the assessment is then tailored to the decision i.e. at the end of the process, when it is less effective. In terms of the SEP, it’s not the plan itself, it’s the safeguards within the Equality Act. The EQIA should be the process by which we seek not to disadvantage people. As an organisation, we need to start looking at that document at an earlier stage.

Page 19 refers to the European Union Settlement Scheme. It’s become clear that children in care and elderly EU citizens are over-reliant on local authorities to apply for them. How many EU national children are in our care and how many elderly EU nationals are in our care homes?

I don’t know. It’s a very good question but I don’t work closely enough in that level of detail. Shaz Miah (Community Cohesion Officer) might have answers, or would be the person to carry out the necessary work.

Potential overlap is actually important, as most things do overlap and almost nothing can be separated into different compartments.

Yes, it is difficult to separate matters. A lot of good work is happening, with a high level of commitment, and the different groups engage with each other in order to cross over but not double up. The most important thing is for us not to miss anything.

We need to think more about how we present reports – the use of coloured prints is difficult for some people to cope with.

Yes, this is something the Accessibility survey is going to look at. The RNIB says that Arial font, size 12 should be used,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Update on issues the Highways Maintenance Department has faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and the forward direction for this service (report to follow). pdf icon PDF 443 KB

Additional documents:


Carl Touhig presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Steve Lane andMark Hand.


The reverse of budget cuts in this area is welcome. Is the problem of people parking on greens and loosening the soil and mud a general one, and how can we stop it?

Yes, parking on verges was a problem in Magor, with mud then pushed across the top of the drains. It is a general problem across the county. Also, larger vehicles use the lanes, pushing mud into the drains – so the problem is both urban and rural. We will speak to Parking Enforcement to see if we can stop parking on the verges, though it is also a matter for police. Parking is becoming increasingly difficult for residents, as the roads weren’t designed with so many cars in mind. We need to do more work on education and raising awareness of the problems caused by incorrect parking.

When we cut grass, it goes everywhere – will we now collect it?

Last year, we started ‘Cut and Collect’ in some areas, to take the goodness out of the grass and support wildflower growth. Historically, we have done ‘Cut and Fly’ i.e. cutting the grass and leaving it in situ – we recognise that the grass then blows around. The idea with ‘C&C’ would be that the sweeper would work closely with the gully-sucker and some of our other maintenance issues. So whether we’re cutting hedges back or cutting grass, the sweeper could be in the same area to clear it up. We would hope to collect sooner than a week later.

It is good to hear that the drains in Whitehall Lane are being addressed – both sides have been blocked for years, undermining the road surface.

We try to be proactive and focus our work, ensuring that we are keeping the road safe. Any material left on the road can end up in the gully. The drains are designed to have a sump so, technically, each drain has a sump at the bottom. The heavy material falls into that sump, and the water goes out of the pipes. The problem is that if we don’t empty the sumps quickly and often enough then the heavy debris gets into the pipes and into the outflows. Highways doesn’t put any mud or clippings on the road – that is third parties. The responsibility is on the third party leaving the debris to clear it, though we can help and support by programming our work. Enforcement is a long way off, unfortunately. With this project, after 4 years, we will have a network with which we can target our maintenance i.e. empty the gully at Whitehall Lane more regularly than one in, say, a town centre.

The workforce doesn’t seem to be there to address all of these problems – do we take on apprenticeships?

Last year, we took on five new workers with engineering backgrounds, who are all inputting to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting. pdf icon PDF 558 KB


The minutes for 28th January 2021 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.




Strong Communities Select Committee Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 563 KB


Public Toilet Strategy will be considered at the next meeting in April.



Cabinet & Council Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 170 KB


Next Meeting: Thursday 29th April 2021 at 10.00am.