West Berkshire Council

Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Stephen Chard / Charlene Hurd / Rachel Craggs 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meetings of the Commission held on 9th October 2018 and 6th December 2018.

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The Minutes of the meetings held on 9 October 2018 and 6 December 2018 were approved as true and correct records and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following amendments:

·         Minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 6th December 2018, page 15, Appointment of the Vice-Chairman: Councillor James Cole



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.




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 98 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 1 to 7 had either been completed or were in hand and could therefore be removed from the list of actions arising from the previous Commission meeting.

Councillor Alan Law referred to section eight on page 18 of the report, which included a response from Paul James. At the last meeting of OSMC it had been requested that the Shaw House Team be challenged on why the income target was not being met and what plans were in place to turn the situation around. Councillor Law had read the response and noted that there had been an estimated shortfall at the start of the financial year of £30k in the Shaw House budget. He was concerned that this was only going to rise further as the year progressed. Councillor Gordon Lundie suggested that the shortfall might have been carried over from the previous year.

Councillor Law moved on to explain that a pre-meet for OSMC had been held on 8th January 2019 at his request. The meeting had proved useful in setting the priorities for the Commission going forward. Pre-meetings would take place before each OSMC going forward.

Councillor Law referred to the agenda for the meeting and suggested that item six (West Berkshire Council Forward Plan) be considered at the same time as item 11 (OSMC Work Programme).

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


West Berkshire Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 172 KB

To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 5th February to 31st May 2019 and decide whether to review any of the proposed items prior to the meeting indicated in the Plan.


The Commission agreed to consider the West Berkshire Council Forward Plan (Agenda Item 6) at the same time as the Forward Plan for OSMC (Agenda Item 10).


Corporate Programme and Development & Planning New Ways of Working pdf icon PDF 51 KB


(1)  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.

(2)  To present the report to the Commission setting out the findings of the New Ways or Working review for the Development and Planning Service.

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The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 7) concerning the Corporate Programme and the Development and Planning New Ways of Working (NWOW) Review. The purpose of the report was to advise the Commission of the Council’s Corporate Programme and its current areas of activity in order that it might identify projects requiring OSMC involvement. The report also aimed to set out the findings of the NWOW review for the Development and Planning Service.

David Lowe drew attention to page 37 of the NWOW final report for Development Planning where the methodology was set out. Each service would be reviewed over a three year period to ensure all services were performing effectively and efficiently and that money was being invested in the right places. David Lowe stated that the initial methodology had been enhanced as the process progressed.

Review teams consisted of a number of Officers from different areas such as Performance, Human Resources and Digital Services. Each Officer would look at a service with regards to their particular discipline and provide a report. Each report would then be compiled in to a single pack for consideration by senior Officers and Executive Members, who would scrutinise and form recommendations for improvement, before the information was submitted to the Corporate Programme Board.

Councillor Ian Morrin asked how the Officers involved in the reviews were chosen. David Lowe stated that Officers from outside of the organisation would have been chosen if cost had not been an issue. Officers that had an understanding of the Service being reviewed were chosen. Approval had been obtained for an analyst to be appointed.

David Lowe reported that the role of the review team was to collate the data and then questions needed to be asked regarding what could be gained from this information. Data was presented to Nick Carter and other Senior Officers. Although using internal resources did pose challenges, those who formed the review teams were not working directly for the services being reviewed and therefore could be objective. Nick Carter concurred that there was understandably a challenge if Officers were not experts of the area being reviewed. However, the aim of the work was to improve from the current position. Nick Carter acknowledged that views might differ from someone outside of the Local Authority however, this option was too costly. Councillor Morrin stated that it was possible that things could be missed that would be picked up by an external resource.

David Lowe explained that the Development and Planning Service was the first to be reviewed and the objectives could be seen set out under section 2.2 of the report. The review process included the development of a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound) action plan for each service. David Lowe commented that the only element of SMART that was not yet available was a timeline.

Councillor Alan Law referred to the Corporate Programme and noted that he could not see Development and Planning detailed. David Lowe confirmed that this was because the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


The Draft Council Strategy 2019-2023 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To present the priorities for improvement and the commitments that are planned for inclusion in the draft new Council Strategy 2019 – 2023 for public consultation.

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Councillor Alan Law introduced the report (Agenda Item 8), which presented the priorities for improvement and the commitments that were planned for inclusion in the draft new Council Strategy 2019-2023 for public consultation.

It had been agreed at the pre-meeting for OSMC that the item would not be discussed in depth as the Strategy was about to be released for public consultation (from January until February 2019).

Councillor James Cole was concerned that housing was not featured within the Strategy as a priority. Catalin Bogos explained that the document was a working draft and would soon go out to public consultation. Councillor Law concurred with Councillor Cole and felt that reference to the key points of the Housing Strategy was required within the Council Strategy. Catalin Bogos highlighted the priority on page 91 of the report which contained the commitment to ‘Develop an Integrated Infrastructure Plan to deliver regeneration, housing, flood prevention and alleviation and travel and transport infrastructure’. Members and Officers decided that, for the new strategy, instead of focusing on individual domains of infrastructure improvement, the approach should be to ensure that planned improvement was focusing on all elements being integrated into a joined up approach. Evidence and detail behind each of the priorities would be included when the document went out for public consultation. Catalin Bogos also pointed out that ‘Planning and Housing’ was listed as Core Business in the Council Strategy framework diagram.

Councillor Cole commented that there was a great difference between urban and rural areas in the district with regards to housing. Families living in the countryside were being split up because their grown up children could not afford to live there independently and Councillor Cole felt that this issue required focus.

Councillor Law felt it was important that the detail that sat behind the Council Strategy was not lost. In his view, some of the priorities in the Housing Strategy should be included in the Council Strategy. 

