Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Thursday, 16 March 2023 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Louise Connelly  01344 353108


Note No. Item



Minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 12 January 2023.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 12 January 2023 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 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.


Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service - consultation on draft Corporate Plan and Corporate Risk Management Plan 2023-2027

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service are carrying out an 11 week consultation on Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s (RBFA) draft Corporate Plan and Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) for the years 2023-2027.


Representatives from RBFA, Tim Readings (CRMP Group Manager) and Fayth Rowe (Democratic Support Lead), will be in attendance to explain how the organisation has set out its intentions to meet its goals to create safer and more resilient communities by preventing incidents, protecting homes and businesses and responding to emergencies.


The CRMP explains how all fire and rescue-related risk in the community is evaluated and how resources are allocated to manage those risks. These risks include house fires, road traffic collisions and chemical spills, but they also include other less common hazards such as wide area flooding, terrorist attacks and building collapse.


Please read the documents via the link below in advance of the meeting.


Have Your Say on the Future of Your Fire and Rescue Service | Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (


Also, please bring your smart phones to the meeting as you will be asked to scan a QR code and actively participate in the online survey individually as representatives from RBFA take you through the questions.


Tim Readings, Group Manager introduced himself and asked Commission members to consider the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service draft Corporate Plan and the Combined Fire Authority’s Corporate Risk Management Plan (CRMP) 2023-27. The consultation was due to close in two weeks’ time.


Tim Readings shared a Powerpoint presentation and explained a decision had been taken to put both documents into one to explain how the business of fire and rescue worked.


Priority no 1


It was explained that this priority was in two parts. RBFRS had considered how to apply the three organisational arms of the fire service including prevention and how to deploy units across Berkshire, a county of two halves, consisting of rural west and urbanised east. This meant different risks, so different cover was applied, including on-call fire fighters in some areas to mitigate less fire fighters where risk was lowest. Consideration was also being given to capacity to deliver against wildfire risk and climate change. Last year was their busiest period and indications being this would continue. One option was to have an increase in smaller vehicles to deal with those fires. The Force were seeing a spike in fires caused for green energy products.


Priority no 2

Risk prevention to people in their home was a statutory duty and the force was working towards a more person-centred approach. Safe and well visits were offered but there was uneven uptake. The force was keen to visit most vulnerable people in society as factors in house fires were well known. It was key to have links with other organisations. Traditionally, the Force visited by postcode.


Priority no 3

This priority had come about due to a review of the response model across Berkshire to ensure they met their statutory duties. Focus in the past was on location of fire engines. The force had several special appliances, water rescue units, high ridge and off-road vehicles. The Grenfell Tower incident showed the need to plan for unlikely scenarios.


Priority no 4

The Force intended to review statutory duties, such as deployment of rescue vehicles to fires, chemical spillage/fires, building collapses, train and tram accidents. They currently respond to water rescue, flooding and animal rescue but were not funded for these activities. It was appreciated it was not a simple case of not carrying out activities which were not statutory as it was unclear who would attend if the fire service did not attend. RBFRS were a member of the Local Resilience Forum and were discussing this with partners. One option was to lobby for the sector to be properly funded in order to respond to these types of incidents in the future.


Priority no 5

Enforcement and fire safety law.  Legislation post the Grenfell Tower incident had been adopted by RBFRS. Enforcement consisted of a risk-based inspection programme but there was recognition the tier below high-risk buildings had less involvement from fires and rescue services. RBFRS were keen to talk to those responsible for those buildings and check  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.


Council Plan Overview Report pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Council Plan Overview Report (CPOR) covering the third 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:


The Chief Executive introduced the Council Plan Overview Report (CPOR) and explained it included a proposal for the Overview and Scrutiny Commission to scrutinise the draft CPOR prior to the Executive in the future. This would give the Commission the opportunity to consider recommendations which they may like the Executive to consider. The proposal was agreed.

It was reported there had been solid delivery in Quarter 3 against Key Performance Indicators. Seven community winter hubs and a winter wellness activity programme had been set up. There was also a hub for Ukrainian and other people who had been displaced. The Council had been part of the climate change ‘running out of time relay’ from Scotland to Sharm El Sheikh. 97% of schools in the borough were good or better although it was acknowledged that had improved since the CPOR had been published. The Council had been shortlisted for the iESE awards Bracknell Forest was highly commended in the SOLEIL awards for town centre regeneration projects and was the Council’s first international award. Ongoing challenges included national economic uncertainty; the rising cost of inflation and recruitment remaining a major challenge across most services.


The following comments were made regarding the CPOR:

·       It was agreed a line be added to highlight 100% of schools in the borough were now rated good or excellent by Ofsted.

·       The number of customer transactions was RAG rated red because the Council was in the process of changing its technology which included changes to the customer self-service system. The KPI would be split into two eventually and one would track how many customers had an account.

·       Councillors acknowledged the increase in the number of apprenticeships in the council.

·       The number of visits to Everyone Active remained low as some targets were set prior to the pandemic.

·       It was agreed the Assistant Director responsible for leisure services would be asked to review the programme of activities prior to the pandemic, who was participating and where these activities were held as part of the new BFC Sports and Leisure Strategy.

·       Trend analysis was being undertaken to understand why complaints had increased across the council and specifically to 75 in the Education Team and 61 in Children’s Services.

