Agenda and minutes

Annual, Council
Thursday, 19th May, 2016 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Anne Hunter  Service Manager, Democratic Services

Items
No. Item

1.

Minute Silence

Minutes:

Prior to the commencement of the meeting, the Mayor paid tribute to former District Councillor Phyllis May who had passed away in April and led the Council in a minute of silence.

 

2.

Election of Mayor for 2016/17

To elect a Mayor for the 2016/2017 municipal year.

 

The outgoing Mayor will address the Council for up to 5 minutes to include any presentations that the Mayor may wish to make.

 

The outgoing Mayor will then call for nominations for the Office of Mayor for 2016/2017.

 

The outgoing Mayor will ask the Council to vote on the nomination(s).

 

At this point in the proceedings the outgoing Mayor and the incoming Mayor will adjourn to the Mayor’s Parlour to place the Cloak and Chain of Office on the incoming Mayor.

 

The incoming Mayor to take the chair and make the Declaration of Acceptance of Office as required by Section 83(3) of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

The Mayor to address the Council for up to 5 minutes.

 

The Mayor to present the Past Mayor’s Badge to the outgoing Mayor.

Minutes:

Parry Batth, the current Mayor made a speech to the Council during which he welcomed and introduced the six newly elected Members. 

 

The Mayor stated that he was proud to have been the first Sikh Mayor of Wokingham and that it had been a great honour for him to have been elected Mayor and thanked the Members for their support throughout the year.  He paid tribute to his wife Surinder for her help and support during his mayoral year.  The Mayor also thanked Bob Pitts, Deputy Mayor, Andy Couldrick the Chief Executive, Anne Hunter, Service Manager Democratic Services and Ann-Marie Bonwick, Civic Communications Officer, for the support and advice that they had provided to him over the municipal year.

 

The Mayor was pleased to announce that over the municipal year, approximately £12,000 had been raised for his charity, ARC, which provided advice and support for young people and their parents.  Children’s mental health was a priority in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and of the Children and Young People’s Partnership.  The Mayor had been proud to recently attend the first Wokingham Walk, organised by the Wokingham Lions, which had raised funds for his chosen charity. 

 

The Mayor commented that he had thoroughly enjoyed his representational duties which had included visiting care homes and schools and participating in citizenship ceremonies.  During the municipal year he had welcomed His Royal Highness the Duke of York, His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex and the Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex to the Borough and had also attended the Queen’s Garden Party.  He had been honoured to attend mock trials at Reading Crown Court which local schools had participated in.  The Holt School had won the regional finals and would be participating in the national finals. 

 

The Mayor called for nominations for the office of Mayor for the 2016/17 Municipal Year.

 

It was proposed by Rob Stanton and seconded by Lindsay Ferris that Bob Pitts be elected as Mayor for the 2016/17 Municipal Year.

 

The Mayor also supported Bob Pitt’s nomination.

 

It was unanimously agreed that Bob Pitts should be elected as Mayor for the 2016/17 Municipal Year.

 

RESOLVED: That Bob Pitts be elected as Mayor for the 2016/17 Municipal Year. 

 

Bob Pitts made the statutory acceptance of office pursuant to Section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

Bob Pitts thanked the Council for electing him as Mayor which he regarded as a great honour.  He would do his best to uphold the traditions and values of the Council.

 

The Mayor commented that he lived in Ruscombe and represented Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe, one of the most northern wards.  He would endeavour to ensure that the more northern wards felt more involved.

 

He looked forward to being an ambassador for Wokingham and would serve the residents of the Borough with enthusiasm and dignity

 

The Mayor commented that his chosen Mayoral charity for the municipal year would be Wokingham Mencap and all money raised throughout the municipal year would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

Appointment of Deputy Mayor for 2016/17

To appoint a Deputy Mayor for the 2016/2017 municipal year.

 

The Mayor will call for nominations for the Office of Deputy Mayor for 2016/2017.

 

The Mayor will ask the Council to vote on the nomination(s).

 

The Deputy Mayor to make the Declaration of Acceptance of Office as required by Section 83(3) of the Local Government Act, 1972.

 

The Mayor to present the Deputy Mayor’s badge of Office to the Deputy Mayor and the Deputy Mayor to address the Council for up to 3 minutes.

