West Berkshire Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber Council Offices Market Street Newbury

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Items
No. Item

64.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 154 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 11 February 2016 and the Special Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 25 February 2016.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meetings held on 11 February 2016 and 25 February 2016 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Deputy Leader. As the Deputy Leader was not present at either of these meetings he did not vote on this item.

65.

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:

The Deputy Monitoring Officer explained that Councillor Lynne Doherty had been granted a dispensation by the Governance and Ethics Committee to speak and vote on budget proposals pertaining to Short Breaks Funding should they arise during the discussion that evening.

Councillor Marcus Frankshad an interest in agenda item 7 (2016/17 Budget - Phase Two Consultation and the Transitional Grant) by virtue of the fact that Councillor Franks’ employer, Sovereign Housing, received funding from the Council for its Neighbourhood Warden Scheme. Councillor Franks had applied to the Governance and Ethics Committee for a dispensation to speak and vote on this item. The Committee decided that a dispensation should be granted but that the dispensation would permit Councillor Franks to speak but not vote on this item.

66.

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 is available from the following link: Questions and Answers

66.(a)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture & Leisure Services by Mrs Martha Vickers

In the light of the proposed closure of all but the main Newbury Library, what is West Berkshire Council doing to enable communities to keep their Library open?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mrs Martha Vickers on the subject of the support offered to communities to run Libraries was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture and Leisure Services.

66.(b)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions by Mr Simon Clayton

“Would the Council be willing to build a solar farm, funded by selling bonds, to generate additional income which could be used to protect front line services such as our very valuable libraries?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Simon Clayton (asked by Councillor Lee Dillon) on the subject of generating income for the Council by building a solar farm was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions.

66.(c)

Question submitted to the Leader of the Council by Ms Karen Swaffield

“The consultation asks a respondent if they would be directly affected by a cut. I am not but I hold views about the most vulnerable and those on the lowest incomes being disproportionately affected. Will the Council assure me that my views, and those of others who may not be directly affected, have been considered and how can I be assured of this?”

Minutes:

This question had been withdrawn after the agenda was published.

66.(d)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions by Ms Lilian El-Doufani

“Will the Councillors be looking into whether European monies for regeneration and suchlike are available to West Berkshire Council to help stall or even stop local cuts?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Lillian El-Doufani on the subject of European funding for Council services was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions.

66.(e)

Question submitted to the Leader of Council by Ms Karen Swaffield

“What has the Council done already to consider the ideas put forward through the Save Our Services group and what will it do in the future to engage with the energy generated?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Karen Swaffield on the subject of the Save Our Services group proposals was answered by the Deputy Leader of the Council, on behalf of the Leader of the Council.

66.(f)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Communications, Democratic & Electoral Services, Finance Assurance, Legal, Human Resources, ICT by Ms Lilian El-Doufani

“Why cannot the Councillors forgo their expenses and pay rises in order to save money that could be spent on saving the libraries from closure?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Lillian El-Doufani on the subject of the Members’ allowances was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Communications, Democratic & Electoral Services, Finance Assurance, Legal, Human Resources, ICT.

66.(g)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions by Ms Karen Swaffield

“I understand that the Council is too small to be able to start up, for example, an Energy Company.  How and when will the Council look into joining with other small Authorities to make this, and other small company initiatives possible, and will it report back to the electorate?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Karen Swaffield on the subject of joint working with other local authorities on small company initiatives was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions.

66.(h)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Equality, Community Safety, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Waste, Customer Services by Ms Lilian El-Doufani

“Does the council plan to implement dog-fouling fines, for example or is that a revenue stream to be also discarded and issue to be de-regulated?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Lillian El-Doufani on the subject of dog fouling fines was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Equality, Community Safety, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Waste, Customer Services.

66.(i)

Question submitted to the Leader of the Council by Mr Peter Norman

“The announcement of transition relief to keep the majority of libraries open, to revisit some of the rural buses, and provide further support to The Corn Exchange is welcome. However it is noted that this is a temporary reprieve to give communities time to find ways to put these services on a sustainable financial footing without Council funding. 

