Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, Reading, RG1 2LU (there will be a very limited number of socially distanced seats available for the public in the Council Chamber)

Contact: Simon Hill - Committee Services Email: (simon.hill@reading.gov.uk)  0118 9372303

Media

Items
No. Item

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Stanford-Beale declared a prejudicial interest in Item 10, on the basis that she was a Council-appointed Non-Executive Director of Reading Transport Limited.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meetings held on 12 April and 26 May 2021 were agreed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chair.

4.

Decision Books pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Legal & Democratic Services submitted a report listing the Decision Books that had been published since the report to the meeting of the Committee held on 12 April 2021.

 

Resolved

 

That Decision Book Nos 628-632 be noted.

 

5.

Development of the Minster Quarter pdf icon PDF 212 KB

This report seeks approval for the approach to the development of the Minster Quarter, including a proposal to prepare the site for sale by way of a Development Agreement and a bid to the Brownfield Land Release Fund to support the delivery of the Council’s ambitions for the Minster Quarter.

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report seeking approval for a proposed approach to the development of the Minster Quarter, and specifically to proceed to prepare the site for sale by way of a Development Agreement as the preferred delivery vehicle, and to appoint a professional team to support this process.  The report also set out details of funding opportunities including a bid to the Brownfield Land Release Fund which, if successful, would support the delivery of the Council’s ambitions for the Minster Quarter.  Attached to the report at Appendix 1 was a summary of the history of the Minster Quarter Site.

 

The report noted that the Minster Quarter represented one of Reading’s major town centre development opportunities with the potential to deliver a number of the Council’s aspirations for the town centre and wider borough.  The pandemic had highlighted the need for a flexible, versatile town centre offer based on a mix of uses in an attractive public realm with generous access to public open space, and the renewal of the Minster Quarter offered the opportunity to deliver this based on a vision for high quality, high density, mixed use development which leveraged the historical associations of the area to enhance new residential, retail, commercial, cultural and environmental opportunities.

 

The report explained that soft market testing had been carried out and a high-level appraisal undertaken in November 2020. This had concluded that the viability gap was ‘manageable’ and that the project should therefore proceed to the next stage.  Following an Options Appraisal Report, and legal advice to establish the most appropriate route to delivery, it was recommended that the site be taken to market for sale incorporating a Development Agreement.  This was due to a combination of factors but most notably to minimise the Council’s risk in the process and limit the Council’s investment in the project to the value of the land and cost of the tender process.

 

The report explained that in order to take the scheme forward it was recommended that a professional team be appointed to lead the sale of Minster Quarter by way of a development agreement.  The team would provide a detailed delivery strategy with recommendations to take the site to market alongside viability assessments.  The report sought approval to tender for the team and appoint commercial and legal advisers and authority for officers to allocate spending from approved regeneration capital budgets for preparation of the site for market, the procurement of professional services and other costs associated with the development.  Progress would be reported to the Civic Board.

 

The report also set out details of an application to the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF) fund, which would support some of the site demolition and servicing costs which were currently affecting the site’s viability.  The bid had been submitted under delegated authority by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Chief Financial Officer, Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council as permitted by the Council’s constitution, due to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Cemetery Policy pdf icon PDF 280 KB

This report sets out new draft Cemetery & Crematorium Regulations for public consultation.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report presenting new draft Cemetery & Crematorium Regulations (the Regulations) for public consultation.  The following documents were attached to the report:

 

Appendix 1 – Draft Cemetery & Crematorium Regulations 2021

Appendix 2 – Equality Impact Assessment

Appendix 3 – Cemetery Plan and Grave Types

 

The report explained that under the Local Authorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977 (LACO) legislation, Local Authorities were required to prepare and adopt Regulations that set out the Council's policy and procedures for the operation of the cemetery. The last time the Regulations had been updated and adopted by the Council had been in 2011.  The Regulations applied to Henley Road Cemetery, Reading Cemetery and Caversham Cemetery, and also to Reading Crematorium and Gardens of Remembrance based at Henley Road Cemetery. 

