Agenda and minutes

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Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: Council Chamber - Oxford Town Hall

Contact: Jonathan Malton, Committee and Member Services Manager  email:  democraticservices@oxford.gov.uk tel: 01865 529117

Media

Items
No. Item

56.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest declared for this meeting.

57.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 411 KB

Minutes of the ordinary meeting of Council held on 2 October 2023 and the special meeting of Council on 7 November 2023.

Council is asked to approve the minutes as a correct record.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Roz Smith arrived at the meeting.

Council agreed to approve the minutes of the ordinary meeting held on 2 October 2023.

Following the amendment to the minutes of the special meeting held on 7 November 2023, stated to Item 55 as follows:

In Appendix 7.4 (page 437), (for student accommodation) replace “At least 3 spaces for every 4 study bedrooms” with “1 space per study bedroom”. (i.e. revert back to what it currently states in the local plan 2036 which is 'at least four spaces for every four study bedrooms)

On acceptance of the above amendment, the minutes of special meeting of Council held on 7 November 2023 was agreed as a true and correct record.

58.

Announcements

Announcements by:

1.     The Lord Mayor

2.     The Sheriff

3.     The Leader of the Council (who may with the permission of the Lord Mayor invite other councillors to make announcements)

4.     The Chief Executive, Chief Finance Officer, Monitoring Officer

Minutes:

The Lord Mayor announced that she had attended the Remembrance Sunday Service at the War Memorial in St Giles’, which had been conducted by the City Rector, the Reverend Anthony Buckley.  She had also attended and spoke at the Armistice Day at the Town Hall.

The Deputy Lord Mayor announced that he had also attended the above events which were successful as always, and to remind Councillors that the Oxford Museum Gift Shop had reopened of which there were many gifts on display.

The Sherriff announced that he attended the Sixes Social Cricket event at the Westgate, which was very enjoyable.

The Leader updated Council on Cabinet portfolios and announced that Mark Lygo was the new Cabinet Member for the renamed portfolio, Safer and Inclusive Communities.

The City Rector addressed Council on Remembrance Sunday and reflected on the different backgrounds that came together to pay their respects.

 

59.

Public addresses and questions that relate to matters for decision at this meeting

Public addresses and questions to the Leader or other Cabinet member received in accordance with Council Procedure Rules in the Constitution relating to matters for decision in Part 1 of this agenda.

Up to five minutes is available for each public address and up to three minutes for each question. Questions must be less than 200 words.

 

The request to speak accompanied by the full text of the address or question must be received by the Head of Law and Governance by 5.00 pm on Tuesday 21 November 2023.

 

The briefing note will contain the text of addresses and questions submitted by the deadline, and written responses where available.

A total of 45 minutes is available for both public speaking items. Responses are included in this time.

Minutes:

There were no addresses or questions.

60.

FutureFit Oxford(shire) Project Grant Funding Bid pdf icon PDF 179 KB

The Head of Corporate Strategy submitted a report to Cabinet on 15 November 2023 which sought approval for Oxford City Council’s involvement in the FutureFit Oxford(shire) Project (FOx Project), and delegated authority for the facilitation and delivery of the project.

The Cabinet minutes are available at Item 13b.

Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, will present the report and present Cabinet’s recommendations.

Recommendation: Cabinet recommends that Council resolves to:

1.    Establish a revenue budget for £1.56 million funded by a government grant to enable the necessary resources to be employed and the work undertaken.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report from the Head of Corporate Strategy seeking approval for Oxford City Council’s involvement in the FutureFit Oxford(shire) Project (FOx Project), and delegated authority for the facilitation and delivery of the project.

Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice introduced the report, proposed the recommendation and answered questions.

The recommendation was agreed on being seconded by Councillor Louise Upton and put to the vote.

Council resolved to:

1.    Establish a revenue budget for £1.56 million funded by a government grant to enable the necessary resources to be employed and the work undertaken.

61.

Council and Committee meetings programme for May 2024 to May 2026 pdf icon PDF 158 KB

The Head of Law and Governance has submitted a report which sets out a programme of Council, committee and other meetings for the whole of the 2024/25 and 2025/26 Council years.

Recommendations: that Council resolves to:

1.    Approve the programme of Council, committee and other meetings from 1 May 2024 to 31 May 2026 attached at Appendix A;

2.    Delegate authority to the Head of Law and Governance, in consultation with G Group Leaders, to make changes to this programme in the event that there is any decision by Council to change the committee structure or committee remits which impacts on the programme of meetings; and

3.    Delegate authority to the Head of Law and Governance to set dates for additional training and briefing sessions for Members.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report from the Head of Law and Governance which set out a programme of Council, committee and other meetings for the whole of the 2024/25 and 2025/26 Council years.

