Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

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Contact: John Mitchell, Committee Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

24.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

None.

25.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Tom Hudson the new Scrutiny Officer to his first meeting of the Committee.

With the Committee’s agreement and at the Chair’s suggestion the agenda was re-ordered to take account of the convenience to guest speakers.

 

 

 

26.

Monitoring the Community Grants Programme - Report for 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 234 KB

At its meeting on 11 September 2019, the Cabinet will consider a report on Monitoring the Community Grants Programme for 2018/19. This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make recommendations to the Cabinet if it wishes.

 

Julia Tomkins, Grants & External Funding Officer, will attend for this item.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities, Councillor Marie Tidball,   introduced the report which would be considered by the Cabinet at its meeting later in the month.  At a volatile and challenging time for the charitable and voluntary sector, grants from the City Council provided vital support which had a significant social impact. It was particularly noteworthy that the £1,515, 043 awarded  by the council leveraged a further £4,264,575 of funding for the sector, or nearly £3 for every £1 invested. This support benefited some 200,000 people in one way or another (this would include some people who benefitted from more than one opportunity as well as some from outside the City). Particular attention was being paid to ensure that the programme supports those with protected characteristics in an equitable fashion. An event was being held later in the year, intended to alert the BAME community in particular to the opportunities available via the grant programme.

 

The introduction of the Oxford Lottery in March 2019 was an innovative means of securing additional funding to support local voluntary and community groups in the city.

Simplifying the process for applying for funding had encouraged applications from organisations which might otherwise not have done so.  Support for social enterprises was something that could be looked at (they were generally not eligible). It was difficult to quantify the extent to which the help provided by grants supported statutory and other services which had been cut (e.g. loss of Children’s Centres). Julia Tomkins, the  Grants & External Funding Officer, said that there was however a discernible increase in both  demand and support for those experiencing multiple difficulties.   Councillor Tidball agreed to take this question to the Children’s Trust. Similarly, it was difficult for grant holders to measure and for the Council to aggregate data relating to the returns on investment of the programme arising from negative outcomes avoided.

 

The Grants & External Funding Officer agreed to find out how much funding was directed to supporting those who are homeless and rough sleeping.

 

The Committee were very appreciative of the contribution made by the grants programme and agreed to make the following recommendations to Cabinet:

 

  1. That the Council produces a plan of action to raise the profile of the Oxford lottery, particularly through promotion to residents, large local businesses and within the Council itself.
  2. To consider how the grants programme eligibility criteria may be altered to enable  social enterprises in the City to access and deliver grant funded projects.

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Tidball and the Grants & External Funding Officer for their contribution to this important discussion.

 

 

27.

Annual Air Quality Status report - 2018 pdf icon PDF 4 MB

 

The Annual Air Quality Status Report is now a standing item on the Committee’s agenda. This is an opportunity for the Committee to note the report for 2018 and comment if it wishes.

 

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Mai  Jarvis,Environmental Quality Team Manager, will attend for this item.

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon, Councillor Tom Hayes Oxford introduced the report by reminding the Committee of the unequivocal connection between poor air quality and people’s health. Progress in improving air quality in the city had been good but the rate of improvement was slowing down. The period 2008- 2018 had seen a 37% reduction in NO2 levels in places where it was measured. Air quality was measured at 72 city locations and the air pollution levels at 4 of them exceeded the annual mean legal limit value for NO2 (compared with 17 locations five years previously). The Council had built up considerable expertise in this area and its innovative and proactive approach had led, among other things, to grant funding which will enable the purchase of electric delivery vehicles, the installation of EV charging points across the city and the development of an ‘Energy Superhub’. As a result of this investment good progress was now being made with introduction of buses, taxis and the council’s own fleet of vehicles with reduced emission levels in anticipation of the introduction of a Zero Emissions Zone in 2020  in the city centre.  There was a growing consensus about the risks associated with poor air quality it was important for everyone to do what was necessary to reduce the risks associated with air pollution.

 

The question of being more prescriptive in relation to the Low Emissions Zone than is currently the case (e.g. that it should apply to HGVs as well as buses) was constrained by the fact that the Council is not the transport authority and any proposals must be agreed in partnership with the County Council, notwithstanding the good and growing relationship the City Council had with the County about these matters. Consideration would be given to exploring the initiative made in Sheffield which has run vehicles on biogas generated from the raw sewage treatment process.

 

It was noted that some parts of the city were not subject to air quality monitoring but were, at the same time, areas of relative poverty. In these areas it was likely that some residents would suffer from poor health and therefore be more vulnerable. Mai Jarvis, Environmental Quality Team Manager, said that while monitoring for the purposes of the annual status report was subject to strict guidelines, the Oxair project offered the opportunity to use low cost sensors much more flexibly.

 

The anti-idling campaign which had focussed on schools had been valuable.  Consideration might be given to extending it to other areas.  It was noted that while powers are available in relation to idling, the legislation make it difficult to take action against individuals. The Government however intends to introduce revised powers which will address this point.

 

The Committee noted that harmful emissions from diesel train engines and engines in  canal and river boats  close to residential areas should be subject to controls. The Environmental Quality Team Manager said that analysis of NO2 emissions from trains in the city had shown that,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 333 KB

 

Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 June 2019be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 04 June 2019 as a true and accurate record subject to the correction of a number of minor typographical errors.

 

29.

Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 184 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 Cabinet or Council). The Committee is asked to review and note its work plan for the remainder of the 2019/20 council year.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Lygo left during this item.

