Agenda and minutes

Council
Thursday, 22nd September, 2016 7.30 pm

Venue: Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1BN

Contact: Anne Hunter  Service Manager, Democratic Services

Items
No. Item

39.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Councillors David Chopping, Emma Hobbs, John Jarvis, Dianne King, David Lee, Philip Mirfin and Chris Singleton.

40.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 344 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 July 2016

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 21 July 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

Councillors Jones and Ferris stated that they had not received answers to questions asked at the previous meeting.  The relevant Executive Members agreed to respond.

41.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

Minutes:

Councillor Ian Pittock declared a Personal Interest in Item 48.3 Motion 387 on the grounds that his partner was a tax accountant who advised local businesses.  Councillor Pittock remained in the Chamber during the discussion of the Motion but did not vote on the matter.

 

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 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

 

Minutes:

In accordance with the agreed procedure the Mayor invited members of the public to submit questions to the appropriate Members.

 

 

42.1

Guy Grandison asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:

Question

How much overlap time was there between the end of the Loddon Viaduct works and the start of the A327 scheme?

 

Minutes:

How much overlap time was there between the end of the Loddon Viaduct works and the start of the A327 scheme?

 

Answer

The A327 Arborfield Road closure commenced at 9pm on Friday 19 August 2016 and the A3290 Loddon Viaduct works contraflow system was lifted at 4:30am on Saturday morning.  So yes, there was an overlap of 7 hours 30 minutes, in the middle of the night.

 

The Council was hoping obviously to avoid an overlap altogether, however a very slight over run of the Loddon Viaduct works meant that that overlap did occur but at least we were able to keep it to after 9 o’clock at night when the traffic flows are very much reduced and cause minimum, if any problem.

 

Supplementary Question

7 hours 30 minutes in the middle of the night, that is very well done.  Does the Executive Member agree though that in spite of these roadworks we have had in the Borough over the summer; there will be long term benefits for the motorists of the Borough?

 

Supplementary Answer

You would hope so if you were doing road improvement schemes that you would hope to have an improvement and a benefit. 

43.

Presentation by the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Francis Habgood

To receive a presentation from the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police Francis Habgood.

 

This is expected to be approximately 20 minutes in duration after which there will be an opportunity for Member questions of no more than 15 minutes in duration.

Minutes:

The Council received a presentation from Francis Habgood, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police about the relationship between Thames Valley Police and Wokingham Borough.  In his presentation the Chief Constable referred to the four key pillars which underpinned Thames Valley Police’s commitment to working together with communities:

 

·         Emergency services keeping people safe and bringing offenders to justice;

·         Working together to build stronger, more resilient communities;

·         Modern policing meeting the needs of communities;

·         Skilled and trusted workforce.

 

He also referred to the priorities for 2016/17 including: cutting crimes of most concern; protecting vulnerable people; and bringing offenders to justice.  The Chief Constable also outlined the situation for Wokingham in particular and stated that on the whole crime was low in the area.

 

Following the presentation, Members asked a number of questions relating to:

 

·         Progress with sharing facilities with other Blue Light services and other public bodies;

·         Approval of the Highways England application to convert the M4 between Junctions 3 and 12 into a Smart motorway and the impact this would have on local traffic;

·         Uncollected road traffic offence fines for overseas registered vehicles;

·         Future funding of the Community Safety Partnerships and the  Wokingham Community Safety Partnership in particular;

·         Rural crime;

·         Domestic violence and the support provided by the Police to victims and perpetrators;

·         Use of firearms to carry out illegal poaching and to intimidate residents living in rural locations.

 

The Chief Constable answered these questions at the meeting.

 

Members thanked the Chief Constable for his presentation.

44.

Petitions

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

Minutes:

The following member of the public presented a petition in relation to the matter indicated.

 

The Mayor’s decision as to the action to be taken is set out against the petition.

 

Mr Clive Chaffer

Mr Chaffer presented a petition of over 100 signatures regarding the safety of pedestrians crossing on Rose Street.

 

To be forwarded to the Executive Member for Highways and Transport

 

45.

Mayor's Announcements

To receive any announcements by the Mayor

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Members of the Passing Out Parade of Fire Fighter Recruits which he had attended and highlighted the demonstration he had received of what would happen when water was poured on to a chip pan fire.  The Mayor agreed to send the picture of the result to Members.

