West Berkshire Council

Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber Council Offices Market Street Newbury

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

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Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 402 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 25 March 2021.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 25 March 2021 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Leader subject to the following amendment:

Item 99 – Response to the Council Motion relating to the Demolition of the former Newbury Football Ground Clubhouse (EX4005) – Page 15, ninth paragraph should read – “Councillor Tony Vickers agreed that plans for the site should come before the Area Planning Committee for resolution.”

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:

Councillor Alan Macro declared an interest in Agenda Item 9 (Member Questions relating to Readibus) by virtue of the fact that one of his daughters, while not a West Berkshire resident, was a client of Readibus, but reported that, as his interest was a personal or an other registrable interest, but not a disclosable pecuniary interest, he determined to remain in the meeting for Members’ Questions.

3.

Public Questions pdf icon PDF 271 KB

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.

Please note that the list of public questions is shown under item 4 in the agenda pack.

Minutes:

A full transcription of the public and Member question and answer sessions will be available from the Council’s website in due course.

(a)       The question submitted by Mr Paul Morgan on the subject of the details around the development of the Council’s own Housing Company was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

(b)       The question submitted by Mr John Gotelee on the subject of the Avison Young viability study was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development.

 

Public Questions received in relation to agenda items 8 and 11 (Newbury Sports Ground – Joint Land Deal)

 

(c)       The question submitted by Mr Paul Morgan on the subject of why items such as budget and costs in relation to the Rugby Club were being discussed in Part II was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

(d)       The question submitted by Mr Lee McDougall on the subject of forecasted key milestone dates for the new football ground proposals was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

(e)       The question submitted by Mr Vaughan Miller on the subject of which contracts were being agreed at the Executive meeting was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

(f)        The question submitted by Mr Vaughan Miller on the subject of the footprint of the new ground and whether it could be upgraded any further was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

(g)       The question submitted by Mr Alan Pearce on the subject of an assurance that the Forward Plan contained all the necessary financial approval requirements was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

(h)      The question submitted by Mr Gary Norman on the subject of when the total development and ongoing costs of the new football ground development would be available in the public domain was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

(i)        The question submitted by Mr Lee McDougall on the subject of once full details and supporting documentation was available would the Council undertake a public consultation was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

(j)         The question submitted by Mr Nigel Foot on the subject of what additional details and documentation would be made available to the public prior to any legally binding documents being signed was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

(k)       The question submitted by Mr Alan Pearce on the subject of whether it was the Council’s intention to make a decision in Part II that would commit it to enter into various land agreements with the Rugby Club without putting it on the Forward Plan first was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Internal Governance/Leisure and Culture.

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:

Councillor Alan Macro presented a petition containing 135 signatures relating to a reduction of the speed limit in Meadow Way and roads off of Meadow Way to 20mph in order to improve safety for pedestrians, children and vehicle occupants who were endangered by speeding traffic. The petition was referred to Transport and Countryside for consideration.

Councillor Alan Macro presented a petition containing 93 signatures relating to a reduction of the speed limit in Crown Lane/Blossom Lane to 20mph in order to improve safety for pedestrians and children who were endangered by speeding traffic. The petition was referred to Transport and Countryside for consideration.

5.

Devolution of Hermitage Green (EX4006) pdf icon PDF 435 KB

Purpose: To consider Hermitage Parish Council's request for the leasehold transfer, and all future maintenance responsibility, of Hermitage Green open space including the playground.

Decision:

Resolved that the land be transferred to Hermitage Parish Council on a long lease of at least 75 years.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 7 May 2021, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 6) concerning the request from Hermitage Parish Council for the leasehold transfer, and all future maintenance responsibility, of Hermitage Green open space including the playground.

Councillor Richard Somner stated that this was the final stage in the joint discussion with Hermitage Parish Council. The Heads of Terms Agreement was in place with both organisations and there was broad agreement to provide a 75 year lease to the Parish for the area of land. With the transfer of the land went a small amount of financial contribution from Community Developer monies that was just slightly over £11,000. There was a planned capital cost of £8,000 required to deal with safety surface defects prior to transfer.

This transfer of land would enable the parish to adopt and manage this area according to their local needs and with their local community and Councillor Somner confirmed that he was happy to propose the recommendation.

Councillor Hilary Cole endorsed what had been said by Councillor Somner. It was the wish of Hermitage Parish Council to take over the management of this land and she was fully supportive of it.

