Agenda item

Statements from Council Owned Companies

To receive any statements from Directors of Council Owned Companies.


In accordance with Procedure Rule 4.2.24 the total time allocated to this item shall not exceed 10 minutes, and no Director, except with the consent of Council, shall speak for more than 3 minutes.


Stuart Munro – Chairman of Wokingham Holdings Ltd.


At a high level the housing group has now become well established and I am sure that some of my colleagues will be talking about this in more detail. Bill Flood, the Managing Director of Wokingham Housing Ltd. (WHL), has been recognised as one of the most successful MD’s in the Local Government housing sector. I think it is fantastic that we have been recognised in this way.


WHL will hand over 125 new homes in the financial year to its sister housing companies and will generate a profit of £1.1m. In 2018/19 WHL will hand over a further 60 new homes at a profit of just short of £1m. This is a great result. We are really getting there.


WHL had seven projects under development and nine sites in the pipeline and these developments will provide future income, in line with their brief. These include six units of two-bedroomed houses at affordable rents at Grovelands which will provide a gross annual income of over £58k; a facility for care leavers at Reading Road providing a gross annual income of over £58k; 34 self-contained living apartments with onsite care provided by Optalis with an annual income of over £212k per annum; two two-bedroomed maisonettes for shared ownership with a sales value of over £200k and rental income of over £5k per annum, as well as the official opening of Phoenix Avenue in November and the Elizabeth Road scheme.


Alistair Auty – Chairman of Wokingham Housing Ltd.


At present Wokingham Housing Ltd (WHL) has 84 homes under construction over 9 sites. To date WHL has passed over for management to Loddon Homes and Berry Brook Homes 68 units. There are approximately 130 potential units in the development pipeline.


The documented delays at Phoenix Avenue are now behind us. Due to the delays, Liquidated and Ascertained Damages were applied which will ensure that we bring the project in under budget.


Fosters Extra Care scheme continues to progress, is to budget and will be handed over in early January. Our other schemes are making good progress and I am sure that many Members will have seen progress at 52 Reading Road, which should be completed by February and will provide much needed housing there.


We have a number of potential sites that we are working on, many in conjunction with the commissioners. That includes the first phase of Gorse Ride which will be a good challenge for WHL.


There will be an official opening event for Phoenix Avenue in the new year and all Members are welcome to attend. If Members would like more information on this event please let me know.


Finally, none of this would be possible without the excellent work of the staff within our housing companies. So my thanks go to Bill, Rachel, Darren, Holly and Karen for their hard work.


Gary Cowan – Non-Executive Director, Loddon Homes Ltd.


Alistair Auty and Stuart Munro covered the delivery of new houses which I will expand on in the New Year. Tonight I want to concentrate on Loddon Homes and the current key work on focussing that the management and care arrangements at Fosters, designed for independent living with extra care, are ready for the opening in January. The new scheme for older people replaces the former Fosters Care Home in Fosters Lane, Woodley and is fast approaching completion.


Wokingham Borough Council’s housing company, Wokingham Housing Ltd., is building the scheme for its sister company, Loddon Homes. Care will be provided by the Council’s social care company, Optalis. When complete the scheme will consist of 43 self-contained apartments all with private balconies or ground floor terraces and will have communal facilities for all residents including two lounges, a kitchen and dining room. The apartments will allow older people to live independently in the security and privacy of their own homes with additional support and care staff available if needed.


This is a scheme that all of us can be proud of in delivering and my thanks go out to the very many people who have made this happen.


Charles Margetts on behalf of Anthony Pollock, Chairman of Optalis Holdings Ltd.


The teams in Optalis from the two Boroughs of Wokingham and The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead are working closely together with staff from the both areas meeting regularly to share experiences, increase knowledge and develop improved working practices in order to improve the quality of services they are offering to the residents of both Boroughs.


We have combined and enhanced the quality assurance teams which we inherited from the two parent Councils which makes better use of our teams’ professional and practice skills and experience of the staff so that we can provide better and faster quality assurance to our practitioners.


The finance and HR support systems from both Councils are being brought together to further strengthen the company’s financial information systems, budgeting, cost control, management decision making and supporting the HR needs of our large number of front line staff. Optalis is performing in line with budget, which is expected to continue through to the end of the financial year.


Our Supported Employment Service Manager, Donna Morgans, has received the ‘highly commended’ award in the Workplace Mental Health Awards category at the Thames Valley Business Awards. The award reflects the importance Optalis places on increasing awareness of mental health and pro-actively creating a healthy, productive and transparent culture. Furthermore, we share good practice with local employers, assisting them with awareness, training, support and reasonable adjustments to become increasingly inclusive.


We work across the community with partners including all Adult Social Care services, the community Mental Health team and Transition teams. We have a prominent voice through the community, actively contributing to various local boards such as:


·           Special Educational Needs and Disabilities;

·           Implementation Group Carer’s Strategic Group;

·           Substance Misuse and Domestic Abuse Strategic Group;

·           Thames Valley Partnership for reducing reoffending through supported employment.

A key element of our service is the work we do with local careers leads to provide support for young people struggling in mainstream schools. Whether it is volunteering, work experience or paid opportunities, Optalis supports up to 300 people at any one time enter the world of work.


The award is testament to the excellent work done by Optalis in providing a sustainable long-term benefit to our customers, colleagues and the wider community.


In conclusion, Optalis continues to meet all the objectives set by the Council.


David Chopping – Chairman of Berry Brook Homes Ltd.


Most of what I wanted to say has been covered already, so I will merely add a couple of points of information.


11 properties are due to be handed over this month but the handover of the remaining 5 properties, due to be ready for the week before Christmas, will not take place until the New Year as we will not move tenants in that close to Christmas. These properties will remain the responsibility of Hill until the new year. However the handovers of 4 units at Grovelands and another 4 at Anson Walk will take place just before Christmas because there are identified people who need them.


Berry Brook Homes’ website is now live and work is on-going in developing our suite of policies and the business plan. The draft business plan financial position looks positive and shows Berry Brook should have a strong future in meeting our key objectives of providing affordable homes and an ongoing income stream for WBC. We are estimating the company will be profitable in 2020/21, having effectively broken even in 2019/20.