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

1.

Election of Chair for the Council Year 2019-20

The Committee is asked to elect a Chair for the 2019/20 Council year. The Chair must be from one of the opposition groups.

 

Minutes:

The Committee resolved to elect Councillor Gant as Chair for the Council year 2019-20.

 

2.

Election of Vice-Chair for the Council Year 2019-20

The Committee is asked to elect a Vice-Chair for the 2019/20 Council year. The Vice-Chair can be from any political group.

 

Minutes:

The Committee resolved to elect Councillor McManners as Vice Chair for the Council year 2019-20.

 

3.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

None.

4.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed new members to the Committee and welcomed back those who had served on it previously.

 

The Chair explained that Stefan Robinson, the Scrutiny Officer, would be leaving the Council in a few weeks’ time having been appointed to a post supporting the Growth Board. The next meeting of the Committee would be his last.

 

5.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 357 KB

 

Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 02 April 2019 be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 02 April 2019  as a true and accurate record. The Chair said he had conveyed further points to the City Executive Board relating to street art and graffiti  removal as had been requested and the Committee’s points had been noted.

 

6.

Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 243 KB

The Scrutiny Committee operates within a work plan which is agreed at the start of the Council year. The Committee will  be asked to review and suggest items for the  2019/20 council year at its next meeting on 04 June. The City Executive Board’s Forward Plan of decisions is included for reference.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee agreed with the Scrutiny Officer’s suggestion that the Fusion Lifestyle Annual Service Plan should be added  to the Work Plan for the meeting of the Committee on 4 June. This resulted in a particularly busy agenda for that meeting and the Committee agreed that the item on No Local Connection Review should therefore be moved to be considered by the Housing Panel at its meeting on 27 June instead.

 

The meeting on 4 June would have a substantive item on the future work programme.  While there were already 50 items on the list for discussion it was not too late to submit requests for further items but this should be sooner rather than later, not least to allow requests to be ‘scored’ properly as the others had been.  The Scrutiny Officer agreed to send the current list to members of the Committee well in advance of the next meeting.

7.

Scrutiny Operating Principles and Standing Panel Arrangements pdf icon PDF 252 KB

The Committee is asked to consider and  adopt a set of operating principles for the Scrutiny Committee for the 2019/20 municipal year, establish Standing Panels and appoint Standing Panel Chairs. 

 

 

Recommendations: That the Scrutiny Committee resolves to:

 

1.    Agree the revised Committee Operating Principles for the 2019/20 municipal year, as set out in Appendix 1;

2.    Agree to re-establish the Finance, Housing and Companies Standing Panels for the 2019/20 municipal year;

3.    Appoint Chairs of the Finance, Housing and Companies panels;

4.    Continue the current membership arrangements for the Companies Panel, so that it may meet on 28 May;  and

5.    Agree the number of seats and political balance of each standing panel (Finance: 4, Companies: 4, Housing: 6 recommended). 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair said that the report  before the Committee included suggestions for streamlining the work and operation of the Standing Panels. This included proposals to limit membership of all panels to 4 or 6; that they be politically balanced; and that there should be a quorum for all panels.

 

Given the Council’s recent resolution about a Climate Emergency, the Committee considered whether it should have some role in scrutinising relevant aspects of the Council’s activity. It was noted that the capacity for scrutiny activity was finite (ie currently three standing panels and two review groups or three standing panels and two review groups).  Consideration could perhaps be given to asking the current standing panels to conduct environmental impact assessments in the context of their ongoing responsibilities. Agreed that this should be discussed further at a later meeting.

 

The Scrutiny Committee resolved to:

 

1.    Agree the revised Committee Operating Principles for the 2019/20 municipal year, as set out in Appendix 1;

2.    Agree to re-establish the Finance, Housing and Companies Standing Panels for the 2019/20 municipal year;

3.    Appoint Councillor Fry as Chair of the Finance Panel, and Councillor Bely-Summers as Chair of the Housing Panel.

4.    Continue the current membership arrangements for the Companies Panel, so that it may meet on 28 May;  and

5.    Agree that the number on each of the Finance, Companies and Housing Panels be 4, 4, 6 respectively. 

 

8.

The future strategic direction for the Council's group of housing companies pdf icon PDF 469 KB

At its meeting on 29 May 2019, the City Executive Board will consider a report on the future strategic direction for the Council's group of housing companies. This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make recommendations to the City Executive Board if it wishes. Please note that the Companies Scrutiny Panel will also be considering the corresponding Shareholder report on this issue on 28 May 2019, prior to the Shareholder meeting on 30 May.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At its meeting on 29 May 2019, the Cabinet would consider a report on the future strategic direction for the Council's group of housing companies. This item provided an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make recommendations to the Cabinet.

 

The Head of Financial Services  introduced the item by reminding the Committee that the report was a response to recent government policy changes which  had, helpfully, removed restrictions on the ability to borrow within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). This in turn necessitated a review of the approach previously adopted by the Council and the future role of Oxford City Housing Limited (OCHL).

 

The Housing Development & Enabling Manager drew attention to a minor change to recommendation 6 which would appear in the version of the report which would be considered by Cabinet.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing said it made good sense to manage new social housing within the HRA and it was good to be able to start developing a series of potential sites  rather than the previous practice of one ‘task and finish’ project followed by another

 

It was suggested that the list of development sites might be over ambitious. The Housing Development & Enabling Manager pointed to the number of developments for which planning permission had been granted and said that steps were being taken to maintain and expand relationships with developers.  Some developments were being bundled together to make them more attractive to bigger developers; the smaller developments presented more of a challenge.

