West Berkshire Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber Council Offices Market Street Newbury

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Items
No. Item

51.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 17 December 2015.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2015 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Leader.

52.

Declarations of Interest

To remind Members of the need to record the existence and nature of any Personal, Disclosable Pecuniary or other interests in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

It was noted that all Members present had been granted a dispensation by the Monitoring Officer to speak and vote on any items pertaining to Council Tax.

Andy Day also reported that Councillor Lynne Doherty had an interest in agenda item 7 (Phase 1 Budget Consultation 2016/17) by virtue of the fact that Councillor Doherty’s employer was a recipient of the Short Breaks Funding. Councillor Doherty had applied to the Governance and Ethics Committee for a dispensation to speak and vote on this item. The Committee decided that Councillor Doherty could speak and vote on the Phase 1 consultation responses as a whole, but could only speak on the short breaks for children and not vote on this issue should this situation occur.

53.

Public Questions

Members of the Executive to answer questions submitted by members of the public in accordance with the Executive Procedure Rules contained in the Council’s Constitution.

Minutes:

A full transcription of the public and Member question and answer sessions are available from the following link: Transcription of Q&As.

53.(a)

Question submitted by Mr Tony Stone to the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Transport and Emergency Planning

“Please can you tell me why the Council have a Survey on our Cottage called the Ardent Report and not do the work?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Tony Stone on the subject of why works to be carried out on his property arising from the Ardent Report had not been undertaken was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Transport and Emergency Planning.

53.(b)

Question submitted by Mr Paul Reeves to the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Transport and Emergency Planning

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Paul Reeves on the subject of the impact of the removal of the number 3 bus on his children’s transport to school would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Transport and Emergency Planning as Mr Reeves was unable to attend the meeting.

53.(c)

Question submitted by Mr Michael Hutchins to the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Michael Hutchins (asked by Mr Alan Fleming) on the subject of the good work undertaken by the Council’s Access Officer was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services.

53.(d)

Question submitted by Mr Michael Hutchins to the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Michael Hutchins (asked by Mr Alan Fleming) on the subject of how the work currently undertaken by the Access Officer would be taken forward if the post was removed was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services.

53.(e)

Question submitted by Mr Alan Fleming to the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Alan Fleming on the subject of who else within the Council had as broad a knowledge as the Access Officer about the needs of the disabled or empathy towards the disabled in their needs was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services.

53.(f)

Question submitted by Mr Peter Hudson to the Portfolio Holder for Education, Property and Broadband

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Peter Hudson on the subject of whether the Council would reconsider its view in relation to the need to assess the safety of the route between Mortimer and the Willink School would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Education, Property and Broadband as Mr Hudson was unable to attend the meeting.

54.

Petitions

Councillors or Members of the public may present any petition which they have received. These will normally be referred to the appropriate Committee without discussion.

 

The Council has been notified that Mr Pointer he wishes to present a petition that opposes the proposed funding cuts for short breaks for disabled children.

Minutes:

Mr Pointer presented a petition containing 3,694 signatures opposing to the proposed funding cuts for short breaks for disabled children. The petition would inform the debate at Council on 1 March 2016.

Mrs Macdonald presented a petition containing 253 signatures opposing cuts to the 143 bus service in Purley and Pangbourne. The petition would inform the debate at Council on 1 March 2016.

Mrs Warren-Tibbetts presented a petition containing 357 signatures opposing cuts to the 143 bus service in Basildon. The petition would inform the debate at Council on 1 March 2016.

Councillor Pamela Bale presented a letter on behalf of the Pangbourne and Whitchurch Sustainability Group which supported the petitions relating to the 143 bus service.

Councillor Roger Croft clarified that as each petition related to the 2016/17 budget consultation, they would form part of the consultation response referenced in the 2016/17 Revenue Budget report debated at Full Council on 1 March 2016.

55.

Financial Performance Report 2015/16 - Quarter Three (EX3021) pdf icon PDF 52 KB

(CSP: MEC & MEC1)

Purpose: To inform Members of the latest financial performance of the Council.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that the latest financial performance of the Council be noted.

 

This decision is not subject to call in as:

 

·      report is to note only

 

therefore it will be implemented immediately.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 6) which informed Members of the latest financial performance of the Council.

