Agenda and minutes

People Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 27th September, 2022 10.00 am

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


No. Item


Declarations of Interest.





Public Open Forum.

Select Committee Public Open Forum ~ Guidance



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No public submissions were received.



Home to School Transport Policy: To conduct pre-decision scrutiny on the policy. pdf icon PDF 683 KB


Cabinet Member Martyn Groucott presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Debra Hill-Howells and Becky Pritchard.



Spare places are sometimes taken up by people choosing to send their children outside their catchment area. Is there a charge for doing so? How is it determined who will take the spare places?

The policy is clear that children are taken to their nearest or catchment school, so parents don’t have the right to choose which school the transport will take them to. But if there are empty spaces on a bus, we can release those to offset some of the cost of transport. Post-16 applications would get priority because there is no statutory requirement to transport them, and we would want to support them continuing their education. For vacant seats above that, there is a concessionary policy to which parents can apply, currently done on a first come-first served basis; in the new policy we suggest dealing with those policies based on who lives furthest from the school.


Is the safety threshold in the learner travel measurement not too high? Could the walking assessment be modified to state that there is an appeal process in which local members can put forward their local knowledge to the chief officer?

There is no change to the distance that a pupil would be expected to walk before qualifying for transport. The decision on whether a route is safe to walk or not is not taken by a member of the school transport team but by an independent qualified road safety officer. We have merely expanded and extended the explanation (e.g. that it is assumed that all primary age children will be accompanied by an adult) – the basic policy remains unchanged.


Under resource implications, the cost for 22/23 is c.£5.4m. Has this been stress-tested against the increased cost of living and fuel etc., and if so, how?

We go out to tender for all contracts, so they are awarded after a blind bidding process. We also ask our internal team to submit a tender cost so that we can compare internal provision with external. We aren’t currently receiving any tenders for some contracts, so our internal team has no choice but to take on the contract. Latterly, this has included having to acquire new vehicles to undertake them, increasing the cost of the provision to the authority. We have to take on annual uplifts based on the national picture, working with Torfaen and Newport colleagues to ensure that when we do so it doesn’t create a competition market between us and neighbouring authorities. The majority of the cost is borne by the authority, not affecting service users unless they are post-16 or concessionary. The cost for those is £440 p/a, subsidised significantly by the authority: the cost of a non-ALN place is £1900 per seat per pupil. Parents can pay in instalments over the academic year. £440 is likely to be much cheaper than if they tried to make their own arrangements  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Presentation - Ambulance Stations at Monmouth and Chepstow: To discuss the changes to ambulance stations in Monmouth and at Park wall between Chepstow and Caldicot.


Jason Killens and Estelle Hitchon from the Welsh Ambulance Service delivered the presentation and answered the members’ questions.



The key concern is the removal of emergency response cars in Monmouth and Chepstow, and therefore the response time to something like a heart attack or serious farm accident in those areas.

We recognise those concerns. We are setting out to use our available resources in the most efficient way, to get the best service for patients. It is true that the data used is from 2019, and much has changed since then; in May, we did modelling with a different company to test whether what we were doing still gives us an improvement in response times and the answer to that is yes. While the scale of the benefit is reduced, due to the disruptions and losses in emergency departments, we still see an improvement in red and amber performance. The roster changes won’t entirely fix the problems that we have in the timeliness of our responses, but they will help.


The models are reassuring but what is the plan if the response times fall?

We monitor performance on an hourly basis. If performance deteriorates, we would first consider what is happening around that e.g. there is more activity, more lost capacity at emergency departments, etc., but otherwise we would respond either with changes to the local cover profile, additional people, tweaks in the hours of production, or other measures. It should be remembered that we are putting in extra ambulances and extra urgent care resources in response to the change in ambulance rosters.


With fewer ambulances in these areas, will the air ambulances be used more?

We aren’t taking ambulances away but putting more in. There’ll be more ambulances nationally and locally – in excess of 30 additional nationally, with 40 additional hours across the fleet in Monmouthshire per week. We are not responsible for Welsh Air Ambulance but are aware that with their modelling on the proposed changes to their operational basis, there is no detriment in access for those patients who need Air Ambulances or their road responses – there is no connection between what they’re doing and what we’re doing, except that both are about making best use of available resources.


With a hub-based situation, the problem is the 8-minute time – physically, an ambulance can’t get from a central location to areas in Monmouthshire in that time period. The software model might result in improved overall average response time, but it won’t be applicable to outlying areas that will get a worse response time?

We are not closing stations. We plan to invest in and maintain a physical presence in Monmouth. There are no plans to close either Monmouth or Chepstow stations as a result of this roster change.


The average red times are for ABHB but that’s largely urban – it would be helpful to see red times for Monmouthshire. Is there going to be another full emergency response ambulance in Monmouth, replacing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


People Scrutiny Committee Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 376 KB


Note the earlier start time of the joint meeting on 11th October.



Cabinet and Council Work Plan. pdf icon PDF 50 KB


To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on the 20th July 2022. pdf icon PDF 493 KB


The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.



To confirm the date of the next meeting as 15th November 2022.