Agenda and minutes

Annual, Council
Thursday, 24th May, 2018 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Anne Hunter  Democratic & Electoral Services Lead Specialist

Link: Watch the video of this meeting

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Mayor for 2018/19

To elect a Mayor for the 2018/19 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 2018/19.

 

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 will 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:

Rob Stanton, the current Mayor, welcomed the newly elected Members and addressed the Council about his year in office. He thanked the Council for the honour of electing him as Mayor and also thanked the Deputy Mayor and Officers who provided support during the year.

 

The Mayor called for nominations for the office of Mayor for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

It was proposed by Parry Batth and seconded by Charlotte Haitham Taylor that John Kaiser be elected as Mayor for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

It was unanimously agreed that John Kaiser be elected as Mayor for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

RESOLVED: That John Kaiser be elected as Mayor for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

John Kaiser made the statutory acceptance of office pursuant to Section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

John Kaiser thanked the Council for electing him as Mayor, which he regarded as a great honour.

 

The Mayor welcomed the newly elected Members and addressed the Council.  He stated that he and his family had lived in the Borough for nearly 30 years and his three children had been educated at local schools. His roles on the Executive and the year spent as Deputy Mayor had provided an insight into the wide range of services delivered by the Council and the work of many volunteers across the Borough who helped to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable residents.

 

The Mayor announced that the Me 2 Club based in Woodley would be his chosen charity for the year. The Me 2 Club were in their 15th year and worked to prevent exclusion and isolation by giving children and young people with additional needs the opportunity to socialise and interact with their mainstream peers. This was made possible by recruiting, training, screening and supporting volunteers, often young people themselves.

 

The Mayor also referred to the two major tragedies – the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena and the Grenfell fire and expressed condolences to the victims and their families.

2.

Appointment of Deputy Mayor for 2018/19

To appoint a Deputy Mayor for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

The Mayor will call for nominations for the Office of Deputy Mayor for 2018/19.

 

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

 

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

 

The Mayor will 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 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

It was proposed by John Kaiser and seconded by Chris Smith that Bill Soane be appointed as Deputy Mayor for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

It was unanimously agreed that Bill Soane be appointed as Deputy Mayor for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

RESOLVED: That Bill Soane be appointed as Deputy Mayor for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

 

Bill Soane made the statutory acceptance of office pursuant to Section 83 of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

Bill Soane thanked the Council for appointing him to the office of Deputy Mayor which he regarded as a great honour and stated that he looked forward to supporting the Mayor during the year. He had moved to Woodley in 1983 with his family and had served as Mayor of Woodley in 2013. His work with the Borough Council and Woodley Town Council had confirmed his view that the Borough was a great place to live and a great place to do business.

 

 

3.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Kate Haines, Mike Haines, John Halsall, Emma Hobbs, Philip Houldsworth, Angus Ross and Shahid Younis.

4.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 245 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 March 2018.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 22 March 2018 were confirmed as a correct record, subject to inclusion of reference to Councillor Pittock’s Point of Order, and signed by the Mayor. 

 

Ian Pittock referred to the Point of Order he raised at the 22 March meeting relating to supplementary questions which, in line with the Council’s Constitution, must arise out of the original question or the reply. Councillor Pittock asked for this matter to be included in the Minutes.

5.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received.

6.

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.

 

 

6.1

Peter Dennis asked the Executive Member for Environment the following question:


Question:

At the junction of the Kennet and Avon canal and the river Thames there are a lot of moored boats, and plenty of tents.  The residents of said boats are having fires, dumping plenty of rubbish and indeed appear to be stripping wiring - leaving the plastic shielding on the ground. In turn this presents a health hazard for the wild life, a hazard for pedestrians and cyclists using the pavement.  What do the council plan to do to address this situation?

 

Minutes:

At the junction of the Kennet and Avon canal and the river Thames there are a lot of moored boats, and plenty of tents. The residents of said boats are having fires, dumping plenty of rubbish and indeed appear to be stripping wiring - leaving the plastic shielding on the ground. In turn this presents a health hazard for the wild life, a hazard for pedestrians and cyclists using the pavement. What do the Council plan to do to address this situation?

 

Answer

We are aware of the issues in this location and Officers have been working across the Council to address them. The issues include potential homelessness, flytipping, litter and general anti-social behaviour.  Officers have also been working to ensure that the Public Right of Way along the Tow Path is not obstructed.

