Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Grey Room - York House

Contact: David Cook  01628 796560

Video Stream: Click here to watch this meeting on YouTube

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

No apologies for absence received.

2.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To receive any declarations of interest

Minutes:

None received.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 325 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 28 October 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 28th October 2021 were approved.

4.

Appointments

Minutes:

None

5.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 39 KB

To consider the Forward Plan for the period December 2021 to March 2022.

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the contents of the Forward Plan for the next four months and noted the changes made since last published including the addition to December 2021 Cabinet of the Cipfa Governance Review update report.

6.

Cabinet Members' Reports

6a

Council Tax Base 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the report regarding the Councils statutory requirement to set the Council’s tax base for 2022/23.

 

The Lead Member for Finance and Ascot informed that this was a technical paper that after considering single person discounts, empty homes policy, exemption and an allowance for non-collection sets out the number of band D properties in the Borough by Parish. This information was used by the council, police, fire and rescue service and parish councils to set their precepts. The Royal Borough had amongst the highest collection rates for council tax of 99.5%. There had been an increase of 556.87 Band D properties from last year which will deliver an additional £630K of CT revenue. 

 

Resolved unanimously:  that Cabinet noted the report and:

 

i)           Approved the Council Tax base for the whole of the Borough area, for 2022/23 at 69,736.32 as detailed in this report and appendices. This is an increase of 556.87 over the 2021/22 base, a 0.80% increase.

 

ii)         Noted a Council Tax collection rate of 99.5% for 2022/23

 

iii)        Noted an estimated deficit on the Council Tax Collection Fund in 2021/22 of £376,176 of which the Council’s share is £300,000

 

6b

Demand for School Places pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the report regarding the projections of demand for school places within the Royal Borough.

 

The Deputy Chairman of Cabinet, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Health and Mental Health informed Cabinet that

 

the last eighteen months had seen a significant demographic change, with reduced net inward migration, in addition to lower birth rates, likely to significantly reduce future demand for school places over previous expectations.  There continued to be considerable uncertainty about future demand as net inward migration could return to previous levels and boost demand again.

 

The Lead Member informed that the Royal Borough was nearing completion of its secondary school expansion programme, work to expand St Peter’s Middle School and been completed earlier in the year and the project to expand Windsor Girls’ School from September 2022 was underway, with a planning application expected to be submitted by the end of the year.  He thanked officers for the level of detail within the report.

 

Cllr Tisi asked if there was a reason why there had been an increase in children looking to get their education outside the borough.  The Director for Children’s Services informed that over the last three to four years there had been an increase in the demand for grammar school places which resulted in more pupils being educated outside the Royal Borough.  There was still demand for borough school places from outside the borough as standards and choice increased.

 

Cllr Rayner mentioned the excellent work of the headteacher of Eaton Wick School as they had recently received an improved Ofsted rating of Good.  The Lead Member replied that about 97% of our schools had reached a rating of Good or Outstanding and he wanted to see this rise to 100%.

 

Resolved Unanimously:  that Cabinet notes the report.

 

6c

New Primary School Places in Maidenhead pdf icon PDF 7 MB

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the report regarding the demand for primary school places in Maidenhead.

 

The Deputy Chairman of Cabinet, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Health and Mental Health informed Cabinet that the report followed the previous report and considered the demand for primary school places in Maidenhead.  Projections indicated demand was likely to be lower than previously expected.  The report also provided the outcome of a public consultation on a number of options for providing new places. 

 

The consultation asked for views on proposals to open a new primary school on the ‘Chiltern Road’ site in Maidenhead; and to expand Larchfield Primary and Nursery School, Lowbrook Academy, St Luke’s Church of England Primary School and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.  The report proposed a strategy to allow new primary school places to be provided quickly if demand rises more quickly than now anticipated.  Consultation had also taken place with schools and the Schools Improvement Forum and Schools Forum. 

 

The Director of Children’s Services informed that with regards to recommendation 5 permission was given to start the process for a new free school on Chiltern Road if required but with regards to Larchfield Primary and Nursery School permission was only to start a consultation.

 

Cllr McWilliams said that he welcomed the report that agreed that now was not the time to expand Cox Green but glad that this was just put on hold until it was appropriate to undertake the works.

 

Resolved unanimously:  that Cabinet notes the report and:

 

i)            gives in principle agreement to the opening of a primary free school on the Chiltern Road site.

ii)          notes the inclusion of budget in the Royal Borough’s 2022/23 capital programme for new primary school provision, which could be used to fund the wider refurbishment of the site. 

iii)        requests a report in February 2022 on options for temporary occupation of the Chiltern Road site, and its refurbishment, ahead of any new free school opening.

iv)        requests that demand for primary school places in Maidenhead is kept under review, and that proposals for expansion at Lowbrook Academy, St Luke’s Church of England Primary School and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School are brought back to Cabinet for consideration in Autumn 2022, or earlier if required.

v)          delegates authority to the Executive Director of Children’s Services, in consultation with the Deputy Chairman of Cabinet, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Health and Mental Health, to:

·        start the free school competition process for a new primary school at Chiltern Road.

·        carry out public consultation on a more detailed proposal for the expansion of Larchfield Primary & Nursery School.

In both cases decisions to proceed should take into account the target of 5% surplus places, both locally and across Maidenhead as a whole.

vi)        requests a new report, in Autumn 2022, providing an update on school places and a review of the strategy for primary places in Maidenhead.

 

6d

Draft Revenue Budget 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 836 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the report regarding the Council’s proposed draft revenue budget for 2022/23 based on information as we currently know it.

 

The Lead Member for Finance and Ascot informed Cabinet that this was the third draft budget of this term he had the pleasure to present. The 2020-21 budget met, for the first time, all of the requirements of financial legislation associated with budget setting, an important step in establishing robust financial governance. 

 

Covid 19 dominated 2020-21 and but for a robust budget and government support we and many other councils could have been in s114 territory. That year saw a step change in our financial capacity and capability that enabled us to work through Covid scarring and set a balanced and workable budget for 2021-22.

 

To help balance that budget and maintain a commitment to support the most vulnerable the administration made the very challenging decision to review and transform the Library Service. Following what turned out to be a very positive consultation with residents, Parish Councils and members of the opposition, opening hours were reduced but no Libraries were closed. On all measures RBWM Libraries continue to compare favourably with the best and he could understand why the Department of Culture Media and Sport had shown an interest in our model. This Administration faced up to difficult issues.

 

The Council had just endorsed the 2021- 2026 Corporate Plan which was designed to set our focus on driving the change we want to see in the borough’s future. It was based on evidence of the most important challenges we faced and sets out our priorities for change. The revenue and capital budgets provided the resource to enable us to deliver against those goals.

 

The October Comprehensive Spending Review set out the funding available to support the 2022/23 budget. This increased grant funding by £1.6 billion a year for three years and announced that all Council’s core spending power would increase by around 6.2% including CT increases. 

 

For Windsor and Maidenhead this meant additional grant funding of £3million and this had been included in the Medium-Term Financial Plan. This was a reasonable assumption to make but it was not without risk until the final settlement was announced.

 

If correct it lead to a balanced budget for 2022/23 with Council Tax increasing by 3% made up of 2% CT and 1% Adult Social Care precept, importantly for residents the overall increase will be 2% less than last year and well below Government’s measure of inflation.

 

The draft budget was included at Appendix A on page 592. This showed key movements from the 2021/22 plan including inflation, demographic growth, reversing out more than £8 million of Covid costs. Importantly it included investment and growth bids and service savings and income generation proposals. 

 

Unlike last year proposed growth is greater than savings by £2million, where savings are made much had been re-invested into the Corporate Plans re-aligned goals and priorities and not cutting our spending.

 

The Corporate Plan sets out our priorities, goals  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6d

6e

Draft Capital Programme 2022/23 - 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the draft Capital Programme for 2022/23 – 2024/25.

 

The Lead Member for Finance and Ascot informed Cabinet that the paper sets out the draft capital strategy 2022/23 to 2024/25, the draft capital programme 2023/23 to 2024/25 and the capital cash flow.

 

he recommend that Members read the capital strategy, the strategy had been recently reviewed by the Audit and Governance Committee and they agreed it was a very readable document that clearly sets out how the Councils manages its long-term capital investment programme and how this related to the Corporate Plan.

 

Cabinet were informed that we had relatively high levels of borrowing and even with what were historically low interest rates this had an impact on the revenue budget. Our Capital programme was therefore focused on fully funded schemes and unavoidable capital investment. Using this strategy, the Capital Programme was prioritised into four key areas: 

 

·       Regeneration schemes 

·       Major Strategic Acquisitions 

·       Efficiency Projects 

·       Operational schemes 

 

These were funded from, capital grants, developer contributions in the form of S106 and CIL, partner contributions, capital receipts and prudential borrowing; With the latter leading to a charge on the revenue budget.

 

Appendix B on page 635 sets out the aggregate 3-year Capital Programme by Directorate and the following pages show eddetailed schemes. The programme would increase borrowing by £64.1 M of which £44.7 million related to schemes approved in previous years. He anticipated additional capital investment of £6.6 million and £5 million in 2023/24 and 2024/25 respectively. The impact of this was reflected in the Revenue Budget and MTF Plan

 

A number of major schemes were included in the programme that were linked to Corporate Plan priorities these were set out in appendix C on page 644 and included Affordable Housing, Broadway Car Park, Vicus Way Car Park and River Thames schemes. The total cost of these schemes over the next three years was £44,732,000. Some would enable the generation of future Capital Receipts; other schemes will generate future revenue income.

 

 Fully funded capital bids were shown in appendix D on page 644.  Constraining capital spending meant fewer capital projects for 2023/24 the most significant being:

 

·       The completion of the Vicus Way car park. 

·       There is £1.5 million to deliver against the Cycle Action Plan.

·       £6.6 million on highways and footway maintenance, surface water flooding and bridge repairs.

·       £750K on street lighting.

·       £9M the River Thames schemes.

·       £8m on affordable housing and temporary accommodation.

·       £400K For Leisure Centre maintenance and equipment upgrades.

 

Cllr Larcombe mentioned that with regards to the River Thames Scheme the paper refers to £10 million being spent on Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury and Old Windsor and borough wide schemes.  The report later refers to £8 million on River Thames Schemes.  He said that flooding was mentioned in various places throughout the report and although it was not right to have all in a single line but he asked if they could all be listed together.  He asked if the £10 million was for Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6e

6f

Transformation of Day Opportunities pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the report regarding the recommended changes to the day opportunities model for older people and people with a learning disability.

 

The Deputy Chairman of Cabinet, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Health and Mental Health informed Cabinet that he sought their approval to implement the recommended changes to the day opportunities model for older people and people with a learning disability to ensure that services meet the needs and aspirations of residents.

 

The original proposal recommended the closure of Windsor Day Centre and Oakbridge Day Centre and retaining Boyn Grove Centre to enable a building bases service for people who needed one. This would be complemented by a service out in the community for those people who do not want or need to be building based.

 

Consultation was undertaken, he thanked Cllr Rayner for her work in Windsor, and   needs analysis, the final recommendations are to close Windsor Day Centre and Oakbridge Day Centre, retaining Boyn Grove for older people and people with a learning disability. 102 survey responses were received: 57 people (66%) told us they were either a person who used current day services or their family carers, the remaining 45 people were either members of the public who did not currently use services or from groups representing the community.

 

For people with a learning disability who need a building-based service in the Windsor area, the recommendation was to create a smaller building-based day centre offer for people with a learning disability in Windsor at the Mencap building.  There were already building-based day centres with sufficient vacancies for older people in the Windsor area, Spencer Denney Day Centre operated by Age Concern Windsor and The Old Windsor Day Centre run by Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East. Both day centres receive grant funding from the Council.

 

Should the recommendations be approved it would ensure that there were building-based day opportunities across the borough and also provided community-based services for people who either did not want or need to be in a day centre.

 

The Lead Member for Finance and Ascot mentioned how 14 years ago in Ascot it was decided to provide transport from those who needed support for shopping trips.  Providing this support they learnt that there was a desire to be a part of the community and not just go to day centres.  These proposals allowed people to choose the type of service and support was best for them. 

 

Cllr Davies thanked officers for mailing the consultation as it was difficult to undertake during lockdown.  She mentioned that with regards to Oakbridge Day Centre there were residents who used the building and it was planned to provide alternative provision at the Mencap building in Windsor, however this was dependent on capital funding for upgrading the disabled use toilets and adaptations to the kitchen.  She asked if this funding was not secured what would be done.  She was informed that if capital funding was not available they would still look at meeting these needs.  The Care  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6f

6g

2021/22 Finance update report - Revenue and Capital Month 6 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the report regarding the latest financial update.

 

The Lead Member for Finance and Ascot informed Cabinet that as we moved further into the year the availability of transactional and operational data had created greater certainty over the year end outturn position and most services had improved. We now projected a favourable variance of £46K on the revised revenue budget which was an improvement of £389K on month 4.

 

Cabinet were informed that at the year-end general reserves were now projected to be £7.105M and above the minimum level of £6.7M.  There had been a host of budget movements, so he highlighted those that he saw as significant. 

 

In children’s Services the picture was complicated, particularly for the deprived, Covid had been the cause of increased domestic abuse, increased levels of referrals and greater complexity of need for children needing placements. This all added to cost but it is made worse, because there was a supply shortage of care places and care providers had opportunistically increased charges. In 2019 a high-end placement cost £250K a year today the has doubled to £500K.

 

He was delighted to see that the tender for Home to School transport had changed a projected £254K overspend into an underspend of £50K.

 

Finance had legitimately used just over £500K of the Control Outbreak Management Fund to support the cost of children’s placements.

 

With regards to the Dedicated Schools Grant, over the years the deficit had increased to £3.4M. In a recent conversation with the Director of Children’s Services’  there was a risk that the council might be called upon to support the deficit, rather then just the schools. The Lead Member had agreed that additional context on this risk would added to the month 8 Finance monitoring report.

 

Place had suffered more than any other directorate with loss of income, parking revenues in Windsor and Maidenhead were 68% of the budget but based on this data £3Million of the covid reserve allocated to parking would cover the loss. 

 

Leisure centres, run by Leisure Focus, were having a difficult year and, although it was not clear, thanks to Sales Fees and Charges, we would have some income in the order of £500K. We had entrusted some of our most significant revenue generating assets to Leisure Focus, a presentation by Mark Camp-Overy the MD, gave him some confidence that he will improve our leisure offer to residents and sensitively add a dash of commercialism that would increase the financial return.

 

In Adult Social Care the reported overspend on Mental Health Services sets into sharp relief the impact that Covid has had on some people’s lives. Overall ASC was forecasting an overspend of £506K or 1.2% of their £40M budget. Table 19 on page 744 showed that across all services the number of people requiring a service had increased from just over 1000 to 1153 an increase of 11.5% So he might have expected the overspend to be higher. The council have had continuing funding support from the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6g

6h

Achieving for Children Reserved Matter Contract Awards (External Audit Services) pdf icon PDF 263 KB

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the report regarding Achieving for Children Reserved Matter Contract Awards.

 

The Deputy Chairman of Cabinet, Adult Social Care, Children’s Services, Health and Mental Health informed cabinet that the appointment of Achieving for Children’s independent external auditor was a matter reserved to Cabinet as part of the Local Authority governance in its role as an owner of AfC.  The existing contract with Grant Thornton LLP come to an end this year and AfC requires new independent external auditors to be in place for January 2022. 

 

The report outlined the approach to the procurement and, due to the complexity involved in requiring a procurement decision from all three of AfC's owning councils, it is requested that authority be delegated to the Royal Borough’s S151 officer in consultation with himself as Lead Member to approve the new auditor alongside their equivalents in London Borough of Richmond and Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. 

 

Resolved unanimously:  that Cabinet notes the report and:

 

Delegates to the Council’s S151 Officer in consultation with the Lead Member for Adult Social Care, Health, Mental Health and Children’s Services the appointment of the new independent external auditor for Achieving for Children.

6i

Provision of Internal Audit Services pdf icon PDF 232 KB

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the report regarding the provision of internal audit services.

 

The Lead Member for Finance and Ascot informed Cabinet that the Council entered into a shared internal audit agreement with Wokingham Borough Council which for a number of reasons had not met expectations, the council gave notice and the agreement would terminate on the 31st March 2022.  An evaluation of options for internal audit established a partnership arrangement as the preferred option.

 

A number of partnerships were approached and only the South West Audit Partnership put forward a proposal that met the Council’s needs, improves the service and saves money. The partnership included 6 county and unitary authorities, 8 districts and 11 police authorities.

 

The Audit and Governance Committee considered the report on the 21st October 2021, asked some challenging questions and endorsed the proposals.

 

Resolved unanimously:  that Cabinet considers the recommendation of Audit and Governance Committee, notes the report and agrees that:

 

i)               The Council becomes a member of South West Audit Partnership for the delivery of internal audit services from 1st April 2022.

ii)             The Chairman of Audit and Governance Committee is appointed as the Council’s representative on SWAP’s Owners’ Board.

 

 

 

7.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 - EXCLUSION OF THE 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 items 8 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"

Minutes:

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That under Section 100(A)(4) od the Local Government Act 1972, the public were excluded from the remainder of the meeting whilst discussion took place on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1 and 3 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.

8.

Cabinet Members' Reports

8a

New Primary School Places in Maidenhead

Minutes:

Cabinet noted the Part II appendix.