Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: St Aldate's Room - Oxford Town Hall. View directions

Contact: John Mitchell, Committee Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

51.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor xxx (substitute Councillor xxx) and Councillor xx (substitute Councillor xxx).

52.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

No declarations of  interest were made.

53.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair said that the work of the Growth Board Scrutiny Panel was getting  underway, with its next meeting on 22 November. He reminded the Committee that he, Councillor Henwood and Councillor Simmons served on the Panel.

In relation to item 9 of the agenda (Appointment to a vacancy on the Housing Panel), he had agreed with the Chair of the Panel (Councillor Henwood) that the matter should be deferred until after the imminent City Council by election. The  Committee agreed to this.

 

54.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 134 KB

 

Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 08 October 2018 be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 08 October 2018 as a true and accurate record,  subject to two minor typographical corrections.

55.

Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 80 KB

 

The Scrutiny Committee operates within a work plan which is agreed at the start of the Council year. The Work Plan is reviewed at each meeting so that it can be adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Committee and take account of any changes to the latest Forward Plan (which outlines decisions to be taken by the City Executive Board or Council). The Committee is asked to review and note its work plan for the 2018/19 council year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer updated the Committee on key points in relation to its work plan. The item on the Westgate Centre was confirmed for the December meeting of the Committee as had the attendance of its Chief Executive. An item on graffiti prevention and removal was scheduled for the February meeting. An item on the Oxpens redevelopment scheme had been scheduled for March, as had a Corporate Plan Update.

The Chair said that all efforts were being made to secure the quality of data and senior officer attendance which had been promised to facilitate a proper discussion about  Fusion Lifestyle data in December. 

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56.

Report back on recommendations pdf icon PDF 58 KB

The City Executive Board met on 16 October and considered the Committee’s recommendation in relation to Energy Statements  for residential developments of less than 5 units.  A copy of the Board Member’s response is attached.

 

Minutes:

The Chair was pleased to report the City Executive Board’s agreement to the Committee’s recommendation in relation to Energy Statements included in the Draft Local Plan.

 

57.

No Local Connection Review Group - Draft Report pdf icon PDF 544 KB

The ‘No Local Connection’ Review Group was established by the Scrutiny Committee on 3 July 2018. The purpose of the review was to consider the Council’s approach to applying local connection criteria as a means of defining entitlement to access the Adult Homeless Pathway, and make recommendations for service improvement where necessary.

 

The Committee is asked to endorse the report and agree that it be submitted to the City Executive Board for consideration at its meeting on 14 November 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The ‘No Local Connection’ Review Group had been established by the Scrutiny Committee on 3 July 2018. The purpose of the review was to consider the Council’s approach to applying local connection criteria as a means of defining entitlement to access the Adult Homeless Pathway, and make recommendations for service improvement where necessary.

 

 

The Chair welcomed Councillor McManners who joined the meeting at this point, and to his first meeting as a member of the Committee.  He welcomed too, Councillors Aziz and Howlett, Monica Gregory and the Housing Strategy and Needs Manager  to the table, all of whom would contribute to discussion of this item. The purpose of the item was to seek the Committee’s agreement for the report to be submitted to the City Executive Board at its meeting the following week. The report was accompanied by a supplement noting officers’ advice about each of the recommendations.

 

Councillor Bely-Summers, as Chair of the Review Group,  introduced the draft report by quoting from her foreword  to the report and concluding with the observation that  councillors should  provide   “political leadership and direction” in relation to matters of such importance.

 

Cllr Aziz, speaking as a member of the Review Group, expressed her thanks to all those who had contributed to its work, with particular reference to those who had experienced homelessness. She recognised that this was, inevitably, an emotive matter. Homelessness was a national, humanitarian, issue that affected some of the most vulnerable members of society to whom  we owed a duty of care.  The scale of the problem warranted radical action.

 

Monica Gregory spoke to the Committee as someone who had experienced homelessness as a result of fleeing domestic violence and returning to Oxford where she had been born and bred. Despite this she was deemed to have no local connection and found herself “not knowing which way to turn” She had to fight for some time to have the connection recognised which she did with the help of MENCAP.  The experience of being homeless was “soul destroying” leaving her scared and not knowing “how or where she would end up”. She thanked the Committee for giving her the opportunity to share her experience.

