Venue: David Hicks 1 - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN
Contact: Neil Carr Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist
To receive any apologies for absence.
There were no apologies for absence.
Prue Bray attended the meeting as substitute for Ian Pittock.
To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 January 2020.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 22 January 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following amendments:
Minute 66 – Declaring a Climate Emergency Initial Action Plan - the final paragraph on Page 8 of the Agenda being amended to read:
“In relation to the scope of the Climate Emergency project, could the Council develop a separate Air Quality Action Plan, addressing noxious and other pollutants?.....”
Minute 68 – Council Plan Performance Monitoring – Q2 2019/20 (Page 12) – KPI CE1 being amended to read:
“KPI CE1 – Revenue Budget Monitoring Forecast Position and KPI CE2 – capital Budget Monitoring Forecast Position.
Comment – when overspends and underspends occur, the Committee would like to receive greater detail on causation and action plans put in place. The RAG rating should reflect the fact that large underspends are a matter of concern for Members, in addition to overspends”.
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 www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions
There were no public questions.
Member Question Time
To answer any Member questions.
There were no Member questions.
To scrutinise the Council’s policy and procedures relating to unauthorised traveller encampments.
The Committee considered a presentation, set out at Agenda pages 15 to 23, which gave details of the Council’s policy and procedures relating to unauthorised traveller encampments.
Simon Price, Assistant Director, Housing, Income and Assessments, attended the meeting to give the presentation and answer Member questions.
An unauthorised encampment arose when any person camped (in vans, trailers, tents or any other moveable accommodation) on land that they did not own, and where they did not have permission to reside.
The presentation stated that the Council had signed up to the Thames Valley Police protocol for dealing with encampments in May 2018. The Council’s Executive had also approved an updated policy on encampments at its meeting in March 2018. The updated policy had enabled Officers to use common law powers in dealing with unlawful encampments. This entailed the use of bailiffs rather than the courts. The use of common law powers resulted in reduced legal costs and reduced costs relating to the clearance of sites.
The presentation gave details of performance data relating to unauthorised encampments, as follows:
· Number of encampments;
· Average number of days to clear encampments;
· Number of encampments on public and private land;
· Number of encampments cleared with and without Section 61 (police) powers.
In 2019/20 (to date) there had been 25 unauthorised encampments across the Borough. Of these, 12 were on public land and 13 were on private land. The cost to WBC of clearing the encampments on public land was £1,449. Dealing with the encampments took 165 hours of police officer time and 155 hours of WBC officer time.
In the ensuing discussion, Members raised the following points:
One issue relating to the Council’s clearance of sites was the fact that travellers could then move a short distance on to private land. What advice and support did the Council provide for private landowners? Simon Price commented that the Council provided advice to private landowners but had no jurisdiction. It was a matter for private landowners to protect their own land.
Was the Council considering best practice from other local authorities? Simon commented that the Council did seek to learn from elsewhere but it was important to remember that the service was delivered with limited resources.
Ken Miall referred to an incident when Sheriffs were used to move travellers on. What was the difference between using Sheriffs and bailiffs? Simon undertook to discuss this case with Ken outside the meeting.
Guy Grandison asked about the percentage of traveller encampments which involved medical/welfare issues. Simon undertook to provide information on the number of encampments involving medical/bereavement cases.
Did the Council have any special arrangements with Town and Parish Councils? Simon commented that WBC held regular discussions with the Town and Parish Councils. However, there were ongoing issues around enforcement when the land was not WBC-owned.
The Council had taken out an injunction which prohibited unauthorised encampments at Cantley Park. What factors were involved? Simon stated that Cantley Park was earmarked as an emergency morgue in case of major ... view the full minutes text for item 78.
To consider the Community Vision and Corporate Delivery Plan 2020/24.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 25 to 26 (and supplementary Agenda) which set out the new Council Plan (incorporating the Community Vision and Corporate Delivery Plan) 2020/24.
