Decision Maker: Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Governance and Partnerships.
The Head of Partnerships and Governance advised that the Joint Finance and Performance report outlined quarters 1 and 2 which covered April to September 2019. The Officer advised that the report had been enhanced to provide a more user friendly format and it would continue to be a ‘live’ document to take into account feedback received.
At this juncture the Chair went through and the following questions/points were raised accordingly.
A Member referred to the alignment of the Public Service Board and Regional Partnership Board and asked if the Public Services Scrutiny Committee had been aligned appropriately to give the appropriate timelines for matters being considered.
The Head of Partnerships and Governance advised that the cycle of meetings had been developed to align the Scrutiny Committee with scheduled Public Service Board meetings which were held on a quarterly basis this gave a coherent reporting path. The alignment of Public Service Boards and the Regional Partnership Boards were around how their work streams being aligned to the Integrated Well-Being Programme. This was a good example of where two boards could come together and discussions would progress via the Public Service Board and once approved be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.
The Member further noted the collaborative work in the report which referred the joint working arrangements of the SRS and advised that this was not the only collaborative work being undertaken across the Council.
The Managing Director advised that the report captured work for quarters 1 and 2 and did not document all partnership work only areas where work had been carried out in the specific quarters. The Managing Director added that there was a great deal of collaborative work across the Council and in all services including City Deal, Tech Valleys and the Valleys Task Force. It was felt that it would be beneficial to report all collaborative and partnership working, however it was noted that progress reports on the City Deal were regularly presented to Scrutiny a report was scheduled to be presented to the next Council meeting on 12th December, 2019.
Further to a request made for a Members Briefing on collaborative and partnership work arrangements across the Council, it was advised that a regeneration member briefing session could be arranged, to discuss collaborative work undertaken by the Directorate. A further request was made for late morning start and the Head of Partnerships and Governance agreed to accommodate this request.
A Member noted the capital bid achieved for Social Services and asked if a report would be presented to inform Members on the project being pursued.
The Corporate Director Social Services advised that the capital bid had been around the childcare offer and schools had been identified to work with in their existing settings. The Corporate Director confirmed that a report would be presented to the Social Services Scrutiny Committee at the appropriate time.
The Member recognised the amount of good work undertaken in Social Services. The Chair concurred with these comments and expressed thanks to the Corporate Director and staff on the work undertaken.
The Corporate Director Education referred to the persistent absenteeism in schools and noted the primary school levels of 1.6% was below the Wales average which was positive and in terms of secondary schools of 4.1% this equated to all Wales average. The Corporate Director also noted the increase in green schools within Blaenau Gwent.
In response to a question raised in relation to the amount of red schools, the Corporate Director advised that there were two red schools, however the Authority was working intensively with these schools. The Member added that work on these schools had been ongoing for 2 years and there had been a number of head teachers in post over this period.
The Corporate Director advised that the current head teacher was focussed and would continue the work put in place. The Corporate Director advised that a good discussion had ensued as part of the Improving Schools report presented to the Education and Learning Scrutiny Committee.
A Member wished to compliment the Corporate Director Education on the work she had achieved. The Member noted that he had worked closely with the Corporate Director and was aware of her commitment for change in Education in Blaenau Gwent.
The Member further asked how Blaenau Gwent compared to the family of schools within our area.
The Corporate Director Education advised that the Education system in Wales was going through a significant system of reform around the curriculum and qualifications. The family of schools were developed to compare data with similar schools, however this was no longer being used and although performance information could be compared it no longer identified schools. However, the Corporate Director advised that schools in Blaenau Gwent were performing similarly to schools across the region.
The Corporate Director Regeneration and Community Services advised that there was a number of community groups who worked in specific areas which supported the delivery of the Authority’s strong and environmentally smart communities. There was also work ongoing around the biodiversity and low carbon agenda which also linked to the active travel initiative.
In response to a question raised around the use of solar panels, the Corporate Director Regeneration and Community Services advised that there was currently a £4.1m refit programme to install solar panels in new builds and existing buildings if the appropriate space was available.
The Corporate Director Regeneration and Community Services also referred to the increased number of start-up businesses coming to Blaenau Gwent which placed Blaenau Gwent in the top quarter in terms of performance for this area.
A Member referred to the Regulatory Proposals section and asked for the reason eight updates/reports had not been received.
The Head of Partnerships and Governance noted that the information related to external regulatory work and advised that there could be a number of reasons. If the matter had been closed or incorporated into normal business planning and activity. However she noted the point and would make sure it was updated for the next quarter.
Another Member referred to the Corporate Risk Register presented and noted the 2 schools currently in receipt of Council Intervention which had failed to make progress for 2 years.
The Corporate Director Education advised that this had been identified as a risk and progress would be identified and reported accordingly.
The Committee AGREED, that the report be accepted and Option 2; namely the information be accepted as presented.
Report author: Liz Thomas
Publication date: 13/07/2020
Date of decision: 05/12/2019
Decided at meeting: 05/12/2019 - Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee