West Berkshire Council

Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Stephen Chard / Charlene Hurd / Rachel Craggs 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 149 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 17 October 2017.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 17October 2017 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.


Councillor Emma Webster declared an interest in Agenda Item 7, but reported that, as her interest was a personal or an other registrable interest, but not a disclosable pecuniary interest, she determined to remain to take part in the debate and vote on the matter.


Actions from previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 40 KB

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

Additional documents:


The Commission received an update report following the actions recorded during the previous meeting. Actions 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 had either been completed or were in hand and could therefore be removed from the list of actions arising from the previous Commission meeting.

Stephen Chard confirmed that actions 4, 5 and 6 (which related to the discussion on enabling more affordable housing completions) were being worked on by Officers and an update would follow in due course.

Councillor Tim Metcalfe suggested that Officers were issued with a deadline to ensure the Commission received an update in respect of these three actions. Councillor Emma Webster supported the suggestion and proposed that Officers were asked to respond by the 31st January 2018.

Andy Walker advised, in respect of action 8, that budget surplus from backdated Council Tax and Business Rates collections were included in the subsequent year’s budget. 

The Commission heard that item 13 was bought forward for discussion in order that scrutiny could take place before the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation in April 2018. Members agreed with the approach and noted that it was on the agenda for discussion.


1)    Planning Officers would be asked to provide an update in respect of actions 4, 5 and 6 by 31st January 2018.

2)    The action log be noted and updated as indicated.


Consideration of Urgent Items

To consider any items for 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.


West Berkshire Council Forward Plan 6 February 2018 to 30 April 2018 pdf icon PDF 40 KB

To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 6 February 2018 to 30 April 2018 and decide whether to review any of the proposed items prior to the meeting indicated in the Plan.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered the West Berkshire Council Forward Plan (Agenda Item 6) for the period covering 6 February 2018 to 30 April 2018.

Councillor Emma Webster advised that items PP3388 and PP3389 appointed a Wokingham Councillor as lead due to the nature of its involvement with the Joint Public Protection Partnership (shared service). West Berkshire Council’s representatives on the Joint Public Protection Committee were Councillors Marcus Franks and Emma Webster.

An amendment was also noted to the Portfolio Holder for item C3278 (Statutory Pay Policy 2018).


1)    The Forward Plan be noted.


Corporate Programme pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To advise the Commission of the Council’s Corporate Programme and its current areas of activity.

Additional documents:


(Councillor Emma Webster declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 7 by virtue of the fact that she was a Member of the Fire Authority and Hungerford Fire Station had been listed as a work stream within the Corporate Programme. As her interest was personal and not prejudicial she determined to take part in the debate).

David Lowe introduced the report to the Commission and offered to provide an overview of the work streams detailed in the work programme.

Members heard that the New Ways of Working Service Transformation (ref 1 - 6b) intended to go through the processes and tasks within every service of the Council to consider opportunities to maximise efficiency using the resources available and considering technological solutions. This work initially focused on the Planning Service and the Education Service quickly followed. The first stage focused on data gathering to understand the current position and incorporated stakeholder feedback to provide a comprehensive report. A scrutiny task and finish group was established to review the data and their views were submitted to the Project Board for further consideration.

Item 7 related to the recent Financial Challenge reviews which had been an intense piece of work involving many Officers and Managers across the Council. The review intended to identify opportunities to reduce expected expenditure and contribute towards future saving targets. It was intended that this work would continue.

Councillor Lee Dillon advised that he had requested a copy of the minutes from this piece of work in order that the opposition party could have visibility of the discussions and pressures. Nick Carter agreed that he would speak to the Leader of the Council about this.

Item 8 detailed the focus on digitisation of some tasks (bookings, waste and courses). The aim was to improve the method of managing this work stream and also improve the customer’s experience. David Lowe stated that there was a larger piece of work focusing around the Waste Service review (reference 9) and that digitalisation was an element of this work.

Items 10 and 11 detailed the work to construct shared services in Emergency Planning and Legal respectively. David Lowe advised that the Emergency Planning shared service contract was signed and the new team (formed by Royal Windsor and Maidenhead, Bracknell Forest and West Berkshire) would commence in April 2018. The Legal Services shared service discussion was ongoing with Bracknell Forest Council colleagues.

David Lowe explained that  the property foritem 15 (residential property - Fountain Gardens) was now purchased and offered and the next proposed project was the joint venture between West Berkshire Council and Sovereign Housing. It was intended that the replacement project would deliver the ability for West Berkshire to become a Social Housing Landlord.

Item 18 intended to look at ways to maximise the use of Central Government funding (known as the ‘Apprenticeship Levy’) to deliver internal training etc.

Item 19 aimed to look at the Council’s position in readiness for the General Data Protection Regulation changes due in May 2018. David  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.


Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme pdf icon PDF 39 KB

To receive new items and agree and prioritise the work programme of the Commission for the remainder of 2017/2018.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered its work programme for 2017/2018 and the proposed topics for future scrutiny: West Berkshire Vision 2036 and Social Mobility Commission.

In response to questions asked by the Commission, Stephen Chard advised that further topics for scrutiny to consider would be the prevalence of homelessness in West Berkshire (proposed for July 2018, post implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act) and the establishment of a task and finish group to monitor GDPR progress.

Members heard that a proposed topic for scrutiny had been proposed by Andy Day which was not be contained in the agenda pack. It proposed the development of a task and finish group to facilitate a detailed review of the monthly budget submissions from service areas which would include consideration of overspends and savings proposals at risk. Members supported the proposal to set up a task group. Andy Day would circulate the paper which detailed the scope of the group in more detail.

The Commission agreed to defer the West Berkshire Vision 2036 discussion until later in the year (provisionally July 2018). The item to consider the findings of the Social Mobility Commission was scheduled for April 2018. .

Resolved that:

1)    Andy Day would circulate the paper relating to the proposed topic for scrutiny: Budget setting.

2)    The work programme was noted and amended as discussed.



Key Accountable Performance 2017/18: Q2 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To scrutinise Q2 outturns against the Key Accountable Measures contained in the 2017/18 Council Performance Framework and consider topics for more detailed investigation.

Additional documents:


Catalin Bogos introduced the report which outlined the Quarter two outturns, for the Key Accountable measures which monitored performance against the 2017/18 Council Performance Framework. The Commission heard that the Council continued to perform well against ambitious targets and that notable achievements this quarter related to all Adult Social Care services being rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as at least ‘Good’ or better and over 95% of the District’s schools rated ‘Good’ or better by Ofsted.

Most of the measures RAG rated Amber had achieved results so far only slightly below targets, and were not of significant concern at this stage.

Councillor Graham Bridgman suggested that the new measure - Number of Community Conversations through which local issues are identified and addressed - was a challenging measure because it was difficult to quantify success.

The Commission discussed the measures associated with the new Universal Credit system. It was clear that the level of demand was not yet known. Councillor Dillon suggested that a review into the impact of the Universal Credit System might complement the Prevalence of Homelessness review (which would be added to the OSMC work programme), with homelessness a potential indirect consequence of Universal Credit.

In response to questions asked, Catalin Bogos advised that the educational attainment results for the 2016/17 academic year would be available in Q3. Councillor Dillon noted that the Commission was considering a Q2 report in the Q4 period; he was frustrated by the delay in receiving accurate performance data. Catalin Bogos assured the Commission that the most recent validated data was provided at the time the report was published.

Resolved that:

(1)       The report was noted.



Financial Performance Report 2017/18 - Month Seven pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To scrutinise the latest financial performance of the Council.

Additional documents:


Andy Walker introduced the report to the Commission. He stated that the Month Seven financial forecast was an over spend of £754k against a net revenue budget of £117.4million. The forecast would have an impact on the level of the Council’s reserves at year end if the over spend could not be brought down by year end. The provisional Month Eight position showed a worsening of the situation to an overspend of around £1m. This continued to be an area of high focus for Executive Members and Corporate Board. 

Members heard that the main driver for the forecast overspend was the £732k overspend in Adult Social Care (ASC). The over spend was as a result of increased complexity of client needs and inflationary pressures. The Communities Directorate were tasked with managing unnecessary expenditure to manage the overspend and the position was reported to Corporate Board also.

