05/26/2011 07:30 PM Cabinet - Minutes
PRESENT: Councillors Burbage (Chairman) Bicknell (Deputy Chairman, Highways, Transport and Environment), Dudley (Adult and Community Services), Mrs Quick (Children’s Services), Kellaway (Finance), Mrs Bateson (Planning and Partnerships), Saunders (Corporate Transformation) and Maxwell (Policy and Performance).
Also Present: Councillors Beer, Lenton and Wilson.
Officers: Alan Abrahamson, Anne Dackombe, Chris Donnelly, Andrew Elkington, Vanessa Faulkner, Peter Hitchen, Maria Lucas, David Oram, Christabel Shawcross, Chris Targowski, Mike Tatham, Cliff Turner and Karen Williams
26 MAY 2011
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Councillor Bicknell declared a Personal interest in the item ‘Award of Leisure Management Contract – Thames Valley Athletics Centre’ as Chairman of the TVAC Trust.
Councillor Beer declared a Personal interest in the item ‘Award of Leisure Management Contract – Thames Valley Athletics Centre’ as substitute to Councillor Bicknell on the TVAC Trust.
Councillor Beer declared a Personal Interest in the item ‘Flood Monitoring’ as the Battle Bourne embankment was located in his Ward.
The Part I minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 21 April 2011 were approved.
Councillor T Bursnall was appointed as Deputy Lead Member for Windsor. Councillor Wilson was appointed as Deputy Lead Member for Maidenhead.
Councillors Burbage, Kellaway and Dudley were appointed to the Cabinet Prioritisation Sub Committee.
Councillors Burbage, Mrs Bateson, Maxwell and Kellaway were appointed to the Cabinet Participatory Budget Sub Committee.
FORWARD PLAN – JUNE 2011 – SEPTEMBER 2011
Cabinet considered the contents of the draft Forward Plan for the next four months and noted the changes that had been made to the plan since the last meeting. In addition it was noted that:
Ø The item ‘Establishment of a New Social Enterprise – Big Society’ would be presented to Cabinet in June 2011.
CABINET MEMBERS’ REPORTS
ORDER OF BUSINESS
Ø The item ‘Berkshire Community Equipment’ would be presented to Cabinet in July 2011.
Ø The item ‘Corporate Scorecard’ would be presented to Cabinet in July 2011.
Ø The item ‘Manifesto Review’ would be presented to Cabinet in September 2011 and then every 6 months.
Ø The item ‘Local Fees for Applications Under the Planning Act’ would be deferred from June 2011 to September 2011 as government legislation was still awaited.
Cabinet considered the latest monitoring report on actions taken with regard to flooding since the last report to Cabinet in November 2010.
Cabinet was addressed by Mr Ewan Larcombe. Mr Larcombe stated that resulting from the transposition of a European Directive, the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 and the Flood and Waste Management Act 2010 had introduced a duty on the lead local flood authority (LLFA) to maintain a register of structures and features that were likely to have a significant effect on flood risk and to record information about ownership and state of repair. The LLFA must then arrange for the register to be made available for inspection at all reasonable times.
Mr Larcombe believed that there was now a clear division of responsibilities. The Environment Agency (EA) was responsible for reservoirs and main rivers, with the LLFA responsible for almost everything else. He therefore understood that there would be two sets of documentation. Disagreements would be referred to the Minister and the preliminary maps and reports would be published by the EA in December this year.
Bearing in mind the failure to implement the recommendations of Clive Onions report into the January 2003 Thames flood event, and the long lead time associated with the Lower Thames Strategy proposals, Mr Larcombe suggested that the people living downstream of Windsor had seen no reduction in the probability of flooding since the demise of the National Rivers Authority, but they had suffered a significant rise in buildings insurance costs. Furthermore the Queen Mother Reservoir problem in 2006 had highlighted not only the real dangers associated with sub-standard maintenance but also the ability of those accountable to suppress the facts.
Cllr Burbage was reported in Around the Royal Borough, Autumn 2010, as stating that ‘the Big Society is about freeing local people to set direction in their communities rather than be dictated to by the Government or local Authority’. In Mr Larcombe’s opinion, the register was a start towards maintaining standards, but the objective must be to reduce the probability of flooding by means of appropriate practical action including a planned preventive maintenance programme. He concluded by listing a number of concerns:
RESOLVED: that the order of business as detailed in the agenda, be amended.
· The openness, transparency and inclusive nature of the information gathering process.
The Lead Member thanked Mr Larcombe for addressing Cabinet. He assured Mr Larcombe that, as a vanguard authority for transparency, information in the register would be made available wherever possible.
The Head of Streetcare and Operations explained that the Borough had established the Flood Group, which included the Parish Flood Group. All reports and minutes for this group were available on the Borough website. The authority was in the process of complying with the EU regulations and the relevant legislation in its role as LLFA, part of which was to create a register. Updating of the register would be considered by the Flood Group. The Borough had a statutory duty to produce a preliminary flood risk assessment by 22 June 2011, which it was on course to complete.
It was confirmed that the May versions of the Flood Map for England and Wales had been received, and that there were no changes. The Planning Policy Manager agreed to update Councillor Wilson on progress with the Inspector’s report on the Maidenhead Area Action Plan outside of the meeting.