RESOLVED that the land be transferred to Hermitage Parish Council (HPC) on a long lease of at least 75 years.

Other options considered: None. The principle of devolution of open space and built assets to local councils has already been established, most notably the arrangements currently in place with Thatcham Town Council. This proposal, alongside other devolution projects, supports West Berkshire Council’s commitment to locally-led service delivery.

6.

Risk Management Strategy 2021-2024 (EX3952) pdf icon PDF 706 KB

Purpose: To set out the overarching framework for managing risk at the Council, the Council's risk appetite and the risk management objectives for the next three years.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved that:

 

·         The Risk Management Strategy be approved together with the associated risk appetite.

·         Appropriate Governance Boards would approve the risk appetite on new projects within their remit. Corporate Programme Board would have oversight of this.

·         The Governance and Ethics Committee’s endorsement of the Strategy and risk appetite be noted.

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 7 May 2021, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 7) concerning the Risk Management Strategy 2021-2024 and the purpose of the report was to recognise the importance of the Council’s role in ensuring that it managed risk effectively and that it was risk aware. This would enable the Council to know when to accept a greater or lesser amount of risk in its activities. Furthermore, the Risk Management Strategy set out the overarching framework for managing risk at the Council, the Council’s risk appetite and the risk management objectives for the next three years.

Councillor Howard Woollaston stated that Risk Management was a very important area of West Berkshire Council’s Internal Governance process and represented a prudent approach to the running of the Council. This strategy had already come before the Governance and Ethics Committee and had been considered and approved.

The risk register was a dynamic document which was updated on a quarterly basis, the most recent being Quarter Three, where already one of the risks had been downgraded in the light of new information. The key changes were a slight increase in the risk appetite details as set out in paragraphs 7.3 and 8.8 of the appendix. The risk matrix was set out in paragraph 8.11 of the strategy. The risk score would trigger a particular type of response for risks relating to the Council’s objectives.

He hoped that in the light of the above that this would be regarded as an uncontentious report and he would therefore like to propose it.

Councillor Jeff Brooks was pleased to see this strategy come forward as he liked the fact that it had now got objectives highlighted in a strategy which was all about objectives and goals. The Council seemed to be being a bit more risk aware and to take a broader approach to risk. He raised the following points:

·         Page 43 of the agenda talked about focus and involvement of Councillors through more in depth training. Councillors generally had quite a lot of experience and he asked for assurance that there would also be an emphasis on training Manager/Budget holders as well. Councillor Woollaston stated that the intention was to bring all Councillors up to the same level and he agreed with the point made about Officers receiving training as well.

·         He also referred to the table on page 53 paragraph 7.3 and in particular the column entitled Legal (litigation, regulatory, contract) – Losing regulatory related legal challenge. He was of the opinion that there was no certainty that the Council would win a legal challenge and therefore that might need a little finessing. Councillor Woollaston would need to take further advice on the issue raised and would come back to Councillor Brooks.

·         Page 56 stated that the Council would not be willing to operate with risks that exposed the organisation to an estimated current/actual financial loss or cost of above £3m for any individual risk. He suggested that the Council might want to think about a total aggregated risk.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Newbury Sports Ground - Joint Land Deal (EX4010) pdf icon PDF 684 KB

Purpose: To provide a summary of the consultation and engagement process on the provision of a new sports ground at Newbury Rugby Club. To update the Executive on the outcome of the negotiations with Newbury Rugby Club and to enter into various land agreements with the Club.

Decision:

Resolved that:

 

·         The draft Agreement for Lease and its appendices including the draft Lease and associated draft agreement with the Newbury Rugby Club in relation to the sports ground provision at the site be approved (as detailed in the Part II report).

·         Authority be delegated to the Service Director of Strategy and Governance, in consultation with the Service Director of Communities and Wellbeing, to enter into agreement for lease and any other agreements, including any amendments that are necessary, and in line with the agreed Heads of Terms.

·         The allocation of funds be approved (as detailed in the Part II report).

 

This decision is eligible to be ‘called-in’.  However, if the decision has not been ‘called-in’ by 5.00pm on 7 May 2021, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report (Agenda Item 8) concerning the Newbury Sports Ground – Joint Land Deal which was to provide a summary of the consultation and engagement process on the provision of a new sports ground at Newbury Rugby Club (NRC) and to further update the Executive on the outcome of the negotiations with NRC and to enter into various land agreements with the Club.

