Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN. View directions
Contact: Callum Wernham Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist
To receive any apologies for absence.
An apology for absence was submitted from Guy Grandison. Jackie Rance attended the meeting as a substitute.
Shirley Boyt attended the meeting virtually and was therefore marked as in attendance, and was unable to propose, second, or vote on items.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest.
A declaration of interest was submitted from Paul Fishwick relating to agenda item 46, on the grounds that his wife worked with Citizen’s Advice Wokingham. Paul added that he came into the meeting with an open mind and would participate in the discussion.
A prejudicial declaration of interest was submitted from Phil Cunnington relating to agenda item 46, on the grounds that he was the Deputy Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult’s Services. Phil stated that he would leave the room for the portion of the item where the proposed Adult’s Services budget was being discussed.
Public Question Time
To answer any public questions related to items on this agenda
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 related to items on this agenda.
There were no Member questions.
To consider an interim update on the progress made with regards to the BME Forum
The Committee considered a presentation, set out in agenda pages 5 to 10, which gave an update on progress made with regards to the BME forum.
The presentation outlined that there was a clear passion within the Borough for the forum to succeed within our communities. The desire was to evolve the forum into an independent organisation which sought to progress equality and build capacity within the Borough’s ethnic minority communities. The forum would work with external organisations to help develop new and evolving structures and guiding principles that were more compatible with changing communities. Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) welcomed the development of such a model which would help to foster a greater independence and a conversational approach between the Council and all of the ethnic minority communities within the Borough through the forum.
ShahidYounis (Deputy Executive for Insight and Change), Deana Humphries (Community Engagement Lead), and Mark Redfearn (Head of Localities Service) attended the meeting to answer Member queries.
During the ensuing discussions, Members raised the following points and queries:
· It was noted that the report had been received by WBC officers in consultation with Lead Members rather than by Full Council.
· What evidence was there that VCS/Local Authority type models work? Officer response – Projects in neighbouring authorities such as Acre-Reading and Community Matters in West Berkshire were examples of organisations that were independent of the Local Authority but worked very much in the way that WBC were hopeful that the BME Forum would work in the future. The Acre-Reading organisation had been running for many years, and this was the next step of independence for the forum.
· It was noted that officers had looked at a range of best practice examples, including organisations in London and Birmingham where there was a diverse range of different people and groups from a range of cultures and communities.
· What were the goals and priorities of the forum? Officer response – This would be for the future Forum to decide and agree.
· How many people were consulted by Judeline Nicholas Associates (JNA) and how many different ethnic backgrounds were reached via the consultation? Officer response – The full report would be circulated to Members to give them more background regarding these points. Data relating to how many different backgrounds were reached was not available at the moment, although less people with an Afro-Caribbean background responded than was expected.
· Which Local Authorities retained a bespoke forum model? Officer response – Not all Local Authorities were researched, however Local Authorities within Berkshire and examples of best practice from London and the North West were included within the research. This research had suggested that the former model for the forum was an outlier, and that may other were taking different approaches.
· Had officers referred back to recommendations made during the previous Committee meeting where the BME Forum was discussed when producing this presentation? Officer response – JNA had been made aware of the background information, and an article celebrating Black history month had ... view the full minutes text for item 45.
To consider the proposed Capital and Revenue budgets for the Adult’s Services and Children’s Services Directorates
The Committee considered a report, set out in agenda pages 11 to 62, which set out the revenue and capital bid proposals for both Adult’s and Children’s Services Directorates for the 2022-25 Medium term Financial Plan (MTFP).
Graham Ebers (Deputy Chief Executive (Director of Resources and Assets) attended the meeting to give an overview of the current draft budgetary position. The financial landscape was very difficult to determine, and there would be some changes to the currently presented figures which would be taken back to the Committee as and when changes occurred. Areas of uncertainty included utility costs, construction costs, general inflation, National Insurance contribution increases, Adult Social care costs and NHS funding review, the Local Government Finance Settlement, the new homes bonus, minimum wage increases, and the ongoing impact of Covid-19 (C-19).
Phil Cunnington left the room for this portion of the item.
Charles Margetts (Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing, and Adult Services) and Matt Pope (Director of Adult’s Services) attended the meeting to answer Member queries. The financial consequences of the Government’s Adult Social Care reforms were unknown until the white paper was published early 2022. Savings to be achieved within the service would predominantly come from the demand management programme coming into fruition, whilst much of the forecasted growth was from inflationary costs. Fully utilising the voluntary sector and giving customers the specialist care that they needed were also measures whereby savings and better service provision would be achieved. On the capital programme, the proposed new dementia care home would help more residents get specialist care within the Borough.
During the ensuing discussions, Members raised the following points and queries:
· Would the proposed care home be filled from within the opening year of 2024/25 or would there be an additional cost if it was not filled? Executive Member and Director response – the hope was to fill the care home within the opening year, and many residents would move over from Suffolk Lodge which would help the transitional period.
· What provision was in place for current increases in construction costs in relation to the new dementia care home? Executive Member and Director response – What was proposed was the current budget figure and a range of demand modelling was taking place. It was believed that the figure was correct however this would be adjusted if necessary. There was a detailed business case and there was confidence that this would stand up, and there was a real need for a facility such as this within the Borough.
· Could some additional commentary be provided with regards to the Mosaic system? Executive Member and Director response – Systems had to be kept up to date to the latest standards and specifications. There was scope for some customer requests and evidence provision to be done online in the future. The system would give better data and report management for staff and senior officers. There was no specific bid for this item as it had been re-profiled from the 2021/22 ... view the full minutes text for item 46.
To consider the Committee’s work programme
The Committee considered their work programme, set out in pages 63 to 66.
Members commented that some recent reports to the Committee had been light on information, with a more detailed verbal presentation then given at the meeting, whilst the opposite should be the case.
RESOLVED That the above point be noted.