Agenda and draft minutes

Community and Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 24th November, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: David Hicks 1 - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN. View directions

Contact: Callum Wernham  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist

Media

Items
No. Item

48.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

49.

Minutes of Previous Meetings pdf icon PDF 259 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 2021 and the minutes of the Extraordinary meeting held on 3 November 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 6 October 2021, and the Minutes of the extraordinary meeting of the Committee held on 3 November 2021 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman subject to the following points of clarification and minor amendments.

 

6 October 2021

 

·           Had MPs and Government Ministers been contacted regarding a fair funding settlement for Wokingham Borough Council (WBC)? Response – John Redwood, Theresa May and James Sunderland had been contacted, and a letter was being drafted with regards to adult social care funding. The Borough’s MPs had also spoken to Ministers including Michael Gove, and further representations were being made.

 

·           Were the proposed bids not inclusive of any potential costs relating to materials or labour? Response – The proposed bids were a ‘lockdown one’ version, which was consistent with the original summary presented to the Committee in July. Any changes as a result of the Local Government Finance Settlement would be taken back to the Committee at a later date.

 

·           Agenda page 12, bullet point 7 should read “Had meaningful discussions taken place with the police with regards to antisocial behaviour, and the move of this aspect of the service back in-house? Officer response – Discussions had been had with the police since the beginning of this process with the police were beginning to take place, and discussions had also taken place with the Community Safety Partnership….”

 

3 November 2021

 

·           Addition of the following comment into minute item 45 “Members commented that the inclusion of the full report reviewing the BME Forum would have been invaluable to aid the scrutiny of this item.”

 

·           Addition to minute item 46 as follows “The financial consequences if the Government’s Adult Social Care reforms were unknown until the white paper was published early 2022, however the financial implications on WBC could total £20m.”

 

·           More detail regarding the impacts on WBC regarding the delay of the special educational needs school in Winnersh would be sought. It was commented that the DfE had been overoptimistic regarding delivery of this project, as now the project would not be delivered until at least Easter 2022. The DfE would assess costs and WBC would submit alternate arrangements and associated costs to the DfE for recompense.

 

·           Addition to the final bullet point of minute item 46 as follows: “The Executive Member, Director, and all staff within the service were thanked for all of their hard work in retaining staff and keeping social workers with the same children. Special thanks were extended to Carol Cammiss for all of her hard work and effort as the Director of Children’s Services since 2018, and the Committee extended their best wishes to her as she moved on to work at a different Local Authority.”

50.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

51.

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

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

52.

Member Question Time

To answer any member questions.

Minutes:

There were no Member questions.

 

53.

Vegetation Maintenance pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive a presentation regarding vegetation maintenance.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a presentation, set out in agenda pages 25 to 30, which gave an update on vegetation maintenance in the Borough.

 

The presentation outlined the different maintenance contracts, primarily the ground maintenance contract with Tovoli Group Ltd, the highways reactive maintenance contract with Volker Highways, and the street cleansing contract with Volker Highways which was sub-contracted to Urbaser Ltd. The clienting model was under review, whilst the highways contract had been realigned. The next steps for these contracts included an improved reporting system and integration, map accessibility for residents, and a dedicated officer to be focussed on grounds maintenance and street cleansing.

 

Richard Bisset (Lead Specialist, Place Clienting), Andy Glencross (Assistant Director – Highways), Steve Moore (Interim Director – Place & Growth), and Emma Pilgrim (Specialist – Place Clienting) attended the meeting to answer Member queries.

 

During the ensuing discussions, Members raised the following points and queries:

 

·           What more could be done to clarify which areas were deliberately designated as wilding areas, and which were in need of maintenance? Officer response – Officers were working with the Trees and Biodiversity Task and Finish Group to develop a clear plan to allow residents to know which areas were designated for wilding, and which were not.

 

·           Could a page be placed on the Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) website or within the Borough News which outlined kerbside maintenance schedules? Officer response – Officers agreed that this was an issue for residents, and the past year had seen difficulties with weed spraying and officers were adjusting the timings for next year to prevent as many issues regarding this. 

 

·           Members commented that clearing the growth on the side of carriageways prior to the growing season commencing could help with some of the recurring issues associated with weed growth.

