Venue: David Hicks 1 - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN. View directions
Contact: Arabella Yandle Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were submitted from Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey (Ian Pittock attended as a substitute).
To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 6 November 2017
The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 6 November 2017 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
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 consider an update on the progress towards and impact of the Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration
The Committee considered a report, set out on Agenda pages 9 to 18, which provided an update on the Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration projects. The Regeneration projects comprised:
· Peach Place (the area behind the current blue hoardings and the adjacent part of Rose Street);
· Carnival Phase 1 (the new multi-storey car park and ground floor leisure unit);
· Elms Field (the former Wellington House site, the park and the Paddocks car park);
· Carnival Phase 2 (the area made up of the leisure centre, adjacent offices and former bowling alley site).
In relation to Peach Place, the report stated that the development was progressing well and remained on target for completion by Xmas 2018. The Council had also purchased the former M&S site which was now undergoing a detailed options appraisal. In the short term the M&S site would be let to a charitable organisation. The Executive had also agreed that the 22 apartments in the development would be leased to a Council-owned housing company for the provision of key worker housing.
In relation to Carnival Phase 1, the multi-storey car park was now operational and the new bowling alley/laser quest facility opened in November 2017. The multi-storey car park had been developed as part of the Council’s strategic approach to parking in the longer term, meeting capacity requirements when the Paddocks car park closes and serving vehicles entering the town from the south.
In relation to Elms Field, the Council was finalising detailed negotiations with its preferred partner, McLaughlin and Harvey. The overall completion target remained as the end of 2019 to 2020. Pre-construction works were ongoing with a more detailed programme of phasing and works to be released shortly.
In relation to Carnival Phase 2, the Council had decided to build a new leisure centre which would improve the site layout and deliver better value for money. The revised layout would also allow the relocation of Wokingham Library. Work on Carnival Phase 2 would commence following completion of the new Bulmershe leisure centre and significant progress on the Elms Field project.
The report noted that the ongoing Market Place improvement project was being managed separately. Members would receive a briefing note on progress relating to the Market Place. The report also gave details of the impact of the regeneration in relation to town centre roads, footpaths and car parks.
In relation to local businesses and shops, the report set out a number of initiatives such as Free after Three parking, regular communication, awareness raising, events and promotion of the town and its businesses.
The report also gave an assessment of national and local retail conditions. Whilst the national average vacancy rate (empty shops) stood at around 11% to 12% the vacancy rate for Wokingham stood at 1% (based on 182 commercial units). The Council had also secured strong pre-lets for Elms Field including Aldi, Everyman Cinema and Premier Inn.
In the ensuing discussion Members raised the following points and questions:
· In relation to the short term let of ... view the full minutes text for item 34.
To consider the development of the annual work programme.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 19 to 26, which provided an update on highways maintenance activity and the planned highway maintenance programme for the year ahead.
The programme would be delivered as part of the final year of the Wokingham Highways Alliance, the partnership between the Council, WSP Professional Services and Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP). The programme included:
· highway safety inspections, reactive works and assurance checks;
· the highway maintenance programme for 2018/19;
· major highway projects to support the Strategic Development Locations (SDLs);
· highways and transport communications initiatives;
· improvements underway and proposals for new contracts from April 2019.
The report gave details of the implementation of the Council’s Highways Maintenance Management Plan 2013 and the adopted Highways Asset Management Policy and Strategy 2016. Effective asset management reduced the need for reactive works including patching and pothole filling which, in turn, delivered better value for money.
In relation to the SDLs the Council was progressing new distributor roads comprising the North and South Wokingham Distributor Roads, Winnersh Relief Road and Arborfield Cross Relief Road. Details of the construction programme for the relief roads would be circulated to local communities early in 2018.
The report gave details of new requirements from Central Government including self-assessments relating to asset management and service efficiency and a new code of practice on Well Maintained Highways.
The report also provided an update on communications initiatives aimed at more joined up working and better information flows for residents and Town and Parish Councils. The service had also carried out a Highways and Transport survey in November/December 2017.
Members were informed that Highways England had been invited to attend the meeting to provide an update on Smart Motorways. Unfortunately, it was not possible to send a representative due to other commitments. However, Highways England would be happy to provide a representative at a future meeting.
In the ensuing discussion Members raised the following points and questions:
· How were schemes prioritised for inclusion in the Structural Maintenance Roads Programme and was it possible to share data on individual roads with Ward Members? It was confirmed that priorities were determined following a technical evaluation. Members queried whether the evaluation process included residential roads. It was confirmed that residential roads were included and that all roads were inspected annually.
· (Note: it was subsequently reported that it was not currently possible to share data on the inspection of individual roads. However, the new Highways and Transport contract (April 2019) would include an improved IT solution which would include improved data and improved access for Members and residents.)
· In relation to the 30,000 road gullies in the Borough, what checks were made to ensure that the contractor was carrying out the works effectively? It was confirmed that a new contractor had been appointed and that regular monitoring inspections were ongoing.
· In relation to the challenges facing the Council, what were the implications of the projected uptake in electric vehicles? It was confirmed that infrastructure issues such as charging ... view the full minutes text for item 35.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 27 to 30, which gave details of the options for the timing of the election count following the local elections on 3 May 2018.
The report stated that, on 3 May 2018, there would be elections to seats in 18 out of the 25 Borough wards. In addition there would be elections for four Parish Councils, which may or may not be contested.
The report outlined the options for holding the count which were:
· Option 1 - Immediately following the close of polls at 10pm and overnight through the early hours of 4 May;
· Option 2 - Later in the day on 4 May;
· Option 3 - Saturday 5 May.
The report outlined the pros and cons for each option and concluded that Option 1 was the most effective, taking into account the needs of all stakeholders.
RESOLVED: That the proposal to hold the Borough and Parish election counts immediately following the close of polls on 3 May 2018 be supported.
To consider the work programme for the municipal year 2018-19
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 31-32, which gave details of the Committee’s Work Programme.
1) the published Work Programme be noted;
2) the Federation of Small Businesses be invited to a future meeting of the Committee to provide feedback on the impact of the Town Centre Regeneration and Market Place schemes;
3) Members contact Democratic Services with suggestions for future Scrutiny items. (Note: David Sleight subsequently submitted a request for an item relating to the ongoing justification for the proposed Coppid Beech Park and Ride).
Exclusion of the Public
That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as appropriate.
There were no items subject to exclusion.