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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Second Floor Meeting Area Council Offices Market Street Newbury. View directions

Contact: Gordon Oliver 


No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 408 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 25 January 2022.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2022 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Actions from previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 206 KB

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


The following comments were made:

·         Action 50 – Since there was no further update from Councillor Lee Dillon, it was agreed this action should be removed from the list.

·         Action 54 – It was agreed that this action should be retained pending consultation with Councillors Alan Law and Tony Vickers.

·         Action 55 – It was noted that there had been a recent change in legislation that may be relevant to British Sign Language and the action should be retained pending further investigation.

·         Action 56 – It was agreed this action should be retained pending confirmation of alternative means of access for Members to the Council’s intranet.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 298 KB

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 Steve Masters declared an interest in Agenda Item 6, and reported that, as his interest was a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other registrable interest, he would remain to take part in the debate, but would not vote on the matter.

Councillor Tony Vickers declared an interest in Agenda Items 6 and 7, 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 and vote on the matters.


Petitions pdf icon PDF 294 KB

Purpose: To consider any petitions requiring an Officer response.


There were no petitions to be received at the meeting.


Securing Effective Management of the Kennet and Avon Canal pdf icon PDF 439 KB

Purpose: To consider how West Berkshire Council can work with the Canal and River Trust, Sustrans and other partners in the effective management of the Kennet and Avon Canal Towpath.

Additional documents:


(Councillor Steve Masters declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda item 6 by virtue of the fact that he lived on the canal and paid a licence to the Canal and River Trust. As his interest was personal and prejudicial he elected to take part in the debate, but to not to vote on the matter).

(Councillor Tony Vickers declared a personal interest in Agenda item 6 by virtue of the fact that he was a Member of Newbury Town Council which was engaged in activities around the canal, and he was also a Member of the Local Access Forum, which considered use of the public rights of way network. As his interest was personal and not prejudicial he was permitted to take part in the debate and vote on the matter).

Paul Hendry presented a report (Agenda Item 6) on Securing Effective Management of the Kennet and Avon Canal. The report covered: the history of the canal; issues affecting use and management of the canal and its towpath; and the key stakeholders involved. It was noted that the Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership was due to come to an end in March 2023, when West Berkshire Council’s funding contribution of £25,000 per annum would also end. Discussions were needed regarding the future management of the canal and particularly its towpath. In terms of funding, Section 106 funds had been secured improvements in Newbury, but there was a risk that opportunities may be missed to secure funds from other sources. Also, concerns were expressed about local authorities acting in isolation.

Councillor Tony Vickers noted that the canal was a potential source of flooding, particularly in Central Newbury, and there was a lack of clarity as to who was responsible for elements of the canal. This aspect had not been addressed in the report, but it was of interest to West Berkshire Council as the local Flood Authority. Councillor Vickers recognised the value of the towpath for walkers and cyclists, and also the conflicts that could occur. He agreed that the Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership should be resurrected. It had been established to oversee expenditure of a substantial external grant. He expressed concern about potential loss of funding from 2023 onwards and agreed that stakeholders should work in partnership to secure funding for essential maintenance.

Jon Winstanley stated that the Environment Agency was the flood authority for the Kennet & Avon Canal and River Kennet. He also noted that a significant amount had been spent on flood defences in Newbury, and the Environment Agency and riparian owners had a responsibility to maintain these.

Councillor James Cole highlighted issues with: cyclists travelling too fast / too close to walkers; walkers with dogs not on leads; walkers with headphones who were oblivious to approaching cyclists; and lock breakages. He also noted that some people lived on the canal and it was important to represent their needs.

Councillor Claire Rowles asked how the canal supported sustainable transport and net zero carbon targets. She  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.


Scrutiny Review of the Draft West Berkshire Leisure Strategy pdf icon PDF 455 KB

Purpose: To present to OSMC the work undertaken by the Task and Finish Group to review the Draft Leisure Strategy and the business case for the Newbury Lido.

Additional documents:


Councillor Tony Linden presented the Scrutiny Review of the Draft Leisure Strategy (Agenda Item 7). Thanks were given to Members and Officers for their contributions. The Task Group had made a number of recommendations, which were listed on pages 86-87 of the agenda papers. While there were no major shortcomings in the Strategy or supporting public engagement exercises, a number of areas were identified where improvements could be made. The Newbury Lido was considered to be an excellent project that would attract people from a wide area including those living outside the District and with a longer operating window, there was a strong likelihood of turning a profit. The project would also address issues relating to the water table. The Executive Portfolio Holder, Councillor Howard Woollaston, had significant property experience which he could bring to bear with the project.

The Chairman expressed his thanks to Councillor Tony Linden for taking over as Chairman of the Task Group.

Councillor Woollaston congratulated Paul Martindill and his team for producing a very good Leisure Strategy, which was tied in with the Playing Pitch Strategy, that would be renewed every three years. He felt the Lido scheme would be a fantastic solution. However, he agreed that there was need to look at leisure facilities in the east of the district in the medium to long-term.

Councillor Adrian Abbs noted that there was widespread support for an improved lido. However, he expressed concern that the public consultation response was still very low, and there was no detail about the number of people who had attended the workshops. This meant that decisions could be taken without sufficient data.

