West Berkshire Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber Council Offices Market Street Newbury. View directions

Contact: Stephen Chard / Charlene Hurd 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 117 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 6th December 2016.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2016 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.


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.


There were no declarations of interest received.


Actions from previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 41 KB

To receive an update on actions following the previous Commission meeting.


The Commission considered the update report. Stephen Chard advised that the first meeting of the Joint Health Scrutiny Group to conduct scrutiny of the Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan was held on 13 March 2017. Councillor Richard Somner was the Chairman.

Resolved that the update report be noted.


West Berkshire Council Forward Plan 7 June 2017 to 30 September 2017 pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Purpose: To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 7 June 2017 to 30 September 2017 and decide whether to review any of the proposed items prior to the meeting indicated in the Plan.


The Commission considered the West Berkshire Council Forward Plan for the period covering 7 June 2017 to 30 September 2017.

Resolved that the Forward Plan be noted.


Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Purpose: To receive new items and agree and prioritise the Work Programme of the Commission for the 2017/2018 Municipal Year.


Stephen Chard introduced the report to Members and advised that a proposed new scrutiny model was approved at full Council on 9 May 2017. Going forward, the Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission (OSMC) would continue to meet on a quarterly basis, in the main to consider financial and performance monitoring, but there was also scope for other in-meeting scrutiny.

Building on this, the new model sought to establish the OSMC Members and Substitutes as ‘scrutineers’ whose remit was to visit/ engage in existing work streams in order that they could directly contribute towards the development of that particular task/policy. The methodology for this approach was in the process of being refined.

It was agreed that a copy of the Corporate Programme would be included in the OSMC agenda so that Members could consider which areas of work they wanted to be involved in.

Councillor Emma Webster stated that the intention was to avoid duplication and to facilitate direct contribution from Scrutiny Members. Stephen Chard advised that there would still be scope for task groups to be established but these were resource dependent and task groups would be considered on a case by case basis.

Resolved that the work programme be noted.


Items Called-in following the Executive on 4th May 2017

To consider any items called-in by the requisite number of Members following the previous Executive meeting.


No items were called-in following the last Executive meeting.


Consideration of Urgent Items

Purpose: To consider any items which an Urgent Decision is required to be taken by the Executive, in exception to the requirements of the Local Authorities( Executive arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.


There were no urgent items to consider.


Councillor Call for Action

Purpose: To consider any items proposed for a Councillor Call for Action.


There were no Councillor Calls for Action.



Purpose: To consider any petitions requiring an Officer response.


There were no petitions to be received at the meeting.


West Berkshire Pupil Performance 2016 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Purpose: To inform Members of school performance in 2016, identify key priorities and any barriers which may prevent improvement. The report particularly focuses on the work underway to diminish the differences in the educational performance of vulnerable groups. 

Additional documents:


Ian Pearson thanked Members for providing the opportunity to discuss the topic and stated that it had been an area of focus since Pupil Premium Grants were introduced in 2011.

The grant aimed to assist disadvantaged children - defined via their parent’s annual income. It acknowledged that investment was required in schools to support this group of disadvantaged children. Various strategies had been introduced, at a national level, to address educational attainment but minimal improvements had been made. Notwithstanding the fact that there had been some great success stories locally.

Members were advised that the cohort of Pupil Premium (PP) children in West Berkshire was relatively small and therefore, the percentages referred to in progress reports could be misleading as often they were reflective of only a small number of children.

There had been various national strategies introduced to address the matter but, in many cases, the situation was unchanged – notwithstanding the fact that there were some exceptional cases of success in places.

Ian Pearson highlighted that the measure did not include those children out the periphery of the PP criteria but who could be considered ‘in need’ of the additional support. National strategies were being considered to address the potential issue within this identified group of children.

Elaine Ricks-Neal advised that there had been a positive seismic shift in provision for disadvantaged children in West Berkshire schools. The PP focused on disadvantaged children in primary and secondary schools and provided proportionate funding to enable extended work to support these complex areas.

In West Berkshire there were 200 pupils in Year 11 who met the PP criteria. When these figures were investigated in more detail it highlighted that each child had complex and extended needs. Schools had to develop localised strategies to deliver the support appropriate for each child and the wide range of needs they might have. Elaine Ricks–Neal stated that it was useful to hear what activities and strategies the schools had in place to support this group of children.

Tessa Ford advised the Commission that she supported the schools and constructively challenged them to consider ways and means to address the issue and assess PP systems.

Katie Blakemore, St John the Evangelist Infant and Nursery School, advised that she had 12 students who met the PP criteria which was a significant percentage within a very small intake of children therefore, it was important that data was considered with a degree of caution. She stated that a lack of parental engagement appeared to contribute towards the performance of children associated with PP. She aimed to meet with parents each academic term with their respective teacher present at the meeting also. The aim of the meeting was to set the child a learning target or specific form of support tailored to the need of that child and to recognise their successes.

Councillor Emma Webster asked how supportive the parents were with this approach.

Katie Blakemore advised that some parents could be difficult to reach / engage with. However,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Key Accountable Performance 2016/17: Q3 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Purpose: To monitor performance levels across the Council and to consider, where appropriate, any remedial action.

Additional documents:


Catalin Bogos introduced the Quarter Three Key Accountable Performance (2016/2017) report to the Commission. Members stated that the (newly introduced) scorecard offered a useful performance summary at the front of the detailed report.

Educational attainment was reported as Amber in light of the ambitious target set by the Council. However, this target was fully supported through the Council Strategy. Catalin Bogos stated that the performance measure encompassed results from all groups/ abilities therefore, presenting some challenges when the Council aimed to improve attainment as a whole.

Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 results were made available in December 2016 which fed into the quarter three performance report. Catalin Bogos advised that the Council continued to focus on achieving education attainment rates within the top 25% quartile nationally. The RAG status was reflective of the ongoing work required to meet the target by the end of the Strategy.

Affordable housing results were not available at the time when the quarter three report was produced. Catalin Bogos stated that, since then, 44 affordable housing units had been delivered. Although measured on a quarterly basis, the current RAG status was reflective of the accumulative number of units delivered 2016/2017.

There were a number of projects underway which were captured within the ‘Key infrastructure improvements’ measure. Catalin Bogos stated that the flood prevention and drainage improvement schemes had exceeded the target set for the end of the year. However, measures had been put in place to address delays in work required to achieve 94% of West Berkshire households having access to superfast broadband.

Overall, performance in ‘Good at Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults’ was reported as green. Various improvements had been implemented across the piece and the latest inspections from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had rated four out of the five Adult Social Care services as ‘Good’ or better in the area of safe. However, timeliness of responding to adult safeguarding concerns was below target at the end of quarter three due partially to data recording practices although these would be addressed going forward.

In response to questions asked, Catalin Bogos advised that the report did not include a targeted measure for the number of affordable housing units required during 2016/2017. Although progress was not monitored in the same way, it had been agreed to include the topic in the Key Accountable Performance report by presenting the number of completions as a contextual measure in order to raise/ maintain awareness of the priority. Councillor Emma Webster suggested that Scrutiny involvement might be to consider whether policy hindered planning/ developmental progress in West Berkshire.

Councillor Webster thanked Catalin Bogos for the report.

Resolved that the report be noted.