Minutes:

The Mayor called for nominations for the office of Deputy Mayor for the 2016/17 Municipal Year.

 

It was proposed by Bob Pitts and seconded by Dianne King that Rob Stanton be appointed as Deputy Mayor for the 2016/17 municipal year.

 

Prue Bray indicated that the Liberal Democrat Group would be pleased to support the appointment of Rob Stanton as Deputy Mayor for the 2016/17 municipal year.

 

It was unanimously agreed that Rob Stanton should be elected as Deputy Mayor for the 2016/17 Municipal Year

 

RESOLVED: That Rob Stanton be elected as Deputy Mayor for the 2016/17 Municipal Year. 

 

Rob Stanton made the statutory acceptance of office pursuant to Section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

Rob Stanton thanked the Council for appointing him and commented that he was honoured to take the office of Deputy Mayor.  He also congratulated Bob Pitts on his appointment as Mayor. 

 

During his acceptance speech Councillor Stanton paid tribute to his wife Maureen for her care and support.

4.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Laura Blumenthal, Kate Haines, John Halsall, John Jarvis, Ian Pittock, Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey and Bill Soane.

5.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 500 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 24 March 2016.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 24 March 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

6.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

7.

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.

 

 

7.1

Jan Heard asked the Executive Member for Planning and Highways the following question which was answered by Councillor Ashwell:

 

Question

The Mid & West Berkshire Access Forum was deeply disappointed to discover recently that, contrary to the advice contained in its submission to the planning application and its presentation to WBC at the Planning Meeting for Reading Football Club’s Academy, a signal-controlled crossing was not made a condition of approval for this application.  Furthermore, no developer funding was secured for the crossing and a feasibility study, that we were told by your Countryside Officer in November was underway, has not happened.

 

Explain how this situation has arisen given that RFC offered land at no cost at the Planning Meeting and that it was acknowledged that the crossing could be funded through CIL contributions, and detail the reasoning behind the decision taken by WBC not to provide such a crossing?

Minutes:

The Mid & West Berkshire Access Forum was deeply disappointed to discover recently that contrary to the advice contained in its submission to the planning application and its presentation to WBC at the Planning Meeting for Reading Football Club’s Academy, a signal-controlled crossing was not made a condition of approval for this application.  Furthermore, no developer funding was secured for the crossing and a feasibility study, that we were told by your Countryside Officer in November was underway, has not happened.

 

Explain how this situation has arisen given that RFC offered land at no cost at the Planning Meeting and that it was acknowledged that the crossing could be funded through CIL contributions, and detail the reasoning behind the decision taken by WBC not to provide such a crossing?

 

Answer:

This crossing location is part of the Council’s ambitious Greenway project.  We will be looking into the feasibility of providing a crossing for use by equestrians and other users at this location in due course as part of the project.

 

The matter was discussed at the Planning Committee and that resulted in Reading Football Club verbally promising to make land available to accommodate a crossing facility if a feasibility study is positive.

 

The Greenway project proposes several routes across the Borough which will need to be delivered in a phased approach over a number of years.  The order in which these routes will be delivered is yet to be agreed and will depend on the complexities of the various routes in terms of land ownership issues, environmental constraints and overall costs. 

 

Once we have an agreed programme for the delivery of the Greenways we will be able to provide an indication as to when the crossing could be provided. Currently there is no capital funding allocated for Greenway project but it will be in the financial year 2017/18.

 

Supplementary Question:

Thank you for your response.  Our concerns really revolve around the fact that the land is available now and of course it may not be by the time you get your plan together.  I will certainly go back to the LAF with the response but to be honest it does not really answer the question that we asked about why this could not have been achieved out of the planning application.  So if I can move to my supplementary now, I have spoken to Anthony Stansfield who is the Police Commissioner, as you are aware, and one of the problems with putting in a crossing is often speed limits and so on.  He has told me that the Police budget will contain no money at all for enforcement on rural roads so then a speed limit becomes slightly irrelevant.  You might also like to know that West Berkshire Council is installing a crossing for £20,000.  This is a signal controlled crossing that is half the cost that these things usually have been.  Really, what I would like is for Wokingham Borough Council to make a commitment to work with the LAF  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.1

7.2

Guy Grandison asked the Executive Member for Environment the following question:

 

Question

In the recent election it has been claimed that the main opposition party will commit to collection of glass recycling regardless of cost. Can you confirm the figures of looking into this proposal?