 

The majority of the reports to the Council have concerned flytipping and we have been in correspondence with Reading University who own the vast majority the land.  As landowner, the University is responsible for addressing flytipping and has carried out their own clearances. The Council has also continued to attend and clear waste where appropriate on our land and property.

 

In relation to cable stripping and the resultant waste, the Council has not previously been made aware of this and will revisit the site to assess the issue and any environmental impact. 

 

6.2

James Reid asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question:


Question:

The planning consent for houses in Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood requires that the speed limit on Basingstoke Road be reduced to 30MPH. Could you confirm why the Council took the decision to delay the introduction of this speed reduction by increasing the trigger point from the occupation of the 150th home to the 350th home without any public consultation and which member of the Executive approved this?

 

Minutes:

The planning consent for houses in Three Mile Cross and Spencers Wood requires that the speed limit on Basingstoke Road be reduced to 30MPH. Could you confirm why the Council took the decision to delay the introduction of this speed reduction by increasing the trigger point from the occupation of the 150th home to the 350th home without any public consultation and which Member of the Executive approved this?

 

Answer

A variety of traffic management requirements and associated speed reduction was approved with this planning consent and was secured within Section 106 agreements which have triggers associated with the delivery of these measures.  The speed reduction requires traffic calming features which would be embedded in the road structure.  It became apparent that the level of known planned highways work in the area, that includes the ongoing sewage and surface water works, the Basingstoke Road/Church Lane junction works, the Three Mile Cross access junction alterations, as well as other utility works in the area, would cause significant disruption. This heightened the concern that completing the speed reduction and its associated traffic calming measures would then be pulled apart, ripped up, as the other features were progressed. A minor consideration was wanting to manage the road space for the upgrades as there was a number of projects ongoing in this area on top.  As such we wanted to time these so that they cause the least amount of inconvenience to road users. However, this then led to an issue associated with the planning approval associated with this work.  Originally the speed reduction was due to be completed on the occupation of the 150th home as you stated, but unfortunately there was no way the other works could be completed in time. The Council was then faced with the difficult decision on how to retain the principle of implementing the speed limit reduction with its associated traffic calming features after the other work was completed and respect the trigger point. The only option was to move the trigger point, which they did, to the occupation of the 350th home. 

 

Supplementary Question

Given everything you said, when does the Council feel that the trigger point will now be met?

 

Supplementary Answer

I do not have that information to hand. I will find out and get back to you.

 

6.3

Manuj Bahl asked the Executive Member for Business and Economic Development and Regeneration the following question:


Question

I have been told that the Virgin Media rollout has been stopped in the area, due to some issues between the Council and the company. Is this true and if so, what are the plans to bring high speed internet to the area?

 

Minutes:

I have been told that the Virgin Media rollout has been stopped in the area, due to some issues between the Council and the company. Is this true and if so, what are the plans to bring high speed internet to the area?

 

Answer

In the absence of the questioner, the following written reply was forwarded.

 

Wokingham Borough Council is committed to supporting broadband across the Borough and plays a key role in the Superfast Berkshire Programme. The Superfast Berkshire programme started in 2011, as part of the Government's subsidised national programme, to improve broadband coverage in areas deemed not commercially viable by the private sector. The programme is backed by all six Berkshire unitary councils and the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Superfast Berkshire is currently working with BT and Gigaclear to expand Berkshire's superfast coverage to more than 99%.

 

The Council is aware that there are currently some issues with Virgin Media rolling out superfast broadband in parts of Crowthorne.  Crowthorne is generally well served by commercial broadband delivery, as identified in the 2016 public consultation and open market report, and therefore, the Council has limited involvement in the commissioning of this service. We understand that Virgin Media needs to connect to the trunk network route within Bracknell Forest Highways. We have been advised that Virgin Media are working with Bracknell Forest Council Street Works department and private developers to resolve the situation. The Superfast Berkshire project team continue to monitor the issue.

 

 

6.4

Clive Chafer asked the Leader of the Council the following question:


Question

David Lee was acting as chair to the Traffic Advisory Group, which Council fully supported at an earlier meeting, and which had begun to address some vital issues concerning future traffic arrangements in the Borough.  With Mr Lee no longer on the Council, how will the Leader ensure the continuity of this project so as to ensure its momentum is not lost?

