Decisions

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Alternatively you can visit the officer decisions page for information on decisions that have been taken by council officers through the Decision Book.

Decisions published

01/08/2022 - 659 - Award of Reading Borough Council Small Grants Fund (Round 1) 2022/23 ref: 753    Recommendations Approved

Decisions set out in the book have been made under delegated powers by the Chief Executive, Executive Directors or the Chief Finance Officer and Monitoring Officer, in consultation either with the relevant committee or Lead Councillor.

This issue of the decision book will be in public circulation up until Thursday 11 August 2022. During that period three Councillors may request in writing to the Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services that a decision should be referred either to a committee, or to the Council (as appropriate) for formal resolution.

The decision book is open to public inspection at the Civic Offices between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm, Mondays to Fridays and can be accessed on the Council’s website –

https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/mgListOfficerDecisions.aspx?bcr=1&BAM=0

The officer reports accompanying the decisions are attached.
Contact: Richard Woodford Committee Services
Tel: 0118 937 2332
e-mail: richard.woodford@reading.gov.uk

Decision Maker: Chief Executive

Decision published: 01/08/2022

Effective from: 01/08/2022

Decision:

This report sets out the decision to award grants totalling £99,322.25, to 25 organisations, from Round 1 of the Reading Borough Council Small Grants Fund 2022/23.

It is the decision of the Interim Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader of the Council to award grants totalling £99,322.25, from the Reading Borough Council Small Grants Fund 2022/23 as listed in Appendix 1.

Lead officer: Richard Woodford


07/07/2022 - Traffic Services Capital Programme 2022-23 ref: 752    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Made at meeting: 07/07/2022 - Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Decision published: 28/07/2022

Effective from: 07/07/2022

Decision:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report the provided information on the Council’s additional £0.4m two year (2022/23 to 2023/24) Traffic Signals Capital Investment Programme and asked for spend approval for this investment.  The report also informed the Committee of the Council’s additional £0.3m two year (2022/23 to 2023/24) Digitising of Traffic Regulation Orders Investment Programme and asked for spend approval for this investment.  A Financial Implications Report was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

The report explained that the Council had carried out a Residents’ Survey with its Citizen Panel in December 2021 as part of the Council’s ongoing conversation with residents.  The aim of the survey had been to gather information on service delivery and specifically about residents’ views of their neighbourhoods and of Council services.  Respondents had been asked what they thought needed improving and the number one consensus, 38% compared with 47% in 2020, had said the condition of roads and pavements needed improving. 

The Council had continued to listen to residents and was investing £0.4m into the ageing traffic signal assets which would improve traffic flows, reduce congestion and pollution, modernise the traffic signal assets and future proof a rapidly changing environment.  The Council was also investing £0.3m in Digitising Reading’s Traffic Regulation Orders to modernise the process, to streamline TRO creation and the consultation processes, to significantly reduce costs.

Resolved:

(1)     That spend approval for the Council’s £0.4m two year (2022/23 to 2023024) Traffic Signals Capital Investment Programme be granted;

(2)     That spend approval for the Council’s £0.3m two year (2022/23 to 2023/24) Digitising of Traffic Regulation Orders Investment Programme be granted;

(3)     That the Assistant Director of Environmental and Commercial Services, in consultation with the Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, the Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services and the Director of Finance, be granted authority to enter into relevant contracts required to undertake the proposed Capital Traffic Services Programme, as set out in section 4 of the report.

Wards affected: Boroughwide;


07/07/2022 - Pan Berkshire Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) Term Contract 2023 - 28 (Plus 5-year Extension) Tender and Contract Award ref: 751    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Made at meeting: 07/07/2022 - Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Decision published: 28/07/2022

Effective from: 07/07/2022

Decision:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report informing the Committee of the joint Pan Berkshire Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Term Contract 2023-2028 (plus up to a five year extension) procurement exercise led by the Council that included Bracknell Forest Borough Council, Slough Borough Council, West Berkshire District Council and Wokingham Borough Council.  The report provided information on the procurement process of the Contract and sought authority to enter into a contract with the successful tenderer after the tendering process in accordance with Public Contracts Regulations 2015.  A Financial Implications Report was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

The Contract would include maintenance of the following assets:

·         Traffic Signals;

·         Automatic Traffic Counters;

·         Journey Time Devices;

·         CCTV Cameras;

·         Variable Message Signs;

·         Vehicle Activated Speed Signs;

·         ITS associated minor civil engineering works.

