Venue: David Hicks 1 - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN
Contact: Neil Carr Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist
Note: Virtual Meeting
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were submitted by Guy Grandison.
Emma Hobbs attended the meeting as a substitute.
To confirm the Minutes of the meetings held on 16 June and 24 June 2020.
The Minutes of the meetings of the Committee, held on 16 June and 24 June 2020, were confirmed as a correct record and would be signed by the signed by the Chairman at a later date.
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.
In accordance with the agreed procedure the Chairman invited Members to submit questions to the appropriate Members.
Caroline Smith asked the Chairman the following question:
One of the alarming statistics to come out since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic is that certain ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in the number of deaths. What is Wokingham doing to help understand why this is happening and going forwards, trying to reduce this aspect in the event of a second wave of Covid 19?
One of the alarming statistics to come out since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic is that certain ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in the number of deaths. What is Wokingham doing to help understand why this is happening and going forwards, trying to reduce this aspect in the event of a second wave of Covid-19?
Public Health England published a report in June 2020, titled Beyond the data: understanding the impact of Covid-19 on Black and Minority Ethnic Groups.
The report confirmed that death rates linked to Covid-19 were higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups when compared to White ethnic groups.
The report made a number of recommendations around improved data collection, community research, health impact assessments and occupational risk assessments. It also emphasised the importance of targeted education and prevention campaigns and ensuring that Covid-19 recovery strategies actively aim to reduce inequalities caused by the wider determinants of health such as educational attainment, income and housing.
The Council will be working with Public Health England, other health partners and the BAME community to understand and address local issues in order to mitigate the impact of any future Covid-19 outbreaks.
In the meantime, the Council has designed an individual risk assessment to support its BAME employees in considering any additional measures that may be needed to ensure that they are protected and supported.
To consider the Borough’s Covid-19 Outbreak Management Plan (Plan Summary attached).
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 19 to 34 and the supplementary Agenda, which gave details of the Borough’s Covid-19 Outbreak Management Plan.
Susan Parsonage (Chief Executive) and Meradin Peachey (Public Health Consultant) attended the meeting to present the plan and to answer Member questions.
The Plan aimed to establish a clear process for controlling any further Covid-19 outbreaks and to minimise any impacts on the Borough’s residents. Achieving this aim would require a whole system approach across local and national government, the NHS, businesses, the voluntary sector, community partners and residents.
The Outbreak Management Plan focussed on settings and population groups where there were particular risks relating to Covid-19. The plan focussed on a number of key themes, viz:
· Care settings and schools;
· High risk workplaces, communities and locations;
· Mobile testing units and local testing approaches;
· Contact tracing in complex settings – led by Public Health England;
· Data integration – used to identify hotspots and target responses;
· Vulnerable people – support for diverse communities;
· Local Boards – managing outbreaks through Incident Control teams.
In the event of a Covid-19 outbreak, a range of measures could be implemented, including:
· Specific advice on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), infection prevention, control measures and contact tracing;
· Testing of people with and without symptoms;
· Restricting attendance at an outbreak site;
· Cancelling events;
· Closing community facilities and other premises, if required;
· Alert messaging.
The Outbreak Management Plan confirmed that the Director of Public Health retained primary responsibility for the health of the local community, working closely with other professional and organisations such as WBC. The Plan would be triggered when there were suspected or confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks in any setting type, or significant community spread. Public Health England would work with partners, including the Council, to gather intelligence via the national Test and Trace service, laboratory results and local partner feedback. Public Health England would conduct a risk assessment with the setting, provide infection control and advice on testing as appropriate. The Council would provide support to the outbreak setting and additional capacity for contact tracing, as necessary.
The Plan stated that strong engagement and communication with the local community was essential. A Local Outbreak Communication Plan would focus on two key areas:
· Preventative measures – building confidence in the NHS Test and Trace service, observing social distancing measures, maintaining good hand hygiene, wearing face coverings in specific locations and supporting people who are medically vulnerable, self-isolating or shielding.
· Targeted messages in response to local outbreaks – supporting high risk settings, responding to public enquiries, explaining any restrictions in place and keeping residents up-to-date as restrictions change or lift.
Given the likelihood that Covid-19 outbreaks would spread beyond local authority boundaries, it would be important to develop good communication links with neighbouring councils. It was confirmed that key contacts had already been established with the Council’s neighbours.
It was confirmed that the Plan would be updated on a monthly basis following Government policy changes and the outcome of scenario testing. ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
To consider an update report on the Council’s policies and procedures for handling unauthorised traveller encampments.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 35 to 50, which gave details of the Council’s powers, policies and procedures relating to unauthorised encampments.
Nick Austin (Assistant Director, Customer and Localities), Nigel Bailey (Assistant Director, Customer and Localities) and Sarah Lynch (Senior Specialist Housing Manager) attended the meeting to present the report and answer Member questions.
The report set out how the Council was working to prevent and mitigate any detrimental impact caused to communities or land. It gave details of increased preventative measures at vulnerable sites in addition to improved communications with the public and joint working with partner organisations.
The report proposed the provision of annual training for Members which would refresh their knowledge of the Council’s powers and procedures and enable them to provide more effective advice for residents. Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was proposed to hold the first training session in August 2020.
Appended to the report was a draft leaflet, jointly produced with Thames Valley Police, which provided information on police and Council powers relating to unauthorised encampments. Once finalised, the leaflet would be posted onto the Council’s website.
Other issues addressed in the report included:
· Sharing best practice among neighbouring authorities and the Community Safety Partnership;
· Meeting future needs of the Gypsy, Romany and Traveller (GRT) communities through additional provision in the Local Plan Update;
· Improving relationships with private landowners who frequently experienced unauthorised encampments;
· Preventative measures at WBC sites and further advice to private landowners;
· Potential for Borough-wide injunctions against named individuals.
The report also set out responses to specific issues raised previously by members of the Committee.
In the ensuing discussion, Members raised the following points.
How did the Council provide information and support to residents, landowners, elected Members and travellers? Currently, there was little information or contact details on the Council website. It was confirmed that, once finalised, a publicity leaflet (appended to the report) would be available and would be posted on the Council website.
Do Officers monitor good practice in other local authority areas, such as Elmbridge, Essex, Salford and Thurrock? It was confirmed that Council websites were monitored for information and that Officers would welcome Member insights into good practice in other parts of the country.
The information on Officer time allocated to dealing with unauthorised encampments appeared to contain inconsistencies. How robust was the information? It was confirmed that the time recording system needed to be strengthened to ensure that the reported figures were more accurate.
The report stated that there had been 21 unauthorised encampments in the Borough during the Covid-19 period. What special arrangements were in place during this period and what issues arose? It was confirmed that a tolerated stopping site had been operated at Mereoak, in partnership with Reading Borough Council (RBC). Discussions were ongoing with RBC about the future of this site. Longer term options were also under consideration.
What powers did the Council have in relation to private landowners who did not ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
To consider the Performance Monitoring report for the 4th Quarter of 2019/20.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 51 to 82, which gave details of Council performance in the fourth quarter of 2019/20 (January to March 2020).
Louise Griffin (Performance and Programme Management Specialist) attended the meeting to present the report and answer Member questions.
The report gave details of performance against 34 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and 18 Supplementary Indicators. It was noted that the number of indicators reported had been reduced in 2019/20 to enable greater focus on key areas of performance.
It was also noted that the Council’s Corporate Delivery Plan had been approved at the Council meeting in February 2020. Work was underway to develop KPIs for 2020/21 to align with this plan. The new KPIs would be reported to the Committee in due course.
The KPIs showing a Red RAG status in Quarter 4 were:
· KPI EA2 - % of children who attend a Wokingham Borough state-funded school (Primary, Secondary or Special) which is Ofsted rated Good or Outstanding;
· KPI VP2a – Delayed transfers of care (delayed days);
· KPI SC7 - % of household waste reused, recycled and composted;
· KPI AS4b – Safeguarding timeliness – enquiries completed within 28 days;
· KPI AS6 – Proportion of people receiving long term care who were subject to a review in the past 12 months;
· KPI Ch2 - % of Education, Health and Care Plan Assessments completed within 20 weeks of referral;
· KPI VP8 - % of child protection visits completed on time (within 10 days of the previous visit or start of the Child Protection Plan.
