Thursday, 24th September, 2015 7.30 pm
24 SEPTEMBER 2015
PRESENT: Councillors David Burbage (Chairman), Phillip Bicknell (Deputy Chairman & Education), Simon Dudley (Finance), David Coppinger (Adult Services), Carwyn Cox (Environmental Services), Geoff Hill (Customer and Business Services), Derek Wilson (Planning) Natasha Airey (Youth Services and Safeguarding), Colin Rayner (Highways and Transport) and Christine Bateson (Chief Whip, Neighbourhood Planning, Ascot & Sunnings).
Principal Members also in attendance: Claire Stretton (Culture and Communities), Phillip Love (Maidenhead Regeneration), Paul Brimacombe (Transformation and Performance) and George Bathurst (Policy).
Also in attendance: Cllr Werner
Officers: Alison Alexander, Andrew Brooker, Elaine Browne, Louisa Deane, Richard Ellis, Simon Fletcher, Dr. Lise Llewellyn, Christabel Shawcross, Karen Shepherd, Chris Targowski and Anna Trott.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Councillor Dudley declared an interest in the item ‘Expansion of Secondary Provision’ as both a Founder of Holyport College and also the Chair of Governors. His wife was also a Founder and governor at Holyport College. Hi wife was also a governor at Furze Platt Senior.
Councillor Dudley declared an interest in relation to the item ‘Financial Update’ as Chair of Governors at Riverside Primary.
Councillor Bicknell declared an interest in the item ‘Expansion of Secondary Provision’ as his son was Director of Sport at Holyport College.
Councillor Mrs Bateson declared an interest in the item ‘Expansion of Secondary Provision’ as a Governor of Charters School.
Councillor D. Wilson declared an interest in the item ‘Expansion of Secondary Provision’ as a Governor of Desborough College.
Councillor D. Wilson declared an interest in the item ‘S106 Income/Expenditure Report 2014-2015’ as a Board Member on Housing Solutions.
Councillor Bathurst declared a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in the item ‘S106 Income/Expenditure Report 2014-2015’ due to his involvement in the Windsor Link Railway. He left the room for the duration of the discussion and voting on the item.
Councillor Rayner declared an interest in the item ‘S106 Income/Expenditure Report 2014-2015’ as he was a Trustee of a number of trusts that had in the past paid Section 106 to the council.
Councillors Burbage, Dudley and D. Wilson declared personal interests in the item ‘Council Manifesto Tracker’ as Members of Bray Parish Council.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That:
- i) The Part I minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 27 August 2015 be approved.
- ii) The minutes of Cabinet Participatory Budget Sub Committee meeting held on 19 August 2015 be noted.
The chairman thanked Richard Ellis, Strategic Director of Corporate Services for his services to the borough, as this was his last meeting. Richard had been a reliable, helpful and supportive Director. The Chairman wished him the best for his future.
FORWARD PLAN – OCTOBER 2015 – JANUARY 2016 2015
Cabinet considered the contents of the Forward Plan for the next four months and noted the changes that had been made to the plan since the last meeting. In addition it was noted that:
- The item ‘Improving Services for People with Learning Disabilities - Reprovision of Care and Support from Mokattam Residential Care Home’, originally scheduled for October 2015, would be deferred to November 2015.
The item ‘Drug and Alcohol Service – Substitute Prescribing and Recovery Service Contract Procurement’ was being withdrawn from the agenda following constructive comments from both Overview & Scrutiny Panels and key stakeholders.
The report ‘DAAT Consultation and Review Timetable’ would be presented to Cabinet in October 2015.
The item ‘CIL – Approval of Rates and Agreement to Submit for Examination’ would be presented to Cabinet in November 2015.
The item ‘Windsor Office Accommodation Update’ would be deferred form October to November 2015.
CABINET MEMBERS’ REPORTS
Council Manifesto Tracker
In relation to commitment 5.3, the Lead Member for Education announced that the council wanted to recognise teaching staff across the borough who demonstrated outstanding commitment. Any reward would not necessarily be financial but would ensure public recognition. The scheme would be put in place as soon as possible.
