Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Thursday, 10 May 2018 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Kirsty Hunt  01344 353108

Note No. Item



Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 29 March 2018.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 29 March 2018 be approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


Responses to all of the queries raised in the meeting had been responded to apart from an explanation from the Borough Treasurer of the impact of the changing financial rules but assurance had been received this would be circulated when this was available.



Declarations of Interest and Party Whip

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 Birch declared a personal interest as the spouse of the Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing.


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


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.


There were no items of urgent 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.


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



Corporate Performance Overview Report pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the Chief Executive’s Corporate Performance Overview Report covering the third quarter of the 2017/18 financial year (October – December).


The Chairman has asked that any questions arising from the report should be referred to the Director of Resources in advance and only raised in the meeting if you consider the issue requires wider discussion.


The Commission noted the Corporate Performance Overview Report (CPOR) which covered  the third quarter of the 2017-18 financial year (October – December). The Chief Executive acknowledged that the CPOR related to activity from some time before as it had already been discussed at Council.


He highlighted that in Quarter three the Lexicon had opened and visitors were now up to 10 million and the bus service had seen an 18% increase in usage. There was a very positive outcome within the town centre of a reduction in shoplifting of 32% and 27% reduction in criminal damage. Members involvement in the gateway reviews had been helpful. The Time2Change project had seen the last movement of staff into Time Square and overall the series of moves had gone well. He praised the Project team and the ICT team who had done incredibly well.


Of  the things which had not gone so well he highlighted that the number of households in B&B accommodation had continued to be at a higher number than the target. Recycling was currently at 41% and was unlikely to hit the 20% target in 2020 but the RE3 partnership had won an award. He indicated that conversations regarding the frequency of collections and food waste collection would need to be had in the future.


The Chief Executive acknowledged that staff sickness in Adult Social Care and Environment, Culture and communities looked high and he had commissioned a piece of work to understand the figures once the long term sickness figures had been removed.


As a result of Members’ comments and questions, the following points were made:

·         Clarification was sought as to which school was expected to be considered as ‘outstanding’ at its next full inspection

·         In relation to L202 ‘Number of families turned around through Family Focus Project’ the Q2 figure was 72 but in Q3 was 0. Clarification was sought as to whether this change of figures was due to how this information was reported to central government.

·         Although there were a number of Red status indicators on page 19 which were not reflected in the Chief Executive’s summary and it was explained that some of the indicators were annual updates and therefore retained the red status for the whole year despite a positive trend from Ofsted and inspection reports. It was anticipated that these improvements would be reflected in the rating given at the end of the year for quarter four.

·         The target for household nights in B&Bs was set to reflect the success of the Council’s strategies to minimise this. The target was a reflection of the Council’s budget which could support an average of four homeless households however recent support had been required by single people with complex needs.

·         It was confirmed that as result of not meeting the recycling target there could be a financial penalty on the Council. However the Council was one of 95% of Councils who would not hit this EU target.

·         It was confirmed that concessionary fare trips  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.


Downshire Homes

Timothy Wheadon, Chairman of Downshire Homes, will attend the meeting to provide the Commission with a briefing on the operation of the organisation and how its work supports the Council’s objectives.


Timothy Wheadon, Chairman of Downshire Homes had been invited to attend the meeting to provide the Commission with a briefing on the operation of the organisation and how its work supported the Council’s objectives.


As part of this presentation it was explained:


·         Downshire Homes was not a social registered landlord

·         Downshire Homes had received advice from Trowers Hamlin (legal) and Social Finance Ltd (financial)

·         Reiterated the Executive recommendation which focused Downshire Homes activities on procuring accommodation to provide homes for homeless households, households with learning disabilities and/or autism and care leavers so as to reduce Council expenditure on accommodation         

·         Downshire Homes had 39 properties with a purchase price of £11.682m which was now worth £11.477m

·         Seven more offers had been accepted on properties which were being processed

·         Rent was charged to Downshire Homes residents at the Local Housing Allowance plus 2.5%

·         After the first year a review had been undertaken by Social Finance Ltd. The current yield was 2.3% but this was due to charging an affordable rent level rather than market level

·         In 2016/17 Downshire Homes had been affected by the increase in stamp duty costs from 2% to 8% which had contributed to the operating loss, but Downshire Homes’ activities had directly saved Bracknell Forest Council £560k

·         Services provided by Bracknell Forest Council officers were recharged to Downshire Homes

·         Downshire Homes’ objective to make a profit was a long-term issue

·         It had been acknowledged by Downshire Homes Board that greater transparency was needed and they were planning to bring an annual report to the Executive followed by six monthly update.

