Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee - Monday, 7th September, 2015 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Kevin Jacob  Principal Democratic Services Officer

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were submitted from Kate Haines and Dianne King.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 157 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held 27 July 2015.



The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 27 July 2015 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


The Chairman highlighted the following matters arising from the minutes:


·           Minute 14 - Balanced Scorecard 2014/2015 Quarter 4.  It was noted that answers to the Committee’s questions relating to Indicator 2, Staff Turnover and Indicator 59 – Number of dwellings countable within the five year land supply had been supplied to the Committee;

·           Minute 15 – Consideration of the Current Executive Forward Programme.  It was noted that Executive decision WBC755 – Library Offer had been postponed from September Executive Forward Programme to allow for further consideration.  The Committee renewed its request to consider the item prior to an Executive decision.

·           Minute 16 – Houses of Multiple Occupation.  It was noted that the Executive Member for Planning and Highways had been requested to consider the development of additional local polices on House of Multiple Occupation and invited to attend the 23 November meeting of the Community and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee.



Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest.


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 this committee.


Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee 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


There were no public questions.


Member Question Time

To answer any member questions


There were no Member questions.


Balanced Scorecard 2015/2016 Quarter 1

To consider the new format Balanced Scorecard for the 1st quarter of the 2015/2016 financial year.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report and supporting appendix setting out performance management information in relation to the Council’s activities.  The report had been published as part of a supplementary Agenda circulated after the publication of the main Agenda. 


Julie Holland, Service Manager Business Improvement introduced the report to the Committee. It was noted that the name of the report had now changed from the Balanced Scorecard to the Council Plan Performance Monitoring report and covered Quarter 1 of the 2015/2016 financial year.  The Committee was reminded that the report had been substantially redesigned to be more dynamic, easier to monitor and to be more closely linked to the Council’s key objectives. It was stressed that although the design of the report was finalised, the list of indicators shown was not set in stone and could be changed if required.


In summary, the report showed a strong performance in Quarter 1 of 2015/2016 as 95% of indicators had been reported as achieving their targets. Three indicators had failed to meet their targets:


·           The project to establish a Berkshire West Joint Commissioning Function

·           The project for alternative provision for the physical disability day services currently at Westmead Wokingham;

·           The assets programme examining options around the Council’s land and property holdings.


The Committee was informed that the indicators measured within the report had been set as result of discussion between the relevant Executive Member and Director.  The indicators reported within the report were considered to be of a high level strategic nature, but at service level there were more detailed indicators and targets for use within the services at operational level. 


The reporting cycle of the report was that once compiled it was considered at Departmental Leadership Team meetings, the Corporate Leadership Team, Executive Members and finally the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.


Prior to considering the report in detail, the Chairman invited general comments on the overall look and feel of the new report. A summary of these key points is presented below:


·           Members reiterated that they wished to gain a greater general understanding of the rationale of how individual targets had been determined between Executive Members and their Directors in order that the Committee could form a view as to whether the targets were appropriate or sufficiently challenging.  It was suggested that the most appropriate way for the Committee to seek assurance on the setting of the indicators was to invite individual Executive Members and Directors to meetings of the Committee to comment;

·           Members of the Committee queried whether any feedback had been given on the new report by the Executive. Julie Holland commented that she had received feedback that the members of the Executive had found the report to much clearer to understand than the previous version;

·           A number of Members commented that a number of indicators showed as having met their targets with a ‘Green’ RAG rating, despite the actual quarter 1 data showing that performance was significantly below target. The reason for this was questioned.  It was felt  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Open Green Spaces - Update pdf icon PDF 993 KB

To receive a presentation from Josie Wragg, Head of Community Services and Pete Baveystock, Service Manager Cleaner and Greener Services on:


·           Issues addressed since the last meeting;


·           Successes since the last briefing;


·           Procurement of the new Contract;


·           Future Considerations.


Councillor Angus Ross, Executive Member for Environment has also been invited to attend.


The Committee had requested an update on the contract specification at its meeting on 24 March 2015.


The Committee received a presentation and update on the Borough’s open spaces from Josie Wragg, Head of Community Services, Pete Baveystock, Services Manager, Cleaner and Greener Services and Councillor Angus Ross, Executive Member for Environment.   A copy of the slides used during the presentation was set out in the Agenda on pages 13 to 22.  The presentation followed a series of previous updates to the Committee following an investigation by the Committee into the Council’s grass cutting arrangements in June 2014 following concerns expressed by residents at that time.


In introducing the presentation, Josie Wragg referred back to suggestions made by Members of the Committee relating to changes to the future specification of the Council’s grass cutting contracts.  She commented that these had been very helpful in the drafting of the next grass cutting contract arrangements and had also assisted in the management of the Council’s incumbent contractor.   


A summary of the key points arising from the presentation is set out below:


·           The current grass cutting contract specified a total of eight cuts per annum, but the Council had worked with the incumbent contractor to increase flexibility as much as possible within the terms of the present contract.  The incumbent contractor had displayed a willingness to redirect their resources in response to different circumstances;

·           The current grass cutting contract expired at the end of March 2016;

·           Where variable cutting regimes had been trialled consultation had been undertaken first and every effort made to reflect the outcome of the consultation in the final cutting regime;

·           A partnership approach to the management of public open spaces would be developed as part of the new contract through a ‘Friends of Scheme’ for particular areas which would build on the existing ‘Adopt a Street’ litter picking scheme.  There were some issues around insurance that needed to be worked through, but work was continuing.  The concept of facilitating residents to be able to assist in looking after areas of public open space had been included within the future contract arrangements;

·           Grass collection would form part of the new contract arrangement in some areas to prevent unsightly accumulations of grass and the blocking of drains, but it was not felt that it would be appropriate to seek to require specific contract machinery within the contract arrangements given the expense of this equipment.  This was also consistent with the overall approach taken in drafting the new contract arrangements that the contract should not be prescriptive and instead focus on outcomes based measures;

·           In March 2015 the Cleaner and Greener Team had been created under the management of Pete Baveystock.  This team comprised Officers with experience of the management of open spaces and waste collection.  The new team had proved to be very successful with a key improvement being an increase in the overall resilience of the team;

·           The Council was working in partnership with sports pitch users to develop a better working relationship and ensure the quality of the surface did not affect usage and therefore income;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Discussion with Councillor Ross - Executive Member for Environment pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To question Councillor Ross, Executive Member for Environment on Council activities within his portfolio and upcoming issues.  


A list of the Executive Member for Environment’s specific portfolio responsibilities is attached.


The Chairman commented that as part of its role of holding the Executive to account for the delivery of Council services it had decided to invite Councillor Ross to speak to the activities within his portfolio and take questions from the Committee. 


The Committee was referred to the list of Councillor Ross’s responsibilities on Agenda page 23. Councillor Ross provided the Committee with a brief update on each area of responsibility and answered the Committee’s questions in turn.  A summary of the key points arising from this discussion is set out below:


·  (Environmental Services) – Councillor Ross commented that work was in place to develop a plan for the Countryside Service to become self-funding.  In addition the Council’s Tree Service had been reorganised and work undertaken at Southlake lake;


·           Prue Bray suggested that in her opinion the heading of environmental services logically included areas of Council services including environmental health functions related to air quality.  Councillor Ross responded that consideration had been given to this point as part of the process of determining Executive Member portfolios, but a decision made that issues such as air quality would fall within the remit of Executive Member for Resident Services, Councillor Pauline Jorgensen;


·  (Flooding and Production of a Flooding Strategy) – Councillor Ross informed the Committee that a joint Officer/Cross Party Task and Finish Group was working on the production of the Local Flood Management Strategy although production of the strategy had been impacted by a shortage of Officer resources. With regards to flood alleviation, work had been completed along the A327, ditches cleared and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, (SUDS) installed;   


·           Members queried whether the Flooding Strategy included proposed measures to mitigate against existing flooding problems or if it was focussed towards addressing future issues.  Councillor Ross responded that the strategy included recorded problems and incidents as well as anticipated ones.  Whilst the Council would never be able to give the assurance that flooding risks could always be mitigated and finance would remain constrained, the issue was considered to be adequately managed. In terms of future development in the Borough the Council was doing everything within its power to prevent development increasing the risk of flooding.  An example of this was the embedding of an Officer from the flooding team within the Development Management Service. However, it also had to act on the advice of statutory agencies such as the Environment Agency;