Each of the Red indicators presented with a note explaining the action being taken to improve performance.
In the ensuing discussion, Members raised the following issues:
Residents were becoming increasingly frustrated with the black box issue regarding wet paper and card (which affected recycling rates in the Borough). What actions were being taken and when would this take effect? It was confirmed that this issue was being considered currently and plans were being formulated for announcement in the near future.
Re the tolerance thresholds for KPIs CE1/2 (Revenue and Capital forecast reporting), there was concern that any underspends were reported as Green and, as underspends could be as concerning as overspends, appropriate Amber and Red thresholds should be identified. It was confirmed that Officers would review this point with the Business Services team and agree suitable tolerances to apply for 2020/21.
1) Louise Griffin be thanked for attending the meeting to present the report and answer Member questions;
2) the performance monitoring report for Quarter 4 of 2019/20 be endorsed;
3) further information be provided in response to the specific issues raised by members of the Committee.
To consider the proposed Overview and Scrutiny Work Programmes for 2020/21.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 83 to 103, which set out draft Work Programmes for the Management Committee and the three Overview and Scrutiny Committees for 2020/21.
The report provided details of the issues scrutinised during 2019/20 and a list of Scrutiny requests for 2020/21. These included requests from Town and Parish Councils, residents and Members. It also reminded Members of the list of Covid-19 related issues which had been agreed at the previous meeting.
Members considered the draft work programmes for 2020/21 (Annex D) and the list of Scrutiny suggestions (Annex B) and made the following amendments:
Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee
· Local Plan Update – to be scrutinised later in the year;
· Economic Development Strategy and Local Enterprise Partnership – to be scrutinised later in the year;
· Equality Act 2010 – to be scrutinised by the Management Committee;
· Impact of Brexit – to be scrutinised in 2021;
· Update on food waste collection – to be considered later in the year;
· Update on Street Cleansing contract – to be considered later in the year;
· WBC website improvement plans – to be scrutinised by the Management Committee in 2020;
· Traveller Transit Sites – Business case to be scrutinised by the Management Committee;
· Air Quality Management Action Plan – to be scrutinised by the Management Committee.
Community and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee
· Safe walking and cycling routes to schools – add to work programme item – Highway and Transport Issues;
· Connected cycleways – add to work programme item Highway and Transport Issues;
· Traffic Regulation Orders – add to work programme item – Highway and Transport Issues.
Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Youth services – effectiveness of existing provision – add to work programme.
1) the Overview and Scrutiny Tracker for 2019/20 (Annex A), be noted;
2) the proposed Work Programmes for 2020/21, Annex D), as amended, be approved;
3) the Overview and Scrutiny Committees review and prioritise their individual work programmes;
4) each of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees undertake one or more detailed Scrutiny reviews during 2020/21;
5) the Committee focus on the review of the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic at its meeting on 16 September 2020.
To consider proposals to improve the operation of the Overview and Scrutiny process.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 105 to 116, which set out a number of ideas for improvement to the Overview and Scrutiny process at WBC.
The report focussed on a range of issues including improved Member training and briefings, calls for evidence, improvements to the Scrutiny section of the Council website and greater prominence via social media.
Appended to the report was a presentation from the Devon County Council Scrutiny team to the Centre for Public Scrutiny’s annual conference in December 2019. The presentation gave examples of innovative measures aimed at making Scrutiny more relevant and accessible to residents and community groups.
Members felt that the report contained a number of initiatives which could help to strengthen the Council’s Scrutiny process and generate greater public awareness and involvement.
1) the proposed ideas for improving the Overview and Scrutiny process be noted;
2) the proposed ideas for improvement be implemented, as appropriate, during 2020/21;
3) meetings of the Committee for 2021/22 onwards be arranged to ensure a reasonable gap between the Committee and meetings of full Council.
To consider the current published version of the Executive Forward Programme and the Individual Executive Member Decision Forward Programme.
The Committee considered the Executive and Individual Executive Member Decision Forward Programmes, as set out on Agenda pages 117 to 124.
RESOLVED: That the Forward Programmes be noted.