Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Delyn Committee Room, County Hall, Mold CH7 6NA

Contact: Tracy Waters 01352 702331  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping Declarations)


            No declarations of interest were made.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 30 July 2014.



That subject to the amendment, the minutes be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.



The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on the 30th of July 2014 had been circulated with the agenda for the meeting.


Matters Arising


Minute 15


Councillor Paul Shotton thanked the Officers for the update on the Flintshire Connects footfall, and was pleased with the Connah’s Quay figures.  The Chief Executive indicated that this data would be included in future Access to Council Services reports.


Councillor Clive Carver reiterated concerns about Officers working from home not being readily contactable, citing specific examples.  The Chief Executive stressed that his comments at the previous meeting had related to the incidence of systemic failures rather than a particular occasion.  The Chair indicated that this should be an item for the Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee to which she would refer it.


Councillor Mike Peers asked for information on the carrying out of appraisals, which the Chief Officer (People and Resources) undertook to provide.


Councillor Paul Shotton explained that he had asked a question on whether the move to Individual Elector Registration would increase public engagement; he was not saying that it would. It was agreed that the minute be amended accordingly.  Councillor Carver raised an issue on the Individual Elector registration letter. The Chief Officer (Governance) explained that electors now needed to make an annual request for their details to be excised from the commercially available version of the register. The Chief Executive indicated that a full update on progress with the new form of canvass would be made on completion later in the autumn.


Councillor Peers asked whether the iPad training had been undertaken.  The Chairman and some Members of the Committee confirmed that it had and the Chair undertook to send Councillor Peers the email which had been recently circulated listing progress. 


Councillor Robin Guest commented that it seemed unusual that his wife had completed the individual registration form online, but had received confirmation by post.  The Chief Officer (Governance) responded that this was a security provision.


Minute 17


The Chair commented that repairs and maintenance in schools would be the subject of a report to the Lifelong Learning Committee at the December meeting.




That subject to the amendment, the minutes be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.



Additional Item


The Chair indicated that under Section 100 (B4(b) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended)  she had requested that an urgent item be included at the meeting, to enable the Leader and Chief Executive to give a verbal  update on the Budget Consultation Process.



Budget Consultation Process


That the update be received and that Members be informed of the budget consultation workshop dates as soon as possible.            



The Chief Executive thanked the Chair for the opportunity to bring this issue to Members, and reported that the provisional local government settlement from the Wales Government was due to be published on the 8th October 2014.  He explained the process which went from publication of provisional settlement through consultation to final settlement.  This was normally in mid to late December.


He went on to explain that the Group Leaders had been briefed on the fundamental business planning  review process which was being undertaken and commented on difficulties in planning longer term when the Welsh Government was only providing one year settlements.  He went on to say that indicative reductions of between 1.5% and 4.5% in the Revenue Support Grant were being anticipated.  Until the publication of the provisional settlement, the extent of the reduction would not be known.  All services were currently approaching this on a ‘worst case’ scenario.


Initially discussions would take place with the Leadership and Cabinet before wider consultation was instituted.


The Leader and Chief Executive commented on the ‘Big Budget Conversation’ which had provided information to Flintshire residents on the scale of the project and the budget cuts required; 550 responses had been received to date.  He commented on options for Town and Community Councils which could include the sharing of responsibilities. 


                        The Leader of the Council said that discussions with Cabinet and Senior Officers on the budget were paramount.  He expressed his pride at being able to support the budget for 2014/15 which had set out internal efficiencies before frontline services but said that this could not continue in the future.  The funding proposals from Welsh Government were awaited with the worst expectation being 4.5% or £18m, meaning a total of £31m over two years.


            Councillor Guest referred to the Big Budget Conversation and asked whether Members would receive a report on the outcome. The Chief Executive confirmed that the results of the survey would be shared with members and published.


            In response to a question from Councillor Guest, the Leader of the Council said that it was hoped that the views expressed in the questionnaire would be shared as a background document during the consultation exercise.  He added that there had been some suggestions had been made of where savings could be made. 


            The Chief Executive said that it had been important to inform residents of the challenges that the Council was facing and that it was also good practice to provide information on the outcome of the survey.  He commented on the challenging times ahead which could include consideration of alternative models such as increased charges. 


