Agenda and minutes

Scope for Thames Water Review, Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Monday, 16 October 2023 7.30 pm

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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 McKenzie-Boyle, Brown, Hayes and Mike Forster.


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.


Councillor Christoph Eberle declared a personal interest in Thames Water as the company he worked for meant he carried out projects for Thames Water occasionally. There were no indications that members would be participating while under the party whip.


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.


Thames Water review scope pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To discuss and agree the scope for the review into Thames Water


The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Environment and Communities Panel introduced the meeting and provided a recap of why this review was taking place in relation to the motion that was agreed at Council on 12 July 2023.  It was confirmed that the draft scope being presented and discussed was now at version 3. 

The scope was shared on screen and read out by the Chair.  Following this was discussion of the content of the scope and the Chair made changes on the document during the meeting.


The following points were raised:


·        Kevin Gibbs, Statutory Scrutiny officer, provided a recap for the panel regarding the types of review that were undertaken within Overview and Scrutiny.  This included a one and done review that mostly looked at policy and larger reviews that were two to three months long. It was acknowledged that occasionally reviews could run for longer. However, concern was raised regarding the length of review that this scope indicated.  It was suggested that an approach to address this could be to break the scope and review into workable sections.  The Integrated Enforcement and Enforcement Strategy reviews, completed in 2022 and 2023, were cited as an example and highlighted how recommendations were brought forward in a timely manner.

·        It was acknowledged that splitting the review using the key questions in the scope was an option that would ensure work could be completed for presentation at the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on 29 February 2024.

·        A concern was raised that the scope did not clearly identify the problem that needed to be scrutinised.  It was noted that the main issue was the lack of understanding around the location and frequency of sewage discharges.  This was noted as something to address and would need developing further with an update provided mid November 2023.

·        It was noted that the Biodiversity Action Plan has an objective that we should be trying to improve the River Cut, where a lot of overflows happen.  A suggestion was made that this could be used as part of the reason for the review.  In response to this it was suggested that this was not raised in the original Council motion or an any discussions so far regarding the scope but would not be ruled out as something that could be covered within the review activity.

·        The reason for the review was clarified and amended to include the point that in addition to challenging failures of Thames Water it would additionally specify minimising environmental damage through challenging the discharge of sewage into local waterways. 

·        A comment was made regarding the issue of the impact of contaminated water on human health. This was noted within the scope.

·        The importance of differentiating between discharges that are operational or caused by damage was noted adding that this review would focus on operational challenges.

·        The key question in the scope ‘which options are available to Bracknell Forest Council to effect changes to reduce the frequency and impact of Thames Water operational  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Discussion of review methodology

An opportunity to discuss further the methodology and approach of the review.



Due to time constraints and that the review methodology was touched upon during the discussion of the scope this item was put on hold.