At Quarter Three, the forecast revenue position was an overspend of £0.6m, which was an increase of £0.1m from Quarter Two. However, the overspend position had decreased significantly from Month 8 and this was as expected due to the recruitment freeze and a reduction in expenditure across the Council.

The Communities Directorate was forecasting an overspend of £0.9m at Quarter Three, which was a similar position to that at Quarter Two. The overspend was primarily the result of a £1.3m pressure within Children and Family Services, forecast overspends within Education of £0.4m and Prevention & Developing Community Resilience £0.1m, offset by savings within Adult Social Care and Care Commissioning, Housing & Safeguarding of £0.9m split approximately equally. The Directorate was looking to mitigate this forecast overspend position further and was reviewing all spending plans to see what could be delivered in the remainder of the financial year.

The Environment Directorate was forecasting an underspend of £305k compared to a £373k underspend at Quarter Two. This was primarily due to additional income from parking and development control and a saving in winter service costs. There had however been a reduction in income mainly due to the slippage of the planning application for the Sandleford Development and the associated fee.

The Resources Directorate was forecasting an overspend of £13k, compared to a £50k overspend at Quarter Two. There were a number of forecast changes by Service, mainly reductions in Customer Service and ICT offsetting increases within HR and Legal.

Of the £5.9m savings programme for 2015/16, £806k (14%) of initiatives were being reported as red (9% Q2), none were being reported as amber (1% Q2) and £5.1m (86%) green. The level of red savings was higher than in previous years which might be an indication that savings were getting harder to deliver year on year.

Councillor Alan Macro enquired whether the increase in the forecasted expenditure on agency staff in Children’s Services was a result of the failure of the Social Work Academy, commenting that use of agency staff was a concern due to the discontinuity it led to for service users. Councillor Lynne Doherty advised that the academy was working and expenditure on agency staff had decreased overall since quarter one, however there had been a slowdown in that decrease since the last quarter was reported. The Council was still working hard to improve recruitment and retention of social workers.

Councillor Macro also asked for the reason that expenditure on Discretionary Housing Payments had decreased. Councillor Hillary Cole advised that there was a lack of demand for the funds, despite making people aware of their availability.

Councillor Macro expressed that he was disappointed to learn that a delay in the implementation of the Youth Services restructure was causing further budgetary pressure. Councillor Doherty advised that full in-year savings could not be achieved due to redundancies and notice periods that were required.

Councillor Macro finally  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Phase 1 Budget Consultation 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Purpose: This report provides an update on the results of Phase 1 of the public consultation exercise in relation to the 2016/17 budget. It provides information on the total number of responses received to the consultation and details of the total number of responses received for each savings proposal.

The report also provides details of where “counter proposals” have been made by organisations and looks at those savings proposals which are currently funded by the public health grant.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved:

 

(1)          That the responses received to each of the 47 public facing savings proposals in relation to Phase 1 of the public consultation exercise undertaken on the 2016/17 budget be noted.

(2)          That, should transitional funding not be considered appropriate, Full Council be recommended to progress each of the non public health grant funded savings proposals (29 individual proposals in total) and the one income proposal relating to car parking as set out in Appendix C.

(3)          That it be a recommendation to Council that those public health grant funded services set out in paragraph 3.4 of Appendix A and Appendix C totalling £114,000 be progressed.

 

This decision is not subject to call in as:

 

·      the item is due to be referred to Council for final approval.

 

therefore it will be implemented immediately.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 7) which provided an update on the results of Phase 1 of the public consultation exercise in relation to the 2016/17 budget. The report provided information on the total number of responses received to the consultation and detailed the total number of responses received for each savings proposal.

The report also included details of where “counter proposals” had been made by organisations and looked at those savings proposals which were currently funded by the public health grant.

Councillor Roger Croft introduced the report by reminding those present that from 3 November 2015 to 14 December 2015, the Council consulted the public on the need to make £10.8m of savings in 2016/17. £4.6m of these savings affected frontline services. The consultation generated over 2,500 responses and covered 47 individual budget proposals. The feedback, which was very comprehensive, was contained within the agenda paperwork and Councillor Croft thanked the public for their comprehensive responses to the consultation.