 

Councillor Prue Bray informed Council that she would be standing down as Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group due to other commitments within the Party.  She stated that she had enjoyed her time as Group Leader and wished her successor every success for the future.

46.

Treasury Management Annual Report 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 195 KB

To consider the Treasury Management Outturn Report for 2015/16; which was approved by Executive on 28 July 2016 and considered by the Audit Committee on 15 June 2016.

 

RECOMMENDATION That:

1)        it be noted that the report was presented to the Audit Committee on 15 June 2016 and Executive on 28 July 2016;

 

2)         the following be approved:

            a)         the Treasury Management Annual Report for 2015/2016; and

 

            b)         the actual 2015/2016 prudential indicators within the report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the Treasury Management Annual Report 2015/16 as set out on pages 35 to 68 of the agenda.

 

Anthony Pollock in presenting the report commended the performance of the In-House team which had outperformed the specialists in investments.

 

It was proposed by Anthony Pollock and seconded by Stuart Munro that the recommendations contained within the report be agreed.

 

RESOVLED:  That:

 

1)         it be noted that the report was presented to the Audit Committee on 15 June 2016 and Executive on 28 July 2016;

 

2)         the following be approved:

 

a)         the Treasury Management Annual Report for 2015/2016; and

 

b)         the actual 2015/2016 prudential indicators within the report.

 

47.

Changes to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To consider a report containing a revised Filming and Recording Protocol and a change to the Scheme of Delegation to Officers as agreed by members of the Constitution Review Working Group.

 

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

 

1)        a revised Chapter 3.6 – Filming and Recording Protocol as set out in Appendix A to the report;

 

2)        designation of the Head of Governance and Improvement Services as the Officer responsible for the discharge of functions of Counting Officer at a Neighbourhood Plan Referendum.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered proposed changes to the Constitution as set out on Agenda pages 69 to 76 relating to the Filming and Recording Protocol and the designation of the Head of Governance and Improvement Services as the Officer responsible for the discharge of functions of Counting Officer at a Neighbourhood Plan Referendum.

 

Prue Bray informed Members that following a challenge the Local Government Ombudsman had recommended that filming also be allowed at all public meetings organised by the Council.  Members of the public, however, could still request that they not be filmed.

 

It was proposed by Paul Swaddle and seconded by Prue Bray that the recommendations set out in the report be approved.

 

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

 

1)         a revised Chapter 3.6 – Filming and Recording Protocol as set out in Appendix A to the report;

 

2)         designation of the Head of Governance and Improvement Services as the Officer responsible for the discharge of functions of Counting Officer at a Neighbourhood Plan Referendum.

48.

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

Minutes:

Councillor Keith Baker, Leader of the Council

Prior to his statement, the Leader thanked Prue Bray for her contribution as Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and wished her all the best.

 

I first need to inform Council that the item relating to “Proposed Reduction to Speed Limits on sections of B3349 Barkham Road, Bearwood Road and Sheerlands Road to Support Access and Walked Route to New Bohunt School, Arborfield” was taken as an urgent Executive decision on 1 September and as such was not subject to call in.  This was undertaken in accordance with the Constitution and with agreement of the Mayor.  The item was deemed urgent because Bohunt School was due to open on 5 September and any delay in implementing the speed limits could risk the safety of school children walking to the new School.

 

I also want to announce that due to work pressures Councillor Chris Smith has had to step down from his role as Deputy Executive Member for Children Services.  I thank him for his all but brief efforts and wish him well for the future. I am very pleased to announce that Councillor Richard Dolinski has agreed to take on this role. Councillor Dolinski is a former Deputy Head, has a lot to offer and is already making an impact.

 

But I now want to use the rest of my speech to discuss a different but very important topic; the budget for 2017/18 and beyond.  This year a lot of attention is being paid to putting together a more detailed 3 year budget to align with the Government’s offer of a 4 year settlement.  As with everything the devil is in the detail.  That detail masks a highly damaging reduction in grant in 2019/20, in that one year alone, of £7.1million, which is probably the largest drop this Council has ever seen, all in the year when councils are meant to be retaining, in full, their business rates.  We have already started the work needed to address that issue but this year we need to find savings of over £4million which is slightly higher than the current year.  So how are we going to do it?  I expect Councillor Pollock will spend time in his speech providing more detail on this, but part of our solution is in my portfolio, which is something we are calling the 21st Century Council.  For those who are interested in more detail, can I refer them to the Executive agenda for later this month where the business case can be found.  This is a 2 year programme and will result in a dramatic change in how this Council carries out its affairs. This alone will provide just over £2million of savings for this coming year, which will be a major contribution to that £4million savings target.  I will be bringing updates back to Council as the work progresses, but tonight I want to speak to you about the principles underpinning these changes.

 

We all acknowledge, or I  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

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.

Minutes:

Councillor Gary Cowan, Non-Executive Director Loddon Homes Limited

Having achieved Full for Profit Registered Provider Status with the Homes and Communities Agency, Loddon Homes have been focusing on continuing to prepare for future affordable houses, while ensuring that the management and maintenance of our existing 16 homes remain effective.  In preparation for the next batch of homes we are working closely with Wokingham Housing Limited and the Holding Company to look at the best arrangements around our housing company structure and where best to place the assets. 

 

The new housing policy that the Government has introduced means we must look at how best we manage these new risks within the council housing companies.  We continue to work on producing a full suite of policies and procedures as Loddon Homes Limited evolves having approved a further three policies at our last Board meeting.  In association with this work we are also working on the details of how best to let the first homes on Phoenix Avenue and Fosters Extra Care Schemes with Wokingham Borough Council’s Housing Services and the precise management arrangement for Fosters with Wokingham Borough Council and Optalis.

 

Our Board meetings always include an item on key performance indicators on how existing homes are being managed.  Based on existing targets, we are up-to-date and performance is looking well to target. 

 

Lastly, Loddon Homes submitted a bid for a grant for shared ownership homes to the HCA’s Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes programme on 2nd September.  In total we bid for £1.5million of grant to support 18 shared ownership homes we are hoping to build in 2017/18, followed by a further 60 homes based on 15 homes a year thereafter. Any grant we receive will help the Council’s commuted sums for developers go further and produce more affordable homes overall.  We shall hear if a bid for a grant will be successful in December and I will keep Council updated on progress.

 

Councillor Alistair Auty, Non-Executive Director Wokingham Housing Limited

I will keep my update brief in the absence of the Chair David Chopping who is away this evening.  I would just also like to pass on our congratulations to our sister company Loddon Homes in achieving Registered Provider Status from the HCA, a feather in the cap of the Borough and well deserved.

 

We continue to progress well with our flagship schemes of Phoenix Avenue and Fosters.  In addition we have just submitted eight smaller sites for Executive approval at the end of this month.  That will positively result in additional capacity and additional affordable homes being delivered into the Borough in the next year, which I think is a positive as well.

 

Councillor Anthony Pollock, Non-Executive Director Optalis

First I would like to report on a new contract which has been awarded to Optalis for a residential care facility in Maidenhead by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.  This contract commenced on 1 September and incorporation of this contract into Optalis has gone smoothly to date.  I  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

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 Mayor invited Members to submit questions to the appropriate Members.

50.1

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

Question:

In an email to me in June you stated that "we have recently published our Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) Strategic Housing Market Assessment which gives us our (OAN) objectively assessed need up to 2036 of 856 homes to be built per annum.

Can you please let me know when this was agreed by the Council as Officers have advised me that this has been agreed by Council Members and Officers who were part of the SHMA Member Reference Group”as I cannot remember this ever being discussed at Council or Executive.

 

Minutes:

In an email to me in June you stated that "we have recently published our Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) Strategic Housing Market Assessment which gives us our (OAN) objectively assessed need up to 2036 of 856 homes to be built per annum.

Can you please let me know when this was agreed by the Council as Officers have advised me that “this has been agreed by Council Members and Officers who were part of the SHMA Member Reference Group” as I cannot remember this ever being discussed at Council or Executive.

 

Answer

Thank you for your question which is very interesting as the responsible Executive Member for the existing Core Strategy you already have a great understanding of the process to create a Local Plan, the new name for a Core Strategy.  I was not personally involved in anything to do with the SHMA but I have carried out a lot of research to provide answers to your question.

 

As you know, the National Planning Policy Framework, the famous NPPF published in 2012 now requires all authorities to work out what their Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAN) is, through the SHMA.

 

On 24 September 2015, the then Deputy Executive Member for Planning, Councillor Halsall took the LDS, that is the Local Development Scheme, report to Executive to gain approval for the Local Development Scheme. This included, amongst several other items, and I quote:

 

“It will therefore set a refined housing target for the Borough from 2013 to 2036, having regard to the results of an objective assessment of housing needs.”

 

At the same time the Executive Member for Planning, at that time Councillor Kaiser, became a member of the SHMA Member Reference Group, that you reference in your question, which was a pan Berkshire group of all the Planning Lead Members of each authority. All lead members accepted the output of the consultants on the OAN.

 

The consequence of that agreement was two press releases issued on 20 October, 2015.  One was a joint release which every Berkshire Authority issued.  All press releases are not issued without the express agreement of the relevant Executive Member.  This is important as the second one was exclusively from Wokingham Borough Council which had extensive quotes from Councillor Kaiser reflecting his agreement to release these numbers. Amongst all these quotes was:

 

“The SHMA is a highly technical document that objectively produces a figure for housing need, which is broadly indicative of potential housing numbers we may need to provide for. But we will want to consult and engage as widely as possible when it comes to the Local Plan."

So that is the background.  Councillor Halsall, the Deputy Executive Member for Planning, and Councillor Kaiser, Executive Member for Planning were the Councillors involved with the SHMA.  It is correct that the SHMA did not go through the normal decision making process in exactly the same way that the equivalent in your Core Strategy did not.

 

So why not?  Let me remind you  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.1

50.2

Lindsay Ferris asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:

Question

With the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement on the horizon will the Executive member for Highways agree to start working with local members to draw up a schedule and plans for where new parking arrangements will be required across the Borough?

Minutes:

With the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement on the horizon will the Executive member for Highways agree to start working with local members to draw up a schedule and plans for where new parking arrangements will be required across the Borough?

 

Answer

A review commenced early in 2016 to look at the Borough’s existing traffic regulation orders, road markings and the associated parking signs to ensure they are suitable to support CPE.

 

The review highlighted numerous improvements required to the existing TROs, to the road markings and the parking signs that needed to be implemented to ensure CPE could be enforced and that it would be robust if challenged via the parking appeals process.  These improvements are being made before CPE goes live, which is currently programmed for the second half of 2017, subject of course to approval at the 28 September 2016 Executive.

 

With regard to new parking arrangements and changes to the existing arrangements it is considered this would be best assessed and quantified after CPE has been implemented and established, in other words we would do the existing ones first.  As usual any changes or larger scale improvements to the existing arrangements would be done on a priority basis, and would subject to appropriate availability of resources and funding.

50.3

Clive Jones asked the Executive Member for Children's Services the following question:

Question

There have been suggestions in the press that the new Education Secretary Justine Greening is in favour of opening more grammar schools.  Does the Conservative administration in Wokingham wish to see a return to grammar schools in the Borough?  

Minutes:

There have been suggestions in the press that the new Education Secretary Justine Greening is in favour of opening more grammar schools.  Does the Conservative administration in Wokingham wish to see a return to grammar schools in the Borough?  

 

Answer

The starting point for answering this question is to remind Councillor Jones that Wokingham’s comprehensive schools maintained and academies are among the best in the country.  We see their results continue to sustain massively high standards year after year.  In short pupils do well here.

 

There has been interest in the grammar school question since the recent development in Sevenoaks, Kent.  This is where an existing grammar school was expanded in a new building on a new site.  In Wokingham, as seen with many areas in our Council, we are prepared to look carefully at different ways of doing things. 

 

If there were a change in the law reflecting the new Secretary of State’s thinking, that might change the balance of pros and cons.  We will work through the anticipated green paper when it is published.  However it would not change my sense that we want to work with our schools and we are interested in our education system as a whole. 

 

What we wish to see in Wokingham is children doing brilliantly.  Our schools achieve that for our children and I salute them for that.

 

Supplementary Question

I agree with you.  Wokingham children do extremely well but would you agree with me that there is no evidence that grammar schools increase social mobility, and significantly in the past have had a harm on the life chances and opportunities of 80% of young children who have not been able to go to grammar schools?

 

Supplementary Answer

I think there are different circumstances in different authorities.  Here all of our schools do incredibly well for pupils and as I said to you, if this legislation goes through in Central Government, we would need to consider very carefully what it would mean for our own local circumstances here.  We may not be able to influence what it actually means for us in terms of the fact that we have a Regional Schools Commissioner so we would need to consider later on down the line the pros and the cons and what it does mean for social mobility or not.  At the moment our schools are doing an excellent job and I praise them for that.

