Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Executive - Thursday, 30th September, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN. View directions

Contact: Anne Hunter  Democratic and Electoral Services Lead Specialist

Media

Items
No. Item

38.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was submitted from Councillor Charles Margetts.

39.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 536 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Executive Meeting and the Extraordinary Executive Meeting held on 29 July 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 29 July 2021 and the Extraordinary Executive meeting held on 29 July 2021 were confirmed as correct records and signed by the Leader of Council.

 

It was noted that there was a typo in the minutes of the Extraordinary meeting and that the meeting had taken place in the evening and not the morning.

40.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

Minutes:

Councillor John Halsall declared a Personal Interest in Item 43 Procurement of Adult Social Care Voluntary Sector Service on the grounds that he was a Non-Executive Director of Optalis.

 

Councillor John Kaiser declared a Personal Interest in Item 43 Procurement of Adult Social Care Voluntary Sector Service on the grounds that he was a Non-Executive Director of Optalis.

 

Councillor John Kaiser declared a Personal Interest in Item 46 Housing Allocations Policy 2021 on the grounds that he was a Non-Executive Director of WBC Holdings Ltd.

 

Councillor Stuart Munro declared a Personal Interest in Item 46 Housing Allocations Policy 2021 on the grounds that he was a Non-Executive Director of WBC Holdings Ltd.

 

Councillor Wayne Smith declared a Personal Interest in Item 46 Housing Allocations Policy 2021 on the grounds that he was a Non-Executive Director of WBC Holdings Ltd.

 

41.

Statement by the Leader of Council

Minutes:

The Leader of Council made the following statement:

 

It is now nineteen months since our first Covid case.  The rate of new Covid cases within the Borough remains high and is rising as we begin to see the impact of returning to school and returning to workplaces.  The current rate is 296 per 100,000 (compared to 211 this time last week) and this is expected to continue to rise further over the coming weeks.  The rate within the Borough remains slightly above, but in line with, the rates across the South-East (280 per 100,000).  Most cases continue to occur within the school age population, in line with the rest of the country.  We must remain cautious and continue to work hard to reduce transmission of the virus within our Borough.

 

We are working closely with our Head Teachers and school communities through the Children’s Services Taskforce in the management of Covid within their settings.  This work has increased over the past week, and we will continue to do all that we can to support Head Teachers who are facing an incredibly challenging term. The vaccination programme of 12–15-year-olds within schools is underway and whilst the responsibility for the programme is with Central Government, we are working to support schools, particularly with the anti-vaccination messages that they are receiving.  I am reliably told that our teenagers are doing a remarkable job in masking and being vaccinated.  So, thank you all if anybody is on this call.

 

Covid marshals are providing support to schools on the day of vaccination, as well as offering reactive support should it be needed.  In addition, marshals are proactively walking routes to our secondary schools to look for any anti-vaccination communication or activity.  The Children’s Services taskforce are collating questions and concerns from the parent community and school which will shape any further communication and support.

 

Finally, we are working closely with our colleagues in the CCG and in primary care as the Covid booster programme begins to be rolled out to the 60,000 residents that are eligible.

 

Therefore Covid 19 is far from over and we continue to step up and play our part in responding to the pandemic, working closely with our Health partners and the voluntary sector as we do this.  My message to you remains consistent; please follow Public Health advice, be considerate of others and please do take up your vaccinations and encourage others to do so.

 

This Council has taken its financial management responsibilities very seriously over many years which is why, unlike others, we have been able to fund vital additional support to our community throughout this awful period in our history. We want to also be able to provide valuable support to our community in the future, both in the context of our response to the pandemic and enabling our community to recover as best it can. 

 

However, it is important we recognise that we face yet another financial precipice to navigate: We have the long-term impact of Covid-19  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Public Question Time

To answer any public questions

 

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

 

The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of the Executive

 

Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Council or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions

 

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

 

 

43.

