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Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 299 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 12 June 2023.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 12 June 2023 were agreed as a true and accurate record and signed by the Chairman.


Outstanding Actions from Previous Meetings pdf icon PDF 282 KB

To consider any outstanding matters from previous meetings.


Item 1 – Water Safety Cabinets and Defibrillators – West Berkshire Members were being encouraged to submit Member bids for Capital Programme funding for additional defibrillators at the location of the three water safety cabinets.

Officers in Bracknell Forest were looking at potential locations for cabinets and defibrillators.

Item 2 – Regulation of Investigatory Powers – a presentation had been given on this matter to West Berkshire Members and would take place for Bracknell Forest’s Members in due course. Work had commenced in looking at the powers held by the Public Protection Partnership (PPP).

Item 3 – PPP Priorities – the priority setting process for the PPP would be discussed by the Committee at its December meeting. This would include priorities in response to the recently enacted Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. (post meeting note: this item would be delayed until March 2024 when the budget position had been finalised).

Item 4 – Website information on Houses of Multiple Occupancy – this information had been updated and the action was therefore closed. This information concerned the rules related to HMOs rather than specifics such as the number of registered HMOs.

Item 5 – Customer satisfaction data – it was not possible to split this data due to the low number of responses to satisfaction surveys received during Q1. However, it was hoped that this could be achieved by year-end. Efforts would be made to increase the response rate to future surveys.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 300 KB

Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration, and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members’ Interests, the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.


Councillor Lee Dillon declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 10 (fees and charges) by virtue of the fact that his father was a majority stakeholder of a public house in West Berkshire and pubs had to pay a statutory fee. As his interest was personal and not prejudicial or a disclosable pecuniary interest, he determined to remain to take part in the debate.

Councillor Dillon also declared a personal interest during discussion of Agenda Item 7 (PPP Service Update) by virtue of the fact that he was an employee of Sovereign Network Group with responsibility for housing management.


Notice of Public Speaking and Questions pdf icon PDF 302 KB

To note those agenda items which have received an application for public speaking.

A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.

The Partnership welcomes questions from members of the public about their work.

Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Partnership or an item which is on the agenda for this meeting. For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact Democratic Services.


No public questions were received.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 158 KB

To detail future items that the Committee will be considering.


Councillor Lee Dillon encouraged Members to come forward with suggestions for additions to the Forward Plan in order to take the Committee’s work beyond the standard items and areas for review.

RESOLVED that the Forward Plan be noted.


Public Protection Partnership Service Update and Q1 Report for 2023/24 (JPPC4251) pdf icon PDF 721 KB

To inform the Committee of the performance of the Public Protection Partnership in line with the operating model and business plan and provide an update setting out performance during the first quarter of 2023/24.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the report (Agenda Item 7) which informed Members of the performance of the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) in line with the operating model and business plan. The report provided an update on the PPP’s performance for the first quarter of 2023/24. The Committee worked through the different sections of the report.

Constitutional and Policy Position – Councillor Lee Dillon was pleased to note that the Inter-Authority Agreement and the Committee’s Terms of Reference had been updated to allow attendance from opposition Members. Councillors Nick Allen and Howard Woollaston were welcomed to the Committee.

Finances and Resources – Sean Murphy advised that the latest forecast for 2023/24 was an underspend of £230k. He explained that the underspend had been created deliberately by holding vacant posts, the reduced use of agency staff, from the 2022/23 carry forward and after taking payments from Wokingham Borough Council into account. The income shortfall, which had stabilised, was approximately £98k and this figure was already captured within the underspend.

This underspend would not be carried forward. Instead, the sum would be used to assist with the financial pressures being felt by both Bracknell Forest Council and West Berkshire Council. A zero outturn was therefore being forecast.

Councillor Phil Barnett stated that the underspend was welcome, but wanted to ensure that the PPP’s legal obligations were being adhered to and its statutory functions carried out, particularly when considering the vacant posts.