 

Councillor Howlett, speaking as a member of Review Group, thanked Monica Gregory for her contribution. He said homelessness was a complex and gruesome issue which could only be addressed satisfactorily by listening to those who have experienced it. This was a humanitarian crisis in one of the wealthiest cities in the UK which required a bold response and a demonstration of political leadership, working in partnership with officers.  He drew attention to a few particular flaws in the current arrangements which the report sought to address such as the fact that volunteering did not count as one of the criteria to demonstrate a local connection whereas paid work did. He also said the Local Connection Policy needed to take account of those who may come from one of the city’s immediate satellites such as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Annual Workforce Equalities Report pdf icon PDF 149 KB

At its meeting on 14 November 2018, the City Executive Board will consider a report which seeks approval for the publication of the Annual Workforce Equalities Report and an associated Action Plan to improve the diversity of the Council’s workforce and make it more representative of the community it serves. 

 

This is an opportunity for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations to the Board beforehand.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee had been asked to consider the Annual Workforce Equalities Report and associated Action Plan before it went to the City Executive Board (CEB) the following week. Councillor Chapman, in his capacity as Portfolio Holder for Customer Focused Services, introduced the report.

 

Reflecting on his previous role as a member of the Scrutiny Committee, when he had argued the need for more robust data about these matters he was pleased to bring the Committee a report which sought to do just that, together with an action plan to address areas of weakness. Oxford was a diverse community and to promote and ensure social cohesion this diversity should be reflected in the Council’s workforce as well as providing opportunities for all. The data illustrated areas of good progress but the low participation rate of BAME and females in higher graded roles was a concern. Whilst there was evidence of a good level of interest in Council vacancies from BAME groups, around 22% of all applications received, the progression rate through to job offer stage was much lower. The Equalities Action Plan presented to Scrutiny was radical and focused on positive action to promote and encourage the recruitment from the BAME community.

 

The Head of Business Support said that a workforce which was more ethnically and culturally diverse would be better placed to understand the needs of the Council’s customers and provide services more attuned to the community’s needs. There was a now a better understanding of the make-up of the local community, as well as local and national labour markets.  The data included in the report included staff employed by Oxford Direct Services (ODS) but has been disaggregated between the Council and ODS to reflect the creation of ODS in April this year. The action plan is informed by the data collated, and builds on existing good practice but with a strong focus on  positive action, as permitted by the Employment Act of 2010, something which had the potential to make a significant difference. Some actions would be directed towards specific service areas. The Council wants to become an employer of choice, but to achieve this requires that we better ‘showcase’ what we can offer as an employer. The importance of taking all steps to remove unconscious bias was recognised, and the contents of job descriptions and information sought from potential employees were being reviewed to ensure that they were all strictly necessary. The Action Plan would be launched shortly after the CEB meeting next week.

 

In a wide ranging discussion the following matters were raised, among others.

 

·         Should thought be given to giving the opportunity of allowing BAME candidates to “shine” as a result of their being fluent in more than one language?

·         The “Religion/Belief & Non Belief profile” distinguished between “Catholic” and “Christian”. Agreed that the distinction should be removed. It was noted that care should be taken in removing or combining categories as some are required by statute and making such changes has the potential to reduce the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Housing Panel Vacancy

On 5 June 2018, the Scrutiny Committee agreed to appoint seven Councillors to the Housing Scrutiny Panel (four Labour, two Liberal Democrat and one Green). One of the seats allocated to the Liberal Democrat Group has become vacant and the Committee is asked to consider any nominations for this seat.

Minutes:

It had been agreed to defer consideration of this item pending the outcome of a forthcoming by-election .

 

 

60.

Dates of future meetings

The next meetings of the Scrutiny Committee and its panels are scheduled as follows:

 

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

  • 04 December
  • 14 January 2019

 

 

Standing Panels

·         Housing Standing Panel: 11 October, 12 November

·         Finance Standing Panel: 06 December, 8 January, 9 January

·         Companies Panel:  13 November, 11 December, 03 January 2019

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm

 

 

Minutes:

The next meetings of the Scrutiny Committee and its panels are scheduled as follows:

 

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

  • 04 December
  • 14 January 2019

 

 

Standing Panels

·         Housing Standing Panel: 11 October, 12 November

·         Finance Standing Panel: 06 December, 8 January, 9 January

·         Companies Panel:  13 November, 11 December, 03 January 2019

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm