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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Roger Croft Room Council Offices Market Street Newbury. View directions

Contact: Rachel Craggs | Tel: (01635) 519441 | Email: 

No. Item


Introduction and Apologies


The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Apologies were received from Jo England and Andrea King.  Rachel Craggs will be delivering Andrea King’s presentation on her behalf/


Minutes from previous meeting held on 15 October 2015 and matters arising pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meeting of 15 October 2015 were agreed.  For an update on previous actions, please see the attached sheet.

Action 2: March 2015 meeting – Alan Fleming has still not received an update from either Tandra Forster or Mary Page and so there has been no conclusion.  AF will mention it to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) when he meets them tomorrow on a separate issue.  It was noted that this is reflective of a broader issue within West Berkshire Council (WBC) as Board members felt that service users are frightened of complaining.  It was agreed that the Board should look at the complaints around care issues and how service users can be reassured.  An understanding is required of how many complaints are being received and how they are dealt with.  Action 1:  Rachel Craggs to invite the appropriate person to the next meeting to discuss this

Action 1: October 2015 meeting – Alan Fleming and John Carr confirmed that it is Jo England who can provide the information they require on the grants and assistance available to people with disabilities.  This was discussed at a Commissioning Scrutiny Board in December 2014 at which Jo presented a new policy and was asked by Council Members to amend it.  Action 2: Rachel Craggs to locate the report that went to this meeting and invite Jo England to the next meeting

Action 3: October 2015 meeting – Councillor Marcus Franks advised that due to the 44% reduction in the Council’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG), which was announced before Christmas, it was necessary for further spending cuts to be made.  As a result, there will be a second phase of consultation on the proposals which will take place from 15 February – 7 March.  Two Executive meetings will be held on 11 and 25 February to agree phase 1 and phase 2 of the savings proposals which will then be ratified at Full Council on 1 March.  This will be 6 days before the consultation finishes and is due to the tight timescales given by Central Government on the reduction in RSG.  Consequently, the budget may change following the end of the consultation.

Action 5: October 2015 meeting – Rachel Craggs advised the Board of the various health-related pages on the WBC website where the link to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) could be inserted.  It was agreed that this should be inserted on the Public Health & Wellbeing and the Adult Social Care pages.  It will also be put on the same page as the existing link to the CQC.  Action 3:  Rachel Craggs to arrange for the links to be added

Action 7: October 2015 meeting – Councillor Franks suggested that Board members lobby the local MPs about the fact that it is only possible to take one wheelchair on Reading Buses.  Rachel Craggs was asked to discuss the inaccessibility of the information board on buses to wheelchair users with Matthew Metcalfe and that the PA system is often  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.


Presentation on Building Community Together pdf icon PDF 185 KB


As Andrea King was unable to attend the meeting, Rachel Craggs delivered her presentation to the Board and a copy is attached with the minutes.  The aim of the Building Community Together Programme is to help people to help themselves and help each other using restorative practice, as funding to local authorities and other statutory partners has reduced and will reduce further. 

There is also research to show that this is a far more effective approach and work is ongoing in the following communities: Greenham, Newbury Town, Thatcham, Mortimer (including building a bridge to Burghfield), Calcot and Lambourn (including building a bridge to Hungerford).  The Building Community Together fund is available to help develop local solutions.

Board Members were asked if they would like to receive the restorative practice training and be involved with the programme.  It was agreed that information on the restorative practice training will be sent to Board members and Andrea King will be invited to the next meeting to answer questions and provide an update on the programme.  Action 10:  Rachel Craggs


Annual Equalities Report pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:


Rachel Craggs advised that there is a specific duty under the equality legislation that requires council’s to publish an annual update on progress with the Equality Objectives by the end of January.

Rachel Craggs gave a presentation to the Board on progress with the following Equality Objectives and a copy is attached with the minutes:-

·      Ensure our workforce is reflective of our communities

·      Endeavour to minimise discrimination, harassment and victimisation and advance equality of opportunity for employees and all members of our communities

·      Implement new ways of working to develop communities to be more resilient in meeting the needs of vulnerable people

·      Close the education attainment gap for vulnerable pupils


Update on Taxi Usage


Brian Leahy advised that consultation had taken place with the taxi trade on the taxi fleet and the data has been published.  Following this, consultation was undertaken on the proposal to provide mandatory disability awareness training.  The response to this from the trade had been very disappointing as there had been very little regard for disability or elderly people.  The original plan had been to take the report on proposed training to Members in March, however it has now transpired that the removal of the Access Officer is one of the savings proposals.  Therefore, Brian Leahy will have to revisit this as the Access Officer would have delivered the training and it will mean they council will have to obtain an external trainer.

However Brian Leahy is still committed to providing the training but he is unable to advise further on this until a decision has been made about whether to cut the Access officer post.