The recommendation was agreed on being seconded by Councillor Ed Turner and put to the vote.

Council resolved to:

1.    Approve the programme of Council, committee and other meetings from 1 May 2024 to 31 May 2026 attached at Appendix A.

2.    Delegate authority to the Head of Law and Governance, in consultation with Group Leaders, to make changes to this programme in the event that there is any decision by Council to change the committee structure or committee remits which impacts on the programme of meetings: and

3.    Delegate authority to the Head of Law and Governance to set dates for additional training and briefing sessions for Members.

 

62.

Appointments to Council Committees 2023/2024 pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Report to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report from the Head of Law and Governance which requested Council appoint committees and the members serving on those committees for the remainder of the Council year 2023-24.

The Leader of the Council advised of the following amendments to the report:

·       General Purposes Licensing Committees and Licensing and Gambling Acts Committee – to add Cllr Barbara Coyne

·       Audit and Governance Committee – to add Cllr Amar Latif

·       Planning Committee – to add Cllr Saaj Malik

·       Scrutiny Committee – Cllr Altaf Khan to replace Cllr Roz Smith

·       Standards Committee – to add Cllr Amar Latif

Council resolved to:

1.    Note the methods, calculations and conventions used in determining political representation on committees as outlined in the report and shown in Appendix 2: Political proportionalities on Council committees 2023-24;

2.    Appoint to committee seats in accordance with the requirements of political proportionality and (where received and detailed in Appendix 3) in line with the nominations made by political groups, as shown in Appendix 3: Committee nominations 2023-24;

3.    Appoint a member of the Independent Group to the General Purposes Licensing and Licensing and Gambling Acts Committees as no nomination has been received from the party. In accordance with the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 the nomination must therefore be made by Council.

63.

Decisions taken under Part 9.3(b) of the Constitution pdf icon PDF 223 KB

The Head of Law and Governance, on behalf of the Head of Paid Service (Chief Executive) has submitted a report which notes the decisions taken by the Head of Paid Service (Chief Executive) using the powers delegated in Part 9.3(b) of the Constitution.

Recommendation(s): Council is recommended to:

1.       Note the decisions taken as set out in the report.

Minutes:

Council considered a report from the Head of Law and Governance, on behalf of the Head of Paid Service (Chief Executive) which noted the decisions taken by the Head of Paid Service (Chief Executive) using the powers delegated in Part 9.3(b) of the Constitution.

Council resolved to:

1.     Note the decision taken as set out in the report.

Cllr Djafari-Marbini arrived at the meeting.

64.

Decisions taken under Part 17.9 of the Constitution pdf icon PDF 228 KB

The Head of Law and Governance has submitted a report which notes the decision taken by the Executive Director (Development) under the provisions in Part 17.9 of the Constitution.

Recommendation: That Council resolves to:

1.       Note the decision taken as set out in the report.

Minutes:

Council considered a report from the Head of Law and Governance which noted the decision taken by the Executive Director (Development) using the powers delegated in Part 17.9(b) of the Constitution.

Council resolved to:

1.    Note the decision taken as set out in the report.

65.

Amendment to Proper Officer Delegations pdf icon PDF 127 KB

The Head of Law and Governance (Monitoring Officer) has submitted a report which seeks Council’s agreement to amend the Constitution to reflect the changes in responsibilities for functions.

Recommendation(s): That the Council resolves to:

1.    Approve the following changes to the Constitution:

a.    Amend Part 10.1 to include delegation to the Monitoring Officer to make amendments to Proper Officer designations to reflect changes to the senior management structure.

b.    Amend the table at Part 10.2 (Table of Proper Officer Responsibilities) at Local Government Act 1972 Section 234 “Signing notices, orders and other documents which the Council is required or authorised to issue by or under any enactment” to include ‘where no Head of Service, the relevant director will be the Proper Officer’.

2.    Note that the changes will take effect as of the 12 December 2023.

Minutes:

Cllr Pegg arrived at the meeting.

Council considered a report from the Head of Law and Governance (Monitoring Officer) which sought Council’s agreement to amend the Constitution to reflect the changes in responsibilities for functions.

Council resolved to:

1.    Approve the following changes to the Constitution:

a.    Amend Part 10.1 to include delegation to the Monitoring Office to make amendments to Proper Officer designations to reflect changes to the senior management structure.

b.    Amend the table at Part 10.2 (Table of Proper Officer Responsibilities) at Local Government Act 1972 Section 234 “Signing notices, orders and other documents which the Council is required or authorised to issue by or under any enactment” to include ‘where no Head of Service, the relevant director will be the Proper Officer’.