 

Minutes:

David Lee was acting as chair to the Traffic Advisory Group, which Council fully supported at an earlier meeting, and which had begun to address some vital issues concerning future traffic arrangements in the Borough.  With Mr Lee no longer on the Council, how will the Leader ensure the continuity of this project so as to ensure its momentum is not lost?

 

Answer

In the absence of the questioner, the following written reply was forwarded.

 

This evening I am appointing a new Executive Member for Strategic Transport and Highways – Councillor Keith Baker.  He is very committed to communication with stakeholders and will be reviewing meetings to ensure that he can continue the good work that the previous Executive Member started. Once he has reviewed the position, he will contact you about this. 

 

6.5

Jenny Lissaman asked the Executive Member for Planning and Enforcement the following question:


Question

This Council adopted the Borough Design Guide in May 2012, its purpose being "To enhance the quality of development and make sure proposals are of the highest quality of design".  One of the 9 key objectives, for example, is ’To respect and be sympathetic to the character of the area in which the development is situated'. Another is ”To take full account of the mass and height of development in relation to adjacent development and surrounding spaces'. I am concerned that some applications approved by this Council no longer appear to comply with the requirements of the Design Guide and wonder if this could be due to the current government's relaxation of permitted development rights or perhaps the high turnover of contracted planning officers who are neither familiar with the character of different areas of Wokingham or the Borough Design Guide?

Minutes:

This Council adopted the Borough Design Guide in May 2012, its purpose being "To enhance the quality of development and make sure proposals are of the highest quality of design".  One of the 9 key objectives, for example, is “To respect and be sympathetic to the character of the area in which the development is situated”. Another is “To take full account of the mass and height of development in relation to adjacent development and surrounding spaces”. I am concerned that some applications approved by this Council no longer appear to comply with the requirements of the Design Guide and wonder if this could be due to the current Government's relaxation of permitted development rights or perhaps the high turnover of contracted Planning Officers who are neither familiar with the character of different areas of Wokingham or the Borough Design Guide?

 

Answer

The Council is committed to achieving good design through the planning decisions that it makes. Whilst the Borough Design Guide is only guidance and each case must be considered on its own merits, this document has actually been very successful in enabling the Council to defend the refusal of harmful proposals at any subsequent appeal and it is being used to inform all planning decisions.

 

You are quite correct that central Government has extended permitted development rights quite significantly over the last few years and this has resulted in the local planning authority having very limited or even no control over certain categories of new developments.

 

I am not aware of any planning permissions being granted that conflict with the Borough Design Guide in a way that is harmful.  While there have been a number of new Planning Officers at the Council, no planning decision is made by only one person as all cases are checked and authorised by experienced senior Planning Officers, most of whom have been with the Council for  a number of years.

 

Supplementary Question

Apart from building design the Borough Design Guide also covers, on page 45, ‘the quality of landscape in particular the soft landscape and how it contributes significantly to the character of the local area and the quality of the residential environment, for example front gardens and boundaries.’  We hear more and more in the media about how our environment affects people’s wellbeing, how hedges reduce air pollution and how gardens make people happy and improve their mental health.  Please will you come to Whitegates and see what happens when the aims of the Design Guide are ignored, something needs to be done?

 

Supplementary Answer

Thank you for the invitation, I would be happy to take it up.

 

7.

Report of Returning Officer - Borough and Town Council Elections 3 May 2018 pdf icon PDF 59 KB

The Council’s Assistant Director, Governance, as Returning Officer, to report on the elections held on 3 May 2018.

 

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

Minutes:

The Council considered a report from the Returning Officer, set out at Agenda pages 43 to 46, which gave details of the results of the local elections held on 3 May 2018. The elections were held for 18 wards of the Borough Council and two wards of Woodley Town Council.

 

The report gave details of the election process, the results and the turnout for each Borough ward contested. Feedback was received at most stages of the elections process and this would be reviewed and fed into planning for future elections.

 

It was moved by Charlotte Haitham Taylor and seconded by Julian McGhee-Sumner that the report of the Returning Officer be noted.

 

Upon being put to the vote, it was:

 

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

8.

Petitions

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

Minutes:

There were no petitions received.

 

Lyndsay Ferris referred to a petition with over 1,500 signatures submitted to the previous meeting relating to protection of the Borough’s Green Belt. The Mayor confirmed that he would write to Councillor Ferris about arrangements for debating the petition at a future Council meeting.

9.

Mayor's or Head of Paid Service's Announcements

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

Minutes:

The Mayor referred to his earlier statement about his chosen charity.

 

10.

Statements from the Leader of the Council/Executive Members

To receive notification from the Leader of her 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:

Charlotte Haitham Taylor, Leader of the Council, made the following statement:

 

Mr Mayor, may I be the first to congratulate and welcome you to your new role, and wish you the best of luck for the coming year.

 

I’d just like to say a few words about the outgoing Mayor. Rob Stanton has given so many years to the Council, the Borough, and his residents serving as an Executive Member, Deputy Leader, and finally and fittingly as Mayor. In particular, I’d like to highlight his excellent record as Executive Member for Children’s Services, and it seems incredibly apt that one of his last engagements as Mayor was at an awards ceremony to recognise the contribution of our foster carers. I’m sure I’m reflecting the views of everyone here when I say that you will be sorely missed – though I think perhaps we’re all slightly pleased that it means our meetings will be a lot shorter!

 

I also want to welcome all the new Members attending Full Council. On the Labour benches, we have Carl Doran and Rachel Burgess. On the Liberal Democrat benches we have David Hare, who is very familiar with this chamber – as is Helen Power, who some of you may remember as the former Liberal Democrat Political Assistant. Finally, on the Conservative benches, we have Graham Howe representing Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe, Daniel Sargeant representing Finchampstead North, Guy Grandison returning to the Council representing Maiden Erlegh, and Jenny Cheng, who won South Lake Ward.

 

Let me pass on this Council’s commiserations to those Members who were unsuccessful in seeking re-election. Michael Firmager, Mark Ashwell, Beth Rowland, and of course my able Deputy David Lee. All of them gave between them many years of committed service to our community, so on behalf of Members here tonight and the residents of this Borough, I want to thank them for everything they have done.

 

I suppose I must inevitably begin with the local elections. The Conservatives lost a net three seats overall – not four, as the Wokingham Paper would have you believe. But, in all the noise around these elections, a clear piece of information seems to have been lost – we were the most successful party. We won the majority of seats, and 45% of all votes cast across the Borough.

 

I have no doubt that the Opposition will tonight claim some great victory out of the local elections. But we should note that Labour won just two of the 18 seats they contested, and the Lib Dems didn’t even bother to put up candidates for all the wards. Quite conveniently they chose not to field a candidate in Arborfield – perhaps Cllr Cowan is not as ‘independent’ as he claims?

 

Incidentally, I note that Cllr Cowan has been making a big deal out of his announcement that he intends to form a Residents’ Association party (whilst somehow also being an independent), and wrote in last week’s newspaper that there has been “over  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

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.

 

11.1

Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey asked the Executive Member for Strategic Highways and Planning the following question:


Question:

If and when it is approved, how soon after would you be able to deliver the Winnersh Relief Rd part 2: since you own the land, have the money from the LEP, have the design because it hasn't materially changed, you have the contractor agreed for construction, it is less than 450 metres long and has no bridges, nor needs no network rail approval and most of the roundabout work can be done off road?

 

Minutes:

If and when it is approved, how soon after would you be able to deliver the Winnersh Relief Road part 2: since you own the land, have the money from the LEP, have the design because it hasn't materially changed, you have the contractor agreed for construction, it is less than 450 metres long and has no bridges, nor needs no network rail approval and most of the roundabout work can be done off road?

 

Answer

No road scheme is ever straightforward. This may be a short stretch of road but the standard processes and procedures remain the same irrespective of the length. You are correct in saying that it does not need Network Rail approval but due to the proximity of their assets the Council is obliged to have discussions with them. The same proximity of assets applies to Highways England who also have to be engaged in discussions. There are also issues over utilities routing and levels linking into Reading Road. Resolving these simply takes time.  As I go through the projected timetable, it is important to understand that the ability to meet these timings depends on not discovering unforeseen obstacles and of course the weather that can delay any project. 

