West Berkshire Council

Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Stephen Chard / Charlene Hurd / Rachel Craggs 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 9 January 2018.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 9th January 2018 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following amendments:

Page 9, Item 40, Financial Performance Report 2017/18 – Month Seven, penultimate paragraph: There was an ‘s’ missing from Councillor Laszlo Zverko.   


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 9, 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.

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The Commission received an update report regarding actions recorded during the previous meeting. Actions 2, 3 and 4 had either been completed or were in hand and could therefore be removed from the list of actions arising from previous Commission meetings.

The Chairman referred to action number 4 and stated that Tandra Forster was scheduled to bring a report to the meeting of the Commission on the 10th July 2018, regarding Birchwood Care Home. 


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 Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 40 KB

To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 19 April 2018 to 30 June 2018 and decide whether to review any of the proposed items prior to the meeting indicated in the Plan.

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The Commission considered the West Berkshire Forward Plan (Agenda Item 6) for the period covering 19 April to 30 June 2018.

Andy Day stated that if there were any items that Members of the Commission felt needed to be considered, then they should let him know.

Resolved that the Forward Plan be noted.


Corporate Programme pdf icon PDF 40 KB

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


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Andy Day introduced the report (Agenda Item 7) to the Commission. David Lowe (Corporate Programme Manager) had attended the meeting on the 9th January 2018 and Andy Day suggested that David Lowe be invited back to give updates on the area of activity, on a six monthly basis.  

The Chairman referred to the Council Strategy/Vision 2036: Hungerford Fire Station (Page 26) and noted that it was marked as complete. The Chairman requested clarification as to the role the Council had played in this project. Nick Carter reported that this stream of work had formed part of the One Public Estate Programme and had been included for that purpose only.  It was recognised that the Hungerford Fire Station had been led and delivered by the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service. Nick Carter suggested that the project be removed as it was complete.


·         David Lowe should be invited to attend meetings of the Commission on a six monthly basis.

·         The Hungerford Fire Station Project be removed from the West Berkshire Council Corporate Programme.

·         The changes to the work programme be noted.


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 2018/2019.


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The Commission considered its Work Programme for 2018/2019 (Agenda Item 8). For clarification purposes the Chairman highlighted that Item 3 - Improvement Plan for Birchwood Care Home had remained on the Work Programme. This had been considered at the meeting of the Commission on the 9th January however, this issue had been retained on the Work Programme to ensure that satisfactory progress was being maintained.

The Chairman reminded Members that they needed to consider what topics should be considered at future Commission meetings.

Andy Day added that the Commission should be involved in the formation of the new Council Strategy which would cover the next four years. Two workshops were scheduled in June and September 2018 and Andy Day would ensure the dates were added to the Work Programme.

RESOLVED that the dates for the two Council Strategy workshops be added to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme 2018/19.


Fire Safety pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To consider the activities undertaken and ongoing regarding fire safety in West Berkshire, following the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017.

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(Councillor Emma Webster declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 9 by virtue of the fact that she was one of West Berkshire Council’s appointed representative on the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority. As her interest was personal and not prejudicial or a disclosable pecuniary interest she determined to remain to take part in the debate.)

The Chairman invited Steve Barford and Luke Bingham from Sovereign and Trig Thomas from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) to the meeting.

Richard Turner introduced his report (Agenda Item 9), which provided an update on the activities and the status regarding fire safety in West Berkshire buildings following the Grenfell Tower fire on 14th June 2017. Richard Turner reported that he was a manager within the Property Services Team and was responsible for leading on the area of fire safety.

Following on from the incident and the communication from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that followed, West Berkshire Council instigated a series of actions and activities to ensure the fire safety of its buildings was both compliant and well managed.

Communications from Government were still being received regularly and often included actions. A group of Officers and Members had been formed to deal with all matters.

Richard Turner confirmed that West Berkshire Council (WBC) did not own any high rise residential blocks and neither did Sovereign. Steve Barford reported that officially a building had to be 18 storeys high to be considered as ‘high rise’, however, RBFRS suggested that any building six storeys or over should be checked. The highest residential building that Sovereign owned was six storeys high although there were other six storey buildings at the Racecourse development and Parkway. There were also eight private high rise blocks located at Park Way and the Racecourse and fire safety advice for these buildings had been provided by RBFRS. WBC uploaded the details of all buildings onto a database including details of privately owned residential blocks.

