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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber Council Offices Market Street Newbury

Contact: Gordon Oliver 


No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 360 KB

To approve as correct records the Minutes of the meetings of the Commission held on 6 July 2021 and 10 August 2021.

Additional documents:


The Minutes of the meeting held on 6 July 2021 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.

The Minutes of the meeting held on 10 August were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following additions relating to Item 3 of the Agenda:

·         Note that Councillor Adrian Abbs had asked about:

o   The number of staff affected by the Timelord 2 proposal – this was confirmed to be around 1,000.

o   The additional people expected to work from home under Timelord 2 – this was estimated at 50 - 60 people.

o   When savings would be delivered – it was confirmed that the offices would be retained for a 6 month evaluation period before being sold.

·         It was highlighted that the project manager was yet to be appointed.

·         It was highlighted that the detailed project implementation plan had not yet been produced.

·         It was confirmed that the incoming Chief Executive had been briefed on Timelord 2 and was supportive of the concept.


Actions from previous Minutes pdf icon PDF 215 KB

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

Additional documents:


Gordon Oliver provided an update on the actions from previous minutes (Agenda Item 3).

Members were asked to note the additional data provided in relation to Action 39, which showed how usage of each of the Council’s car parks had changed during the pandemic.

It was also noted that all other actions had been completed or closed with the exception of the following:

·         Action 43 – it had been agreed with the Leader and Chief Executive that future OSMC meetings should be two weeks in advance of Executive meetings to allow sufficient time for comments on quarterly finance and performance reports to be properly communicated.

·         Action 47 – Councillor Steve Masters was yet to provide Councillor Lee Dillon with details of his proposed amendment to the scope of the Thames Water review.

·         Action 48 – Councillor Lee Dillon was yet to provide the Chairman with the scope for the proposed review of the Council’s telephone system.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 302 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.


Councillors Adrian Abbs and Tony Vickers declared an interest in Agenda Item 6, but reported that, as their interests were personal or other registrable interests, but not disclosable pecuniary interests, they determined to remain to take part in the debate and vote on the matter.


Petitions pdf icon PDF 298 KB

Purpose: To consider any petitions requiring an Officer response.


There were no petitions to be received at the meeting.


Council Motion Referred to Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission pdf icon PDF 454 KB

Purpose: To consider the motion submitted to Council by Councillor Lee Dillon, and subsequently referred to OSMC for consideration, that the Executive acted outside of the Council’s existing policies on Green Infrastructure in relation to the Faraday Road development.


(Councillor Adrian Abbs declared a personal interest in Agenda item 6 by virtue of the fact that he was a Ward Member for the proposed alternative location of the football ground at Monks Lane. As his interest was personal and not prejudicial he was permitted to take part in the debate and 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 had a well-known view on the London Road Industrial Estate. 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 Motion that Councillor Lee Dillon had referred to Council on 8 July 2021. It was noted that Council had subsequently referred the matter to OSMC for consideration.

Councillor Tony Vickers explained that the Motion related to how the Executive had acted in regard to the Local Planning Authority’s policies, specifically CS18 on Green Infrastructure (GI). The Motion sought to hold the Executive account for the way it had managed this key asset and taxpayers’ money in the light of planning policy.

Councillor Vickers noted the statement in the report that no decision had been made in relation to the football club site at Executive. However, he indicated that Executive had taken many decisions on this matter. He noted that the Planning Authority had yet to make a decision, but this was a different body.

He stated that the Executive acted as landowner / promoter of the site and was custodian of public funds / assets including the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE), of which the football ground was a key part until planning policy was formally changed.

He indicated that professional planners and lawyers were paid to manage the development plan process and development management. He stated that there was no policy in place to support the Executive’s aspiration, as highlighted in the Avison Young report.

He suggested that an outline application for the whole LRIE site should be brought forward together with the proposal to reprovide football facilities on another site.

He acknowledged that OSMC was unable to scrutinise decisions by planning committees, but stressed that it could scrutinise the Executive’s decisions on its use of taxpayers’ money and its actions in the light of planning policy. Therefore, he suggested that the report was misleading.

He suggested that as a result of the decision to relocate the football ground, millions of pounds of public money and officer time and 10 years of business rates income had been spent, committed or foregone – all contrary to planning policy, specifically in relation to GI.

He highlighted that an independent planning professional had written to the Secretary of State requesting him to intervene.

While Councillor Vickers acknowledged that there would be no immediate loss of GI associated with the current application, he highlighted the considerable harm to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Environment Strategy - Operational Review pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Purpose: To review progress in implementing the Council’s Environment Strategy, including the agreed Delivery Plan.


(Councillor Lee Dillion declared a person interest in Agenda item 7 by virtue of the fact that he was an Employee of Sovereign Housing. As his interest was personal and not prejudicial he was permitted to take part in the debate and would be able to vote on the matter.)

(Councillor Adrian Abbs declared a person interest in Agenda item 7 by virtue of the fact that he was a member of the West Berkshire Council’s Environmental Advisory Group (EAG). As his interest was personal and not prejudicial he was permitted to take part in the debate and would be able to vote on the matter.)

The Commission considered a report (Agenda Item 7) concerning the Environmental Strategy, presented by Jenny Graham. The report provided information to the Commission relating to the progress of implementing the Environment Strategy as approved by Executive in 2020. The delivery plan presented in the Agenda Pack was the latest version that was approved at Executive last month and would be subsequently updated on a monthly basis with progress against any of the schemes reported. A further annual progress report would go to Executive in November 2021.