2.    Note that the changes will take effect as of the 12 December 2023.

Cllr Latif arrived at the meeting.

66.

New Byelaws for parks and open spaces pdf icon PDF 155 KB

The Head of Community Services has submitted a report which seeks approval that the existing byelaws for parks and open spaces be updated and for a full consultation on the proposed draft set of new byelaws be undertaken.

Cllr Chewe Munkonge, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks, will present the report and the recommendations.

Recommendations: that Council resolves to:

1.    Approve that the existing byelaws for parks and open spaces are updated with new byelaws as set out in the draft set of new byelaws.

2.    Approve that Officers undertake a consultation with such persons as the Council considers may be affected by the proposed byelaws when carrying out the regulatory assessment.

3.    Notes that a further report will be presented to Members with results of the public consultation and whether the Council should submit its application to the Secretary of State for approval.

4.    Notes that upon the Secretary of State granting leave for the Council to make the proposed byelaws there will be a further period of consultation of not less than 28 days.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report from the Head of Community Services which sought approval that the existing byelaws for parks and open spaces be updated and for a full consultation on the proposed draft set of new byelaws to be undertaken.

Councillor Chewe Munkonge, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks, introduced the report, proposed the recommendations and answered questions.

The recommendation was agreed on being seconded by Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy and Partnerships, and put to the vote.

Council resolved to:

1.    Approve that the existing byelaws for parks and open spaces are updated with new byelaws as set out in the draft set of new byelaws.

2.    Approve that Officers undertake a consultation with such persons as the Council considers may be affected by the proposed byelaws when carrying out the regulatory assessment.

3.    Notes that a further report will be presented to Members with results of the public consultation and whether the Council should submit its application to the Secretary of State for approval.

4.    Notes that upon the Secretary of State granting leave for the Council to make the proposed byelaws there will be a further period of consultation of not less than 28 days.

67.

Questions on Cabinet minutes

This item has a time limit of 15 minutes.

Councillors may ask the Cabinet Members questions about matters in these minutes:

 

67a

Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 18 October 2023 pdf icon PDF 416 KB

Minutes:

None received.

67b

Draft Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 15 November 2023 pdf icon PDF 392 KB

Minutes:

Minute 84 – Appropriation of Land at Bertie Place to a Planning Purpose

In response to a question from Councillor Christopher Smowton, Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing advised that the item was moved to another meeting so that a full evaluation of the public responses could be considered. 

68.

Questions on Notice from Members of Council pdf icon PDF 383 KB

Questions on notice from councillors received in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11.11(b).

Questions on notice may be asked of the Lord Mayor, a Member of the Cabinet or a Chair of a Committee. One supplementary question may be asked at the meeting.

The full text of questions must have been received by the Head of Law and Governance by no later than 1.00pm on Wednesday 15 November 2023.

These, and written responses where available, will be published in the briefing note.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

30 written questions were asked of the Cabinet Members and the Leader, and these and written responses were published before the meeting.

These along with summaries of the 16 supplementary questions and responses asked and given at the meeting are set out in the minutes pack.

Cllr Gant left the meeting.

Council agreed to consider item 16a next on the agenda before the break and then return to the agenda as listed.

69.

Outside organisation/Committee Chair reports and questions

As set out in the Constitution at procedure rule 11.16, Members who are Council representatives on external bodies or Chairs of Council Committees who consider that a significant decision or event has taken place, may give notice to the Head of Law and Governance by 1.00 pm Wednesday 22 November 2023 that they will present a written or oral report on the event or the significant decision and how it may influence future events. Written reports will be circulated with the briefing note.

69a

Outside organisation report: Oxford Safer Communities Partnership pdf icon PDF 653 KB

Councillor Mark Lygo, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, has submitted a report which provides a summary of Oxford Safer Communities Partnership’s (OSCP) achievements in 2022-23.

Recommendation: that Council resolves to note the report.

Minutes:

Councillor Mark Lygo, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, introduced the report which provided a summary of Oxford Safer Communities Partnership’s (OSCP) achievements in 2022-23.

Council noted the report.

The meeting broke for 45 minutes at the conclusion of these items.

70.

Public addresses and questions that do not relate to matters for decision at this Council meeting pdf icon PDF 397 KB

This item will be taken at or shortly after 7.00pm

Public addresses and questions to the Leader or other Cabinet member received in accordance with Council Procedure Rules in the Constitution and not relating to matters for decision in Part 1 of this agenda.

Up to five minutes is available for each public address and up to three minutes for each question. Questions must be less than 200 words.

 

The request to speak accompanied by the full text of the address or question must be received by the Head of Law and Governance by 5.00 pm on Tuesday 21 November 2023.

 

The briefing note will contain the text of addresses and questions submitted by the deadline, and written responses where available.

A total of 45 minutes is available for both public speaking items. Responses are included within this limit.

Minutes:

Cllr Gant re-joined the meeting.

Council agreed to return the remainder of the agenda as listed.

 

Council heard four addresses and Cabinet Members read or summarised their written responses.

Both addresses and responses are set out in full in the minutes pack.

1.        Address by Professor Nick Maynard

2.        Address from Rachel Schiller

3.        Address from Maryam Ahmed

4.        Address from Chaka Artwell – Ethnic Traders and Shoppers of Oxford Cowley Road

The Lord Mayor thanked the speakers for their contributions.

71.

Motions on notice 27 November 2023 pdf icon PDF 550 KB

This item has a time limit of 60 minutes.

Motions received by the Head of Law and Governance in accordance with the rules in Section 11 of the Constitution by the deadline of 1.00pm on Wednesday 15 September 2023 are listed below.

Cross party motions are taken first. Motions will then be taken in turn from the Green Group, Oxford Social Independents, Independent Group, Labour Group, Liberal Democrat Group in that order.

Substantive amendments to these motions must be sent by councillors to the Head of Law and Governance by no later than 10.00am on Friday 24 November 2023so that they may be circulated with the briefing note.

Minor technical or limited wording amendments may be submitted during the meeting but must be written down and circulated.

 

Council is asked to consider the following motions:

a)    Rent Controls (proposed by Cllr Lucy Pegg, seconded by Cllr Chris Jarvis)

b)    Motion to call for a ceasefire in Gaza (proposed by Cllr Paula Dunne, seconded by Cllr Jabu Nala-Hartley)

c)    Back Oxford communities, Oxfam, and Oxford based medical workers, demanding immediate Gaza ceasefire (proposed by Cllr Shaista Aziz, seconded by Cllr Amar Latif).

d)    Peace in Israel and Palestine (proposed by Cllr Susan Brown, seconded by Cllr Ed Turner)

e)    Housing Management System problems and resultant accounts issues at Oxford City Council and ODS (proposed by Cllr Christopher Smowton, seconded by Cllr Laurence Fouweather)

f)      A Ban on Disposable Vapes (proposed by Cllr Lucy Pegg, seconded by Cllr Rosie Rawle)

g)    School Streets Initiative (proposed by Cllr Katherine Miles, seconded by Cllr Andrew Gant)

Minutes:

Council had before it six motions on notice submitted in accordance with Council procedure rules and reached decisions as set out below.

Motions agreed as set out below:

a)    Rent Controls (proposed by Cllr Lucy Pegg, seconded by Cllr Chris Jarvis) [Amendment proposed by Cllr Alex Hollingsworth, seconded by Cllr Linda Smith]

b)    Motion to call for a ceasefire in Gaza (proposed by Cllr Paula Dunne, seconded by Cllr Jabu Nala-Hartley) [Amendment proposed by Cllr Chris Jarvis, seconded by Cllr Lucy Pegg]

Motions not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished:

c)    Back Oxford communities, Oxfam, and Oxford based medical workers, demanding immediate Gaza ceasefire (proposed by Shaista Aziz, seconded by Cllr Amar Latif)

d)    Peace in Israel and Palestine (proposed by Cllr Susan Brown, seconded by Cllr Anna Railton)

e)    Housing Management System problems and resultant accounts issues at Oxford City Council and ODS (proposed by Cllr Christopher Smowton, seconded by Cllr Laurence Fouweather) [Amendment proposed by Cllr Nigel Chapman, seconded by Cllr Susan Brown]

f)      A Ban on Disposable Vapes (proposed by Cllr Lucy Pegg, seconded by Cllr Rosie Rawle)

g)    School Streets Initiative (proposed by Cllr Katherine Miles, seconded by Cllr Andrew Gant)

72.

Rent Controls (proposed by Cllr Lucy Pegg, seconded by Cllr Chris Jarvis)

Green Member Motion

This council notes:

 

  1. According to the 2021 census, almost a third of all households in Oxford are private renters (32.2 per cent).[1] This has increased from 28.3 per cent at the point of the 2011 census, and is substantially higher than the national average of 20.3 per cent.[2]
  2. In the year to September 2023, tenants in the South East of England experienced rent increases of more than 5 per cent on average.[3]
  3. Studies have shown that Oxford is one of the most expensive cities in the UK to live in[4], with housing costs being the single biggest contributor to this.[5] 
  4. A growing number of local authorities and leaders are calling for powers to introduce rent controls in the private rented sector, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan[6] and Bristol City Council.[7]
  5. The Scottish Government has introduced temporary rent controls, which will be in place until 2024.[8] Following this, the Scottish Government has stated it intends to introduce a new housing bill that would implement long-term rent controls.[9] 

 

This council believes:

  1. Oxford’s spiralling housing costs are central to the cost of living crisis in our city, with private renters being among the hardest hit. Without making renting more affordable, thousands of residents in the city will continue to face staggering costs, be plunged further into economic hardship and be priced out.
  2. Rent controls are far from a panacea - they will not fix the housing crisis alone or overnight. However, they are a necessary tool to transition to a housing system which puts people before profit. 

 

This council resolves:

  1. To request the Cabinet Member for Housing and the Leader of the Council publicly campaign for local authorities - including Oxford City Council - to be given powers to introduce rent controls. 
  2. To request the Cabinet Member for Housing and the Leader of the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities of the United Kingdom informing them of the council’s position and request the government allow local authorities to introduce controls on private sector rents.


Minutes:

Councillor Lucy Pegg, seconded by Councillor Chris Jarvis, proposed the amended motion as set out in the briefing note.

On being put to the vote, the amended motion was then agreed.

Council resolved to adopt the following motion:

This council notes:

 

  1. According to the 2021 census, almost a third of all households in Oxford are private renters (32.2 per cent).[1] This has increased from 28.3 per cent at the point of the 2011 census, and is substantially higher than the national average of 20.3 per cent.[2]
  2. In the year to September 2023, tenants in the South East of England experienced rent increases of more than 5 per cent on average.[3]
  3. Studies have shown that Oxford is one of the most expensive cities in the UK to live in[4], with housing costs being the single biggest contributor to this.[5] 
  4. A growing number of local authorities and leaders are calling for powers to introduce rent controls in the private rented sector, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan[6] and Bristol City Council.[7]
  5. The Scottish Government has introduced temporary rent controls, which will be in place until 2024.[8] Following this, the Scottish Government has stated it intends to introduce a new housing bill that would implement long-term rent controls.[9]

6.    That the trend of landlords moving properties from private lets to short term and holiday lets nationally is one that is impacting on large parts of Oxford as well, reducing the number of homes available for rent to families and house-sharers.

7.    That this trend is driven largely by the fact that even with the current very high levels of rent in the private rented sector it is possible to generate the same levels of income from a few days rental as a short term let as from a month as a privately rented property.[10]

8.    That the Government has consistently failed to come close to delivering the number of new homes required each year, with the most recent quarterly figures for planning permissions for new homes been the lowest since records began. Of even greater concern, the same report shows that the number of social housing units – the only genuinely affordable form of affordable housing – given planning permission has fallen by 24% since the previous year. [11]

 

 

This council believes:

  1. Oxford’s spiralling housing costs are central to the cost of living crisis in our city, with private renters being among the hardest hit. Without making renting more affordable, thousands of residents in the city will continue to face staggering costs, be plunged further into economic hardship and be priced out.
  2. Rent controls are far from a panacea - they will not fix the housing crisis alone or overnight. However, they are a necessary tool to transition to a housing system which puts people before profit.

3.    That the introduction of rent controls without the simultaneous introduction of powers to restrict the numbers of short-term lets is likely to increase  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.

73.

Motion to call for a ceasefire in Gaza (proposed by Cllr Paula Dunne, seconded by Cllr Jabu Nala-Hartley)

Oxford Socialist Independents Group Motion

This Council notes that:

  • In response to the Hamas-led attacks on 7th October, the Israeli army has dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza[1] – one of the most densely populated places in the world and home to 2.2 million Palestinians[2] (of whom almost half are children).[3]
  • The scale of this assault in Gaza has been compared to the Nakba (‘Catastrophe’) of 1948 in which more than 750,000 People were forcibly displaced, dispossessed and expelled from their homes.[4]
  • As of 10 November 2023, over 1 million Palestinians have been displaced, 11,078 killed (4,506 of whom were children) and 27,490 injured.[5]
  • Collective punishment[6] is against international law under the Geneva Conventions.[7]
  • The Israeli government have cut off water, food, and electricity to Gaza which is a war crime under International Humanitarian Law.[8]
  • There has been a 16 year illegal siege of Gaza[9], an occupation including in our twin city of Ramallah with the deadliest year for Palestinians even before October 7th, and a system of apartheid as documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and B’tselem.[10]

This Council believes that:

  • What is happening in Gaza is a humanitarian catastrophe with horrific escalations of violence.
  • Loss of all civilian lives and atrocities committed against civilians in both the Hamas attacks and the ensuing bombardment of the Gaza strip by Israel are horrific and must be condemned.
  • Polls show those surveyed overwhelmingly support a humanitarian ceasefire[11], which has been called for by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF, Save the Children, the head of the WHO, as well as Oxford's own Oxfam.
  • Hundreds of Oxford residents have joined protests, written to MPs, or contacted their councillors backing these calls.[12]

This Council agrees to:

  • Request that the Council Leader write to

a)    the foreign secretary and ask them to:

o   call for an immediate ceasefire,

o   open humanitarian corridors into Gaza (to allow aid, not displace people),

o   provide an opportunity to seek the immediate release of all hostages and all Palestinians held in arbitrary military detention,

o   call for an arms embargo to be enacted by all involved in the conflict.

b)    local MPs to request that they too write to the foreign secretary as above.

  • Confirm its position that all forms of racism and all hate crimes, including against Jewish or Muslim people, has no place in Oxford.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Paula Dunne, seconded by Councillor Jabu Nala-Hartley, proposed the amended motion as set out in the briefing note.

On being put to the vote, the amended motion was then agreed.

Council resolved to adopt the following motion:

Council notes:

·       As of 10 November 2023, 11,078 Palestinians, 4,506 of whom were children, have been killed, 27,490 injured and more than 1 million displaced, by Israeli forces. 

·       Following Hamas’ attacks on 7 October - killing 1,200 people and abducting more than 200 people including children, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions, Israeli forces dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza , one of the world’s most densely populated places, home to 2.2 million trapped Palestinians  (of whom almost half are children) .

·       UNRWA has described the situation as reminiscent of the Nakba (‘Catastrophe’) of 1948 in which more than 750,000 people were forcibly displaced, dispossessed and expelled from their homes.

·       Collective punishment is against international law under the Geneva Conventions.

·       The Israeli government has cut off water, food, and electricity to Gaza which is a war crime under International Humanitarian Law.

·       There has been a 16-year illegal blockade of Gaza,  an occupation in the West Bank, including in our twin city of Ramallah, and major NGOs say there is a system of apartheid.

·       Hamas’ rocket and mortar attacks targeting civilians have been condemned by the UN and human rights organisations.

Council believes: 

·       There must be an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

·       Neither the actions of the Israeli government or Hamas will contribute to a just peaceful resolution.

·       The killing of all civilians and atrocities committed against civilians in both the ongoing bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces and the Hamas attacks are horrific and must be condemned.

·       Polls show over 70% of the British public surveyed support a ceasefire,  which has been called for by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF, Save the Children, the head of the WHO, Oxfam, Layla Moran MP, and our Lord Mayor. Oxford’s four main mosques have also called for the leader of this council and the Oxford East MP to call for an immediate ceasefire.

·       There are major concerns about Israeli army and settler violence and intimidation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Ramallah.

·       Antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and hate crimes of all forms, including against Jewish and Muslim people, communities and places of worship, have no place in Oxford.

Council agrees to: 

?        Request the Council Leader

·       Write to Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer and Anneliese Dodds demanding they call for an immediate, permanent ceasefire    

·       Write to the foreign secretary asking them to:

o   work to ensure full access for humanitarian aid is granted in Gaza

o   seek an immediate unconditional release of all hostages

o   call for Palestinians in arbitrary military detention to be given access to justice through an independent, non-military system

o   raise concerns about Israeli army and settler violence in the West Bank

·       Write to express solidarity with Layla Moran and her family in Gaza

·       Invite the mayor of Ramallah to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.

74.

Back Oxford communities, Oxfam, and Oxford based medical workers, demanding immediate Gaza ceasefire (proposed by Cllr Shaista Aziz, seconded by Cllr Amar Latif)

Independent Group Motion

This council notes the UN describes Gaza as a “graveyard for children”[1], with almost 5,000 Palestinian children killed amongst more than 11,000 Palestinians in Israel’s military onslaught on Gaza, including refugee camps, hospitals, medical centres, ambulances, Universities, and neighbourhoods bombed.


