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Message Board Notices
Tuesday, 24 October, 2023
Rogue Roofing & Gutter Cleaning Traders

Residents across the Bracknell and Wokingham police area are being warned to be vigilant and to not become victim to rogue Roofing & Guttering traders.

At this time of year many rooves develop a growth of moss over the tiles and falling leaves may clog gutters, these are rarely critical situations that require immediate resolution, so never be pressured into accepting offers of cleaning from any Cold Calling tradesman.

There are laws that anyone working at height or on rooves has to comply with, so if your caller has nothing more than a ladder, there is every possibility that they are not genuine.

If someone knocks claiming to be simply in the area and offering to do the work there and then, there is every possibility that they are not genuine. Reputable tradesmen do not seek work in this manner.

If your roof and gutters aren’t causing you a problem, don’t accept a strangers word that you need work doing, unfortunately rogue traders who are allowed up on a roof often claim to then discover serious damage (which they may well have caused themselves) to tiles or chimneys that they offer to repair at extortionate prices.

Rogue Traders using such scams have recently been reported after targeting vulnerable residents in the Beach Lane area of Earley and are likely to have struck elsewhere.

Protect yourself and your property by following this simple safety advice:

  • If you are not sure who is at your door, don’t open it.
  • Ask the caller for proof of identity, if they claim to be from a legitimate company think about asking if they are a Ltd. Company or a Sole Trader, and ask for and check the company’s VAT registration details. You can confirm any Ltd company’s details on line, via the Companies House website, check to see if they are registered with Directory Enquiries - don’t use any telephone numbers provided by the caller- they may be bogus.
  • Don’t let them onto your property until you are satisfied.
  • If in doubt keep them out.
  • If you are suspicious report the incident to police on-line or by phoning 101.

If you believe your home requires repair/ cleaning work and you see adverts or receive flyers from individuals or companies offering such work, consider making on line checks to confirm any quoted addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or websites.

Best still is to seek recommendations available from Citizen’s Advice or Trading Standards.

Trading Standards will also be able to advise you on how to set up a “No Cold Calling Zone” in your neighbourhood should you and your neighbours want one.

Don’t be rushed into agreeing work or parting with your money. Obtain written quotes for any work confirming the company’s details and details such as, exactly what needs repairing, (dimensions and materials), who will be removing debris and how much it will cost before you allow it to commence.

As always if you have any information relating to this type of offence or would like to report a crime please contact Thames Valley Police via the on-line portal on their website or by phoning the non-emergency number 101. For residents across the entire Bracknell and Wokingham Police area you can contact Trading Standards on 01635 519930.

Friday, 20 October, 2023
Bracknell Forest Council’s financial position

Like most other local authorities across the country, Bracknell Forest Council is facing a challenging financial position – with unprecedented pressure on its budget.

On Tuesday, 17 October, the council’s decision-making executive was given an update on the interim budget position.

Earlier this year, the council was facing a financial gap of around £4m. However, due to lots of hard work behind the scenes, this had reduced to around £3m.

While this brings the council closer to balancing its books, and there is no current risk of bankruptcy (called a section 114 notice), it is still in a difficult financial position. A position it has never been in before.

This deficit is largely due to rising costs, rising inflation, increased service demand and years of underfunding from central government.

Like everyone, the council is not exempt from the rise in the cost of living. The high rate of inflation also affects all council services.

In addition to inflationary costs, the council’s budget is affected each year by other cost pressures, notably relating to increased demand for services. Alongside the higher demand for social care services, prices for care packages are rising much faster than inflation.

Additionally, more people in the borough have care needs that the council must meet, including children in care or with special educational needs and disability (SEND), and adults with learning difficulties or physical disabilities. This care and support is non-negotiable and must be prioritised but still adds to council budget pressures.

Another pressure has come from the amount of business rates collected dropping drastically. The national Valuation Office Agency (VOA) determines business rates for all businesses, and continuously re-assesses how much companies are paying. A number of significant businesses in the borough have been reassessed this year and so the council must make refunds backdated to 2017 - totalling several million pounds.

While all of these pressures are out of the council’s control, it must take action to address the budget gap.

Changes have already taken place with immediate effect to help reduce overspending, this includes making sure staff only spend on essential items necessary to provide frontline services and holding vacancies where possible.

Cllr Mary Temperton, Leader of the council, said: “Although the current year’s financial position is particularly challenging, we are in a strong place compared to similar local authorities.

“Some councils have declared bankruptcy, and the number of councils close to this position is rising. Thankfully Bracknell Forest Council is not in this position, but we want to be honest and transparent with our residents about our current financial situation.

“We are in an unprecedented financial position with a £3m gap due to spiralling costs, rising inflation and increased demand for our services. “While these are not factors within our control, we must address the budget gap. This means that over the coming months we will have to take some very difficult decisions and will have to look very carefully about what we can afford to prioritise for the remainder of this year and future years.”

The council’s interim financial position will continue to be monitored by senior staff weekly. Additional spending controls will be put in place, where necessary.

In parallel, work is being carried out on the budget for 2024/25. Many of the pressures being faced in the current year will inevitably impact on next year too. Draft budget proposals will be put to the executive in December, where they will be asked to approve a public consultation on the plans. You can watch back the update from the executive.

You can watch back the update from the executive here
Monday, 9 October, 2023
New ‘Any of Us’ campaign to find new foster carers

A new campaign, “Any of Us”, highlighting that anyone can be a foster carer has been launched by the Bracknell Forest fostering team.

Fostering involves giving a safe and caring home to a child (or children) who cannot live with their parents. This could be for many reasons including family illness, family breakdown, problems at home or a situation where their welfare is threatened.

