Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Sarah Claridge, Committee Services Officer 

No. Item


Apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Coulter.

Apologies for lateness were received from Cllr Price, he was expected at 6.25 for item 6 Recommendation monitoring - Inequality Panel.


Declarations of interest


Item 7- Educational Attainment

Cllr Gant – governor of Cutteslowe Primary School

Cllr Kennedy – governor of St Francis Primary School


Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 181 KB


Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee operates within a work plan which has been set for the 2016/17 council year.  This plan will be reviewed at every 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 City Executive Board or Council).

Why is it on the agenda?

The Committee is asked to review and note its work plan for the 2016/17 council year.


The Committee is also asked to select which Forward Plan items they wish to pre-scrutinise based on the following criteria:

     Is the issue controversial / of significant public interest?

     Is it an area of high expenditure?

     Is it an essential service / corporate priority?

     Can Scrutiny influence and add value?


A maximum of three items for pre-scrutiny will normally apply.


Who has been invited to comment?

·         Andrew Brown, Scrutiny Officer



Additional documents:


The Chair presented the report.


Work Plan

The Committee reviewed and noted the following changes in its work plan for the 2016/17 council year.


Safeguarding Language Schools – slipped to December

SEAP - slipped to December.


The Committee agreed to slip the workplace parking levies report from December to the January meeting to make room for the slipped CEB reports.


Standing Panels

Cllr Henwood updated the Committee on the work of the Housing panel.


Forward Plan

The Committee made no additional requests for reports from the Forward Plan.


Report back on recommendations pdf icon PDF 74 KB


Background Information

The Committee makes a number of recommendations to officers and decision makers, who are obliged to respond in writing.

Why is it on the agenda?

This item allows Committee to see the results of recent recommendations to the City Executive Board.  Since the last meeting CEB has responded to scrutiny recommendations on the following items:

·         OxLEP Strategic Economic Plan,

·         Credit Union Services,

·         Equality and Diversity (recommendation 15).

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Andrew Brown, Scrutiny Officer.




The Chair presented the report on recommendations.


The Committee noted the report.


Devolution plans for Oxfordshire pdf icon PDF 79 KB


Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee has appointed a Review Group to examine devolution proposals for Oxfordshire.  The Committee considered a proposed review scope in July 2016 and asked the Review Group to consider both consultant reports before proposing a tighter scope.  The Review Group met on 19 September 2016 and questioned the Leaders and Chief Executives of the City and County Councils.

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Scrutiny Committee to approve the revised scope of the Devolution Review Group. Also included is a list of evaluation criteria used in conducting the unitary studies.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Marie Tidball, Chair of the Devolution Review Group.




Additional documents:


Cllr Tidball, Chair of the Devolution Review Panel presented the proposed project scope.


She explained that the Panel had meet last month to tighten the scope of the review She outlined the following points the Panel was to focus on:

  • Review of the devolution proposals and to decide the best option for Oxfordshire.
  • How best to deliver key service areas, infrastructure and adult and children care.


The Scrutiny Officer explained that an additional meeting was scheduled for 16 November.


The following was discussed:


Committee members can attend the meetings, but they are private meetings so members cannot discuss the findings.


Cllr Simmons asked whether the issues should be prioritised, as there are a lot of them. The Scrutiny Officer said that this would occur at the next meeting and lines of enquiry would be agreed.  Cllr Tidball acknowledged that while the scope was broad, using service areas as case studies would help inform the discussion.


Cllr Price clarified three things:  1 There would be no devolution deals without all councils’ agreement.  2. There needs to be a mayor. 3. Existing devolution deals are being pursued especially the Cambridge and Peterborough model.


Through the Growth Board the chief executives of the Oxfordshire local authorities are looking at governance issues.


The Scrutiny Committee resolved to approve the revised project scope for the Devolution Review Panel.


Recommendation monitoring - Inequality Panel pdf icon PDF 191 KB



Background Information

The Inequality Panel was chaired by Councillor Van Coulter and reported to the City Executive Board in July 2015.  CEB responded to the recommendations in October 2015 and the Scrutiny Committee requested a progress update report after 12 months. 

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Scrutiny Committee to monitor progress and the implementation of agreed recommendations.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Bob Price, Leader and Board Member for Corporate Strategy and Economic Development,

·         Val Johnson, Policy and Partnerships Team Leader.





Cllr Bob Price, Board Member for Corporate Strategy and Economic Development, and the Policy and Partnerships Team Leader updated the Committee on the implementation of the recommendations of the Inequality Panel.