 

Minutes:

In the recent election it has been claimed that the main opposition party will commit to collection of glass recycling regardless of cost. Can you confirm the figures of looking into this proposal?

 

Answer:

Thank you for your question Guy and the opportunity you give me to further support our provision of glass recycling.

 

There are two ways to collect glass at the kerbside.  The first is to use a completely separate vehicle and collect the mixed glass.  This would be more convenient for residents but would cost the Council around £600,000 per annum to provide the service and the glass would not be recycled as glass but as mixed glass which can only be used for building and road foundations.

 

The second way would be to collect it in the black boxes together with the other recycling materials (often referred to as co-mingling).  Although the actual collection costs would be minimal, again the mixed glass can only be reused for road and building foundations and not recycled, but in addition it would risk sustainable markets for paper and card due to the high risk of contamination and there would be significant capital costs to remodel the sorting machinery at Smallmead, something Wokingham would have to pay for unless Bracknell Forest and Reading also wanted to have this separation facility.

 

We have 39 Bring Banks and two household waste recycling centres which collected approximately 3,000 tonnes of glass in the last year.  That is from our Borough.  We accept that we need to do more to increase the collection of glass for recycling and we are working on additional sites, especially on new developments, to make it easier for our residents to access and use them.  All glass collected in this scheme is recycled into new green, clear and brown glass which also saves around 450 kgs of CO2 per tonne in energy and saves valuable resources.

 

So, we believe the majority of collectable household glass is recycled because residents are prepared to take them to our Bring Banks.  So why spend £600k to collect glass that cannot be recycled as glass – a very short-sighted approach by our opposition?

 

Supplementary Question:

I agree with your comments on the short sightedness.  By my quick calculations that is a 1% increase in council tax on its own before any fines due to contamination etc and we cannot even recycle the glass it seems; so not very green.  When doing the Budget there are more important areas to consider such as Social Care.  You mentioned that there are currently 39 Bottle Banks, as I call them, in the Borough.  Could you let me know how many more the Borough Council is looking to bring online and if there are any for Earley?

 

Supplementary Answer:

I agree it is short sighted to put forward the kerbside collection idea knowing the very successful arrangements we have in place for our collections and operating our recycling centres and the financial implications.  As for new  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.2

7.3

Keith Malvern asked the Leader of the Council the following question:

 

Question

Councils deal with public money and need to be careful how they spend it, to make sure everything is done properly and there is no maladministration or improper spending.  Please could you tell me what you would consider would be improper use of public money by Wokingham Borough Council?

 

Minutes:

Councils deal with public money and need to be careful how they spend it, to make sure everything is done properly and there is no maladministration or improper spending.  Please could you tell me what you would consider would be improper use of public money by Wokingham Borough Council?

 

Answer:

My focus and attentions are very much about ensuring we have systems in place to ensure we make the best possible and proper use of our Council taxpayers' money, so I am going to answer your question from that perspective.  The governance and processes we have in place to ensure proper use of our resources are significant.  We have a publicly agreed Constitution that sets out these arrangements.  It includes giving specific resource allocation powers to the Executive, and to the Overview and Scrutiny body to call in and examine such decisions made by Executive.  There is an Audit Committee that oversees our governance arrangements, which includes the use of money, and an Audit Team that supports them and alerts them to any issues of concern.  The scope of the Audit Committee includes a Whistle Blowing Policy to ensure any concerns of improper use of funds can be safely investigated, together with other policies to safeguard funds such as the Money Laundering Policy and Counter Fraud Policy.  Furthermore a host of financial arrangements to ensure proper use of resources is contained in the Financial Regulations and numerous financial management arrangements which fall under the responsibility of our statutory Chief Finance Officer, who is next to you, in conjunction with our Executive Lead Member for Finance.  All these arrangements are of course also subject to Audit.  I would say that there is a considerable amount here to ensure the proper use of money and that the improper use of money would be either not having such diligent arrangements in place or allowing them to be breached.  Neither of which I would allow to happen.

