Referrals from other bodies
To consider referrals from other bodies (e.g. Cabinet)
i) Finance Updates including referrals from Cabinet
Members considered finance updates and approvals that required approval from full Council, either directly or as a referral from a recommendation from Cabinet.
Councillor Hilton explained that the report sought Council’s approval for a number of changes to the Fees and Charges report approved at full Council in February and a further slippage in the 2020/21 capital programme. He explained that there were a number of corrections to the registrars’ charges. As people may book a registrar service a year in advance the charges for both 2021/22 and 2022/2023 should have been included. Appendix A to the report detailed both the 2021/22 and 2022/23 charges.
From 30 June 2021 this year the shared building control services contract with Wokingham and West Berkshire Council would cease. Building control services would then be provided by the Royal Borough and fees and charges agreed as part of the Shared Service agreement would become the council’s responsibility. The fees and charges agreed for 2021/22 for the shared services were proposed to continue to be implemented by the Council.
The delivery framework for the Thames Basins Heath Special Protection Area requires the provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SAANG) as mitigation for development within 5 kilometres of the SPA. Developers were charged for the use of this green space. The schedule of charges was missed from the fees and charges schedule so were added as in appendix C.
A number of clarifications to Highways fees and charges were shown in Appendix D. The main changes were the separation of the administration fee from the licence fee to make the charges more transparent. Some gaps in the fee structure relating to unauthorised hoardings, scaffolding etc on major and highway amenity roads were also included.
At Cabinet on 25 March 2021an increase in slippage in the capital programme by £9,917,000 was reported bringing to total to £34.911mn. The additional slippage was mainly Local Enterprise Partnership schemes and some highways, schools and property schemes. The list of schemes first published with the 25 March 2021 Finance Update report was shown in appendix E.
Councillor Baldwin expressed concern that a number of the mandatory consultees listed in the table on page 92 of the agenda had not commented on the report.
Councillor L. Jones commented that she supported the report coming forward as a step towards transparency.
Councillor Johnson thanked Councillor Jones for her comments on transparency.
Councillor Hilton echoed the thanks. All issues that required approval by full Council would as a matter of course come forward to full Council.
It was proposed by Councillor Hilton, seconded by Councillor Johnson, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Councilnotes the report and:
i) Approves the clarification to the fees and charges for Registrars 2021/22 set out in Appendix A.
ii) Approves the proposed Building Control fees and charges for the period from 1st July 2021 to 31st March 2022 set out in Appendix B
iii) Approves the Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) fees as part of the Strategic Access Management Monitoring (SAMM) fees for 2020/21 set out in Appendix C
iv) Approves the changes and clarifications to the Highways fees and charges for 2021/22 set out in Appendix D
v) Approves the forecast slippage recommended by Cabinet at its meeting on 25 March 2021, as included within the Finance Update report. Scheme detail is set out in Appendix E.
ii) Code of Conduct
Members considered the new recommended Code of Conduct which had been published by the Local Government Association.
Councillor Rayner commented that this was an incredibly important report. When elected, Members took on a special responsibility to behave in a certain manner. She thanked the cross-party members on the Member Standards Panel for their input, as well as the work undertaken by the Monitoring Officer and Deputy Monitoring Officer. The Panel had agreed to recommend the model code with one amendment which would keep the value of gifts and hospitality to declare at £25. A new training programme would be developed and implemented. The model code had been discussed with parish councils at a recent meeting. The issue of sanctions would be reviewed at a later date.
Councillor Werner commented that he welcomed the changes. He was particularly pleased that the £25 limit would remain. He had referred the issue of recurring gift declarations to the Constitution Working Group.
Councillor Johnson commented that he welcomed the £25 limit being maintained; there was cross-party consensus on this. He broadly welcomed the adoption of a new code of conduct. In future he would like it to go further to ensure a high standard of ethics, probity, and civility particularly in relation to social media.
It was proposed by Councillor Rayner, seconded by Councillor Johnson, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Council:
i) Adopts the Model Code, with an amendment to lower the threshold for gifts and hospitality to £25 from £50 and addition of the following requirement, included in the current code:
· You must undertake training arranged by the Council on equality and diversity within two calendar months of your election and annually thereafter
ii) That a training programme for the new adopted Code be developed and presented by the Monitoring Officer after the next Council elections for the benefit of all new and existing councillors