·           Members queried Officer recruitment and Councillor Ross accepted that Officer recruitment within the Flooding Team was a recognised issue, but when necessary expertise was accessed from the Council’s contractor WSP;


·  (Waste Collection and Recycling/Re3) – Councillor Ross informed the Committee that the existing waste collection contract was due to expire at the end 2017.  He commented that the Borough’s rate of recycling was good whereas sometimes the recycling rates of some local authorities reporting higher rates of recycling did not prove to be accurate on closer examination.  The Council was working with Reading Borough Council and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Highways and Transport Service Review - Update pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To consider an update on the review of the Highways and Transport Services as requested by the Committee at the 24 March 2015 meeting.


The Chairman referred to the update report on the Highways and Transport Service as set out on Agenda pages 25 to 28 and highlighted that a further report would be brought to the Committee’s November meeting. Due to time constraints he suggested not discussing the report further on that occasion, but that Members of the Committee should give consideration to possible questions and lines of enquiry and send these to Kevin Jacob in advance of the November meeting.



1)     The progress report on the review of the Highways and Transport Service be noted;


2)     Members of the Committee consider lines of enquiry or requests for further information from Officers and send these to Kevin Jacob in advance of the November meeting.


Consideration of the current Executive Forward Programme pdf icon PDF 245 KB

To consider the current published version of the Executive Forward Programme


The Committee considered a copy of the published Executive Forward Programme as set on Agenda pages 29 to 37.


In respect of WBC801 – Four-Way Building Control Service, Councillor Prue Bray queried which other local authorities were potentially partners with the Council in the proposed new service.  Kevin Jacob indicated he would request an answer to this question and circulate it to the Committee outside of the meeting.


RESOLVED: That the Executive Forward Programme be noted.  


Committee Work Programmes pdf icon PDF 355 KB

To discuss the work programme of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and Overview and Scrutiny Committees

Additional documents:


The Committee considered its forward work programme and that of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee as set out on Agenda pages 39 to 66.


The Chairman referred the Committee to a new overview and scrutiny review request form submitted by Councillor Prue Bray which asked for a scrutiny review of the services currently delivered by the Council or which the Council was in the process of moving to deliver with other local authorities as shared services.  This had been circulated to the Committee by way on a Supplementary Agenda.


In introducing the review, Councillor Bray commented that the restrained financial circumstances the Council and other local authorities faced had acted as driver for the delivery of services as efficiently as possible.  One model of service delivery that was becoming more and more common within the Council and nationally was joint service delivery with other Councils.  She commented that the arrangements by which a number of the Council’s shared services had been established varied and it was an opportune time to review which shared service arrangements had been more successful and those that had been less successful in order that the Council could continuously improve as it entered into new shared service arrangements.


Members of the Committee supported the undertaking of the review and commented that that they did feel that there were lessons to be learnt from the experience of services already jointly delivered.


Kevin Jacob commented conveyed the comments of Andy Couldrick, the Chief Executive that such a review would be useful if it was properly scoped, and framed.  However, Kevin Jacob drew attention to the resource requirements of the review and commented that in light of the existing scrutiny reviews in progress or about to start, the Officer resource to support a new review would be unlikely to be available until December 2015.


It was decided to review the situation again at the November meeting, but that the review should be placed on the Committee’s work programme and progressed at the earliest opportunity.



1)     the current Work Programme of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and the Overview and Scrutiny Committees be noted, subject to the addition to the work programme of a review of the Council’s shared services.


2)     the start date of the review be reconsidered at the November Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee meeting. 


Update reports from Chairmen or Nominated member of the Overview and Scrutiny committees pdf icon PDF 272 KB

For the Chairman or nominated Member of the Committee to report back on its activities including any requests to undertake reviews.




RESOLVED: That the report of the Chairman of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee be noted.


Any other items which the chairman decides are urgent

A Supplementary Agenda will be issued by the Chief Executive if there are any other items to consider under this heading


The Chairman informed the Committee that Kevin Jacob, the Committee’s Clerk would be leaving the Council at the end of September to take up a positon at another local authority.  He and other Members of the Committee thanked Kevin for his support to the Committee over the years and wished him well in his new role.