 

·           Was the page on the website detailing when a road had been cleaned automatically updated, rather than manually updated by an officer once it was confirmed that the cleaning had taken place? Executive Member and officer response – Yes, the page updated on the day of the scheduled clean to state that the clean had taken place. Street cleaning was a very important issue, and if soil and debris were not swept up quickly it would lead to germination and the spread of weeds. The contract in place was of high quality, and the team was doing great work to reduce the likelihood of vegetation occurring in the first place. It could be that telling residents about the expected frequency of cleansing particular roads rather than naming specific dates would be more useful for all parties.

 

·           Could vegetation maintenance become more proactive so that some sites would not be required to be repeatedly reported, and instead added to a schedule for maintenance? Officer response – Historically there had been issues with mapping highway hedges, which was now being proactively worked on to programme works over the winter period. Sites which had been reported over the past, including cycle ways, would be maintained over the winter period  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

MTFP 2022-25 - Communities, Insight & Change; Resources & Assets; and Place & Growth Proposed Capital and Revenue Bids pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To consider the proposed Capital and Revenue bids for the Communities, Insight & Change; Resources & Assets; and Place & Growth Directorates.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report, set out in agenda pages 31 to 168, which set out the revenue and capital bids for the Directorates encompassing Communities, Insight and Change, Place and Growth, and Resources and Assets.

 

Due to time constraints, the Committee only considered the proposed revenue and capital bids for the Place and Growth Directorate. The proposed bids for the remaining Directorates would be considered at a future meeting of the Committee.

 

Parry Batth (Executive Member for Environment and Leisure), Pauline Jorgensen (Executive Member for Highways and Transport), John Kaiser (Executive Member for Finance and Housing), Wayne Smith (Executive Member for Planning and Enforcement), Bill Soane (Executive Member for Neighbourhood and Communities), Graham Ebers (Deputy Chief Executive (Director of Resources and Assets), Steve Moore (Interim Director – Place and Growth), Mark Cupit (Assistant Director, Delivery & Infrastructure), Andy Glencross (Assistant Director – Highways), Richard Bisset (Senior Specialist – Place Clienting), Marcia Head (Service Manager – Place and Growth), and Francesca Hobson (Service Manager  – Community, Heritage, Green and Blue Infrastructure) attended the meeting to answer Member queries.

 

It was noted that many of the bids were returning bids from previous years’ Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) versions.

 

During the ensuing discussions, Members raised the following points and queries:

 

·           In relation to PG R1, optimise parking income, a Member expressed disappointment that the proposed increase of parking charges and benchmarking from other Councils were not included within the agenda pack.

 

·           In relation to PG R1, optimise parking income, were there registered risks in case the budgeted income was not achieved? Executive Member and Interim Director response – Parking income was slowly recovering, with footfall back to normal levels within the town centres, however car parking was yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. The Denmark Street car park was now larger, and therefore there was potential for additional income from that car park. It was extremely difficult to forecast parking revenue, and supplementary estimates would be taken back to the Executive if required. The general fund balance included a comprehensive risk analysis, and would be available if necessary to cover any shortfall.

 

·           What was the timeframe for the parking revenue recovery plan, and would there be an opportunity to scrutinise this plan once it was ready? Officer response – This was part of a wider piece of work which was being prepared and was hoped to be completed by the middle of 2022, and there were currently no envisaged issues with the plan being reviewed by the Committee when appropriate.

 

·           In relation to PG R3, additional civil parking enforcement operatives, would the additional resource remain only on-street to tackle road safety issues, and how had the predicted additional income been calculated? Executive Member response – Civil parking enforcement was a cost neutral service of which income was ring-fenced. The additional resource would be used to target problem areas across the Borough. The predicted income was assessed on the current civil parking enforcement officers’ work.

 

·           In relation to PG R4, income from park  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 19 KB

To consider the work programme for the remainder of the municipal year.

Minutes:

The Committee considered their work programme, set out in agenda pages 169 to 172.

 

It was noted that the agenda for the January 2022 Committee meeting may be required to be shortened to allow time to consider any changes to budgetary proposals following the outcome of the Local Government Finance Settlement at the end of 2021.

 

It was noted that a potential additional meeting in February 2022 may be required to consider upcoming items.

 

RESOLVED That the work programme be noted.