District Council News from Councillor Clive Hooker
Parish Council Report for period to 31 July 2019
Cllr Clive Hooker (West Berkshire Council, Downlands Ward)
West Berkshire Council
During the month of July I attended four Parish Council meetings, those being Great Shefford, Leckhampstead, Brightwalton and Beedon and chaired two Western Area Planning Committee meetings, when eleven planning applications were considered.
Speeding in several of our parishes is an ongoing concern and I have this month held meetings with the relevant parish council representatives to address these matters and have conveyed these concerns to the responsible Officers at West Berkshire Council to consider instigating speed check surveys, reassessing old speed check data, training parish Councillors and local residents in operating Speed Indicator Devices (SID’s) and where practical introducing traffic calming measures. Parish Clerks will be advised when and where the next SID training course will take place.
In my role as Vice Chairman of West Berkshire Council, I performed one civic duty in the absence of the Chairman, that of attending Denison Barracks in Hermitage to look at their facilities and meet the staff that carry out very important work for the armed forces and the nation.
Please see below my report on other interesting and important matters that have been ongoing at West Berkshire Council over the last month.
Following the Bradfield Club agreement to purchase 50% of the building from West Berkshire Council, Berkshire Youth have now submitted their planning application (https://publicaccess.westberks.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=PU23NORD0K400&activeTab=summary).
The application, which will be a delegated decision unless called in, is expected to be determined by 28 August.
Cllr Lynne Doherty (former portfolio holder for Children and Young People) has championed the venue being retained for use by young people and was instrumental in getting the agreement reached and over the line with Bradfield Club.
This is a major commitment to the young people of Newbury and West Berkshire and the Council is delighted that over the next 12 months or so this long held ambition will at long last become a reality.
University Centre Newbury (UCN)
The Council was approached by Newbury College to provide interim funding for a new purpose-built Centre on the Newbury College campus, as part of the University Centre development. The Centre is expected to be of benefit to the local economy as a whole and therefore is in line with the priorities of West Berkshire Council “working together to make West Berkshire an even greater place in which to live, work and learn”.
The Executive approved the loan facility of £3.5m at its meeting on 25 July to bridge the timing gap between the construction of the Centre and the sale of a parcel of land at the site.
The overall cost of the University Centre is estimated to be in the region of £5m to £6m. Newbury College has made a successful bid to the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVBLEP) and has secured a capital grant of £1.75m dependant on project milestones being achieved.
This is really positive news for the district and the courses will be geared to meet higher level skills needs for local business, delivering qualifications in the five priority sectors identified by LEP research – digital technologies, business & finance, engineering, health & social care and construction.
The development of the Centre meets the Council Strategy 2019-2023 and Vision 2036 priorities of supporting everyone to meet their full potential, developing infrastructure to grow the local economy, ensuring sustainable services through innovation and partnerships, supporting businesses to start, develop and thrive and making West Berkshire a great place to live.
Due diligence will need to be carried on the proposal and ability to secure the legal charge. Appropriate facility agreement and legal charge deed will need to be drawn up. The loan facility can be provided by using the general power of competence under Section1 of the Localism Act 2011.
The Kennet Centre is up for sale at around £15m and, although several organisations have suggested that West Berkshire Council should purchase it as part of its commercial strategy, the WBC Chief Executive, Nick Carter, has said that “the Kennet Centre profile does not meet the stringent criteria of the property strategy and could expose the district’s tax payers to major financial risk.”
It is thought that there are others better placed to redevelop the centre.
I informed you in my last brief that West Berkshire Council had declared a Climate Emergency. As part of our consultation process in drawing together our Strategy and delivery plan, we will be holding a Climate Conference.
Plans are underway and it is to be held at Newbury College on Monday 28 October 2019. This date has been specifically chosen to provide the option for young people from the youth protest marches to be able to attend during half term.
Rt Hon Richard Benyon MP will open the conference and we shall expect to hear from a mixture of speakers. In addition to the keynote speakers there will be parallel hour long sessions running in the morning and afternoon. More details are to follow and tickets will be available shortly through the Council’s online booking system (due to capacity issues there will be a maximum of four tickets available per applicant – age restrictions will apply).
WBC is considering nominations for assets in Burghfield, Hungerford, Kintbury and Newbury to be included in the local list of heritage assets, as having special local architectural, archaeological or historic interest.
The consultation runs until 22 August and can be found here: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=36247.
Health and Wellbeing blog
Please visit https://info.westberks.gov.uk/healthandwellbeingblog.
The motion brought by Cllr David Marsh opposing Heathrow expansion, which was referred to the Transport Advisory Group, will return to Council for debate on 12 September 2019.
Green Bin Subscription Renewal 2019/20
Current subscribers will receive an email or letter with details about how to renew their subscriptions online and to ensure collections continue without interruption, residents should subscribe before 11 August 2019.
The 2019/20 subscription period runs from 2 September 2019 to 28 August 2020 and costs £50 for the first bin - https://citizen.westberks.gov.uk/gardenwastesubscribe.
The main renewal process is for people to use the online subscription service but we are aware that there have been some technical issues with the payment portal. These are being addressed, but payments can be taken by cheque or over the phone if residents cannot access the portal – please contact Customer Services (01635 551111) in the first instance, where you will be directed to dial a secure payment line.
Garden waste can also be taken to one of the recycling centres in Newbury and Padworth, or can be composted at home (opening times for the recycling centres, seven days per week, are: Newbury: 8.30am - 7.30pm; Padworth: 8am - 6pm).
The revised 2019/20 West of Berkshire Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board Strategy and Business Plan have been finalised and can be found at http://www.sabberkshirewest.co.uk/board-members/priorities-plans-and-reports/.
Berkshire West ICP Launch Event
On 18 July the Berkshire West Integrated Care Partnership was launched at Shaw House.
Geographically, the ICP covers the West Berkshire, Reading and Wokingham council areas and sits below the Integrated Care System covering Berkshire West, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (or “BOB”). Underneath the ICP sit the three local Health and Wellbeing Boards and below them the new Primary Care Networks (“PCNs”) which bring together local GP practices:
The ICP consist of seven public sector organisations – the three councils, the Berkshire West Care Commissioning Group (CCG) and the three local NHS Foundation Trusts (Berkshire Healthcare, Royal Berkshire and South Central Ambulance). It has 44 GP practices, a combined budget of about £1bn and in excess of 10,000 staff.
The ICP has a number of aims, including:
- supporting people to take care of their own health and well-being;
- providing care closer to home wherever appropriate;
- integrating services across providers to improve delivery;
- providing co-ordinated primary, community and social care to efficiently meet residents’ needs;
- to better understand the needs of the population so as to design services more effectively;
- to share understanding of the quality of services so as to have a system-wide approach to the delivery and monitoring of quality;
- to make the most effective use of the Berkshire West pound and deliver financial sustainability;
- to improve staff and workplace wellbeing, and sustain a highly skilled health and care workforce.
West Berkshire Lottery
The lottery has raised £55k in its first year so far. This is hugely encouraging and we know it is making a difference to the charities which have signed up. For more information, go to https://www.westberkshirelottery.co.uk/.
And even better, since 21 July, anyone purchasing a ticket for the Lottery draw has been automatically entered in to an additional weekly raffle to win prizes, courtesy of local businesses in West Berkshire, for example:
- three months free membership at leisure centres in West Berkshire including the Northcroft Lido, courtesy of Legacy Leisure;
- £30 to spend on a meal in Bill’s Restaurant, Newbury;
- Mrs Farquhar’s Afternoon Tea for two at the Grade I listed Shaw House.
There are now 96 causes signed up to fundraise with 50p from each £1 ticket sold going directly to a local good cause, and a further 10p going into the community fund.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Survey
Matthew Barber, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, is seeking your views about policing in the Thames Valley. To have your say visit https://www.matthewbarber.co.uk/policing-survey-2019.
New Local Police Area Commander
Superintendent Nick John took over from Jim Weems as the new local Commander for West Berkshire from 1 August.
Councillor Downlands Ward
West Berkshire Council
6th August 2019