West Berkshire Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber Council Offices Market Street Newbury

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 791 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 30 April 2020.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 30 April 2020 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Leader.

2.

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.

3.

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.

3.(a)

Question submitted by Mr Neville Booth to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside

Who got planning permission for the cycle lane on the A4 between Tesco and Mercedes garage and is it finished?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Neville Booth on the subject of the cycle lane on the A4 would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

3.(b)

Question submitted by Ms Paula Saunderson to the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care

How many patients, and into which West Berkshire Care Settings, were Transfers of Care made from NHS Hospitals between 1st March and end of April without being tested as negative for Covid-19?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Paula Saunderson on the subject of transfers of care made from NHS Hospitals to West Berkshire settings between 1st March and end of April 2020 without being tested as negative for Covid-19 would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care.

3.(c)

Question submitted by Ms Paula Saunderson to the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care

During this period were the usual Transfer of Care Procedures of the Joint Care Provider Service overturned, possibly leading to additional risk to patients and Care Settings?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Paula Saunderson on the subject of overturning of transfer of care procedures of the Joint Care Provider Service would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care.

3.(d)

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

“How prepared do you believe West Berkshire is for a no deal Brexit?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Peter Carline on the subject of Brexit preparedness would receive a written response from the Leader of the Council.

3.(e)

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

“What advice are and will you be giving to residents who may be concerned about this seemingly inevitable and undesirable outcome?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Peter Carline on the subject of Council advice issued to residents on the subject of Brexit would receive a written response from the Leader of the Council.

3.(f)

Question submitted by Mr Graham Storey to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

Can the Executive explain why there is a discrepancy between the figure provided by Councillor Hilary Cole of an average of 127 units of social housing for rent being developed each year since 2015 and the figures available on the Council website?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Graham Storey on the subject of a discrepancy in the social housing for rent data would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

3.(g)

Question submitted by Mr Graham Storey to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

Please can the Executive confirm the actual number of homes for social rent that have been added in each year since 2015?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Graham Storey on the subject of the number of homes for social rent that had been added since 2015 would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

3.(h)

Question submitted by Mr Graham Storey to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

How can WBC say they are meeting the housing needs of local residents on low incomes when there are c1755 West Berkshire households on the housing waiting list and only one property is available on the latest Homechoice bidding list?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Graham Storey on the subject of meeting the social housing needs of West Berkshire residents would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

3.(i)

Question submitted by Mr Graham Storey to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

Why have WBC not taken advantage of the ability to remove limits on investment in social housing (introduced in 2018) when so many other regions have seized this opportunity to help low income residents?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Graham Storey on the subject of the removal of limits on investment in social housing would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

3.(j)

Question submitted by Mr Graham Storey to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

Will the Council commit to any actual numbers for additional homes for social rent over the next 5 years?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Graham Storey on the subject of numbers of additional homes for social rent over the next 5 years would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

3.(k)

Question submitted by Mr Graham Storey to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

When does the Council expect to publish a new planning strategy when the most recent version expired in 2015?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Graham Storey on the subject of the publication of the new planning strategy would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

3.(l)

Question submitted by Mr Graham Storey to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

Is the Council happy to operate without a planning strategy?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Graham Storey on the subject of operating without a planning strategy would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

3.(m)

Question submitted by Mr John Gotelee to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside

Please can the Portfolio Holder explain what percentage of the urban runoff is not attenuated on new development sites Travelodge on London Road and the Premier Inn on Park Way?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr John Gotelee on the subject of the percentage of the urban runoff not attenuated on the new development sites of the Travelodge on London Road and the Premier Inn on Park Way would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

3.(n)

Question submitted by Mr John Gotelee to the Portfolio Holder for Environment

Please would it be possible for the council to give a brief update to the public on what their plans are to ensure the foul sewage infrastructure (pumping station, high pressure pipe and Thatcham treatment works) can accommodate the extra capacity needed by the London Road industrial estate redevelopment?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr John Gotelee on the subject of the additional capacity requirements for foul sewage infrastructure arising from the London Road Industrial Estate redevelopment would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Environment.

