Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Thursday, 12 January 2023 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Kirsty Hunt  01344 353108


Note No. Item



Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 3 November 2022.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 3 November 2022 be approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.


Responses to all of the queries and requests for information raised in the meeting had been received or formed part of the agenda.



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 of interest made.


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.


Budget Consultation pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To consider the Council’s draft budget proposals for 2023/24 currently under public consultation.


Additional documents:


The Commission considered the Council’s draft budget proposals for 2023/24 which were open for public consideration.  The Commission invited Councillor Heydon Executive Member for Transformation and Finance and Stuart McKellar, Executive Director: Resources to attend the meeting to answer their questions on the details of the proposals.

Prior to detailed questions Councillor Heydon, Executive Member for Transformation and Finance 

provided a recap:


·        There was a significant budget gap that needed to be addressed through a combination of further savings, raising council tax and transfers from reserves.  It was added that there was flexibility to raise the council tax by three percent plus two percent, which was understood to be the increase applied by the vast majority of other authorities.  A point was added that one of the Council’s key manifesto pledges was to remain within the 10 lowest council tax bands of the unitary authorities.  Whilst the settlement was published last month the details were still being worked through.


Stuart McKellar, Executive Director: Resources added the following points:

·        The finance settlement provided some answers and helped to put the draft budget in the overall funding context.  However, the 2023/24 budget was complex due to the national revaluation of the business rates system.  In addition, the Government changes to the designation of businesses from local lists to the Government central list had impacted large telecoms companies, with Bracknell Forest being the most significantly affected council in England.  The Summer 2022 consultation around the Government’s planned approach to achieve a cost neutral impact from this change provided some reassurance for the Council.

·        The finance settlement was positive in the respect that there was a small increase in funding of about £130 000 relative to what was expected.  The grant for social care provided a further £600 000 which could be used to fund either existing pressures or new spend.

·        The reserves will be used to balance the budget, within the region of £4.5 – 5 million pounds, in line with the planned amount.  Final budget decisions including the level of Council Tax would not be made until February 2023 when all the information and full context were available.



Arising from the discussion the following points were made:

Capital budget

·        Clarification was sought regarding whether the budget was based on council tax being raised by 4.99%.  The response by the Executive Director: Resources was that the budget was prepared on an expectation of 3% prior to the information in the Autumn budget and that there was now flexibility to increase it further.  It was also noted that regardless of the council tax changes a large sum of the reserves would need to be used. The significance of income from council tax increases is that it is always there as revenue whereas reserves will run out at some point.  The Member for Transformation and Finance added to this response by commenting inflation and salary awards have also added pressures.

·        A question on the capital programme around funding for schools was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Council Plan Overview Report pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Council Plan Overview Report (CPOR) covering the second quarter of 2022/23 is attached.


Members of the Commission are asked to submit technical or detailed questions in advance of the meeting.

Additional documents:


CPOR report Q2


The Chief Executive highlighted that the Council are looking to improve the clarity of their messages in terms of performance. Some changes have been made throughout the report to make it more engaging with narrative and visuals.  The aim was to make it easier to capture key messages using graphs to present and track trends.  There was also an additional section to include community health indicators which would provide a broader context set against the performance of other councils. 

It was noted that there have also been some changes to the website to ensure this information benefits the public when they try to find out the performance of their Local Authority.  Key highlights for Q2 were that children’s services achieved an outstanding Ofsted result.  The Council agreed the financial hardship action plan which took a strategic and sustainable cross-council approach in supporting residents to become more financially sustainable. 

Several community events have been facilitated, including the Royal funeral and support for Ukrainian arrivals. There have been some challenges including inflationary and general costs amongst all service areas.  Despite these challenges 81 % of actions are on track to support the council plan.


Arising from discussion the following points were raised:

·        A question was asked about the quarterly indicators on satisfaction with customer services.  This was down from 81% to 59.2% and concern was raised about reasons behind this or even an explanation of how it was measured.  The Chief Executive explained that this was as a result of a specific resourcing issue that was no longer a problem.

·        A query was raised regarding whether the KPI’s for SEND, which would be good indicators to highlight improvements, would be reported in the quarterly report.  This was asked because it was felt that for many concerned parents there was a need to show improvements are being made.  Further concern was raised that there was not a place in the report to display progress figures and simply stating that the assessment team have worked to reduce the number of out of time assessments and finalise a number of long outstanding cases did not address the issues.  It was felt that clear identification of how these are being managed was required.  The Chief Executive accepted that this was a challenge and that the key indicators would be revised, and these concerns addressed. 

·        Concern was raised that with the local elections on 4 May 2023 the Coronation of the King on 6 May 2023 would be overlooked.  It was confirmed that budget had been allocated to support the Coronation and in addition to this the Lexicon had a project underway to create the largest crown in Berkshire out of a mural of photos submitted by residents.  The council’s communications team were aligning and working together with the Lexicon on this event.

·        In response to a query about the strategy to deliver IT and whether this work in progress was on track the chief Executive confirmed that there were no issues escalated and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.


Primary Parent Governor Representative Appointment pdf icon PDF 76 KB

This report asks the Commission to formally appoint a Primary Parent Governor Representative to sit on the Education, Skills & Growth Overview & Scrutiny Panel.


Victoria Hill was formerly appointed as the Primary Parent Governor representative on the Education, Skills and Growth Overview and Scrutiny panel.




Work Programme Update

Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chairs to provide verbal updates on the work programme and highlight any proposed changes such as scope, scheduling or duration.




Environment and Communities

The RAG rating for Enforcement strategy review was green and it was aiming to have the draft report ready for the February commission meeting. 

Looking ahead the panel was hoping to review the burial choices in response to tests that were concluded on a piece of land identified within this review.  Additionally, after the May 2023 elections the panel was planning to look at the introduction of food waste in flats as this was not performing as well as it should be.


Education, Skills and Growth Overview and Scrutiny Panel

The final meeting for the Child Criminal Exploitation review was due to take place and would present the final six recommendations.  The draft report was on track for the February commission meeting.

Work was ongoing to discuss what topics would be covered in the next four years.


Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Panel

The start of the adult safeguarding review was delayed due to officer sickness but was otherwise on track with meetings planned.  The review of the blue badge review was to take place and would provide an update on progress against recommendations agreed.