Councillor Beer highlighted that the Inspector had deemed the Battle Bourne embankment as ‘no longer fit for purpose’. He requested the support of the Borough in pump-priming the scheme. At a public meeting in Old Windsor, senior executives of the EA had stated that they would not embark on such schemes without financial support from the local authority; for such a scheme the proposed figure was 50% of £3.5m. However, he was aware of a scheme of similar size in Kent that had begun with financial support of £17,000 from the local authority. He highlighted that, worst case scenario, the embankment would save 800 homes from flooding. Councillor Beer also commented that, had the previous Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Panel not been cancelled, one of the issues to have been raised would have been the lack of progress on the Borough’s emergency plan in relation to flooding, in particular how parish plans would be integrated. The Head of Streetcare and Operations responded that the Borough had a generic emergency plan that was constantly reviewed. The Borough also had a separate dedicated flood plan which remained appropriate and up to date. The Borough had also led on the development of community flood plans, for which there was an active and available template for parishes and other community groups to use.
· The accuracy, completeness and accessibility to the current register(s)
· Disputes about authority, responsibility, ownership, liability and condition.
· A system for the prompt implementation of action to resolve identified problems.
· The ongoing development and update of the register, the introduction and control of changes and in particular the easily available archive access.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the contents of the report be noted.
Chairman and Finance
Review of Grants Allocations Policy and Procedure
Cabinet considered a review of the policy and procedures relating to the allocation of grants to voluntary organisations. The proposed changes, as detailed in the report, would reduce bureaucracy, remove barriers and speed up the process for organisations applying for grant funding, in line with the Council’s ‘Big Society’ agenda. The Chairman highlighted that the application forms and guidance notes had been streamlined and simplified.
The Lead Member for Finance, who was also the Chairman of the Grants Panel, commented that the Panel had met earlier that day and reviewed the report. All Members had been pleased with the proposals. The Lead Member for Planning and Partnerships commented that she thought the forms were brilliant and she was particularly pleased to note that payments to organisations following the quarterly meetings of the Grants Panel would be made within two weeks.
The Chairman confirmed that a press release would be issued to highlight the changes to the process. He had also asked the Community and Business Partnerships Manager to ensure local organisations were aware of the quarterly panel meetings and the participatory budget process. The Lead Member for Planning and Partnerships commented that an article would also be placed in the July edition of Around the Royal Borough.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That:
Cabinet considered the latest service monitoring report. The Lead Member explained that the report presented the revised results prior to being audited. Last month he had reported a net variance for the year of £400,000 below the budget; this had been revised to £648,000 and included increased charges for the anticipated cost of redundancies. General reserves were expected to be just under £4.2m, with just over £1m in the Economic Contingency Fund. It had been a challenging year with efficiency savings of £7m required, along with reductions in grants as a result of the government’s emergency budget and rising inflation. He therefore thanked the Chief Executive and his team for their efforts to achieve the positive end of year position. The Lead Member highlighted the slippage of just under £7.5m in the capital programme.
It was explained that the slippage in the schools capital programme was as a result of unclear phasing when a project was expected to span more than one financial year. In this instance, all funding was put into the first year and slipped if the project continued into year two. This had no impact on the funding received for schemes. The Lead Member for Children’s Services confirmed that the slippage related to committed projects that would be completed in the current financial year. The funding was ring-fenced to capital projects on primary schools. The priority list would be considered if any underspend in planned projects was identified.
Councillor Beer requested clarification of the Economic Contingency Fund. The Lead Member stated that as a matter of principle, contingencies were not built into individual budgets, however his predecessor as Lead Member for Finance had felt it prudent to make a contingency against the economic downturn. As a result of prudent management, the fund had only been used this year to allocate £100,000 to mitigate a reduction in income.
i) The application forms A and B, for revenue and capital grant funding respectively, be approved for implementation with immediate effect.
ii) The document ‘Applying to RBWM for Grant Funding – A Guide for Applicants’ be approved for implementation with immediate effect.
iii) The date for payment of allocated grant funding to voluntary organisations following the quarterly Grants Panel meetings be reduced to a maximum of two weeks from Panel meeting date, subject to all necessary information being available.
iv) The Constitution Sub Committee be requested to update existing Part 5R of the Constitution, to reflect the above decisions.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That:
Human Resources Management Information
Members received and noted the Mainstream Workforce Profile Report for Quarter 1 (April- June) 200910 – Quarter 4 (Jan-Mar) 2010/11, showing Quarter 4 data correct as at 21 April 2011. The Chairman highlighted that sickness and the Bradford factor were down and the overall number of employees had fallen. The Lead Member for Adult and Community Services commented that the reduction in headcount was partly as a result of externalisation of services in Adult Social Care.
The Chairman requested that future reports include a brief covering report to incorporate comments from the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 – EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC
i) This month’s movement in the approved revenue budget of £651k, mainly relating to redundancy costs, be approved.
ii) Slippage of the capital programme of £7.492m as detailed in Appendix C be approved.
iii) The final 2010-11 revenue and capital outturn figures be approved, subject to audit.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting whilst discussion takes place on items 8-9 on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.