3.(o)

Question submitted by Mr Vaughan Miller to the Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Community Wellbeing

Why has the Council let down the women, men, girls, boys, coaches, parents, schools, teachers, aspiring England players and once a week recreational players of Newbury so badly by taking away the main football ground more than two years ago, and without providing a suitable alternative?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Vaughan Miller on the subject of the removal of football facilities in Newbury would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Community Wellbeing.

3.(p)

Question submitted by Ms Miriam Lee to the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development

Could the Portfolio Holder for Finance please outline what local climate change mitigation projects the additional £6.5m Laura Farris has reported West Berkshire Council has received been invested in?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Miriam Lee on the subject of what local climate change mitigation projects the Council would fund would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development.

3.(q)

Question submitted by Ms Miriam Lee to the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development

Could the Portfolio Holder for Finance comment on whether it will be emulating other Councils for example Cornwall Council who have set aside £20 million for their climate emergency action plan for this budget year in February 2020?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Miriam Lee on the subject of specific funding for the climate emergency would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development.

3.(r)

Question submitted by Mr Alan Pearce to the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development

Please will the Council say if there are any significant infrastructure problems which are causing delays in redeveloping of the London Road Industrial Estate?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Alan Pearce on the subject of whether any significant infrastructure problems were causing delays in redeveloping the London Road Industrial Estate would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development.

3.(s)

Question submitted by Mr Alan Pearce to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside

Please will the council say if they have ever considered using the former football ground at Faraday Road as an overflow balancing pond to overcome any problems regarding sustainable drainage when redeveloping London Road Industrial Estate?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Alan Pearce on the subject of whether the Council had considered using the former football ground at Faraday Road as an overflow balancing pond to overcome any problems regarding sustainable drainage when redeveloping the London Road Industrial Estate would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

3.(t)

Question submitted by Mr Simon Pike to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside

As it appears that West Berkshire Council does not have any written documentation on guidance or standards for implementation of cycling infrastructure on its road network, would it consider adopting or following the guidance of Wokingham Borough Council in its Cycling Infrastructure Style Guide (2013)?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Simon Pike on the subject of guidance or standards for implementation of cycling infrastructure on West Berkshire Council’s road network would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

3.(u)

Question submitted by Dr Chris Foster to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside

What measures will the Executive propose to ensure that the proposed development of at least 3200 homes north west of Basingstoke (known as Manydown) won’t have an intolerable impact on traffic on the A339 through Newbury, on top of that from Sandleford Park and other forthcoming developments?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Dr Chris Foster on the subject of the traffic impact on the A339 arising from the Manydown development in Basingstoke, in addition to other forthcoming developments, would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

3.(v)

Question submitted by Mr Simon Pike to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside

In its implementation of a Mandatory Cycle Lane through Thatcham, did the Council consider the impact on the passage of emergency vehicles (especially ambulances), given that it is not permitted for a vehicle to enter a mandatory cycle lane in order to allow emergency vehicles to overtake?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Mr Simon Pike on the subject of the impact of the Mandatory Cycle Lane in Thatcham on the passage of emergency vehicles would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

3.(w)

Question submitted by Ms Jane Gulliver to the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance

“Please will the council confirm whether or not it will immediately supply a copy (redacted if necessary) of any legally binding contracts it has made, and are in place at this moment in time to build any housing, including for example affordable housing?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Ms Jane Gulliver on the subject of making available legally binding contracts it had made to build any housing, including affordable housing, would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance.

4.

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:

There were no petitions presented to the Executive.

5.

Post Consultation Environment Strategy (EX3831) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Purpose:

·         To update the Executive on the consultation and engagement in relation to the draft Environment Strategy and how responses have been considered.

·         To provide the Executive with a summary of the consultation feedback through the identification of key themes and to present a proposed response to these themes.

·         To provide the Executive with the proposed amended version of the strategy for consideration.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that the amended version of the Environment Strategy be approved.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 24 July 2020, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 6) which provided feedback to the Executive following the recent consultation on the Environment Strategy and set out a revised Strategy for the Executive to discuss and if appropriate agree.

Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter introduced the report which set out the consultation and engagement process which had been undertaken in relation to the draft Environment Strategy and the changes which had been made to the Strategy as a result of the feedback received. The consultation exercise had been more extensive and far reaching than had previously been undertaken for Council strategies and this reflected the high level of public interest in the subject matter. A key element of the consultation had been an on-line survey together with direct written responses, a series of public engagement events with schools and members of the green communities and drop-in sessions for members of the public. A summary of the feedback received from those specific elements could be found in Appendices C to F. 

The Environment Strategy was a broad document which set out the high level framework. The key objective it addressed was that which was set a little over a year ago in the Declaration of the Climate Emergency – the prime objective of which was the achievement of carbon neutrality within West Berkshire by 2030. This was an extremely challenging but doable target and would only be met by a combination of effective leadership, actions and communications by this Council together with engagement and active choices by residents of the district. It would be necessary to build on this in order to achieve the targets set out in the Strategy.

Page 31 of the agenda set out the high level themes to be taken forward within the Strategy/Delivery Plan or through other areas of the Council’s work. Some of the themes had been strengthened or improved as a result of the consultation such as agriculture and farming; increasing the use of electric vehicles; lobbying of government in terms of new building standards and again communications will be key. There were two themes that it was not proposed to take forward – bringing forward the 2030 target and the formation of a citizen assembly.

Councillor Ardagh-Walter confirmed that over the next few years there would be projects which would be delivered to fulfil the achievement of the Strategy but it was recognised that this would be challenging.

Councillor Lynne Doherty asked if the expansive consultation had been useful and why and whether there had been any advantages or disadvantages to this method of consultation. Councillor Ardagh-Walter responded that the disadvantages included the fact that it had been a more demanding and time consuming exercise for Officers than would normally have been the case and therefore there had been a higher investment in terms of time, gathering information and consulting with people and a larger range of data and information had fed into that. However, it was felt that the investment in time had been paid back  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Parking Provision for Electric Vehicles (EX3931) pdf icon PDF 394 KB

Purpose: To highlight the Motion made at Full Council on 3 March 2020, advise of associated issues and make recommendations as to whether the Motion should be implemented.

Decision:

Resolved that:

 

(a)       the Motion to designate all current and future electric vehicle charging points as ‘EV only’ parking spaces is not taken forward at this time in respect of on-street locations.

(b)       an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) should be implemented at a trial site where an on-street chargepoint has been more frequently used. The exact terms of the restriction will need to be discussed informally with Members prior to making the Order, as will the implications of the proposed order for the appearance, size and number of additional signs that are required. The success, or otherwise of this ETRO will inform future decisions as to when, where and how to roll out EV-only parking bays more widely.

(c)       unless local circumstances dictate otherwise, all chargepoints in public car parks operated by West Berkshire Council will have their own designated and enforceable parking bay.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 24 July 2020, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 7) which set out a response to a Motion submitted to Full Council at the 3 March 2020 meeting by Councillor Carolyne Culver. The Motion invited the Council to “designate all current and future electric vehicle charging points that are provided by West Berkshire Council as ‘EV only’ parking spaces.”

The report highlighted the associated issues and made recommendations as to whether the Motion should be implemented.

Councillor Richard Somner in introducing the report gave thanks to Councillor Culver for submitting the Motion and for attending the Transport Advisory Group (TAG) held in April 2020 to discuss the matter. It was recognised that the need for electric vehicle charging points would become more relevant over time with the number of electric vehicles on the road increasing.

However, the implementation of the Motion was unfortunately not straight forward as detailed within the report.

Councillor Somner felt that the proposed recommendations struck the right balance between encouraging people to switch to electric vehicles and making provision for those that had already or intended to purchase an electric vehicle, alongside retaining car parking spaces for those residents who were not ready or able to make this switch. Councillor Somner raised the importance of looking at ways to enable more residents who wished to participate in using or procuring an electric vehicle, and relevant parties would be engaged with to help address that where possible.

Councillor Somner went on to explain that the location of existing charging points was under review.

Councillor Somner concluded his introduction by advising that a trial would be run on a test site and he looked forward to working with officers and Ward Members as part of that process.

Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter supported the report and its recommendations. The use of electric vehicles was expected to increase quite significantly in the years to come and it was important to encourage residents to purchase electric vehicles and for the benefits of so doing to be promoted. However, he agreed that this needed to be balanced with the need to be considerate to residents who still needed standard on-street parking. Councillor Ardagh-Walter therefore felt the transitionary approach described in the report to be wholly appropriate.

