Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item


Declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest.



Public Open Forum.


No members of the public were present.


Community Learning and Libraries - Discussion on how services evolved to ensure that adults in Monmouthshire continue to have access to books, learning and social connections while staying at home. pdf icon PDF 124 KB


Before the item, a minute’s silence was observed for Councillor David Dovey.

Richard Drinkwater and Cheryl Haskell presented the report and answered the members’ questions.


What is the precise shortfall in expenditure and staff employed? What could be done to make the service even better, if there were more money?

The budgets were cut as part of a service reduction 4 years ago, in which the book budget was cut 50%. This is reflective of most of the local authorities in Wales. We try to circulate as much material as we can: previously, we might have bought several copies of a book per library but now we buy one or two copies and circulate them. We have become thriftier, therefore, but also more creative, and the customer doesn’t miss out. If there is a specific request for a book, in most cases, we can obtain the book for them and then shelve it for other customers. With more money, we would do so many things, so it is hard to be specific. We have invested more money each year into digital, reflecting the changing trends that we see.

In terms of staffing, the report marks us down because we are community hubs, not purely libraries, and Welsh Government doesn’t count the council hours that our colleagues work – we can only count a portion of their time towards the library hours. That won’t change as long as we are a community hub. Again, this is reflective of other local authorities. Abergavenny is a little different because the service is offered across two floors; therefore, the flow is different from what it would be in the other community hubs. But our colleagues all work through the services – we don’t separate them into council and library.

Has the initial advice to keep books quarantined for 72 hours been updated?

The guidance remains that books should be quarantined for 72 hours. Books are issued via Requested and Collect. Customers return them to the hub or the One Stop shop in Abergavenny, where they are put in a box and taken out of circulation for 72 hours. Welsh Government is not advising anything different. It hasn’t caused us any difficulty throughout the pandemic, and customers have been very understanding.

Could the charging structure be explained further, specifically regarding Digital?

It would be more constructive to send the figures out to members after the meeting.

Those who are more housebound, and are receiving book deliveries, are presumably less able to complete the census?

Currently, Abergavenny, Usk and Chepstow are Census Support centres. On an appointment basis, we are able to support users over the phone to fill in their census paper. Matthew Gatehouse has asked the company if we can do some support face-to-face, as this is what some people prefer; our hubs are set up very safely for this to happen. We hope to have an answer to that later today. The number for people to call is the usual  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Verbal update regarding the current position for Adults Services in respect of Covid-19 pressures.


Eve Parkinson spoke to the members.

PPE first started delivering in April 2020.  We deliver approximately 360,000 pieces of PPE every two weeks – we provide to our own services and the independent sector. At the start of this month, Lateral Flow Tests were included in that delivery; we have given people 3 months’ supply. Residential settings have been a very challenging area. We have worked very closely with providers, holding regular meetings to go through guidance and offer support. We have also provided support on an individual basis, when needed, included how to claim via the Hardship fund.

We have worked very closely with colleagues in Environmental Health, the Health Board and Public Health Wales, supporting homes with outbreaks. December and January were the worst months for this – in some cases, staff providing support didn’t go home for several weeks. The introduction of LFTs means there is a lot of additional work for the homes to do. We are now supporting homes with how they will implement the recent announcement that visits can resume.

Provision of domiciliary care has been a challenge, at times. We have had staff shortages, due to isolating and shielding, etc. The independent sector has tended to have a period of time in which they aren’t able to meet their demand; we have had to support them, but on a few rare occasions, we haven’t had the capacity to do so, and have brought in outside agencies. Overall, our staff across the sector have been ‘all hands on deck.’

Reablement work has carried on throughout the pandemic. Some of it has been virtual. The effect of lockdown has been significant: people talk of becoming ’deconditioned’, whereby they have become more frail and dependent. So we have seen a rise in some of the referrals. Social work has also carried on, with some visits in person and some virtually. 

