Agenda and minutes

Strong Communities Select Committee - Thursday, 12th November, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Remote Microsoft Teams Meeting

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest.


There were no declarations of interest.



Public Open Forum.


There were no members of the public present.



Scrutiny of the Public Protection Performance Report 2019/20 & Covid-19 response in 2020. pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Additional documents:


Officers David Jones, Huw Owen, and Gareth Walters presented the report and answered the Members’ questions.


Are food hygiene training courses back on now?

No, not yet. We can check when it’s likely to resume.

Could we hear about the impact on innovation because of the budget cuts? There’s an overall drop in performance – is that due to the budget cuts, and is there a corresponding drop in staff numbers?

The budget has remained static in the last few years, in recognition of the hard work that is done. Many of the staff are also responding to the pandemic, so there will be a detriment to this year’s performance, as a result. At a recent national meeting, ways in which this service can be bolstered through Welsh Government were explored and discussed; hopefully, that will ready for next April. There are no guarantees, however, but we are certainly discussing the budget and what we can deliver.

We are pleased that, as per Fig. 1, the proactive visits haven’t dropped. We tend to record our statistics and performance in two ways: responses in three working days, and cases closed within three months. The latter is especially important as it is a measure of how quickly and efficiently our officers deal with complaints. The numbers for these have gone up, so the performance of officers in dealing with complaints has improved. We are a very reactive service. The summer period is our particularly busy time in terms of complaints received, but conflicts with the time when our officers want to go on holiday – we are therefore a bit stretched during these months, limiting the amount of proactive work that we can do.

For animal welfare, we have always been consistent in responding in the 90th percentiles, but last year was particularly difficult, with a variety of staff sicknesses. We lost an important member of staff the previous year, and had difficulty replacing them. Before austerity, we had five animal health officers, but now we have 2.4 FTEs. Due to having the strategic lead for Trading Standards Wales and Animal Welfare, we have some additional funding into Animal Health across Wales. Officer Walters is able to coordinate that, and the money has enabled the team to bring an experienced officer in that might have not have been attracted otherwise. Two new officers joined at the end of last year, but Covid has had a significant impact on their development and bringing them up to speed. We constantly communicate to Welsh Government the difficulties faced by animal health and welfare teams across all local authorities. Recently, even the RSPCA has had to draw back on the inspectorate side of things.

There has been a surge of people getting pets during Covid, so the demand on the team is likely to increase. Should we include this matter in future meetings?

Yes, we can have a conversation initially outside the meeting, and consider what needs to be done going  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Scrutiny of the Registration Service Performance Report 2019/20 and Covid-19 response in 2020. pdf icon PDF 409 KB


Officer Jennifer Walton presented the report.


When will birth registrations take place again in libraries?

In March, we stooped library registrations and brought everything back into the Usk office. This has mainly been because it’s easier for us to control the environment when we are in one building, and gives us greater resilience in case of staff sickness. We have been out for some exceptions, e.g. to Nevill Hall, but there isn’t an immediate plan to go back to outstations. If there were a difficulty and we needed to go to an outstation, we would of course do that. We would like to get further through the pandemic before returning to a regular pattern of attending all of the outstations.

Do we anticipate an influx of work for your team going forward, given the number of weddings that have been postponed?

We have a very high number of bookings for next year. They have been made in such a way that we can manage them with the team we have. We are cautious because lots of people are starting to make alternative plans, so it’s difficult to see what the bigger picture will be next summer. If, in the New Year, restrictions start to lift, many of the ceremonies will go ahead, but if there is still a limit of 15 people at the reception, many will not want to go ahead with bookings.

Chair’s Summary:

We discussed the possibility of moving registrations back to libraries, to be more flexible for residents. The normal procedure has not resumed, as a means to protect staff and cover sicknesses, but the team has visited Nevill Hall in special circumstances. If there is greater freedom from the pandemic, the team will look to resume normal services.



To confirm the following minutes:


Strong Communities Select Committee dated 17th September 2020. pdf icon PDF 343 KB


The minutes were confirmed as a true record.


Special Meeting - Strong Communities Select Committee dated 28th September 2020. pdf icon PDF 514 KB


The minutes were confirmed as a true record.


Strong Communities Select Committee Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 490 KB


The next meeting on 17th December will look at the Strategic Equality Action Plan and Public Toilets works. There will be a special meeting mid-January to consider the Poverty Action Plan.



Cabinet & Council Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 190 KB


Next Meeting: Thursday 17th December 2020 at 10.00am.