Councillor Somner added that the current affordability of electric vehicles was a factor to be mindful of.

Councillor Adrian Abbs was supportive of the aims of the Motion as there was a need for accessible charging points for vehicles. He was disappointed with the recommendation to not take the Motion forward at this time and felt that the Council should be taking a bolder approach beyond a single test site. Councillor Abbs felt that charging points should be reserved, particularly during the evenings, to encourage people to make use of them and give them an incentive to make the change to an electric vehicle. Councillor Abbs raised a concern that the wrong type of charging points had been installed.

Councillor Somner clarified that the points raised in the Motion  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

2019/20 Performance Report: Quarter Four (EX3716) pdf icon PDF 683 KB

Purpose:

·         To provide assurance that the core business and council priorities for improvement measures (Council Strategy 2019-2023) are being managed effectively.

·         To highlight successes and where performance has fallen below the expected level; to present information on the remedial action taken, and the impact of that action.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that:

 

·         progress and achievements be noted.

·         the appropriateness of any remedial actions taken to improve performance had been reviewed, in particular for:

   % of WBC provider services inspected by Care Quality Commission (CQC) and rated as good or better

   % of repeat referrals to Children's Services within 12 months of a previous referral

   Attainment results for Free School Meals (FSM) cohorts

·         areas where strategic action may need to be taken had been considered.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 24 July 2020, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 8) which provided assurance that the core business and Council priorities for improvement measures (Council Strategy 2019-2023) were being managed effectively. The report also highlighted successes and where performance had fallen below the expected level it set out the remedial action being taken and the impact of that action.

Councillor Joanne Stewart confirmed that the report provided assurance that the core business of the Council was performing to target or above. Where this was not the case then the exception reports set out the remedial action it was proposed to put in place. This was a Quarter Four report which did overlap with the start of the Covid pandemic and this had had an impact on services particularly Adult Social Care, Children and Family Services and Education. It was good to see that strong performance had been maintained within the Council’s core business activities in all but two areas. It was noted that crime cases appeared to be fairly static but domestic violence cases where police intervention was required was showing an upward trend and this was something that would need to be monitored particularly in relation to Covid. There had been a drop in the number of volunteers in the District’s libraries but the community had come together to support local residents and that was something that the Council needed to tap into and encourage them to continue with that work.

Councillor Graham Bridgman referred to the indicator around the % of WBC provider services inspected by Care Quality Commission (CQC) and rated as good or better in the area of ‘safe’ which was reporting as ‘red’. Six services had been looked at by CQC, four of which were care homes. Two of those care homes achieved an overall rating of ‘Requires Improvement’ and a consultant had been commissioned to work with one of those homes to review environment and practice and around specific areas of activity in order to improve the rating for 2020. Some of the inspection work had been stopped due to Covid but telephone management was in place for all those services. All six of the services referred to above had been rated by CQC as being of ‘no concern’ and were all open for business. Councillor Bridgman would be happy when inspections could resume again.

Councillor Dominic Boeck referred to the indicator in relation to the percentage of repeat referrals to Children's Services within 12 months of a previous referral. This was proving to be a stubborn measure to reduce and it was noted that the issue was that some recording practices had led to incorrect counting e.g. Early Response cases were being counted in the re-referral rates. This had now been addressed and indeed the number of re-referrals had dropped as a result of the Covid pandemic. Internal Audit had commissioned an external audit to ensure that there were no underlying issues but it was recognised that this was a difficult balancing act. He also mentioned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

West Berkshire Recovery Strategy (EX3937) pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Purpose: To provide the framework for the Council’s overarching recovery in respect of Covid-19 and its impact on the district. The Recovery Strategy intends to highlight the key areas of focus for the Council and highlights where action has been taken to date and areas that will be explored further once considered with partners and the community.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that the West Berkshire Recovery Strategy be approved.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 24 July 2020, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

The Executive considered the report (Agenda Item 9) which provided the framework for the Council’s overarching recovery in respect of Covid-19 and its impact on the district. The Recovery Strategy highlighted the key areas of focus for the Council, and set out actions that had already been taken and areas that would be explored further once considered with partners and the community.

Councillor Lynne Doherty introduced the report. It was recognised that the vast majority of West Berkshire residents had been either directly or indirectly impacted by Covid-19.

The impacts that had been and continued to felt had been regularly discussed and included health, impacts on businesses and employment opportunities, inequality impacts on particular groups, and on children and young people.

The Recovery Strategy outlined areas of focus and actions to be taken to support residents.

By way of context, Councillor Doherty explained that there was a focus on recovery at both national and regional levels. The West Berkshire Recovery Strategy therefore had a clear local focus on actions to be taken in West Berkshire to meet the District’s needs.

The response to Covid-19 continued alongside recovery and therefore the impacts were not fully known. Evidence continued to be gathered from the response to help inform the recovery and identify where support was needed. Despite this, the Council wanted to get the Recovery Strategy in place as soon as possible.

It was however acknowledged that the Strategy’s Action Plan was not completed. It would need to be developed via further partner engagement and with the involvement of communities. It was important to have this external engagement. Next steps were also listed in paragraph 7.2 of the Recovery Strategy.

Three core areas were identified for initial focus: health, education and the economy. All of which were fundamental in making West Berkshire a great place in which to live.

Core principles had been agreed as part of these areas to help guide recovery work. The principles included recognition of the fact that pre-Covid, there were a range of good outcomes already being achieved in West Berkshire and it was the intention to return to that position. It was also the case that the positive changes made during the response to Covid would be kept and built upon.

Councillor Graham Bridgman took the opportunity to congratulate all those involved in the response to Covid-19 and recovery work. In particular, he praised the work of the Community Support Hub which he felt to be a fantastic success. The involvement of volunteers had been a strong element of work to date and the help of volunteers would continue to be needed for the ongoing recovery work. He congratulated and thanked voluntary organisations for their work. Finally, Councillor Bridgman thanked West Berkshire Council staff for their significant efforts towards the response and recovery work, and their efforts to continue conducting business as usual.

Councillor Adrian Abbs referred to the requirement to wear masks in shops and offices. He queried whether the Council would make masks/other equipment  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

2019/20 Revenue Financial Performance: Provisional Outturn (EX3798) pdf icon PDF 705 KB

Purpose: To report on the financial performance of the Council’s revenue budgets. This report is the provisional outturn position for 2019/20.

Decision:

Resolved to note the provisional outturn position of £1.46m underspend.

 

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 10) concerning the financial performance of the Council’s revenue budgets. This report was the provisional outturn position for 2019/20.

Councillor Ross Mackinnon stated that the provisional revenue outturn position was an underspend of £1.46m which was 1.2% of the Council’s 2019/20 approved net revenue budget of £1.25m. The outturn report measured how closely the Council achieved the approved revenue budget, however, this year the Council had found itself in an unusual position of reporting a significant underspend which would therefore have a positive impact on reserves in 2020/21. This was a good thing as the current financial year would likely be very challenging. The main driver for the underspend was in the People Directorate with a £1.3m underspend in Adult Social Care. The Place Directorate had income pressures in development control and car parking and the Resource Directorate overspend was largely related to under achievement of investment income.

Councillor Lynne Doherty noted that the Corporate Peer Review had made particular reference to the Council’s record of sound financial management.

Councillor Graham Bridgman referred to the underspend of £1.3m in Adult Social Care and the fact that he would have preferred it if the budget had come in on the nail. However, additional funding had been put into this area in March 2019. Elements of the underspend included an increase in the number of deaths in the client base pre-Covid, the ability to find care home beds at competitive prices and over achievement of income. The long term service client numbers were also a challenge. He applauded Adult Social Care on the procurement of packages where good deals had been achieved. The Approved Supplier List in domiciliary care had reduced the number of suppliers and had consequently achieved a saving but this had not been to the detriment of the client as packages had not deteriorated. There had been some success in getting CCG funding for some of the packages and there had also been some good work undertaken in reablement which meant that clients spent less time in the system. Adult Social Care spend equated to 38% of the Council’s budget but the service was not complacent and further work would be undertaken on the model going forward to ensure that it was as accurate as it could be.

Councillor Jeff Brooks raised concerns that a £1.46m underspend equated to a 1.5% Council Tax increase and therefore the Council had taken people’s money unnecessarily. He recognised that Portfolio Holders had a difficult job and it would be particularly difficult to model for this year due to the Covid pandemic as it would not be able to rely on accurate trend figures.

Councillor Erik Pattenden asked if the £179k underspend in Child Care Lawyers due to vacant posts had impacted on the service. Councillor Mackinnon responded that the underspend was due to the fact that there had been a decrease in the number of cases and therefore there had been less demand on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

2019/20 Capital Financial Performance Report - Outturn (EX3802) pdf icon PDF 759 KB

Purpose: To present the provisional capital outturn for the Council in respect of financial year 2019/20.  It should be noted that these figures are provisional and may change as a result of External Audit. 

Decision:

Resolved that:

 

·         The capital provisional outturn position and the level of budget to be carried forward to 2020/21 be noted.

·         A new £909k capital budget funded from Council borrowing to be included within the current approved 2020/21 capital programme be agreed to enable the delivery of the Care Director upgrade.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 24 July 2020, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 11) concerning the provisional capital outturn for the Council in respect of financial year 2019/20.

Councillor Ross Mackinnon explained that the total capital expenditure incurred in 2019/20 was £39.5m against the revised budget of £91.9m (an underspend of £52.4m). The main contributing factors to the underspend were:

·         The £35m Commercial Property Budget had not been utilised during 2019/20. This followed the Government announcement that Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) rates could no longer be accessed to fund assets used primarily to generate yield, and a decision to suspend future commercial property acquisitions had been made. On this basis it was not proposed to slip the unutilised budget into 2020/21.

·         The three Directorates had a combined underspend of £17m. The People Directorate underspend (£4.6m) predominantly related to delays to education and school projects. The Place Directorate underspend (£9.7m) was largely a result of delayed transport projects and delays to the implementation of Solar Photovoltaics. Much of the Resources Directorate underspend of £3m was attributable to delays in the Superfast Broadband project.

Delayed Directorate projects had been re-profiled into the 2020/21 financial year.

The report’s second recommendation was for the Executive to agree a new £909k capital budget funded from Council borrowing to be included within the current approved 2020/21 capital programme to enable the delivery of the Care Director upgrade following recent developments with that software.

Councillor Mackinnon took the opportunity to highlight that the Community Bond had today been launched and £165k had been raised in the first day. The Bond could reach a maximum of £1m.

Councillor Erik Pattenden referred to the delayed Education projects and queried the impact of these delays on school children. It was disappointing that projects had not progressed as planned.

Councillor Dominic Boeck responded by firstly clarifying that the delay to the Eastern Area Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) did not impact on the availability of school places.

The delay to the Highwood Copse project was where the largest impact on school places was felt. Councillor Boeck stated that it was very disappointing that places were not available to pupils as had been planned. However, this was beyond the Council’s control.

Councillor Boeck was able to add that the Council had again performed well in school allocations with all parents/pupils being offered a place at a school of their choice.

RESOLVED that:

1.    The capital provisional outturn position and the level of budget to be carried forward to 2020/21 be noted.

2.    A new £909k capital budget funded from Council borrowing would be included within the current approved 2020/21 capital programme to enable the delivery of the Care Director upgrade. 

Reason for the decision: To ensure sound financial management of the Council’s Capital Programme.

Other options considered: None

11.

Future Arrangements for the provision of Public Health across West Berkshire, Wokingham and Reading (EX3900) pdf icon PDF 263 KB

Purpose: To consider options and recommendations concerning the future management of Public Health across Berkshire West.

Decision:

Resolved that:

 

·         The current arrangement between the six unitary authorities across Berkshire be dissolved and move to a shared arrangement between West Berkshire Council, Reading Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council (Berkshire West).

·         A shared Director of Public Health (DPH) role be created for Berkshire West which will lead the public health system, working closely with the local authorities and in partnership with the Berkshire West Integrated Care Partnership.  There will also be a shared Hub Team providing health intelligence, health protection and commissioning support to public health teams in each local authority. The establishment of these functions would be delegated to the Chief Executive.

 

This decision is not subject to call in as:

 

·      a delay in implementing the decision could compromise the Council's position.