In relation to commitment 4.5, the Lead Member for Environmental Services explained that a trial was currently underway in which Community Wardens helped to enforce the night time economy with other partners. The results would be reviewed and if found to be positive, the scheme would be taken forward.
In relation to commitment 5.9 the Lead Member for Youth Services and Safeguarding explained that 50% of children requiring foster care were aged over 13. The borough had sufficient foster carers for under-10s, therefore there was a change in approach to target foster carers for teenagers. A funding bid would be made to regionalise arrangements for fostering.
In relation to commitment 2.9 the Lead Member for Highways & Transport highlighted that the council was working with the Environment Agency to ensure it delivered its promises in relation to flood schemes and maintenance.
In relation to commitment 6.6 the Chief Whip explained that charities were now being invited to put a few words in a box in Around the Royal Borough to promote themselves. The most recent edition had a page of adverts; it was hoped the next edition would allow up to 160 organisations to advertise, with a two-page spread. She welcomed the idea of the Alexander Devine Hospice promoting their fundraising calendar in the next edition.
In relation to commitment 3.10 the Lead Member for Planning highlighted that, following the council meeting on 22 September 2015, the council was a step closer to devolution of planning powers to Bray Parish Council. He also commented that the council had recently approved the planning application known as ‘The Landing’ for the regeneration of Maidenhead town centre.
In relation to commitments 13.2 and 13.4 the Principal Member for Transformation and Performance highlighted the approach taken involved both getting the right information from staff and encouraging their participation.
In relation to commitment 13.9 the Lead Member for Customer and Business Services highlighted that the time taken to process benefit claims was down to an average of 5.5 days (compared to 25 days a few years previously). This had been result of a benchmarking exercise with Rushmoor Borough Council. In relation to commitment 13.10 he explained that the next step would be defining the job description for the residents’ champion. It was hoped the post would be in place in early 2016.
In relation to commitment 7.2 the Lead Member for Adult Services and Health commented that the council had been successful in the use of technology in the home in recent years. A roadshow of potential suppliers was due to take place on 30 September 2015. Discussions with the WAM Clinical Commissioning Group were also underway to consider using technology for handling urgent patient interviews.
In relation to commitment 8.2 the Principal Member for Culture and Communities confirmed that there were currently three contenders for a new library; she would welcome any further suggestions. In relation to commitment 8.8 she would be consulting with the Lead Member for Customer and Business Services to identify which services residents would like to be able to access via libraries. The Chairman suggested the starting point should be that all services available at the Town Hall should be available at libraries, then things could be ruled things out.
In relation to commitment 1.9 the Lead Member for Finance reminded Members that the council had agreed to top up the national government’s 50% business rate discount by up to a further 50%. The programme had been re-energised and seven shops had now taken advantage of the scheme. He agreed that it would be useful to track where the requests came from for discounts.
The Principal Member for Maidenhead Regeneration highlighted that regeneration of the town was clearly on its way following the approval of the planning application. A number of opportunity areas would also be coming forward in the next few months. He announced that it had been agreed to purchase the equipment used to show films in Kidwells Park; this would enable other things to be shown, such as sporting events. The film showings were always successful in bringing people into the town centre.
The Chairman thanked colleagues and officers for the work already undertaken on the manifesto commitments. The Lead Member for Policy highlighted that only five months into the administration and 20% of pledges were completed or close to completion. The Policy Committee was also generating innovative ideas to complement the manifesto commitments.
- RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Cabinet notes the progress in delivering the Council Manifesto Commitments
Expansion of Secondary Sector Provision
Cabinet considered amendments to the existing secondary sector expansion plans and timetable. The Lead Member explained that it was the council’s ambition to get all schools to the position to provide the very best outcomes for young people in the borough. The £20m programme would provide 1380 places in Phase I, with a further 210 in Maidenhead in Phase II. Head teachers had been consulted on the criteria used. The Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Panel had unanimously endorsed the proposals.
The Lead Member explained that it had been decided not to progress with the satellite grammar idea at this stage until the outcome of the Kent scenario was clear. If the outcome was positive, the borough would be ready to progress. The Lead Member commented that £6.6m of the funding was as yet unbudgeted. Some funding would come from Section 106 and CIL. The council would need to top up the funding if necessary. Each place in the programme would cost approximately £15,000. He explained that the value for money column in table 6 in the report could not be completed until designs were produced.
The School Improvement Forum, which had met earlier in the week for the first time since 2007, would look at the great schools in the borough not necessarily included in the programme as they did not need to expand at the present time. It was explained that the School Improvement Forum had been meeting each term as an officer meeting for some time. It had now been reconstituted with Member involvement.
Councillor Werner commented that he was pleased with the expansion programme and the money being invested in the borough’s children. He was however disappointed in relation to Furze Platt, which would only see an increase of 30 places one year later. Pinkneys Green parents were increasingly finding it difficult to obtain a place for their child due to the popularity of the school. This was despite the recent Ofsted report on the school. In 2011 all parents in Pinkneys Green who wanted a place at the school had received one. In 2012 this had reduced to those living with a 3 mile radius of the school. This had further diminished to 1.2 miles in 2013, 1 mile in 2014 and 0.8 miles in 2015. Councillor Werner therefore requested that officers investigate whether the increase in places could be brought forward by one year.
The Managing Director explained that the Ofsted report had led to a pause in the conversation with the school. The council had originally looked at an increase of 30 or 60 places in 2016. The school had said it would be very tight to complete the design and build and the school had felt 30 places was an appropriate level at this time. The Lead Member commented that the popularity of schools made it difficult to maintain a 10% cushion. It was important to be as scientific as possible to provide as much choice as possible to residents. He agreed that a further conversation with Furze Platt could be had and he would keep Councillor Werner up to date with progress.
The Lead Member for Finance commented that the £20.5m funding allocated to the expansion programme would remain in place irrespective of any action over a satellite grammar.
The Lead Member for Planning highlighted that Desborough College had recently received a very good rating form Ofsted and would welcome additional pupils. The Managing Director commented that the expansion programme was based on the premise that all schools would be full. There would be an opportunity for further expansion of one school in Maidenhead in the coming years, to meet the growth in need.
The Lead Member for Environmental Services asked whether the introduction of Crossrail had been accounted for in projections. It was noted that population projections were undertaken via the Local Plan but the Lead Member was unsure if this specifically included Crossrail. He would check and respond to the Lead Member for Environmental services directly.
The Principal Member for Transformation and Performance commented on the complexity of the situation, including the sibling effect and the ability of individual schools to expand.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Cabinet:
|i)||Notes the updated pupil forecasts for secondary sector provision in the Royal Borough.|
|ii)||Approves the new secondary school expansions criteria and ranking model for school expansion.|
|EXISTING SECONDARY SCHOOL EXPANSION|
|iii)||Approves changes to the expansion plan and timetable as follows:|
|iv)||Delegates to the Lead Member for Education and the Strategic Director of Children’s Services to amend, adjust and finalise the details of the re-phased works up until September 2019 including:|
Amending the timetable in response to change in demand on places.
Seeking tenders, where required, to deliver the agreed programme.
|v)||Officers’ share with Cabinet the Department for Education’s conclusion on satellite grammar schools when available.|
S106 Income/Expenditure Report 2014-2015
The Lead Member explained that the S106 scheme had been implemented in 2003 and had been very successful ever since. He referred Members to the table on page 95 of the report which detailed the amount collected per service area. Some areas had sizeable balances at year end. In relation to affordable housing, he commented that this was administered by Housing Solutions across the whole of the borough. A proposed spend of £1m had already been allocated for 2015/16. In terms of education, the balance at year end had been £6m, however £3.8m was allocated to be spent in 2015/16. The Chairman highlighted that, as detailed on page 105 of the report, Charters had been allocated £902,000 and Newlands Girls’ School had been allocated £717,000. The Chief Whip, as a governor at Charters School, explained that the funding would be used for various things including a window replacement programme, a new furnace and the refurbishment of toilets. It was noted that the funding for Newlands Girls’ School was to be used for the reconfiguration of classrooms to allow for expansion.
Councillor Rayner left the meeting at 8.25pm.
The Lead Member confirmed that Ward Members were consulted on the allocation of funding and could suggest schemes at any point in time.
The Lead Member confirmed that if S106 monies were not spent, the money could be returned to the developer. If a development changed or did not go ahead within the usual three year period, the developer would then need to re-apply and re-negotiate S106 contributions. This helped to mitigate any increase in scheme costs over time.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That:
- i) The financial report in Appendix 1 is noted.
ii) The relevant Strategic Directors are responsible for ensuring that S106 income received is utilised in a timely manner to ensure the infrastructure required to support new development is provided
iii) The relevant Strategic Directors will ensure that funds are utilised in compliance with the purpose of the legal agreement and in support of the council’s priority infrastructure projects where appropriate
Public Health - Smoking Cessation Contract Procurement
Cabinet considered the strategic goals of a new proposed approach to delivering smoking cessation services. The Lead Member commented that campaigns to stop smoking were amongst the most successful public health campaigns. Prevalence of smoking amongst over 18s was now at the lowest since records began in the 1940's. Nationally the level was 18.7% and in RBWM it was 15.5%. The council now had the opportunity to focus on those residents who are at most risk because the current pan-Berkshire stop smoking contract would expire in March 2016. The council believed that it could best meet the needs of residents by scoping a new contract which would target groups with specific needs: young people, pregnant women people with mental health conditions and people with learning difficulties. The new service would focus on prevention and self help with intensive support being targeted towards priority groups. Some objectives of the service could also be delivered by professional who already worked with the target groups such as school nurses, health workers and youth workers. The approach would help tackle health inequalities and build on the twin principles of prevention and early intervention. The procurement process would start, if agreed, in October 2015 and a contract award would be made by January 2016
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Cabinet:
- i. Agrees the preferred option 1 for the future stop smoking service delivery model for RBWM and delegates the final decision on the tender, pending children’s service considerations, to the Lead Member, Strategic Director for Adult, Culture and Health and Strategic Director for Children’s Services.
ii. Approves the draft service specification as set out in Appendix 1 subject to any changes due to the above.
Members noted that the item had been withdrawn.
Shared Lives and High Cost Placement Project Update
Unfortunately it was not the same situation with the Shared Lives project, which sought to provide a service whereby people with learning difficulties or older people could share the home of another family. It also had a target of £300,000 but would only achieve £65,000 in the current financial year. The provider (Ategi) claimed that they had been unable to recruit carers locally. In fact, only six residents used the service on a permanent basis and five for respite. Ategi did run a successful service in Buckinghamshire but that had taken some years to be established. In fact there were now some 25 families waiting for the opportunity to take in people in Buckinghamshire. Officers had held talks with West Berkshire who ran schemes with Reading and Wokingham to establish best practice. They had suggested collaboration with fostering recruitment teams and to look to recruit outside the borough. To mitigate underperformance an action plan had now been agreed with Ategi so that they would cooperate with the fostering team and recruitment activity would not be limited to within the borough. Ategi had been given a target of six new placements by April 2016. A further paper to discuss the longer-term options would be presented to Cabinet in December 2016. The Lead Member requested that recommendation iii therefore be amended.
The Chairman commented that the fact the scheme worked well elsewhere meant there had to be an issue with the marketing in the borough. The Principal Member for Policy commented that this was a good example of the council’s golden rule of always looking for savings but not at the detriment of residents. The Principal Member for Culture and Communities suggested the press could help to inform residents of the opportunities available.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Cabinet:
- i) Note the progress of the High Cost Placement project.
ii) Note the innovative approach to recruiting Shared Lives carers.
iii) Note that Cabinet will receive an options paper about the future of the Shared Lives scheme in December 2015.
