West Berkshire Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

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Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Items
No. Item

49.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the two special Executive meetings held on 12 July 2018 and the ordinary Executive meeting on the 6 September 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive meeting commenced with all present observing a one minute silence. This followed the tragic accident involving friends and colleagues from Priors Court School on 11 October 2018. Three members of the school’s staff lost their lives as a result of the accident, with others sustaining serious injuries. Members’ thoughts were with all those involved at the school and their families.

The Minutes of the two Special Executive meetings held on 12 July 2018 and the Executive meeting on 6 September 2018 were approved as true and correct records and signed by the Leader.

50.

Declarations of Interest

To remind Members of the need to record the existence and nature of any personal, disclosable pecuniary or other registrable interests in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received.

51.

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:

Councillor Graham Jones stated that petitions would be received in advance of responding to public questions on this occasion due to the high number of public questions.

Councillor Graham Jones presented a petition containing 231 signatures relating to the application for a 20mph speed limit and the re-designation of Back Street as ‘access only’ in the village of Eastbury. Councillor Graham Jones commented that the petition had received almost total support from Eastbury villagers. The petition would be referred to the Head of Transport and Countryside and the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside.

Councillor Alan Macro presented two petitions, one containing 666 signatures and one containing 6,960 signatures, both requesting that the Council abolish the £50 green bin tax. The petition stated that recycling was an essential service and should not be subject to an additional charge which could result in less economically fortunate residents recycling their garden waste. There were also concerns that disabled and elderly residents would be unable to take their recycling to a Household Waste Recycling Centre as an alternative.

Councillor Hilary Cole questioned the presentation of the green waste petitions by Councillor Macro when she recalled that Liberal Democrat Members supported the introduction of this charge at the Council meeting in March 2018. Councillor Lee Dillon stated that Liberal Democrat Members voted against this proposal and against the budget. Councillor Graham Jones pointed out that Councillor Dillon had proposed a Motion at Council to reduce but not remove the green waste charge.

As the number of signatories to the green waste petitions exceeded the threshold of 1500 signatures which could allow a Council debate, discussions would be held as to whether the petition would be debated at a Full Council meeting. This was a matter to be determined by the two Group Leaders.

52.

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.

52.(a)

Question submitted by Ms Carolyne Culver to the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside

“Would the Council consider saving money by not cutting verges so often and instead allowing wild flowers to grow for the benefit of pollinators?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Carolyne Culver on the subject of not cutting verges so often to allow wild flowers to grow for the benefit of pollinators was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Services in the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside.

52.(b)

Question submitted by Ms Carolyne Culver to the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Waste

“How much has the Council spent so far during this financial year on collecting fly tipped waste, compared with how much it spent on the same task during the whole of the financial year 2017/18?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Carolyne Culver on the subject of the amount spent by the Council during this financial year on collecting fly tipped waste, in comparison with the 2017/18 financial year, was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Waste.

52.(c)

Question submitted by Mr Thomas Tunney to the Leader of the Council

“Given the £2.8m forecast overspend that the Council is having to try and bring under control, how can the organisation defend the employment of a Conservative Group Support Officer at Grade J £33k-£39k paid for by local taxpayers?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Thomas Tunney on the subject of the employment of a Conservative Group Support Officer was answered by the Leader of the Council.

52.(d)

Question submitted by Mr Thomas Tunney to the Leader of the Council

“Why do cuts and belt-tightening apply to all operations of the Council except the activity of Councillors themselves, who also benefitted from a 16.5% allowance rise which would appear to provide adequate resource for carrying out much, if not all, of the role?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Thomas Tunney on the subject of why budget cuts and belt tightening did not apply to the activity of Councillors was answered by the Leader of the Council.

52.(e)

Question submitted by Mr Thomas Tunney to the Leader of the Council

“How does the Council propose to be taken seriously as an authority on the social media activity of staff when one of its own Executive has been found culpable of sharing deeply unpleasant views, emerged without any notable censure and further allowed to remain on the group executive?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Thomas Tunney on the subject of social media activity by an Executive Member was answered by the Leader of the Council.

52.(f)

Question submitted by Mr Thomas Tunney to the Leader of the Council

“Following the investigation of the councillor previously mentioned in question (e) what steps have been taken to provide social media training for all council members of all levels of understanding?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Thomas Tunney on the subject of the provision of social media training for all Council Members was answered by the Leader of the Council.

52.(g)

Question submitted by Mr Peter Carline to the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Communications

Following a recent poll by the Newbury Weekly News on a second Brexit referendum (87% yes, 13% no), will this council join other councils in supporting a people's vote - or better still support the revoking of Article 50?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Peter Carline on the subject of supporting a second Brexit referendum would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Communications.

52.(h)

Question submitted by Mr Paul Morgan to the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Communications

What evidence did WBC take into account and what consultation took place to support the decision as outlined in the June press release relating to Newbury Football Club?”

 

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Paul Morgan on the subject of what evidence and consultation had taken place to support the decision relating to Newbury Football Club, as outlined in a Council press release in June 2018, was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Communications.

Mr Morgan expressed concern that the Portfolio Holder’s response did not address the question as originally submitted. It was therefore agreed that, post complete clarification, a full written answer would be provided by the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Communications. Mr Morgan would then be given the opportunity to ask a supplementary question. Mr Morgan stated that he would also appreciate a conversation on the matter.

The full response would be detailed in the publically available Question and Answer document (available as a link in these minutes).

52.(i)

Question submitted by Ms Susan Millington to the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Waste

“Given that a great many ratepayers, now feeling obliged to pay £50 annually for green bin collections, would have chosen to pay only for the spring and summer period, why did West Berkshire Council never publicise the option of a collection service from March to August 2019 at £25 (which is in fact available, although hidden in the terms and conditions section of your online information about this service), not in your letter to all ratepayers or in any other communications?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Susan Millington on the subject of why the option to pay £25 for six months’ of green bin collections had not been publicised was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Waste.

52.(j)

Question submitted by Mr Lee McDougal to the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside

“West Berkshire Council is one of the only Local Authorities to not have a Playing Pitch Strategy (PPS) in place, I understand that at Sport England's request a draft PPS is now being written. Can you advise when the public will be able to read the report and advise if WBC committed to adhering to any recommendations the PPS makes, including the retention of existing sporting facilities?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Lee McDougal on the subject of when the Playing Pitch Strategy (PPS) would be available to the public to read and whether the Council was committed to adhering to any recommendations made from the PPS was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Communications in the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside.

52.(k)

Question submitted by Mr Stephen Masters to the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside

“Does the Executive agree that if we as a community are serious about improving air quality in West Berkshire we should be drastically reducing our dependency on the use of automobiles on our roads and this should be a priority in any strategic planning?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Stephen Masters on the subject of improving air quality in West Berkshire was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, Leisure and Culture in the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside.

Mr Masters’ supplementary question would receive a written response.

52.(l)

Question submitted by Mr Stephen Masters to the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside

“In the Executive’s opinion did the cuts to rural bus services help reduce car use and improve air quality or more likely have a detrimental effect?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Stephen Masters on the subject of whether cuts to rural bus services had helped to reduce car use and improve air quality was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing, Leisure and Culture in the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transport, Environment and Countryside.

53.

Procurement of Investment Portfolio Services (EX3642) pdf icon PDF 125 KB

(CSP: MEC & MEC1)

Purpose: To consider the appointment of the Council’s Property Investment and Management Advisor.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that Montagu Evans be appointed as the Council’s Property Investment and Management Advisor.

 

This decision is not subject to call in as:

 

·      a delay in implementing the decision could 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 6) which sought approval to delegate authority to (a) the Head of Finance to award the call off contract to Montagu Evans following a mini competition dated 31 August 2018 under the terms of the Crown Commercial Services Framework (ref: RM3816 dated 12 April 2017) and (b) the Head of Legal Services to enter into a call off contract. This was in respect of the appointment of the Council’s Property Investment and Management Advisor.

Councillor Anthony Chadley advised that Montagu Evans had already been appointed to this role, following an appropriate procurement exercise in August 2017, to manage the original sum of £50m to be invested in commercial property. To date, £48m of this sum had been invested and the income target for the Council of £500k per annum was already being exceeded. Councillor Chadley added that the Property Investment Board was in place to oversee this expenditure.

As a result of this success, approval was then given by Council in July 2018 to increase the sum for property investment to £100m and thereby increase the Council’s potential income. Advice from the Council’s Legal Team was to carry out a procurement process for the additional £50m investment and as this could create two parallel contracts it was agreed that the existing contract with Montagu Evans would be cancelled and a procurement process undertaken to cover the additional investment and the management of the entire £100m portfolio.

Montagu Evans was the only bidder, they were considered suitable and met the required criteria. Montagu Evans was therefore recommended as the Council’s Property Investment and Management Advisor.

Councillor Dominic Boeck added to the points made by Councillor Chadley. The Council had worked with Montagu Evans since 2016 and in Councillor Boeck’s view they had done an excellent job. While the Council’s in house expertise was good, Montagu Evans had provided an extra depth in that expertise. He was delighted to support the recommendation.

Councillor Jeff Brooks felt it was disappointing that only one bid had been submitted and questioned whether the reasons for this had been investigated. He accepted that Montagu Evans had met the required quality criteria, but he was concerned that there was no competitor with which to compare the bid from Montagu Evans and he queried if any lessons had been learned from this process.

Councillor Chadley advised that he had asked the very same questions. It was however very difficult to investigate why no further bids had been submitted. Some assumptions had been made, it was felt that the involvement of Montagu Evans in the first tranche could have resulted in other property firms deciding not to bid. Councillor Chadley did make the point that the bid for the £100m portfolio from Montagu Evans was an improvement upon their original successful bid for the £50m. He also explained that Montagu Evans scored more highly and was a substantially cheaper alternative to its competitors for the original tendering process for the £50m portfolio.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

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.

54.(a)

Question submitted by Councillor Jeff Brooks to the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Services

“What is the average margin paid to the temporary worker agencies on top of the agency workers costs?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Jeff Brooks on the subject of the average margin paid to temporary worker agencies on top of the agency workers cost was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Services.

54.(b)

Question submitted by Councillor Jeff Brooks to the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Services

“Are agency workers paid the national living wage?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Jeff Brooks on the subject of whether agency workers were paid the National Living Wage was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Services.

54.(c)

Question submitted by Councillor Alan Macro to the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Waste

“How was the part-year payment for the green bin charge publicised?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Alan Macro on the subject of how the part year payment for the green waste bin charge was publicised was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Waste.

54.(d)

Question submitted by Councillor Lee Dillon to the Portfolio Holder for Community Resilience and Partnerships

“How do you expect residents to take part in the Newbury Vision 2026 conference when it is being held during a working day?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Lee Dillon on the subject of how residents were expected to attend the Newbury Vision 2026 Conference when it was being held during the working day was answered by the Leader of the Council in the absence of the Portfolio Holder for Community Resilience and Partnerships.

55.

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 items of business on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as contained in Paragraphs 4 and 6 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.

56.

Contract extension (exception) for the Public Health School Nursing and Health Visiting Service: 0-19 (up to 25 for young people with special educational needs and disabilities) (EX3643)

(Paragraph 6 – information relating to proposed action to be taken by the Local Authority)

(CSP: P&S, HQL)

Purpose: To seek Executive approval for an exception from the Contract Rules of Procedure to extend the current contract for the Public Health School Nursing and Health Visiting Service 0-19 (up to 25 for young people with special educational needs and disabilities). The exception will enable the Council to extend the current provision of the service by an additional 12 months.

Decision:

Resolved that the recommendation in the exempt report be approved.

 

This decision is not subject to call in as:

 

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

 

therefore it will be implemented immediately.

Minutes:

(Paragraph 6 – information relating to proposed action to be taken by the Local Authority)

The Executive considered an exempt report (Agenda Item 9) requesting an exception from the Contract Rules of Procedure to extend the current contract for the Public Health School Nursing and Health Visiting Service 0-19 (up to 25 for young people with special educational needs and disabilities). The exception would enable the Council to extend the current provision of the service by an additional 12 months.

RESOLVED that the recommendation in the exempt report be agreed.

Other options considered: as outlined in the exempt report.

57.

Approval for an exit payment over £10,000 (Urgent item)

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

Purpose:  To seek approval from the Executive to make an exit payment in excess of £10,000.

Decision:

Resolved that the recommendation in the exempt report be approved.

 

This decision is not subject to call in as:

 

·      the item is deemed as an Urgent Key Decision as set out in Rule 5.4.7 of the Constitution.

 

therefore it will be implemented immediately.

Minutes:

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

The Executive considered an exempt report (Agenda Item 10) which sought approval to make an exit payment in excess of £10,000.

RESOLVED that the recommendation in the exempt report be agreed.

Other options considered: as outlined in the exempt report.