 

In a wide ranging discussion about the importance of reducing carbon  footprints and energy efficiency,  the Housing Development & Enabling Manager said that OCHL insisted on conditions which were over and above the legal minima.  In relation to the potential OCHL sites identified in the report there would be 2-3 years in which to consider and develop proposals for a move to houses with an ever decreasing carbon footprint. Thought was already being given to making larger sites more energy efficient and would involve not just OCHL. Oxford Direct Services, for example , was already planning for a reduction in its capacity to service gas boilers.

 

Given the increased capacity to borrow it was suggested there was no reason not to accelerate the  move to houses with a reduced and, ultimately,  zero carbon footprint .

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing said  OCHL would have to look at what was possible and the Council, as lender, would need to decide what it was willing (and what would be prudent) to pay for.

 

 

The report noted that the review of the future role and activity of OCHL might extend to the purchase of land.  The  Cabinet  Member for Housing fully expected that this would be the case although, not necessarily within the City. While the new opportunity for prudential borrowing was very welcome he reminded the Committee that it was not free and accompanied by an element of risk which OCHL had to consider carefully . There was, also, the possibility of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Community Infrastructure Levy charging schedule review pdf icon PDF 452 KB

At its meeting on 29 May 2019, the City Executive Board will consider a report on the Community Infrastructure Levy charging schedule review. This item provides an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make recommendations to the City Executive Board if it wishes.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At its meeting on 29 May 2019, the Cabinet would consider a report on the Community Infrastructure Levy charging schedule review. This item provided an opportunity for the Committee to comment on the report and make recommendations to the Cabinet.

 

The Planning Policy and Place Manager introduced the report and drew attention to a few key points. The consultation which had preceded the report had resulted in requests that strategic sites should be zero rated for CIL but, in the absence of sufficient information to test the need for this, so no further action would be taken at this point.

 

Representations had also been made in relation to B2 and B8 sites and, following viability testing, it was now proposed to submit a ‘statement of modification’ to reduce the rate of CIL for those sites to zero.

 

Regulations permit the introduction of an Exceptional Circumstances Relief Policy which the report sought to agree. She emphasised that  the policy could only be employed if, on a case by case basis, the conditions set out in the regulations and summarised in the draft policy at Appendix 6 of the report were met.

 

As highlighted in the draft policy, it was important to note that the majority of sites would be viable and the policy would only ever  be relevant in relation to few, if any. Furthermore, this was a discretionary policy which could be withdrawn at any point.

 

The Committee expressed concern at the possibility of developers exploiting the relief offered by the exception when it was not warranted and was keen, therefore, to find a mechanism by which Members could be reassured about the transparency and accountability of the application of the policy. Concern was also expressed about the delegation which gave authority to the Head of Planning Services to authorise decisions in relation to the Exceptional Circumstances Relief Policy. It was considered that this may be a significant decision in some large scale developments, which should be open to councillor review. The Committee resolved to make the following recommendation to Cabinet: 

 

That the Council ensures that any application of the Exceptional Circumstances Relief Policy receives thorough councillor oversight and that a standard operating procedure is devised to ensure this process is in place.

 

10.

Tourism Management Review Group Report pdf icon PDF 460 KB

The Committee is asked to consider and  endorse the report and recommendations of the Tourism Management Review Group, which will be submitted to the City Executive Board on 29 May for decision. This report will be published as a supplement.

 

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the report and recommendations of the Tourism Management Review Group in his capacity as Chair of the Review Group.

The Committee was keen to re-emphasise the importance of the Oxford Living Wage (notably in relation to the hospitality sector).  It was agreed that this should be further emphasised in the wording of the sixth recommendation, repeating what had been said in recommendations made at the previous committee meeting. Subject to this revision the report would  be submitted to the Cabinet  on 29 May. 

11.

Report back on recommendations pdf icon PDF 198 KB

The City Executive Board, at its meeting on 10 April, considered the Committee’s recommendations in relation to:

·         The Oxford Living Wage

·         Audit of Fusion Lifestyle

·         Building control enforcement

·         Development of a homeless shelter and assessment hub at Floyds Row

The Board’s response to those recommendations is attached.

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet, at its meeting on 10 April, had considered the Committee’s recommendations in relation to:

 

·         The Oxford Living Wage

·         Audit of Fusion Lifestyle

·         Building control enforcement

·         Development of a homeless shelter and assessment hub at Floyds Row

 

All of which had been accepted.

 

12.

Dates of future meetings

Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

·         4 June 2019

·         2 July 2019

·         3 September 2019

·         1 October 2019

 

 

Standing Panels

·         Housing Standing Panel:, 27 June, 3 October

·         Finance Standing Panel: 01 July, 5 September

·         Companies Panel: 28 May, 3 July

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

·         4 June 2019

·         2 July 2019

·         3 September 2019

·         1 October 2019

 

 

Standing Panels

·         Housing Standing Panel:, 27 June, 3 October

·         Finance Standing Panel: 01 July, 5 September

·         Companies Panel: 28 May, 3 July

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm

 

 

13.

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:

No matters were considered in confidential session.