Agenda and minutes

Performance and Overview Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 15th December, 2022 10.00 am

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


No. Item


Declarations of Interest




Public Open Forum


No submissions were received.


Welsh Education Strategic Plan pdf icon PDF 312 KB

To scrutinise performance against the action plan.

Additional documents:


Sharon Randall Smith presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Cabinet Member Martyn Groucutt.




I see a reference to new Welsh medium school in Monmouth and the report highlights resource implications. Is the project fully protected? Given the current budgetary position, might it be subject to savings being made?


We are very mindful of current position.  In order to establish the seedling class, we need funding from Welsh Government which stands at 100%, but we also need to consider the revenue costs of running the school, which will be initially small for the first few years as we grow the seedling, but these will increase. That said, pupils that choose Welsh medium education may not chose English medium, so we expect it to balance itself out. It’s something we need to be mindful of going forward.


If we compare Monmouthshire with neighbouring authorities such as Torfaen which has a waiting list, we are catching up and I wonder if the fact that we have a school in special measures may be a deterrent for parents?  


Cabinet Member: In our 2 existing Welsh medium schools, we have full nursery provision. With the new seedling coming on in Monmouth that will offer full wrap around care, this should be a positive inducement for parents to put children into Welsh medium education. Education is of lifelong importance, so taking into account the full pre-school offer, this will compare favourably with our neighbouring authorities.


In relation to the WESP forum, have they received the action plan? What issues were raised and have those been mitigated, in terms of how realistic the ambition is?


The action plan has been taken to the forum and they contributed to the final version, along with a representative from Welsh Government, ahead of the plan being reported to Welsh Government. It’s important to note that the WESP is ours and the forum were heavily engaged. They were pleased to see the ambition but recognised the need for a baseline.


The report highlights the workforce issues and refers to the national workforce plan being developed by Welsh Government. Is there a further update on that?  And in developing and expanding provision in schools, developing the Welsh proficiency of staff in primaries from the intermediate level to the advanced level is a relatively small step and we have quite a lot of staff who can be developed at that level, but in terms of secondary school staff proficiency, developing staff from a very basic level of proficiency is a much more significant task, so how are we going to work with colleagues to develop higher levels of proficiency?


We are working alongside the central services and have undertaken a staff survey to determine capacity and capability to develop a comprehensive plan to support and develop staff proficiency.  We work closely with the Education Achievement Service to develop language proficiency at both primary and secondary level. We know the information in the plan is baseline and we are aware  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Strategic Risk Register pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To agree any future risks for scrutiny.

Additional documents:


Richard Jones and Hannah Carter delivered a short training presentation on risk management and answered the members’ questions. The Chair reminded Members that it is the committee’s role to satisfy itself with the approach that has been taken and that if the committee wished to scrutinise any risks in depth, the relevant Cabinet Member would be invited to a future meeting for scrutiny of that risk.




Recognising that these are extraordinary times and that every council is approaching their strategic risk register in the same way, critically revaluating the choices they make, looking at the 39 risks identified over a 3 year period, after 3 years of mitigations being put in place 23 remain high risk. This is something I find very concerning, given that the mitigations have already been built in. Please can we have a response from the senior leadership team on this. Action: Richard Jones and Hazel Ilett.


Your point about risk levels is a fair one. It’s important that we correctly assess them and some of the factors relating to the risk may be outside our control, meaning that despite us putting in our own mitigations, they remain a high risk and the proportionate assessment is that these may not reduce. But we do need to consider the risk levels and whether we are doing enough to mitigate them if the risk level is still high.  Some of the mitigations may take time to work through and therefore take time to lower the risk level.


We are looking at this through the prism of the Local Authority and the risk that we may not be able to deliver services as we may wish to, but what we are not building in is the risk to service users if we are unable to deliver services to the standard we wish and therefore, what assessment has been undertaken of the risk to key  service users and how would it affect their lives? It would be good for us to view it from the perspective of the service user rather than just the Council. Please could we ask for a response on whether we should do more to understand risk though the eyes of the service user. Action Richard Jones and Hazel Ilett.


The strategic risk register does cover some of the impacts on people, but your point about this being a council risk register is taken. For example, for risk 11, which is decarbonisation and climate change, we’ve tried to capture ongoing community risk, as well as the risk to our own service delivery. For example, we work with the Gwent Public Service Board and some of the risks are shared across partners and communities.


Pages 53-54, the report begins stating that budgets have been reduced over several years and refers to budgets not being solvent, can you comment on that?


It’s quite a specific question and one that would be more appropriate for the risk owner.  Action: Richard Jones and the senior officer


Recognising that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Performance and Overview Scrutiny Committee Forward Work Programme and Action List pdf icon PDF 420 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Pavia highlighted that there may be a danger that the committee becomes scrutiny fodder and suggested the committee needed to shape its own forward work plan as it’s theirs to dictate. 


The Chair agreed that it’s the purpose of the committee to add value to ensure the Council deliver better services to people and assist the cabinet in doing so. He suggested the committee may want to table the strategic risk register on a frequent basis, rather than once a year and focus on the perspective of the service user.


A Special meeting would be held on 25th January 2023 to scrutinise the budget proposals.


Cabinet and Council Work Plan pdf icon PDF 209 KB


The forward work plan was noted. The chair reminded the committee that it’s important to keep a close watch on the Cabinet and Council Forward Work, particularly in light of the strategic risk report that has been received today.


It was clarified that this committee is solely responsible committee for the scrutiny of risk, rather than the other scrutiny committees.



To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 522 KB


The minutes of 21st November 2022 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.


Next Meeting: Special Meeting - 17th January 2023