Councillor Howard Woollaston was delighted to bring this report to Executive as it represented the culmination of a huge amount of work by Officers to come to this fantastic solution to a problem which had been ongoing for a number of years. When he took over the Leisure element of his portfolio almost exactly a year ago, this had been his number one priority. The Council had previously commissioned a report looking at Council owned land and had come up with three options, none of which were totally suitable. He then asked Officers to re-approach the Rugby Club to see if there was an opportunity to create a community based centre for sporting excellence and provide a new home for Newbury’s football clubs. The Rugby Club responded positively and after a fairly protracted series of negotiations both parties had arrived at this point.

The financial information was all contained in the Part II section as it was commercially sensitive but to summarise, Heads of Terms had been agreed.  A Lease and an Agreement to Lease were ready to be signed, if Executive approval was given, to take a 40-year lease on a near 2.5 acre site on the Monks Lane frontage of the Newbury Rugby Club. There was a 20 year break clause to protect the Council’s interest.

It was noted that the intention was to submit a planning application in the following month for a 3G artificial playing pitch with two stands (holding 150 and 50 people respectively), floodlighting, full fencing with turnstiles and 56 car parking spaces. In addition a 3,000 square foot Clubhouse would incorporate four separate changing rooms and two officials changing rooms (allowing for mixed teams and the safeguarding of young people), a function room with bar facilities, subject to licensing approval, a kitchen and an office.

The project started off with the intention of achieving what was called a Step 6 facility. Newbury Football Club currently required a Step 7 pitch, but the Council had managed to achieve a Step 4 facility which would allow the local teams to scale a number of levels above where they were today. There was also the possibility that the site could get to a Step 2 facility according to the initial view of the Council’s consultants but that would require significant additional capital investment, which could not be justified at this stage.

Subject to the planning process it was hoped to have the contractor on site by late summer to allow the pitch to be playable by March 2022 and for Newbury Football Club to be able to apply for a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Members' Questions pdf icon PDF 179 KB

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

Please note that the list of Member questions is shown under item 9 in the agenda pack.

Minutes:

A full transcription of the public and Member question and answer sessions will be available from the Council’s website in due course.

(a)       The question submitted by Councillor Steve Masters on the subject of cuts to community transport services across West Berkshire was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

(b)       The question submitted by Councillor Adrian Abbs on the subject of the date for reaching net carbon zero across West Berkshire was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Environment.

(c)       The question submitted by Councillor Jeff Brooks on the subject of the level of reductions in the funding to Readibus would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

(d)       The question submitted by Councillor Lee Dillon on the subject of alternative services for disabled residents would receive a written response from the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

(e)       The question submitted by Councillor Alan Macro on the subject of why the drastic cuts in funding of Readibus since 2015 not consulted on was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

(f)        The question submitted by Councillor Phil Barnett on the subject of a footpath being extended alongside Stroud Green into the new Racecourse development was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

(g)       The question submitted by Councillor Steve Masters on the subject of the termination of the Readibus contract was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

(h)      The question submitted by Councillor Adrian Abbs on the subject of a previous question to Executive regarding the cancellation of bus services and why the situation with Readibus had not been revealed at that stage was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

(i)        The question submitted by Councillor Alan Macro on the subject of comments made about the effect of the adoption of the new Minerals and Waste Local Plan was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing.

(j)         The question submitted by Councillor Phil Barnett on the subject of funding for road repairs was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

(k)       The question submitted by Councillor Adrian Abbs on the subject of QR codes on dog waste bins was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Transport and Countryside.

9.

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.

10.

Newbury Sports Ground - Joint Land Deal (EX4010)

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

Purpose: To provide a summary of the consultation and engagement process on the provision of a new sports ground at Newbury Rugby Club. To update the Executive on the outcome of the negotiations with Newbury Rugby Club and to enter into various land agreements with the Club.

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 7 May 2021, then it will be implemented.

Minutes:

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

The Executive considered an exempt report (Agenda Item 11) concerning the consultation and engagement process on the provision of a new sports ground at Newbury Rugby Club (NRC). It also updated on the outcome of the negotiations with NRC in relation to the proposal to enter into various land agreements with the club.

RESOLVED that the recommendations in the exempt report be agreed.

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