 

In what ways will the Council help appropriate communities to develop a business plan and will that help include things such as:

 

(i)      providing library buildings to communities at a peppercorn rent,

(ii)     provide communications to all West Berkshire residents on behalf of those communities if a call is made to  raise additional finance,

(iii)    provide assistance with the setting up of a task group, to include community members, in order to consider ways of moving forward?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Peter Norman on the subject of the ways the Council would assist communities to develop business plans was answered by the Deputy Leader of the Council, on behalf of the Leader of the Council.

66.(j)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Transport, Emergency Planning by Mr Peter Norman

“Given the extent of local and national budget cuts many residents are puzzled as to why the Council is using public money to finance the new Fleming Road junction on the A339, when private finance was/is available to do the same work.  How does the Council justify this?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Peter Norman on the subject of funding for the A339 Fleming Road Junction was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Highways, Transport and Emergency Planning.

66.(k)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions by Mr Peter Norman

“Given the state of Council finances requiring draconian cuts in public services what is the economic case for giving away Market Street to Grainger for development when independent sources suggest that it could be worth £4m or more on the open market?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Peter Norman on the subject of income generated from the sale of Market Street was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration and Pensions.

66.(l)

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

“Has the Council evaluated the business case for moving the Market Street Council offices to LRIE in terms of reducing maintenance and running costs of the Council offices, and freeing more land to be incorporated into the redevelopment of the southern part of Newbury town centre?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Peter Norman on the subject of relocating the Council Offices to the London Road Industrial Estate was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Education, Property and Broadband.

66.(m)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture & Leisure Services by Mrs Antoinette Solera

“Last week it was revealed that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has intervened and that this Council must commission an independent Needs Assessment regarding the proposal to cut the library service. A Stage 2 Equality Impact Assessment says the Council will breach its equality and statutory duty if it proceeds with a major reduction to the Libraries service without due process.

However, a press release issued by this Council on 16th March said: ‘Libraries will move to a self-service model’ and that Theale and Wash Common libraries will close.

 

Will the Portfolio Holder for Community Culture and Leisure tell us why this strategy has been announced prior to the completion of an independent needs assessment, and fully explain the steps she will take to ensure that due process is not abused a second time?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mrs Antoinette Solera on the subject of why an announcement had been made on the future of libraries prior to the completion of an independent needs assessment was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture & Leisure Service.

66.(n)

Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture & Leisure Services by Mr Gary Puffett

“Why was the consultation paper on the future of the library service based on a preferred option namely the closure of 8 out of 9 libraries when the Council had legal advice from the DCMS and Counsel’s Opinion that the implementation of such a proposal could be subject to a successful legal challenge?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Gary Puffett (asked by Ms Karen Swaffield) on the subject of the consultation on the library service was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture & Leisure Service.

67.

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.

Minutes:

Ms Lesley McEwan presented a petition containing 2,543 signatures relating to proposed library closures. The petition would inform the debate at the Council meeting later on 24th March 2016.

68.

Council Performance Report 2015/16: Quarter 3 (Key Accountable Measures and Activities) (EX2963) pdf icon PDF 122 KB

(CSP: All)

Purpose: 

(1)  To report quarter three outturns against the Key Accountable Measures contained in the 2015/16 Council Performance Framework.

(2)  To provide assurance to Members that the objectives laid out in the Council Strategy and other areas of significance/importance across the Council are being delivered.

(3)  To present, by exception, those measures/milestones behind schedule or not achieved and cite any remedial action taken and its impact to allow the scrutiny and approval of the corrective or remedial action put in place.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that the Executive:

 

·         notes progress against the Key Accountable measures and celebrate achievements.

·         reviews those areas reporting as ‘amber’ or ‘red’ to ensure that appropriate action is in place.

·         approves the proposed changes to targets or plans requested by Services and detailed in point 5.7.

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) concerning quarter three outturns against the Key Accountable Measures contained in the 2015/16 Council Performance Framework.

Of the 27 reported measures, outturns were available for 24. Those not reported were comprised of two which were reported once a year and one which was unavailable at the time of publication of the report. Therefore, of the measures reported:

·         19 (79%) were reported as ‘green’ – or were on track to be delivered / achieved by year end.

·         4 (17%) were reported as ‘amber’- behind schedule, but still expected to be achieved or completed by year end.

·         1 (4%) was reported as ‘red’ - not achieved, or not expected to be achieved within the year;

During quarter 3, 79% of measures were reported as ‘green’, slightly less than for quarter 3 2014/15 when 36 out of 45 (80%) measures were reported as ‘green’, with 7 (16%) as ‘amber’ and 2 (4%) as ‘red’.

For the measure identified as RAG rated ‘red’ and for the ones judged ‘amber’ (behind schedule but still expected to achieve the end of year targets) plans had been put in place at service level without requests for additional actions to be taken at strategic level and without the need to revise the initially agreed targets.

Councillor Lynne Doherty commented that there was one ‘red’ indicator (Good at Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults) in her area. The target required 90% of single assessments to be completed within 45 working days. Councillor Doherty explained that poorer performance earlier in the year made the target difficult to achieve despite the fact that 96% and 93% had been achieved over the last two months. She noted however that the percentage being achieved by the Council was above the 76% South East average.

Councillor Hilary Cole commented on the amber indicator in her area. The target required 92% of older people (65 and older) to still be at home 91 days after discharge from hospital into re-ablement/ rehabilitation services. During quarter three, 88.7% were still at home, there was however a small cohort and marginal changes in numbers impacted significantly on outturn figures.

Councillor Alan law stated that he would like to comment on some of the positive information contained in the report. He noted that the area was still booming and that West Berkshire was still in the top five local authorities nationally in terms of prosperity. The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance was lower than ever before. There had been a steady increase in footfall in Newbury and there had also been an increase in the number of businesses registered in the district. He also noted that 616 new homes had been built in the district although he acknowledged that only 107 (17%) of these were affordable homes and this issue needed to be addressed. West Berkshire remained a good place to live work and learn.

Councillor Lee Dillon concurred that the issue of affordable housing needed to be revisited. He  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.

69.

2016/17 Budget - Phase Two Consultation and the Transitional Grant (C3100) (Urgent Item) pdf icon PDF 59 KB

(CSP: MEC and MEC1)

Purpose: This report provides an update on the results of Phase Two 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 including the one income proposal relating to car parking fees and charges.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that :

 

the responses received to each of the 15 public facing savings proposals and the one income generation proposal in relation to Phase 2 of the public consultation exercise undertaken on the 2016/17 budget be noted.

That the Executive recommend that Council make available the remaining 2016/17 transitional funding to those services set out below:

(i)         Library Service - £475,000

(ii)        Theatres (Corn Exchange) - £56,000

(iii)       Public Transport - £337,000

(iv)       Children’s Centres - £50,000

(v)        Domestic Abuse Response Team - £25,000

(vi)       Neighbourhood Wardens - £50,000

(vii)      Citizen’s Advice Bureau - £25,000

That, where transitional funding was not deemed to be appropriate, the Executive recommend that Council approves the recommendations set out in the Overview and Recommendations template at Appendix C.

 

This decision is not subject to call in as:

 

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

·      a delay in implementing the decision this would cause the Council serious financial implications or could compromise the Council's position.

 

therefore it will be implemented immediately.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 8) which provided an update on the results of Phase 2 of the public consultation exercise in relation to the 2016/17 budget. This 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 Council, at its meeting on 1 March 2016, set its budget for 2016/17. In setting its budget the Council agreed to hold a special meeting of Council on 24 March 2016 so that all of the responses to Phase 2 of the public consultation, which closed on 7 March 2016, could be reviewed and decisions made about whether any of the remaining transition grant for 2016/17 should be allocated to any of those services which were subject to consultation.

The Council launched Phase 2 of its public consultation on its 2016/17 budget on 15 February 2016. The consultation ran for 3 weeks and concluded on 7 March 2016. A total of 7,278 responses were received to the 16 individual savings proposals including one proposal relating to an increase in car parking fees and charges. However, of these 7,278 responses 2,297 merely indicated that they were users of a service. For the benefit of the consultation, the feedback would focus on the 4,981 that responded to each of the questionnaires attached to each of the savings proposals.