Susan Parsonage (Chief Executive) and Graham Ebers (Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Corporate Services) attended the meeting to answer Member questions on the plan.
The report stated that the Council Plan had been developed through consultation with residents, businesses, partners and political groups. The Community Vision document was a public facing document which communicated key priorities to residents and set out key targets for the next four years. The key priorities set out in the Community Vision were:
· Enriching lives – supporting our residents to lead happy, healthy lives whilst developing local communities and the local economy.
· Safe, Strong Communities – protecting vulnerable residents whilst nurturing communities which are safe for all;
· Changing the Way we Work for You – being a customer-focussed organisation with high quality services, good communications and digital innovation;
· A Clean and Green Borough – a focus on becoming carbon neutral whilst protecting our green spaces, improving biodiversity and reducing waste;
· Right Homes, Right Places – delivering affordable, sustainable homes which meet a range of housing needs, with supporting infrastructure and community facilities.
· Keeping the Borough Moving – improving our cycleways, footpaths and roads whilst tackling traffic congestion and promoting alternative travel options.
The Corporate Delivery Plan built on the key priorities in the Community Vision and identified core organisational values which would underpin future service delivery and community engagement. The organisation’s Core Values were:
· Customer Focus – delivering quality services that we would like to receive ourselves;
· One Team – working jointly with residents and partners across boundaries to ensure effective and efficient service delivery;
· Taking Ownership – taking responsibility for issues and being accountable for the outcomes delivered to residents;
· Being Ambitious – aiming for excellence, being innovative and entrepreneurial whilst managing risk.
The Corporate Delivery Plan provided a framework to be used by departments and the Council’s Executive in driving strategic policy and service delivery. The plan would be used to develop SMART targets and key performance indicators to ensure effective performance management and monitoring.
In the ensuing discussion Members raised the following points:
What was the cost of producing the Community Vision and Delivery Plan? Graham Ebers commented that development of the documents had involved discussions with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. Consequently, it was not possible to identify an exact cost.
Delivery of the Plan would require a significant change in organisational culture, for example in the Council’s approach to equality issues and funding for arts and culture. Graham commented that delivery of the Plan would be a challenge for the organisation. This was a positive approach. Scrutiny and feedback from stakeholders would be important in driving the organisation forwards. In relation to arts and culture, Susan Parsonage stated that the key to success would be working with partners and leveraging in funding by ... view the full minutes text for item 79.
To consider an update on the Council’s Continuous Improvement Programme.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 27 to 34, which gave details of the Council’s Continuous Improvement Programme (CIP).
Graham Ebers (Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Corporate Services), Paul Ohsan.Ellis (Business Change Lead Manager) and Lewis Borges (Business Change Lead Manager) attended the meeting to present the report and answer Member questions.
The report stated that the Council’s 21st Century Council Programme had ended in March 2019. In order to continue on the improvement journey, the Council had formed the Business Change Service in May 2019 and embarked on the CIP.
The Business Change Team had developed CIP in each Council Directorate. In addition the team supported the directorates in ensuring that robust governance was in place which underpinned delivery of the savings outlined in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan.
The Business Change Team comprised four main functions: project management, business change, business analysis, digital assessment and intelligence. The team adopted a multi-skilled approach which supported plans to work in themed areas across the Council. The team’s resource capacity was allocated to Adult Social Care (40%), Children’s Services (40%), Locality and Customer Services (10%) and Corporate Services (10%).
The report gave details of the projects supported by the team to date and the team’s areas of focus for 2020 onwards. For example, directorate “design” work was already underway for Adult and Children’s Services to develop a programme of work dedicated to service and structural design. Other corporate projects included Service Accommodation, Transport Review, Data and Insight.
In the ensuing discussion, Members made the following points:
In relation to the projects being supported by the Business Change Service, how many were high risk or rated Red in the RAG ratings? It was confirmed that the majority of projects were rated Green or Amber. One area of concern related to the Customer Portal as a result of Microsoft’s decision to withdraw support.