Councillor Anthony Chadley referred to the graph provided (4.2) in the report which detailed the forecast net revenue position for 2017/18 and included a comparison with the net revenue budget for 2016/17. This showed the reductions achieved to the overspend during the latter half of 2016/17 and the ability to reduce overspends. Efforts would be made to repeat this.  Furthermore, the chart in 5.1 of the report was included to add transparency to the situation - which he hoped Members would find useful.

Councillor Dillon asked whether inflation rates were considered within the budget build and questioned the decision to meet inflation pressures in-year rather than at year end as in previous years. Rachael Wardell advised that it was factored into the budget but inflationary pressures in 2017/18 exceeded the forecasted level and the decision had been taken to meet these pressures in-year. Andy Walker advised that this also provided justification for the Reserve Fund as it was considered an area of potential risk - which had since materialised.

In response to questions asked about the forecasting model, the Commission heard that forecast modelling was improving but it was likely to take a similar line due to the nature of the challenge. Although Rachael Wardell agreed that they would prefer to see a less severe curve in overspend.

Councillor Lazlo Zverko asked whether the severe weather in December 2017 produced financial pressures within the Council. Andy Walker advised that the monthly report would be collated from services to form the Month 9 update. He suggested that Members would have a definitive response to this question in the detail of the next financial report.

Councillor Marigold Jaques suggested that the pressure within ASC was going to increase - along with the ageing population. Andy Walker advised that modelling around ASC financial pressures was improving but he agreed that demand was likely to increase. 

Councillor Dillon felt that it would be useful if the task group considered the need to more carefully manage budgets throughout the year, rather than imposing restrictions in the final quarter of the year. Councillor Chadley reiterated that modelling had become more  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.


General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) pdf icon PDF 142 KB

To understand the provisions of the GDPR and to consider the Council’s preparation to comply with its requirements. The Council is required to be compliant with the GDPR by 25 May 2018.


Robert O’Reilly introduced the report to Members. He advised that a Member Development session was scheduled to discuss GDPR in more detail but a report had been provided to offer assurance to the Commission that the Council was on track to deliver the necessary changes in readiness for the implementation date of 25 May 2018.

The key focus of the project had been to provide awareness around the regulation and the changes it imposed on staff, Members and the Council overall. An e-learning package had been developed to aid this campaign.

Robert O’Reilly advised that the Corporate Programme Project Board decided that an information audit (internal or external) of existing personal data held by the Council was not required at the outset of the project because, if the Council was already compliant with the Data Protection Act, the potential risk did not justify the cost involved.

Good progress was being made all around and the GDPR review would go into more detail.  

The project decided to roll out new privacy notices rather than review existing privacy notices. Members heard that services were required to input specific reasons for processing personal data into the privacy notice in order to move the action forward.

The Commission was informed that the Council would conduct an examination into the types of data it processed and identify the legal basis for doing so - ensuring that this information was fully documented. Robert O’Reilly advised that the GDPR impacted every Local Authority (LA) and, as such, West Berkshire Council was prepared to consider how the majority of LAs had interpreted the regulatory changes and follow suit.

Robert O’Reilly assured Members that the Council was making good progress in time for the deadline. Councillor Emma Webster invited the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Graham Bridgman, to comment.

Councillor Bridgman stated that his involvement, as the newly appointed Portfolio Holder, had been limited but he was familiar with GDPR through his involvement with the Governance and Ethics Committee.

Councillor James Cole was invited to comment on progress - through his involvement with the project. Councillor Cole advised that the project was much wider than an ICT matter and many questions had been asked of Officers regarding the Council’s preparedness for the looming implementation date. He was concerned that there was still a lot of work to be done.

He considered that progress was rather slow and a lot more thought ought to be given to the paper and third party elements of the GDPR.

Councillor Ian Morrin advised that he had some experience with GDPR. He was concerned that the Council was hesitant in its approach to complying with the changes - choosing to follow suit with the majority of LAs would not be his preferred approach. He suggested that, rather than reviewing the Council’s current position, effort should be focused on identifying the standards and aiming to comply with these. Furthermore, he did not feel that the Council would be significantly penalised if it was found to have breached  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.


OSMC Task Group: Council Strategy Refresh 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To note the Task Group’s findings and recommendations.