Savings in Respect of 2016-17 Budget
Cabinet considered proposed savings for the 2016-17 budget. The Lead Member reminded Members that at Council in February 2015 savings of £7.2m were identified as being required for the 2016/17 year. Work carried out on the budget had reduced this to £5.7m. The report proposed £3.7m of savings towards this target.
The Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) revenue support grant was projected on a profile and absolute basis to be pessimistic and conservative. The Lead Member hoped the reduction would be more positive than these assumptions. The next report would include a recommendation to Council on the council’s approach to Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP). The council had significant real estate holdings that had not yet been realised and this may allow for a change in approach.
The Lead Member proposed one amendment to the savings list: to remove the saving related to concessionary fares following comments from Overview and Scrutiny Panels.
- RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That subject to Overview and Scrutiny Panel comments, Cabinet:
- (i) Recommends the savings listed in Appendix A to Council for inclusion in the 2016-17 budgets, subject to the removal of the saving relating to concessionary fares.
- (ii) Authorises Directors to implement savings plans as soon as possible.
Cabinet considered the latest financial update. The Lead Member reported a current projected overspend of £775,000, the majority of which was in Adult Social Care. On a net basis the council was projecting an underspend of £261,000 as a consequence of beneficial council tax collection rates. Reserves remained healthy. The General Fund totalled £7.123m, in excess of the recommended minimum level of £5.43m. The report recommended an addition of £500,000 to the Adult Social Care budget to alleviate some of the demographic pressures.
The Lead Member for Adult Services and Health thanked the Lead Member for the addition to the budget. He explained that every year costs followed a pattern, with a winter peak; this year costs had remained at the higher level through the summer. Additionally, pressures had increased as a result of a Supreme Court decision requiring care homes to inform local authorities of any instances of the deprivation of liberty. Councils then had a statutory duty to investigate and ensure there were no safeguarding issues in care homes. This large workload had required extra staff.
The Chairman asked how much extra cost had been incurred and whether the service was demand-led. The Strategic Director for Adult Services explained that it was a very bureaucratic process In addition to care homes, the council also had the responsibility in relation to people with learning difficulties in the community. Another legal judgement was pending that may lead to further costs. It was not the council’s responsibility to seek out instances of the deprivation of liberty; however it had a statutory duty to investigate all referrals.
The Chairman questioned the sum of £125,000 for transport modelling. The Lead Member for Planning commented that transport modelling played a key role in the preparation of the Borough Local Plan and was also used for road maintenance and design. The previous software used was out of date. The Chairman requested that officers ensure an appropriate competitive procurement process was undertaken.
The Principal Member for Transformation and Performance commented that the Audit & Performance Review Panel had recently signed off the borough’s accounts. The auditor had stated that the accounts were not qualified in any way, there were healthy reserves and had commented on the competence of the council’s accountants, which was pleasing.
The Lead Member concluded that the proposed change in MRP would come to Council in February 2016 for approval. In the meantime an underspend of £900,000 was anticipated as a consequence. This would be transferred to the Development Fund.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Cabinet:
- i) Notes that Strategic Directors in consultation with Lead Members will implement proposals that address the predicted overspend.
ii) Recommends the proposed change to the calculation of MRP to Council (paragraph 4.5).
iii) Recommends to Council that £500k is added to the Adult Social Care budget to support current pressures (paragraph 4.2).
iv) Approves the addition of a £125k revenue budget funded by the Development Fund for an update to the transport model (paragraph 4.6).
v) Recommends to Council the a £100k budget is added to the Capital Programme for 2016-17 for a Schools Participatory Budget at it’s budget setting meeting in February 2016 (paragraph 4.10).
vi) Approves the transfer of a £60k capital budget for improvements to Riverside Primary School to make it suitable for eligible two year olds (paragraph 4.9).
(Councillor Bathurst left the meeting for the duration of the discussion and the voting on the item)
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 – EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting whilst discussion took place on items 8-9 on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1-7 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.