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 164 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meetings of the Commission held on 10 April 2018 and 8 May 2018.

Additional documents:


The Minutes of the meetings held on 10 April 2018 and 8 May 2018 were approved as true and correct records and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following amendment:

·         Both Councillors Graham Bridgman and Lynne Doherty had been present at the meeting that took place on 10 April 2018.

(Councillor Emma Webster joined the meeting at 6.02pm and proceeded to Chair the meeting)


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 9 KB

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


The Commission received an update report regarding actions recorded during the previous meeting. Actions 1 to 4 had either been completed or were in hand and could therefore be removed from the list of actions arising from previous Commission meetings.

Councillor Lee Dillon referred to the action carried over from 17th October 2017 regarding a review of the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the various scrutiny groups that were formed as part of the new model. Councillor Dillon could not see why this action had not been concluded. Stephen Chard confirmed that the ToR for each group were in place and therefore this could now be removed from the action list.


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 46 KB

To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 17 July 2018 to 31 October 2018 and decide whether to review any of the proposed items prior to the meeting indicated in the Plan.


The Commission noted West Berkshire Council’s Forward Plan (Agenda Item 6) for the period covering 17 July 2018 to 31 October 2018.

Councillor Lee Dillon referred to reference EX605 on the Council’s Forward Plan (Devolution) and noted that there was no explanation for the item. Nick Carter confirmed that the purpose of the item would be to keep Members up to date with various arrangements underway with Parish Councils.

Councillor Emma Webster requested that acronyms be explained on the Forward Plan.

RESOLVED that a purpose would be added for EX605 and that acronyms should be written in full going forward.


Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme pdf icon PDF 27 KB

To receive new items and agree and prioritise the work programme of the Commission for the remainder of the 2018/19 Municipal Year.


The Commission considered its Work Programme for the remainder of the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

It was noted that the new Council Strategy was listed under the Task Groups section of the Work Plan however, might need to come back to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission at a later date.


1)    The work programme be noted.


Corporate Programme pdf icon PDF 51 KB

To advise the Commission of the Council’s Corporate Programme and its current areas of activity in order that it might identify projects requiring Overview and Scrutiny involvement. 

Additional documents:


Nick Carter introduced the report (Agenda Item 8) which advised the Commission of the Council’s Corporate Programme and its current areas of activity. The Commission was asked to consider projects requiring Overview and Scrutiny involvement.

The Corporate Programme highlighted major projects that were underway and was split into sections to aid its presentation. There were a vast number of infrastructure projects and a large ICT project underway. Projects were placed on the programme as a result of their size or complexity.

Councillor Mike Johnston noted that the project on the GDPR was not complete. Nick Carter reported that this was due to post implementation work. The GDPR had gone live across the Council and various follow up work was underway. Nick Carter stated that it would be particularly helpful for Members to take a look at this area. Councillor Emma Webster reported that Councillors James Cole and Ian Morrin were the representatives looking at this area in more detail.

Councillor Graham Bridgman highlighted that Corporate Programme needed to be updated to ensure the Member Sponsors represented the Portfolios accurately.

Councillor Lee Dillon queried the red areas of the Corporate Programme. He felt well informed about the areas detailed on page 31 however less so on the areas detailed on page 32 including the Shared Service for Legal, ePcs, the Social Care Replacement (CareDirector) and Digital Transformation of Training Courses.

Nick Carter explained that the Shared Service for Legal was scheduled to go to Corporate Board in August 2018. The project was behind schedule because further work was required on the business case. The ePcs project had been a challenge and Officers from West Berkshire Council would be meeting with Hampshire County Council, which was already using the system. Regarding the CareDirector project, there were outstanding issues that required addressing and Jo England (Client Financial Services Manager) was working on this. The Digital Transformation of Training Courses project had been slipped because ICT were having to deliver various projects on digitisation, so therefore it was a capacity issue.

Councillor Dillon requested that the spreadsheet include further detail that provided clear explanations for why projects were overdue and costs associated with this.

Councillor Johnston queried why for Superfast Broadband, two phases were red and one was green. Nick Carter explained that Phase 2 was Gigaclear and it was red because it was running late. Phase 3 was BT and the Council had been informed that this was running a year late. Phase 3 for Gigaclear involved rural areas of the district and it was expected that this could turn red at some point. Nick Carter believed that the delay in the projects was a result of sub-contractor availability.

Councillor Richard Somner noted that a number of the Schools Capital Projects were pending and queried why this was. Nick Carter stated that some of the projects marked as pending were active and needed updating.

Councillor Somner referred to the recent press release regarding the new Theale Primary School,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Birchwood Care Home CQC Inadequate Update pdf icon PDF 54 KB

This report follows on from the one presented to the OSMC in January 2018 in relation to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating of Inadequate awarded to Birchwood Care Home following an inspection in September 2017. This report provides a review of the progress achieved since September 2017 and outlines further actions required for scrutiny review.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered the report (Agenda Item 9). The report followed on from the one presented in January 2018 in relation to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating of Inadequate awarded to Birchwood Care Home following an inspection in September 2017. This update report provided a review of the progress achieved since September and outlined further actions required.

The follow up CQC inspection had taken place between 31st May and 2nd June 2018 and Sue Brain reported that it had been hoped that they would have the preliminary report in time for the Commission meeting however, it was not yet available. There would be no indication of the rating until after the report had gone to the CQC review panel. Once the report had gone through the necessary process it would be available for West Berkshire Council to challenge prior to final publication.

The report included as part of the agenda provided detail on work that had taken place since January 2018. It represented a snapshot of work taking place in June 2018. There was now a Registered Manager, Deputy Manager and Clinical Lead in post at Birchwood. There was still a struggle to recruit care workers however, this was a universal issue across the sector.

In November 2017 there had been a ratio of 35% permanent staff to 65% agency staff and this had improved to 52% and 48% respectively. It was hoped that these figures would continue to improve.

Councillor Emma Webster welcomed questions from Members of the Commission and suggested that they went through each page of the Birchwood Improvement Plan.

Councillor Graham Bridgman reported that he had visited the care home with Councillor Marigold Jaques and it had been very positive. The manager had seemed very efficient and much of the refurbishment work to the top floor had been completed. The colour of the walls had been toned down which was a huge improvement.

Councillor Lee Dillon asked what Officers expected the outcome of the inspection to be. Sue Brain explained that the most that could be achieved was to move up one level to ‘Requires Improvement’ and this was the same for any home rated as ‘Inadequate’ at the follow up inspection. Staff would work above and beyond to bring Birchwood up to the same level as all other homes in West Berkshire, which were rated “Good”.

Councillor Webster noted that there were 60 beds at Birchwood and asked how many of these were filled. Sue Brain reported that there was a voluntary embargo in place. Of the 50 beds dedicated to residents with dementia, there were 11 vacancies. The remaining 10 beds were currently used as short term step down beds, where there were fluctuations in bed occupancy. The maximum time someone could stay in the step down unit was six weeks.

It was noted that in light of an increased rating, numbers at the home could increase. Tandra Forster reported that Birchwood had also helped with the West Berkshire Council’s performance  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Key Accountable Performance 2017/18: Q4 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To scrutinise Q4 outturns against the Key Accountable Measures contained in the 2017/18 Council Performance Framework and consider topics for more detailed investigation. 

Additional documents:


The Commission considered the report (Agenda Item 10) which outlined quarter four outturns for the key accountable measures which monitored performance against the 2017/18 Council Performance Framework; provided assurance that the objectives set out in the Council Strategy and other areas of significant activity were being managed effectively; presented, by exception, those measures that were RAG rated ‘red’ (targets not achieved) and provided information on any remedial action/its impact; and recommended changes to measures/targets as requested by services.

The Commission was responsible for scrutinising Q4 outturns and with considering topics for more detailed investigation.

Catalin Bogos stated that exception reports were included within the report and invited questions from the Commission. 