Councillor Tony Vickers noted that the new Strategy was a significant improvements, and acknowledged that there had been challenges as a result of Covid. He indicated that there was no reason for Executive to not adopt the Strategy, but there were still some unanswered questions. He expressed surprise that access to transport was not raised as an issue in the consultation. Also, with many leisure centres based in schools, this restricted opening times, which may deter elderly residents who would not want to go out in the evenings. In addition, he noted that there was no data for privately run leisure facilities.

Councillor James Cole queried whether the Strategy was looking widely enough, since the strategy was focused on organised sports, and did not consider activities such as walking. Also, he questioned whether culture and heritage activities should be considered in the Leisure Strategy or kept separate.

Councillor Tom Marino agreed on the need for additional leisure facilities in the east of the District.  He questioned why it had taken so long to appoint a new Chairman of the Task Group.

Councillor Steve Masters noted that the Task Group had expressed concerns about access from rural areas and sustainable transport issues, but there had not been time to go into these in depth. He confirmed that he had raised concerns about the lack of leisure facilities in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.


Appointment of Task Groups pdf icon PDF 347 KB

Purpose: To agree Terms of Reference and Membership for any Task and Finish Groups that Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission may wish to appoint to undertake in-depth scrutiny reviews:

(1)  Customer Journey Task and Finish Group - To agree Terms of Reference for a Task and Finish Group to look at how the Council's call centre, phone system and website support the customer journey, and also the Council's Out of Hours Emergency Service.

(2)  Other Task Groups


The Commission considered matters relating to the Appointment of Task Groups (Agenda Item 9).

The Commission considered the terms of reference for the Customer Journey Task and Finish Group. Councillor Tony Vickers supported the terms of reference as written.

Councillor Adrian Abbs indicated that he was a user experience expert and would be happy to be involved.

Councillor Claire Rowles asked that the needs of people with disabilities be explicitly referenced in the terms of reference.

The Chairman noted that the out of hours reviews had been incorporated into this review. He proposed that there be an interim report on the out of hours aspect. It was noted that that the Terms of Reference had this aspect listed as Part 3, but this would be brought forward to be considered first.

The Terms of Reference were agreed by Members of the Commission subject to the above amendments.

The Chairman proposed that Councillor James Cole be appointed as Chairman. This was agreed by Members of the Commission.

It was noted that Councillor Cole had previously been proposed as Chairman of the Fees and Charges Task and Finish Group. However, he did not have capacity to do both, so the Chairman proposed that Councillor Linden be appointed as Chairman. This was agreed by Members of the Commission.

It was agreed that Councillor Carolyne Culver should represent the Green Party on the Customer Journey Task and Finish Group, with the Liberal Democrat representative to be confirmed following the meeting. Councillor Biyi Oloko was suggested as the second Conservative Member.

Action: Councillor James Cole to confirm the Liberal Democrat Member and the second Conservative Member.


Health Scrutiny Committee Update pdf icon PDF 298 KB

Purpose: To receive an update from the Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Claire Rowles presented the update on the work of the Health Scrutiny Committee (Agenda Item 9). The next meeting was planned for 5 April, with a pre-meeting arranged for 30 March. Thanks were expressed to officer for work undertaken in preparation for the meeting. Agenda items would include:

·         Continuing Health Care

·         Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospitals Maternity Service

·         Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services

·         Updates from Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group and Healthwatch

It was noted that Councillor Alan Macro had submitted a motion to Council regarding the redevelopment of the Royal Berkshire Hospital. This would not be considered at the April meeting due to existing pressure on the agenda, but a special meeting may be called to consider the motion and the hospital redevelopment.

The Committee continued to use its scoring system to prioritise scrutiny topics and develop a work programme for the coming year.

The Chairman indicated that he had previously been on the Board of Governors for the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and was aware of the issues associated with the physical asset of the hospital estate. He indicated that he would like to address the Committee on this point.

Cllr Rowles noted that the Committee would make a recommendation back to Full Council on the motion.


West Berkshire Council Forward Plan 01 February to 31 May 2022 pdf icon PDF 390 KB

Purpose: To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 01 February to 31 May 2022 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 10) for the period covering 1 February to 31 May 2022.

The new format was noted and was generally considered to be clearer.

Councillor Tony Vickers noted the item on the Three Year Highway Improvement Plan, and highlighted that that this was supposed to be consistent with the approved Highways Asset Management Plan, but this was now out of date.


Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme pdf icon PDF 297 KB

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


The Commission considered its work programme (Agenda Item 11).

In addition to the items shown, it was proposed that the Customer Journey Task Group would seek to bring an interim report on the Out of Hours Service to the 24 May meeting, and a final report to the September meeting.

Councillor Tony Vickers noted that the Local Flood Risk Strategy had only just been approved and suggested that it be slipped to a later meeting.

Councillor Claire Rowles asked if the Equalities and Diversity Strategy could be brought forward as it was such an important issue. It was noted that it had slipped due to staff resource issues.

Nigel Lynn explained that the Quality and Diversity Strategy was part of the Workforce Strategy. While it was recognised as important, the member of staff who would be progressing it had only just been appointed, and there was little scope to accelerate the process.