Member Question Time

To answer any member questions

 

A period of 20 minutes will be allowed for Members to ask questions submitted under Notice

 

Any questions not dealt with within the allotted time will be dealt with in a written reply

 

Minutes:

In accordance with the agreed procedure the Chairman invited Members to submit questions to the appropriate Members

43.1

Prue Bray had asked the Executive Member for Planning and Enforcement the following question. Due to her inability to attend the following written answer was provided:

 

Question

At the Executive in July, you gave out the figures for the numbers of houses given planning permission in Hurst, Shinfield, Arborfield and Winnersh between 2010/11 and 2019/20.  What are the figures for the number of additional dwellings actually built in each of those Parishes between those dates?

 

Minutes:

 

Question

At the Executive in July, you gave out the figures for the numbers of houses given planning permission in Hurst, Shinfield, Arborfield and Winnersh between 2010/11 and 2019/20.  What are the figures for the number of additional dwellings actually built in each of those Parishes between those dates?

 

Answer

As explained in my answer of 29 July, the strategy established by the Core Strategy local plan was to meet the majority of our development needs in four major development areas: North Wokingham, South Wokingham, Arborfield Garrison and South of the M4.  A remainder of development needs would be met on the edge of our towns and villages.

 

This approach has enabled significant infrastructure to be provided alongside new homes, helping to mitigate the impacts by providing an opportunity to access local services, facilities, and the need to reduce travel.  This approach has enabled us to have the opportunity to retain the character of our towns and villages through actions such as the retention of gardens.

 

The Core Strategy was prepared in consultation with residents and stakeholders.  Views expressed through residents to more recent planning consultations continue to suggest that the preference of residents is to meet the majority of development needs through major development areas.

 

Turning to the specific request, the number of dwellings built over the ten year period specified across the Borough are as follows:

 

Parish

Completions (net)

2010/11 to 2019/20

Arborfield

276

Barkham

255

Charvil

22

Earley

138

Finchampstead

95

Hurst

24

Remenham

1

Ruscombe

53

Shinfield

1,897

Sonning

21

Swallowfield

82

Twyford

45

Wargrave

65

Winnersh

521

Wokingham

2,900

Wokingham Without

136

Woodley

1,195

 

Strategic Development Locations and related parishes:

1.     South of the M4 SDL = Shinfield Parish

2.     Arborfield Garrison SDL = Arborfield, Barkham and Finchampstead Parishes

3.     North Wokingham SDL = Wokingham Town

4.     South Wokingham SDL = Wokingham Town and Wokingham Without Parish

 

43.2

Gary Cowan had asked the Executive Member for Planning and Enforcement the following question. Due to his inability to connect the following written answer was provided:

 

Question

Wayne, I did bring a series of questions concerning ongoing works currently taking place on Gravelpit Hill Lane to the attention of Officers, the Leader and yourself among others going back to early August asking has the Borough Council seen and approved theses plans and if so, why has there been no planning Application submitted.

 

My question is why have I not had a reply to my questions from anyone including yourself within Wokingham Borough Council?

Minutes:

Question

Wayne, I did bring a series of questions concerning ongoing works currently taking place on Gravelpit Hill Lane to the attention of Officers, the Leader and yourself among others going back to early August asking has the Borough Council seen and approved theses plans and if so, why has there been no planning Application submitted.

 

My question is why have I not had a reply to my questions from anyone including yourself within Wokingham Borough Council?

 

Answer

Between early August and the receipt of the question, the following emails about the engineering works to the dam have been received from Gary Cowan (GC) and responses provided:

 

GC

3/8/21

12.25

FH

3/8/21

17.11

GC

4/8/21

7.45

GC

4/8/21

11.02

GC

4/8/21

11.03

GC

6/8/21

11.19

MC

6/8/21

12.19

GC

6/8/21

12.34

GC

7/8/21

12.18

GC

8/8/21

10.56

GC

9/8/21

10.46

MC

9/8/21

12.02

GC

9/8/21

12.33

MC

9/8/21

12.40

GC

9/8/21

14.52

MC

10/8/21

14.49

GC

10/8/21

16.40

MC

10/8/21

16.55

GC

10/8/21

17.42

GC

10/8/21

19.44

MC

11/8/21

9.02

Question for Executive Member received

12/8/2021

 

GC

13/8/21

12.19

GC

23/8/21

14.12

Susan P

24/8/21

17.13

 

 

In addition to the above, there has been responses to Stage 1 and Stage 2 complaints and the offer of a meeting with Assistant Director Mark Cupit.