 

Supplementary Question:

Thank you for the response.  More detailed than I was expecting or I can cope with really but I will look forward to reading it in the Minutes.  It does not take me much further forward on the particular issue that I wish to raise with you.  It relates to in February of this year when you were considering what to do with the £2.1million transitional relief that John Redwood fought so hard to get for the Council.  Did you email to suggest that ‘we take a long hard look at whether we can release some of the £1.7million reserves that was earmarked to cover the shortfall to provide a boost to candidates on election year by some additional spending in some critical areas’?  How do you view that suggestion now?

 

Supplementary Answer:

I do not comment on leaked documents I am afraid.  Basically that did not happen and it was just something that was a suggestion.  It did not happen and it will not happen.

8.

Petitions

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

 

Minutes:

There were no petitions received.

9.

Report of the Returning Officer - Borough, Parish and Police and Crime Commissioner Elections - 5 May 2016 pdf icon PDF 157 KB

The Council’s Head of Governance and Improvement Services, as Returning Officer, to report on the Elections held on 5 May 2016.

 

RECOMMENDATION: That Council notes the report of the Returning Officer.

Minutes:

The Council considered a revised report, which was tabled at the meeting, from the Council’s Head of Governance and Improvement Services in his role as Returning Officer in respect of the Elections held on 5 May 2016, as set out on Agenda pages 43 to46.

 

It was proposed by Pauline Jorgensen and seconded by Alison Swaddle that the revised report be agreed.

 

Pauline Jorgensen thanked the Returning Officer and all the staff who had been involved in the efficient running of the recent Elections.  Lindsay Ferris echoed these comments.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED:  That the report of the Returning Officer be noted.

 

10.

Mayor's or Head of Paid Service's Announcements

To receive any urgent announcements by the Mayor or Head of Paid Service.

 

Minutes:

The Mayor informed Members that throughout the year he intended to adhere to the Constitution and to the timings of speeches and questions. 

11.

Statements from the Leader of the Council/Executive Members pdf icon PDF 205 KB

To receive notification from the Leader of his Deputy and the remainder of the Members appointed to the Executive; the scope of their respective portfolios; the terms of delegation to them; and Officers if applicable.  (To be tabled)

 

The Leader of Council/Executive Members will be allowed to speak for up to 10 minutes in total.  The Leader of the Opposition will be allowed to speak for up to 5 minutes.

Minutes:

Keith Baker, Leader of the Council made the following statement:

Before I talk about my Executive for the coming year I would like to make a few comments on recent Elections.  It was a difficult set of circumstances that surrounded these Elections making it one of the most difficult campaigns for many years.  The Opposition put in a huge amount of effort in the election period but despite that we were still the most successful party on the Council.  As you look around the Chamber you will see missing faces.  Our longest serving councillor Bob Wyatt hung up his political shoes after an amazing lengthy period of service and I wish him well in his retirement but I know that he will be keeping a watchful eye over all of us to make sure we do things properly.  Mike Gore also retired and I am sure you will all join me in wishing him all the best as he deals with health issues.  On the Liberal Democrat benches, the interesting character of Tom McCann who could always be relied on to make noises on the back bench is no longer with us.  Nicky Jerrome is also another councillor who is no longer here.  We all felt a huge degree of admiration when she spoke in this Chamber about the mental health issues she had unfortunately had and which unfortunately caused her to step down.  Whilst we are on opposite sides politically I have the utmost respect for her and what she did.  My final comment on missing councillors is reserved for a good friend, Guy Grandison.  Guy was a young councillor who made a great contribution during the time he was on the Council.  New and younger Members are the future of this Council and all parties need to get younger people involved.  I know Guy will not fade away and he will be back at the earliest opportunity.  All of these missing councillors have been replaced by new councillors with a variety of backgrounds.  Can I take this opportunity as Leader to welcome them all tonight and to encourage all of you to take an active part in the running of the Council. 

 

Last year I spent some time talking about the regeneration of Wokingham Town Centre.  I suggested that the Opposition should be more constructive in their stance against the regeneration.  This was based on the election results then.  The elections this year have shown that absolutely nothing has changed.  With little else of substance to say they fought this year’s campaign on a continuation of their outright total hostility.  To be fair to them they did produce an alternative plan, something they never do within the annual budget.  The plan totals 350 words including captions and features such schemes as moving a grocery store to an industrial estate and making it online only.  More worryingly it would do away with much needed new housing in Wokingham and sadly gives the impression to residents that the Leader of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

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

12.1

Gary Cowan asked the Executive Member for Environment the following question:

 

Question

As Reading Football Club has made an offer of land to facilitate a crossing on the B3030 what action has the Council taken to date to secure the land for future use?