Resolved:

(1)     That approval to tender the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Term Contract 2023-2028 with a possible five year extension, subject to performance, in accordance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 be granted;

(2)     That Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, the Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services and the Director of Finance, be granted authority to enter into relevant contracts required to undertake the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Programme, as set out in section 4 of the report.

Wards affected: Boroughwide;


07/07/2022 - Allocation of Section 106 Funding for Transport and Highway Scheme 2022/23 ref: 750    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Made at meeting: 07/07/2022 - Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Decision published: 28/07/2022

Effective from: 07/07/2022

Decision:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report that set out a request of spend approval for new Transport and Highways capital schemes starting in 2022 to the value of £1,393,160.  A summary of the Section 106 contributions and the capital schemes they were to fund was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

The report explained that it was anticipated that these schemes would be solely funded from Section 106 contributions, but some might require additional external funding from sources including the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which had already been secured.  The £1,393,160 allocated Section 106 contributions that had been received, but as yet were uncommitted and was an update to the figures that were detailed in the Council’s Capital Programme.

Resolved:

(1)     That spending approval for the Capital schemes outlined in Appendix 1, attached to the report, be granted;

(2)     That the Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport and the Director of Finance, be granted authority to finalise details of individual schemes and programmes within the overall approval given.

(3)     That Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, the Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services and the Director of Finance, be granted authority to enter into relevant contracts required to undertake the approved Section 106 schemes and works programmes

Wards affected: Boroughwide;


07/07/2022 - Streetlighting Maintenance Term Contract 2022/23 Tender and Contract Award ref: 749    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Made at meeting: 07/07/2022 - Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Decision published: 28/07/2022

Effective from: 07/07/2022

Decision:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report that informed the Committee of the procurement process for the Streetlighting Maintenance Term Contract and sought authority to enter into an interim arrangement using the Peterborough Council Framework Contract for up to two years to deliver the essential maintenance of the Council’s streetlighting assets and to enter into the interim contract with Peterborough Council’s term maintenance contractor.  The report also sought authority for the Council to tender the Streetlighting Maintenance Term Contract within the next two years in accordance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and to submit the result to a future meeting to obtain authority to award the contract to the successful tenderer after the completion of the tendering process.  A Financial Implications Report was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

Resolved:

(1)     That approval to enter into the Peterborough Council Maintenance Term Framework Contract be granted;

(2)     That approval to enter into a short term (up to two years) contract with Peterborough Council’s term maintenance contractor, in accordance with the Council’s Procurement Rules and Public Contract Regulations be granted;

(3)     That the Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, the Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services and the Director of Finance, be granted authority to enter into relevant contracts required to undertake the interim Streetlighting Maintenance Service Programme, as set out in section 4 of the report.

 

Wards affected: Boroughwide;


07/07/2022 - Implications of the Environment Act 2021 ref: 748    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Made at meeting: 07/07/2022 - Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Decision published: 28/07/2022

Effective from: 07/07/2022

Decision:

The Executive Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report that set out the key implications of the Environment Act 2021 as they related to the Council, its policies and functions.  The report also set out the timescales over which key provisions of the Act came into force, summarised the resource implications of these provisions and invited the Committee to consider and advise on how some of these implications might be addressed going forward.  A summary of Environment Act provisions and implications for local authorities was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

The report explained that the Environment Act had passed into law in November 2021 and had created new obligations and powers, or had amended the existing framework of obligations and powers, for protection and enhancement of the natural environment.  The Act gave statutory force to some of the policy aspirations that had been set out in the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan.  While some of the provisions within the Act had some implications for local authorities, either as regulator, public body or a decision maker, the following were likely to be among the most important implications for the Council:

·         Waste and Resource Efficiency;

·         Air Quality;

·         Restoring Nature.

