West Berkshire Council

Agenda item

Urgent Question submitted by Councillor Mollie Lock to the Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Young People

“Can you provide an update on the Highwood Copse project, given that the contractor has gone into administration?”

Minutes:

An urgent question standing in the name of Councillor Mollie Lock asking for an update on the Highwood Copse project, given that the contractor had gone into administration, was answered by the Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Young People.

Prior to the move to exclude members of the press and public, Councillor Graham Jones took the opportunity to say farewell to Andy Day, the Head of Strategic Support, who was in attendance at his last Executive meeting before he retired and to place on record his thanks for Andy’s work over many years at the Council.

Andy’s career in local government started on 20 June 1977 at Gosport Borough Council at the age of 17. In 1988, Andy became an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries. Andy joined West Berkshire Council in 2001 and had been Head of Service since 2007.

Aside from the workplace, Andy was a passionate footballer. He played semi-professionally for Portsmouth and Councillor Graham Jones enjoyed Andy’s regular use of football metaphors at meetings.

Councillor Graham Jones concluded by once again thanking Andy and stating that it had been a great pleasure to work with him.

Councillor Lee Dillon echoed the comments made by the Leader. He added, from Liberal Democrat Members, that Andy’s role in Strategic Support and in supporting Members had always extended across both parties in an encouraging way. For example, when Liberal Democrat Members had brought forward propositions, Andy had helped find the best way to bring them before the Council. Councillor Dillon, on behalf of the Opposition, gave thanks to Andy and, on a personal level, thanked Andy for his help in discussing Council issues and stated that his advice had always been welcomed.

Councillor Mollie Lock then gave her thanks to Andy for procuring the Chairman’s badges. This was very much appreciated as it recognised that a Member had undertaken this important role.

Councillor Graham Jones then extended his thanks to officers for the support given to himself over many years as this was his last Executive meeting before he stood down as a Councillor. In particular, he singled out Nick Carter, Chief Executive, with whom he had worked since 2005, and stated that it had been an absolute pleasure to work with him over such a long period. Nick stated that it had likewise been an absolute pleasure to work with Graham.

As this was Councillor Graham Jones last Executive meeting, Councillor Hilary Cole, on behalf of the Executive, reflected on Graham’s time as Leader of the Council. He had served two periods as Leader and in his second spell as Leader he had done exceptionally well, particularly during the very sad and difficult period of time when former Leader, Councillor Roger Croft, had sadly passed away.

She continued by explaining that Graham’s consensual and inclusive approach had been both essential and exceptional. He was willing to take the views of others into account and this was important when considering the large Conservative Group and the, at some times, differing views of its Members.

Councillor Cole concluded by stating that it had been an absolute delight to work with Graham and an honour and a privilege to be his Deputy in more recent times. She wished Graham all the very best for the future.

Councillor Dillon referred to the comments already made in relation to Graham’s leadership at the Full Council meeting in March 2019. As mentioned by Councillor Cole, Graham took over as Leader in very difficult circumstances when Councillor Croft sadly passed away and his experience, together with already fulfilling the Deputy Leader role and his wide knowledge of how the Council operated, brought much needed stability at that difficult time to the Administration. Councillor Dillon added his best wishes to Graham for the future.

Councillor Dillon then extended best wishes to other Council Members who would not be standing again as Councillors or might not remain in their Seats beyond the May elections.

Councillor Dillon felt that over the past four years, while there had only been a small Opposition, there had been a dignified and respectful relationship between the Administration and Opposition, and the two Groups had worked together well. This had been a very important factor for the Council.

Councillor Graham Jones gave thanks for these many kind comments. He would miss West Berkshire Council, but felt it was the right time to look to new challenges and he already had many plans for his retirement from politics.

Councillor Graham Jones felt that the collegiate atmosphere across the Council, ‘The West Berkshire Way’, created a positive way of working. He felt that this was the best way to ensure that a good level of service continued to be delivered to West Berkshire’s residents.