 

The Scrutiny officer alerted the Committee to suggestions for changes to the Committee’s work plan consequent upon slippage in the Cabinet Forward Plan and other factors. This included adding the Quarter 1 Monitoring Report to the October Committee’s agenda as no Finance Panel meeting was scheduled for that month.  The Committee agreed to these suggestions.

 

In discussion about potential review groups for the present council year, the Chair noted that capacity to run them would be constrained to some extent by the limited time available (a later Autumn start than usual and an earlier end as a result of pre-local election purdah in April 2020). In practice there would be time for one substantive review or, perhaps, one slightly less substantive review and one very short and focused review, the latter to take place during February.

 

In discussion it was suggested that Community Wealth Building could be merged with the Monitoring Social Value item on the Finance Panel work plan. An item on early outcomes from the Citizen’s Assembly  would be desirable at some point, perhaps in December, in addition to a wider item on Public Participation in Decision Making and Citizen Involvement. It was agreed that the scheduling of these items would be subject to decisions the Committee makes on establishing review groups.

 

The Committee agreed to decide upon review group subjects at its next meeting.  It was also agreed that Members should scope their proposed subjects in advance of the meeting. Suggestions (and draft scopes) should be sent to the Scrutiny Officer as soon as possible in order that they may be circulated before the next meeting.

 

 

30.

Performance monitoring - quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 186 KB

The Scrutiny Committee has a role in monitoring the Council’s performance.  Quarterly reports are provided on a set of selected corporate and service performance indicators. This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to identify any areas for further review, and to note and comment on Council performance at the end of quarter 1 of 2019/20.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors Arshad, Djafari-Marbini and Bely-Summers left during this item.

 

Councillor Fry had, prior to the meeting, posed a number of detailed questions about the performance monitoring report and provided them to the Scrutiny Officer. The questions were tabled for the benefit of the Committee and the Scrutiny Officer was able to read out responses received from officers.  Those questions and responses are attached as an appendix to these minutes.

 

The Committee agreed to recommend to the Cabinet that:

 

  1. There should be clarification  about which, if any, of these indicators included data from Oxford Direct Services or Oxford City Housing Limited and the way in which these were used, particularly in reference to whether under measure BI001 – Percentage of Council spend with local businesses - Oxford Direct Services is recorded as a recipient of Council spend, a contributor to Council spend or both?;
  2. That the wording of indicator ED002 – Implementation of measures to reduce the City Council’s carbon footprint by 5% each year - should be reviewed as it could, at the moment be misinterpreted as meaning that it is Council policy to become carbon neutral in 20 years rather than making a reduction against a notional projected level of emissions.
  3. That LP220 – the number of people from the Council’s target groups using its leisure facilities -  be supplemented with two further measures: i) revenue vs previous periods, and ii) progress against maintenance targets.

4.    CoS031 – Effective delivery of the capital programme. It is recommended that the measure be changed to either i) disbursements, or ii) contractual commitments as a percentage of budgetary targets. It is currently unclear what the percentage measure actually refers to: milestones, total spend or projects?

5.    WR001 – Number of people moved into work by the Welfare Reform Programme. It is recommended that in light of the challenges facing this team, the criterion is no longer realistic and that a revised target be agreed.

6.    CS054 – Time taken to determine DHP applications.  It is recommended that in light of the growth of Universal Credit and the increasing influence factors external to the Council have on the delivery of this criterion that Cabinet considers whether this measure remains fit for purpose.

 

The Chair asked for thanks to be passed to officers for their swift responses to the questions raised in advance. It was agreed that this represented an effective model for the future working of the committee.

 

 

 

 

 

31.

Report back on recommendations pdf icon PDF 301 KB

At its meeting on 12 June  2019 Cabinet considered the Committee’s recommendations in relation to the Seacourt Park and Ride Extension  and the  Safeguarding Report and Action Plan.

 

At its meeting on 10 July 2019  Cabinet considered the Committee’s recommendations in relation to the Integrated Performance Report 2018/19 Quarter 4 and the Fusion Lifestyle Annual Report.

 

The Cabinet’s  response to all the Committee’s  recommendations is attached.

 

 

Minutes:

In discussion about the Cabinet’s response to the Committee’s previous recommendations the Chair agreed to go back to the Cabinet in relation to:

 

  1. The desirability of more regular (quarterly) reporting on the reasons for slippage in the capital programme;
  2. To note that the Committee’s challenge to the Seacourt Park and Ride was based on the fact that it was not, in the Committee’s view, a sound financial investment and that this point had not been sufficiently addressed; 
  3. The absence of a number provided in response to the question about the number of children having received face to face safeguarding awareness training. An explanation regarding the County Council’s role in delivering such training was provided instead; and
  4. A request to see the report referred to in response to the recommendation about actions flowing from the Guest House Scrutiny Review Group.

 

32.

Dates of future meetings

 

 Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

·         1 October 2019

·         5 November 2019

·         3 December 2019

 

 

Standing Panels

·         Housing Standing Panel: 3 October, 7 November, 5 March

·         Finance Standing Panel: 5 September, 5 December, 6 January

·         Companies Panel: 19 September, 14 November, 12 March

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm

 

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

·         1 October 2019

·         5 November 2019

·         3 December 2019

 

 

Standing Panels

·         Housing Standing Panel: 3 October, 7 November, 5 March

·         Finance Standing Panel: 5 September, 5 December, 6 January

·         Companies Panel: 19 September, 14 November, 12 March

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm