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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual meeting

No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillor Martha Vickers, Councillor Dominic Boeck and Mandip Bilkhu.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest received.


Minutes of the previous meeting dated 28 August pdf icon PDF 268 KB


The minutes of the previous meeting dated 28 August 2020 were approved as a true and correct record.


Covid-19 situational update


Matt Pearce provided an update on the Covid-19 situation in West Berkshire. He stated that all data presented was correct as of Thursday 24 September 2020.


National data:

·       He noted that as of the 24th September 2020, there had been 416,363 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across the UK, resulting in 41,902 deaths. He stated that, according to the epidemiology curve, there was a clear up-turn in cases.

·       He noted that the testing capacity was now much greater than in the first spike of Covid-19.  


Local Cases:


  • As of Thursday 24 September, 583 West Berkshire residents had tested positive for Covid-19. He further noted that 4,259 cases had been detected across Berkshire as a whole, with Reading reporting the highest number of cases at 940.
  • He noted that it was expected that the true number of cases in West Berkshire would be higher as many asymptomatic cases would go un-detected.
  • He stated that the newly detected rates of Covid-19 in West Berkshire was steadily increasing. Since the start of the outbreak, the number of Covid-19 cases in West Berkshire per 100,000 people was 367.9, which was lower than the national and regional averages.
  • He further noted that in the previous 7 days, West Berkshire had seen 23 confirmed cases.


Death Rates: 


  • He stated that West Berkshire had recorded no deaths from Covid-19 in previous weeks and that the age standardised death rate for West Berkshire was similar to the national average. 


Covid-19 Testing:


·       He noted that whilst there had been no decrease in capacity for testing, demand for testing was increasing and as such sites in areas with higher prevalence had been prioritised.

·       It was estimated that around 25% of people trying to book a test were not eligible.

·       He further noted that the positivity rate in West Berkshire was around 1%.

·       He stated that areas with lower prevalence of the virus will have reductions in capacity, so sites may appear to be empty and less bookings would be available.

·       He stated that they key message was to reinforce that you should only get a test if you were eligible.  


Councillor Woollaston stated that the Covid-19 application stated West Berkshire was a medium risk area. He asked for clarification.


Matt Pearce stated that no areas were classed as low risk as this correlated to zero risk of Covid-19, so medium was the lowest bracket of risk available.


Local incidents update


Matt Pearce stated that there had been a fairly significant rise in the number of incidents across West Berkshire. He noted that in the 7 days prior, there had been 5 incidents, mostly in schools and nurseries. He stated that there were a range of measures that would follow up any incidents, including a risk assessment by Public Health England and an inspection to check the facilities were Covid-19 secure.


Councillor Doherty asked for reassurances that the Local Outbreak Plan provided the necessary tools to deal with any outbreaks.


Matt Pearce stated that outbreaks did not always result in an incident management team meeting. He noted that the Thames Valley Police incident was dealt with by the incident management team.


West Berkshire Covid-19 website update


Rachel Johnson provided an outline of the new Covid-19 website for West Berkshire. She stated that the site could be reached via

She outlined that the website would enable residents to see how many cases there were in the local area and across Berkshire, to access guidance around Covid-19 and keep up to date with the local picture of Covid-19.  She also noted that the site outlined the number of deaths, the 7 day picture of cases, details of the first spike and comparisons with other regions of the UK.





Communications update


Martin Dunscombe provided an update on the work of the communications team on Covid-19. He stated that the team had been working with Berkshire youth to help get across messages around Covid-19 to younger generations and the need to protect loved ones. He also noted that an informative video had been shared on the testing process at Newbury Showground. He further stated that there had been various messaging through different social media platforms around need to only get a test if you had symptoms. He stated that the communications team had shared information across various platforms on the new NHS Covid-19 app, whilst also working with the Community Hub to produce a weekly bulletin in order to stay in close contact with community groups. He further noted that contact details of the community support hub had been and continued to be shared widely to ensure residents knew the hub was there should they need it.  


Councillor Doherty noted her thanks for the great work of the communications team during Covid-19 and praised their proactive approach for enabling the Council to engage with its residents.


Community Hub update


Susan Powell provided an update on the work of the Community Hub. She stated that the hub was created in March in response to the pandemic to ensure the most vulnerable in our community were supported, such as those who have been required to shield. She noted that the hub has formed and continued to form strong bonds with other community groups, such as through the weekly hub bulletin. She noted that gradually calls to the hub have reduced, but it remained ready should there be a rise in calls. She stated that the hub remained in close contact with Adult Social Care to assist those in need. She noted that the hub provided an opportunity for a renewed community support network across West Berkshire.


Councillor Doherty noted her thanks to the Community Hub and the vital work it had done. She also stated that it was reassuring to hear the hub were communicating contact details should residents need it in the future. She also asked if there were reassurances that community groups were ready to assist should they be needed.


Susan Powell stated that community groups continued to reassure the hub that they were ready to provide support again should they be needed and that the hub was in frequent contact with them to ensure this.


Councillor Masters also noted his thanks to the community hub and its excellent work.   


Any other Business


Councillor Masters asked what provisions were being taken for those who did not have access to a smartphone in regard to the NHS Covid-19 app.


Matt Pearce stated that the public protection partnership had been working with business who were required to take individuals’ details. He also noted that the test and trace system would be able to contact these individuals separately. He also noted that West Berkshire, along with Slough were working to develop a system that would complement the national test and trace system.