 

There has been a further ongoing email exchange throughout September and a meeting has been arranged on 7 October with Assistant Director Stephen Brown.

 

 

43.3

Stephen Conway asked the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities the following question:

Minutes:

 

Question

I am delighted to see the lease for the new Twyford Library recommended for approval by the Council's Executive.  Assuming that the Executive does indeed approve, can the Executive Member give some indication of the timetable for the conversion work and likely date of the opening of the new library?

 

Answer

I will not go into detail of your proposed first choice of question, obviously that has been pretty well answered.

 

The Council has an excellent track record of sound financial management and maintaining high quality services for our residents.

 

The Council will need to consider the financial consequences of this project alongside the other pressures we are facing, so that we can continue to maintain our core objective of protecting the services that our residents rely on.

 

A key part of the considerations for this project will include discussions with the Polehampton Trust to understand their view on the challenges we face and how this project continues to support their objectives for supporting the people of Twyford, Ruscombe and Charvil.

 

Supplementary Question

I understand that you cannot answer the original question in terms of the timetable given.  This pause, and I hope indeed that it is a pause.  John indicated that is just a pause which is good news, I think.  Could I ask you that when we do move to the stage of moving to the conversion work, and you are able to consider a likely opening date, could we consider naming part of this new building after the late Dave Turner who was one of the Polehampton Trustees?  John would know him very well, and I readily acknowledge the work that John has put into this, but I think we should also recognise Dave Turner’s contribution.  I am hoping that we might be able to perhaps name one of the rooms in the new library after him in recognition of his considerable efforts on this project.

 

Supplementary Answer

I also knew Dave Turner very well, and I know the amount of work that he put into this and the work that he did within the Twyford community.  It is a consideration that we will take very seriously, and I would like to think that we are able to do that, but obviously that will need to be a consideration taken by Council Members rather than just me.  Personally, I would like to see it happen.

43.4

David Hare asked the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services the following question which was answered by the Deputy Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services in his absence:

Minutes:

 

Question

May I congratulate the officers in this enterprising paper, support for the preventative service is something I have long advocated.  You are increasing the money available to the voluntary services excellently in 2022/3 but the increase in 2023/4 is only £100km that is 5% or not much more than inflation.  As the voluntary sector grows due to more certainty that this funding provides along with increased demand and need will further monies be available to fund new preventative and first step services that are valuable assets to the Council?

 

Answer

Thank you for supporting this paper on the procurement of voluntary sector adult services. I am pleased to note that we have cross party support as far as I can find, for our approach to the much-valued voluntary sector.  The first point to make here is that inflationary increases are dealt with from a separate additional funding stream in the MTFP.  The details of this are agreed through an annual inflationary uplift process.  This means that the £600K increase over 2 years is in the region of a 30% gross increase against our early intervention and prevention agenda.  I think you will agree this is impressive given the pressures on local government and the uncertainty we have in central government funding going forward. 

 

We will of course keep this under review each year through our budget setting process and will be having regular conversations with the Voluntary Sector providers as part of our contract monitoring and management process.  Our ambition is that if the new spend successfully helps us manage demand and we can afford it we will of course consider more investment having evaluated any requirements raised by our providers and taking into account our own view of the services in place alongside any changing needs in this sector.

 

We recognise that funding is a difficult issue for the voluntary sector and that they are dependent on a number of funding streams to support their viability.  We cannot and will not ignore the invaluable contribution made by the voluntary sector and we will continue to support them to maximise those external streams which are available to them.