            Councillor Clive Carver asked how it could be ensured that the responses received on social media were valid and not from a small number of residents making repeated responses.  The Chief Executive said that users had been encouraged to indicate whether they lived in Flintshire but reminded the Committee that the comments received as part of the research did not form a binding decision.  The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Improvement Plan 2014-15 Audit - Certificate of Compliance pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:


            (a)       That the presentation be received;


            (b)       That the report and the Council’s Executive response be noted; and


(c)        That Councillors Carolyn Thomas, Richard Jones and Robin Guest form a Task and Finish Group to consider the feedback from the Wales Audit Office on the Improvement Plan.   



The Chief Executive introduced the report to advise Members of the positive Certificate of Compliance from the Auditor General for Wales in respect of the audit of the 2014-15 Improvement Plan.  An Executive response was also included. 


                        Mr. Paul Goodlad from Wales Audit Officer (WAO) provided a detailed presentation to the Committee, with the main features being as follows:-


  • Context and Background
  • Summary
  • The Council has addressed the key areas of concern highlighted in the September 2013 Improvement Assessment Letter from WAO
  • Improvement Objectives and sub-priorities within the Plan are (with a few exceptions) generally clear and robust
  • Achievement measures do not always clearly reflect planning achievements/outcomes
  • A few inconsistencies between aspirations to improve and the targets set for 2014-15
  • In the few cases, the ‘bigger impact’ expected from the Plan is not apparent
  • A minority of targets set for 2014-15 do not appear to be challenging
  • In the significant majority of cases, the Council should be able to clearly demonstrate achievement of each improvement objective and sub-priority
  • Gaining access to, and awareness of, the Improvement Plan and its key messages may be challenging for some stakeholders
  • Proposals for Improvement


The Chair requested that the presentation be sent electronically to Members. 


The Chief Executive felt that some of the comments were valid such as clearer explanation in some sections of the Plan.  However, he also disagreed with some of the comments such as on the opportunities to raise awareness of the plan being reduced because of the decision to stop the door-step delivery of the Your Community, Your Council newsletter.  He explained other ways that residents could access the document either on the website, by email or in libraries. 


Councillor Richard Jones welcomed the points raised but felt that the feedback should be considered by a Task and Finish Group made up of Members from the Committee.  He felt that it was important to understand what was being undertaken by neighbouring authorities on their plans and to replicate any good practices. 


Councillor Mike Peers referred to the issue of street-lighting highlighted in the presentation and agreed that the target should be three days if the fault was the responsibility of the Council and that this should be clearly identified in the achievement measure.  Councillor Richard Lloyd felt that street-lights should be inspected more regularly to allow faults to be identified and that the three day target should only apply once the problem had been discovered. 


The Cabinet Member for Corporate Management, Councillor Billy Mullin, thanked Mr. Goodlad for the presentation.  He also referred to the issue of the Council’s newsletter and reminded the Committee that residents could also access the Council’s website at the new Connect Centres.    


Councillor Clive Carver suggested that the plan should be called a “Challenge Plan” rather than an Improvement Plan.  Councillor Andy Dunbobbin suggested that a text only file, rather than a PDF, could be made available to those wanting to access the document to reduce the download time. 


Councillor Robin Guest felt that this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Improvement Plan Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 29 KB

Additional documents:



That the reports be received. 



The Chief Executive introduced a report for the Committee to consider elements of the 2014/15 Improvement Plan Monitoring report relevant to the Committee for the period April to July 2014. 


Representatives from each of the service areas gave a short presentation on the Improvement Plan progress, outlining the progress status, how the achievements would be measured and the actions/arrangements in place to control the risk.  They also answered questions, as shown below, on each of the service areas which were:-


·         Welfare Reform

·         Organisational Change

·         Financial Strategy

·         Procurement Strategy

·         Asset Strategy

·         Access to Council Services

·         People Change & Development


Welfare Reform


Councillor Ian Dunbar welcomed the work of the Welfare Reform Team and, in referring to householders with disabilities, commented on there not being any smaller adapted properties available for them to move into.  He queried whether it would be more cost effective to allow them to stay in their current property rather than them having to move.  The Team Manager Advice & Homeless Service spoke of a common sense approach but referred to the spare room subsidy which would result in tenants losing benefits if they had too many bedrooms in their property.  The Welfare Team would ensure that the tenants were receiving all the benefits they were entitled to including access to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), which could be paid for as long as it was deemed necessary.  He also referred to a recent Private Members Bill that the spare room subsidy should only apply if alternative properties were available, which had been discussed in Parliament.


