Agenda and minutes

Performance and Overview Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 17th January, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: The Council Chamber, County Hall, The Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA and remote attendance


No. Item


Declarations of Interest




Public Open Forum


No submissions were received.


Public Protection 2021- 22 Performance Report - To review the performance of the service area pdf icon PDF 143 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair thanked the team for its extraordinary work during the pandemic, on behalf of the committee. David Jones presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Huw Owen and Gareth Walters.




Can ‘TTP’ be explained in the report? What about the likely Covid peak in March?


Yes, ‘Track, Trace and Protect’ can be included in the report. Monmouthshire TTP was disbanded as a service last summer – it is now all held regionally at Caerphilly. The service is reduced; they are dealing with care homes, specifically. We still have an interest, particularly with schools that have queries. A potential peak is now for Caerphilly to manage for Gwent, but Dave Jones is involved in the governance and we support Caerphilly through our Environmental Health colleagues.


Are the 2 staff members on secondment coming back?


We encourage secondments when there is a benefit to the service e.g. one of our licensing colleagues is at Welsh Government, dealing with Tax Policy and Licensing, which will be a great benefit to us when he returns.


Is flytipping up because of closed sites? What are the learning and indications to date?


In 21-22 the total number of incidents increased, due somewhat to more accurate recording but nevertheless there was a substantial increase, correlated with more home working and home building during Covid. We take this very seriously. In the last few years, Welsh Government has given local authorities powers to issue fixed penalty notices for those who don’t dispose of waste properly – we will target that as best as we can throughout this year i.e. if a household entrusts their waste to someone who then flytips, without having checked that that person was a certified disposer of waste.


Why is Pest Control up? What is the learning from that?


There was a marginal increase. The service provided by Environmental Health on Pest Control is one of enforcement. The discretionary pest control service provided by the Council was removed in 2013/14. The enforcement we administer is in an instance such as someone reporting that refuse is collecting in their neighbour’s garden, attracting rats – we would pay a visit and ensure that appropriate baiting is being done. One of the reasons we keep the statistics is to monitor the impact over the years of the pest control service being removed from the council.


Could we have a brief explanation of the Public Spaces Protections Orders for Dog Controls consultation? What’s the progress with the public consultation?


Currently, the rule is that an owner must pick up after their dog if it fouls certain areas – there has been pressure in recent years to explore expanding the controls.


There was a big public consultation from July-October 2020, with around 1500 responses, which fed into our report to scrutiny in March 2022 with certain recommendations, namely to engage with the main stakeholders to consider the controls further. Around December, we wrote to all town and community councils and major landowners, Brecon  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Registration Services Annual Report 21/22 - To review the performance of the service area pdf icon PDF 320 KB


Jennifer Walton presented the report and answered the members’ questions with David Jones.




Alistair: The Monmouthshire birth-rate reduced significantly in this period – is that an aberration or trend? Does it reflect more widely?


There hasn’t been a dramatic drop in births but Monmouthshire residents are now going to The Grange, in Torfaen.


If the birth-rate is now split with The Grange, how do we know what the numbers and trends are?


The maternity services in Nevill Hall have been downgraded with The Grange’s opening, so it is midwife-led only. The majority of births in Aneurin Bevan now occur in Torfaen, therefore. The figures are fed into ONS, so those for Monmouthshire can be retrieved at any time, but we only have access for those births that occurred in the county. Also, following Covid, there were times this year when the maternity departments in Nevill Hall had to be closed due to staff pressures.


5.1, Is there information on the development of partnership working? To what extent has it been part of the thinking in the budget process?


We intend that partnership working will expand to include death registrations as well. Currently, a birth can be registered at any office in the Aneurin Bevan HB area, which has proven very popular and helped us to manage the backlog coming out of Covid. The ceremonies programmed last summer were so extensive that we couldn’t look at developing the service for death registrations but we hope to begin planning meetings soon, and the logistics are already in place.


What access do residents have to registrations and records?


Any resident can put in a request for a historical certificate, any details they have they can submit and we will search the records for them. The records are kept in a temperature-controlled strong room so we don’t generally allow public to view them themselves but anyone can submit a request and we will do our best to track down the information.


Customer feedback is good, though anecdotal – will digital feedback allow more quantitative information about residents’ views on these services and whether we can improve?


Customer feedback is generally fantastic, especially as we’re often dealing with people who have experienced a bereavement, for example. But we can quantify it better, yes. We are hopeful that the digital service will make a difference and that it will get underway soon.


Is there a way of baselining or relating the feedback to other areas, and is there any learning there?


The Register Office publishes monthly Performance data across England and Wales, so we can see our rank against everyone else, and we have regular visits from the compliance officer, who will raise any concerns with us based on the figures.


Are Marriage Registers now obsolete?


Over a long period of time there were discussions about trying to include mothers on marriage entries, as well as fathers; the solution reached was to dispense with the marriage registers altogether. Previously, the registrar took a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Procurement Performance Review - Review of the joint working arrangements and benefits realised to date pdf icon PDF 276 KB


Steve Robinson presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Cath Fallon.




Q7+8, concerning expectations for people, and a softer behavioural understanding, is identified as a gap – do the actions go far enough? Do we need more of the ‘how’ than the ‘what’?


Yes, culture is one of the key enablers. There is no one thing that will achieve it. the strategy itself is important: as well as setting the direction of travel, it communicates the priorities for the authority and how we go about delivering them. The key focus is the MCC Community and Corporate Plan; we will doublecheck that we have a strong alignment with it after it goes to Cabinet tomorrow. We spoke yesterday with Communications about how to communicate the broader messages, assuming there is council approval in March. We recognise that sometimes the way in which we try to inform and educate officers could be better. We are developing a programme supported with online material to get key messages across as simply as possible – Comms is supporting that process as a critical friend. We need to better use technology such as SharePoint. For Buying Responsibly, we are building the proof of concept in Cardiff, looking to roll out later across the other authorities.

More information about the partnership with Atebion would have been good. It would be good to know more about procurement savings and look at the social value of procurement spend – how much of the procurement spend stays in Monmouthshire? Without the survey methodology the numbers are a bit meaningless. It’d be good to see this come back with more numbers and detail. Are we able to identify, in hard terms/improved value terms, what joint working gives us?


We’ve been trying to build from the ground up, from the basics – getting these right has been our primary focus. We have looked to baseline the current position around spend kept in Monmouthshire. In our strategy we have practical steps to take to improve that, looking at changes to our working practice, working with partners, etc. It has taken a lot of steps to enable to arrive at a position where we start to see value coming through. The market conditions are now a challenge when looking at savings; in many cases, we might now be looking at cost avoidance rather than a reduction. Value is a broad agenda for us.


Chair’s Summary:


The Committee moved the report. For the next Procurement report, it is requested that officers identify, in more concrete terms, the benefits that joint working gives MCC – ACTION



Performance and Overview Scrutiny Committee Forward Work Programme and Action List pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Additional documents:


The 23rd February meeting needs to move to 27th or 28th February – officers will confirm with members, subsequently.



Cabinet and Council Work Planner pdf icon PDF 252 KB


Note the Extraordinary Meeting of Council on 2nd March.



To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 349 KB


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



Next Meetings:

25th January 2023 at 10.00am – Special Meeting (Budget).

23rd February 2023 at 10.00am – Ordinary Meeting.


25th January 2023 at 10.00am – Special Meeting (Budget).

23rd February 2023 at 10.00am – Ordinary Meeting.