Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Windsor
Contact: David Cook
Apologies For Absence
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received by Cllr D Evans, Cllr Pryer and Mrs White. Cllr Hunt, Cllr Ilyas and Mr Parker (secondary Heat Teacher representative) attended as substitutes.
To receive any declarations of interest.
Councillor E Wilson declared an interest in the item ‘Improving Choice in Education – Call In’ as his wife works at St Edwards Catholic First School and his son works seasonally at Eton College. He remained in the room for the duration of the discussion and voting on the item.
Mr Louden declared an interest in the item ‘Improving Choice in Education – Call In’ as he was a school governor. He remained in the room for the duration of the discussion and voting on the item.
To consider the Part I minutes of the meeting held on 16 November 2016.
The Part I minutes of the meeting held on 16 November 2016 were approved as a true and correct record.
To consider the Call In of the Cabinet report Improving Choice in Education.
The Chairman informed the Panel that the Cabinet report ‘Improving Choice in Education’ had been brought back to the Panel as it had been ‘Called In’, as a signature to the Call In Cllr Jones was asked to give an overview of the reasons why it had been Called In.
Cllr Jones informed the Panel that the report had been Called In as there was not the required detail around the recommendations for an informed decision to take place. It was felt that the report did not show viable alternatives; the Call In was not about the merits of selective education but about Members duty to have the information to scrutinise Cabinet recommendations.
A briefing note was circulated to the Panel in response to the questions raised following the call-in of the Improving Choice in Education paper with a response being provided to the questions raised.
With regards to the extent of the proposed delegations Cllr Jones was content with the answers provided in the briefing note but the process had not been included in the original Cabinet report.
With regards to the questions about what is meant by a selective school Cllr Jones mentioned that the information given was not conclusive as it looks like selection would be about academic ability however this could also include selection around sporting or arts ability
With regards to increased Cllr Jones mentioned that the reply was that local selective schools was the option, however she would have liked to have seen some mention of Windsor who did not have a mixed school. She felt that the paper did not have sufficient information about selective education.
With regards to the consultation response element of the Cabinet report Cllr Jones mentioned that when the report was considered by this Panel before Cabinet this element of the report was not discussed.
Cllr Jones mentioned that she was happy with the answers provided following the Call In and would endorse that no further action was required as long as the Portfolio Holder adheres to what was said in the briefing note moving forward.
The Chairman thanked Cllr Jones for the issues raised and introduce Ms Cooke, public speaker on behalf of Excellent Education for Everyone, a group founded by borough residents.
Ms Cooke informed the Panel that she would not go over the reasons expressed in the Call In but there were also further concerns she wished to raise. It was felt that RBWM had already wasted tax payers money in its haste to establish a satellite grammar school. She mentioned that at Cabinet the Leader had said that that the free school meal figure at William Borlase school was a disgrace, but RBWM had sought a partnership with them. She also mentioned that there was no data provided to show that Grammar Schools would do better for the borough and questioned why tax payers money / resources was being wasted when there was no law to allow new selective schools. She also mentioned that the ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To comment on the Cabinet report.
The Panel considered the Cabinet report that set out the Council’s financial performance to date in 2016-17.
The Panel noted that there was a projected £435,000 underspend on the General Fund which was an improvement of £5,000 from the November financial
monitoring report. The Council had a combined General Fund Reserves of £6,495,000 this was above the recommended minimum level set at Council.
Adults, Children & Health Services were reporting a projected outturn figure of £57,397,000 against a controllable net budget of £57,200,000, an overspend of £197,000 (0.3% overspend).
With regards to Children’s Services the main budget pressures were coming from home to school transport, MASH agency staff and legal support. There were also underspends in fostering placements, residential childcare placements and leaving care costs.
The Panel were also shown the pressures facing the dedicated schools due to high needs passenger assistance, alternative provision due to exclusion and placements of children with special education needs in non-maintained and independent special schools.
Cllr E Wilson asked what the change in legislation was that had resulted in a 65% increase in SEN spend. The Panel were informed that The Children & Families Act introduced a requirement for councils to continue to fund education provision from the ages 19 to 25 if relevant outcomes were identified. This was introduced in September 2014 however it is over recent months that the impact of this legislation was becoming apparent and it was expected that the pressure would continue.
Resolved unanimously: that the Children’s Services O&S Panel considered the Cabinet report and fully endorsed the recommendations.
To comment on the Cabinet report.
The Panel considered the Cabinet report in relation to the Schools Capital Programme.
The Panel were informed that the annual report set out the proposed capital spend ahead of the February budget setting so that officers had the opportunity to tender for projects in good time and get the most competitive prices. The report sought approval for £60,000 to start feasibility work on the higher priority schemes in the programme.
The schemes set out in Appendix A had been prioritised to ensure that the Royal Borough met its statutory duties: namely the provision of sufficient school places and ensuring those spaces, where the council was responsible for the buildings, keeping the pupils safe, dry and warm.
Schemes had been prioritised with safeguarding, health and safety, water resistance and heating considerations in mind, based on the individual site maintenance assessments. Managing health and safety risks was important and approval was requested to ensure that the highest priority fire-risk and asbestos-risk projects were dealt with.
Expansion projects were funded through a mixture of Basic Need Grant and council funding which included section 106 contributions, while maintenance projects were funded by Schools Condition Grant from the Department for Education.
(Mr Parker left the meeting)
Cllr E Wilson asked if funding from S106 would now come under CIL, if we knew how many academies had applied for funding from the conditional improvement grant and had Larchfield Nursery requested the funding that had previously not been available due to funds going to Holyport College. In response the Panel were informed that CIL money was not ring-fenced as S106 used to be, that Larchfield had been added to the list following the principles mentioned previously to keep schools safe, dry and warm and that all academies had submitted bids.
Cllr E Wilson mentioned that it was important that schools were clear how they were funded so this could be communicated to our residents.
In response to a question from Cllr Mills the Panel were informed that when replacing old boilers sustainability issues were taken into consideration.
(Cllr McWilliams left the meeting)
Resolved unanimously that: The Children’s Services O&S Panel considered the Cabinet report and fully endorsed the recommendations. The Panel recommended that the LEA contact schools, especially the smaller schools, informing them of any funding opportunities such as the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund via Salix Finance for energy efficient projects.
To comment on the Cabinet report.
The Panel considered the Cabinet report that summarised the business case, the progress on implementation and the identification of the level of support services functions that should transfer to Optalis by April 2018.
The Panel were informed that in October 2016 Cabinet approved the Royal Borough becoming an owner and shareholder in Optalis with an initial 45% ownership share at a cost of £771,302. Providing the partnership proved successful, the Shareholder Reference Group will broker a move towards an equal 50% shareholding within two years.
A full business case had been developed and was a Part II appendix to the report, the business case covered the following areas:
· Strategic rationale.
· The Optalis Partnership.
· Financial appraisal.
· Due diligence.
· Future business opportunities.
· Risks and risk management.
The Panel were informed that the transfer of services would take place under teckal exemption rules which meant that the usual procurement rules did not apply. Each council would have three members on the holding company board as directors and the report recommended that for RBWM these be Cllr Saunders, Cllr Quick and Cllr Story.
Members noted that work was being undertaken in relation to support staff with staff being identified for transfer or for a cash equivalent being given. Optalis would purchase services from the borough, for example IT, for one year while the situation was reviewed.
Cllr Hunt asked how many Members were on the Executive Board and was informed that there would be three RBWM and three from Wokingham.
Cllr E Wilson asked if the would be any conflict of interest of Board Members being directors and RBWM councillors. The Panel were informed that they would be Board members representing RBWM and at board meetings they will be making decisions about how the company can best serve local residents.
Cllr Wilson also asked a question regarding the transfer of support services and was informed that if a position allocated 75% of the role to Adult Services then they would be transferred if less volunteers would be sought, there could be restructures put in place or cash equivalent transferred.
Cllr Hunt mentioned that she was concerned about the number of staff being transferred out of the Council.
Resolved unanimously: that the Children’s Services O&S Panel considered the Cabinet report and fully endorsed the recommendations. There was some concern raised about the level of staff being transferred and the responsibilities being placed on those Councillors chosen to be the Council’s representatives on the Optalis Holding Limited Board.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 - EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC
To consider passing the following resolution:-
“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting whilst discussion takes place on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1- 7 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act"
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 takes place on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1-7 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act
Delivery of Adults Services
To note the Part II appendix.
Delivery of Children's Services
To consider the Cabinet report.