 

Minutes:

As Reading Football Club has made an offer of land to facilitate a crossing on the B3030 what action has the Council taken to date to secure the land for future use?

 

Answer

The matter was discussed at Planning Committee and that discussion resulted in Reading Football Club verbally promising to make land available to accommodate the horse crossing facility if required.

 

Only once a feasibility study is complete will the Council know what land is required to accommodate the proposed horse crossing on either side of the B3030.  Consequently we are not in a position to approach Reading Football Club or other landowners to secure any land at this time.

 

Supplementary Question:

I refer to the reply that the Executive Member for Planning gave earlier on to Mrs Jan Heard in which he said the offer of land for the crossing was conditional on the feasibility study, but this is clearly not the case.  If you watch the Planning video you will see that the offer was from Barton Willmore and Reading Football Club.  Her question also mentioned a survey which was supposed to be underway last November but I contacted Officers recently and they said that no survey at all had been carried out.  I was told that it was not the correct thing to say.  My question is how can residents have any confidence in a planning system that is content to break its own planning rules and system at the expense of residents it purports to support?  Could that perhaps explain the disappearance of the Council’s Vision on the Planning Committee’s agendas?

 

Supplementary Answer:

I am not able or willing to consider what the Planning Committee itself, as a quasi-independent legal body decided at that evening.  What was made clear by my colleague in the answer to Jan Heard’s question was that the project and the feasibility of this is included in the consideration of the feasibility of the Greenways project and it would be only right and proper for it to be included in that so that the whole process is integrated.  We will be working together on ensuring that does happen.

12.2

Alison Swaddle asked the Executive Member for Planning and Highways the following question which was answered by Councillor Richards:

 

Question

Could the Member please provide an update on the Council’s transition to Civil Parking Enforcement?

 

Minutes:

Could the Member please provide an update on the Council’s transition to Civil Parking Enforcement?

 

Answer:

An Executive report is being prepared for the 30th June 2016, which will ask for approval required to make the application to the Department for Transport (DfT) and then Parliament to introduce Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) throughout the Borough. 

 

The Traffic Management Team are revising the lines and signs throughout the Borough and ensuring the Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) are correct, which is a requirement of the application. In addition, the Team are mapping the parking restrictions so that the restrictions can be more easily viewed and understood by the public.  This work will conclude in Autumn at about the same time the DfT application is submitted. 

 

The Traffic Management Team will consult with the public on small changes to the TROs and allowing maps to replace the text based TROs.

 

Once the Council approves this, officers will start to prepare for taking on the duties of Civil Parking Enforcement to go live in May 2017. 

 

Supplementary Question:

When CPE starts how will the public know what and where the new parking rules are?

 

Supplementary Answer:

Prior to the activation of CPE there will be a considerable amount of public information in terms of newspapers, adverts, notices, public posters and on the website and in various other places.  In addition there will be new road markings, road signs and post signs advising of the parking zones and the local parking rules.  So they will be known in advance.

13.

Continuation of the meeting

Minutes:

At this point in the meeting 8.50pm, in accordance with Procedure Rule 4.2.12 (m), Council considered a Motion to continue the meeting beyond 9pm for a maximum of 30 minutes to enable further business on the Agenda to be transacted.  This was proposed by Bob Pitts and seconded by Rob Stanton.

 

Upon being put to the meeting, the Motion was declared by the Mayor to be carried.

 

14.

Members Question Time continued

14.1

Tim Holton asked the Leader of the Council the following question:

 

Question

Can the Member confirm that our Council’s Constitution specifically prevents a petition being debated at Council if it relates to a live planning application?

 

Minutes:

Can the Member confirm that our Council’s Constitution specifically prevents a petition being debated at Council if it relates to a live planning application?

 

Answer:

Yes you are absolutely correct.  The Council’s Constitution states petitions will not formally be accepted if they in anyway relate to a planning decision; and this includes both current and proposed planning applications.

 

If a petition is submitted which refers to a current or proposed planning application it will be referred to the Development Management Team and will be considered as part of the representations received for that particular planning application.

