Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

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Venue: Remote: Zoom meeting

Contact: John Mitchell, Committee Services Officer 

Link: this meeting will be held by Zoom and streamed to the Council's YouTube channel when the meeting starts

Media

Items
No. Item

12.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

None.

13.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair reminded  the Committee of the protocols to be followed at a remote meeting and proposed a reordering of the agenda for the benefit of guests of the Committee which was agreed.

With the Chair’s agreement the Committee was then addressed by Peter Thompson, speaking on behalf of the Oxford School of English. Mr Thompson said the expanded Retail  Discount Scheme for Business Rates was not extended, in Oxford, to language schools. He argued that the Oxford School of English catered for what was, essentially, a ‘type of tourism’, rather than education provision; its students came to experience British life and customs as much as to learn English. Some authorities, such as Cambridge City Council, interpreted the scheme more liberally to include language schools, the failure to do so in Oxford was regrettable.

Councillors Djarfari-Marbini and McManners joined the meeting during this item.

14.

Report back from Panel representatives.

Report back on Panel activities since last Scrutiny Committee meeting.

Minutes:

Councillor James Fry, Chair of the Finance and Performance Panel, reported back on the previous day’s meeting of the Panel.  The Panel’s discussion had focussed on consideration of the Council’s deficits projected in the Medium Term Financial Plan and ways of tackling them with a particular focus on the current financial year. The Panel recognised that it would have the opportunity for a more detailed exploration of these matters later in the year when the same members would meet to look at budget proposals for 2021/22. The Panel was concerned about the future of the current funding for rough sleepers.  The Panel saw merit in the Council lobbying for the capitalisation of deficits over a longer period. It had also looked at proposals for individual deferments of spending and recommended that, if possible, one relatively modest but important project of £60k for cycling infrastructure  should continue.

The importance of aligning the budget and recovery programme was noted and acknowledged.

 

 

15.

City Council COVID Recovery Programme pdf icon PDF 546 KB

On 24 June Cabinet will consider a report on the City Council’s Covid recovery programme. This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to consider the report and make recommendations to Cabinet if it wishes.  Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council and Caroline Green, Assistant Chief Executive, have been invited to attend for this item.

The report will be published as a supplement to this agenda.

Minutes:

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council, turned first to the address made by Mr Thompson. She said the matter had been raised on a number of previous occasions by Mr Thompson and officers had been asked to check the line being taken in Oxford. Officers had confirmed the view that language schools are not within the scope of the scheme. While Cambridge City Council had awarded a relief to one language school it had since come to the view that this might need to be reconsidered. They are not paying further reliefs or grants to language schools and have requested further guidance from MHCLG. The Council had sympathy for the position outlined by Mr Thompson and had written to Government in support of an extension of the scheme to language schools but in the meantime the Council had to operate the scheme as it was currently understood to apply.

 

Councillor Brown then introduced the report. She emphasised the absolute interconnection between the financial and recovery elements of the Council’s response to Covid-19. The three elements around which the plan was built (restart, recover and renew)  were important and distinct,  each  one of which  would require their own actions. The principles on which the programme will be based, as set out in paragraph 6 of the report, were also important and would be applied across all strands of work.  She went on to draw particular attention to and comment on some of them.

“Embed and build on positive changes that have emerged to the way we work across the council, and with our communities, volunteers and other partners.”  The response of communities and volunteers across the city to recent challenges had been outstanding and it would be important to build on that way of working.

“Seek to retain or enhance environmental benefits wherever we can”. This was an important and crucial goal for the Council.

 

“Target our resources to where they are most needed to support those most in need or most vulnerable.”  This had been done in recent weeks and it was important that it should continue. It was clear that many citizens would be facing significant and additional economic hardship over the coming months and the Council would do all it could to protect them.

 

“Ensure Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are embedded in all areas of our work.” This was an important message to communicate, particularly at the present time and in the light of the worldwide response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The  Council was clear that it would continue to listen to, work with and for all members of the community.

 

Councillor Brown went on to describe the 7 workstreams in the programme. In relation to these, Hardship & Vulnerability would be particularly important as increasing numbers of citizens were likely to face  financial hardship or health difficulties and the Council needed to be ready to support them. The Council had had to deliver services very differently in recent weeks and it would be important  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 402 KB

 

Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 02 June be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.

 

Minutes:

Agreed that the minutes of the meeting held on 02 June 2020 should be amended to include a reference to the agreement  that the Committee should, until September 2020, only deal with Cabinet  reports as a consequence of additional pressures on officer time as a result of Covid-19. The minutes to be returned to the next meeting of the Committee for approval.

 

 

17.

Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 340 KB

The latest version of the Committee’s Work Plan is attached.

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer noted that the Cabinet report on procurement had been delayed until August and the Committee would now need to meet in August to consider it. Furthermore, given that the Committee would now be meeting in August, he proposed that the meeting should be used to finalise the scope of   review groups for the current year. The Committee agreed to this proposal.

Finally the Committee was reminded of  the need to submit proposals for the work plan and review groups to the Scrutiny Officer in time for the July of  meeting of the Committee.        

 

 

 

 

18.

Dates of future meetings

 

 

Scrutiny Committee

06 July 2020

04 August 2020 (no items currently scheduled for this meeting)

01 September 2020

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

 

Standing Panels

Housing & Homelessness: 03 August

Finance & Performance: 07 July, 29 September

Companies Scrutiny: 22 June, 14 September

 

 

Minutes:

Scrutiny Committee

06 July 2020

04 August 2020 (no items currently scheduled for this meeting)

01 September 2020

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

 

Standing Panels

Housing & Homelessness: 03 August

Finance & Performance: 07 July, 29 September

Companies Scrutiny: 22 June, 14 September