Agenda and draft minutes

Council - Wednesday, 24 February 2021 7.30 pm

Venue: Online only

Contact: Kirsty Hunt  01344 353108

Link: This meeting will be held online

Media

Items
No. Item

45.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 236 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 13 January 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the Council meeting held on 13 January 2021 be approved, and signed by the Mayor as a correct record.

46.

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.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

47.

Mayor's Announcements pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

Funeral for Freeman of the Borough and former Councillor Jim Finnie

 

The Mayor reported that it had been a privilege to attend the funeral of James (Jim) Finnie, the Freeman of the Borough, past Mayor, former Conservative Borough Council colleague and Crowthorne Parish councillor. The Mayor was aware that many people attended the service virtually and looked forward to being able to celebrate his contribution to the Borough when Covid-restrictions allowed. The online condolence messages had been shared with his family.            

 

Thank you messages

 

The Mayor advised that due to the challenges of Covid it had not been possible to carry out the usual civic engagements which were often an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to residents and organisations. The Mayor announced that the Mayor’s Office was keen to participate in any community events and meetings that were being run virtually or future events that were being planned.

 

Mayor’s Charity Online Auction

 

The Mayor announced that she would be running an online auction in support of her chosen charities: Soldiers Sailors Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA Berkshire) and the British Forces Foundation (BFF). She reflected how service personnel had been helping in the pandemic from testing to building Nightingale Hospitals. The Mayor asked for support for these charities by pledging an item for the auction or placing a bid.

 

Census 2021 – 21 March 2021

 

The Mayor reminded everyone present that the Census was being held on 21 March 2021. She advised that letters were being sent to each household with a unique access code to enable the census to be completed online, although paper copies would be available.

 

Executive Member for the Environment

 

Councillor Mrs Hayes MBE, Executive Member for the Environment was pleased to remind everyone that food waste recycling was being launched in the borough on 1 March 2021. The fleet of new food waste collection vehicles had been named following a competition to come up with food related names. Over 1,700 residents voted and the winners were: The Food Dude, Binderella, Truck Norris, Hank Marvin and Dame Foodie Dench. Actress Dame Judi Dench sent a video message thanking the Council for naming one of its food waste trucks in her honour.

 

Executive Member for Children, Young People and Learning

 

Councillor Dr Barnard, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Learning was proud to report that the transformation of Braccan Walk youth hub was now complete. The ground floor of a car park had been transformed into a modern and colourful youth centre for young people in Bracknell Forest. He concluded that he was looking forward to welcoming young people when restrictions allowed.

 

Councillor Dr Barnard paid tribute to the hard work of the borough’s schools through the pandemic and preparing for the reopening of schools from 8 March 2021. He recognised Rachel Morgan, Assistant Director of Education, who was leaving the Council, for her contribution to improving school performance with more schools now rated good and outstanding, developing good relationship with schools and a child-focused approach  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Executive Report pdf icon PDF 234 KB

To receive the Leader’s report on the work of the Executive since the Council meeting held on 13 January 2021.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Bettison OBE, presented his report on the work of the Executive since that reported at the Council meeting on 13 January 2021. The Executive had met twice on 26 January and 9 February 2021.  

 

The Leader highlighted the following matters that had been considered:

 

       Digital & ICT & Customer Experience Strategies 2021 – 2024 had been approved and were intrinsically linked. The strategies put the customer first with a recognised unreversible trend towards digital and the Council was increasing its migration to cloud-based technology.

       CCTV Deployment & RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) had been updated.

       Revised Local Development scheme agreed which set out the work programme and timetable for Local Plan and Joint Minerals & Waste Plan:

       Local Plan to be considered by Executive in March

       Pre-submission consultation March – May

       Full Council to consider submission in June 2021

       School Places & Capacity Plan covering until 2025 would reduce surplus capacity in primary schools and facilitate transformation work to support special needs.

       Climate Change Strategy was agreed. As an early signatory to Nottingham Declaration in 2007 the Council had an overall objective to become carbon neutral by 2050 in line with Government Policy. The Strategy included 41 separate key projects and an Advisory Group to support the Executive Member was being established.

       Urgent action had been undertaken to procure Lateral Flow Community Testing. A proposal was submitted on 21 January for 15,000 people, twice weekly, based on up to 9 locations with eligibility focussed on those who have to leave home to work. The scheme was operational by 3 February 2021 currently across four centres with another opening next week.

       Vehicle Emissions & Air Quality agreement to enforce 1986 Regulations relating to vehicle idling in Air Quality Management Areas would focus on engagement before enforcement and give power to adopt enforcement where necessary.

       Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman Annual Report had been received. There were five findings of “fault” from the Council’s millions of interactions during the year.

       Appropriation of land at Coopers Hill had been agreed to support the regeneration of the town centre. There had been a technical approach to remove development risk and positive discussions with HCA continue on the covenant.

 

Councillor Temperton asked whether schools could be involved in designing the promotional material to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality. Councillor Bettison OBE agreed that this was a helpful suggestion as it was good practice to get young people involved in such projects so that they can help raise awareness to their own parents.

 

Councillor Temperton asked whether the Climate Change Strategy could be placed in a prominent position on the Council’s website to reflect that it is the core of the Council’s decisions. Councillor Bettison OBE agreed that in all communications, where appropriate, climate change would be central and remain visible.

 

Councillor Temperton stated that the previous year’s school plans plan predicted numbers were more accurate than ever before so queried  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

Financial Plans and Revenue Budgets 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 273 KB

To resolve recommendations in respect of:

·       Capital Programme 2021/22 –2023/24

·       Revenue Budget 2021/22

·       Council Tax 2021/22

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the report by the Borough Treasurer which set out the financial plans and revenue budgets for the financial year 2021/22 and the supporting information which presented the Council’s spending plans for 2021/22 and detailed budgets for the General Fund and Capital Programme.

 

Councillor Heydon gave a comprehensive budget speech placing particular focus on the following matters:

 

·         He observed that the past 11 months had forced everyone to adapt to new ways of doing things:

o   the vast majority of staff worked effectively from home since last March, continuing to deliver services, with minimal disruption

o   working closely with voluntary sector partners the Council provided extra front-line support to some of the most vulnerable people in society

o   working with colleagues in Health the Council had commissioned block contracts with care homes to ensure that hospitals were not overwhelmed by patients

o   the Council facilitated the distribution of Government grants to businesses

·         He stated that the Council’s response to Covid closely followed Government guidance throughout whether closing services or setting up new ones when required such as local testing and vaccination programmes. This response was immediate and focussed on doing the right thing for Bracknell Forest residents and businesses without knowing the potential financial implications. These significant levels of additional costs this year would be covered through support from Government, both directly and indirectly through Health.

·         He reported that the extension to grant support to local authorities for Covid-related costs was announced after the publication of draft budget proposals for consultation.

·         He described the budget proposals for 2021/22 as “Covid-sensitive” as it was recognised that the human, economic and financial impacts of Covid would not end on 31 March 2021. 

·         He explained that external funding would be utilised for Highways schemes and school maintenance projects. Investment in a number of projects at Birch Hill, Holly Spring and the Pines would expand local provision for pupils with special educational needs. 

·         He explained that rebuilding the Council’s commercial depot was the largest project in the capital programme as it was no longer fit for purpose despite renovation work. A third of the existing site would be used for redevelopment to help cover redevelopment costs.    

·         He reassured residents that none of the £3m savings proposed to help mitigate against cost pressures would result in service reductions.

·         He explained that the additional one-off grants provided by the Government would be used to create a one-off funding package to:

o   invest in the town centre economies and protect local jobs;

o   work with voluntary and statutory partners to respond to the growing issue of mental health;

o   reduce council tax bills for lowest income households by £150; and

o   continue to fund important welfare support initiatives for families in crisis.

·         He reported that funding was being set aside to support carbon reduction initiatives.

·         He reflected that on average, Bracknell Forest schools would receive a 3.8% increase in per pupil funding and funding for the High Needs Block was set to increase by 8%.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

Question Submitted Under Council Procedure Rule 10

Councillor Temperton to Councillor Heydon, Executive Member for Transformation and Finance

 

The COVID winter Grant is now being used for supporting residents’ utility bills and the food voucher/ parcels for our vulnerable children whilst home-learning.

 

The £500 Isolation Grant is available to support those on low incomes having to self-isolate after a positive COVID test.

 

How long are the current funds able to sustain the support needed?

Minutes:

Councillor Temperton asked Councillor Heydon, Executive Member for Transformation and Finance the following published question:

 

The COVID winter Grant is now being used for supporting residents’ utility bills and the food voucher/ parcels for our vulnerable children whilst home-learning.

The £500 Isolation Grant is available to support those on low incomes having to self-isolate after a positive COVID test.

How long are the current funds able to sustain the support needed?

 

In response Councillor Heydon stated that there was not a simple response  as this was covered by two areas the mandatory Test and Trace Self-Isolation Payments and discretionary payments. Both elements were funded until the end of March and it was not possible to anticipate how much funding would be needed so there were other covid welfare funds that could be provided as necessary. He added there was also the COVID Winter Support Grant which was agreed in early December. The grant aims to support families struggling with the costs of food, utilities and other essentials as a result of the pandemic and the Council was on track to issue the full amount of the grant with additional promotion ongoing. 

 

Councillor Heydon concluded that it had just been announced that funding for the Test and Trace Self-Isolation Payments would be extended until 30 June and funding for discretionary payments would be available until 30 June.

 

Councillor Temperton sought clarification in her supplementary question of whether support would be provided for food vouchers for the borough’s vulnerable children required to self-isolate. Councillor Heydon explained that the government had announced that the holiday activities and food programme would be expanded across the whole of England in 2021 with funding will support local authorities to coordinate free holiday provision, including healthy food and enriching activities.

 

Councillor Dr Barnard added that if children are self-isolating at home during term time they would be provided with free school meal vouchers and additional support would be available for the family for utility bills and discretionary costs. He concluded that the imminent Chancellors’ budget announcement was likely to include further measures to support for children, families and vulnerable people.