 

The report stated that in October 2020, representations had been made to the Council that the Bereavement Service currently provided did not fully meet the needs of the Muslim community. In consultation with the Lead Councillor for Corporate and Consumer Services and the Executive Director for Resources, temporary changes to the service had been made, with the opportunity offered for families to retrospectively upgrade to a traditional grave (these changes related to the 5th Muslim section of the cemetery in the area known as ‘Park’ only).  The Council had also committed to review the current Regulations and consult on the revised proposals.

 

The report summarised the proposed changes to the regulations which were within the context of a national burial land shortage, and a predicted burial provision in Reading for a further eight years (Westfield five years, Mayfield three years) should the proposed changes be adopted.  The proposals had been developed to ensure the changing needs of communities within Reading were met, where reasonable and practicable to do so, specifically considering faith burial needs, as well as ensuring operations were cost-effective and efficient. Approval was sought for a holding position until the regulations were in place, under which families would be offered a Lawn Grave only in the Westfield area of the cemetery.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)      That the Draft Cemetery & Crematorium Regulations as set out at Appendix 1 be approved for public consultation;

 

(2)      That a further report be submitted to the Committee in September 2021 following the outcome of the consultation process;

 

(3)      That the Council’s holding position prior to agreement of the new Regulations be approved.

7.

Allocation of the Community Infrastructure Levy 15% Local Contribution pdf icon PDF 577 KB

This report summarises the results of consultation on the provisional allocation of 15% local Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and future priorities, and proposes a final allocation of CIL collected up to 31 March 2020 as well as changes to the previously agreed allocation.

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report on the 15% of collected Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to be allocated to the local area in which development had taken place.  An Equality Impact Assessment was attached to the report at Appendix 1 and a Summary of the outcome of consultation was attached to the report at Appendix 2.

 

The report set out the results of consultation undertaken on the provisional allocation of 15% local CIL and future priorities agreed at Policy Committee on 15 February 2021 (Minute 97), which were summarised in Appendix 2.  There had been a total of 171 responses and almost 70% of respondents had agreed with the proposed allocations overall.  18% of respondents had disagreed, whilst 11% did not know.  A number of comments had been made on individual proposals for spend, and these were detailed in Appendix 2.  The consultation had also asked respondents to rank priorities for future allocation.  Play areas and public open spaces was the top ranked item, followed by climate change and renewable energy and the natural environment.  Appendix 2 also set out ranked priorities for individual wards.

 

The report proposed a final allocation of £1.557m local CIL collected up to 31 March 2020 to various schemes across the Borough (see Resolution 2 below), with the balance of available 15% local CIL funding (£0.112m) to be carried over to be allocated in future years.  Two changes to the previous allocation of 15% local CIL were also recommended.  There was expected to be an underspend on Broad Street seating refurbishment, and a need for additional funds for the Dog Fountain project, and therefore a reallocation of £0.010m from one to the other was recommended.  An allocation of £0.050m CIL to Whitley Wood community provision had originally been intended to be used towards the development of a new church centre and health centre on the St Paul’s church hall site on Whitley Wood Lane, but it was likely that this development would not come forward for several years.  It was therefore proposed to allocate the funding for improvements to the nearby Whitley Wood Community Centre.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, Nick Jones addressed the Committee on a request for a pedestrian crossing near St Joseph’s School on Upper Redlands Road.  It was moved and agreed that the request be noted and included for consideration in the next round of locally CIL-funded schemes.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)      That the results of consultation undertaken on provisional allocations of 15% local CIL and priorities for future spend (Appendix 2) be noted;

 

(2)      That the following allocations of 15% local CIL collected up until 31st March 2020 be agreed, with a total allocation of £1.557m:

 

£0.075m for Borough-wide graffiti removal project

£0.050m for town centre monuments and statues

£0.100m for war memorials and public art

£0.100m for Thames cycle path in Kings Meadow

£0.275m for the High Street Heritage Action Zone project

£0.075m for Shinfield Road Recreation Ground improvements

£0.095m for skate park  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Specialist Vehicle Maintenance Contract pdf icon PDF 192 KB

This report highlights progress with the renewal of the specialist vehicles maintenance contract and seeks approval to award a new contract in June 2021 to avoid service disruption.

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report on progress with the renewal of the specialist vehicles maintenance contract and seeking approval to award a new contract in June 2021 to avoid service disruption.  An options appraisal was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

 

The report explained that the existing specialist vehicle contract with Geesinknorba expired at the end of August 2021 and that the provider did not wish to enact the option for an extension.  In order to operate the 82 specialist vehicles including refuse collection, street sweepers and the mobile library, an Operator’s Licence was required by law, and failure to have a maintenance contract in place was a breach of the licence undertaking.  It was therefore recommended to award the maintenance contract to Dennis Eagle via the YPO framework.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)      That the Committee approve the award of the Specialist Vehicle Maintenance contract to Dennis Eagle via the YPO framework for a period of three years with an option to extend for up to twenty-four more months;

 

(2)      That further investigations be carried out into future options including a full business evaluation of bringing the maintenance service in house and a separate evaluation of the future of the Bennet Road Depot capacity issues.

9.

Appointments to Outside Bodies pdf icon PDF 179 KB

This report asks the Committee to make appointments or nominations to outside bodies for the Municipal Year 2021/22, or longer where required.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Legal & Democratic Services submitted a report asking the Policy Committee to make appointments or nominations to outside bodies for the Municipal Year 2021/22, or longer where required.  A schedule of outside body appointments showing the Group Leaders’ recommendations was circulated prior to the meeting.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)      That appointments or nominations to the listed outside bodies be made as follows:

 

Title

Representative

Age UK Berkshire - Board observer

Councillor Gul Khan

Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE)

Councillor Paul Gittings

Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE)

Councillor Sophia James

AWE Aldermaston – Local Liaison Committee

Councillor Micky Leng

AWE Aldermaston – Local Liaison Committee

Councillor Helen Manghnani

Berkshire Local Transport Body - Deputy

Councillor Debs Absolom

Berkshire Local Transport Body

Councillor Tony Page

Berkshire Maestros

Councillor Paul Gittings

Berkshire Pension Fund Panel

Councillor Jason Brock

Bus Lane Adjudication Service Joint Committee / Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London Adjudication Joint Committee - Deputy

Councillor Debs Absolom

Bus Lane Adjudication Service Joint Committee / Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London Adjudication Joint Committee

Councillor Tony Page

Caversham Park Village Association

Councillor Clarence Mitchell

Citizens’ Advice Bureau Trustee Board

Councillor Helen Manghnani

Citizens’ Advice Bureau Trustee Board

Councillor Liz Terry

Citizens’ Advice Bureau Trustee Board

Councillor Micky Leng

Community Alcohol Partnerships CIC

Trading Standards and Coroners Manager

Conservation Area Advisory Committee

Councillor David Stevens

Conservation Area Advisory Committee

Councillor Richard Davies

Earley Charity

Councillor Liz Terry

Earley Charity

David Sutton

Flexible Home Improvements Ltd

Assistant Director of Planning, Transport & Regulatory Services

Hexham Community Association Management Committee

Councillor David Absolom

Homes for Reading Limited

Councillor Jenny Rynn

Homes for Reading Limited

Councillor Jo Lovelock

Homes for Reading Limited

Councillor Liam Challenger

Homes for Reading Limited

Councillor Sarah Hacker

Homes for Reading Limited

Frances Martin

Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise

Councillor Jason Brock

Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise

Councillor Tony Page

Kenavon Drive Management Company

Councillor Tony Page

Kennet and Avon Canal Trust

Councillor Paul Gittings

Kennet Day Nursery Association

Councillor Ruth McEwan

Launchpad Reading

Councillor Rachel Eden

Local Enterprise Partnership

Councillor Jason Brock

Local Government Association (Conference)

Councillor Jason Brock

Local Government Association (Conference)

Councillor Tony Page

Local Government Association (Conference)

Councillor Jeanette Skeats

Local Government Association (General Assembly)

Councillor Tony Page

Local Government Information Unit Management Committee - Deputy

Councillor Alice Mpofu-Coles

Local Government Information Unit Management Committee

Councillor Rachel Eden

Mid and West Berkshire Local Access Forum

Councillor Karen Rowland

Pakistani Community Association

Councillor Chris Maskell

Queen Victoria Institute

Bet Tickner

Queen Victoria Institute

Councillor Rose Williams

Readibus Board of Directors

Councillor Gul Khan

Readibus Board of Directors

Councillor Jane Stanford-Beale

Readibus Board of Directors

Councillor Mohammed Ayub

Readibus Board of Directors

Councillor Rose Williams

Readibus Board of Directors

Councillor Ruth McEwan

Reading Climate Change Partnership

Ben Burfoot

Reading Climate Change Partnership

Councillor Tony Page

Reading College Business Advisory Board

Councillor Ashley Pearce

Reading Deaf Centre

Councillor Gul Khan

Reading Dispensary Trust

Councillor Rose Williams

Reading In Bloom Committee

Councillor Karen Rowland

Reading Sports Aid Fund

Councillor David  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Reading Transport Limited Shareholder Report pdf icon PDF 364 KB

This report sets out the proposed actions and next steps arising from an independent review of Reading Transport Limited’s governance arrangements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Chief Executive submitted a report to the Committee, acting as shareholder of Reading Transport Limited (RTL), setting out the proposed actions and next steps arising from an independent review of RTL’s governance arrangements.  Attached to the report at Appendix 1 was a Draft job description and proposed timeline for the recruitment of new Non-executive Directors.

 

The report explained that, in light of RTL’s trading position and the significant financial impact of Covid 19 on all passenger transport operators, it had been agreed that the Council should commission an independent review into the governance and operating arrangements of the Company with a view to improving its financial viability.  Systra, a leading engineering and consulting firm specialising in public transport had been commissioned in September 2020 to undertake the review and the report set out the key findings and recommendations made by Systra relating to the governance of RTL.  A further report on their review of RTL’s operating arrangements would be considered in closed session (see Minute 14 below).

 

The report summarised the findings and recommendations of the review covering a Framework for Future Board Appointments, Skills Audit, Board Composition and Size, Financial Scrutiny and Reporting, and Audit & Remunerations Committees.  It was recommended that the Council exercised its right under the Company’s Articles of Association to serve notice on RTL’s current Non-Executive Directors effective from 1 January 2022 and begin a formal recruitment process for new Non-Executive Directors.  It was also recommended that the Council as Shareholder review RTL’s Articles of Association and amend them to limit the number or terms a Non-Executive Director could serve to two (eight years in total).

 

At the meeting an additional resolution was moved and agreed regarding the composition of the new Board of Non-Executive Directors and the eligibility of current Non-Executive Directors to re-apply for membership of the Board, as set out in (7)-(9) below.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)      That Systra’s recommendations in respect of their Part 1 report commissioned by the Council be noted;

 

(2)      That the recruitment of a new board of Non-executive Directors to take effect from 1 January 2022 be agreed;

 

(3)      That the Assistant Director for Legal and Democratic Services formally write to RTL’s current Non-Executive Directors serving them with notice and advising them of the recruitment process, once finalised, should they wish to apply;

 

(4)      That the Assistant Director for Legal and Democratic Services prepare a revised set of Articles of Association in line with the recommendations in Systra’s Part 1 report for consideration at a future meeting of the Policy Committee;

 

(5)      That the Assistant Director for Legal and Democratic Services prepare a draft Shareholder Agreement to give effect to the operational recommendations in Systra’s Part 1 report for consideration at a future meeting of the Policy Committee;

