Agenda and minutes

Environment, Culture and Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 18 September 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Time Square, Market Street, Bracknell, RG12 1JD. View directions

Contact: Louise Connelly  01344 354047

No. Item


Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Environment, Culture and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel held on 3 July 2018. The actions arising from the previous panel meeting are appended to the minutes.

Additional documents:


Councillor Mrs McKenzie requested her apologies be added to the minutes 3 July 2018.


Subject to the amendment above it was RESOLVED that the minutes of the meetings of the Environment, Culture and Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel held on 3 July 2018 be approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


Declarations of Interest and Party Whip

Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interests and the nature of that interest, including the existence and nature of the party whip, 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.


There were no declarations.


There were no indications that members would be participating while under the party whip.


Urgent Items of Business

Any other items which, pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman decides are urgent.


Bracknell Shopmobility

The Chairman informed members he had recently received a letter from Bracknell Shopmobility which requested the charity’s grant reduction be brought to the ECC Panel’s attention. The letter from Acting Chairman of Bracknell Shopmobility,  Bob Draper, argued previous assumptions regarding increased footfall to Bracknell Town Centre had not resulted in increased traffic to their shop in Princess Square or helped alleviate the effect of grant reductions. Members noted Bracknell Shopmobility, similarly to other grant funded organisations, had been given four years notice to plan for their grant reduction. They queried how much the reduction over four years equated to and the Chairman said it was approximately £30k per annum. The Panel noted the letter had been sent to the Leader of the Council and agreed the Chairman write a letter to the Acting Chairman of Bracknell Shopmobility reflecting the fact they had discussed the issue as requested.



·         Chairman to send a letter to the Acting Chairman of Bracknell Shopmobility reflecting discussion at the meeting.

·         Governance & Scrutiny Co-ordinator to send extract of minutes relating to this item to the Leader of the Council.


Public Participation

To receive submissions from members of the public which have been submitted in advance in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.


No submissions had been made by members of the public under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.


Leisure Transformation Review pdf icon PDF 137 KB

The Panel are asked to consider the update regarding the progress of the Leisure Transformation project and the contract management of Everyone Active.


Nick Smith, Head of Leisure at Bracknell Forest Council and David Love, Area Contract Manager, Everyone Active, gave members an update regarding the progress of the Leisure Transformation Project and the contract management of Everyone Active.


Members were informed the 10 year contract, from 1 March 2018, gave the Council a guaranteed monthly management fee (rising in 2019) and would result in a new fitness suite, additional studio space and a renewed café and reception area at Bracknell Leisure Centre. It was hoped this would lead to an increase in footfall. These improvements would not have been possible without the partnership with Everyone Active.


Challenges to date were related to maintenance issues which, in turn, had led to a rise in complaints. Some maintenance issues related to pre-project work and could not be carried out in a timely fashion but had now been completed. To resolve these issues the previous Director of Environment, Culture and Communities had met with the manager of Everyone Active and morale was now purported to have increased and there had been a decrease in the number of complaints both to Everyone Active and to the Council.


Measures to ensure improvements continued included quarterly reports from Everyone Active to the Council; mystery visits from an independent company; weekly meetings to monitor the contract and the introduction of seven mini events to ask customers what issues they had still.  The Council had recently received a report from the independent company responsible for the mystery shoppers, which was the same company used when Bracknell Leisure Centre was Council controlled, and found Bracknell Leisure Centre achieved a higher score than ever before.


Nick Smith, Head of Leisure, informed members that whilst improvements were being made the Council audit department would audit the management of the contract next year, which was early, to see if changes were required to the management of the contract.


Members were asked to note the Council still owned large assets at Bracknell Leisure Centre, Coral Reef Waterworld and Devonshire Golf Complex and were still responsible for the fabric of the buildings and major plants/equipment. Everyone Active were responsible for maintenance so the Council would scrutinise their records to ensure maintenance was up to standard.


David Love, Area Contract Manager, Everyone Active, noted Coral Reef Waterworld numbers were good at the moment.


The following issues were discussed and responses given:

·         Concern expressed about the maintenance of the artificial pitches at Bracknell Leisure Centre as a walking football group had complained to a Councillor about the artificial grass ‘coming out in lumps’. Nick Smith, Head of Leisure, said the pitches had only recently been installed so it would be a maintenance issue rather than requiring replacement and agreed to monitor this in the coming months. David Love, Area Contract Manager, Everyone Active, said he had spoken to the bookings team at Bracknell Leisure Centre that day about the  pitches and confirmed they were being swept as per the requirements stated in the contract. He thought it was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Highways Winter Service Plan 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 8 KB

Members are asked to note ‘The Highways Winter Service Plan’ which is an operational document detailing the Councils’ actions for treating the highway network in response to winter weather conditions.

Additional documents:


Jim Naylor, Senior Engineer, explained to members how the Council discharged its duty to ensure it is ‘reasonably practicable’ for the public to access highways during the winter months. This included annually reviewing the ‘Highways Winter Service Plan’; assessing and categorising newly adopted roads; reviewing requests for salt bins and ensuring sufficient Salt Gritters and salt stores would be available if there was a heavy snowfall.


The following issues were discussed and responses given:

·         Members queried the amount of salt stored and were informed it was approximately 2,000 tonnes at any one time. The national requirements were that the Council stored enough for 12 days.

·         The Council had three large gritting vehicles and two smaller ones. The large gritters did not go down to road level in case they damaged cats eyes, humps, etc. Gritters could also be fitted with snow ploughs and go ahead of waste collection services if necessary. Gritters both cleared and salted at the same time.

·         Salt bins were located according to the gradient of the road but a number of Parish Councils had paid to install additional salt bins in their areas.

·         The cost to place, fill and collect a salt bin for the season was £106.01, with an additional £53.06 each time it needed refilling. To provide, place, fill and collect a salt bin was £234.28.

·         They received notifications of damage to salt bins and kept a log. It was noted officers had reacted swiftly in the past to these issues.

·         Signs were placed on bins to notify residents that salt contained in bins was for highways only, not personal property use.

·         The Council jointly commissioned a weather service ‘Meteo Group’ to provide the six Berkshire authorities with up to date weather forecasting specifically for road conditions.

·         Salt is stored in Downhill Depot and was pre-wetted (salt and brine solution).

·         Operatives from Continental Landscape Services helped when weather severe and were able to clear shopping areas, priority approaches to schools, subway ramps but highways were the first priority.

·         The total Winter Service budget for 2018/19 was £226,940 and had been reduced extensively over the past few years.  Final out turn costs at the end of the season were dependent upon the weather and the budget was overspent last year. 


LED Lighting Task & Finish Group pdf icon PDF 180 KB

Members are asked to note the programme of work to be undertaken by the LED Lighting Task & Finish Group.


Members noted the update and were informed Councillor’s Brossard and Mrs McKenzie-Boyle would be attending an Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) event in October which would look at good practice in this area.



Quarterly Service Report (QSR) pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To consider the latest trends, priorities and pressures in terms of departmental performance as reported in the QSR for the first quarter of 2018/19 (April to June) relating to Environment, Culture and Communities. 


In addition, members will receive a demonstration on the new process for reporting performance, led by the Business Intelligence Team.


Please bring the previously circulated Quarterly Service Report to the meeting.  The QSR is attached to this agenda if viewed online.

Additional documents:


Quarterly Service Reports (i)

Andrew Hunter, Executive Director, Place, Planning & Regeneration, informed members the planned gross revenue budget was £29,873,000. The budget was slightly overspent in Quarter 1 due to less income from concessionary fares as  trip rates over had declined over the past few years; an increase in contract costs in environmental services to support newly adopted land and meter reading errors at Coral Reef Waterworld meant the Council had to pay backdated gas charges. However, there had been an under spend of £212k on waste management and additional income from brown bin collections of £53k and contracted services costs were £33k below budget.


Emerging revenue issues for 2018/19 included costs related to an extension to support Easthampstead Park Conference Centre as it had been assumed it would be sold within three months of the financial year. Visitors to the Council’s car parks were less than those estimated at pre-opening. Parking enforcement income was predicted to be £25k below budget and income from resident’s parking permits was down. There was likely to be additional pressure to enable the Council to meet its commitments to deliver the Local Development Framework.


With regards to capital expenditure the Department were on track to spend as per commitments. Key highlights included self-service being rolled out in libraries in the Borough; adoption of the Thames Basin Heaths Spatial Protection Area; progression of the sale of Easthampstead Park Conference Centre recycling rates up; new chapel opened at Easthampstead Crematorium; investment in Bracknell Leisure Centre and it was noted they Council had achieved green flag awards for six Council owned parks. There were concerns around the number of planning decisions overturned on appeal which were going to be investigated and members were informed the Council was part of a Group, with other local authorities, looking at decisions.


A new structure had been put in place throughout the Council which meant Gill Vickers was now Interim Executive Director, Delivery and Andrew Hunter had been appointed Executive Director, Place, Planning & Regeneration. Issues they would be concentrating on in the coming months were embedding the new structure; development of QSRs; next stages of the Local Plan; sale of Easthampstead Park Conference Centre, Martin’s Heron roundabout conversion, continuation of library service self-service and new technology to be introduced; development of a Country Park proposal and an extension to the Suez contract for waste services.


A discussion took place about why there had been less income from car parks than expected and it was thought people were only staying for up to two hours, much less than anticipated. However, a refurbishment of Princess Square shopping centre; the addition of an upper deck to the multi-storey car park and improvements to the night-time economy were being realised and should increase revenue from car parks in the longer terms. Some members thought this should be considered against the desire to increase the number of people accessing the town centre using public transport or walking.


Members queried if South Hill Park investment  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 160 KB

To consider whether any of the forthcoming executive member and officer decisions should be discussed by the Portfolio Review Group prior to determination.


Members received and noted the scheduled Key and Non-Key Executive Decisions relating to Environment, Culture and Communities of a corporate nature.