Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Thursday, 26 January 2017 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Fourth Floor, Easthampstead House, Bracknell

Contact: Hannah Stevenson  01344 352308

Note No. Item



Apologies for Absence/Substitute Members

To receive apologies for absence and to note the attendance of any substitute members.


Apologies were received from Councillors Allen, Finnie and Mr Robin Briscoe.


Councillor Peacey was acting as a substitute for Councillor  Allen.


Councillor Dudley was acting as a substitute for Councillor Finnie.



Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 153 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 17 November 2016.


Additional documents:


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on the 17 November 2016 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman



Declarations of Interest and Party Whip

Members are requested to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected 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 or an affected 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.



Councillor Mrs Birch declared a personal interest as the spouse of the Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing.


Councillor Mrs McCracken declared a personal interest as the spouse of the Executive Member for Culture, Corporate Services and Public Protection.



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.


There wee no urgent items of business.


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.


There were no submissions from the public in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.


Membership of Overview & Scrutiny Panels pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To appoint substitute members of the Adult Social Care and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Panel, also the Environment, Culture & Communities O&S Panel.



The Commission received a report which set out the revised position regarding the appointment of Members to serve on Overview and Scrutiny Panels following the Annual Council meeting held on 18 May 2016.


The Overview and Scrutiny Commission had agreed the membership of its Panels following the Annual Council Meeting on 18 May but a Conservative substitute vacancy had arisen on two panels as a consequence of the resignation of Councillor King OBE.


RESOLVED that Councillor Gabby Kennedy be appointed as a substitute member to the Adult Social Care and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Panel and the Environment, Culture and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel.



The Council's Budget Consultation pdf icon PDF 282 KB

To consider the Council’s draft budget proposals for 2017/18:

a) Corporate Services Department

b) Chief Executive’s Office

c) Feedback from Overview and Scrutiny Panels and overall conclusions.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered a report that set out draft budget proposals for 2017/18. It was reported that the Executive would be considering all representations made at its meeting on 14 February 2017, before recommending the budget to Council.


The Borough Treasurer updated the Commission and made the following points:


  • The draft budget proposals for 2017/18 had been agreed by the Executive at its meeting on the 13 December 2016, before the Government had released details on the provisional settlement.
  • There had been a risk that the Local Government Settlement may be different than what had been originally proposed.
  • The draft budget proposed £1.5m of new pressures.
  • The Transformation Programme savings relating to 2017/18 had been incorporated into the budget proposals and were included in the report.
  • There had only been two consultation responses, one from BUPA who had stated that they wished to work with the Council and the other from Councillor Templeton on behalf of the Labour Party.
  • The provisional Financial Settlement had been announced in mid December 2016, the Government had changed its approach to New Home Bonuses, which meant there would be significant reductions in 2017/18 through to 2019/20.
  • The Government had granted a one off Adult Social Care Grant for 2017/18.
  • The Schools Grant reduction was not as high as had been anticipated.
  • The forecast for 2017/18 looked better than had been anticipated, but worse for 2018/19 and 2019/20 which had resulted in a further £2m increase in the budget gap, to £25 million over the next three years.
  • The continuation of big projects within the Capital Programme were still in place with the addition of some new proposals for Capital spend.


The Director of Corporate Services reported that within her department there were pressures within Legal and Property Services. Of the savings proposed in Corporate Services and the Chief Executives Office, very few had a direct impact on frontline services, with most being operational savings.


In response to the Members’ questions, the following points were made:


  • 1% had been included for inflation in the draft budget proposals; this would be looked at and revised accordingly.
  • The Council Tax proposals were not included within the report, but had been discussed at the Conservative Group Meeting.
  • There was a potential care home provision from the Council going ahead, this would help to mitigate the increasing costs within that area.
  • The 2017/18 budget assumed that the Transformation Programme for Adult Social Care would have come into effect and mitigate the 2017/18 costs.
  • The Adult Social Care budget issues were Countrywide not just local to Bracknell Forest Council.
  • There had been no responses from residents on the budget consultation.
  • The Council would come in on budget for 2016/17.
  • There had been no decision yet from Central Government on whether Vodaphone would be included on the central list for Business Rates.

·         Bracknell Forest Council were over delivering on their Business Rate projections. This would result in an increased levy payment to the Government in 2016/17 with the Council’s share of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.


Use of Consultants pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To receive a report describing the circumstances in which consultants are used and the processes which are followed.


Additional documents:


The Commission received a report that set out information about the Council’s use of consultants including the different circumstances in which they were used and the processes which are followed to engage them.


The Borough Treasurer presented the report which had been provided to the Commission. He informed Members that there were no standard definition of a consultant, and everything listed within the report was everything that had been charged to the consultant cost code, giving Member’s full visibility. Coding of consultants costs was not consistent between departments.


The Borough Treasurer reminded the Commission that it was important to recognise that consultants working in day to day services or through contractors were appointed via the tender processes


The highest consultant spends were on Atkins, who were key to construction projects such as Blue Mountain and Coral Reef and Activist and iESE who were involved in the Council’s Transformation Programme.


In response to Members’ questions the following points were made:


  • In the year covered by the report, the total spend had been £5.35 million.
  • Overall accountability for the decision to appoint a consultant was with the Service Director, they would ensure that the correct processes were in place. It would depend on the approach of the Directorate to determine whether Chief Officers and Heads of Service could also make the decision for lower spends.
  • If it was a high spend decisions, for example £100k, it would be a director decision and they would weigh up whether it was a beneficial decision .The Director would ensure that this went through the procurement process as set out in the Schedule of Delegation.
  • The term “No Payee Information” within the spreadsheets was unfortunate phrasing. It did not mean that the Council didn’t know who they were paying, but a consequence of the way the report had been pulled together. These were Journal entries where the payee information was not held against the account but held against the coding within the ledger. To find this information each of these items would need to be looked into and traced. The original spreadsheet contained 6000 lines of information, and the Borough Treasurer was happy to provide the information to Members on particular lines in excess of £5,000.
  • Temporary staff were employed through the Matrix contract and were coded against a different budget.
  • The spreadsheets provided to the Commission had been specially written and included all spend coded to consultants on the system, even if it had been a one off spend.
  • 90% of consultant appointments had been through a tender process. Every six months a sweep was done of all off-contract spend throughout the organisation, there was very little spend in this area.
  • Consultants on Major Capital projects were coded to Capital codes.
  • The Schedule of Delegation was set out for procurement processes and referred to regularly. This was set out in the Council’s Constitution.
  • The report had been prepared especially for the Commission and had not been supplied to the Auditors.
  • The Executive Member for Transformation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.



Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 107 KB

Forthcoming items on the Executive Forward Plan of a corporate nature are attached for consideration.

Additional documents:


The Commission noted the forthcoming items on the Executive forward plan of a corporate nature.


In response to the Members’ questions, the following points were made:


  • The Bracknell Town Centre Regeneration Committee was a meeting which was open to the members to attend. The Assistant Chief Executive presented  reports to the Committee Members updating them on the progress that was happening with the Town Centres Regeneration Programme. On occasion the Committee would be requested to agree for Officers to investigate a particular approach or idea for the regeneration.
  • The Business Case for the Civic Accommodation was set out within the Capital Programme. Members’ raised that confusion had been caused by including the demolition of Easthampstead House within the Capital Programme and that the process was not clear.




Overview & Scrutiny Progress Report pdf icon PDF 469 KB

To note the Bi-Annual progress report of the Assistant Chief Executive.


The Commission noted the Overview and Scrutiny activity and developments over the period June to November 2016, set out in the report.


Work Programme and Panel Activity Update pdf icon PDF 339 KB

To note the progress against the Overview and Scrutiny work programme for 2016-17, and the reports from Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chairmen on each Panel’s progress against the work programme.



The Commission noted progress against the Overview and Scrutiny work programme for 2016-17.


Councillor Phillips raised concerns regarding officer support going forward to assist with Health Scrutiny.



2017/18 Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 379 KB


To suggest items to be included in the Commission’s Work Programme for 2017/18.


The Chairman reported that all Overview and Scrutiny Panels and the Commission would need to consider their work programmes for 2017/18. A proposed work programme for Overview and Scrutiny for 2017/18 would then be annexed to the annual report of O&S for the April 2017 Council meeting.



Date of the Next Meeting


The date of the next Overview and Scrutiny Commission was 30 March 2017.


The Chairman commented that this would be the first without Richard Beaumont who was due to retire in March. The Chairman said that he had worked closely with Richard since becoming chair and his insight, intelligence and gravitas would be greatly missed.


The Commission thanked Richard for his contribution and wished him all the best for his impending retirement.  This officer post would be replaced to fill the vacancy.