·       Councillors queried the time taken to complete Disabled Facility Grant applications and were informed there was no performance target for this currently, but data collection may reveal more information.

·       It was noted there was a project to align Reception and the Community Hub data as there were discrepancies, which would be ready for the next quarter.

·       It was agreed there was a data input error on page 37 for the number of planning permissions granted which needed to be revised.

·       It was agreed L271, page 29, regarding superfast broadband coverage needed to be double checked as it did not correlate with a recent Core Business Survey.

·       It was agreed L391 and L392 on page 27 should show numbers of agency workers rather than percentages.

·       A discussion took place about challenges collecting Bid  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Overview and Scrutiny Commission Report 2019-2023 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

The Council’s Constitution requires the Overview and Scrutiny Commission to submit an annual report to the Council on overview and scrutiny activities and their outcomes.


However, this report covers the workload undertaken throughout the past four years to cover the Commission’s whole term of office.


To Follow.


The Commission noted the draft Overview and Scrutiny Report 2019-2023 which the Commission sends to Council annually to give assurances about support to scrutiny. This report takes stock of the past four years and the thematic approach to carrying out reviews.


The Executive Director: Delivery explained a discussion with Panel Chairs had highlighted increased and effective ways of working through reviews. The pandemic forced the Commission and Panel Chairs to carry out their work online, but this had opened participation. Hybrid working was now fully operational and used by the Commission and Panels effectively. There had been a total of 16 reviews undertaken - some lengthy reviews and some completed in a day. Learning from this way of working included the need for a structured programme but ability to deal with issues speedily. The Commission had recognised a need to carry out specific health scrutiny and the plan was to bring forward blue light service scrutiny during its next sessions. 


Councillors were informed a restructure in Democratic and Registration Services had taken place. The same model and level of support would be available but Kirsty Hunt had left and Derek Morgan: Head of Democratic and Scrutiny Services would be responsible for scrutiny with Louise Connelly, Team Leader: Overview and Scrutiny as the lead officer.


The Chair of the Commission thanked officers for participating in reviews and Councillors who had been involved in changing the system to make the new model a success.


It was requested resources to the Commission be equitable to the Executive as the contribution by scrutiny to the lives of residents was well documented in the report.


Councillors were invited to send comments on the draft report to the Governance and Scrutiny Officer to incorporate comments prior to sending the final version to Council.


Enforcement Strategy Review pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To consider the draft Enforcement Strategy review report prepared by the Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel for submission to the Executive on 21 March 2023.

Additional documents:


Following a review in September 2022 of Integrated Enforcement in the borough it was agreed a follow up review into enforcement was needed as it was a complicated area and involved a lot of agencies.


Commission members queried if problems on Silva Homes land had been looked into but were informed this was not part of the review as it was private land. Private landowners could use their own Enforcement Officers. It was also asked if there were enough resources to carry out enforcement and were informed at the time of the review there were three local authorities which had joined together, but Wokingham Borough Council had recently pulled out, which may impact on service provision. There were currently staff vacancies also.


The Chair of the Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel outlined the recommendations and thanked the Governance and Scrutiny Officer, Esther Prangley, for her support and commended the recommendations to the Commission.


The recommendations contained in the report were agreed.


Evaluation of Recommendations - Blue Badge Review pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To consider the draft Evaluation of Recommendations to the Executive which arose from the Blue Badge prepared by the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Panel for submission to the Executive on 21 March 2023.

Additional documents:


The Chair of the Health and Care Overview & Scrutiny Panel explained the original Blue Badges review had been completed in 2021. It was noted there had been some delays, which had sparked further consultation with customers via the Disability Advisory and Action Forum.


The Chair of the Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Panel commended the recommendations to the Commission.


The recommendations contained in the report were agreed.


Child Criminal Exploitation Review pdf icon PDF 277 KB

To consider the draft Child Criminal Exploitation Review report prepared by the Education, Skills and Growth Overview and Scrutiny Panel for submission to the Executive on 21 March 2023.

Additional documents:


The Chair of the Education, Skills and Growth Overview & Scrutiny Panel explained to the Commission that the original intention had been to scrutinise County Lines but, due to the pandemic, travel into and out of the borough was not taking place and evidence suggested there was a greater issue with Child Criminal Exploitation. 

The Chair of the Panel thanked officers from all organisations that took part in the review and the Governance and Scrutiny Officer, Joey Gurney, for his support and outlined the six recommendations.

Commission members queried how the actions would be tracked and the Chair of the Panel explained the report would go the Executive and the Executive Member would be responsible for working with partner agencies to complete the actions, if accepted by the Executive. The Panel had agreed to complete a survey with schools to consider the impact of their recommendations.

The Chair of the Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Panel commended the recommendations to the Commission.


The recommendations contained in the report were agreed.




To consider the following motion:


That pursuant to section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, and having regard to the public interest, members of the public and press be excluded from the meeting for consideration of item X which involves the likely disclosure of exempt information under the following category of Schedule 12A of that Act:


(1)        Information relating to any individual

(3)        Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).



The Chair of the Commission agreed the Vice Chair could write a report on the work of the Climate Change Advisory Panel which would be distributed to Commission members.


The Vice Chair of the Commission thanked the Chair for chairing the Commission over the past four years.