Brian Leahy will come back to the DES Board when the training programme has been developed and he will welcome input from Board members on this.  The cost of the training is to be borne by the taxi trade and would have been in the region of £50 if it had been delivered internally.

Gwen Mason said that taxi drivers were saying that the training would not be going ahead.  However Brian Leahy advised that he intends to follow it through with Council members.

Alan Fleming expressed concern that taxis drivers will ignore wheelchair users and retain their smaller taxis.  Mick Hutchins advised that the Disability Alliance had put down a motion stating that the whole taxi fleet should be wheelchair accessible, which could be phased in.  So their stance has shifted as they were conscious that nothing was happening.

Brian Leahy noted that 53% of the West Berkshire taxi fleet is wheelchair accessible but he appreciated this did not mean that they would take any passenger or could take any size wheelchair. The council could mandate that all taxis are wheelchair accessible and specify a specific vehicle but there is a balance to make.

Brian Leahy commented that he is only able to act on intelligence relating to specific incidents where taxi drivers have refused to pick people up and he investigates all complaints.

Brian Leahy will take the report on mandatory disability awareness training to committee in March.  There will be opposition to it and it would be very helpful if Board Members attended the meeting to put their argument to Council members, as they take note of people who come along and put their view across.  He will advise the Board of the date of the meeting.  It is important to make a representation and Brian Leahy could present it on the Board’s behalf if they are unable to attend.  Action 11:  Brian Leahy to advise the Board of the meeting date


Update on New Car Park Transponders


Martyn Baker advised that an upgrade will be taking place to the pay on foot car parks in the next few weeks.  This will not result in any reduction in service for Blue Badge holders and should see an improvement in service as it will include new cameras that will read registration plates more effectively. 

New transponders have been ordered and these will be distributed when the new system is installed.  It will also be possible to have a small disc fitted to the Blue Badge instead of a transponder, which can be held against the entry and exit barriers.  This disc will work in all pay on foot car parks and will need to be replaced when the Blue Badge is changed.

It is hoped that the upgrade will take place before the end of March 2016 and all transponder holders will be advised when it is in place.  SH said that she will require a phone call to let her know as she is unable to read her post.  She will need to come to the Market Street council offices to collect the new transponder as she has returned her faulty one and so will be required to show her Blue Badge to collect it. Action 12: Martyn Baker to phone Sue Hinks when the transponders are ready for collection

Martyn Baker advised that in the interim, if it is not possible for Blue Badge holders or their drivers to get of their vehicle to show their badge at the ticket office, they may sound their horn or speak into the microphone at the barrier.

Martyn Baker noted that Blue Badge holders pay at other car parks and this has been the case since 2008.  He also advised that the car park by Johnson dry cleaners in Newbury was changing to pay and display and the car park behind the Corn Exchange was changing to pay on foot.  Blue Badge holders will therefore have free parking in the car park by Johnson dry cleaners once the change has taken place.

Rachel Craggs was asked to let the Board know the date of the Executive meeting when the removal of the Access Officer post will be discussed and to find out the process for submitting a question.  Keith Hester also asked if it would be possible to provide him with transport to get to the meeting.  Action 13:  Rachel Craggs to advise


Any Other Business

Access Panel Update


Access Panel update: there was no update as John Carr had to leave the meeting before this item.

Sue Hinks updated the Board on a positive experience she had last weekend when she travelled to Eastbourne by train with a friend. Her friend had booked travel assistance and they provided a wheelchair.  On the return journey, as Thatcham was an unmanned station after mid day, and there would be no one to see them off the train, a taxi was provided and the driver instructed to take them to their respective addresses with no further cost to them.

DES Board meeting times: In order to enable WBC transport to be provided to collect Alan Fleming, Sue Hinks and Keith Hester, it was proposed that the meeting times were changed to run from 11.30 am -  2 pm with effect from the next meeting.  It will not be possible for the council to provide lunch, so it was suggested that Board members brought their lunch with them and this was all agreed.


Agenda items for next meeting


·      Jo England to provide information on grants and assistance available to people with disabilities

·      Andrea King to provide an update on the Building Community Together programme and information on Restorative Practice training

·      Brian Leahy to provide an update on disability training for the taxi trade

·      Information on the Social Care Complaints procedure

·      Nick Carter to provide an overview on the impact of council cuts


Future meeting dates


Thursday 14 April 2016, 11:30 – 2pm: Committee Room 1

Thursday 14 July 2016, 11:30 – 2pm: Committee Room 2

Thursday 27 October 2016, 11:30 – 2pm: Committee Room 1

Thursday 26 January 2017, 11.30 – 2 pm: Committee Room 1

All meetings will take place at the Council’s offices in Market Street, Newbury