Save the Children say more children have been killed in Gaza than the entire number killed in global conflicts since 2019.[2]
 
Journalists, doctors, surgeons, nurses, paramedics and aid workers have been killed The Committee to Protect Journalists say 39 Palestinian journalists have been killed since November 8th, the highest number of journalists killed in conflict since 1992.[3]
 
The UN says Palestinians in Gaza are surviving on two pieces of bread a day, water is rationed and people including pregnant women are drinking contaminated sea water.[4]
 
And yet Oxford City Council leader and Oxford East MP refuse to call for a ceasefire, in contrast to Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford and Abingdon West, Layla Moran and our Lord Mayor. Oxford’s four main mosques issued a statement calling for the leader of this council and Oxford East MP, to do so, and despite ten Labour councillors resigning over Labour leader Keir Starmer’s dehumanising rhetoric on LBC Radio seemingly endorsing collective punishment of Palestinians.[5]
 
Polls show 70% of the British public surveyed want a ceasefire, like us they condemn Hamas for their atrocities in Israel and want hostages returned unharmed immediately.[6]
 
Oxfam, based in Cowley, is calling for a ceasefire.[7]
 
Oxford based surgeon Nick Maynard leads a teaching initiative in Gaza and says medics  are “trying to treat patients despite knowing they may die as a result of hospitals being bombed and surrounded by Israeli soldiers.”[8]

According to Gaza Medic Voices, more than 200 healthcare workers have been killed.[9]
 
This Council agrees that

1.     The government, the Labour Party and local MPs should be calling for an immediate ceasefire;

2.     It stands in solidarity with Layla Moran MP and her family in Gaza;

3.     That it has concerns about the Israeli army and settler violence and intimidation of Palestinians in Ramallah, twinned with Oxford

4.     That the Council stands in solidarity with Ramallah

5.     That the Council should seek to use its position and work with all faiths and relevant partners to seek to tackle antisemitism and Islamophobia. 

As such the Council request that the Leader:

 

1.    Write to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer and Annelise Dodds, demanding they call for an immediate ceasefire.

2.    Write to Layla Moran, MP, to express the Council’s solidarity with and her family in Gaza

3.    Write to the Foreign Secretary to raise concerns about Israeli army and settler violence and intimidation of Palestinians in Ramallah, twinned with Oxford.

4.    Invite the mayor of Ramallah to provide an address to full council meeting (via video link) to discuss the crisis in the West Bank, so we can express in person that the Council is in solidarity with Ramallah

5.    Seek  ...  view the full agenda text for item 74.

Minutes:

This motion was not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished.

75.

Peace in Israel and Palestine (proposed by Cllr Susan Brown, seconded by Cllr Ed Turner)

Labour Group Motion

The terrible loss of life in Israel and Gaza has shocked and appalled us all. We need peace. 

The council condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas on the people of Israel in the strongest possible terms. We call on Hamas to immediately release all hostages unharmed. We recognise Israel’s right to take targeted action under international law to defend itself and rescue hostages.

We also recognise the terrible suffering of the people of Gaza - injured, displaced and killed. Women and children are being disproportionately harmed by the collapse of healthcare and other infrastructure in Gaza. This humanitarian crisis must be urgently addressed by the international community. The council echoes the calls of the UN Secretary General, the IRC and ICRC for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire by all parties in the conflict as well as the release of all hostages.

This council therefore calls on the Leader to write to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to work towards an immediate cessation of hostilities, a release of hostages and to work towards a long-term peaceful two-state solution for all communities.

This council recognises that all Oxford’s diverse faith and ethnic communities are continuing to work together to challenge hatred, racism, Anti Semitism and Islamophobia whenever it occurs and thanks them for continuing to promote cohesion and peace.

This council believes that our city is overwhelmingly a compassionate, welcoming diverse place to live, and we want everyone to feel safe and at home here.

Minutes:

This motion was not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished.

76.

Housing Management System problems and resultant accounts issues at Oxford City Council and ODS (proposed by Cllr Christopher Smowton, seconded by Cllr Laurence Fouweather)

Liberal Democrat Group Motion

Council notes that the report by external consultants into the tendering process, procurement and implementation of a new Housing Management System revealed serious shortcomings in this council’s working practices and decision-making.

Council notes that as a result of these failures the budget for the project has had to be doubled to over £3 million.

Council also notes that this project still has not delivered the benefits promised and that it does not yet provide all the facilities needed by Council departments.

Council notes with concern that, as a result of these failures, Oxford Direct Services (ODS) was unable to submit its accounts for the financial year 2021/22 to Companies House as they were not yet certified by the ODS auditors. The accounts were finally lodged on 14th August 2023 when they were due on 31st December 2022. Because of this ODS was fined every month for non-compliance. This non-compliance also harmed ODS’s ability to tender for additional business.

Council notes that this also prevented the Council’s auditors from approving the Council’s own accounts for submission to Central Government.

Council notes that the more information about failures of this nature that can be published, the more third parties including other local authorities and public bodies can benefit from the lessons learned. Therefore, there is a strong public interest in disclosure.