Richard Turner reported that a questionnaire had been submitted by the Council’s Education Service answering questions posed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and no follow on actions had been required.

Richard Turner reported that the Care Quality Commission confirmed to WBC that they had communicated directly with service providers.

A fire safety questionnaire had also been issued to all ‘Responsible Persons’ for individual sites, both WBC schools and non-school sites, to establish the sufficiency of current Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) and the existence of any Aluminium Composite Material cladding. Richard Turner confirmed that there was a rolling programme to ensure FRAs were kept up to date going forward. If there was ever uncertainty about cladding, Richard Turner reported that an Officer would visit the site. He was satisfied that all risk assessments were up to date and that there were no issues in relation to cladding.

Richard Turner reported that WBC Property Services had submitted on the government portal ‘Delta’, information on private residential properties, specifically related to high rise  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.


Social Mobility pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider the findings of the Social Mobility Commission in relation to West Berkshire.

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Nick Carter introduced the report (Agenda item 10), which aimed to brief Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission regarding West Berkshire’s results for the measures used by the Social Mobility Commission in the ‘State of the Nation 2017: Social Mobility in Great Britain’ report. Nick Carter stated that the report had been published in November 2017 and had received a lot of press coverage, including a strap line that insinuated that West Berkshire was not a good place to grow up in if you were poor.

The report showed that West Berkshire had ‘cold spots’ in relation to young people, for example for free school meals and attainment and as a result, the overall index of social mobility placed West Berkshire within the bottom 20% of districts in England. Nick Carter drew attention to section 5.2 (5) ‘local policies adopted by local authorities and employers can positively influence outcomes for disadvantaged residents’ and commented that this was the key issue for the Commission to focus on whilst looking ahead to what needed to be done.

Councillor Graham Bridgman explained that Catalin Bogos had produced the covering report and had wished for a couple of points to be made on his behalf. The first point had related to 5.2 (5) as mentioned by Nick Carter and the second point related to 5.2 (4), which stated that there was no link between the affluence of an area and its ability to sustain high levels of social mobility. The Cotswolds and West Berkshire were mentioned as being two examples of ‘cold spots’ of social mobility even though they were amongst the least deprived areas in the country. Councillor Bridgman also drew Members’ attention to Appendix A, which listed the 16 indicators used to measure social mobility.

The Chairman welcomed Ian Pearson to the meeting who gave a presentation to the Commission on social mobility in relation to children and young people (circulated with agenda paperwork).

Ian Pearson reported that following the publication of the annual Social Mobility Commissioning Report in June 2017, Councillor Lynne Doherty had asked what lessons might be learned to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children and young people in West Berkshire. The presentation slides were focused on each section of the report. A gap had been identified in the area of Free School Meals (FSMs) and as West Berkshire was performing well in other areas, the area of FSMs was accentuated.

The Social Mobility annual report was divided into four life stages (Early Years, Schools, Young People and Working Lives), which were scored on a traffic light scale. Early Years and Young People were scored as ‘amber’ and young people and working lives as ‘red’. For each life stage Ian Pearson gave an overview of the area and then lessons learnt/recommendations.

The Department for Education (DfE) had written its own document in response to the Social Mobility Commissioning Report called ‘Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential: A Plan for Improving Social Mobility through Education’. In its response  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


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

To scrutinise Q3 outturns against the Key Accountable Measures contained in the 2017/18 Council Performance Framework and consider topics for more detailed investigation.


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Councillor Graham Bridgman introduced the report (Agenda item 11), which had been presented to the Executive of 29th March 2018 and had been noted.

Andy Day reported that performance was positive for quarter three. Four of the actions rated as amber or red were areas that were not within West Berkshire Council’s control including the delay of London Road Industrial Estate; the delay of the Sterling Cables project; Super-Fast Broadband and Building Communities Together.

The Chairman stated that she was also concerned about affordable housing and more needed to be done to improve the planning process. Councillor Ian Morrin commented that the Council had little control over what applications were submitted. The Chairman noted this however, felt that there was a problem with the planning process, particularly with regards to major applications and the speed they were able to move through the system.


Items Called-in following the Executive on 29 March 2018

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.