Agenda

Council - Thursday, 23rd January, 2020 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Anne Hunter  Democratic and Electoral Services Lead Specialist

Items
No. Item

43.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence

44.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 551 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 September 2019.

 

Additional documents:

45.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

46.

Mayor's Announcements

To receive any announcements by the Mayor

47.

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 Council

 

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

47.1

Rebecca Walkley asked the Leader of the Council the following question:

 

Question

What policies have been put in place by Wokingham Borough Council to ensure that their Gender Pay Gap of 13.9% for 2018/9 will be reduced to the local government national average of 6.1% or less (to keep it more in line with their neighbouring authority's Gender Pay Gaps of 2.9 % for Reading Borough Council and -0.7% for Oxford) by 2019/20?

 

47.2

Louise Timlin asked the Leader of the Council the following question:

 

Question

What advice or organisations has the Council consulted or is planning to consult, to ensure an informed action plan, drawing on best practice and research, is put in place to address Wokingham Borough Council's gender pay gap?

47.3

Bernadette Mitra asked the Executive Members for Children's Services the following question:

 

Question

Does the Member for Children’s Services have an idea on how many young carers we have that look after adults in their family?

47.4

Philip Meadowcroft asked the Leader of the Council the following question:

 

Question

As evidence of the lessons which WBC have learned from both the judicial remarks about WBC’s conduct as well as the critical comments contained in the Lingard Report, will the Leader of the Council please provide a precise and detailed list of the changes to WBC procedures and organisational structure which have now been made and are being implemented as a result of the collapse, before Reading Crown Court and endorsed by the Court of Appeal, of the Breach of Enforcement case against Hare Hatch Sheeplands?

 

47.5

Eileen Kessel asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:

 

Question

Our road surfaces deteriorate because of traffic and weather. Given the onset of winter and sub-zero temperatures what new, innovative and improved repair trends are currently being used to ensure that the volume and quality of repairs of potholes continues with minimal disruption to local residents and road users?

47.6

William Gale asked the Executive Member for Climate Emergency the following question:

 

Question

We are in the midst of an environmental and ecological crisis. This crisis threatens the future of our planet to the extent that we may not have a liveable planet in the not too distant future for future generations to enjoy as we do. Scientists estimate that the worst effects of climate change will begin in just 10 years’ time, at which point an irreversible chain reaction of disaster will be set off; yet already we are suffering in the grip of the climate emergency. 2019 was the 2nd hottest year on record on this planet, beaten in 2016 by just 0.04 degrees. In the past few weeks lots of media attention has been brought to the bushfires raging in Australia, and the floods across the UK, and the list goes on. To combat this, urgent action must be taken in the next decade. On 18th July last year, this Council declared a climate emergency, yet it continues to support the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

 

To what extent do you agree that this Council’s current policy of support for the Heathrow Airport expansion is in direct contradiction of its declaration of climate emergency?

47.7

Charlotte Ibbotson asked the Executive Member for Climate Emergency the following question:

 

Question

You have recognised that we are in a state of climate emergency already, since declaring it as one, however it is clear that action is not taking place fast enough, and the issue is not being responded to as that of an emergency - Since Wokingham has the highest car ownership in the country, why hasn’t the current agenda mentioned congestion charges or road pricing?

 

47.8

Oz Hafsa Khan asked the Executive Member for Climate Emergency the following question:

 

Question

The climate emergency was declared last year by Wokingham Council to stop the climate temperature rising 1.5°C. You have therefore made it abundantly clear that you care about this prominent and rising issue. So I would like to ask you, how would you normally travel to meetings like these and what type of transport did you use to arrive here tonight?

 

47.9

Millie Rowell asked the Executive Member for Climate Emergency the following question:

 

Question

I am a student at the Bulmershe School Woodley. I am writing this because I’m concerned for the future of our planet as well as my own. I live in Reading but I have noticed that both in Reading and Wokingham our green spaces have been gradually decreasing. I know that all of you here are just as concerned as I am and will take my question into consideration. So my question to you is: how will you be able to make the greenery in our area more effective for reducing our carbon emissions in our community?

48.

Petitions

To receive any petitions which Members or members of the public wish to present.

49.

Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy pdf icon PDF 354 KB

To consider the proposed Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy as recommended by the Executive.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  The Executive recommends that Council approve Wokingham Borough Council’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2020-2024.

 

Additional documents:

50.

Council Tax Base 20/21 pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To set the Council Tax Base for 2020/21 in respect of the whole Borough and all constituent parts so that each precepting parish can subsequently set their Council Tax budgets for the year.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  That Council agree the proposed Council Tax Base, for the whole area and by Parish, as set out in the report.

 

 

51.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 297 KB

To adopt a Localised Council Tax Reduction Scheme which will ensure that all working age Borough residents who may experience financial difficulties in paying their council tax liabilities have access to a scheme of assistance, designed locally, offering financial help to them.

 

RECOMMENDATION: That Council agree the proposed Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2020/21:

 

1)        a local Council Tax Reduction scheme for 2020/21 is adopted on the same basis as the 2019/2020 scheme;

 

2)        that the full disregard currently allowed for War Widows and War Disability Pensions is continued from 1 April 2020 in respect of the Prescribed and Local Council Tax Reduction scheme and Housing Benefit schemes;

 

3)        that funds be made available to the hardship fund, known as Section 13A, for those who cannot pay their council tax liabilities.

52.

Declaring a Climate Emergency Initial Action Plan pdf icon PDF 243 KB

To receive an update on the initial Climate Emergency Action Plan.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  That Council approves the Climate Emergency Action Plan. Endorsing the assessment of Wokingham Borough’s carbon footprint and the initial actions proposed for Wokingham Borough Council to play a full a role as possible in achieving a zero carbon Wokingham Borough by 2030. 

 

Additional documents:

53.

Changes to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 452 KB

To consider proposed changes to the Constitution as recommended by the Constitution Review Working Group.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  That the following changes, as recommended by the Constitution Review Working Group, be agreed:

 

1)         the amended start and finish times for Council meetings and amendments to Sections 4.2.8 Duration of Meeting, 4.2.8.1 Consideration of Motions and 4.2.12 m) Motions without Notice as set out in paragraph 1 of the report; (Please note that at the request of the Constitution Review Working Group this recommendation will be voted on separately)

 

2)         the following changes to the Constitution, as recommended by the Constitution Review Working Group:

 

            a)        that Section 2.2.5.1 Basic Allowance be amended as set out in paragraph 2 of the report;

 

            b)        that Sections 4.2.9.1  General, 4.2.10.4  Notice of Questions [Member Questions], 5.2.25 Questions by the Public [to the Executive] and 5.4.36 Rules of Procedure for Questions by Members, be amended as set out in paragraph 3 of the report;

 

            c)         that Sections 4.2.9.9  Written Answers [Questions by the Public], 4.2.10.6  Response [Questions by Members], 5.4.34 Response [Member Questions to the Executive] and 5.4.38 Response [Public Questions to Executive], be amended as set out in paragraph 4 of the report;

 

            d)        that Sections 4.2.12 h) Motions without Notice, 4.2.13.1 No speeches until Motion seconded, 4.2.13.7 Amendments to Motions and 4.2.13.11 b) Motions which may be moved during debate, be amended as set out in Appendix 1 to the report;

 

            e)        that Section 4.2.8.1  Consideration of motions be amended as set out in paragraph 9 of the report;

 

            f)         that Section 4.2.13.4  Content and Length of Speeches be amended as set out in paragraph 10 of the report;

 

            g)        that Section 4.4.22 [Wokingham Borough Wellbeing Board] Terms of Reference be amended as set out in paragraph 11 of the report;

 

            h)        that Sections 5.5.1 List of Items Delegated to Individual Executive Member Decisions and 12.1.17.3  Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 Developer Contributions be amended as set out in paragraph 12 of the report;

 

            i)          that Section 13.2.2 – Estimating Contract Value be amended as set out in paragraph 13 of the report;

 

            j)          that Section 13.3.1.1 Procurement Business Case (including options appraisal) be amended as set out in paragraph 14 of the report;

 

            k)         that Sections 5.5.1 g List of Items Delegated to Individual Executive Members and 13.3.1.1  Procurement Business Case (including options appraisal) be amended as set out in paragraph 15 of the report;

 

            l)          that Sections 13.3.2.2  Schedule 3 and 13.3.2.1 be amended as set out in paragraph 16 of the report and Appendix 2 to the report.

Additional documents:

54.

Timetable of Meetings pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To consider the Council’s proposed Timetable of Meetings for the 2020/21 Municipal Year.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  That the Council’s Timetable of Meetings for the 2020/21 Municipal Year be agreed.

55.

Member Question Time

To answer any Member questions

 

A period of 30 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

 

55.1

Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:

 

Question

Why is there still a problem with approving the 30 MPH speed limit on Bearwood Road to allow us to construct a much needed zebra crossing to increase safety in crossing Bearwood Road?

 

55.2

Pauline Helliar-Symons asked the Executive Member for Environment and Leisure the following question:

 

Question

Is it the case that the whole lot of the black box recycling is sent to landfill if it is (a) wet or (b) contains any non-recyclable content?

 

55.3

Andrew Mickleburgh asked the Leader of the Council the following question:

 

Question

I welcome news that the Community Safety Partnership has been reactivated and that there is now a fulltime manager for the CSP. Could the Leader of the Council  please outline the strategy and tactics that will be used to enable the reinstatement and further development of a number of important preventative activities that had been dropped in recent times, including vital work to deal with anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse?

 

55.4

Sarah Kerr asked the Executive Members for Children's Services and Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services the following question:

 

Question

What mandatory training are social workers in adult social care and children’s social care required to do on domestic violence?

 

55.5

UllaKarin Clark asked the Executive Member for Environment and Leisure the following question:

 

Question

I believe that Bulmershe Leisure Centre is fast approaching delivery in the spring of 2020. Great news, but I also believe that you will start work on the Carnival Pool redevelopment soon after delivery of the Bulmershe Leisure Centre. If Bulmershe Leisure Centre is delayed what impact will this have on Carnival Pool redevelopment?

 

55.6

Maria Gee asked the Executive Member for Business and Economic Development the following question:

 

Question

On Wednesday 9 October HM Treasury issued a statement about interest rate changes affecting new Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) loans.  The reason given for the rate hike was that some local authorities have substantially increased their use of the PWLB in recent months, as the cost of borrowing has fallen to record lows. HM Treasury is therefore restoring interest rates to levels available in 2018, by increasing the margin that applies to new loans from the PWLB by one percentage point.  This seemingly small change means that the cost of financing these loans has increased by over 50% as the typical rate for a loan is now 2.8% instead of 1.8%.  It has been widely reported that the move appears to be designed to discourage councils from borrowing to fund risky multimillion property investments.

 

Will the Council now confirm that it is reviewing its own risky commercial property investment strategy and will put a moratorium on such investments until it has completed research on the effects of the interest rate hike on the commercial property market in general and the financing costs of future investments in particular?

 

55.7

Jim Frewin asked the Executive Member for Climate Emergency the following question:

 

Question

I have recently been approached by two residents with regard to our blue badge service. Both were in the later time of life and had no access to technology channels and were reliant on family members to try and apply/renew a blue badge. In fact I tried myself to assist one through the process and struggled.

 

As a result I met with our Blue Badge Service team and was impressed with the awareness of the service weaknesses and the planned improvements. I was also very impressed with the face to face support provided to one of my residents, service of the highest level. I am also aware of the recent significant changes relating to hidden disabilities and the pressures this must have placed on the service. This is a sensitive and vital service that can have significant impact on the lives of some of our more vulnerable residents. My question is can you advise me when service improvements will be available to our blue badge residents? 

 

55.8

Imogen Shepherd-DuBey asked the Executive Member for Regeneration the following question:

 

Question

As part of redevelopment of Wokingham Market Place there was an agreement put in place for Wokingham Borough Council to carry out a deep clean, 6 times a year.

 

Why has Wokingham Borough Council subsequently failed to commit to this work and has not provided a full schedule for when this work will be carried out?

 

55.9

Paul Fishwick asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:

 

Question

The B3030 King Street Lane was resurfaced between Allnatt Avenue and its junction with A329 Reading Road (Sainsbury’s junction) as part of the 2019-2020 carriageway Structural Maintenance programme during the nights of 17th to 19th September.

 

During this work the traffic signal detector loops were removed, but not replaced on completion of the resurfacing work. This has caused extensive congestion and delays to the travelling public using King Street Lane, Mole Road and Bearwood Road during peak times starting at 7:30 in the morning and again from 3pm.

 

Why wasn’t the replacement of these detector loops programmed immediately following the resurfacing work?

 

55.10

Gary Cowan asked the Leader of the Council the following question:

 

Question

The following motion was agreed at the Council meeting held on 19 July 2012:

“Under the Localism Act 2011, local authorities gained the freedom to determine for themselves whether to operate an executive system, a committee system, or other agreed governance arrangements.