The Council already had policies in place covering many of the areas that had been included in the Act, either in its Local Plan, Local Transport Plan, Air Quality Action Plan, Waste Strategy or the Reading Climate Emergency Strategy.  Changes to these policies or their implementation might be required to take account of the new obligations and powers that had been created by the Act.

The report stated that one issue for the Council to consider was how best to take forward those obligations which either needed to be progressed jointly with neighbouring authorities, such as the duty to prepare a Local Nature Recovery Strategy at Berkshire scale, or which might benefit from being taken forward jointly.  The report therefore set out proposals for such collaboration and for the pooling of resources where this would enable new obligations to be met more efficiently.  This could include the pooling of ‘additional burdens’, funding received or the creation of joint roles where this would better enable the provision of the Act to be implemented more effectively.

The report explained that the Government was providing funding for local authorities in accordance with the ‘additional burdens’ principle and while some of this funding had been confirmed, for example, a sum of £20,094 in relation to new obligations on Biodiversity Net Gain, other funding was less clear, such as, for Local Nature Recovery Strategies which might be provided to the nominated ‘responsible authority’ (Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead in the case of Berkshire).  Officers confirmed that it was expected that more funding would be received.

The Committee discussed the report, and it was reported that some residents wanted to see the end of the booking system at the Smallmead Recycling Centre and a return to the ‘tip-and-go’ approach that had been in place prior to the pandemic. Officers advised the Committee that any waste issues arising from the Act would generally be considered by Housing Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee.

Resolved –

(1)     That the new obligations and powers arising from the Environment Act 2021 as they apply to central and local government be noted;

(2)     That the Council’s collaboration with the other Berkshire authorities, including the pooling of resources as required, to discharge the new responsibilities in relation to the provisions of the Act on ‘Restoring Nature’, particularly in relation to the development of a Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Berkshire be approved.

Wards affected: Boroughwide;


07/07/2022 - CityFibre and Grain Connect Limited Operations in Reading ref: 747    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Made at meeting: 07/07/2022 - Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee

Decision published: 28/07/2022

Effective from: 07/07/2022

Decision:

CityFibre were a telecommunications service provider that was rolling out a new gigabit speed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband Internet Service Provider network across Reading and into Wokingham and West Berkshire.  The project had started at the beginning of 2021 and the company had hired Instalcom to carry out the civil engineering work/installation works.  Once installed CityFibre would rent their fibre lines to telecommunications companies so that they didn’t have to install new fibre themselves.  Grain Connect Limited were also looking to provide a similar service in Reading, but on a smaller scale than CityFibre.

Stacey King, Regional Partnership Director CityFibre, and Paul Wilson, Head of Area Build CityFibre, attended the meeting and gave a presentation on CityFibre’s operations in Reading.  Roy Griffin, Regional Partnership Director City Fibre, joined the meeting online.

The presentation explained that CityFibre had been running a national programme to deploy a new generation of future-proofed digital infrastructure for the UK, were the second largest internet provider in the UK and their mission was to bring first class, state of the art broadband infrastructure services to Reading, including Wokingham and West Berkshire.  The company were in 285 locations nationally and were building in 75 of those locations currently. The places the company was looking to deploy in were part of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.  £4 billion was being invested nationally and within Reading this equated to a £58m investment.  The technology being deployed would serve everybody; domestic consumers, businesses, particularly smaller businesses and the public sector.  The company was building a once in generation upgrade of digital infrastructure in Reading by building brand new networks for the future.  CityFibre aimed to use existing access where they could, such as poles and ducts, and would rent space from Openreach and therefore the would be much less disruptive where that infrastructure was appropriate for them to use with work being completed more quickly.  The company was delivering to 100,000 properties across Reading.

The network was a wholesale network which meant that CityFibre did not sell to end users instead they had 35 Internet Service Provider partners within the network, although not all of them served every town or city and in Reading there were five ISPs in the network providing a range of choice for different budgets and requirements.

Finally, research had shown that the £58m being invested in Reading would result in £1bn of economic growth over 15 year.

The Committee discussed the presentation, asked questions and raised a number of points including the following:

·         Issues with the work in Caversham had included spoil and barriers being left on site when work had finished and traffic lights also remaining in place after the work had been completed;

·         The company acknowledged that there were lessons to be learnt from their work in Caversham such as, making sure they went out and pre-warned residents of work that was going to take place and making use of radio and local newspapers to ensure people were as aware as possible of what was happening;

·         Problems endured by some residents, particularly in Coley Ward, had included spoil left in driveways, barriers left in front of people’s properties and a lack/absence of notification Some of these issues were also reoccurring and had resulted in residents not just being inconvenienced, but being upset and damaging the reputation of the company. There was also a mismatch in what CityFibre said would happen and what had taken place;

·         There had also been issues with work on the Oxford Road with vans parking on double yellow lines and it was acknowledged that this had been a challenging area with work staring in the middle of the pandemic, as a result the number of gangs at individual sites had been reduced;

·         With regard to the Oxford Road Conservation Area, the company had tried to use existing poles as much as possible and, in respect of Houses in Multiple Occupancy a single cable would be connected to the building and then split for each residence rather than multiple cables going from the pole to the building;

·         Despite having thought work had been completed some areas were to be subject to further work and road closures, such as Jessie Terrace in Abbey Ward, and assurance was sought that a full briefing would be given before work started and that residents would be informed in advance and not just by letter;

·         All work was carried out under a permit and in the majority of cases was completed within the agreed time scale, occasionally this was not achieved due to the complexity of the work, which is what had happened, for example, in Caversham;

·         CityFibre concurred that the nature of their work was disruptive, but that they assured the Committee that they were very responsive when problems arose and issues were taken up with residents individually, if need be They also aimed to work collaboratively and to be as accommodating as they could be;

·         The company had worked closely with the Council’s Highways team and in November 2021 had presented an option to carry out the work in Caversham as quickly as possible and this had resulted in equipment being kept in place during peak times;

·         When there had been issues previously an improvement plan had been agreed with officers and as a result there have been improvements, however recently performance had reverted back to how it had been before the plan had been implemented and it was suggested that it should be reinstated;

·         A specialist traffic management company was employed to oversee the work and a team of engineers dealt with issues on site;

·         It was agreed that signage and communication could be improved to notify residents of work that was going to take place, of ongoing work and to apologise if there were problems; CityFibre confirmed they were working on changing signage on their sites and contact details should be available and visible on all sites;

·         Instalcom were independently audited on the quality of their work and that there was zero tolerance on defects; individual issues were taken very seriously and were discussed at executive level on a weekly basis;

·         Letters to residents could be tracked through an app and photographic evidence provided when they were delivered, although it had been discovered that one contractor had not delivered letters. It was also acknowledged that the letters put through people’s doors could be mistaken for junk mail and other methods of communicating with residents would be investigated;

·         CityFibre confirmed that work gangs that had caused problems for residents, such as leaving barriers outside their properties, had been removed from the job and no longer worked in Reading;

·         Finally, it was confirmed that it was unlikely that any other company would carry out such a large scale deployment in the town.

The Committee thanked CityFibre for taking part in the meeting and agreed that the situation would be monitored going forward.

Peter Murphy, Head of National FTTP Operations, Grain Connect Limited, also addressed the Committee remotely and explained that Grain Connect were the cheapest ISP in the UK and were not looking at covering the entirety of Reading, but only around 10 to 20 thousand properties.  Work would be carried out in phases, usually in blocks of a thousand properties, with the company using its own duct network.  Sites would be small and once completed the company would then sell the service to residents, therefore the aim was to not upset communities too much during the installation stage.  Residents would be told of forthcoming work in-person by the company with representatives going door to door.  Contractors and supervisors would be employed on-site to oversee the work and overruns were usually rare as the company only worked on two or three streets at a time.  However, there was no guarantee that there wouldn’t be complaints, but it was a smaller scale operation and the company had already been liaising with the Council’s Highways Team prior to work starting.

Resolved –

(1)    That the presentation be noted;

(2)     That Roy Griffin, Stacey King, Paul Wilson and Peter Murphy be thanked for taking part in the meeting;

(3)    That ongoing work in the Borough by CityFibre be monitored.

Wards affected: Boroughwide;