The evaluation demonstrates what a lot of work goes into combating poverty and inequality in the city. Cllr Price said it was a core value of the Council which is reflected in the holistic approach taken across all services.


The Council does a lot of work with the voluntary sector/ partnerships and influences other organisations’ policies and plans ie the clinical commissioners group (CCG) to tackle inequalities in health.


The Committee was reassured that their planning related recommendations would be included in the local plan review.


The Committee discussed the following:


Rec 2:  The appointment of the Assistant Chief Executive has improved partnership working.


Rec 5h: There is on-going support to allow council tenants to downsize and relocate easily however quite often older people don’t want to move.


Rec 6b: No figures are available on the uptake of keyworker housing interventions however the scheme has been extended and is promoted in schools and during the recruitment process. A conference is being run (by the universities) to retain and recruitment teachers in Oxford. The Policy and Partnerships Team Leader to ask officers whether this scheme includes teachers at free schools as well.


Rec 7: there is no work being done on whether the HMO scheme is affecting good landlords.


Rec 10 (a+b) – Can we have an update report on the work being done to offer council premises to promote health outcomes.


Rec 11 – The existing Barton medical centre will provide for the new Barton Park development.


Free NHS checks are offered to everyone aged 45-75 could the Council do more to promote this?


Rec 14a: The Committee felt there was scope for more Scrutiny work or a review of the Asylum Welcome scheme. Cllr Price said that an assessment of the number of Syrian refugees in the city would be useful as lots have arrived outside of the scheme.


Rec 19: It was suggested that the Council could decline to offer stands at job fairs to firms that don’t offer the living wage. Cllr Price agreed with the proposal.


The Committee discussed the best way to review this report in the future. It was agreed that given the wide-ranging nature of the review, that a review group could be commissioned to monitor the implementations of the recommendations.


The Committee agree that Cllr Coulter (as chair of the initial Inequalities Panel) be asked to be champion this work and to feed back to the committee intermittently.


Educational Attainment pdf icon PDF 776 KB


Background Information

The Council commissioned independent research from Oxford Brookes University on the impacts of the Council’s educational attainment investments in the poorest performing Oxford schools.  The Scrutiny Committee has previously considered the Council’s educational attainment programme and this item was included in the Scrutiny work plan for 2015/16.  

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Scrutiny Committee to consider the report on educational attainment.  The Committee is asked to note the report and to provide any feedback on the Council’s educational attainment investments.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Pat Kennedy, Board Member for Young People, Schools and Skills;

·         Tim Sadler, Executive Director for Community Services;

·         Deb McGregor, Oxford Brookes University.





Cllr Pat Kennedy, Board Member for Young People, Schools and Skills presented the report. She explained the background to the programme and its purpose. The report provides evidence  that the programme improved  the results of all participating  schools, changed the culture in many city schools and most importantly gave teachers the confidence that improvements could be made.


The Committee welcomed Professors Debra McGregor and Liz Browne from Brookes University and the authors of the report. Professor McGregor explained the methodology of the report; they had interviewed 7 head teachers to understand what impact the 2 year intervention had had on children’s abilities.


Professor Browne said that Table 10 of the report showed how pupils had made progress in their own rights. It shows data on the improvement of each school. She explained that only failing schools took part in the intervention (11 in total).


All the schools had large class sizes which is a problem in most Oxford schools.


Cllr Simmons asked whether the Council had taken forward any of the recommendations of the report. Cllr Kennedy said that there was a small networking programme of 3 schools, and there was a budget review to take some of the report’s recommendations forward.


The Director for Community Services said that the leadership for learning programme was carrying on but slowly declining as funding reduced and only 2 schools had continued the KRM programme outside of the intervention.


Cllr Fry asked if the schools that dropped out of the programme regretted not participating. Professor Browne explained that there were various reasons why schools stopped participating in the programme. These were often either a new head teacher starting, who stopped the programme or teacher turnover.  A lot of teachers that started the initiatives moved on to other posts over the 2 year period.


The teachers’ network (established under the leadership for learning programme) continues to share good practice amongst schools.


The Chair asked if there was any connections between the nature of the KRM programme and the drop-out rate of schools. Professor McGregor said that the prescriptive nature of the KRM programme not always helpful for experienced teachers but can be very useful for newly qualified teachers.


The Director for Community Services explained that the City Council chose the KRM programme because they were looking for a programme with a proven track record for improving struggling schools. No school went backwards some just didn’t approve as much as the Council would of like.


The Committee asked whether the programme had made a significant difference. The Director of Community Services said that it had made a material difference – for a relative small amount of money. The programme had cost £200,000 over 2 years, and at the time there was no programme available for supporting leadership before the City Council’s programme.


The Committee provided the following feedback on the Council’s educational attainment investments:


For the Council to progress through the recommendations


That the Scrutiny Committee support education funding bid in budget.


The Committee resolved  ...  view the full minutes text for item 047.


Review of Tree Management Policy pdf icon PDF 92 KB


Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee has asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.  The Committee previously provided feedback on the Tree Management Policy in April 2016.

Why is it on the agenda?

The City Executive Board will be asked to approve the updated Tree Management Policy at its meeting on 13 October 2016.  This is an opportunity for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Linda Smith, Board Member for Leisure, Parks & Sport,

·         Stuart Fitzsimmons, Parks and Open Spaces Manager.




Additional documents:


Cllr Linda Smith, Board Member for Leisure Parks and Sports presented the report and outlined the draft policy

She said that the policy had been written with a friendlier tone and focused on what the Council would do rather than what it would not do. The draft policy contains a more extensive arbitration and review section to assist customers who are unhappy with decisions. Officers reminded the Committee that the policy only extends to the management and maintenance of Council owned trees.


The Committee discussed the following:


The issue of trees blocking light and what the tree team would do in these cases. The Parks and Open Spaces Manager explained that there is no legal right to light but there is an obligation to keep the lamp posts clear.  The Tree team considers each case on an individual basis.


Officers explained that the cost of maintaining the 100,000+ Council trees in the city put considerable budgetary pressures on the service. The tree team trades externally to subsidise these costs.


The Committee favoured the idea of fruit trees being planted in Council parks and asked for fruiting trees to be included in the tree planting list as an option for parks and for the policy to say that people can help themselves to the fruit off these trees.


The Committee agreed with the creation of a Customer Advice Guide and suggested a number of issues to be included (listed in recommendation 3)


That the Tree Planting Guide provide more information on the common trees listed and how they meet the requirements of the policy.  That the planting guide list which trees could be pollarded; and for more information on which species are pollinators (specifically bee pollinators).  The Committee also requested that a new section on trees that could be planted in parks (most notably fruit trees) be added.


The Committee raised concerns with the narrow focus of the policy in that it did not mention enough about the role of planning or the highways authority in tree management.  Many tree issues faced by members of the public are the responsibility of other authorities and are not covered by this policy.  To improve public understanding, it was requested that officers include a section at the front of the policy which highlighted what the policy covers and where people can find additional information on trees from the planning and highways authority.


The Committee noted a number of minor amendments to the report which the Board Member and Officers agreed to correct (listed in reccommendation1)


The Scrutiny Committee agreed the following recommendation to CEB


1: That the following amendments are made to the Policy:

a)    The phrase ‘perceived to be causing medical issues’ in the bullet points at the top of page 5 of the Policy is replaced with ‘undocumented medical conditions’.

b)    Explanation is added that challenges under the arbitration and review process will be assessed against the Policy.

c)    The statement that ‘every tree felled should be replaced’ on page 8 of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 048.


Finance Panel report on the impacts of Brexit pdf icon PDF 127 KB


Background Information

The Finance Panel requested a report from the Head of Financial Services on the expected impacts on the Council of Brexit.  The Panel considered this item in September.

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Scrutiny Committee to review and comment on the report of the Finance Panel before it is submitted to the City Executive Board on 13 October 2016.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Craig Simmons, Chair of the Finance Panel.




Cllr Simmons, Chair of the Finance Panel presented the report.


The Committee discussed EU funding being refused to UK based organisations, and whether the Council had an appetite to borrow more on low rates. 


Cllr Tidball asked if it was too early to look at reducing business rates to encourage businesses to stay here. Cllr Simmons said that the Council doesn’t set business rates but could give some businesses a rate holiday. However he was uncertain whether reducing business rates would encourage businesses to stay in the city.


The Committee agree to submit the report to CEB with the amended recommendation 2:


Recommendation 2: That the Council looks to partner with local Universities or economic institutions to study the wider impacts of Brexit on the economy of Oxfordshire, either through locally commissioned research or an Oxfordshire case-study in a national examination.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Minutes from 5 September 2016


Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2016 be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.



The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2016 as a true and accurate record.


Dates of future meetings

Meetings are scheduled as followed:


Scrutiny Committee



7 November 2016


6 December 2016

30 January 2017

28 February 2017


27 March 2017



All meetings start at 6.00 pm.


Standing Panels

Housing Standing Panel – 9 November 2016

Finance Standing Panel – 8 December 2016




The next meeting will be held on 7 November at 6.00pm