In praising the work of the Welfare Reform Team, Councillor Paul Shotton asked whether Flintshire County Council had received any of the funding from the extra DHP monies made available specifically for Wales.  The Team Manager advised that Flintshire had not received any of the funding specifically for rural locations but had been successful in its application for £50,000 from the Welsh Government’s ‘Additional DHP Fund’ which would contribute to the Welfare Reform Team and the development of Advice Gateway Service. 

Organisational Change


Councillor Robin Guest queried the quarter 1 outturn which was reported as being ‘under review’.  The Chief Executive responded that as there were many ongoing service reviews, it was impossible to set a meaningful target at this point.   


Financial Strategy


Councillor Mike Peers queried whether it would be possible to produce a four year sustainable plan, as reported, due the current financial climate.  The Chief Executive responded that in the absence of indicative figures it was difficult to plan with any certainty.  He added that requests had been put forward for three to four year budget proposals from Welsh Government (WG) rather than the current annualised information. 


Councillor Richard Jones sought clarification on the entry for the 2014/15 target on page 40 and in response, the Corporate Finance Manager explained that it had been confirmed for 2014/15 that 100% of resources were in place.  Following a further query from Councillor Jones, the Chief Officer (People and Resources) explained that the ‘Red/Amber/Green’ (RAG)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Revenue Budget Monitoring 2014/15 (Month 3) pdf icon PDF 20 KB

Additional documents:



            (a)       That the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Social and Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee be asked to consider the significant variances within Adult Social Care, particularly to £0.514m relating to Domiciliary Care provision. 



The Corporate Finance Manager introduced a report to provide Members with the latest Revenue Budget Monitoring 2014/15 (Month 3) for the Council Fund and Housing Revenue Account which was to be submitted to Cabinet on 16 September 2014. 


                        The report reflected the work undertaken to rebase all staffing budgets to reflect the actual new costs arising from the new pay and grading structure following the implementation of the Single Status agreement.  No pay variations were included within this report although this was deemed reasonable due to the fact that the relevant budgetary provision would be allocated to the actual costs being incurred in line with the affordability model used to estimate costs. 


                        For the Council Fund, the projected net in year non pay expenditure was forecast to be £0.603m higher than budget and full details of the projected variances were summarised in appendix 1.  The biggest variance was £0.514m which related to Domiciliary Care provision within the Localities Teams but had been slightly offset by the impact of the increase by Welsh Government in the level of the maximum charge cap from £50 per week to £55 per week.  Section 3.05 detailed the efficiencies and it was currently projected that £8.444m of the £8.840m (96%) would be achieved. 


                        An initial phase of Voluntary Redundancy Programme had identified a number of efficiencies and a second programme commenced on 1 September 2014 to run alongside the next phase of the Management Review. 


                        Section 5 detailed the budget assumptions and risks and the projected balance on the contingency reserve was £2.338m and was summarised at appendix 3. 


                        The HRA was projected to have an overall overspend of £0.038m and a projected closing balance at Month 3 of £1.127m which at 3.75% of total expenditure satisfied the prudent approach of ensuring a minimum level of 3%.  Appendix 4 detailed the reasons for significant variances.              


                          Councillor Robin Guest sought clarification on the significant variance for Social Services of £0.514 and suggested that the issue be referred to the Social and Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee for further consideration. 


                        Councillor Mike Peers referred to the Section on Streetscene on page 91 and sought assurance that the posts which had been vacant for some time would be carefully considered. 


                        In response to a question from Councillor Richard Jones, the Corporate Finance Manager said that any significant variances over £0.025m would be reported separately. 




(a)          That the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Social and Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee be asked to consider the significant variances within Adult Social Care, particularly to £0.514m relating to Domiciliary Care provision. 



Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 24 KB

Additional documents:



(a)                  That the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Member Engagement Manager liaise with the Chair to include a report on appraisals on the Forward Work Programme for consideration at a future meeting of the Committee. 



The Chair introduced the report to consider the Forward Work Programme for the Committee. 


            Details were provided of the four items scheduled for the meeting on 9 October 2014.  Councillor Clive Carver commented on recent problems he had experienced on not receiving responses to communications sent to officers.  Councillor Robin Guest felt that the issue would be more appropriately considered by the Democratic Services Committee and Councillor Carver agreed to write to him with the details.  It was also agreed, following an earlier suggestion by Councillor Richard Jones, that a report on appraisals be submitted to a future meeting of this Committee. 




(a)          That the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Member Engagement Manager liaise with the Chair to include a report on appraisals on the Forward Work Programme for consideration at a future meeting of the Committee. 



Members of the Press and Public in Attendance


                        There were no members of the public or press in attendance.