Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: Council Chamber - Oxford Town Hall. View directions

Contact: John Mitchell, Committee Services Officer 

Note: Re-scheduled to this date from 3 December 

Items
No. Item

52.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

None.

53.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair noted the possibility of needing to go into private session in relation to the Finance Panel’s report on the Cabinet report on Commercial Property Portfolio Investment Strategy at the end of the agenda.

54.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 343 KB

 

Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 05 November 2019 be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 05 November 2019 as a true and accurate record.

55.

Corporate Strategy 20-24 pdf icon PDF 238 KB

At its meeting on 19 December, Cabinet will consider a report on the Corporate Strategy 2020 - 2024. This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make such recommendations to the Cabinet as it wishes. The report will be introduced by Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council; and Mish Tullar, Corporate Policy, Partnership and Communications Manager.This report will be published as a supplement to the agenda.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council. The draft Strategy had already been informed by prior informal consultation and Members had had an opportunity to contribute to the draft. It had been agreed that this strategy should be slimmer than its predecessor so that people can swiftly see and understand the key elements, via its 4 aims and 5 themes. Central to the strategy’s implementation will be the business plans which flow from it.       

 

Mish Tullar, Head of Corporate Policy, Partnerships and Communications, said this draft had been prepared with significantly more preliminary input than its predecessor; all Council employees had been given the opportunity to contribute as had the Oxford Strategic Partnership for example. The draft would be ‘roadshowed’ with the Council’s statutory consultees. The business plan approach was new, with each plan being renewed annually.

 

In discussion the following points were made and responded to among others. 

 

·         The aim of an “Efficient and Effective Council” present in the previous version but not in the draft as one of the 4 explicit aims  did not mean that there was no continuing aspiration for the Council to be just that.

·         Pursuing a  zero-carbon Oxford was  one of the 4 aims it but did not appear in the  themes. In practice the aim  would cut across everything and, given  the intention of preparing a slimmer and more accessible strategy on this occasion, unnecessary repetition was being avoided.

·         The references to fostering an inclusive economy were very welcome. It was agreed that there would be merit, also, in encouraging our partners to adopt similar behaviours.

·         It was agreed that it would be good to see some of the positive outcomes from the Citizens’ Assembly woven into the strategy. It only hadn’t been possible to do so at this stage because of the timing of production of the Citizens’ Assembly report.

·         Consideration should be given to the appropriateness of the use of the word ‘customer’ where it appears and where ‘resident’ or ‘citizen’ might sometimes be a better fit.

·         The prioritisation of a tackling inequality was welcome, equality however means different things to different people and it would be helpful to be clear what it embraced.

·         The statement that “all new building by Oxford City  Council is progressing towards near or net-zero carbon standards” was challenged by one member of the Committee.

·         No explicit mention had been made of the “Oxford Model” (ie development of in-house companies). It was agreed that it would be desirable to include reference to  this.

·         The City Council had a good record for engaging citizens with its policy making  and reference should be made to this in the strategy.

 

In conclusion the Committee made the following recommendations to Cabinet.

 

 

 

That Council makes the following amendments to its draft Corporate Strategy:

 

i)     Clarify to readers the difference between and reasons for changing from the existing reporting system to the use of bespoke business plans;

ii)    Increase the emphasis  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Annual Monitoring Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 438 KB

At its meeting on 19 December, Cabinet will consider a report on the Annual Monitoring Report 2018/19. This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make such recommendations to the Cabinet as it wishes. The report will be presented by Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainable Transport; Amanda Ford, Team Leader (Planning Policy); and Keerpa Patel, Senior Planner.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning & Sustainable Transport, introduced the report which measured performance against a number of indicators which had been established some time ago. This was not intended as mechanism to consider individual planning decisions.

 

In discussion the following points were made and responded to among others.

 

·         Commitments/conditions relating to energy generation given as part of the planning process should of course be discharged appropriately. Requirements relating to this were being tightened up in the new Local Plan. It was noted that in the case of larger schemes, formal monitoring mechanisms would normally in place. Any evidence of cases where the commitments/conditions were not being discharged should be brought to the attention of officers.

·         Student accommodation for the two universities remained an important issue for the City. The current principle was that if either university was over its agreed threshold for number of students living outside university provided accommodation, any application to increase teaching space would be rejected. The new Local Plan would, subject to approval by the Planning Inspector, introduce a revised and more pragmatic definition of student for this purpose with a consequent adjustment of thresholds for both universities.  A balance needed to be struck between not wanting to feter the growth of these institutions which were central to the City’s economy while at the same time not wanting to reduce the availability of housing for local residents.

·         No such  controls were permissible in relation to the growth of Language Schools, indeed an attempt to introduce such controls had been prohibited by the Planning Inspector.

·         The Student Castle development is mentioned in parallel with references to Oxford West End Development Limited (OXWED) but it was noted that it was  not, itself, an OXWED scheme.

·         A development partner for OXWED was still being sought but would not be in place by the end of 2019 as stated in the officer report.

·         Projections of housing completions were calculated as carefully as  possible with reference to previous patterns of completion but it was hard to give absolute guarantees given uncertain lag times. The evidence base for the housing trajectory was with the Planning Inspector and the new Local Plan will have updated targets.

·         The report records historical data for affordable housing completions. Forecast data for affordable housing might be useful and it was agreed that officers  should consider if these could be produced.

·         While the decline in AI retail units on the Cowley Road reflected a national picture, the reduction was probably  not  quite on  the same scale as elsewhere.

 

The Committee agreed to note the report.

 

 

57.

Citizen's Assembly on Climate Change: Outcomes pdf icon PDF 503 KB

At its meeting on 19 December 2019, Cabinet will consider a report on the Citizen's Assembly on Climate Change: Outcomes. This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make such recommendations to the Cabinet as it wishes. The report will be presented by Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford; and Mish Tullar, Corporate Policy, Partnership and Communications Manager. This report will be published as a supplement to the agenda.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, introduced the report. The Citizens’ Assembly was part of a response to the Council’s unanimous declaration of a Climate Emergency a few months earlier and a demonstration of the need to take positive action to address the emergency. He paid tribute to the work of the  cross-party Advisory Group of the Citizens’ Assembly, chaired by the Leader.  The Assembly had focused its attention on the 5 key areas relating to emissions in Oxford and voted on a number of different scenarios for tackling them. It was instructive to see that there was more or less unanimous support for the options which went “further and faster” than current Government targets. It was also noted that Oxford was not starting from a low base in relation to climate change matters, given the significant number of initiatives already in place. It was also important to recognise that the City Council’s capacity to have a direct impact was limited (estimated to account for about 1% of the City’s total emissions) but its capacity to influence was considerable.

 

In discussion the following points were made and responded to among others.

 

·         Some of the significant amounts of funding mentioned in paragraph 2 of the report were not new but were continuing as the report recognised.

·         ‘Retro fitting’ housing  would be an important matter in the future

o   Oxford Direct Services (ODS) might be able to share its knowledge/skills about retrofitting  with others

o   A network of other organisations locally were in a position to help with/ advise about retrofitting

o   Bulk purchasing (perhaps at a street level) of necessary products might contribute to making retrofitting more economical

o   The Council, as landlord, would rarely wish to enforce a requirement on tenants  to retrofit but would rather work with them on a co-operative basis.

o   An objection from a tenant to the option of loft insulation might, for example,  be based on an unwillingness to clear the loft. Consideration could be given to ODS offering a service for loft clearance

·         A clear message from the Assembly had been the need for more ‘signposting’ to resources/advice.

·         Reducing the use of single use plastics had not featured directly in the Assembly’s deliberations but consumption (including of plastics) had.

·         The Assembly was of the view that too much was expected of  individuals regarding waste and a greater onus should be placed on companies and producers.

·         The Council would continue to lobby and campaign for desirable changes at a national level regarding producers’ obligations.

·         The City’s regularly changing student population presented some challenges when it came to communicating messages in respect of waste and  recycling.

·         The recently rejuvenated Oxfordshire Waste Partnership provided an important forum to extend this work beyond the City’s boundaries.

·         The Council’s proactive role was welcomed but it was particularly  important to reach those who were not yet ‘converted’. The importance of communicating ‘outside the bubble’ was recognised. It had become clear from the Assembly that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Performance monitoring - quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 187 KB

The Scrutiny Committee has a role in monitoring Council performance. Quarterly reports are provided on a set of selected corporate and service performance indicators.This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make such recommendations to the Cabinet as it wishes. This report will be presented by Helen Bishop, Head of Business Improvement.