Councillor Ian Morrin introduced the report to the Commission which had been developed through the work of a task and finish group whose aim had been to review the existing Council Strategy and areas for improvement. It was also tasked with producing recommendations which could be used to shape the next Council Strategy.

Councillor Morrin thanked Andy Day for his support and assistance during the course of the review.

Members of the task and finish group looked at how the Council was preforming against existing measures and they noted that performance was, largely, where they expected it to be.

Corporate Directors were invited to attend one of the meetings which enabled Members to question them around performance and horizon scanning. It was noted that John Ashworth was unavailable to attend but Members did not feel it was necessary to request alternative representation from the Environment and Economy Directorate.

Councillor Morrin endorsed the use of teleconference facilities to conclude their work because this enabled them to meet sooner than could have otherwise been agreed.

Councillor Dillon agreed that the teleconference facility was a good use of Officer and Members time and allowed flexibility.  He directed Members to point 12.4 of the report which stated the need for the acknowledgement that delivery of Council priorities was the responsibility of the entire Council. He suggested that the Council should avoid working in silos and instead it should encourage working across directorates. 

Resolved that:

1) The recommendations were accepted.


2) The report was noted.



Birchwood Care Home - CQC Inadequate pdf icon PDF 54 KB

To consider the improvement plan in place in order to address the recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) judgement of “inadequate” at the Council’s recently acquired Care Home – Birchwood.

Additional documents:


Councillor Emma Webster introduced the topic to the Commission who were reminded that the discussion would take place in two parts. Members were asked to consider the nature of their enquiry for the suitability of Part I discussion. The Part II discussion would follow.

Tandra Forster introduced the report to Members which detailed the outcome from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection, completed in September 2017, which rated the Birchwood Care Home as ‘inadequate’. The report set out the background to the inspection and the actions required to improve the current position.

Tandra Forster advised that, subsequent to the CQC rating, the service developed an action plan to direct focus and make changes within Birchwood Care Home; in particular around leadership and systems.

Sue Brain explained that she was appointed the task of overseeing and managing the action plan from October 2017. The action plan was an organic document which they reviewed and updated on a regular basis to monitor progress. This plan was reactive to the inspection taking place.

A key element of the action plan was leadership. In her experience, strong leadership was crucial. The new Care Home Manager was from an existing West Berkshire Council care home rated “good” and this provided a seamless transfer when they came into post (in January 2018). Furthermore, the new manager was familiar with the Council’s policies and procedures, which reduced the period of time they required to settle into the role. It was expected that the new manager would take a proactive approach towards managing the action plan and the running of the care home.

Sue Brain advised that the Council was in regular conversations with the CQC, in particular the safeguarding team, which helped ensure the action plan was focusing on the right areas.

Members heard that a significant issue the Council encountered was the inability to access Care Plans. Sue Brain explained that, due to ICT restrictions, West Berkshire Council could not inherit the existing systems used to hold and manage client’s Care Plans.

Other areas for improvement which had been identified were those such as the building’s environment, layout and interior. These recommendations contained some quick wins and others which required investment or further investigation; these would be picked up with the new manager.

Sue Brain expected the self-imposed embargo to be reviewed and monitored. When lifted, this would be done in a phased approach. 

The action plan included the delivery of training to all staff at Birchwood Care Home and this was positively moving forward.

Furthermore, it was felt that cultural change was necessary and that the Council had not yet succeeded in embedding its ethos regarding the management of the care home. Sue Brain reassured Members that this was a priority but that cultural change would take time.

Councillor Marigold Jaques asked whether the service had the resources they required to undertake the actions as detailed in the action plan.  Sue Brain advised that they had inherited a large number of agency staff, which was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


Items Called-in following the Executive on 21 December 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.


Councillor Call for Action

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


There were no Councillor Call for Action.



To consider any petitions requiring an Officer response.


There were no petitions to be received at the meeting.


Exclusion of Press and Public

RECOMMENDATION: That members of the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item 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.


Birchwood Care Home - CQC Inadequate

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

Purpose:  To consider the improvement plan in place in order to address the recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) judgement of “inadequate” at the Council’s recently acquired Care Home – Birchwood.


Members discussed the CQC report following it’s inspection of the Birchwood Care Home.