 

therefore it will be implemented immediately.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 12) which set out options and recommendations concerning the future management of Public Health across Berkshire West.

Councillor Howard Woollaston stated that the set up in Berkshire had shifted from the original vision which had relied on a collective responsibility between local authorities. The system had become unbalanced and it had been difficult to recruit to public health leadership positions. With the development of Integrated Care Systems demands on public health were increasing and the Director post was particularly stretched, covering 6 local authorities, 2 CCGs and 2 ICSs. Imbalances in the System had arisen as authorities had invested in different programmes and staffing structures.

In 2019 the Berkshire Chief Executives requested a review. They considered the effectiveness of the current model, the changing context and opportunities for public health, current costs, and alternate models. They recommended dissolving the current arrangement and moving to two hub and spoke arrangements across three borough geographies which was unique across the whole of the UK. By doing this arrangement it would improve the health of the population and reduce inequalities to improve outcomes for residents and reduce demand for services. There was a financial implication of £75k-£100k per annum which would be met from the 2020/21 increase in the ring fenced Public Health Grant.

Councillor Graham Bridgman noted that at the Locality Integration Board there was a clear desire to build and improve the relationship and this arrangement should be encouraged in order to promote the health agenda in Berkshire West.

Councillor Alan Macro understood the reasons for recommending this and although the budget was ring-fenced this would create pressures elsewhere. However, it would provide a better service for the residents of West Berkshire and on that basis he was happy to support it.

RESOLVED that:

·         the current arrangement between the six unitary authorities across Berkshire be dissolved and a shared arrangement between West Berkshire Council, Reading Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council (Berkshire West) be set up.

·         a shared Director of Public Health (DPH) role for Berkshire West be created  to lead the public health system, working closely with the local authorities and in partnership with the Berkshire West Integrated Care Partnership.  A shared Hub Team providing health intelligence, health protection and commissioning support to public health teams in each local authority be created.

·         the establishment of these functions be delegated to the Chief Executive.

Reason for the decision: Although the current arrangements for Public Health have served West Berkshire well, in recent years the underlying structure has become unsustainable.

Other options considered: 6.1    A range of other options have been considered by the six Chief Executives and other partners. These include variations based around enhancing the current position, to creating a single Public Health Team within each Unitary Authority, each with its own DPH. At the end of the day there needs to be a balance between cost and effectiveness. Some Public Health functions are better delivered at scale and creating a local  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

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.

12.(a)

Question submitted by Councillor Carolyne Culver to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

What can the portfolio holder say to reassure residents that the government’s proposal that ‘a wider range of commercial buildings will be allowed to change to residential use without the need for a planning application’ will not result in poor quality homes that do not meet local needs?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Carolyne Culver on the subject of the impact of the government’s proposal that ‘a wider range of commercial buildings would be allowed to change to residential use without the need for a planning application’ would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

12.(b)

Question submitted by Councillor Carolyne Culver to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

What can the portfolio holder say to reassure residents that if ‘builders will no longer need a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes’, the resulting homes will be of an appropriate scale and design for their setting?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Carolyne Culver on the subject of ensuring that redeveloped redundant buildings were of an appropriate scale and design for their setting would receive a written response from Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

12.(c)

Question submitted by Councillor Carolyne Culver to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

Can the portfolio holder reassure residents and parish/town councillors that the government’s proposal that ‘property owners will be able to build additional space above their properties via a fast track approval process, subject to neighbour consultation’ will not remove the ability of district ward councillors to call-in planning applications to planning committees?

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Carolyne Culver on the subject of whether changes to regulations would impact on Members’ ability to call in planning applications would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

12.(d)

Question submitted by Councillor Adrian Abbs to the Leader of the Council

“What efforts are being made to restore democracy by initiating hybrid meetings so the public can resume asking questions at planning and meetings such as this?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Adrian Abbs on the subject of holding hybrid meetings that enabled participation of members of the public was answered by the Leader of the Council.

