Issue - meetings
Draft Strategic Vision for Oxfordshire
Meeting: 09/12/2020 - Cabinet (Item 98)
The Assistant Chief Executive has submitted a report which introduces a first draft of a Strategic Vision for Oxfordshire. The report explains the purpose of this unique approach, the scope and content of the Vision, and the timeline for the current engagement and finalising the Vision. The Draft Vision is presented for discussion and comments to help inform revisions prior to seeking future Growth Board endorsement.
Recommendations: That Cabinet resolves to:
1. Provide its views on the Draft Strategic Vision for Oxfordshire; and
2. Delegate responsibility to the Assistant Chief Executive to develop a response to the Strategic Vision engagement exercise, in consultation with the Leader, reflecting the views expressed at this meeting.
The Assistant Chief Executive had submitted a report which introduced a first draft of a Strategic Vision for Oxfordshire. The report explained the purpose of the approach, the scope and content of the Vision, and the timeline for the current engagement and finalising the Vision. The Draft Vision was presented for discussion and comment to help inform revisions prior to seeking future Growth Board endorsement.
The Chair introduced the report which represented a wish by all of the Growth Board’s partners to arrive at an overarching shared strategic vision for the future. From the Council’s point of view there was a wish that the vision should be as inclusive as possible. While the current draft represented a good start there was still some room for improvement. The need to engage young people with the process was clearly important given the significance of such a vision for them in the future. She noted that recent consultations in relation to the Citizens’ Assembly and the Council’s 2020 vision had revealed strikingly similar themes in terms of what people wanted in respect of neighbourhoods in which they could live, work and enjoy leisure time, comfortably and safely.
Cabinet resolved to:
1.Agreethat its views on the Draft Strategic Vision for Oxfordshire should be forwarded to the Growth Board; and
2. Delegate responsibility to the Assistant Chief Executive to develop a response to the Strategic Vision engagement exercise, in consultation with the Leader, reflecting the views expressed at the meeting.
Cabinet, at its meeting on 09 December, will consider a report on the Draft Strategic Vision for Oxfordshire. The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations thereon.
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council and Caroline Green, Assistant Chief Executive, have been invited to attend for this item.
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council, introduced the report. As the Oxfordshire Growth Board had developed, so its members had sought to identify common themes and the ways in which they could work together. From the City Council’s perspective, the importance of inclusivity and the need for sustainable growth were key. The document before the Committee already included elements which reflected the Council’s input but this was not to say that further improvements could not be made. It was important to emphasise that as a vision document, it was not a strategy, an action plan or, indeed, a formal planning document.
Caroline Green, Assistant Chief Executive, said that the document didn’t seek to set out a specific vision for Oxford or places within the City and that the final version would have no statutory basis. It was, rather, a statement of collective ambition and common interests. A great deal of effort had been made to ensure that the document, as far as possible, reflected the diversity of places and, therefore, the different strategies and actions that might be needed to respond to those variations. In discussion to date there had been a range of views about the desirability of producing a more detailed document as opposed to one which remained at a more general level. All members of the Growth Board had been invited to contribute further to the next iteration of the document and the views of the Committee would contribute to that further response.
Cllr Simmons, as member, also, of the Growth Board’s Scrutiny Panel, drew the meeting’s attention to the views of the Panel to the document. These related to timescales within the document not necessarily aligning with existing policies and plans of Councils and partner organisations; asking Council Leaders to ensure clear visibility of the strategic vision with elected members; encouraging wider networks and the public to engage (and for young people in particular to be targeted as part of this); the need for terminology within it to be clearly defined. The Committee agreed to support these views and the Leader said she would be pleased to take these views, among others, back to the Board, so as to reinforce those of the Panel.
The Committee thought that, despite the improvements which had been made, still greater emphasis was needed on the issues of inequality and diversity, notwithstanding recognition that the experience of other Districts in the County was very different from that in the City.
While there was support for the document’s aspirations there were some concerns that that it needed to be more “anchored in reality”, so while, for example, it hinted at significant housing growth it also spoke about seeking to “enhance the natural environment” which was seen as a contradiction. The aspiration that Oxfordshire should be carbon neutral by 2040 or earlier was seen as unrealistic, taking account, among other things, of the Council’s new Local Plan. However the point that this was not a planning document was noted.