 

Supplementary Question:

In light of that answer does the Member agree that it was highly misleading of the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group to say in the Wokingham News on a petition relating to Elms Field and to quote ‘it is not valid for the Council to suggest that they cannot take the petition’, and therefore Councillor Bray should apologise to this Council and the residents of Wokingham Borough?

 

Supplementary Answer:

In light of the attack on myself it is amazing that Councillor Bray is not prepared to apologise, but in answer yes absolutely she should apologise.

14.2

Shahid Younis asked the Executive Member for Children's Services the following question:

 

Question

Could the Member provide an update on the Council’s response to the Government’s roll out of academisation of authority-controlled schools?

 

Minutes:

Could the Member provide an update on the Council’s response to the Government’s roll out of academisation of authority-controlled schools?

 

Answer

Planning had been undertaken before and then subsequently following the White Paper announcement of the aspiration for a full academisation programme.  Prior to the White Paper the Council’s Executive Committee had voiced broad support for the national agenda for academisation, proposing a Member task and finish group.  Just a couple of days ago I wrote to the Secretary of State about financing these moves. 

 

Officers have been in dialogue with schools, with academisation being the subject of a workshop with Headteachers and chairs of governors on 3 May, and the focus of a School Business Managers’ briefing on 11 May.  The Heads’ briefing later this month will take the agenda forward in the context of a likely mixed economy of maintained and academy schools, following a clarification of government policy.  What is known from the information thus far is that the Secretary of State had re-asserted the aspiration for all schools to be academies, but wished to respect emerging views about the appropriateness of compulsion for good or outstanding schools to convert to academies. 

 

Areas discussed include academies and multi-academy trusts, encompassing:

·         educational focus and purpose;

·         quality standards;

·         possible school groupings and the make-up of multi-academy trusts;

·         constitutional, financial and change processes; and lastly;

·         the potential role of the Local Authority as commercial partner, a champion of pupils and/or the instigator of a larger-scale multi-academy trust.

 

Supplementary Question:

I understand that some of the schools currently have licensed deficits and just in case those schools become academies, what will happen to those budget deficits?

 

Supplementary Answer:

If a school is forced to become an academy because it is considered to be coasting under the new provision definition in the White Paper, which will not be applied until Autumn 2016, or the school is judged to be in Special Measures, then the Council would be liable for keeping that debt.  There is a just a very small handful of schools in this Borough that would apply to and the Council would still be able to negotiate with the Schools Funding Agency to ask them to keep the debt on the transfer of that school to becoming an academy.  The vast majority of schools in this Borough are judged to be ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ and are much more likely to choose to voluntarily convert to becoming academy trusts. 

 

Lastly, it is useful to understand that licensed deficits come out of the designated schools grant reserves and are limited to 40% of these reserves.  As the designated schools grant reserves shrinks as more schools become academies so does the proportionate size of the 40% shrink also, therefore limiting the ability to make available further licensed deficits.

14.3

Pauline Helliar-Symons asked the Executive Member for Children's Services the following question:

 

Question

Can the Member provide an update on the situation at Southfields School?

 

Minutes:

Can the Member provide an update on the situation at Southfields School?

 

Answer

Ofsted confirmed the judgement of Special Measures for Southfield on 26 April.  This followed an unannounced inspection in March and the lengthy Quality Assurance process involved.  Southfield had received a Good Ofsted judgement in 2013.  However, late in 2015 concerns grew, and the local authority subsequently issued the school with a warning notice. These findings were also endorsed by the inspecting HMI on behalf of Ofsted.  Issues focused on the management of pupil behaviour and site safety.  Pupil Outcomes and Teaching, Learning and Assessment were each judged ‘Require Improvement’, but the overall judgement was ‘Inadequate’.

 

Supplementary Question:

Can I ask then what the Authority has done about these findings?

 

Supplementary Answer:

Since the inspection several actions have taken place.  Dialogue continues to be maintained with parents and other local authorities whose pupils have a place at Southfields.  Parents have broadly been supportive of and understanding of the need for improvement.  Some school sessions were closed, particularly at the beginning, for a short time, with priority being placed particularly on the youngest and oldest pupils.  Pupils were returned in phases and parents were kept informed.  The local authority has withdrawn the governors’ rights to a delegated budget and effectively assumed responsibility for the finance and human resources, under powers which are resulting from the statutory ‘Schools causing concern’ guidance.  Now the school has a new interim and experienced Headteacher and she started on 9 May.  Post Ofsted planning with the local authority is ongoing and being monitored and is being taken forward with the school for their next HMI monitoring inspection which will take place either late summer or in the autumn term. 

