Agenda and minutes

Strong Communities Select Committee - Wednesday, 6th October, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest


Councillor Linda Guppy declared a personal but not prejudicial interest in respect of her work for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board and her involvement with the Flying Start Programme. The remaining members agreed to record any declarations of interest as and when appropriate in discussing the reports.


Public Open Forum.

Select Committee Public Open Forum ~ Guidance


Our Select Committee meetings are live streamed and a link to the live stream will be available on the meeting page of the Monmouthshire County Council website


If you would like to share your thoughts on any proposals being discussed by Select Committees, you can submit your representation via this form


·      Please share your views by uploading a video or audio file (maximum of 4 minutes) or;

·      Please submit a written representation (via Microsoft Word, maximum of 500 words)


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The deadline for submitting representations to the Council is 5pm three clear working days in advance of the meeting.


If representations received exceed 30 minutes, a selection of these based on theme will be shared at the Select Committee meeting.  All representations received will be made available to councillors prior to the meeting.

If you would like to suggest future topics for scrutiny by one of our Select Committees, please do so by emailing



There had been a representation made shortly before the start of the meeting, but unfortunately not in sufficient time to be tabled today The Scrutiny Manager agreed to progress this outside of the meeting.


Covid Pandemic Review pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To scrutinise a review of the learning from the covid pandemic and to consider implications for future strategic direction.


Emma Davies, the Policy and Performance Officer presented the report that had been circulated as part of the published agenda.  Emma explained that the purpose of the report was to scrutinise a review of the learning from the covid pandemic and to consider the implications for the council’s future direction. She advised the committee that relevant service lead officers were present to answer questions members may have about different services and their challenges.


Emma discussed the report’s content in detail, referring to the ‘plans on a page’ that had directed the council’s activity to supporting those most in need, the key objective being to ‘preserve life’. She highlighted the significant adjustments to education and the provision of distance learning, the efforts to ensure business were supported through grants, the establishment of the Track, Trace and Protect Team within Public Protection and the council’s coordination of the volunteering activity and community support for residents. She also discussed how the council had adapted during the pandemic and how some of these new ways of providing services will be continued, examples being the scheduling of bookable visits to Household Waste and Recycling Centres, the ‘Request and Collect’ library services and remote electronic meetings for the council’s governance and political decision-making process. The pandemic had drawn sharp focus on the need for Active Travel methods, such as walking and cycling and the council was responding to this.


Emma drew members attention to ongoing challenges such as the shortage of ‘Heavy Goods Vehicle’ (/HVG) drivers, staff shortages in the social care sector and the increase in price of construction supplies. The Cabinet would be considering an updated version of the plan on a page in December which would take account of the current position.


Emma concluded by inviting the committee to consider the council’s progress over the 18 months against the strategic aims outlined in the various plans and ask questions of chief officers.

Member Challenge: 


The chair thanked Emma for her presentation of the report and offered thanks to all staff for their work during challenging and unprecedented times. She invited questions from the committee:


           The Council supports volunteers through the Community Leadership Programme, but how can we maintain the enthusiasm that we have witnessed, outside of the pandemic?


Judith Langdon ~ The response was on a scale that we had never seen before and we really want to capitalise on this and sustain it. We’ve been considering how best to support it, for example, our Wellbeing Links Team works with the most vulnerable people in society, where cases are not straightforward, but the energy and excitement that people felt in doing something for their communities needs to be capitalised on as a significant resource. We have established Community Support Networks to put in place the structure to allow people to come together with ideas. We’re also doing community development work, so for example, there may be an initiative such as community fridges which could work well elsewhere, so we sow the seed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Budget Monitoring - Month 2 pdf icon PDF 677 KB

Additional documents:


There are many links between this report and some of the discussions held so far. I apologise that you are receiving this report that presents the position in Month 2 in May, considered by Cabinet in late July but due to officer shortages and the summer break of meetings, it has not been possible to bring this to you any earlier but hopefully I can provide you with an updated position, particularly in respect of the Welsh Government Hardship Fund.  I’d also like to apologise for an error in terms of the appendix on page 33 of the agenda which provides the full council position rather than the areas in your remit, but we will focus on these.


The overall forecast deficit on the revenue account is presented on page 23 of the agenda and reports a £9.02m deficit, but I feel it’s important to explain this and explain which relate to our core service delivery and which relate to effects of the covid pandemic. The distinction is important because we have accounted from them in the hope of recouping some of the costs and lost income from the Welsh Government Hardship Fund. At the point this report was written, we weren’t aware what monies we might receive, but we have now learnt that Welsh Government is continuing the fund through to March 2022, but there will be a tapering off of funding which need to be factored in.


The core focus for the finance team is detailed on Page 26 of the pack, highlighting the core service delivery deficit £2.5 million, which mainly comprises pressures associated with children’s services demand and similarly in adult services, largely due to the need to recruit additional staff to meet increased demand. Fleet maintenance pressures are affecting the Passenger Transport Service budget and there are increased costs associated with complex additional learning needs cases. Also there are costs associated with Landlord Services, due to the need to meet income targets.  It’s important to note that pressures are supported by the collection of income tax and capital expenditure, through capital receipts. It’s not a sustainable way forward and we will need to consider this in the medium term financial plan.


In terms of services that fall under the remit of this committee, the forecast overspend is 2.6m but some of this is covid related and can be recouped and offset by Welsh Government funding. We do have some non-covid related overspends which need to be carefully managed by budget recovery plans. The officer talked members through each of the overspends in turn which were displayed on the screen.


The officer also presented the capital position, highlighting that the assumed break-even budget at month 2 is susceptible to change due to price increases across many areas and a fuller position will be presented at month 6.  The chair thanked the two finance officers for their presentation of the report and invited questions from the committee.


Member Challenge


           A lot of the figures seem to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Burials and Cremations Member Report

To consider a request from County Councillor V. Smith to table an item to the next meeting ~ Burials and Cremations.


Councillor Smith advised the committee that she had prepared a report on a subject that was very personal to her and was a matter she felt strongly about, in terms of the support available to people to plan such important services for loved one at the most difficult time of their lives when they are grieving. She asked whether the committee would be interested in tabling her report to a future select committee meeting, to which we could invite the relevant officers. The committee agreed that they would welcome the report being tabled to the next available meeting, in accordance with officer availability. The chair thanked Councillor Smith for her hard work in compiling this report and confirmed the committee would welcome a full discussion on the report.


To confirm minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 603 KB


Action list


Strong Communities forward work programme pdf icon PDF 501 KB


The committee agreed to table the report produced by Councillor Smith on Burials and Cremations to a future meeting. The committee also agreed to schedule a workshop on flooding.


Cabinet & Council forward work programme pdf icon PDF 180 KB


No additional items were raised.


Date and time of next meeting: Thursday 18th November 2021