The 21st Century Council programme had delivered £3m in savings but the original target was to achieve a further £1m from People Services. However, it appeared that the model used was not appropriate for high risk, high demand, high specialist services such as adult and children’s social care. How did the change team mitigate the risk of destabilising services as CIP progressed? Graham Ebers commented that the 21st Century programme had delivered £3m savings. CIP was being implemented by Directors, supported by the Business Change team. This reduced the risk of change being imposed on services from outside. As an example, the recent Peer Review of Adult Social Care reported that positive change was happening at pace within a controlled environment.
In relation to specific projects, would the review of Home to School Transport include transport for over-16s? Lewis Borges confirmed that it would. Were there any plans to review the Council’s website as some residents found it difficult to find information? Susan Parsonage commented that the website would be looked at as part of the wider review of customer service. ... view the full minutes text for item 80.
To consider options for the effective Scrutiny of the Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 35 to 40, which set out a range of options for Scrutiny of the Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan.
The report stated that the Committee had given consideration to the Council’s initial Climate Emergency Action Plan at its meeting on 22 January 2020. As part of its discussions the Committee requested a further report setting out options for the effective Scrutiny of the action plan, one option being the establishment of a separate Climate Emergency Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The report set out a number of options including:
· Establishing an additional Overview and Scrutiny Committee;
· Maintaining the current Overview and Scrutiny structure with time-limited Task and Finish Groups;
· Maintaining the current structure and focussing on a smaller number of key issues, such as Climate Emergency;
· Maintain the current structure with additional meetings;
· Amending the terms of reference of the other Overview and Scrutiny Committees in order to achieve a more balance workload for each.
The report considered each of the options and the resource implications for each one. These include financial impacts and workload issues for Members and Officers.
It was proposed by Pauline Helliar-Symons and seconded by Alison Swaddle that the Committee establish a Climate Emergency Task and Finish Group comprising five to seven Members, membership of the Group to be open to all Overview and Scrutiny Members.
Upon being put to the vote, the proposal was agreed.
Andy Croy suggested that the Task and Finish Group should focus initially on the performance measures, targets and metrics being developed to underpin the Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan.
1) a Task and Finish Group be established to scrutinise the Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan;
2) the Task and Finish Group comprise five to seven Members drawn from the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees;
3) the Task and Finish Group focus initially on performance measures, targets and metrics being developed to underpin the Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan;
4) the Committee review the operation of the Task and Finish Group in conjunction with a wider review of Overview and Scrutiny Committee workloads during 2020/21.
To consider the current published version of the Executive Forward Programme and the Individual Executive Member Decision Forward Programme.
The Committee considered a copy of the Executive Forward Programme and the Individual Executive Member Decision Forward Programme as set out on Agenda pages 41 to 48.
RESOLVED: That the Forward Programmes be noted.
To discuss the Work Programmes of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
The Committee considered its forward work programme and that of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees as set out on Agenda pages 49 to 54.
Pauline Helliar-Symons suggested that any items for inclusion in the 2020/21 Overview and Scrutiny Work Programmes be forwarded to Neil Carr in Democratic Services.
Sarah Kerr suggested the following items for consideration:
· WBC website;
· Home to School Transport Strategy – including post 16s;
· Electric vehicle charging;
· Low emission transport strategy.
Alison Swaddle reported that performance management reports would henceforth cease to be a standing item on the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee Agenda. The quarterly reports would be considered at the most appropriate meeting.
Community and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee – at the March meeting, Pauline Helliar-Symons requested that the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue representatives be asked to discuss measures for improving joint working with WBC.
RESOLVED: That the Work Programmes, as amended, be noted.
Update reports from Chairmen or Nominated member of the Overview and Scrutiny committees
For the Chairman or nominated Member of the Committee to report back in its activities including any requests to undertake reviews.
The Committee considered updates from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairman and/or Members in relation to recent meetings of the Committees.
RESOLVED: That the updates be noted.