The national shortage of foster carers has brought more than 80 local authorities together to collaborate in the largest ever public sector fostering campaign. The local authorities have created a powerful three-minute film showing the lives of three ordinary people who do extraordinary things by fostering local children.

The film introduces you to three people from different backgrounds, but all share an important capacity to care – an instinct that makes them ideal foster carers.

The main characters’ stories are interwoven with teenager Chloe, on her journey into foster care.

Cllr Roy Bailey, lead member for children’s services, said: “Bracknell Forest fostering, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2022, is responsible for finding foster families for children aged 0-18 throughout Bracknell Forest. Becoming a foster carer with a local service like ours means you can give a local home to local children. For someone like Chloe, a local home means stability, familiarity and belonging. It allows them to stay at school, continue with clubs and activities, stay close to friends and feel safe in familiar places.

“Unfortunately, we also find that a lot of men rule themselves out of fostering. However, for children who have experienced negative relationships with males in their past, a man who is calm, patient and caring can shows behavior that is socially acceptable and helps them create better connections later in life.”

Peter Hodges, service lead for fostering at Bracknell Forest Council, said: “Currently Bracknell Forest Council is urgently seeking more foster carers to care for local children and to give them a better start in life. I would encourage anyone who has ever thought about being a foster carer to watch the video then visit our website or give us a call for more information or an informal chat with our fostering team. Caring for those who are more vulnerable than us is an instinct we all have. All other skills needed as a foster carer can be gained through training and ongoing support from the Bracknell Forest fostering team.”

For more information on fostering in Bracknell Forest, visit:

Thursday, 14 September, 2023
Council plans to accelerate climate change strategy

A new target to achieve net zero CO2 emissions as close to 2030 as possible, was agreed at Bracknell Forest’s full council meeting last night.

The council has been working towards the government set target of carbon neutrality by 2050. Following a successful year of climate change action in the borough, the council is committing to broaden and accelerate the climate change strategy to meet this target as close to 2030 as possible.

Last night also saw the 2022/2023 climate change progress report be shared with the full council.

Some of the council’s key actions in the report included:

  • Energy efficiency improvements were made to many of the council’s buildings through Salix funding and to over 60 vulnerable households through the Warm, Safe and Well and Green Homes Grant schemes.
  • An inaugural schools' climate change conference was hosted, accompanied by initial seed funding for in-school projects.
  • Food waste collections expanded to an additional 640 flats across the borough.
  • 1,300 new trees were planted across the borough.
  • 32 new EV charging points were installed in council car parks.

To help achieve the new targets and involve all sectors of the community in the council’s climate change work, a new Joint Community Board has been formed. The board will work together on climate change projects to help the whole of Bracknell Forest reduce its carbon output and will be supported by several working groups representing different sectors of our community, such as schools, local businesses and community groups.

Cllr Mary Temperton, leader of Bracknell Forest Council and executive member for council strategy and climate change, said:

"We recognise that addressing climate change is an emergency, and our commitment to achieving net zero remains steadfast.

“The climate change summit in July reinforced the urgency of this issue, and we are taking concrete steps to accelerate our progress.

“This is everyone’s responsibility, and everyone can help. Please do your bit by recycling what you can, travelling in a greener way and making more sustainable choices."

For more information on the council’s climate change work, visit the council’s climate change page. (Link below)

Climate change page
Wednesday, 13 September, 2023
Site proposed for new SEND school in Bracknell Forest

Following the successful bid for funding to build a new autism spectrum disorder (ASD) school, the council’s executive will be discussing the proposed location for the new school next week.

A number of sites throughout the borough have been considered, taking into account suitability of the site and costs. The preferred location proposed for the new school is the site at Buckler’s Park in Crowthorne, where freehold land would be made available by Cala Homes.

The council’s decision-making executive will be asked to agree the site at its meeting on Tuesday, 19 September.

Other sites considered had previously been used for education, however they required the council to purchase the land at considerable cost. They also required considerable work to clear and ready the land for construction, which would create considerable delay to the opening of the school. The site at Buckler’s Park allows for construction to start as soon as planning and design has been finalised, making it the most time and cost-effective option.

Buckler’s Park has always had an education facility earmarked on the site – this was part of the agreed planning for the development. It was originally expected that a two-form entry primary school would be required. Since work started on the development, primary pupil numbers in mainstream education in the borough have reduced, while the number of children of all ages with SEND requirements has increased over time and is due to continue to rise.

The current special school provision in the borough is at capacity and local mainstream schools have sufficient places to accommodate children from the development. From the current data, the addition of a primary school on the site would have a detrimental impact on other local schools, by further increasing the number of pupil vacancies.

The majority of primary aged children living in Buckler’s Park attend one of two schools within a mile and a half, with others mainly attending one of the other four primary schools within two and a half miles. Families on the development have a choice of well-established and high quality local primary schools.

If a school is not built on the site, the land will go back to the developer.

The new ASD school will accommodate up to 100 pupils from reception to year 13, with the site providing indoor and outdoor teaching spaces.

Cllr Roy Bailey, executive member for children, young people and learning, said: “Improving services and opportunities for children and young people with SEND is a big priority and a new autistic spectrum disorder school will provide much needed provision.

“A number of sites were considered, and the proposed site at Buckler’s Park will be considered by the executive at its meeting next week.”

Grainne Siggins, executive director for people, said: “The Buckler’s Park site offers the best option for both cost and timings in respect of a new autistic spectrum disorder school.

If the executive agrees the location next week, construction work could start as soon as the design and planning stages have been completed with a prospective opening date of September 2026.”

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