Agenda and minutes

Community and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 21st November, 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Winnersh Community Centre, New Rd, Wokingham RG41 5DU

Contact: Arabella Yandle  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were submitted by Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey. Lindsay Ferris attended as a substitute.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 160 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2016.


The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 5 September 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Declarations 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.


Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To consider a report on progress relating to the regeneration of Wokingham Town Centre.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report, Agenda pages 11 to 60, which provided an update on the regeneration of Wokingham town centre. Councillor Mark Ashwell, Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration and Bernie Pich, Head of Town Centre Regeneration attended the meeting to answer Member questions.


Members were reminded that the previous update on the town centre regeneration project had been submitted to the Committee at its meeting on 18 October 2015. At that meeting there had been a challenge to the proposed consideration of financial information as a Part II item. Members were advised of the subsequent legal advice provided to the Council in relation to this issue. Financial information had been subsequently provided on the Council website and was included in the latest update report with no requirement to exclude the public from the discussion.


The update report reminded Members of the background to the current town centre regeneration plans, starting with the development of the Core Strategy (Local Plan) in 2004. The report gave details of the consultation exercises and expert reports which had identified Wokingham town centre as a key retail and leisure growth location. This reflected the development of 4,000 new homes adjacent to the town centre and Wokingham’s classification as an important sub-regional centre.


The report gave details of the Wokingham Town Centre Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which had been adopted in 2010 following extensive public consultation. The Masterplan described the range of infrastructure to be delivered in the town centre, including leisure, residential, highways, parking, public transport and retail. The Council’s regeneration scheme involved four priority projects in line with sites identified in the Masterplan.


The priority projects were designed to achieve the agreed objectives for regeneration and the benefits arising from the Council delivering regeneration directly. The four projects were summarised as:


·         Peach Place Refurbishment – now completed, which saw a major façade refurbishment of the Rose Street/Market Place corner;


·         Peach Place Redevelopment – which would see the creation of new retail/leisure units facing out onto Peach Street and onto a new public square facing onto Rose Street – work scheduled to commence in January 2017;


·         Elms Field and the Paddocks – which would see the creation of new retail/leisure units, food store, hotel, cinema, new road and residential units framing an enhanced town centre park – work scheduled to commence in May 2017;


·         Carnival Pool – which would see the refurbishment of the existing swimming pool and the creation of a new leisure/community centre alongside a new multi-storey car park with 529 parking spaces – work on the car park commenced in June 2016.


The report also gave details of the financial objectives agreed for the regeneration proposals. These included a requirement that the regeneration scheme must be financially viable and deliverable with a minimum 5% return on cost. The scheme must also be financially self-supporting as a commercial investment and be delivered without subsidy from local Council Tax payers. The report indicated that the combined regeneration projects were forecast to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Review of Procurement - Impact of New Procurement Regulations pdf icon PDF 240 KB

To consider a report on changes to the Council’s Procurement Regulations and the resulting benefits to the organisation.


The Chairman reported that, due to ill health, Councillor Pauline Jorgensen was unable to attend the meeting to answer questions on this item. The Chairman asked Members to submit any questions on the report, Agenda pages 61 to 65, to Neil Carr in Democratic Services. The level of Member feedback would determine whether the item should be rescheduled for a future meeting.


RESOLVED: That Members submit questions and queries on the Review of Procurement report to Neil Carr in Democratic Services.




Highways and Transport Update and Improvements to Work and Scheme Programmes pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To consider an update report on highway maintenance activities and schemes and the development of future work programmes.


The Committee considered a report, Agenda pages 67 to 70, which provided an update on highways maintenance activities and highway schemes provided by the Wokingham Highways Alliance. The alliance comprised Wokingham Borough Council, WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff and Balfour Beatty Living Places. The report also updated Members on the development of future work programmes. Alex Deans, Head of Highways and Transport, attended the meeting to answer Member questions.


The report reminded Members of the previous update report submitted to the Committee at its meeting in June 2016. The Committee had requested a further report with more information on:


·         Criteria used to determine when works are carried out and the emerging Government guidelines;

·         The move towards more integrated working within Highways and Transport and the impact of the 21st Century Council programme;

·         Initiatives to ensure that defects marked up were repaired and how improvements could be made to the overall quality of highway maintenance works;

·         Improvements to the forward planning of highway maintenance works and projects.


The report provided updates on these issues and notified Members that the existing contracts for professional services (WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff) and highway maintenance and structures (Balfour Beatty Living Places) would be extended to March 2019 in order to re-energise the Highways Alliance, interface with the 21st Century Council programme and move towards more efficient outcomes focussed contracts. The Highways and Transport team would continue to work with the alliance partners to improve communications and the customer experience.


Members raised the following questions and points:


·         Members welcomed the Highways for Members service which was speeding up response times and improving customer service. A number of examples were given of speedy responses to queries. However, it was felt that there was still room for improvement in the handling of residents’ queries.


·         Concern was expressed about the highway works by utility companies across the Borough. An example was discussed relating to the ongoing works in Rectory Road. It was confirmed that utility works were monitored and fines could be imposed if deadlines were not met. Members requested more information on the number and scale of fines imposed on utility companies and the permitted uses for the fines income.




1)      Alex Deans be thanked for the update report on Highways and Transport;


2)      further information be supplied to Members on the number and range of fines imposed on utility companies and the permitted uses for the fines income;


3)    a further update report be submitted to the Committee in 2017.




Unauthorised Traveller Encampments

To consider a presentation on unauthorised traveller encampments across the Borough.


The Committee received a presentation on unauthorised Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) encampments across the Borough. Jude Whyte, Service Manager, Neighbourhood Housing, and Deana Humphries, Housing Manager, General Needs, gave the presentation and answered Member questions.


The presentation highlighted the large increase in unauthorised encampments during 2016, with 35 encampments in the year to date. The presentation listed potential reasons for the increase. Members also discussed changes to the law in Ireland which may have increased the number of travellers in the UK.


The presentation informed Members that, in the year to date, £25k had been spent on dealing with encampments. The main items of spending were court action (£1k), waste collection and disposal (£12.5k) and security works (£10k). An example was given of the recent encampment at the Cantley sports ground.


The presentation also gave details of the process for dealing with unauthorised encampments, the S61 powers available to the police and the challenges involved in legal action and cost recovery. It also gave examples of the preventative measures being introduced at key Council sites.


Members raised the following questions and points:


·         Members felt that the timeframe for removing unauthorised encampments through legal proceedings (7 to 10 days) was too long. At the same time it was noted that private landowners could remove encampments with a shorter timeframe. It was suggested that Officers write to the Lord Chancellor's Office to request a changes to the law which would enable a quicker process for local authorities.


·         Members asked about the possibility of holding Council land within a WBC owned company. Would this arrangement enable the Council to use the same timeframe as private landowners?


·         Members welcomed the deployment of prevention measures at key sites and supported a more proactive approach to the challenges posed by unlawful encampments.




1)    Deana Humphries and Jude Whyte be thanked for the presentation to the Committee;


2)    That the Officers give further consideration to the ideas and feedback from Members, with a further update to the Committee in 2017.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 141 KB

To consider the Committee’s work programme for 2016/17.


The Committee considered its Work Programme, set out on Agenda pages 73 to 76.


RESOLVED: That the Work Programme for 2016/17 be noted.