 

Supplementary Question

Thank you for that answer and certainly, as I have said, it is something that I have advocated for many years, last time I was on the Council as well, not always with success.  With regards to new services required by the Council from the voluntary sector, has an investigation been done in areas other than dementia into the gaps in voluntary service that are already offered, and the way new services can be provided by the voluntary sector to enhance the lives of residents?

 

Supplementary Answer,

Yes, thank you for that David.  I think that you will hear in my speech later that there has been quite a big consultation process across the voluntary sector services to understand where they can identify gaps, as well as the ones that we can identify, and to put in place the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.4

43.5

Rachel Bishop-Firth asked the Executive Member for Resident Services, Communications and Emissions the following question:

Minutes:

 

Question

I am very pleased to see on the report from the Climate Emergency Task and Finish Group that you see behaviour change science as a golden thread throughout the CEAP and that the Council will be encouraging public transport and active travel wherever possible.  This will be vital in tackling the climate emergency.  

 

What steps will you be taking to limit the number and length of journeys which are taken within the Borough?

 

Answer

Firstly, I have to say that we do not have the power to limit journeys and I would oppose any move to impose journey limits, quotas or restrictions on any resident.  Actually, I am also pleased that we do not have the power to limit civil liberties because that sounds more like some form of totalitarian dictatorship rather a democracy, which for the sake of my children I would defend to my last breath.  I am surprised that you used the word limit but for the record your Conservative council wants to help people be more sustainable, not force them to be.  Unlike the Lib Dems we will not force people out of their cars.  What we will do is support residents in reducing their need to travel.  We will also support residents reduce their reliance on travelling by private car, by providing viable alternatives to those that want and are able to use them.

 

Delivering sustainable living through behaviour change is the single most important thing we can do in the fight against climate change.  By engaging with experts in behaviour change and incentivising sustainable living we aim to remove the barriers that currently prevent residents from living the desired behaviours in their everyday lives.  That means working with schools, via schemes such as Beat the Street, to get kids walking and cycling to school.  It means working with businesses to reduce the expectation of their staff to commute into their workplaces.  It means using the Planning Strategy to design communities where people of all ages have the opportunity to access a wide range of services without having to drive.  We can remove the need for residents to use their cars without having to limit, restrict or quota their use.  So, will I vote to limit car use?  No.  Will I prevent people from visiting relatives, to go to work or to take their kids to school because of an arbitrary quota or limit? No, I will not, and frankly I am disappointed that you would.

 

Supplementary Question

I am not quite sure how you have interpreted the question in such a way.  Certainly, nobody could or would want to, try to force people, or to impose quotas on them.  The Borough as a large employer in Wokingham has it in its gift to support in managing the number of unnecessary journeys which its staff need to take on WBC business.  What steps is WBC going to take as an employer to explore the possibilities of hybrid working, to allow those staff who can  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.5

44.

Officers Response to the Recommendations from the Climate Emergency Task and Finish Group pdf icon PDF 490 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the Officers’ responses to the recommendations from the Climate Emergency Task and Finish Group, as set out in the report, be approved.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report setting out the Officer response to the recommendations from the Climate Emergency Task and Finish following their review of the Wokingham Borough Climate Emergency Action Plan.

 

Councillor Gregor Murray, Executive Member for Resident Services, Communications and Emissions, introduced the report and highlighted that the Task and Finish Group had made 25 recommendations, many of which had been agreed by Officers.  He provided an update on the implementation of some of the recommendations; work was being undertaken to ease commute related emissions; the Bus Service Improvement Plan was under development; roads not yet built would be reviewed where possible.  In addition, a house refit trial was already in place.  Revenue from the Barkham Solar farm would be reinvested into further climate initiatives, and a number of behaviour change experts had been invited to pitch ideas which could be implemented across the Borough.

 

RESOLVED: That the Officers’ responses to the recommendations from the Climate Emergency Task and Finish Group, as set out in the report, be approved.

45.