50.4

Beth Rowland asked the Executive Member for Children's Services the following question:

Question:

The Liberal Democrats welcome the setting up of the new autism unit at St Crispin’s, which will not only benefit students but also potentially provide better value for money than placing young people further away.  Will you set up a cross-party working group to look at the opportunities for collaboration with other councils on placements for children with special needs to realise economies of scale and better control over quality and cost?

Minutes:

The Liberal Democrats welcome the setting up of the new autism unit at St Crispin’s, which will not only benefit students but also potentially provide better value for money than placing young people further away.  Will you set up a cross-party working group to look at the opportunities for collaboration with other councils on placements for children with special needs to realise economies of scale and better control over quality and cost?

 

Answer

I am extremely appreciative of your cross-party support for the St Crispin’s autism provision, and of course delighted too at the real commitment of St Crispin’s to excellent and inclusive education.  Planning special needs provision is a complex professional process.  The autism unit and our other special needs provision for hearing impairment and speech and language needs are being considered under the umbrella of the Disability Strategy established under the Children’s Services Directorate. 

 

With the hearing impaired provision we have specifically committed to working with other Berkshire authorities to look at how the Berkshire sensory consortium works.  This year in the Thames Valley review of Further Education Colleges, our Officers took the opportunity to seek recognition of the importance of regional planning for special needs.  

 

So the principle of working across authority boundaries already operates here.  I am not sure we need a working group on it therefore but special educational needs might in due course be a matter that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would take an interest in.  

 

Supplementary Question

We have offered in the past to play our part in working parties for education and I am really sad that it has not been taken up and we have not been able to put our oar in.

 

Supplementary Answer

I know that you have taken an interest in working groups and you have actually taken part in some.  There is a Multi-Academy Working Group about to launch.  The terms of reference have been drawn up and I am not sure if the dates have been sent out but they were sent to Democratic Services this week, so you have got them and the invitation is there.  There is cross party working, particularly education so I cannot understand why you make that assertion.

50.5

Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey asked the Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration the following question:

Question

In the past two years the Council has bought a number of properties in connection with the regeneration of Wokingham town centre.  If the Council were to sell those properties today, how much would they fetch compared to how much the Council paid for them?   

 

Minutes:

In the past two years the Council has bought a number of properties in connection with the regeneration of Wokingham town centre.  If the Council were to sell those properties today how much would they fetch compared to how much the Council paid for them?   

 

Answer

In connection with Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration, there have been two properties or two areas purchased in the past 2 years – the land behind the old Don Beni restaurant on Denmark Street and 26 Peach Street.

 

The Council paid £814k for those two areas. If they were sold today for the purposes for which the Council acquired them, they would be valued in the order of £1,085k.

 

Supplementary Question

In the past the Council lost control of the town centre in Woodley because the property was sold off for short term profit, only to see the others make more money out of the properties.  Will you guarantee that you will look into long term interests of the hard working rate payers in Wokingham since we are the lowest funded Council in the country, and will be zero funded when looking at council property holdings in the future?

 

Supplementary Answer

I guarantee that.  The Council will make a decision on whether to hold or sell as we continue with our regeneration and beyond.

50.6

Prue Bray asked the Executive Member for Economic Development and Finance the following question:

Question

Now that we have had three months since the EU Referendum vote (at the time of the Council meeting), can the Executive member for Finance advise whether there has been any impact on WBC as a result of the vote?

 

Minutes:

Now that we have had three months since the EU Referendum vote (at the time of the Council meeting), can the Executive Member for Finance advise whether there has been any impact on Wokingham Borough Council as a result of the vote?

 

Answer

I think you asked me a similar question recently and my answer then was no and my answer today is no.  The Thames Valley economy is currently in very good health. 

 

Supplementary Question

Does that mean then that you have been given a guarantee that the European Structural and Investment Fund money that is due to come to the LEP between now and 2020 will be forthcoming?

 

Supplementary Answer

My understanding is that the Government has guaranteed to maintain funding that we would have otherwise got from the European Union up to 2020 so I would expect the answer to your question to be yes.

50.7

Tim Holton asked the Executive Member for the Environment the following question:

Question

Does the Executive Member welcome the news that Dinton Pastures has been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for the third year running?