 

In March 2018 application number 180760, I am sure that is in your memory, was received for the Winnersh Relief Road Phase 2.  This was a full planning application for the proposed development of a relief road connecting the B3030 King Street Lane and Winnersh Relief Road and Phase 1 to the A329 Reading Road.  This includes two new roundabout junctions on the A329 Reading Road, two new minor residential access roads and associated works including traffic signals, crossings, drainage, footways and cycleways.  This road forms Phase 2 of the Winnersh Relief Road and part of the western section of the Northern Distributor Road.  Public consultation commenced on 23rd March 2018 with 109 letters delivered to potentially impacted neighbours.  A total of 88 comments have been received to date.  Determination of the planning application is anticipated in the Summer, around about August.  On the assumption that the planning application is approved the period of August 2018 to May 2019 will be dedicated to creating the detailed plans to create the new road.  This will include the contractor organising what they need to complete the project including staff.  It also includes dealing with any planning conditions imposed, especially around such things as archaeology and ecology.

 

Please remember also that the programme needs to be managed around the nesting season to enable the clearance of the site, and not forgetting, as we saw earlier today, the unpredictable weather having an impact as well.  So putting all these points together brings the Council to a Spring construction, starting on site around April/May 2019, with a 10 months construction period, which brings the Council to a target opening date of around March 2020.  Finally, can I remind you that these milestone dates are target dates and will be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.1

11.2

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


Question

Is this administration content with its current policies on TPO trees where they cut them down without reference to anyone, do not keep records of the removed TPO trees and worst of all it refuses to consult with members, Parish/Town Councils and residents for that matter. Are we all an irrelevance or an irritant in the eyes of this uncaring administration?

 

Minutes:

Is this administration content with its current policies on TPO trees where they cut them down without reference to anyone, do not keep records of the removed TPO trees and worst of all it refuses to consult with members, Parish/Town Councils and residents for that matter. Are we all an irrelevance or an irritant in the eyes of this uncaring administration?

 

Answer

The Council receives approximately 400 Tree Work Applications (TWAs) per year to carry out works on protected trees.

 

Members are notified of these applications for information, the details are posted on the Council’s website in the same way as planning applications.  Members and the public can comment and their comments will be taken into account.

 

Government guidance requires that the primary issues to be addressed are the health of the tree and the impact on protected species.  While amenity issues are also considered, these are not the primary factors and if the tree is in poor health or having a detrimental impact on other structures, this could override amenity issues. 

 

Details of all decisions on Tree Work Applications are kept and displayed on the Council’s website as with planning permissions.

 

The Local Plan Update is revisiting the Wokingham Borough Landscape Character Appraisal and through the Local Plan update process there is an opportunity for anyone to comment on the Council’s tree policies.

 

Supplementary Question

I did ask a question on similar lines at the March Executive which was headed EM1.  I had the good fortune to get a reply from both you and the then Deputy Leader, now sadly departed.  Your reply referred to the fact that I had asked the question about 6 months’ ago and there was a long email correspondence on this on protected trees, probably going back 12 months’ or so.  You are correct when you said that no statutory duty to consult, so this administration does not consult.  Emails I received from this Council went further by implying that Parish Councils and of course our residents know nothing about trees and our Officers know everything about trees so it was a waste of time consulting with them so we do not.  My question is in two parts:  As our residents are viewed, or appear to be viewed as useless, this Conservative administration is incapable of proper judgement by not consulting on the massacre of thousands to date, not forgetting the ones to be butchered in the future.  Is this Conservative administration so irresponsible by not keeping records of trees that they have allowed to be felled, or is it a deliberate policy to hide from residents?

 

Supplementary Answer

I am not sure there was much of a question in there, more of a statement and defamation of Councillors and all sorts of people.  I will just remind you amongst other things Gary that you were the Executive Member for the Environment for a couple of years not so long ago.  These tree policies have not changed in that time.

11.3

Rachel Burgess asked the Executive Member for Business and Economic Development and Regeneration the following question:


Question

The handling of the town centre regeneration project has caused considerable distress for residents in my ward.  People have told me how difficult they find it to navigate the town, especially older people, parents with prams, and those with disabilities.  Many vulnerable people, such as people with learning disabilities, have lost their independence as they simply cannot find their way around the town.  Traffic congestion has been utterly appalling and is turning many people away.

 

The project has suffered unexpected delays and some local businesses I have spoken to have seen their takings plummet as people go to Bracknell or Reading instead of subjecting themselves to the chaos of the town centre.  More action needs to be taken now to ensure residents can continue to use their town successfully while the works are completed.  What concrete steps will be taken to improve the town centre for residents and businesses during the remainder of these works?

 

Minutes:

The handling of the town centre regeneration project has caused considerable distress for residents in my ward.  People have told me how difficult they find it to navigate the town, especially older people, parents with prams, and those with disabilities. Many vulnerable people, such as people with learning disabilities, have lost their independence as they simply cannot find their way around the town.  Traffic congestion has been utterly appalling and is turning many people away.

 

The project has suffered unexpected delays and some local businesses I have spoken to have seen their takings plummet as people go to Bracknell or Reading instead of subjecting themselves to the chaos of the town centre.  More action needs to be taken now to ensure residents can continue to use their town successfully while the works are completed.  What concrete steps will be taken to improve the town centre for residents and businesses during the remainder of these works?

 

Answer

Before dealing with the specific issues you raise, it is worth recapping on the reasons behind the regeneration and improvement work that is taking place in Wokingham.  The works now progressing stem from a realisation that we had to make massive investment to secure a vibrant future for the town centre.  This need was clearly articulated by residents and businesses, who had rightly realised that the town centre was in danger of a slow and painful death if we did not intervene.  The town centre lacked the range of shops and other attractions to draw in and keep visitors and, thus, it was losing far too much retail spend to our neighbours.  Much of the land in the town centre was in the hands of private investors who lacked the ability to get a regeneration underway.

 

The solution to this crisis was set out in our Core Strategy and the Wokingham Town Centre Masterplan both which were adopted in 2010 after significant consultation and engagement and is being delivered through a multi-million pound investment programme.  We have become a major landowner in the town centre in order to ensure the necessary regeneration takes place and that the benefits will come to community as a whole.  It is vital that people understand this in the context when considering the current, temporary problems.

 

On the specific points you raise, we are very aware of the disruption caused by the Market Place Improvement works and share your frustration at the unexpected and unavoidable, delays.  Wokingham town centre has been more difficult to get to and the get around and we have apologised to residents and businesses for that.

 

However, our contractor Balfour Beatty, has worked extremely hard to maintain access to all shops and other businesses at all times and the site has remained fully accessible for all residents: given the scale of the work they are undertaking, this is a significant achievement.  To give you some indication of the scale, enough earth has been excavated from the site to fill an Olympic swimming pool and contractors  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.3

11.4

Imogen Shepherd-DuBey asked the Leader of the Council the following question:


Question

This Council has only 14 female councillors out of the total of 54 councillors who serve on it.  I also feel we are not proportionately representing many other groups that live in the Wokingham Borough Council area.  What is this Council proposing to do to ensure that we are representing our community appropriately?

 

Minutes:

This Council has only 14 female councillors out of the total of 54 councillors who serve on it.  I also feel we are not proportionately representing many other groups that live in the Wokingham Borough Council area.  What is this Council proposing to do to ensure that we are representing our community appropriately?

 

Answer

I greatly value increased diversity and the benefits it brings in representing the diverse needs of our community.

 

The Council has always provided general information to all who may be interested in standing for election to become a Councillor.  However, later this year, the Council will be undertaking further promotional campaigns for all parts of our community who may have an interest in standing in future elections to the Borough Council.

 

I’d ask that any Councillor who has an interest in this important subject to send me their ideas and work with me on an effective campaign to ensure that we are representing our community appropriately.

 

However, it’s not just up to the Council to attract Councillors to stand for election, but also up to political parties and how they attract candidates from a diversity of backgrounds.  If our electors have a wider choice at the ballot box then our Chamber will be more diverse.

 

But I will be the first to acknowledge that there are challenges, I have faced barriers in my journey to become a Councillor, and I know that these are not just isolated incidents.  But I am also a firm believer in not positively discriminating, instead making sure that people, from whatever background, have equality of opportunity, and making sure that there are no barriers to any particular person who would wish to stand to become a Councillor and represent their local area. There are many organisations within different political parties to encourage more diversity in politics. This may be a solution to some of the issues, but I do not believe that it is the only way to bring about change.

 

I am proud to lead this Council as a politician, but I do not stand here as a female Leader of the Council, but as the Leader of the Council.

 

 

Due to time constraints the following questions received written answers.

 

Lindsay Ferris requested that measures be considered for future meetings to enable more questions to be answered.

11.5

Helen Power asked the Executive Member for Environment the following question. Due to time constraints the following written answer was provided:


Question

What are you doing to resolve the Anti-Social Behaviour problems being experienced by Woosehill residents that have significantly increased this year and will increase again over the summer months?

 

Minutes:

What are you doing to resolve the Anti-Social Behaviour problems being experienced by Woosehill residents that have significantly increased this year and will increase again over the summer months?

 

Answer

The Council and Police are undertaking a number of actions to address the issue:

 

Working with the Cleaner and Greener Team within the Council to improve the physical environment by removing a bench that was being used by young people as a meeting point and turning off street lights to discourage young people from congregating in the area.  They are also working to find a solution to prevent young people from using dog mess from the bins to vandalise properties.

 

There are suggestions that the increase in ASB is in part fuelled by substance abuse. To address this, the Council has also funded SMART, the substance misuse service to support at risk young people in schools and provide treatment where necessary.

 

The  Police are  taking enforcement action against identified young people; the Police have increased their patrols of the area, increased stop and search, implemented  dispersal orders giving them powers to disperse individuals for 48hrs and writing to parents of children involved in ASB.  The Council are supporting these actions by increasing the number of Warden Patrols in the area.

 

11.6

Clive Jones asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question. Due to time constraints the following written answer was provided:


Question

Is the repair of the massive hole in the bus stop in Rushey Way near to Ryhill Way on track to be repaired before 25th May?

 

Minutes:

Is the repair of the massive hole in the bus stop in Rushey Way near to Ryhill Way on track to be repaired before 25th May?

 

Answer

This whole activity should never have taken so long to which the Council sincerely apologises for the extreme inconvenience felt by residents. I want to pay tribute to Cllrs Jorgensen and Smith for their tenacity in trying to resolve this issue over this excessive time period. I personally have followed Cllr Jorgensen’s many social media postings as she prodded and probed to establish what was going on. I have instructed Officers to fully evaluate why it has taken so long to establish a set of learnings which will be incorporated into any similar future activities.

 

What should have been a routine piece of work, already completed elsewhere, was impacted by unanticipated issues around the stability of the ground beneath the concrete plinth underpinning the layby. In all the previous works on bus laybys such instability was not present.  

 

When this instability was discovered work was suspended whilst highways engineers tried to establish a way forward. Initially it was unclear what was causing this instability and time was taken to develop a plan of action.

 

There was agreement that a specialist company was needed to investigate the soil structures in this area to provide data on what was needed to bring that stability. Following a wait for the consultants to be free to carry out this work they then had to schedule time in their laboratories to complete the investigation. This investigation found that extraordinary soil structures were concentrated in this area which turned a straightforward action into a highly complex one.

 

The completion of these works are a top priority and I can confirm that work started on May 21st and is scheduled to finish by tomorrow.

 

I would like to apologise, again, for the extreme inconvenience felt by residents.  We thank local residents for their patience during this excessive period.

 

11.7

Ian Pittock asked the Leader of the Council the following question. Due to time constraints the following written answer was provided:


Question

I am assuming that the Leader of the Council supports all requirements that maintain and improve security throughout the Council.  Some Members have long been allowed access to Council buildings using ID cards identifying them as belonging to an organisation called ‘Wokingham District Council’, which ceased to exist ten years ago.  Changing these is a small cost in light of the example that Members should be setting to staff.  How long does the Leader need for transition, or should that be implementation, to ensure all Member’s ID cards bear the words ‘Wokingham Borough Council’, what price security?

 

Minutes:

I am assuming that the Leader of the Council supports all requirements that maintain and improve security throughout the Council.  Some Members have long been allowed access to Council buildings using ID cards identifying them as belonging to an organisation called ‘Wokingham District Council’, which ceased to exist ten years ago.  Changing these is a small cost in light of the example that Members should be setting to staff.  How long does the Leader need for transition, or should that be implementation, to ensure all Member’s ID cards bear the words ‘Wokingham Borough Council’, what price security?

 

Answer

The transition of changing Members passes to the new style is an on-going process and is reliant on the cooperation of Members to proactively engage with Facilities to change their pass. There is no security risk with Members having earlier style ID cards.

 

Democratic Services advise Facilities of the current list of ‘active’ Members following an election or indeed if a Member resigns or is no longer able to fulfil their role. Facilities cancel the pass of any such Member that is no longer active.