Procurement of Adult Social Care Voluntary Sector Services pdf icon PDF 445 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That:

 

1)                  the procurement business case for Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector (VCFS) Adult Prevention Services, as attached to the report, be approved;

 

2)                  the Director of Adult Services, in consultation with the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services be delegated permission to approve the contract and grant the award.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report setting out a procurement business case for Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector (VCFS) Adult Prevention Services.

 

During his introduction the Deputy Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services advised that the proposed process would enable the Voluntary Sector to have more stable, long term funding, whilst allowing the Council to direct providers into areas where there was a need for services.

 

Councillor Halsall praised the way in which the Voluntary Sector had worked with the Council during the pandemic.

 

Councillor Kaiser commented that the Voluntary Sector had had a positive input in reducing rough sleepers.  He went on to state that the work of the Voluntary Sector should be seen a compliment to the work of the Council and not as a substitute.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)                  the procurement business case for Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector (VCFS) Adult Prevention Services, as attached to the report, be approved;

 

2)                  the Director of Adult Services, in consultation with the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services be delegated permission to approve the contract and grant the award.

46.

Future Part Provision of Regulatory Services by West Berkshire Council pdf icon PDF 591 KB

Decision:

That:

 

1)          an agreement be entered into with West Berkshire District Council for the provision of certain regulatory functions under s113 of the Local Government Act 1972 (as set out in the report), from 1 April 2022 until 8 January 2027; and

 

2)          the Director of Place and Growth and the Deputy Chief Executive (Section 151 Officer), in consultation with the Lead Member for Finance and Housing, be delegated the agreement of the final terms with West Berkshire and completion of the agreement.

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report seeking approval to enter into an agreement with West Berkshire Council to provide a limited range of regulatory services to the Council, in parallel with the bulk of regulatory services that were due to be delivered in-house.

 

Whilst introducing the report the Executive Member for Neighbourhood and Communities clarified the services that would be provided by West Berkshire Council which included regional and national capability for trading standards, food standards, air quality and animal welfare.  In addition, West Berkshire’s regulatory proceeds of crime and enforcement case preparation to support these functions would be retained.

 

Councillor Soane went on to highlight the benefits of having the anti-social behaviour service, back in house.

 

Councillor Halsall clarified that all services would be brought back in house but that some services would then be sub-contracted back to West Berkshire Council, whilst the Council retained authority.   He went on to clarify that the measurement of air quality would be undertaken by West Berkshire Council but not the mitigation measures.

 

A cross party Task and Finish Group would look at policy issues for the different elements of legislation.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)          an agreement be entered into with West Berkshire District Council for the provision of certain regulatory functions under s113 of the Local Government Act 1972 (as set out in the report), from 1 April 2022 until 8 January 2027; and

 

2)          the Director of Place and Growth and the Deputy Chief Executive (Section 151 Officer), in consultation with the Lead Member for Finance and Housing, be delegated the agreement of the final terms with West Berkshire and completion of the agreement.

47.

Twyford Library Lease pdf icon PDF 910 KB

Decision:

This item was withdrawn at the meeting.

Minutes:

This item was withdrawn.

48.

Housing Allocations Policy 2021 pdf icon PDF 470 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That:

 

1)                  the draft policy be agreed to go out to consultation.  The proposed external consultation period is six weeks;

 

2)                  the Director of Place and Growth, in consultation with the Executive Member for Finance and Housing, be delegated authority to adopt and implement the Housing Allocations Policy following consultation.

 

Minutes:

The Executive considered a report setting out a draft Housing Allocations Policy for consultation.

 

During his introduction the Executive Member for Finance and Housing sought approval to consult on the draft Housing Allocations Policy 2021.  The consultation would ask responders to give their views on how social housing was allocated across the Borough, and would last 6 weeks.  The Council’s Housing Allocation Policy was last updated over 6 years ago.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)                  the draft policy be agreed to go out to consultation.  The proposed external consultation period is six weeks;

 

2)                  the Director of Place and Growth, in consultation with the Executive Member for Finance and Housing, be delegated authority to adopt and implement the Housing Allocations Policy following consultation.