A table showing the number of responses for each proposal was also set out in Appendix B. A further table providing an overview and recommendation in each case for the 15 individual public facing savings proposals and the one income generation proposal in relation to car parking fees and charges was attached as Appendix C along with templates providing an overview and summary (Appendices D and E) of the comments received to each proposal. 

The proposals were published on the Council’s consultation finder database with information disseminated to all registered consultees. The proposals were also e-mailed round to approximately 900 members of the community panel as well as information being posted on Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

Although the number of responses to any one savings proposal should not be the determining factor in deciding whether to progress with the proposal or to allocate transition funding, it would be noted that the following four areas attracted the most responses:

(i)         Library Service (2307)

(ii)        Theatres (1619)

(iii)       Public Transport (327)

(iv)       Children’s Centres (308)

At its meeting on 1 March 2016, the Council made available £395,000 out of a total £1.4m transitional funding for 2016/17. It had been agreed that the transitional funding should be used in order to respond to the concerns of the residents of West Berkshire and that any funding allocated should be on the basis of that service transitioning to a new model of operation over the course of the next two years.

In responding to the feedback from the public consultation, it was proposed that the remaining £1m of transitional funding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.

70.

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: Questions and Answers

70.(a)

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

“Can the Portfolio Holder for Education assure residents that the Home to School Bus in Mortimer will not be cancelled until all the signage on footpaths and Goring Lane are in place?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Mollie Lock on the subject of Home to School Transport in Mortimer was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Education, Property and Broadband.

70.(b)

Question to be answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions submitted by Councillor Lee Dillon

“How many roundabouts are currently sponsored (both unit numbers and percentage) and how much income does this generate?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Lee Dillon on the subject of the number of sponsored roundabouts was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Development, Regeneration, Pensions.

70.(c)

Question to be answered by the Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Equality, Community Safety, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Waste, Customer Services submitted by Councillor Lee Dillon

“Can we have an update on how the discussions with Parish Councils about the future of the Neighbourhoods Wardens are going?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Lee Dillon on the subject of Neighbourhood Wardens was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Culture and Leisure Services on behalf of the Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Equality, Community Safety, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Waste, Customer Services.

70.(d)

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

“Can the Executive Member for Finance confirm how the Care Act funding will be used if we are successful is securing money back from the government?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Lee Dillon on the subject of possible uses for Care Act funding was answered by the Deputy Leader of the Council on behalf of the Leader of the Council.

70.(e)

Question to be answered by the Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Equality, Community Safety, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Waste, Customer Services submitted by Councillor Lee Dillon

“Can the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety please give us an update on discussions with partners about the future provision of CCTV in the District?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Lee Dillon on the subject of CCTV provision was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Equality, Community Safety, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Waste, Customer Services.

70.(f)

Question to be answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture & Leisure Services submitted by Councillor Lee Dillon

“Does the Portfolio Holder with responsibility for Libraries believe that the Council is at risk of failing in its statutory duty if the current Library proposals out to consultation are implemented?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Lee Dillon on the subject of the statutory duty to provide libraries was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, Housing, Countryside, Community Culture & Leisure Services.

71.

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 3 and 4 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.

72.

Options for Delivering Housing Grants and Loans (EX3101)

(Paragraph 3 – information relating to financial/business affairs of particular person)

(Paragraph 4 – information relating to terms proposed in negotiations in labour relation matters)

(CSP: HQL1)

Purpose:  The purpose of this report is to outline the options available to the Council for delivering the home improvement service.

Decision:

Resolved that the recommendations in the exempt report be agreed.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 04th April 2016, then it will be implemented.

 

Minutes:

(Paragraph 3 – information relating to financial/business affairs of particular person)

(Paragraph 4 – information relating to terms proposed in negotiations in labour relation matters)

The Executive considered an exempt report (Agenda Item 10) concerning Options for Delivering Housing Grants and Loans.

RESOLVED that the recommendations in the exempt report be agreed.

Reason for the decision: As detailed in the exempt report.

Other options considered: As detailed in the exempt report.