Jenny Graham noted that in the report Members would find that there was an importance and focus on putting carbon savings against key actions and projects within the Delivery Plan. This was considered important because it would enable the team to indicate the direction of travel and document the progress towards the Council’s 2030 target of carbon neutrality, as well as helping with prioritisation of projects and resources. Jenny Graham also highlighted one aspect of the work that wasn’t covered in the paper, namely the formation of the West Berkshire Parish Climate Forum, which came about because Parishes had requested it. So far the forum’s meetings have been met with enthusiasm and engagement and it was hoped that the forum would be a useful tool for both West Berkshire Council and the Parishes by way of making important links and partnerships so targets could be met.

The Commission thanked Jenny for her presentation. Comments were given around improvements of cross-team working and listening to public reactions, and it was noted that a lot of work had already been completed. However, concern was raised that it had been two years since the emergency declaration and more projects needed to be started in order to make the 2030 deadline.

It was suggested that actions needed to have anticipated carbon savings against them. Councillor James Cole highlighted an online tool for calculating emissions – he did not know how accurate it was, but it showed variations between parishes that made sense to him. He indicated that there was no sense of what the Council could do to identify or address the largest carbon emitters.

Councillor James Cole observed that the Council had not taken action in relation to existing buildings and that planning policy needed to prioritise eco-friendly buildings. He believed the Council needed to lobby Central Government where appropriate. He  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Membership of Task and Finish Groups pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Purpose: To agree any changes to the membership of Task and Finish Groups.


There were no changes proposed to the membership of Task and Finish Group (Agenda Item 8).


Task and Finish Group Updates pdf icon PDF 305 KB

Purpose: To receive updates from the Chairmen of Task and Finish Groups appointed by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission.


No updates were provided on the work of the Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 9).


Health Scrutiny Committee Update pdf icon PDF 305 KB

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


Councillor Claire Rowles provided a verbal update on the work of the Health Scrutiny Committee (Agenda Item 10).

She confirmed that the Committee had met for the first time on 11 August 2021, where the main agenda items were the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Healthwatch Annual Report.

She indicated that the next meeting would be in November and future dates were being arranged. She suggested that it may not be possible to schedule dates around OSMC meetings, but she would continue to provide updates.

Topics proposed for the next meeting included: NHS dentistry, the CAMHS Tier 4 proposal to move from a hospital setting to a community setting, the protocol for engaging with third parties, and a prioritisation tool for choosing future health scrutiny topics.

The Chairman asked about the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee that would operate across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West to scrutinise the Integrated Care System. Gordon Oliver confirmed that the Terms of Reference had now been approved by all the local authorities and discussions were taking place about when the first meeting would be needed.


West Berkshire Council Forward Plan 24 August to 30 November pdf icon PDF 351 KB

Purpose: To advise the Commission of items to be considered by West Berkshire Council from 24 August to 30 November and decide whether to review any of the proposed items prior to the meeting indicated in the Plan.


The Commission considered the West Berkshire Council Forward Plan for the period covering 24 August to 30 November 2021 (Agenda Item 11).

Councillor Tony Vickers proposed scrutiny of the following:

·         The Joint Public Protection Committee (JPPC).

·         The Contaminated Land Strategies of the three Councils.

·         The item on Food and Feed, which he felt would be of interest to the public.

Action: Councillor Vickers to put his requests in writing to the Chairman regarding scrutiny of the JPPC and Food and Feed items.

Councillor Vickers also noted that the Forward Plan still showed the Local Plan Review - Regulation 19 Consultation as taking place in October, which was out of date. It was noted that this was in a state of flux, which made it difficult to keep the Forward Plan up to date.


Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission Work Programme pdf icon PDF 275 KB

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


The Commission considered its work programme for 2021/22 (Agenda Item 12).

Councillor Lee Dillon highlighted that Council officers had been required to respond outside of normal working hours to the recent fire at the football club in Faraday Road and the unauthorised development at Lawrences Lane. He thanked officers and the Executive Porfolio Holders for being responsive. He suggested that out of hours arrangements should be reviewed. He had drafted some terms of reference, which he had discussed with the Chairman as well as the Leader of the Council and Leader of the Green Party. He suggested that this should consider resources and reporting mechanisms. It was noted that officers who would give evidence to such a review were still reacting to the unfolding situation. The Chairman agreed and indicated that he had recently experienced issues when trying to use the Council’s out of hours service and suggested that the customer interaction needed to be improved.

The Chairman suggested that the Out of Hours Service review could be considered in December and that the item on ‘Effective employee appraisal and the management training and development programme’ could be pushed back.

The Chairman noted that it had not been possible to put arrangements in place for OSMC to receive quarterly finance and performance reports ahead of Executive for the remainder of 2021/22. However, meeting dates for 2022/23 would be arranged so as to support this.

The Chairman also indicated that an additional meeting in February wold be considered.

Councillor Claire Rowles asked what had been done in the short-term to improve the out of hours service. Councillor Dillon noted that arrangements had been bolstered over the last couple of weeks and residents had been informed of email addresses that were monitored 24/7 for the Lawrences Lane site. The Chairman stressed the need to look ahead and consider how future incidents would be handled.

Resolved that the changes to the work programme be noted.