Minutes:

Does the Executive Member welcome the news that Dinton Pastures has been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for the third year running?

 

Answer

Yes, very welcome and I must say a tribute to our team at Dinton.  We have been working hard over the last few years to make that Country Park a place where as many people as possible can enjoy a wide range of activities.  Our visitor numbers have increased significantly and the feedback we get is extremely positive with many visitors recognising the great value for money that it offers for a family day out as well as for those simply wanting some fresh air or to walk their dog or dogs.  It is therefore extremely welcome that for the third year, we have received a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence especially as to qualify a business must maintain an overall bubble rating of at least four out of five and have a minimum number of reviews.

 

We are not complacent about this and are working on a five year plan that will see further improvements to the whole of the Countryside Services’ offer including planned improvements to California Country Park currently out for consultation.

 

Supplementary Question

Please can you tell me what more the Council intends to do to ensure it remains an excellent Country Park?

 

Supplementary Answer

As Members are probably aware, we have a cross party working group which is looking at various opportunities we have both to improve what is done at the Country Parks and how we can improve the income so we can invest in them.  I am very confident that we can continue to provide the services that have given us this award and yet further enhance them.

50.8

Michael Firmager asked the Executive Member for the Environment the following question:

Question

Would the Executive Member explain the arrangements for our residents for continuing easy access to our Household Waste Recycling Centres from 1st July?

 

Minutes:

Would the Executive Member explain the arrangements for our residents for continuing easy access to our Household Waste Recycling Centres from 1st July?

 

Answer

You say easy access and I think what we have done has not provided any issues.  As of 1 July, the re3 recycling centres now only accept household waste from residents living in the three Boroughs.

 

The change was prompted by West Berkshire Council giving notice that it intended to stop the annual payment of £500,000 to the partnership councils for waste delivered to re3 recycling centres by West Berkshire residents.  The partnership felt that it is unfair to ask our council tax payers to fund waste management services for residents in other local authorities.

 

In order for onsite staff to check residency easily and enforce the access change, recycling centre visitor permits were sent to the 182,000 households in the re3 area for use by residents when visiting the Bracknell and Reading facilities.

 

All area residents are also able to use alternative forms of valid ID, like driving licence photocard, to access the recycling centres.

 

Considerable effort was put into communicating the changes, which resulted in widespread and continued coverage in the media including TV, radio, print publications, and news websites and on social media and in community-led publications.  Recycling centre meet and greet staff have undergone communications training, which has been supplemented by onsite signage and leafleting, to ensure a consistent and accurate message.

 

Communications for the next phase of changes due on 30thof this month, the introduction of a commercial vehicle permit and charges for some non-household waste are now underway and additionally, we will be carrying out traffic lane upgrades to both sites to improve access.

51.

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

51.1

Michael Firmager asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:

Minutes:

In my ward of Hawkedon there have been a series of motor accidents at the western mini roundabout at the junction of Rushey Way and Kilnsea Drive.  Some of these have been reported at least and there have been many near misses as a result of drivers coming up and down the hill, not being aware of this roundabout junction.  Please can you advise what measures can be done to make this mini roundabout more obvious, to slow down the traffic and to make it safer?

 

Answer:

The junction you are referring to is where Kilnsea joins Rushey Way in a T junction and at that junction there is a roundabout.  The concerns of residents were that people tend to go quite quickly along Rushey Way and they suddenly come across the roundabout, if they do not know it is there, and they would like to be told a bit earlier that the roundabout is there so they can plan.  They thought the signs, although they are already there were not as obvious to see because some of them would be hidden basically by bushes or a bus stop.  In response to that request we took that sign and are moving it further down the road so it is in front of the bushes and in front of the bus stop, so it can be seen several seconds earlier; so that will be an improvement.  However, I have to say that they also made comment that people go along the road very quickly because they drive fast expensive cars and they think it is wonderfully safe and they were driving badly.  The message seems to be not so much to do with signs as drivers improving their standards and observing the regulations and speed limits.

51.2

Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey asked the Leader of the Council the following question:

Minutes:

The Council publishes its formal notices like TROs (Traffic Regulation Orders) in the Reading Chronicle but that only covers a small part of the Borough and residents in Winnersh miss out on seeing them.  Will you please place the notices that affect Winnersh and Wokingham and the rest of the Borough in the Wokingham Paper; which is the one that most of the residents actually read?