Councillor Croft also placed on record his thanks for the significant amount of time that Members and Officers had spent, since the consultation closed on 14 December 2015, in reading and assessing all of the comments received. Provided within the agenda paperwork were the verbatim comments, a summary of comments template, an overview and recommendations template and Equality Impact Assessments for each of the 47 savings proposals, over 900 pages in total. 

During the course of the consultation, Members had been provided with a formal briefing note of the requirements placed on them in relation to the Public Sector Equality Duty, a copy of which had been provided to Members for this meeting. The Public Sector Equality Duty essentially required decision makers to keep the welfare of service users and their families at the forefront of their minds particularly those that were most disadvantaged.

The role of the Executive at this evening’s meeting was to provide a recommendation to Council on each of the 47 public facing savings proposals in order that a balanced budget could be agreed on 1 March 2016 and an overview template covering all 47 savings proposals with an appropriate recommendation was attached to the report. However, Councillor Croft advised that if the savings proposal was taken, this did not mean that the corresponding service would end. Through discussions triggered by the consultation, Councillor Croft was encouraged to see other local organisations, parish and town councils coming forward to offer some of the services outlined in the report which were subject to potential reductions.

Prior to making appropriate recommendations, Councillor Croft expressed publicly his disappointment as Leader of West Berkshire Council on receiving the Government’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG) Settlement consultation one week before Christmas. This consultation proposed a cut in the Council’s RSG by 44% or £8m in one year. The Council had been planning and working towards a proposed cut of 25%.

Having received this news Members, working with Officers, had spent a significant amount of time looking at where these additional  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

57.

Members' Questions

Members of the Executive to answer questions submitted by Councillors in accordance with the Executive Procedure Rules contained in the Council’s Constitution.

Minutes:

A full transcription of the public and Member question and answer sessions are available from the following link: Transcription of Q&As.

57.(a)

Question to be answered by the Leader of the Council submitted by Councillor Lee Dillon

Can we have an update on the negotiations with Parkway?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Lee Dillon requesting an update on the negotiations with Parkway was answered by the Leader of the Council.

57.(b)

Question to be answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services submitted by Councillor Alan Macro

Can the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community, Culture and Leisure Services please give me the latest figures for homes standing empty for six months or more and compare those from a year ago?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Alan Macro requesting the latest figures for homes standing empty for six months or more and a comparison of the current position with that of a year ago was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services.

57.(c)

Question to be answered by the Portfolio Holder for Education, Property and Broadband submitted by Councillor Mollie Lock

Will the Portfolio Holder for Education please tell us how many West Berkshire Council children are currently being taught at home and their age when they began home tuition?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Mollie Lock asking how many West Berkshire Council children were currently being taught at home and their age when they began home tuition was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Education, Property and Broadband.

58.

Exclusion of Press and Public

RECOMMENDATION: That members of the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items as it is likely that there would be disclosure of exempt information of the description contained in the paragraphs of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 specified in brackets in the heading of each item. Rule 8.10.4 of the Constitution refers.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that members of the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the under-mentioned item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as contained in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information)(Variation) Order 2006. Rule 8.10.4 of the Constitution also refers.

59.

Staffing Implications associated with savings put forward to deliver the 2016/17 Revenue Budget post public consultation: Approval to Pay Redundancy Payments (EX3057)

(Paragraph 1 – information relating to an individual)

(Paragraph 2 – information identifying an individual)

(CSP: MEC & MEC1)

Purpose: To seek approval to make the redundancy payments associated with the required staffing implications associated with savings to deliver the 2016/17 revenue budget.

Decision:

Resolved that the recommendations in the exempt report be agreed.

 

This decision is not subject to call in as:

 

·      a delay in implementing the decision would cause the Council serious financial implications.

 

therefore it will be implemented immediately.

Minutes:

(Paragraph 1 – information relating to an individual)

(Paragraph 2 – information identifying an individual

The Executive considered an exempt report (Agenda Item 10) which sought approval to make the redundancy payments associated with the required staffing implications associated with savings to deliver the 2016/17 revenue budget.

RESOLVED that the recommendations in the exempt report be agreed.

Reason for the decision: as set out in the exempt report.

Other options considered: as set out in the exempt report.