Andy Day explained that the issue was that the Council Strategy was about priorities for improvement. It was not possible for the document to cover all elements as it was essentially a high level document that needed to be drafted ready for public consultation in January 2019.

Councillor Dillon supported the joined approach that would be taken by Council Services in delivering the priorities within the Council Strategy.  

Catalin Bogos stated that it was important with West Berkshire being a largely rural district, that a balance was sought between technology and protecting the environment.

Councillor Marigold Jaques suggested that the Commission be given the opportunity to view the feedback from the public consultation.

Councillor Law commended the joined up approach being undertaken to deliver the Strategy however, stressed the importance of retaining detail.


·         An opportunity for the Commission to explore the feedback from the public consultation on the Council Strategy 2019-23 and to have an overview of the measure used to monitor commitments.

·         The reference to addressing housing need was better reflected in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.


Key Accountable Performance 2018/19: Q2 pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To scrutinise Q2 outturns against the Key Accountable Measures contained in the 2018/19 Council Performance Framework and consider topics for more detailed investigation. 

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The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 9) concerning quarter two, key accountable performance for 2018/19.

Catalin Bogos reported that the report gave detail on performance against the Council Strategy. It was important to note that demand was rising within certain services including Adult Social Care and Children and Family Services. Achievements for these services were listed within the report.

At the end of September 2018, four measures were rated as amber and four were rated as red. Regarding the red targets, it was unlikely that these would be achieved by the end of the year. Exception reports had been provided for each area rated as red or amber.

Councillor Lee Dillon felt that Catalin Bogos was the messenger and felt that the Leader or Deputy Leader should be present as well as Portfolio Holders to answer questions in detail. Councillor Dillon noted that the target regarding London Road Industrial Estate would have turned red since the quarter two information was released. Catalin Bogos commented that the report reflected the status of milestones and the narrative explained the position. Actions were in place to address any outstanding areas. Due to the timing of when information was available, work sometimes had to take place retrospectively.

Catalin Bogos commented that although he was the messenger for performance he was present to listen to views and obtain further information if required by Members.

Councillor Mike Johnston commented that there was less than three months to go until the end of the financial year and asked if there was a possibility that any of the red or amber targets would change to green by year end. Nick Carter stated that targets rated red would not be recovered however, those that were rated amber should be.

Councillor Gordon Lundie stated that if Portfolio Holders were invited to Commission meetings there would be a danger of recreating the Executive, where they were already held accountable for performance. Councillor Dillon stated that he did not mind where the questions were being asked as long they were being raised.

Councillor Ian Morrin stated his frustration with the system as targets rated red seemed to be staying red for a long time, particularly some Education targets around closing the gap.

Councillor Law asked if performance indicators were up to date and valid and that this was potentially an area OSMC could focus on. Nick Carter confirmed that OSMC had focused on this in the past through a task group. There was a lot of work taking place to resolve areas rated as red and Heads of Service were well informed on the issues. Red targets could be achieved in time however, it could not be confirmed when. Nick Carter reassured the Commission that red targets were not dismissed. The Head of Education was well aware of the red targets within his area around attainment and the reasons for the position however, they were particularly challenging. Nick Carter highlighted that they were long term strategic targets.

Councillor Morrin reiterated his  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.


Financial Performance Report: Month Seven pdf icon PDF 82 KB

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

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Councillor Alan Law stated that a special OSMC meeting would take place at the end of February regarding Adult Social Care and the budget.


·         Financial performance would be discussed at the special meeting of OSMC in February 2019.

·         The Commission noted the Financial Performance Report for month seven.  


Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme pdf icon PDF 21 KB

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


Councillor Alan Law drew attention to the Council’s Forward Plan on page 23 of the agenda pack and the OSMC work programme on page 167 and asked Members of the Commission for suggestions of important areas for review.

Councillor Law explained that the work of the Commission would fall in to three themed areas going forward: corporate effectiveness, policy effectiveness and partnership effectiveness. It was hoped that each of the areas would have an assigned task group but this was dependent on officer resource. The Commission had agreed that in order to improve the effectiveness of OSMC that greater and more in depth focus should be given to less areas.

Councillor Lee Dillon stated that a review would be required on the London Road Industrial Estate. Focus was required on the procurement process and the advice given to Members that informed the decisions that were made. Councillor Law concurred that this was an area that required a review and suggested that himself and Andy Day provide a scoping report for Members to consider. This review had also been requested by the Portfolio Holder. Councillor Dillon felt that the review needed to commence prior to May 2019, to ensure Members involved in the original case were still in Office to ensure evidence could be collated. Councillor Law was of the view that the in depth review should take place after the election that considered lessons learned from the process.

Councillor Mike Johnston suggested that a review take place on the effectiveness on the New Ways of Working programme in six months’ time. Councillor Ian Morrin felt that the transformation to digitalisation should be a key focus of this. It was proposed that Councillor James Cole and Councillor Morrin draft the scope for the review.

Councillor Morrin suggested that a review take place for the GDPR. Councillor Law stated that he had been advised that this should be reviewed by the Governance and Ethics Committee. Councillor Morrin asked that confirmation be provided at the next meeting of the Commission regarding when the review process would take place.

Councillor Law stated that the Adult Social Care Budget needed to be added to the work programme and would be considered at the special meeting in February 2019.


·         The London Road Industrial Estate be added to the Work Programme for OSMC and a scoping report be provided by Councillor Law and Andy Day.

·         A review of the NWOW be added to the Work Programme for OSMC and a scoping report be provided by Councillor Cole and Councillor Morrin.

·         Confirmation be provided on when a review of the GDPR by the Governance and Ethics Committee would take place.

·         The ASC Budget be added to the Work Programme for February 2019.