Agenda and draft minutes

Strong Communities Select Committee - Thursday, 10th March, 2022 2.00 pm

Contact: Democratic Services 


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.


Public Spaces Protection Order on Dog Controls pdf icon PDF 211 KB


To consider the findings of a 3 month public consultation on a Public Spaces Protection Order for Dog Controls (dog fouling, dog exemption areas, dogs on leads areas) and make recommendations to Cabinet.

Additional documents:


Huw Owen presented the report and answered the members’ questions.




The majority of non-dog owners say that fouling is a problem, but dog owners don’t seem to see it as a problem – they are the ones that we need to address. It will take perhaps 18 months to bring any orders into effect – is there anything that can be done sooner than that? Could existing littering laws be utilised?


It was basically a 50/50 split between owners and non-owners as to whether fouling is a problem. It’s encouraging that half of dog owners recognise the problem, as does Dogs Trust. There is existing legislation relating to dog fouling i.e. the designation order that makes it an offence for a person responsible for a dog to not pick up after it, covering pavements and public footpaths, etc. The legislation is enforced to some extent; in recent years we have issued some fixed penalty notices. Enforcement will no doubt be a matter that we need to consider in later reports, if and when a PSPO is introduced: who enforces it, who has authority to give fixed penalty notices. In recent years we have taken the approach of raising awareness of the problem (which we will need to continue doing). The positive of a long process is that the process itself raises awareness.


One concern is exclusion areas e.g. parks, for reasons outlined in the report. Another concern is future consideration: are there adequate resources to police this, from a council perspective? Will there be more designated walking areas? Will the council have funds for more areas in the towns? Will other applications be put to the back of the queue in the future?


Currently, environmental health officers and officers in the waste and street cleaning sections are authorised for enforcement. We don’t have any officers solely with this duty doing patrols. We tried this over 10 years ago and found that it was not cost-effective. Moving forward, the number of authorised officers will depend on what the stakeholders want in regard to leads areas and exemption areas – do they want these, and how many? We have engaged in early discussions with the manager of the civil enforcement officers responsible for double yellow line parking – there is potential scope for these officers to be included. Police officers might also be included.


Enforcement is essential. When raising awareness we need to ask people “Are you prepared to pay extra for dedicated officers for enforcement?”. If 50% of owners don’t believe that people should pick up after their dogs then the use of fines is justified.


50.5% of the 931 dog owners who responded said that dog fouling is a problem – it doesn’t mean that the 49.5% don’t think that dog mess should be picked up. Importantly, 87.2% of owners and non-owners support a control requiring mess to be picked up. Yes, the point about dedicated officers is acknowledged. Dog fouling is fairly infrequent and the chances of catching  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Budget Monitoring - Scrutiny of the budgetary position (revenue and capital) for services falling within the committee's remit at Month 9 pdf icon PDF 630 KB

Scrutiny of the budgetary position (revenue and capital) for services falling within the committee’s remit at Month 9.

Additional documents:


Jonathan Davies and Dave Loder presented the report and answered the members’ questions.




You have indicated a budgetary underspend of £3m; if so, it will go into the prudential reserves. You indicated that our reserves aren’t as healthy as in other authorities. What does WLGA advise that the amount of prudentiary reserves should be? Before the £3m goes in, what are our percentage reserves compared to the prudent amount?


We recently took a report through the Governance and Audit committee regarding our reserves levels, which went into detail about our earmarked reserves and council fund reserve. There is guidance that our council fund should be between 4-6% of our net revenue budget. Our council fund, as it stands, is just over 5%. When talking about comparative levels across Wales, the report indicated that we sit at around 19th in terms of our overall levels of reserves. So, we are near the bottom of that spectrum despite us being able to replenish reserves in the last two financial years. Replenishment is a positive but we still have a way to go. While comparisons can be useful, we also have to bear in mind that authorities will be in different places in their investment cycles i.e. some will have invested heavily from reserves and will look to bear the fruit of that now, whereas others will be at the start of that journey.


So, we are in the middle of the 4-6% of the advised reserves and are going to put the underspend into it, while at the same time asking the population to pay more council tax at 2.95%. Do you think the public would be happy if they realised that?


Any in-year underspend will have to be carried over regardless, so will go to reserves by default. We also have to bear in mind that a lot of this late notification has come through in the past 4-6 weeks; while it’s always welcomed, it makes it very hard for robust service delivery when it’s so late. It would be much easier if it came in within the original budget settlement for the year. In terms of replenishing reserves, the council (in the new administration) will need to make the decision as to the use of that money and the ability for that to be targeted towards service efficiencies or reducing costs over the medium term. So, there will be further options in the future. It is important to make the distinction between the council fund and earmarked reserves: the 4-6% level refers solely to the council fund.

How much notice do you get to apply for grants?


It varies. The majority of grants that have come through recently are unhypothecated, which means that we don’t have to apply – it doesn’t go through that process, as with others. What we are seeing is probably the result of some underspends in Welsh Government’s budget, the result of which is that they are looking to put that money into  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


To confirm minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 442 KB


The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record, proposed by Councillor Easson and seconded by Councillor Edwards.



Action list


Strong Communities forward work programme pdf icon PDF 475 KB


The decision was taken by Council last week to repurpose the existing select committee arrangements. A meeting will be scheduled with officers and the Cabinet member in the new administration to discuss Councillor Smith’s report. Further reports relating to today’s topic on dog orders will come back in the new arrangements. Most of the other items discussed this year in this committee have been concluded.



Cabinet & Council forward work programme pdf icon PDF 193 KB


Date and time of next meeting


This will be for the next administration to agree.