Council resolves to:-

Ask the Leader of the Council, as a matter of priority, to:

1)    Request the publication of a minimally redacted version of the lessons learned report, in contrast to the brief summary published in June 2023.

2)    Ensure that action is taken as soon as possible to ensure the new Housing Management System is properly implemented in the Council and that all the benefits promised when the system was acquired are realised.

3)    Confirm that the deadline (October 2023) for reporting the certified Council accounts to Central Government has been met.

4)    Confirm that action has been taken to ensure that the Cabinet has the necessary skills to make decisions on major IT system acquisition and implementation.

Minutes:

This motion was not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished.

77.

A Ban on Disposable Vapes (proposed by Cllr Lucy Pegg, seconded by Cllr Rosie Rawle)

Green Group Motion

Disposable vapes are creating an environmental and health crisis. Far from helping smokers to quit, with their attractive packaging and child-friendly flavours, disposable vapes are getting a new generation addicted to nicotine. Frequently littered and hard to recycle, disposable vapes are also causing damage to the natural environment and wasting critical materials. 

 

This council notes that:

  • There has been a fourfold increase in the number of disposable vapes being discarded over the past year, with 5 million vapes now being thrown away every week[1]
  • Vapes contain critical raw materials, such as lithium and copper, which are vital for our transition to a greener society. The disposable vapes thrown away over the past year contain enough lithium to create 5,000 batteries for electric cars[2]
  • 1 in 9 young people aged 11 to 18 have experimented with e-cigarettes, with 69% of these people choosing disposable vapes, according to research from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). There has been a 7-fold increase between 2020 and 2022 in the choice of disposables amongst this age group, alongside a 50% year on year increase in the proportion of children experimenting with vaping of all kinds.[3]  
  • Lithium ion batteries, like those used in vapes, caused 700 fires at waste sites in 2022 due to not being properly disposed of. [4]
  • Prominent environmental and health organisations have called for a ban, including The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Marine Conservation Society, Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and Surfers Against Sewage.[5] 
  • Councils across the country have called for a UK ban on disposable vapes by 2024, and the Scottish Government has already agreed to carry out a consultation on banning disposable vapes[6]
  • Whilst vaping can help smokers to quit, reusable vapes serve this same purpose. 

 

This council resolves:

·       Request that the Leader of the Council will write jointly to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, supporting a ban on disposable vapes by 2024 on environmental and child health grounds, as part of the package of measures to be introduced in the Tobacco and Vapes Bill

·       That the Leader requests that Officers discuss with Oxford Direct Services the provision of additional facilities for recycling disposable vapes and publicise the existing e-waste recycling services, which accepts vapes.

·       Request that the Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice and the Cabinet Member for Planning and Healthier Communities investigate ways the council can encourage retailers selling disposable vapes in Oxford to provide recycling facilities for vapes in their stores.

Minutes:

This motion was not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished.

78.

School Streets Initiative (proposed by Cllr Katherine Miles, seconded by Cllr Andrew Gant)

Liberal Democrat Group Motion

 

1.    Council notes that School Streets deliver a range of benefits, including:

·       Reducing car congestion around the school gate at the beginning and end of day, producing a safer and more welcoming environment for pupils, parents and staff.

·       Reduces overall traffic by encouraging parents not to drive and by preventing large numbers of cars trying to access restricted places at the same time.

·       Delivers opportunities for better physical and mental health, cognitive function, academic performance, resilience, independence, social and leisure activities and many other benefits to children as they grow through taking control of their own lives and accessing healthy and sustainable transport choices.

2.    Council also notes that a key element of a School Street is the ‘White List’ of exempt vehicles maintained by the school(s) in partnership with the County Council, so that any journey which does need to be made to school by car is made easier.

3.    Council also notes that:

·       Car traffic in Oxford has continued to increase and is now at crisis levels.

·       Many have observed that congestion increases during school term, and in particular during term for schools in urban Oxford whose pupils travel from both within the city and beyond.

·       Reducing congestion is an urgent priority and requirement for all, in particular buses, including school buses.

4.    Council therefore requests that the Leader of the City Council write to the Leader of the County Council and Corporate Director for Environment and Place and urges the County Council, with the full and unequivocal support of this Council, to:

·       Develop proposals for a School Street in Cowley Place;

·       Continue to develop proposals for a School Street in Charlbury Road and the three access points via Belbroughton Road, Linton Road and Bardwell Road;

·       Bring forward proposals for any similar locations considered appropriate.

In all cases working with schools and with the explicit intention of implementation as soon as possible.

Minutes:

This motion was not taken as the time allocated for debate had finished.