Venue: Virtual Meeting. View directions
Contact: Callum Wernham Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist
To receive any apologies for absence.
An apology for absence was submitted from Keith Baker.
To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 June 2020 and the Minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 27 July 2020.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 22 June 2020, and the Minutes of the extraordinary meeting of the Committee held on 27 July 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman at a later date.
*Note* A number of Members commented that several actions that required officer responses from the previous two set of minutes had not been circulated to the Committee. It was confirmed that officers were working on the responses to the actions, and a further reminder email would be sent to the respective officers.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest.
A declaration of interest was submitted from Guy Grandison for agenda item 26, on the grounds that he was an employee for a company which provided online meeting solutions. Guy added that he did not work within the division which provided these solutions, and would take part in both the discussion and the voting for this item.
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 consider an update on Wokingham’s highways maintenance strategy.
The Committee considered a report, set out in agenda pages 19 to 24, which set out the methodology behind how Wokingham’s Highway network was maintained.
The report outlined the selection of roads to be included in the annual planned structural maintenance programme was based upon the UK Pavement Management System (UKPMS) which included annual Network Condition Surveys and our own internal design process (including site visits to check the condition survey scores and where required core sampling to establish the scale of intervention to be recommended). The report added that this approach ensured that the annual structural maintenance programme was based on meeting the highest priority needs on WBC network within the funding available.
The report noted that the maintenance of the Wokingham’s Highways network was made up of three main works streams: reactive maintenance (i.e. potholes etc.), winter maintenance (gritting), and planned structural maintenance (resurfacing, surface dressing and micro-asphalt). The UKPMS also prioritised which treatment was most appropriate for each location. Schemes were designed and drawings prepared based upon the network condition surveys, material testing and site walkover. The detailed design would then confirm the extent and scope of all resurfacing work, and would produce an updated estimated cost of each of the schemes. Once works were completed, contractors were tied into a defect period and a joint WBC and Contractor snagging inspection was undertaken to identify any remedial issues.
Pauline Jorgensen (Executive Member for Highways and Transport), Andy Glencross (Assistant Director – Highways and Transport), and Aivaras Jasiunas (Senior Specialist – Highways Asset Management) attended the meeting to answer any Member questions.
During the ensuing discussions Members raised the following points and queries:
· What was the size limit for public reported defects? Officer response – The current limit was set at 1m2, however a trial was underway to allow reported defects of up to 5m2 to be reviewed and repaired.
· Where was surface dressing not recommended for use? Officer response – Surface dressing tended to be used in rural areas, whereas micro-asphalt was used in residential areas.
· Could Town and Parish Council’s be formally approached on an annual basis when developing the rolling maintenance plan? Executive Member response – Town and Parish Councils were routinely in touch with Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) regarding the maintenance plan. The Executive Member stated that she would be happy to formally engage with then on an annual basis, in addition to the conversations that already took place.
· Could cycling routes be added as a priority within the rolling maintenance schedule? Officer response – Members were welcome to put a proposal to the Highways department and the Executive Member for consideration.
· When was the machine survey undertaken, and who owed this equipment? Officer response – The timeframe for the surveys to be completed was usually between 1st April and 1st October. The equipment was shared between the Berkshire Local Authorities.
· What were the lengths of time associated with the defect periods for surface maintenance work? Officer response – ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
To consider a report regarding virtual meeting implementation for Council meetings and the next steps for potential hybridised meetings
The Committee considered a report, set out in agenda pages 25 to 30, which outlined the implementation of virtual Council meetings, and potential next steps moving forwards.
The report stated the initial options considered during the beginning of national lockdown, and the reasons behind why some options were not implemented. A standard Microsoft Teams meeting was chosen, and broadcast using the Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) facility. This allowed the ‘flow’ of a virtual meeting to be as close to that of a standard physical meeting as possible.
The report also outlined the next steps in Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC’s) approach to holding Council meetings, including the possibility of hybridised meetings. Hybrid meetings would provide several logistical and technical challenges, however officer were working to provide solutions to be able to run these meetings in the future, in a safe and professional manner.
The report stated a selection of achievements associated with the running of virtual meetings, including running the full schedule of meetings for the past few months, and the livestreaming of all public meetings on WBC’s YouTube page.
Anne Hunter (Lead Democratic and Electoral Services Specialist) and Callum Wernham (Democratic and Electoral Services Specialist) attended the meeting to answer any Member queries.
During the ensuing discussions Members raised the following points and queries:
· Should hybrid meetings go ahead, Members within the Council Chamber would need to see and hear the same as those within the virtual call. Officer response – This was agreed, and several tests would be carried out internally prior to any public meeting being held. Participants, whether virtual or within the Council building, would see and hear as close to the same content as was possible.
· The running of virtual meetings had meant several other benefits had occurred, including less heating of the Council offices for evening meetings. This in turn met the Council’s climate emergency objectives, in addition to allowing participants to join the meeting from wherever was convenient. Hybrid meetings could present additional issues, including the cleansing of the Council chamber after meetings, additional travel to and from the Council offices, and additional heating of the building for evening meetings. Officer comment – Officers had been asked to look into the possibility of running hybrid meetings as there had been an appetite to do so from some Members. Hybrid meetings would not be ran unless they were safe for all attendees. Going forward, the plan was to webcast all meetings whether virtual, hybrid or physical. The positive climate benefits of holding virtual meetings were acknowledged by officers, in addition to the logistical benefits of being able to join a meeting from somewhere convenient.
· How many people could attend a hybrid meeting safely? Officer comment – Subject to ongoing government guidance, twenty people could be accommodated safely within the Council Chamber using a two metre separation distance. For now, only the Council Chamber could be considered for hybrid meetings due to the capacity of the room and the implementation of technology in order to enable ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
To consider the work programme for 2020/21, including the suggested scheduling of items for future meetings
The Committee considered their upcoming work programme, set out in agenda pages 31 to 36.
Officers commented that due to the number and detail of items coming to the extraordinary meeting on 22nd, it would be useful to place some approximate timings for each item, and to set aside time at the end of the meeting to form the Committee’s thoughts on the issues discussed ahead of their contribution into the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee’s report on the Council’s initial response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The Committee were advised that the revenue bids for Children’s Services and Place & Growth would swap due to the Directorships availability. For clarity, Place & Growth would be coming to the 28 October meeting, and Children’s Services would be coming to the 23 November meeting.
It was suggested that work programme item 14, relating to scrutinising the Council’s Housing Services to ensure that the needs of local residents and communities are being met, come to an upcoming meeting of the Committee. Officers commented that as Housing had only recently come to the Committee as part of Covid-19 response, it would be appropriate to ask officers for a briefing sheet to be shared with the Committee regarding this issue. If issues arose from the briefing sheet, the item could be put on the forward plan.
It was suggested that work programme item 15, relating to scrutinising the operation and performance of the Council-owned companies and shared service arrangements, come to an upcoming meeting of the Committee. Officers stated that the appropriate Services would be contacted with regards to these issues, and the Committee would be kept updated.
1) Items scheduled for discussion on 22 September have approximate timings allocated, with time set aside to form the Committee’s thoughts on the issues discussed ahead of their contribution into the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee’s report on the Council’s initial response to the Covid-19 Pandemic;
2) The change of dates for receipt of the revenue bids for Place & Growth (28 October) and Children’s Services (23 November) be noted;
3) Housing officers be asked to provide a briefing sheet with regards to work programme item 14, with a view to have an item placed on the forward plan should issues be identified;
4) The appropriate Services be contacted with regards to work programme item 15, and the Committee be kept updated with scheduling of these issues at future meetings.