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To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 16 January 2019.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the Council meeting held on 16 January 2019 be approved and signed by the Mayor as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interests in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.
Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.
Any Member with an affected Interest in a matter must disclose the interest to the meeting. There is no requirement to withdraw from the meeting when the interest is only an affected interest, but the Monitoring Officer should be notified of the interest, if not previously notified of it, within 28 days of the meeting.
Councillor Mrs McKenzie-Boyle declared an affected interest in item 6, Financial Budgets and Revenue Plans 2019/20, by virtue of her spouse being a Trustee at South Hill Park Trust.
To include a presentation from Nick Hartwright, CEO of This is Projekt.
Presentation from This is Projekt
The Mayor welcomed Nick Hartwright, CEO of This is Projekt, who had been invited to the meeting to talk about the development of Easthampstead House for its meanwhile use as Easthampstead Works.
This is Projekt had been founded 10 years ago when Nick needed a space from which to run his small business. Nick explained that he had rented a Victorian warehouse in Bethnal Green. London and sublet shared workspaces to other small business owners. Following the sale of this unit, This is Projekt had started working with Hackney Council to develop old Local Authority buildings.
Nick explained that Projekt are a not for profit social enterprise, and were keen to facilitate community work in their buildings.
Easthampstead Works would be Projekt’s first building developed outside of London. Nick explained that the building would consist of a mixture of shared workspace and separated offices. The building would include a café and community space for classes, exhibitions and events. Projekt had been pleased with progress in Bracknell so far, and felt that the development in Easthampstead Works would complement the Lexicon.
It was hoped that Easthampstead Works would open its doors to tenants in April 2019.
In response to Members’ queries, the following points were noted:
· An Instagram account had been set up for Easthampstead Works (EasthampsteadWorks) and the website would be launched when the building opened for use (easthampsteadworks.co.uk).
· The building would be open during daytime hours for public access, and there would be flexibility for tenants to access the building at any time.
· Tenants would be encouraged to make use of apprenticeships, work experience and other learning opportunities for young people.
Mayor’s Spring Soiree
The Mayor reminded Members of his Spring Soiree on 22 March 2019 at Bracknell Rugby Club, which would involve entertainment from the Acoustic Couch and morris dancers.
Mayor’s upcoming events
The Mayor informed Members of his upcoming events. The Mayor’s Charity Quiz would be held on the evening of 5 April 2019 at Easthampstead Park Conference Centre, and the Mayor’s Charity Golf Day would be held from 9:30am on 26 April 2019 at Downshire Golf Complex.
The Mayor had been pleased to attend the Bracknell Forest Council Staff Awards on 23 January 2019, which had recognised the achievements and contributions of officers to support the Council’s values.
New Play facilities at Harvest Hill
Councillor McCracken reported that the new play area at Harvest Hill had been installed and would accommodate children from toddlers to 12 year olds. Councillor McCracken congratulated the Rangers on this piece of work.
Staff Award for the Rangers
Councillor McCracken congratulated Stephen Chown, Head of Parks & Countryside and the Rangers team who had been celebrated at the Staff Awards.
Cemetery and Crematorium donation to Thames Hospice
Councillor McCracken reported that the Cemetery and Crematorium had made a donation of £7,000 to Thames Valley Hospice. The money had been raised through metal recycling using any metals recovered after cremation. ... view the full minutes text for item 40.
To receive the Leader’s report on the work of the Executive since the Council meeting held on 16 January 2019.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Bettison, presented his report on the work of the Executive since that reported at the Council meeting on 16 January 2019. The Executive had met once on 12 February 2019.
The Council noted the Executive decisions detailed in the report. The Leader highlighted the following matters which had been considered by the Executive:
· The business case for the creation of a country park at Horseshoe Lake had been discussed. The Executive had agreed that the business case indicated that the site would be made attractive to a wider range of visitors, and would help the site to be sustainable in the long term. Concerns around traffic at the site would be addressed through the planning application process.
· The Asset Management Plan had been agreed, with a detailed action plan to underpin a five point strategy to maximise the potential use of land and buildings. A mixed commercial portfolio would be maintained.
· Following the opening of the Lexicon, the procurement process for joint ventures for other Council owned sites had begun. The redevelopment of Princess Square and development of The Deck would be particularly key in creating the walking route around the town centre.
· A local list of buildings and structures of architectural or historic interest had been agreed, and this would be a live document maintained locally.
· The Local Development Scheme (LDS) had been agreed, and would be effective from 20 February 2019.
To resolve recommendations in respect of:
· Capital Programme 2019/20 – 2021/22
· Revenue Budget 2019/20
· Council Tax 2019/20
The supporting information has been circulated as a separate document and is available with this agenda on the Council website.