Councillor Lee Dillon noted that only two thirds of the targets had been achieved. This did not align with the 80/20 (green/red) split that had been referred to in previous years. He accepted that targets were ambitious but in a third of cases they had not been achieved and the targets were there to improve services for residents. Catalin Bogos noted that there were a number of targets set at 25%. The aim was to be within the top 25% of best achieving authorities nationally and positive progress had been made. However, other authorities were also improving and in some cases faster than West Berkshire Council. Effort would be made to ensure target setting was realistic.

Councillor Emma Webster referred to planning targets and queried why targets were being set below the previous year’s performance. Catalin Bogos reported that targets had been set in agreement with the Industry Forum. There had been significant challenge at Corporate Board to analyse what the implications of this were.

Nick Carter stated that he was interested to see statistics for Development Control and felt that targets were being set too low.Processing times were relatively poor and fewer applications were being determined. Nick Carter confirmed that targets would be reset to 80% or higher. There was a good degree of challenge in this area and therefore it was anticipated that the situation would be turned around by Quarter 1 (2019).

Councillor Webster noted that the target date had been changed and queried the rationale behind this. Nick Carter reported that this was a result of the New Ways of Working. Planning Policy supported the appeal process and as a result there had been slippage in the Local Plan timetable.

Councillor Dillon referred to the Local Plan and the Minerals and Waste Local Plan and asked what risk was associated with moving the deadline for submission of these documents to April 2020. Nick Carter could not confirm the risks that existed and he was unable to comment on the technicalities. A written reply would be required on this from Development and Planning.

 Councillor Webster queried if there was potential for future challenge in light of recent changes by Government to policy. Nick Carter suggested that it would be worth considering a New Ways of Working Review. 

Councillor Rick Jones referred to Councillor Dillon’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Revenue Financial Performance 2017/18 - Provisional Outturn pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To inform the OSMC of the provisional revenue outturn for 2017/18. The Executive resolved that this report should be referred to the Budget Scrutiny Task Group for further review.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered the report (Agenda Item 11) which informed Members of the provisional revenue outturn for 2017/18. The Executive, at its meeting on 14 June 2018, resolved that the report should be referred to the Budget Scrutiny Task Group for further review.

Melanie Ellis summarised that the Council’s provisional outturn was an overspend of £276k, which represented 0.23% against a net revenue budget of £117.4million. The chart on page 136 of the agenda showed how this overspend was spread across the Directorates.

Councillor Lazlo Zverko asked if the overspend figure was likely to change and Melanie Ellis confirmed that the figures had been through audit and therefore it was unlikely.

Councillor Lee Dillon asked why an increase at month eight could be seen for the Communities Directorate. Melanie Ellis confirmed that she needed to look at the detail on this to provide an explanation so would ensure she brought it along to the first meeting of the Budget Scrutiny Task Group on 16th July 2018.


(1)          The report would be referred to the Budget Scrutiny Task Group for further review.

(2)          Further detail on month eight for the Communities Directorate be provided for Members at the Budget Scrutiny Task Group.


Capital Financial Performance 2017/18 - Provisional Outturn pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To inform the OSMC of the provisional capital outturn for 2017/18 and the likely impact of this on the 2018/19 Capital Programme.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered the report (Agenda Item 12) which informed Members of the provisional capital outturn for 2017/18 and the likely impact of this on the 2018/19 Capital Programme.

Council Lee Dillon noted that capital finance was about spending and property investment was about generating money. He wondered how the level of income expected to be generated would be reported.

Nick Carter reported that the Council received regular reports from its property agent which detailed performance against investments. However it was intended that this information and the forecast level of income would be reported in the quarterly revenue budget monitoring reports.

Gabrielle Esplin confirmed that forecast income from investment property was on target.

 RESOLVED that the Commission noted the report.



Items Called-in following the Executive on 14th June 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 was no Councillor Call for Action.



To consider any petitions requiring an Officer response.


No petitions were presented at the meeting.