This Council wishes to consider what the most appropriate governance system is for Wokingham, and therefore refers this matter for investigation to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee to determine who manages the investigation, with a report on options for changing Wokingham’s existing governance arrangements to be received and debated at a future meeting of the full Council.”

As 7 years have elapsed since Wokingham last reviewed  its governance arrangements and many other Councils including our neighbour Reading Borough Council in that time have  adopted other governance arrangements will this Council now reconsider what is the most appropriate governance system for Wokingham  and if agreeable refer the matter for investigation to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee?

 

55.11

Caroline Smith asked the Executive Member for Children's Services the following question:

 

Question

With the projection of falling admission numbers over the next five years in Earley Primary Schools, is there a plan in place to help these schools over the next five years?

 

55.12

Rachel Burgess has asked the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Services the following question:

 

Question

Across the Borough the Breastfeeding Network oversee a number of infant feeding clinics, providing a vital service and support network to hundreds of new mothers and their families at a crucial time.

 

Once again however, the funding for this valuable service is in doubt.  I raised this issue last year and a small amount of funding was subsequently provided for the clinics. However it was not enough. The funding only covered the supervision and training of current volunteers and there was no money to train new volunteers.  Sadly, as a result, one of the infant feeding clinics has now closed completely. Another only meets monthly now, rather than weekly, and is also at risk of closure. It would be an absolute tragedy if the remaining clinics had to close and were no longer able to support our new mums and their babies.

 

While the service has already been cut back massively in recent years, the additional funding needed to enable these clinics to continue sustainably is just £6k a year. Once again I ask, will the Executive Member intervene to make sure that adequate funding is made available next year, to ensure the sustainability of these vital breastfeeding clinics?

55.13

Shirley Boyt asked the Executive Member for Environment and Leisure the following question:

 

Question

RE3 have announced that with effect from 1st February, the ‘proof of residency’ car windscreen sticker will no longer be accepted at the Reading or Bracknell civic amenity sites.  What steps have been taken to inform residents of this change and to advise them on which alternative forms of ID are acceptable?

55.14

Laura Blumenthal asked the Executive Member for Environment and Leisure the following question. Due to time constraints a written answer was provided.

 

Question

It’s been a few months since we visited Woodley Precinct to discuss making the pedestrianised area safer due to protruding tree roots which some residents had tripped over. Please can you share an update on plans for a solution? We agreed it was important to ensure the trees were not removed.

56.

Minutes of Committee Meetings and Ward Matters

A period of 20 minutes will be allowed for Members to ask questions in relation to the latest circulated volume of Minutes of Meetings and Ward Matters

57.

Statements by the Leader of the Council, Executive Members and Deputy Executive Members

To receive any statements by the Leader of the Council, Executive Members, and Deputy Executive Members.

 

In accordance with Procedure Rule 4.2.23 the total time allocated to this item shall not exceed 20 minutes, and no Member shall speak for more than 5 minutes

58.

Statement from Council Owned Companies

To receive any statements from Directors of Council Owned Companies.

 

In accordance with Procedure Rule 4.2.24 the total time allocated to this item shall not exceed 10 minutes, and no Director, except with the consent of Council, shall speak for more than 3 minutes.

59.

Motions

To consider any motions

 

In accordance with Procedure Rule 4.2.11.2 a maximum period of 30 minutes will be allowed for each Motion to be moved, seconded and debated, including dealing with any amendments.  At the expiry of the 30-minute period debate will cease immediately, the mover of the Motion or amendment will have the right of reply before the Motion or amendment is put to the vote

59.1

Resumption of Motion 421 submitted by Ian Pittock

 

Debate of Motion 421, which was adjourned at the Council meeting held on 19 September 2019 following 12 minutes of debate.  The motion will be resumed at this point and will continue for a period not in excess of 18 minutes.

 

As Councillor Croy moved the adjournment he shall be entitled to speak first.

 

The wording of the motion is as follows:

 

This Council does not support the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

59.2

Motion 424 submitted by Gregor Murray

 

Full Council on 18th July voted unanimously to declare a Climate Emergency across Wokingham Borough and to commit itself to being carbon neutral by 2030.

 

In order to achieve this crucial aim, and to live up to our environmental responsibilities it is essential we take immediate steps to reduce the amount of carbon we either directly or indirectly use each year.

 

It is clear that no responsible council can take action on climate change without seeking to drastically reduce the amount of single use plastics consumed by the Council in it’s everyday operations.

