Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance. View directions
Declarations of Interest
Public Open Forum
Scrutiny Committee Public Open Forum ~ Guidance
Our Scrutiny 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
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The amount of time afforded to
each member of the public to speak is at the chair’s
discretion, but to enable us to accommodate multiple speakers, we
ask that contributions be no longer than 3
No submissions were received.
To scrutinise the latest policy development.
David Jones presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Cabinet Member Sara Burch.
There is no reference to Stoma-friendly accessible toilets – can that be included in the action plan e.g. signage on doors?
We aren’t sure in the moment what adjustments need to be made but we are committed to ensuring all of our toilets are accessible to all, so will look into this matter. Other departments will be aware (e.g. Landlords Services); the requisite information from the Councillor would be welcome. As part of the action plan, we will provide proper signage.
The listings of available toilets is out of date e.g. the Baker Street Library in Abergavenny and the museum in Priory Street, Monmouth, both of which have closed. And there is no mention of the opening times of toilets – this would be very useful.
There is a link at the end of the strategy that should give this information, but we take the point that the list needs to be updated. The link isn’t working though, which we will address.
There is no assessment of where there are baby changing facilities and whether they are in both female and male toilets – this is not addressed in the Integrated Impact Assessment.
These facilities are mapped in the source which the link accesses, mentioned above, but it will be reviewed with Data Map Wales this year, to give a clearer picture of what the facilities are, as well as where. Baby changing for both sexes should be available as it’s a Welsh Government requirement, but we will double-check.
Changing Spaces provision will be ‘considered’ – this is too weak a word, given our ambition and obligation to improve our facilities. Can something stronger be written?
Yes, this could be strengthened.
The survey says that 67% consider disabled provision to be inadequate. What will be done to address that – there is nothing in the strategy?
Access to disabled toilets can be a difficult area because getting to British Standards might cause the closure of some, as the dimensions might not be compliant. Landlords Services could advise better on that, but yes, the survey did show two-thirds felt they are inadequate. We mentioned Changing Spaces but any other disabled person could access those.
Any disaggregation in the survey between men and women or other groups about their satisfaction with the facilities would be very useful.
Welsh Government guidance was followed at the time as to what was in the survey, but we could potentially revisit user satisfaction, taking this point on board.
There is mention of considering making some toilets gender-neutral but this is not addressed in the IIA when considering impacts on minorities e.g. those seeking gender reassignment, etc.
Furthermore, there is a concern that if all toilets were made gender neutral there are concerns relating to lone females in locations like car parks – if considered, a full public consultation would be needed. Also, there are resource implications in providing 3 separate ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To provide an update as requested.
Cath Fallon presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Cabinet Member Paul Griffiths.
A number of households still feel that they aren’t getting broadband any time soon. It would be very helpful if members could know the places in each ward where broadband isn’t set up, so that they can work proactively with officers.
In 3.20, there is a link to when and where we are building, which would give members the information on where Openreach full fibre is going. It is rarely that straightforward, however, so we have weekly meetings with Broadway for specific projects and can ask them to provide us with their rollout plans. So, if communities aren’t being served as desired then we can get the update and start to create relationships with the engineers working in that area. Members can therefore check using the link or email the officer, who can then put members in touch with the provider.
Is there the same way to see the Broadway data as there is to see Openreach? Do they have a link?
We will provide members with the information for the Community Liaison point person for Broadway Partners, as such dialogue is more fruitful and direct than exploring website data.
There is a concern about how robust the plans are e.g. there is a resident who doesn’t have full fibre because BT ran out just before her house. BT won’t commit to addressing the problem so the resident can’t get support for additional connection means and has been in that position for years. Will the figures for the county as a whole mean that some residents will still be in limbo in this way?
For this particular property, please contact the officers with the specific information and we will enquire with BT directly.
Rural residents are the key concern. How can we ensure, specifically, that the most deprived areas – in terms of connectivity – are the ones that get priority for new connections, especially as the same areas tend to suffer from black spots in mobile coverage?
We agree about focussing on digitally deprived/more rural areas. Because of that, we have been a testbed for a 5G project that has just concluded, looking at Raglan Castle and school and a farming environment. We are therefore at the forefront when there is an opportunity to be a testbed for alternative technologies, working very closely with Welsh Government. We are also aware that it is not always possible to get fibre to the cabinet in rural areas, due to the landscape – this is why we work with Broadway, as they use alternative technologies such as wireless, in which there is a connection to the cabinet but then beamed from mast to mast, or ‘White Space’, in which they use the old analogue TV signals for delivery, among others. We can’t know where the difficulties are on a property-by-property basis, which is why we need to work together with members to solve these issues. ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To conduct pre-decision scrutiny on the proposed changes to the Garden Waste Collection Service.
Cabinet Member Catrin Maby and Carl Touhig presented the report and answered the members’ questions.
Will there be alternative payment methods so there isn’t a one-off fee? Is assistance possible for low-income families? Some councils don’t charge for this service – is that true, and if so, how do they do that?
We don’t what income will be until we start the scheme. We hope to set it at £50 based on what the consultation and survey came back with – if the survey is right then we are just going to make the £720k needed to run the scheme. If there is a change in that and we overachieve then we can look at other versions. If we achieve 17k bins this year in an overachieving budget we wouldn’t want to put the bins up the following year for those customers, we would try to balance the books. We shouldn’t overachieve anyway (we are not allowed to) and we don’t want to charge residents more than we need to run a service. When we rolled out the bins there was concern that we would lose a lot of customers but they in fact increased by 2000 people.
It would be difficult with the Civica system that we have to do monthly or quarterly payments but it’s something we could look at for the year after if we are overachieving. And, the year after, if we do overachieve we could possibly look at reductions for people on low incomes. the difficulty is that this year we won’t know the customer base and we recognise that an increase to £50 from £28 is substantial.
Did introduction of a low-fee bin reduce flytipping?
We didn’t see any negative effects in terms of flytipping. Changes in Waste services are always accompanied by the threat of flytipping that very rarely comes to the fore. People who flytip, generally, don’t use our CA sites or council services anyway, and are therefore rarely affected by the changes that we make.
Should we more actively encourage home gardeners to compost? If there were a surplus in the budget could we provide people with the necessary equipment?
We will certainly take this on board. We provide cost-price bins through our reuse shops and water butts but this could be a way of assisting further and making them below cost price. These are the kinds of ideas that we like to look at through the scrutiny process in the coming year.
Can the figures be further explained e.g. £6 per customer, additional customers, possible costs up to £850k, etc.?
The £6 subsidy is from all households: every household is paying £6 through their council tax towards 14,000 customers using the garden waste scheme (40,000 households at £6 = £240k). Additional customers is one of the options we looked at if we do nothing i.e. if we put the service out again at £28 this year, it is likely that we will see an additional 2,000 customers based on ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
The meeting on 2nd February is at 2pm. Wednesday 29th March am is agreed for the Special meeting. 10am is agreed for the time of the meeting on 13th April.
Note that this is a live document: Democratic Services update this weekly.
The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.
To note the date of the next meeting as 3rd March 2023 and Special Meeting on 2nd February 2023 (Budget)
The next meeting is in fact 2nd March but will move to 1st March.