 

Answer:

In the absence of not really having a particular Portfolio Holder on that, the rationale for our placement of advertising, clearly the location and the distribution is one answer but it is also their circulation.  We will look at that suggestion but it is unlikely as it is a very low circulation.  It does not matter if it is going to Winnersh or wherever if only a few thousand read it or a few hundred people read it; but we will look at that and report back.

51.3

Clive Jones asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:

Minutes:

At the top of Carshalton Way there is a manhole cover just a few metres before the roundabout.  The road around the manhole cover appears to collapsing and there are a number of marks now on the manhole cover which is the bottom of different cars, lorries and vehicles.  Could you have a look at this urgently and try to get the road repaired?

 

Answer:

The simple answer is yes.  I have in fact been there and I have looked at those local roads.  I have seen those pieces which are desirable for change.  I have reported them back and they will be added to the list.  Obviously because the nature of it, it will appear fairly high up the list, but that particular manhole cover is proud of the surface so it will be fairly high on the list.

51.4

Prue Bray asked the Executive Member for Environment the following question:

Minutes:

There is a group of residents who live near the open space near Woodward Close which is by the new primary school and the primary school car park and they would like to plant some trees and bushes for screening, at their own expense, to cover areas which are left unscreened by the Council.  They are happy to maintain what they plant and to take direction as to what can be planted and they have been trying to get the Council to give them an answer as to whether they can do this for some months.  Rachelle and I have been trying on their behalf as well and we have not managed to get an answer.  The best time to plant trees is about to start.  Please could you look into it and if possible give them the green light?

 

Answer:

I have not been aware of this.  Yes I will look into it and I will ensure that it is our land in the first place.

51.5

Beth Rowland asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:

Minutes:

The new streetlights that have gone out throughout the District which significantly change the way streetlights have looked and the light that they give.  I have had complaints from lots of residents in my ward saying that the lights are very bright for driving in, especially as the nights are getting darker quicker.  As they drive from new lights to old lights there are significant patches, not only on my road but in the ward where they change from the yellow lights to the new lights, making driving conditions very difficult.  Could we have a look at the angling or whether those could be shaded in any way for motorists?

 

Answer:

Yes, with the new lights going up there are various things they can adjust; they can angle them.  They are obviously set to a standard when they are installed but they are able to be adjusted if necessary, but we need to be told which ones would seem to be out of step or a problem.  Similarly with the brightness, they can be adjusted far more readily than the old lights and again we need to be told what problems if any, people have on the level of adjustment because we can turn at certain times of the day to reduce consumption or to avoid it shining into people’s bedrooms and so on.  We just need to be aware of them and if you would like to, separately, remind me of the occasions we will pass that on.

52.

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

52.1

Motion 385 submitted by Ian Pittock

This Council believes in transparency and on this basis resolves it will now publish allowances Members receive from Outside Bodies and other organisations to which they are appointed by WBC. Such allowances will be shown on the same WBC web page alongside those received from this Council.

 

Minutes:

The Council considered the following Notice of Motion submitted by Ian Pittock and seconded by Lindsay Ferris.

 

“This Council believes in transparency and on this basis resolves it will now publish allowances Members receive from Outside Bodies and other organisations to which they are appointed by WBC.  Such allowances will be shown on the same WBC web page alongside those received from this Council.”

 

Ian Pittock emphasised that the onus was on Members to advise Democratic Services should they receive allowances from Outside Bodies and other organisations to which they were appointed by the Council.

 

Following debate, upon being put to the meeting, the Motion was declared by the Mayor to be carried.

 

RESOLVED:  That this Council believes in transparency and on this basis resolves it will now publish allowances Members receive from Outside Bodies and other organisations to which they are appointed by WBC. Such allowances will be shown on the same WBC web page alongside those received from this Council.

52.2

Motion 386 submitted by Lindsay Ferris

Four years ago WBC ranked 40th in the league table of councils with regard to levels of recycling. Now in 2016 WBC has fallen to 202nd.  This council’s average recycling rate is only 39.4%, and it has been stalled at this level for a number of years. Meanwhile the best performing Councils currently recycle around 67% of their waste.  Urgent action is required to improve WBC’s recycling rates to avoid the imposition on WBC of significant fines and of additional charges for sending waste to landfill, which would be additional pressures on the budget of a council which is the lowest funded Unitary Authority in the country. It is vital to ensure that suitable plans are put in place in sufficient time to ensure that WBC can achieve the important recycling target of 50% by 2020.

