West Berkshire Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: This meeting will be held in a virtual format in accordance with The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panels Meetings)

Contact: Gordon Oliver / James Townsend 

Items
No. Item

6.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 283 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meetings of the Commission held on 14 January 2020, 14 May 2020 and 25 June 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meetings held on 14 January, 14 May and 25 June were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.

7.

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.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received.

 

8.

Petitions

Purpose: To consider any petitions requiring an Officer response.

Minutes:

There were no petitions to note.

9.

Actions from previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 67 KB

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

Minutes:

There were 5 actions followed up from previous Commission meetings:

(16)     Completed

(17)     Completed

(18)     Gordon Oliver stated that a schedule of reports was being finalised and   service review items will be included on the forward plan.

(19)     Councillor Law stated the item should be taken off the list as it was in hand.

(20)     Gordon Oliver stated that the group convened in June 2020 and is   scheduled to report to OSMC in October 2020

 

10.

London Road Industrial Estate Task and Finish Group Report pdf icon PDF 481 KB

Purpose: To outline to OSMC the work undertaken by the task group created to better understand the advice and guidance received in relation to the Council’s decision when procuring a preferred partner for the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE) development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Alan Law declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda item 6 by virtue of the fact that he was a member of the Executive at the time. As his interest was personal and prejudicial he left the meeting and took no part in the debate or voting on the matter. Councillor Lee Dillon (Vice-Chairman) took over as Chairman for this item.

Councillor Tony Vickers declared a personal interest in Agenda item 6 by virtue of the fact that he had worked on planning applications with a member of the public with an interest in item 6. As his interest was personal and not prejudicial he was permitted to take part in the debate and vote on the matter.

The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 6) concerning the London Road Industrial Estate Task Group.

 

Councillor James Cole introduced the report that sought to outline to OSMC the work undertaken by the task group created to better understand the advice and guidance received in relation to the Council’s decision when procuring a preferred partner for the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE) development. He stated that the full list of recommendations by the Task Group are set out in Paragraph 5.42 and Appendix H, and it is recommended that these be adopted by OSMC as recommendations to the Executive.

 

Councillor Vickers stated that ‘east of the a339’ was not part of the Newbury Vision area. He also noted in the Newbury Town Centre Plan 2005, one option for the town centre boundary included LRIE. He further noted that one of the problems the Council has had was that there has not been a planning led master plan for the area. He also stated that he thought the terms of reference were too tight and that scrutiny should be led by the opposition.

 

Councillor Jeff Brooks stated that he was looking for assurances that things had changed and processes had been updated. He stated he wanted to see evidence of this.

 

Councillor Garth Simpson stated that the report showed the lack of project management that was involved in LRIE. He asked if the Commission were now satisfied that the Council had invested sufficient resources to resolve the issues that arose out of LRIE.

 

Councillor Steve Masters also stated that the Commission needed assurances that processes had changed and the same mistakes will not be repeated. He asked what measures had been taken to fix the issues of LRIE.

 

Councillor Cole stated that the project management comments in the report demonstrated that the Council had developed since the LRIE started. He stated that the Council now used the Prince-Two programme for management and that it had programme officers for big projects. He also noted that the Council was now putting staff through project management training. He stated that this was evidence that it things had changed.

 

Councillor Marino asked for clarification on VAET notice.

 

Councillor Cole stated that it meant Voluntary Ex Anti-Transparency notice.

 

Sarah Clarke clarified that it related to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge pdf icon PDF 356 KB

Purpose: To publish the results of the LGA Corporate Peer Challenge for West Berkshire Council and an action plan to address the recommendations within it.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 7) concerning the Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge.

Joseph Holmes introduced a report that sought to outline the results of the LGA Corporate Peer Challenge for West Berkshire Council and an action plan to address the recommendations within it. He noted that there were a number of positives in the report but it did highlight the need for the Council to continue to improve its communications and engagement.

 

Councillor Doherty stated that the key points to address in the report were in motion and being addressed, such as the communications and engagement strategy.

 

Councillor Cole stated that the change to communications over the last year had improved dramatically.

 

Councillor Vickers stated that he would like to see more scrutiny and resources for internal scrutiny.

 

Councillor Law stated that he did not recognise some of Councillor Vickers’ comments.

 

Councillor Doherty stated that the Council was part of the LGA and they reviewed the Council’s services on a regular basis. She also noted that there was scrutiny through a number of streams, such as the Health and Wellbeing Board.

 

Councillor Brooks stated that officers were stretched and there was always more that could be done in terms of resources.

 

Councillor Law stated that the Council’s telephone system and switchboard needed improving in order to continue the improvements in communications.

 

Resolved that: the report and recommendations were noted.

 

12.

2019/20 Performance Report Quarter Four pdf icon PDF 697 KB

Purpose: To provide assurance that the core business and council priorities for improvement measures (Council Strategy 2019-2023) are being managed effectively.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 8) concerning the 2019/20 Performance Report Quarter Four. Catalin Bogos stated that the report sought to provide assurance that the core business and council priorities for improvement measures (Council Strategy 2019-2023) were being managed effectively. He also sought to highlight successes and where performance had fallen below the expected level. He asked the Commission to note the report, including the recommendations approved by the Executive.

 

Councillor Dillon stated that the report needed to be clearer when it referred to Covid-19 impacts. He also wanted to thank the work that had been done on housing payments free-school meals.

 

Councillor Cole stated that he was un-sure what the graph on page 162 stood for.

 

Catalin Bogos stated that it related to performance measures.