 

Lastly, the Regional Schools Commissioner issued an academy order which is consistent with the new Education and Adoption Act.  This will require the parties to collaborate in moving the school in this situation to becoming a sponsored academy.  Work is in hand between Wokingham, the Department for Education and also the Commissioner to identify a suitable sponsor.

14.4

Andy Croy asked the Executive Member for Children's Services the following question:

 

Question

Does the Executive Member for Children’s Services share my relief that the government seems to have suspended plans to force all our primary schools to become academies?

 

Minutes:

Does the Executive Member for Children’s Services share my relief that the government seems to have suspended plans to force all our primary schools to become academies?

 

Answer:

My understanding is that the Government has re-affirmed its commitment to a full academy system for schools.  In terms of how that happens it has been judged that a statutory requirement is currently unnecessary. 

 

The Executive Committee has adopted a broadly positive stance on academisation, recognising some outstanding questions about capacity to support the change process, and costs, and you heard me talk about that earlier about writing to the Secretary of State.  Those questions are likely to be eased by a more permissive, laissez-faire approach to academy conversion, which I welcome.  

 

Supplementary Question:

Given that there is no evidence that academies improve the outcomes for pupils why should we be wasting money converting our schools to academies?

 

Supplementary Answer:

The drive for this policy comes from central Government as you know.  We have taken a paper through our Executive and will be supporting our schools to move towards academisation over potentially a four year period and we will support the best way we can, but we always believe that the standards are the important thing and the children’s education is at the absolute foremost.  Whether they are academies or whether they are local authority schools, the children’s education is the most important thing.  I think sometimes the title is irrelevant and can sometimes be overlooked.

15.

Political Balance of the Council and Allocation and Appointment to Seats on Council Committees/Panels/Boards pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To receive a report on the political balance of the Council and to appoint to Council Committees/Panels/Boards in accordance with the Groups’ wishes as set out in Appendix 1.

 

Further information relating to nominations will be circulated before or at the meeting.

 

RECOMMENDATION:

That Council:

1)         having reviewed the representation of the political groups on the Council,  confirms that it has 48 Conservative Group Members, 5 Liberal Democrat Group Members and 1 Labour Member (as set out in Para 1.1);

 

2)         approves the appointment and composition of Committees and Boards as set out in Para 2.1;

 

3)         approves the allocation of seats on Committees and Boards on the basis that, of the 86 seats (as set out in Para 3.5), 76 be allocated to the Conservative Group and 10 be allocated to the Liberal Democrat Group;

 

4)         approves the proposals submitted by the respective Group Leaders and that those Members be appointed to the Committees and Boards as set out in Appendix 1;

 

5)         agrees that the principles of proportionality be applied when Members are appointed to Sub Committees, Panels or Working Groups;

 

6)         notes the appointment of the Independent Persons to assist the work of the Standards Committee and the co-opted Parish/Town Council Representatives as set out in Appendix 1;

 

7)         notes the elected Member representatives on the Health and Wellbeing Board, as set out in Appendix 1, as nominated by the Leader of Council in accordance with Section 194 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a report on the political balance of the Council and the appointment to the Council’s Committees/Panels/Board in accordance with the wishes of the Political Groups. 

 

The report set out a number of recommendations which the Council was asked to consider. 

 

It was proposed by Keith Baker and seconded by Julian McGhee-Sumner that the report be approved.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED:  That Council

 

1)        having reviewed the representation of the political groups on the Council,  confirms that it has 48 Conservative Group Members, 5 Liberal Democrat Group Members and 1 Labour Member (as set out in Para 1.1);

 

2)        approves the appointment and composition of Committees and Boards as set out in Para 2.1;

 

3)        approves the allocation of seats on Committees and Boards on the basis that, of the 86 seats (as set out in Para 3.5), 76 be allocated to the Conservative Group and 10 be allocated to the Liberal Democrat Group;

 

4)        approves the proposals submitted by the respective Group Leaders and that those Members be appointed to the Committees and Boards as set out in Appendix 1 to these Minutes;

 

5)        agrees that the principles of proportionality be applied when Members are appointed to Sub Committees, Panels or Working Groups;

 

6)        notes the appointment of the Independent Persons to assist the work of the Standards Committee and the co-opted Parish/Town Council Representatives as set out in Appendix 1;

 

7)        notes the elected Member representatives on the Health and Wellbeing Board, as set out in Appendix 1, as nominated by the Leader of Council in accordance with Section 194 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

 

16.

