Community Governance Review : Working group minutes : Thursday 28 January 2021

Table of Contents

Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Community Governance Review Working Group Thursday 28 January 2021, 3pm, Microsoft Teams Meeting

Present: Councillors Shelim (Chairman), Cannon (Vice Chairman), Davies, Knowles and Hilton
Officers: Suzanne Martin (Electoral & Information Governance Services Manager), Karen Shepherd (Head of Governance), Andrew Vallance (Head of Finance).

Welcome

Councillor Shelim welcomed all to the meeting. 

Apologies for Absence

None received 

Update from the Head of Finance

Andrew Vallance explained that it would be difficult to pin down a precept until it was clear exactly what services a Town Council would take on; this would require significant work by the council. He suggested that a precept of between £70-£90 was the likely level for a Town Council providing the services currently covered by the Special Area Expenses account. This level of precept would give the authority a budget of less than £1m. Currently the Windsor element of the SAE was approximately £470,000.

It would be important to ensure the draft recommendations set this out, with the caveat that these services would not necessarily be transferred but were included to provide an illustrative precept for the purposes of the consultation. Members highlighted the need to be clear in the consultation that the principal council would only set the precept for year1; from the second year this would be in the hands of the elected Town Council and could rise as there was no cap.

Councillor Hilton suggested that the inclusion of illustrative precepts for potential higher levels of service would be useful for the consultation. Officers advised that this would be a significant amount of work that would not be possible in the timescale for the CGR, which must conclude within 12 months of approval of the terms of reference. 

Draft Recommendations

Suzanne Martin talked Members through the draft recommendations document she had developed. It had been written in the same format as the Terms of Reference document that had been approved by full Council in July 2020. Sections 1-3 were the same to provide background and context. Section 5 provided details of the Members appointed to the Working Group and a link to the meeting minutes. It then detailed how the first consultation had been run including the questions asked, the consultation database used and a summary of responses.

The document included a revised timetable showing that the current section of the review had been pushed back by 1 month. The original plan was that draft recommendations would be published in January 2021 but these would now be going to February 2021 full Council. The revised timetable would still allow for three months of consultation, but slightly less time for Members of the Working Group to determine final recommendations to be published in July 2021.

Section 6 covered the draft recommendations of the Working Group, divided into two sections: electoral arrangements and consequential matters. Projections for the electorate up to 2025 and the figures for costs to run an election for a town council the size of Windsor were still to be added. Members still needed to decide on ward names.

The finance section sets out income options for a town council including CIL, S106 and the precept. The figure of £70-£90 was based on staffing, accommodation and other overheads plus three potential services being transferred. It would be important to make it clear the Working Group was not recommending these three areas should transfer but were included to give an illustrative precept. Significant further work would be needed by the borough to determine which services would be appropriate for transfer if a Windsor TC was to be established, and subsequent negotiations after May 2023 with those individuals elected as town councillors.

Sections related to specific service areas would need to highlight that strategic assets/ those used by more than just local residents, and those linked to wider corporate strategies such as climate change/sustainability may be more appropriate to be retained by the borough council.  It would need to be clear that a town council was an additional layer of governance and did not replace the principal council.

The significant majority of services would remain with RBWM.

Councillor Hilton commented that the message should be, was this something people in the area wished to have to change the governance arrangements. It would be the ambition of those elected in the first year that would then develop the services it covered. It would be important to ensure any town council had the necessary structures and governance in place to enable it to operate from day one. It should be recognised that it would take some time for a town council to get to the point it was able to take on a wider role.  

Councillor Cannon commented that if the consultation was only on the council website, this could lead to criticism about accessibility. It was confirmed that responses could be sent in by email, online or post. The questions to be asked would be included on the consultation leaflet to be sent to all households in the area.

It was suggested that copies be made available at libraries, and that respondents could hand them in at libraries for return to electoral services.

It was noted that the original terms of reference included a link to a document setting out the powers of a town council and that this could be referenced again in the draft recommendations. Members commented that it would be important to set out that those individuals elected to a town council would have legal and financial responsibilities and be subject to a code of conduct; it was therefore a serious undertaking. 

Members requested that the draft recommendations included reference to the civic and ceremonial aspects of the town. A Chairman of a town council could call themselves Mayor but it should be noted that the Mayor of RBWM would retain all current civic and ceremonial responsibilities. 

Members debated proposed ward names for consultation.

It was agreed that all ward names should be polling district names other than:

  • Castle South – should be ‘Castle’
  • Castle North – should be ‘Trinity’

Members also debated the appropriate name for the combined ward of St Leonard’s Hill, Boltons and Home Park. A number of options were proposed but Members agreed that the name ‘Boltons and St Leonard’s Hill’ should be put out for consultation, noting it could be amended for final recommendations.

Clewer and Dedworth East

Polling district code Parish ward name Local electors (Dec 20) Councillors Electors per councillor
WCDE1 Dedworth Manor 2,005 2 1003
WCDE2 Clewer Hill 2,150 2 1075

Clewer and Dedworth West

Polling district code Parish ward name Local electors (Dec 20) Councillors Electors per councillor
WCDW1 Dedworth Riverside 2,257 2 1129
WCDW3 Dedworth Green 2,044 2 1022

Clewer East

Polling district code Parish ward name Local electors (Dec 20) Councillors Electors per councillor
WCE1 Clewer New Town 1,805 2 903
WCE2 Spital 2,056 2 1028
WCE3 Clewer Village 892 1 892

Eton and Castle

Polling district code Parish ward name Local electors (Dec 20) Councillors Electors per councillor
WEC1 Castle 2,881 3 960
WEC1 Trinity 2,027 2 1024

Old Windsor and Clewer and Dedworth East (Partial)

Polling district code Parish ward name Local electors (December 2020)
WOW3 Boltons and St Leonards Hill 86
WOW4 Boltons and St Leonards Hill 1,497
WCDE3 Boltons and St Leonards Hill 873
  • 3 Councillors
  • 818 electors per councillor.  
  • Total local electors - 20,593
  • Total councillors - 21   

All meeting attendees thanked Suzanne Martin for the considerable work she had put in to combine the Member discussions from the numerous previous meetings and developing the draft recommendations. 

Date of next meeting

Members noted the short timescale to finalise the draft recommendations. Suzanne Martin would update the document based on Member discussions at the meeting and circulate it to officers to check for factual accuracy about service areas etc. An updated version would be sent to Members on Friday 5 February 2021. Members were asked to read the document over the weekend and submit any feedback by Monday 8 February. The feedback would be reviewed by officers with the aim of presenting a final version for approval to a meeting of the Working Group on Wednesday 10 February. The report would then be published in the full Council agenda on Friday 12 February.

The meeting, which began at 3.00pm, finished at 4.55pm.