 Whilst it is recognised that a Waste Working Group has been set up within WBC, it has now not met for over three months.  Opposition Councillors have the following concerns:

(i)         Lack of significant progress in this area

(ii)       Restricted access to any ideas that have been discussed at the working group, in particular the ruling by the Executive member for Environment that members of the working group can only communicate its discussions to the Leaders of their respective political groups and to no other councillors.  We feel this is inappropriate as any programme of action put together will have an impact on all Councillors on the Council and that they have a right to provide an input.

In order to inject the required urgency into the consideration of waste collection and disposal, this Council requires that the waste working group resumes regular and timely meetings and that as part of its agenda it examines

 (a)      Food Waste which represents approximately 40% of the current total waste within the Blue Bags

 (b)      Increasing the types and quantity of plastic to be recycled

 (c)      the waste collection and disposal practices of the high performing Councils, including their kerbside recycling of glass

 (d)      the implications of the RE3 contract on recycling rates and what actions can be provided whilst still enabling WBC (& its partners) to meet the needs of this long term contract.

 (e)      what activities can be changed within RE3 to enable the recycling targets to be met

 (f)       identify and find more ways to recycle/reuse Garden Waste

 (g)      contributing to an extended countrywide programme to encourage manufacturers and suppliers to provide less packaging.

And that the progress in the deliberations of the working group are reported regularly to Community and Corporate Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee meetings, using Part II where appropriate to safeguard confidential information.

 

Minutes:

In accordance with Procedure Rule 4.2.12 (g) of the Council’s Constitution, Lindsay Ferris proposed that Motion 386 be withdrawn. 

52.3

Motion 387 submitted by Clive Jones

This Council notes that:

·         corporate tax evasion and avoidance are having a damaging impact on the world’s poorest countries, to such a level that it is costing them far more than they receive in aid.

·         this is costing the UK as much as £30bn a year.

·         this practice also has a negative effect on small and medium-sized companies who pay more tax proportionately.

 

This Council further notes

·         that the UK Government has taken steps to tackle the issue of tax avoidance and evasion by issuing Procurement Policy Note 03/14 (PPN 03/14). This applies to all central government contracts worth more than £5m.

·         the existence of voluntary schemes promoting tax compliance such as the Fair Tax Mark, which can serve as an independent means of verification.

·         the 2015 Public Contract Regulations which state (in section 4) that local government can choose to adopt Procurement Policy Note 03/14.

 

This Council believes that bidders for council contracts should be asked to account for their past tax record, using the higher standards in PPN 03/14 and therefore calls for procurement procedures to be amended to require all companies bidding for contracts worth more than £500,000 to self-certify that they are fully tax-compliant in line with central government practice using the standards in PPN 03/14, applying to contracts of the size specified above.

 

This Council asks the Executive to publicise this policy and to report on its implementation annually.

 

Minutes:

The Council considered the following Notice of Motion submitted by Clive Jones and seconded by Prue Bray.

 

This Council notes that:

·        corporate tax evasion and avoidance are having a damaging impact on the world’s poorest countries, to such a level that it is costing them far more than they receive in aid.

·        this is costing the UK as much as £30bn a year.

·        this practice also has a negative effect on small and medium-sized companies who pay more tax proportionately.

 

This Council further notes:

·        that the UK Government has taken steps to tackle the issue of tax avoidance and evasion by issuing Procurement Policy Note 03/14 (PPN 03/14). This applies to all central government contracts worth more than £5m.

·        the existence of voluntary schemes promoting tax compliance such as the Fair Tax Mark, which can serve as an independent means of verification.

·        the 2015 Public Contract Regulations which state (in section 4) that local government can choose to adopt Procurement Policy Note 03/14.

 

This Council believes that bidders for Council contracts should be asked to account for their past tax record, using the higher standards in PPN 03/14 and therefore calls for procurement procedures to be amended to require all companies bidding for contracts worth more than £500,000 to self-certify that they are fully tax-compliant in line with central government practice using the standards in PPN 03/14, applying to contracts of the size specified above.

 

This Council asks the Executive to publicise this policy and to report on its implementation annually.”

 

Following debate, upon being put to the meeting, the Motion was declared by the Mayor to be lost.