Appointment of Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Council Committees and Boards 2016/2017 pdf icon PDF 70 KB

To appoint Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Council Committees and Boards in accordance with the Groups’ wishes as set out in Appendix 2.

 

Further information relating to nominations will be circulated before or at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the appointment of Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Council Committees/Panels/Boards, as circulated at the meeting as Appendix 2.

 

It was proposed by Keith Baker and seconded by Julian McGhee-Sumner that the report be approved.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That the appointment of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Council Committees/Panels/Boards be agreed, as set out in Appendix 2 to these Minutes.

 

17.

Appointment to Panels/Working Groups/Joint Committees and Various Bodies 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To consider and approve the appointment of Members to serve on Joint Committees, Various Bodies and Panels/Working Groups in accordance with the Groups’ wishes as set out in Appendix 3.

 

Further information relating to nominations will be circulated before or at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were asked to refer to a list of nominations to various Panels, Working Groups, Joint Committees and Various Bodies, as circulated at the meeting as Appendix 3.

 

It was proposed by Keith Baker and seconded by Julian McGhee-Sumner that the report be approved.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That Members be appointed to the Council’s Panels/Working Groups/Joint Committee and Various Bodies as set out in Appendix 3 to these Minutes.

 

18.

Appointment to Outside Bodies 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 96 KB

To consider and approve the appointment of Members to serve on Outside Bodies in accordance with the Groups’ wishes as set out in Appendix 4.

 

Further information relating to nominations will be circulated before or at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were asked to refer to a list of nomination to various Outside Bodies, as circulated at the meeting at Appendix 4.

 

Where more nominations had been received than places available, individual votes were taken.

 

It was proposed by Keith Baker and seconded by Julian McGhee-Sumner that the report be approved.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED: That Members be appointed to the Outside Bodies as set out in Appendix 4 to these Minutes.

 

19.

Protocol for the Appointment of Honorary Aldermen of Wokingham Borough Council and Changes to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To consider and approve a Protocol for the Appointment of Honorary Aldermen of Wokingham Borough Council and Changes to the Constitution as put forward by the Constitution Review Working Group.

 

RECOMMENDATION That Council:

1)         approves the Protocol for the Appointment of Honorary Aldermen of Wokingham Borough Council as recommended by the Constitution Review Working Group (CRWG) and as set out in Appendix A;

 

2)         notes that, if the Protocol is approved, an Extraordinary Council meeting will be held on 9 June 2016 to consider a nomination that has been received for the role of Honorary Alderman;

 

3)         approves the amendment to Rule 4.2.8 Duration of Meeting as set out in paragraph 2.4 of the report;

 

4)         notes comments made by the Constitution Review Working Group concerning the rules of procedure relating to the length of motions as set out in paragraph 2.3 of the report. 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered a report regarding a protocol for the appointment of Honorary Aldermen and proposed changes to the Council’s Constitution, as set out within the Agenda on pages 69 to 78.

 

It was proposed by Julian McGhee-Sumner and seconded by Pauline Jorgensen that the recommendations contained within the report be approved.

 

Prue Bray drew Council’s attention to the proposed changes to the Constitution.

 

RESOLVED:  That

 

1)        the Protocol for the Appointment of Honorary Aldermen of Wokingham Borough Council as recommended by the Constitution Review Working Group (CRWG) and as set out in Appendix A to the report be approved;

 

2)        it be noted that an Extraordinary Council meeting will be held on 9 June 2016 to consider a nomination that has been received for the role of Honorary Alderman;

 

3)        the amendment to Rule 4.2.8 Duration of Meeting as set out in paragraph 2.4 of the report be approved;

 

4)        comments made by the Constitution Review Working Group concerning the rules of procedure relating to the length of motions as set out in paragraph 2.3 of the report be noted.