 

Councillor Jo Stewart stated that she would re-think the presentation of the graph with Catalin Bogos. In reference to Councillor Dillon’s point on Covid-19 impacts, she stated that further clarification would be given on this in the report. She also noted that further investigations into comparison of sick levels would be undertaken.

 

Councillor Vickers stated that page 188 ‘Produce the infrastructure delivery plan’, he believed that PAG had a figure for housing numbers.

 

Bryan Lyttle stated this was still in the report because it was still in a range and not a definitive figure.

 

Councillor Law stated that the report focused solely on the Council’s core business and stated that one of the recommendations was to establish a new strategic goals category.

 

Catalin Bogos stated that some of the KPI’s were incorporated from the recommendations and stated that others were being worked on.

 

Councillor Law stated that he would like to see some comments on the strategic goals at the next OSMC meeting.

 

Action: Gordon Oliver to send the Performance Report from OSMC in January 2020 to Councillor Stewart to review the recommendations made.

 

 

Resolved that: the report was noted.     

13.

2019/20 Revenue Financial Performance: Provisional Outturn pdf icon PDF 705 KB

Purpose: To report on the financial performance of the Council’s revenue budgets. This report is the provisional outturn position for 2019/20.

Minutes:

The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 9) concerning the 2019/20 Revenue Financial Performance: Provisional Outturn. Joseph Holmes outlined the report and sought to report on the financial performance of the Council’s revenue budgets. He noted that the provisional revenue outturn position was an under spend of £1.46m (comprised of £1.3m in Adult Social Care (ASC),

£435k in Children & Family Services (CFS) and £245k in Education), which was 1.2% of the Council’s 2019/20 approved net revenue budget of £125m. He stated that the under spend would have a positive impact on the General Fund reserve.

 

Councillor Brooks stated that an under-spend was as dangerous as overspending, especially given a 1.5% increase in Council tax.

 

Councillor Mackinnon stated that it was very difficult to forecast budgets exactly.

 

Councillor Brooks stated that he believed Adult Social Care should now be more ‘forecastable’ after previous years also underspent.

 

Councillor Cole stated that future budgeting would have to take account of the impact from Covid-19.

 

Joseph Holmes stated that this had been taken into consideration.

 

Councillor Law pointed to page 195 table 5.2 ‘net revenue forecast’ and stated that quarter 4 highlighted a big under-spend. He stated that he was concerned that 4 months out and the Council still were not able to forecast it.

 

Joseph Holmes stated that the Council did model adult social care on range and there was room for caution in the forecast, having taken into consideration previous years’ spending.

 

Councillor Dillon asked if there were any major bills that adult social care had to pay at the end of quarter 4. He also stated that there should be more commentary on the forecasted adult social care spending.

 

Joseph Holmes stated that quarter 4 often saw additional costs, which did not happen this financial year.

 

Resolved that: the report and recommendations were noted.

14.

2019/20 Capital Financial Performance Report - Outturn pdf icon PDF 759 KB

Purpose:  The financial performance reports provided to Members, throughout the financial year, report the under or over spend against the Council’s approved capital budget.  This report presents the provisional capital outturn for the Council in respect of financial year 2019/20.  It should be noted that these figures are provisional and may change as a result of External Audit.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 10) concerning the 2019/20 Capital Financial Performance Report - Outturn. Joseph Holmes introduced the report that sought to highlight the under or over spend against the Council’s approved capital budget. He stated that the report presented the provisional capital outturn for the Council in respect of financial year 2019/20. He further noted that the figures are provisional and may change as a result of External Audit. The provisional outturn was a £52.4 million underspend against the 2019/20 revised capital budget of £91.9 million. £35 million of the under spend related to the Commercial Property budget which was not spent during 2019/20.

 

Councillor Law stated that the figures related to a 30% under spend and asked for clarification.

 

Joseph Holmes stated that there had been some re-profiling into different financial years that had caused a lot of the under spend. He pointed to the LEP partnership funding for Newbury Railway Station and he pointed to page 208 which set out some key areas in education services where some of the school works had been re-profiled into previous years.

 

Councillor Law asked if the re-profiling was higher than previous years.

 

Joseph Holmes stated that he would have to check this.

 

Councillor Vickers pointed to page 208 4.2 (b) in relation to Sandleford Access and its timeline for 2020/21 and asked if this was too optimistic.

 

Bryan Lyttle stated that it was achievable.

 

RESOLVED that the recommendations in the report were agreed.

15.

West Berkshire Council Forward Plan 7 July 2020 to 31 October 2020 pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Purpose: To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 7 July 2020 to 31 October 2020 and decide whether to review any of the proposed items prior to the meeting indicated in the Plan.

Minutes:

The Commission considered the West Berkshire Forward Plan (Agenda Item 11) for the period covering 7 July 2020 to 31 October 2020.

Councillor Law stated that he had spoken with Councillor Doherty about the possibility of a 6 month forward plan.

Resolved that the Forward Plan be noted.

16.

Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme pdf icon PDF 20 KB

Purpose: To receive new items and agree and prioritise the work programme of the Commission.

Minutes:

The Commission considered its work programme for the year 2020/21.

Councillor Dillon stated that he would like to see some scrutiny on how the assets were disposed of at the London Road site, what the Council’s engagement methods were, the rational or business case for closure was, what the Council’s reading of the re-purposing policy was and whether the Council were opening up for challenge due to the site being vacant for two years.

Councillor Law stated that he would take this up with the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council to discuss timings and resources available.

Councillor Simpson stated he would like to see some work done on project management scrutiny.

Councillor Law stated that he would take this up with the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council to discuss timings and resources available.

Resolved that the changes to the work programme be noted.