 

Also attached is a note of responses to matters raised by the Committee when it considered the quarter 1 report at its meeting on 01 October.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

The papers before the Committee included one which noted responses to  the Committee’s previous recommendations in relation to the Q1 report. The Scrutiny Officer tabled a revised version of this paper, which had been distributed earlier in the day as a supplement to the agenda.

 

It was agreed to defer substantive discussion of this item until the following meeting, having asked Councillor Fry to pick up the issues raised by the Q2 report in the meantime and report back to the Committee.

 

 

59.

Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 300 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 2019/20 Council year as well as the proposed scope of this year’s budget review.  

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer updated the Committee on changes to its Work Plan, most of which were attributable to slippage of the Cabinet Forward Plan.

 

No date had been fixed for the Housing Panel to consider Hidden Homelessness. Officers had said insufficient data were available to assist with a meaningful discussion. Members of the Committee suggested that local  voluntary and other organisations might be able to shed some light on this important subject. It would be important to be clear what precisely  was meant by homelessness. Agreed that the Housing Panel should receive a briefing on the matter immediately prior to its April meeting, with a focus, in the first instance at least, on the issues surrounding Hidden Homelessness rather than a deep dive into local data. This to include reference to the means by which overcrowding is determined.

 

The Committee agreed the proposed scope of the year’s budget review.

 

 

 

60.

Report back on recommendations pdf icon PDF 97 KB

At its meeting 13 November, Cabinet considered the Committee’s recommendations in relation to: the reports on Community Led Housing Delivery; and Workforce Equality. The Cabinet’s response to those  recommendations is  attached.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair drew attention to the record of Cabinet responses to the Committee’s recent recommendations, most of which had been agreed.

 

61.

Reports for approval pdf icon PDF 137 KB

 

The Committee is asked to approve the following reports for submission to Cabinet at its meeting on 19 December.

 

1.    Recommendations flowing from Committee consideration of report on Oxford’s Waterways on 05 November 2019;

2.    Recommendations flowing from Committee consideration of report on Universal Credit on 05 November 2019; and

3.    Recommendations flowing from Housing Panel meeting on 07 November 2019.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee approved the following report for submission to Cabinet at its meeting  on 19 December.

 

·         Recommendations flowing from Committee consideration of report on Universal Credit on 05 November 2019;

 

The Committee deferred consideration of the  following reports to its January meeting.

 

·         Recommendations flowing from Committee consideration of report on Oxford’s Waterways on 05 November 2019; and

 

·         Recommendations flowing from Housing Panel meeting on 07 November 2019.

 

62.

Dates of future meetings

Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee          

 

·         14 January               

·         04 February             

·         03 March                  

·         06 April                     

 

 

Standing Panels

·         Housing Standing Panel: 05 March, 08 April

·         Finance Standing Panel:, 29 January, 25 February

o     06 January 08 January, 20 January (Budget  Review Group)

·         Companies Panel: 12 March

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

 

Minutes:

Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee          

 

·         14 January               

·         04 February             

·         03 March                  

·         06 April                     

 

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

 

Standing Panels

·         Housing Standing Panel: 05 March, 08 April

·         Finance Standing Panel: 06 January (Budget  Review Group)

·         Companies Panel: 12 March

 

 

 

63.

Matters Exempt From Publication

If the Committee  wishes to exclude the press and the public from the meeting during consideration of any of the items on the exempt from publication part of the agenda, it will be necessary for the Committee to pass a resolution in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 4(2)(b) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 on the grounds that their presence could involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in specific paragraphs of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

The Committee may maintain the exemption if and so long as, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

Minutes:

The following  matter was considered in confidential session.

64.

Report for Approval - Exempt

The Committee is asked to approve the recommendations flowing from the Finance Panel’s meeting on 02 December 2019 in relation to the Cabinet report on Commercial Property Portfolio Investment Strategy for submission to Cabinet at its meeting on 19 December.

 

Minutes:

The Committee agreed the recommendations of the Finance Panel in relation to the Cabinet report on Commercial Property Portfolio Investment Strategy for submission to Cabinet at its meeting on 19 December.