·         A regular review of Board members conflict of interest was undertaken and it was noted that when sitting as the Board then decisions were made in the interest of the company but the basis on which it had been set up were to reduce the Bracknell Forest Council’s spending. Downshire Homes had received advice on two occasions and it was agreed that it would be an issue if the role changed. 


Arising from questions and discussions the following points were made:


·         The Commission Chairman queried why the original resolution by the Executive was not reflected in the Memorandum of Agreement and the Chief Executive advised that the advice was that this should be cast as broad as possible so that Downshire Homes Ltd could undertake other activities that the Council wanted, such as key worker housing, without having to revise an Memorandum of Agreement.

·         The Commission Chairman was concerned that the activities of Downshire Homes did not appear to be restricted at all given that their funding came from Bracknell Forest Council.

·         There was no average stay in a household as tenants were monitored over periods of longer than six month then it could become their permanent home unless their circumstances changed.

·         All of the money funding Downshire Homes came from the Council which the Council may have borrowed. This was charged at the rate of 0.5% above the rate charged to the Council if the Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.



Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 130 KB

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


Members received and noted the scheduled Key and non-Key Executive Decisions of a corporate nature.


Recruitment and Retention Working Group pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To receive an update on the work being carried out following the Recruitment and Retention Working Group.


A briefing note was circulated to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission from Nikki Gibbons, Chief Officer: Human Resources updating members on the activities following the Recruitment and Retention Workshop on 29 March 2018. At the session the following areas had been highlighted as priority areas:


·         Rebranding the Council’s recruitment approach including approaching Universities

·         Career flexibility and rotation

·         Workforce planning and skills

·         Exit interviews to give the Council better intelligence


The Chief Executive highlighted that Corporate Management Team had considered the approach to workforce planning to address what the organisation needed and where the gaps were. He added that although work was beginning on keyworker housing tis would not benefit offered this September for the recruitment of Newly Qualified Teachers as they had been appointed but would be implemented for September 2019. He advised that he had been reviewing exit interviews with the Director of Children, Young People and Learning.


Arising from questions and debate it was noted that:


·         The Council could create its own definition for what qualified as a keyworker

·         Whilst there was a risk of trained staff leaving there was an opportunity for them to re-join the Council once they had gained experience elsewhere if their experience with the Council was positive

·         A development programme was being developed but individuals will facilitate their own learning


The Chairman looked forward to seeing the outcome of this work within the organisation.


Overview and Scrutiny Work programme 2018-19

Discussion on the process for the development of the Overview and Scrutiny Work programme for 2018-19.


The Governance and Scrutiny Manager updated the meeting that the current Overview and Scrutiny Chairman and Vice Chairman had met with the new Governance and Scrutiny team to discuss the future of Overview and Scrutiny at Bracknell Forest. The meeting had focused on four key areas:

·         What next for 2018/19? Focusing on what matters and how to prioritise the work programme?

·         What does successful scrutiny look like and how do you assess its impact?

·         What does effective scrutiny support look like?

·         How do we get people involved – both Councillors and members of the public


The group agreed the following parameters for the next work programme:

·         Budget scrutiny would be included in each Panel’s programme

·         All Task and Finish Groups would need to be concluded by the beginning of February to enable recommendations to be referred to the Executive as required before the 2019 election

·         All Task and Finish Groups since 2015 to be reviewed to evaluate their impact, assess whether recommendations were implemented and follow up investigations as appropriate   


The group agreed that each Overview and Scrutiny Panel (including both Health and Adult Social Care and Housing) should be asked for their top two suggestions for the work programme. These ideas would then be collated and recirculated to members asking for them to be prioritised. The outcome of this consultation would then be considered at the first meeting of the next municipal year when each Panel would agree its own work programme.


The Governance and Scrutiny team had also been asked to review how Task and Finish Groups were scoped and develop alternative approaches such as short/sharp reviews; mini programmes of three meetings as well as longer in-depth research topic style reviews.