The Council considered the report by the Borough Treasurer which set out the financial plans and revenue budgets for the financial year 2019/20 and the supporting information which presented the Council’s spending plans for 2019/20 and detailed budgets for the General Fund and Capital Programme.
Councillor Heydon gave a comprehensive presentation placing particular focus on the following matters:
· Councillor Heydon recognised the significance of setting the budget for the first time in the new Council Chamber, which reflected the Council’s ability to adapt to change.
· It was recognised that the national economic context was uncertain, preceding any outcome of Brexit negotiations, but that budget proposals had been developed with this uncertainty in mind.
· The proposals for a country park at Horseshoe Lake had been developed on an ‘invest to save’ approach, and would be an enhancement to the Borough’s parks and green spaces.
· The Lexicon had seen 16 million visitors during the first 12 months since its opening in September 2017. Further work was planned with the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership to refurbish Princess Square and constructing The Deck.
· The improvements on the A322 at Downshire Way had recently begun, and this would remove the final bottleneck between the M3 / M4 corridor. This project would significantly improve travel times across the Borough.
· There was uncertainty around Government funding for Local Authorities in 2020/21, following the end of the four year settlement. Bracknell Forest had responded to two Government consultation papers on fair funding review, and business rates retention agreements.
· The Berkshire authorities and Fire Service had agreed to form a business rates pool for the pilot business rates retention scheme for the second year running. This would result in £22m additional funding within Berkshire, of which £11m would be used for major transport infrastructure investment and managed by the Local Enterprise Partnership.
· Councillor Heydon thanked officers for their support for the pilot scheme, of which Bracknell Forest was set to be the biggest beneficiary in Berkshire.
· The budget consultation had received 8 responses, including one from Councillor Mrs Temperton on behalf of Labour. Councillor Heydon expressed his disappointment that so few responses had been received on such a significant issue.
· Demand for social care placements for children and adults continued to increase, adding £1.9m to the budget requirement.
· Waste PFI was increasing by £0.149m to reflect current tonnage and Energy from Waste. While this was an unwelcome increase, Members were reminded that the Council had seen quite significant reductions in the Waste PFI costs in recent years.
· The reduction in the Council’s annual grant to South Hill Park had been deferred to reflect the position around the Trust’s future finances. The Council would work to secure a long-term sustainable financial position for South Hill Park and would engage with Trustees to achieve this.
· The Council had delivered more than its £11m anticipated transformation savings by Autumn 2018, and had budgeted for a further £3m in 2019/20. A further £2m in efficiency savings had been identified.
· The corporate contingency fund had ... view the full minutes text for item 42.
Questions Submitted Under Council Procedure Rule 10
By Councillor Mrs Temperton to Councillor Bettison, Executive Member for Council Strategy and Community Cohesion:
What has the Council done to prepare for Brexit?
Councillor Mrs Temperton asked Councillor Bettison, Executive Member for Council Strategy and Community Cohesion the following published question:
What has the Council done to prepare for Brexit?
Councillor Bettison responded by expressing that he would have hoped for some certainty with regards to the Brexit agreement, however this was regrettably not the case.
The Government had allocated £210k to Bracknell Forest Council to cover a ‘no deal’ Brexit. However, the Council had taken specific actions to prepare itself for all eventualities, and Councillor Bettison outlined the following.
The Chief Executive was feeding back to the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government on a weekly basis through regional networks. The Chief Executive was also liaising with his counterpart at West Berkshire Council, who represented the two Councils on the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum.
Workforce issues were being addressed in collaboration with key service providers including social care providers, however it was not anticipated that Brexit would cause significant implications beyond the existing pressures.
A number of the Council’s IT applications were hosted within the European Union, however it was understood that due to data protection alignment between the UK and European Union this was unlikely to have immediate impact.
Skills loss across the Borough could not be influenced by the Council. Councillor Bettison explained that EU, European Economic Area, European Free Trade Area and Swiss qualified teachers would not be recognised as fully qualified teachers in the UK. It was noted that this does not apply to European Union teachers who were already recognised as qualified teachers in the UK.
The Council was not currently involved in any funding bids which would be affected by Brexit.
Additional costs or tariffs on specialist items such as health and social care equipment could not be fully known until the date of formal Brexit had been agreed.
Supplies such as food, fuel and medical supplies were being addressed through the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum. Bracknell Forest had made arrangements with ISS, who were the main provider of school meals, to source meals which used ingredients which were readily available locally.
Councillor Bettison explained that it was likely that the Government would extend the term of existing Members of European Parliament if Brexit had not been delivered by European Union elections. If this was not the case, an election may need to be arranged.
In summary, Councillor Bettison explained that the Council had done much to prepare for Brexit, and the Corporate Management Team and Senior Leadership Group were undertaking work to look at the implications of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.