West Berkshire Council

Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Stephen Chard / Charlene Hurd / Rachel Craggs 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 10 July 2018.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 10 July 2018 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following amendment:

Item 12, Revenue Financial Performance 2017/18 – Provisional Outturn, third paragraph:  Councillor Laszlo Zverko highlighted that the ‘s’ was missing from his name.


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 Lee Dillon declared an interest in Agenda Item 8, but reported that, as his interest was a personal or an other registrable interest, but not a disclosable pecuniary interest, he determined to remain to take part in the debate.

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.



To consider any petitions requiring an Officer response.


There were no petitions to be received at the meeting.


Actions from previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 63 KB

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

Additional documents:


The Commission received an update report regarding actions recorded during the previous meeting. Actions 1 to 8 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 highlighted that written responses had been provided for actions 4 (from the Minerals and Waste Team) and 6 (from Education) and could be viewed under sections five and six to the report.

Regarding actions 7 and 8 which related to the Revenue Financial Performance for 2017/18 Provisional Outturn, Stephen Chard reported that the Budget Scrutiny Task Group has met for the first time in July to set the Terms of Reference for the group. The second scheduled meeting had needed to be cancelled however, there was an item on the Budget at that evening’s Commission meeting.

Councillor Emma Webster referred to the response from Education concerning action 6, regarding achievement at GCSE. Councillor Webster thanked Mark Browne for the detail that had been provided and stressed that work needed to continue with Further Education (FE) Colleges and employers. Mark Browne added that work was taking place to link Economic Development Plans together. The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was key in influencing this area of work. It was also possible that there would be some European Union funding available going forward.

RESOLVED that the Commission noted the report on actions from the previous meeting. 


West Berkshire Council Forward Plan 9 October 2018 to 31 January 2019 pdf icon PDF 208 KB

To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 9 October 2018 to 31 January 2019 and decide whether to review any of the proposed items prior to the meeting indicated in the Plan.


The Commission considered the West Berkshire Forward Plan (Agenda Item 6) for the period covering 9 October 2018 to 31 January 2018.

Councillor Lee Dillon stated that he agreed with Proposed Property Investment being a standing item.

Councillor Dillon noted that Devolution was also on the Forward Plan as a standing item and this could be removed as it was not required.

RESOLVED that the Forward Plan and the recommended change was noted


Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme pdf icon PDF 24 KB

To receive new items and agree and prioritise the work programme of the Commission for the remainder of 2018/2019.


The Commission considered its work programme.

Resolved that

1)    The Council Strategy Workshops could be removed from the Task Group section as these had taken place.

2)    The Commission noted the work programme.


Prevalence of Homelessness in West Berkshire pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To provide an update on the prevalence of homelessness in West Berkshire following the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2018 which came into force in April 2018 and to inform the Commission on activity taking place to tackle the issue.

Additional documents:


(Councillor Lee Dillon declared a personal interest in Agenda item 8 by virtue of the fact that he worked for Sovereign Housing Association. As his interest was personal and not prejudicial he was permitted to take part in the debate).

The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 8), which provided an update of the position with homelessness following the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2018. Councillor Hilary Cole (Executive Portfolio Holder for Housing) introduced the item and reported that Sally Kelsall and her team had put a great deal of effort into providing an extremely comprehensive report for the Commission.

Councillor Cole reported that the Homelessness Reduction Act had come into force in April 2018. Implementation of the Act had created an increase in workload for the Housing Team and as a result the Team had been increased to accommodate the extra work. There were two strands to the Act, comprising of homelessness prevention and provision for rough sleepers. It was important that the two strands were considered as separate entities as they were very different.

Sally Kelsall reported that the Housing Strategy Group brought all partner organisations together and had led on the work. Excellent partnership working had taken place.

Sally Kelsall stated that there was an amendment to the report since it had been written. The ‘over flow facility’ had been suggested due to the high number of rough sleepers, as Two Saints could only accommodate 20. However, due to the late notice, logistics and costs of setting up such a facility, West Berkshire Homeless Charity were unable to progress with the suggestion, so Two Saints were investigating alternatives and the Council was working on reducing the number before the winter cover starts.

Councillor Lee Dillon referred to the extra winter provision that would be provided by Two Saints and asked what would happen to some clients who were reluctant to use Two Saints. There were a lot of reasons for why people became homeless and these were not always attributable to alcohol and drugs. Councillor Cole noted the point raised by Councillor Dillon however, stated that there was a high level of supervision provided by Two Saints and that the perception was not a reality.  Work was still ongoing to find alternative provision however, in the meantime Two Saints would be best placed to provide the service. Councillor Cole highlighted that the Local Authority had a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place with Two Saints.

Councillor Dillon was aware that the Salvation Army had offered provision the previous year and noted that this was no longer available and queried the reason for this. Gary Lugg explained that the West Berkshire Homelessness Charity had provided services the previous year. The Charity had worked with the Housing Team and the Strategy Group and were happy to carry on providing services coordinated by Two Saints going forward. This would avoid the duplication of provision.

Councillor Cole stated that the Homelessness Strategy Group had successfully brought voluntary organisations together that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


West Berkshire Vision 2036 pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To review the proposed 2036 Vision document which is currently out to public consultation.

Additional documents:


(Councillor Emma Webster declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 9 by virtue of the fact that she was the West Berkshire Council representative for both the Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel and the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority. As her interest was personal and not prejudicial she was permitted to take part in the debate).

The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 9) concerning the Vision 2036. The aim was to present the 2036 Vision document and to ask the Commission to note that it was currently out for public consultation.

Gabrielle Mancini introduced herself as the new Economic Development Officer at West Berkshire Council. The West Berkshire Vision document provided a broad statement of intent that would be monitored by the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWBB), providing a partnership approach to its delivery. The document looked at what was possible in West Berkshire and asked partners to sign up to aspirations for the district. The document had been out for consultation for three weeks and this would continue until the end of October 2018. So far there had been a good level of comment received. Gabrielle Mancini encouraged Members to disseminate the document to their parishes. The plan was to submit the final draft of the document to the HWBB in January 2019 and Full Council in March 2019 for sign off.

Councillor Lee Dillon referred to details of the HWBB on the website and had noted that the membership of the Board was listed however it neglected to detail the name of each member represented. Therefore it might not be apparent to members of the public that the HWBB was the best body to monitor the document. Gabrielle Mancini stated that she would feed Councillor Dillon’s comments back, as this could be easily rectified.

Gabrielle Mancini added that the document was the first of its kind to be overseen by the HWBB, as in the past similar documents had been ratified by Council without input from partners. Councillor Dillon also did not feel from reading the document that it was clear why the HWBB was overseeing it. Gabrielle Mancini stated that once the Board had signed up to the document, detail could be provided on who each of the partners were. The HWBB was a group consisting of a wide variety of stakeholders that went beyond health.

Nick Carter added that the HWBB had become the primary strategic partnership for West Berkshire and was similar in nature to the former Local Strategic Partnership (LSP). Nick Carter suggested that a paragraph be added to the inside cover of the document to explain the role of the HWBB.

Councillor Dillon noted that there were some typographical errors to correct within the draft. He also referred to the ‘Where we are now’ page regarding the 10,000 homes built between 2000 and 2018 and noted that this did not follow the same pattern in relation to the time period it covered.

Councillor Dillon felt that no-one could really disagree with the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Key Accountable Performance 2018/19: Quarter One pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To scrutinise Q1 outturns against the Key Accountable Measures contained in the 2018/19 Council Performance Framework and consider topics for more detailed investigation.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 10) concerning quarter one, key accountable performance for 2018/19.

Catalin Bogos drew the Commission’s attention to the scorecard on page 81 and confirmed that most areas were on target. There had been some delays on key projects. Although red on some areas Safeguarding Children and Adults were achieving some very good results.

The measure of the six Adult Social Care (ASC) provider services inspections’ outcomes, showed that one nursing home (Birchwood) recently transferred to the Council’s responsibility and had been rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as ‘inadequate’. Catalin Bogos added that the CQC had since re-inspected the Care Home and rated it as ‘requires improvement’ but were not able to raise the rating beyond this due to the previous rating of ‘inadequate’. The care home was a priority for improvement and an action plan was in place.

Good performance had continued in quarter one relating to children’s social care core business. Exception reports had been provided for areas where performance was below that expected.

Regarding Adult Social Care, the percentage of long term clients receiving an annual review was one percent below target, due to a number of vacancies within the team. Action was being taken on this and detail was included within the exception report.

Regarding Planning and Housing, Catalin Bogos reported that there was an exception report included regarding the timeliness of planning applications. Corporate Board had taken the decision to increase the targets for planning application determination, to reflect the national average for processing times. Otherwise Catalin Bogos confirmed that performance in this area for quarter one was relatively indifferent. 

Councillor Laszlo Zverko noted that staff turnover was at a rate of 14% and queried how this compared to other areas. Catalin Bogos reported that LG Inform provided some information on national averages and gave a figure of 14%. Councillor Zverko asked how this compared to the past five years and Catalin Bogos confirmed that staff turnover had increased from about 11/12%. Private sector information suggested that staff turnover in the sector was at about 15%.

Councillor Lee Dillon noted within the planning applications exception report that the target had changed. He queried if the language had remained the same regarding the 13 week period and Catalin Bogos confirmed that it had. Councillor Dillon noted that there had been a 24% drop in planning applications however, the target was still not being met. Nick Carter commented that this was likely to be because there were a large number of vacancies within the service that were proving difficult to fill. Councillor Dillon asked if there was a strategy in place for filling the vacancies and requested that a written response be provided by Gary Lugg on the issue.

Councillor Webster referred to the submission of the new Local Plan and Minerals and Waste Local Plan page 112 and stated that when target dates were changed, it would be helpful if explanations were included in the ‘comment’ column. Catalin Bogos  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Financial Performance Report: Month Five pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To inform the OSMC of the latest revenue financial performance of the Council.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 11) concerning the 2018/19 Revenue Financial Performance for Month Five. Andy Walker introduced the report and explained that the aim of it was to inform Members of the latest revenue financial performance for 2018/19. It was clear from the report that the Council’s position had worsened since the previous period. The Month five forecast was an overspend of £1.9m, which was 1.6% of the net budget. The forecast overspend had increased by £634k from Month Four. The main increases were £165k in Adult Social Care commissioning and £200k in Children and Family Services as a result of increased expenditure on childcare lawyers attributable to the increase in complex cases. Finally £118k was attributable to Transport and Countryside largely due to a range of pressures on the car parking budget.

Andy Walker explained that the Council’s Executive were eager to mitigate the position. The £1.9m already took in to account cutting unnecessary spending. The senior management team and Members would be working to maximise mitigation action going forward.

Councillor Tim Metcalfe noted that the net revenue budget was detailed as £119.4m in the finance report however, had been noted as £125.4m on page 81 of the performance report (Agenda Item 10). Andy Walker stated that he would need to clarify the figure however, expected that the discrepancy between the figures was linked to the Better Care Fund. Andy Walker would report back on this at a later date once confirmation had been sought from Officers.

Councillor Dillon noted that there was no plan to deploy risk reserves in year and queried how much of the pressure was inflationary.

Councillor Dillon noted that the aim was to slow spending across the Council and queried what monitoring would take place on the reduction in spending to assess the impact of mitigating action on service provision.

Nick Carter explained that the aim was to pull services back in order to save £1.2m and the progress to date was very positive. Both vacancies and recruitment had been slowed down and conversations were taking place with each Head of Service to identify where spending could be reduced. Nick Carter stated that if there were to be impacts upon services then Portfolio Holders would be involved. Currently there were no plans to make any dramatic changes to services. It was possible that there might also be other opportunities on the horizon such as funding from Government for pressures being faced by ASC. Delayed Transfers of Care (DToC) were the cause of some of the overspend and although performance was good for DToC locally, this was not sustainable. It was anticipated that by month six, there would be a much clearer picture of the progress mitigating actions were having in helping to offset the deficit.

Andy Walker reported that risk reserves had not been deployed until the end of the last financial year. The report was very transparent regarding what the risks were however, at the moment the Executive  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.