Sean Murphy assured Members that these requirements remained at the forefront of officers’ minds during budget discussions and in discussions with Portfolio Holders. The necessary expenditure continued on core areas of activity. This included the employment of casual, rather than agency, staff to help ensure that statutory obligations were fulfilled. This included food inspections, housing and licensing work.

Councillor Allen voiced concern that budget pressures could be felt by the PPP in 2024/25 without any carry forward of funds. Sean Murphy advised that work was ongoing to find more permanent solutions to budget pressures. It was noted that the most significant impact on the budget had come from Wokingham withdrawing from the PPP. There was also the ongoing pressure that dated back to the loss of income as a result of Covid-19.

Customer Satisfaction Rates – it was pleasing to note that during Q1, 87% of survey respondents were satisfied with the service they had received. The target had recently increased from 75% to 80%. Councillor Dillon gave thanks to officers for this high area of performance.

Councillor Dillon noted the increase in enquiries from Councillors and local MPs (40 were received in Q1) and queried if the majority of these came from newly elected Councillors. Moira Fraser stated that enquiries came from new and existing Members and explained that the high number of enquiries had continued (37 in Q2). Sean Murphy added that many of these related to private sector housing issues.

Human Resources – Sean Murphy reported that recruitment difficulties continued, most particularly recruitment of qualified officers. There had however been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


PPPs Approach to Age Restricted Products (JPPC4366) pdf icon PDF 483 KB

To set out an updated Enforcement Approach to Age Restricted Products 2023-2025 policy and invite the Committee to consider, amend and/oradopt the Policy.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the updated Enforcement Approach to Age Restricted Products Policy 2023-2025 (Agenda Item 8).

George Lawrence explained that the approach had been brought up to date and the policy revised following legislative changes. The revised policy took account of age restricted products including vapes, botox fillers and Nitrous Oxide, as well as alcohol and tobacco. There were statutory duties attached to some products.

The report outlined the enforcement work undertaken with retailers and other agencies to help support communities. This included increased engagement with public health teams.

Sean Murphy made the point that this area of work linked with many Council priorities with linkages to Public Health and Community Safety.

In response to a query from Councillor Lee Dillon on how online test purchasing was conducted and targeted for vape products, George Lawrence explained that an intelligence led approach was followed with information collated, which included from national partners. The Service had recently secured funding for market surveillance work and this would help to identify a list of providers to focus upon.

RESOLVED that the revised Enforcement Approach to Age Restricted Products Policy 2023-2025 be adopted.


Tackling Fraud and Unfair Trading pdf icon PDF 502 KB

To provide the Committee with an update on the work of the Public Protection Service in tackling fraud and financial abuse.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 9) which provided an update on the work of the Public Protection Service in tackling fraud and financial abuse.

Sean Murphy provided a summary of the strategy being used to help tackle this high profile issue which was a rising point of concern. This type of crime could often take place in a person’s home, via the internet or on receipt of mail scams.

The Service was responding by widening community engagement with residents and ongoing communication. Officers did seek to advocate on behalf of victims and a Fraud Victim Support Officer was employed within the Service. The significant impact of such crimes on victims was noted.

Local authorities played the main role in investigating reports of unfair trading, but Thames Valley Police had also formed a small team that worked with local authorities. A national support mechanism was in place that supported work across local authority boundaries. Bids could be made to help fund investigations. A team of specialist officers was in place within the Service to investigate larger scale fraud.

Alison Beynon advised that scams were becoming increasingly complex and crimes were often linked to money laundering. A higher number of victims had been identified and this was a result of improved intelligence gathering. Officer resource was available to undertake financial investigations, but this was limited as pulling together evidence for cases was a significant task. Alison also advised that unfortunately there was a delay in getting cases through the courts.

Councillor Kandy Jefferies highlighted the importance of education and preventative work. He particularly highlighted young people being targeted online and queried awareness raising in schools, and what was being done to support the elderly who could be a victim of phone scams. It was good practice to hang up on a caller if in doubt and agree to call back (after verifying the firm’s official phone number). Councillor Jefferies also encouraged people to come forward and report incidents.