 

(6)      That Shareholder representatives sit on the interview panel;

 

(7)      That the current number of eight Non-Executive Board members be maintained;

 

(8)      That the composition of the new Non-Executive Board members include (a) an employee-nominated representative, (b) two reserved  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion will be moved by the Chair:

 

“That, pursuant to Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) members of the press and public be excluded during consideration of the following items on the agenda, as it is likely that there would be disclosure of exempt information as defined in the relevant Paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of that Act”

 

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That pursuant to Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), members of the press and public be excluded during consideration of items 12-14 below as it was likely that there would be a disclosure of exempt information as defined in the relevant paragraphs specified in Part 1 of Schedule 12A to that Act.

12.

Declarations of Interest for Closed Session Items

Minutes:

Councillor Stanford-Beale declared a prejudicial interest in Item 14 on the grounds that she was a Council-appointed Non-Executive Director of Reading Transport Limited.

13.

2-4 Darwin Close - Disposal

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report advising the Committee of the offers received for the freehold disposal of 2-4 Darwin Close pending the completion of the Office Rationalisation Project Phase 2C works at 19 Bennet Road and seeking approval to dispose of the property.  The following documents were attached to the report:

 

·       Appendix 1 - location plan of 2-4 Darwin

·       Appendix 2 - table of offers extracted from a Section 123 report received from Haslams Surveyors LLP (Haslams)

·       Appendix 3 - Haslams’ Section 123 report dated 13 May 2021

 

Resolved –

 

(1)      That 2-4 Darwin Close be sold to the successful bidder on the terms set out in paragraph 4.2.1 of the report;

 

(2)      That, in the event that the offer price was subsequently reduced or the purchaser did not perform to an acceptable timescale the Executive Director of Economic Growth & Neighbourhood Services be authorised, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, the Lead Councillor for Corporate and Consumer Services and the Assistant Director for Legal and Democratic Services, to:

 

a) agree a revised offer price which secured best consideration;

 

b) reengage with other bidders as appropriate or remarket the property for disposal at best consideration.

 

(Exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3.)

14.

Reading Transport Limited Shareholder Report

Minutes:

The Deputy Chief Executive submitted a report to the Committee, acting as shareholder of Reading Transport Limited (RTL), setting out the conclusions and recommendations arising from an independent report on RTL’s operating arrangements.  The following documents were attached to the report:

 

·       Appendix 1 - Proposed KPI Reporting

·       Appendix 2 - Reading Transport Limited’s 2021/22 Budget

·       Appendix 3 - Route Changes Assumed within RTL’s 2021/22 Budget

 

The report explained that, in light of RTL’s recent trading history and the significant financial impact of Covid 19 on all passenger transport operators, it had been agreed that the Council should commission an independent review into the governance (see Minute xx above) and operating arrangements of the Company with a view to improving its financial viability.  Systra, a leading engineering and consulting firm specialising in public transport had been commissioned in September 2020 to undertake the review, and the report summarised their key findings and recommendations relating to operating arrangements.  It was recommended that the Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services draw up a Shareholder Agreement to set out the operational reporting requirements recommended by Systra for consideration at a subsequent meeting of the Committee.

 

At the invitation of the Chair Robert Williams, CEO of RTL, attended the meeting and addressed the Committee on this item.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)      That Systra’s conclusions and recommendations in respect of their review of operating arrangements commissioned by the Council be noted;

 

(2)      That RTL’s financial position as at 6th April 2020 and budget assumptions for 2021/2022 be noted;

 

(3)      That the Assistant Director for Legal and Democratic Services prepare a draft Shareholder Agreement to give effect to the operational recommendations in Systra’s report for consideration at a future Policy Committee.

 

(Councillor Stanford-Beale declared a prejudicial interest in the above item, on the grounds that she was a Council-appointed Non-Executive Director of RTL. She left the meeting and took no part in the debate or decision.)

 

(Exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3.)