 

We acknowledge that single use plastics can be preferential in the care and wellbeing of disabled and other vulnerable residents. However, wherever possible and practical, we should seek to remove all non-essential single use plastics from Council operations.

In face of the overwhelming evidence about the impact that single use plastics have on the environment including contributing to carbon emissions in its manufacture, Wokingham Borough Council commits to leading our residents by example by ensuring that all non-essential single use plastics are eliminated from use within the Council Shute End building, and all Council controlled environments, as soon as possible. 

 

This would be achieved by:

 

  • Phasing out the purchase of single-use plastic products through services commissioned by the council and as soon as practicable;
  • Bringing regular reports to future Climate Emergency committee meetings, describing the Council’s plans to eliminate single-use plastic from the organisation, including a timetable for doing so;
  • Working with Council staff, Wokingham Borough's businesses, community groups and residents to share advice, ideas and best practice on using sustainable alternatives;
  • Working with local schools to support the aspiration of Wokingham Borough’s young people to eliminate plastic waste from our environment;
  • Seeking to work with neighbouring councils to tackle single use plastic used across the wider Berkshire area.

59.3

Motion 425 submitted by Rachel Bishop-Firth

 

EU nationals are our family members, parents, friends and colleagues.  They care for our elderly and they teach our children. They are an integral part of a vibrant and thriving Wokingham.

 

In the Referendum campaign, we were promised that "there will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK and [they] …will be treated no less favourably than they are at present”.

 

This promise has not been honoured.  Many EU27 citizens are unaware that if Brexit goes ahead, they risk deportation from their homes of many years unless they are granted settled status.

 

Home Office figures show that many EU nationals have not applied for Settled Status, or have applied but have been refused.   We don’t know how many Wokingham residents, perhaps elderly or vulnerable people, are unaware that they may become illegal immigrants.  We risk a Windrush-style scandal here in Wokingham, with families broken up.

 

We also need to think of the 1.3 million British citizens who have made their homes in other EU countries, who may be forced to return to the UK, particularly if Brexit means they lose their access to healthcare.  Many of these people are elderly, and many have made their homes overseas because of difficulties making ends meet on their pensions.  How many will come to Wokingham, needing assistance with social housing and other support?

 

Therefore, the Council asks that Officers urgently undertake and publish a review of the how the Council can best mitigate the effects of Brexit on local residents including:

 

a)         How we can promote and assist with applications for settled status particularly for residents who face language or technology barriers.

  

b)         What we can do to help landlords and employers to be trained on immigration status, to avoid potential discrimination against EU27 nationals.

 

c)         How Brexit is likely to affect EU27 nationals accessing services provided by the Council, and steps that we can take to mitigate difficulties.

 

d)        The likely impact on Wokingham of British citizens returning to the UK and how we can best prepare for this.

59.4

Motion 427 submitted by Pauline Helliar-Symons

 

On 22nd November 2018, this Council adopted a Sprinkler Policy centered on our schools.  After work by Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service, the Fire Authority's Management Committee on 22nd July 2019 adopted a wider policy which they proposed be considered by each of the Berkshire Unitaries.  This goes further to support promotion of Sprinklers in their Council areas and to put pressure on Central Government to legislate on Sprinklers, following the successful introduction of legal powers in Wales.

 

To be specific it is proposed:

 

That Wokingham Borough Council supports the proposals of the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority to extend the promotion of Sprinklers and to lobby central government to bring in legislation or regulations which make installations a necessary part of new builds and major refurbishments in the categories identified.  The policy agreed by the Council on 22nd November 2018 regarding schools remains, but additionally:

 

Wokingham Borough Council:

 

a.      Recognises that Sprinklers and other Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) save lives, protect property, reduce the impact of fire on the environment, reduce interruption to business and improve safety for individuals the community in general and firefighters, especially in the case of schools.

 

b.      Commits to installation of sprinklers or other AFSS within its own building stock when planning for and constructing new buildings or as a retrofitted solution when undertaking major refurbishments of existing buildings where the extent of the refurbishment makes the fitting of sprinklers viable.

 

c.       Through the planning application or building control process, promote and support the installation of sprinklers or other AFSS for all new or refurbished buildings and particularly those that present the most significant risk to the public and firefighters.

 

d.      Supports the National Fire Chiefs Council position on sprinklers and will write to Central Government to express support for the creation of a legal requirement to fit sprinklers or AFSS in buildings.