 

Democratic Services write to each Member asking them to either destroy or return their card to Facilities.

 

Facilities are unable to produce a list of all those Members that retain their old WDC cards as the software we have for the cards only retains the original date of issue and does not update on renewal.

 

Democratic Services have written to all Members inviting them to bring in their old WDC cards this evening, or on another occasion that suits them, so that they can be renewed. This is a good opportunity to also remind Members to check and challenge people entering areas of the building requiring passes.

 

11.8

Chris Smith asked the Executive Member for Highways and Transport the following question. Due to time constraints the following written answer was provided:


Question

Please can the Executive Member provide an update on highways works within Hillside ward?

Minutes:

Please can the Executive Member provide an update on highways works within Hillside ward?

 

Answer

The only current highway works within the Hillside Ward are the works to the bus stop in Rushey Way near to Ryhill Way. I have already provided details of that activity in an earlier answer.

 

In addition, there is also surfacing works planned for Redhatch Drive, between Radstock Lane and Wychwood Close during the period 23rd August to 31st August under a road closure.  

 

These are the planned activities but as you would expect there will be ad hoc works such as potholes which occur which need to be dealt with. Such potholes are investigated within a short period after they have been reported. The purpose of such investigations is to establish how safe they are which dictates the reactive time required to fix them.

 

May I point out that when evaluating the safety aspect of a pothole Officers look at it from the perspective of a cyclist. Whilst a car will be able to drive over some potholes a cyclist cannot. If they are considered to cause a potential safety issue then a temporary patch will be initiated that day. Since speed is of the essence in carrying out a temporary patch it will not be to a standard which means no more attention is required. That comes later after the pothole has been made safe following a works order being issued.

 

 

 

16.

Continuation of the Meeting

Minutes:

At this point in the meeting, 8.45pm, 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. The Motion was moved by the Mayor and seconded by the Deputy Mayor.

 

Upon being put to the vote, it was:

 

RESOLVED: That the meeting be extended after 9pm for a maximum of 30 minutes.

12.

Political Balance of the Council and Allocation and Appointment to Seats on Council Committees/Panels/Boards pdf icon PDF 88 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 42 Conservative Group Members, 8 Liberal Democrat Group Members, 3 Labour Group Members and 1 Independent 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 3.6), 68 be allocated to the Conservative Group 13 be allocated to the Liberal Democrat Group and 5 be allocated to the Labour 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, set out on Agenda pages 47 to 58, on the political balance of the Council and the appointment to the Council’s Committees/Panels/Boards 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 Charlotte Haitham Taylor and seconded by Julian McGhee-Sumner that the recommendations in 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 42 Conservative Group Members, 8 Liberal Democrat Group Members, 3 Labour Group Members and 1 Independent Member (as set out in Para 1.1 of the report);

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 3.6), 68 be allocated to the Conservative Group 13 be allocated to the Liberal Democrat Group and 5 be allocated to the Labour 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.

 

13.

Appointment of Chairmen and Vice-Chairman of Council Committees and Boards 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 32 KB

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

 

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

Minutes:

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

 

Ian Pittock referred to the findings of the House of Commons Select Committee report into the operation of Overview and Scrutiny in local government. The Select Committee recommended that Overview and Scrutiny Chairmen be elected by members of the relevant Committees. Councillor Pittock referred to the ongoing consideration of this issue by the Council’s Constitution Review Working Group and suggested that the appointment of Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen be decided by the relevant Committees, Panels and Boards.

 

Charlotte Haitham Taylor stated that she was happy to withdraw the names of proposed Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen.

 

RESOLVED: That the appointment of Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of Council Committees/Panels/Boards be agreed at the first meeting of each body in the new Municipal Year.

14.

Appointment to Panels/Working Groups/Joint Committees and Various Bodies 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 80 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.

Minutes:

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

 

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

 

Upon being put to the vote, it was:

 

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

Appendix 3- Panels WG Various Bodies Joint Committees 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

15.

Appointment to Outside Bodies 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 68 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.

Minutes:

Members were asked to consider a list of nominations to various Outside Bodies, as circulated to the meeting as Appendix 4.

 

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

 

Upon being put to the vote, it was:

 

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

Appendix 4 - outside bodies 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 80 KB