Agenda and minutes

Extraordinary, Council
Friday, 19th January, 2018 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Anne Hunter  Democratic & Electoral Services Lead Specialist

Link: Watch the video of this meeting

Items
No. Item

64.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Parry Batth, Chris Bowring, Prue Bray, Kate Haines, John Halsall, Philip Houldsworth, Charles Margetts, Ian Pittock, Bob Pitts, Beth Rowland, Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey, Alison Swaddle, Paul Swaddle, Bill Soane and Shahid Younis.

65.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

66.

Statement from the Leader of the Council

Minutes:

The Leader announced that Councillor Oliver Whittle had resigned as Executive Member for Finance due to personal reasons.  She thanked him for his hard work and expressed gratitude at his efforts in preparing the budget for the next year.  She announced that Councillor Julian McGhee-Sumner would assume the role of Executive Member for Finance.  In addition Councillor Richard Dolinski would assume the role of Executive Member for Adults Services and a new Deputy Executive Member for Adults Services would be announced at a future Council meeting.  The Leader also announced that she had appointed Councillor Keith Baker as Executive Member for Highways and Transport and had asked Councillor Chris Bowring to take on the new role of Deputy Executive Member for Strategic Highways and Planning.

67.

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 items included within this agenda.

 

Subject to meeting certain timescales questions can only relate to items which are 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 a member of the public to submit a question to the appropriate Member.

 

 

67.1

Helen Power asked the Executive Member for Strategic Highways and Planning the following question:

Minutes:


Question

When the Southern Distributor road is being built the A321 Finchampstead Road will be closed at the railway bridge between Tesco and Molly Millars Lane.  What plans do you have in place to ensure the traffic chaos currently being experienced due to the closure of other main town centre roads is avoided and this closure does not cause gridlock on other roads?

 

Answer

This question sounds more suited to something we are going to look at later on.  In fact some us we struggled through the traffic tonight, on a large coach coming back from a visit to Bristol, so I have every sympathy.  However, it is difficult in all honesty to totally say how we can resolve this issue whilst we are currently regenerating the town and actually putting the new roads in, especially the one that is going in around the Town Hall.

 

However, what I would say is that the Council is progressing the Southern Distributor Road (SDR) project and as part of this, is currently reviewing the junction options for the ‘western connection’ (that is the A321 link with Molly Millars Lane).  The project team are working closely with Network Rail and other stakeholders in considering network resilience, both during the construction phase and after.  Once a final scheme has been worked up, programing of the works upon the highway will be progressed with the Council’s Streetworks Team in accordance with the New Roads and StreetWorks Act to ensure that the correct Traffic Management and network planning have been considered.  All works and any associated road closures will be clearly demonstrated on roadworks.org, that is our website, as well as appropriate communication being advertised to the public in advance of the works commencing with a view to ensure that road users are aware well in advance of start of the works. 

 

Supplementary Question:

Given the problems that the existing roadworks are causing and also as part of the experience I have had as a resident of Finchampstead Road of the Finchampstead Road closures and including the impact of the diversions affecting Langborough Road at the moment, will you undertake to run your future plans for similar works when you are planning them, past Town and Parish Councils, Neighbourhood Action Groups and Residents’ Forums for a sanity check, well in advance?

 

Supplementary Answer:

I would suggest that if you stay with us tonight for the rest of the Council meeting you might find that there is something which is being proposed at this Council which will achieve all those objectives.  The one thing I can say is, in a place such as Wokingham, a market town, it is very difficult if not impossible to have smoothly flowing traffic unless we build four lane highways over the top of the existing buildings.  There is very little that can be done until the work progresses or until people give up the high usage of cars that we have in this Borough.

68.

Petition

To debate a petition.

 

In accordance with Procedure Rule 3.5.4.2 a maximum period of 30 minutes will be allowed for petitions to be debated.

 

The process below will be followed at the meeting:

 

a)      the petition organiser(s) will be given five minutes to present the petition (if there is more than one petition organiser then they will share this time);

 

b)      the petition will then be debated by Councillors for a period not exceeding 30 minutes;

 

c)      the petition organiser(s) will have the right of reply of up to a maximum of three minutes;

 

d)      the Mayor will then ask for motions on how the Council wishes to respond to the Petition which may include;

 

i)       taking the action or some of the action the petition requests;

ii)      not taking the action the petition requests;

iii)     referring the petition to another body for them to consider the matter and take the appropriate action;

 

e)      once a motion has been put forward it will be voted on without discussion or amendment;

 

f)       if the motion falls then the Mayor will ask for a further motion to be put forward;

 

g)      if the Mayor is of the opinion that a decision on how to respond to the petition cannot be reached then he/she can decide, on behalf of the Council, not to take the action that the petition requests.

 

Minutes:

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

68.1

Petition submitted by Clive Chafer

At the Council meeting held on 23 November 2017 the following petition was submitted:

 

“Wokingham is being strangled by traffic.  Two main roads (A329 and A321) meet in the centre.  But so far the only effort that has been made to relieve this and make the centre an attractive place to meet, walk and shop is to put all the through traffic onto existing small streets and roads (Wellington, Rectory, Langborough, Murdoch …) near the centre.  These roads were never built to take through traffic, and the narrow streets in the centre (Peach, Denmark…) are certainly not up to the job.  We need a plan to take this traffic out of the centre, give us back our market town, and make living, shopping and socialising here a pleasure again.  Less noise, less pollution, less danger, less frustration.  We have the power to make the change.”

Minutes:

The Mayor announced that a petition had been received on 23 November 2017 in relation to traffic within Wokingham town centre and that he had agreed that this be debated at the Council meeting.

 

Clive Chafer, the petition organiser, presented the petition the wording of which was:

 

“Wokingham is being strangled by traffic.  Two main roads (A329 and A321) meet in the centre.  But so far the only effort that has been made to relieve this and make the centre an attractive place to meet, walk and shop is to put all the through traffic onto existing small streets and roads (Wellington, Rectory, Langborough, Murdoch …) near the centre.  These roads were never built to take through traffic, and the narrow streets in the centre (Peach, Denmark…) are certainly not up to the job.  We need a plan to take this traffic out of the centre, give us back our market town, and make living, shopping and socialising here a pleasure again.  Less noise, less pollution, less danger, less frustration.  We have the power to make the change.”

 

Clive Chafer addressed the meeting and set out the background to the petition.  He commented that he had started the petition in response to a discussion which had been begun on the Community Neighbourhood bulletin board.  A large number of residents had expressed extreme frustration with difficulties they were experiencing getting to and though Wokingham.  He highlighted Finchampstead Road as an area of particular difficulty.  He commented that the road had over 2 miles of standing traffic every morning and evening and that there were queues along the road even during the middle of the day.  He commented that residents had experienced journeys of 45 minutes between Finchampstead Road and London Road.  Members were informed that pollution levels exceeding EU limits had been recorded along Finchampstead Road.  Mr Chafer commented that the cause of the problem was the volume of traffic and that this would only worsen with further development which would increase the number of cars accessing the area.

 

Mr Chafer commented that people were beginning to avoid the town centre because it was difficult to get around.  Denmark Street and Peach Street in particular were very narrow.  He suggested that the town centre be pedestrianised to make it a more attractive space.  He highlighted Reading, Bracknell and Woodley town centres as successful pedestrianised areas.  Mr Chafer commented that pedestrianising the town centre would require additional road capacity outside of the town centre.  He suggested the extension of the Southern Distributor Road to Handpost Corner and a spur between Reading Road and Barkham Road, reopening Woosehill Lane.

 

Members discussed the petition.  It was highlighted that traffic congestion was a national issue.  Locally it was a Borough wide issue and not limited to Wokingham town centre.  Members referred to traffic congestion in areas such as Earley, Arborfield, Woodley and Shinfield.  A Member commented that traffic restrictions put in place by neighbouring local authorities close to the boundary exacerbated traffic congestion within the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.1

69.

Council Tax Base 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To set the Council Tax Base for 2018/19 in respect of the whole Borough and all constituent parts so that each precepting parish can subsequently set their Council Tax budgets for the year.

 

RECOMMENDATION:

That the Council is asked to:

 

1)        agree the proposed Council Tax Base, for the whole area and by Parish, as set out in the report;

 

2)        approve the proposed allocation of £40,000 grant to the parishes in respect of council tax reduction as set out in the council tax base table.

 

Minutes:

The Council considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 7 to 10 regarding the setting of the Council Tax Base for 2018/19 in respect of the whole Borough and all constituent parts so that each precepting parish could subsequently set their Council Tax budgets for the year.

 

It was proposed by Oliver Whittle and seconded by Charlotte Haitham Taylor that the recommendations set out in the report be agreed.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED:  That

 

1)        the proposed Council Tax Base, for the whole area and by Parish, as set out in the report, be agreed;

 

2)         the proposed allocation of £40,000 grant to the parishes in respect of          Council Tax reduction as set out in the Council Tax Base table be approved.

70.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme pdf icon PDF 88 KB

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

 

RECOMMENDATION:

 

That the Council approve the following:

 

1)        a local CTR scheme for 2018/19 is adopted on the same basis as the 2017/18 scheme;

 

2)        that all applicable amounts, premiums, allowances, disregards and deductions used in the calculation of entitlements are uprated in line with the same increases applied to the Government set Prescribed and Default CTR schemes, along with any other legislative changes;

 

3)        that the full disregard currently allowed for War Widows and War Disability Pensions is continued from 1 April 2018 in respect of the Prescribed and Local Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit schemes;

 

4)        that funds be made available to the hardship fund, known as Section 13A, for those who cannot pay their council tax liabilities. This sum will be funded from the general fund and spend for 18/19 is estimated at £18,000.

Minutes:

The Council considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 11 to 14 regarding the adoption of a Localised Council Tax Reduction Scheme which would ensure that all working age Borough residents who might experience financial difficulties in paying their council tax liabilities had access to a scheme of assistance, designed locally, offering financial help to them.

 

It was proposed by Oliver Whittle and seconded by Charlotte Haitham Taylor that the recommendations set out in the report be agreed.

 

Upon being put to the vote it was:

 

RESOLVED:  That

 

1)        a local Council Tax Reduction scheme for 2018/19 be adopted on the same basis as the 2017/18 scheme;

 

2)        all applicable amounts, premiums, allowances, disregards and deductions used in the calculation of entitlements be uprated in line with the same increases applied to the Government set Prescribed and Default Council Tax Reduction schemes, along with any other legislative changes;

 

3)        the full disregard currently allowed for War Widows and War Disability Pensions be continued from 1 April 2018 in respect of the Prescribed and Local Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit schemes;

 

4)         funds be made available to the hardship fund, known as Section 13A,         for those who cannot pay their Council Tax liabilities.  This sum will be         funded from the general fund and spend for 2018/19 is estimated at             £18,000.