12.(e)

Question submitted by Councillor Adrian Abbs to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

“Does the portfolio holder for Planning think it is acceptable for a Committee decision to be refused in a public meeting, yet 13 weeks later for it not to have been implemented?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Adrian Abbs on the subject of the delay to implementing a planning committee’s decision would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

12.(f)

Question submitted by Councillor Adrian Abbs to the Portfolio Holder for Environment

“Can the Council confirm the decreased take-up of green bins and explain why, given that everyone was at home during the COVID crisis?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Adrian Abbs on the subject of the decrease uptake of green bins was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Environment.

12.(g)

Question submitted by Councillor Erik Pattenden to the Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education

“What support has been provided to children given laptops during the COVID crisis so that they have been able to use them as effectively as possible during lockdown?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Erik Pattenden on the subject of support given to children provided with laptops during the Covid crisis was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education.

12.(h)

Question submitted by Councillor Erik Pattenden to the Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education

“With five schools in West Berkshire reporting unlicensed deficits for 2019/20, two West Berkshire schools carrying forward licensed deficits for 2019/20, and with the significant additional costs to schools arising from COVID and measures to re-open schools in a COVID-safe manner, how will the Council ensure schools in deficit do not have to make cuts to school services that impact pupil attainment?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Erik Pattenden on the subject of schools in deficit was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education.

12.(i)

Question submitted by Councillor Billy Drummond to the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development

“Will the Executive please lobby the government to cover the cost of parking for the first two hour period for 6 months to help the many local shops and give them a fighting chance to get back on their feet and saving many from going under?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Billy Drummond on the subject of lobbying the government to cover the cost of parking for the first two hour period for the next 6 months was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development.

12.(j)

Question submitted by Councillor Jeff Brooks to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing

“Could the Portfolio Holder explain the processes in place to support developers with their CIL submissions and help them achieve a zero-assessed outcome where that is legitimately the case, or is the process to take every possible opportunity to charge developers if they make the mistake of getting something wrong or omitted on their CIL submissions?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Jeff Brooks on the subject of support for developers with their CIL submissions would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

12.(k)

Question submitted by Councillor Jeff Brooks to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside

“Can the Portfolio Holder update me on his assurance at a Full Council meeting that he would fast track my motion to reduce the speed limit along the A4/Benham Hill in Thatcham, rather than let the matter wait for the Speed Limit Review Group later this year?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Jeff Brooks on the subject of fast tracking his motion on the speed limit along the A4/Benham Hill in Thatcham was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

12.(l)

Question submitted by Councillor Alan Macro to the Portfolio Holder for Environment

“What action is this Council proposing to take, including the use of CCTV, to combat the sharp rise in litter and fly-tipping which is polluting our open spaces across the District?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Alan Macro on the subject of combatting littering and fly tipping was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Environment.

12.(m)

Question submitted by Councillor Phil Barnett to the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside

“Once the new link road is completed between Hector’s Way and Hambridge Road Newbury, can the Executive Member for Transport and Countryside identify if the majority (if not all) of the through traffic from Sainsbury’s roundabout to the Hambridge industrial area (and reverse) will be directed to use the new road?”

Minutes:

A question standing in the name of Councillor Phil Barnett on the subject of redirecting traffic once the road was completed between Hector’s Way and Hambridge Road in Newbury was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

13.

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 Paragraph 3 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.

Councillor Lee Dillon raised a point of order and stated that the decision on this report should have been made in Part I, regardless of the need to consider some elements as Part II. Councillor Lynne Doherty acknowledged the point that had been raised by Councillor Dillon but could not recall where that conversation had got to, it would however be a consideration for future Part II reports. She determined that this particular decision would be taken in Part II.

14.

Emergency Duty Service (EX3942)

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

Purpose: To request that the Executive approve a new shared service agreement for the continuing provision of a hosted Emergency Duty Service (EDS) between the six Berkshire unitary authorities with Bracknell Forest Council as a lead/host authority.

Decision:

Resolved that the recommendations in the exempt report be approved.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 24 July 2020, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

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

The Executive considered an exempt report (Agenda item 15) concerning a new shared service agreement for the continuing provision of a hosted Emergency Duty Service (EDS) between the six Berkshire unitary authorities with Bracknell Forest Council as a lead/host authority.

RESOLVED that the recommendations in the exempt report be approved.

Reason for the decision: as outlined in the exempt report.

Other options considered: as outlined in the exempt report.