Safeguarding: there has been an increase in referrals in some areas, around people being very stressed, domestic violence, mental health, alcohol misuse, pressures in provision of care, etc. Vaccinations have been very challenging at times: we were responsible for submitting the names of frontline staff across in-house and independent sectors, amounting to thousands of names. Vaccination take-up has been very good. All of our homes have had their first dose, with the second booked in.

We have had Chromebooks from Welsh Government, which were given to young carers so that they can work remotely and link with each other. Some have found actually remote working better. Day services have carried on, but differently, doing things on more of an individual basis. When not in Level 4, we have continued home visits as needed, while wearing all of the appropriate PPE.

Respite has been quite challenging, particularly around the ability to go in somewhere on a short-term basis. Many people have been provided respite in their home on a 24-hour basis. We’ve used a flat in Lavender Gardens as a respite base for a few people. Emergency  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Track, Trace and Protect - Verbal update on the current situation and service provision.


Gill Dicken and Louise Driscoll spoke to the members and answered their questions.

The team last updated the committee in July. In September, we started to pick up on cases. The environmental health team was doing the tracking and tracing in that period, and there was the advisors’ team under Richard Drinkwater. We started to pick up Track & Trace for Caerphilly and north Wales. In October, all of the Track & Trace team came under Public Health and Environmental Protection. We added structure to the advisors and developed the team. In November, the team was in a good place. The numbers were increasing. By December, we hit very high numbers but we were taking on people from around the council – redeployment, from MonLife, volunteers etc., – and we handpicked people with environmental health or medical backgrounds, giving us the ability to respond to cases and clusters very quickly. When the firebreak started, we were confident that we could keep the lid on clusters. By February, numbers were coming down, so we were able to begin scaling the team down. We now wait to see what happens in the next few weeks with schools due to go back, LFT testing going on, and lockdown measures gradually easing. We know now that we can flex the team up and down when needed.

We are now down to 15 tracers, working 8 til 8, 7 days a week. Numbers are declining, so lockdown has very much worked in Monmouthshire, alongside the vaccines. Since we started tracing in June, we have had 4,174 cases in Monmouthshire; out of those, we have responded to 99.7% within a 48-hour period across Gwent (with Monmouthshire stats at the top of the leaderboard). It is a success story in Wales. From those 4,174 cases, we generated over 6,000 contacts. We also work closely, and have daily meetings, with our other partners in Gwent. We have very good communication to enable us to react to any workplaces that might see a cluster of cases. We review that data daily, and report weekly to PHW and Welsh Government on our cases and any spikes. The team has a good link with workplaces, which was established prior to Covid.

Also, we have done a lot of work with schools, which are now rolling out the LFT testing, which gives a result in a few minutes. All staff have been issued with these kits. We have regular meetings with our headteachers, who have been superb in working with us. We have had low numbers, compared with the rest of Gwent, because headteachers have done a brilliant job in getting bubbles to isolate. Whereas, previously, we would isolate the whole year group, now we go back and track and trace to limit as much as possible the amount of staff and children affected. We work very closely with Will McLean and his team. Some of our tracers are ex-teachers, so they understand the culture of the schools. We have been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Adults Select Committee Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 504 KB


Councillor Pavia would like to look at the Plan On A Page, the Council’s forward focus for the remainder of this administration. A workshop on the Gypsy and Traveller’s Needs Assessment needs to be arranged. Councillor Brown proposed a daytime slot for this.



Council and Cabinet Forward Work Plan. pdf icon PDF 162 KB


To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting. pdf icon PDF 626 KB


The minutes from 26th January 2021 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record. Proposed by Councillor Woodhouse and seconded by Councillor Brown.



Next Meeting: Tuesday 27th April 2021 at 10.30am.


Councillor Powell questioned whether a 10.00am start would give members more time between meetings, if they have another in the afternoon. 10.30am was agreed at the end of 2020 to assist some members with the school run, etc.; the committee agreed to continue with this time for now.