Sean Murphy agreed these were very important points and it was hoped that engagement work could be expanded as prevention was clearly preferable and less costly than conducting an investigation. Awareness raising was key as was support for more vulnerable residents who were often targeted by the criminals. Support often came from family and friends.

George Lawrence explained that awareness raising did take place within schools, via a podcast and with Thames Valley Police. While it was resource intensive, this work did help to achieve savings at a later stage. Performance standards were in place to achieve good levels of engagement.

Sean Murphy added that the Service actively sought grant funding to help support its work, including engagement. It was important to get as much information as possible into the public domain in order to keep residents informed. Sean confirmed that regular updates would be brought to the Committee and the feedback from Members would be taken on board.


·         The actions taken by the Service to mitigate the impacts of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Revenue Budget 2024/25 including Proposed Fees and Charges Schedule (JPPC4252) pdf icon PDF 581 KB

To set out the Public Protection Partnership’s (PPP) draft revenue budget for 2024/25, including discretionary fees and charges for 2024/25.

To seek approval for the draft budget and draft fees and charges schedule prior to submission to Bracknell Forest and West Berkshire Councils as part of their budget setting process in accordance with the Inter-Authority Agreement (IAA).

To agree the figure for the basis of the recharge to Wokingham Borough Council with respect to the services jointly Wokingham Borough Council under the shared service agreement effective on the 1st April 2022.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the report (Agenda Item 10) which set out the Public Protection Partnership’s (PPP) draft revenue budget for 2024/25, including discretionary fees and charges.

The report sought approval of the draft budget and the draft fees and charges schedule prior to submission to Bracknell Forest and West Berkshire Councils as part of their budget setting process in accordance with the Inter-Authority Agreement (IAA).

The report also sought agreement of the figure for the basis of the recharge to Wokingham Borough Council with respect to the services they bought into.

Sean Murphy explained that a number of pressures had developed in the last couple of years. He particularly highlighted Wokingham’s departure from the PPP, although this was partially offset by a degree of buy back, and a loss of income. These amounted to pressures of £291k and £98k respectively in 2024/25. It was hoped that the income pressure could be reduced moving into next year.

Preparation work had been undertaken to try and meet pressures. For example, holding posts vacant where this was possible.

The table provided below outlined the proposed revenue budget for 2024/25 inclusive of pressures (from paragraph 5.23 of the report):









Base Budget


Wokingham Salary


Investment Bid

Income Pressure

Total Budget


Bracknell Forest






West Berkshire












Total Budget 2024/25







Endorsement was sought of the base budget column. If endorsed, officers would look to bridge the shortfall before submitting a proposed budget to the councils. Councillor Dillon requested an update on this at the December meeting.

In response to a query from Councillor Nick Allen, Sean Murphy explained that while Wokingham left the Service in 2022, they had rejoined via a new shared service agreement for some areas. A contribution from Wokingham was therefore included in the budget.

Turning to fees and charges, Sean Murphy advised that an inflationary rise of 6.7% had been applied to discretionary fees. A consultation exercise would follow on statutory fees alongside wider consultation by the local authorities.

Councillor Kandy Jefferies understood that statutory fees had not been raised since 2011. Damian James confirmed that these were mandatory fees which were well behind inflation. He felt that an increase in the fees was something the Committee could lobby the Government on.

Councillor Jefferies proposed this lobbying action be taken. This was seconded by Councillor Dillon and agreed by the Committee.

Clare Lawrence agreed this action would be undertaken but added that she would also raise this as a potential action in conjunction with the other Berkshire unitaries. Councillor Dillon would do so via the Berkshire Leaders Group.

Moira Fraser confirmed that the amendments made to the reissued fees and charges document were relatively minor. One was to correctly include a formula and the other related to fees for hairdressers.


·         The draft revenue budget, including the fees and charges, had been considered.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.