Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

7.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of pecuniary interest made.

 

On Minute 11, Councillors stated for the record that they were members or had involvement in community associations although these were not pecuniary interests:

 

Councillor Henwood               Florence Park Community Association

Councillor Ladbrooke             Barton Community Association

Councillor Pegg                       Rosehill advice centre

Councillor Gant                        North Oxford Association, Cutteslowe Community Association

Councillor Fry                           North Oxford Association

Councillor Lloyd-Shogbesan        Bullingdon Community Association

Councillor Altaf Khan             Asian Cultural Centre

Councillor Curran                    Donnington Doorstep; Donnington community centre

8.

Report back on recommendations pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Contact Officer: Andrew Brown, Scrutiny Officer,

Tel 01865 252230, abrown2@oxford.gov.uk

 

Background Information

Scrutiny is empowered to make recommendations to the City Executive Board, which is obliged to respond in writing.

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Committee to note and comment on recent executive responses to Scrutiny recommendations.  Since the last meeting the Board has responded to recommendations on the following items:

·         Fusion Lifestyle’s 2017/18 Annual Service Plan

·         South Oxford Science Village Planning Application

·         The Council’s use of PSPO powers

·         The local impacts of Brexit

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Andrew Brown, Scrutiny Officer

 

 

Minutes:

The Chair deferred this item as the paperwork attached to the agenda was incorrect.

9.

Planning and Regulatory Services improvement plan pdf icon PDF 118 KB

 

 

Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee commissioned a report from the Head of Planning, Sustainable Development and Regulatory Services on the progress of her service improvement plan.  The Committee previously considered a progress update in June 2016.

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Scrutiny Committee to consider the service improvement plan for Planning and Regulatory Services.  The Committee is asked to note and comment on the report and may also wish to agree recommendations to put to the City Executive Board on 18 July 2017.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Board Member for Planning and Regulatory;

·         Patsy Dell, Head of Planning, Sustainable Development and Regulatory Services.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Planning and Regulatory introduced the report and answered questions. She highlighted the very positive improvements for the service area over the past year including the introduction of career grades, the recruitment of good staff and five apprentices who were proving to be an asset to the service.

 

Councillor Hollingsworth, Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, also answered questions.

 

The Committee noted in answer to questions:

1.    The service had invested in the introduction of career grades, apprenticeships and improved recruitment and retention. The vacancy rate was now much lower and remaining vacancies were being filled.

2.    The number of complaints about customer service had reduced.

3.    Building control provided a statutory service and sought work in competition with the private sector, successfully bidding for a number of large contracts. The changes to recruitment and retention polices would hopefully improve the service’s ability to recruit permanent staff, as there was a shortage of suitable skilled staff and a competitive recruitment market.

4.    Enforcement action was taken when breaches were brought to the service’s attention, in line with usual practice across the country. It was not possible to provide a proactive inspection and enforcement service unless this was resourced.

5.    The ability to enforce planning permission had to be balanced against the resources this involved, and against the reasonable expectation that developers would comply with their permissions and conditions. There was an added complication with an inspection regime that developments can start at any point within the three-year permission period. Reported breaches were taken seriously, and action taken.

6.    A risk-based approach was taken to pro-actively inspecting particularly sensitive or controversial works on listed buildings and conservation areas, but there were strong incentives to carry the work out correctly given the liabilities if this was sub-standard.

7.    There was a project to review the list of requirements to be met before an application was accepted. This would improve the quality and completeness of applications before submission – at present only half of applications provided information to the required standard. Better quality and complete applications would reduce the workload on staff; the number of conditions required; the time taken to issue permission; and the work involved for both parties in discharging conditions. There was a related project reviewing all standard conditions to ensure these were adequate and comprehensive.

8.    The recent neighbourhood planning bill set out changes to the pre-commencement conditions that could be applied.

9.    The contract for the Oxford Design Review Panel had ended and was under review. A design panel was part of a quality planning process for the city and the current providers were the national lead.

10. The key indicators for performance were those set by government: currently over a rolling 24-month period 70% of non-major applications had to be determined within the time limits.  Internal targets to exceed these could be set if appropriate.

 

The Committee asked for information about the numbers of complaints and why 2015/16 was chosen as a baseline.

 

The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Oxford Railway Station Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee has asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.

Why is it on the agenda?

The City Executive Board on 20 June 2017 will be asked to agree the Oxford Railway Station SPD for public consultation. This is an opportunity for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Hollingsworth, Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services;

·         Fiona Piercy, Assistant Chief Executive for Regeneration and Economy

·         Tom Morris, Principal Economic Development and Spatial Officer

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Assistant Chief Executive for regeneration and economy introduced the report. The Head of Planning and Regulatory and the Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, Councillor Hollingsworth, answered questions.

 

Councillors asked for the milestones and times in the document to be updated before it was issued for consultation.

 

They noted that the consultation on this SPD would run concurrently with that for the Local Plan, and noted the steps taken to ensure that the SPD was appropriately publicised as a separate document and to relevant special-interest groups.

 

The Committee made no recommendations and commended the document to the City Executive Board.

11.

Community Leases pdf icon PDF 130 KB

 

Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee has asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.

Why is it on the agenda?

The City Executive Board on 20 June 2017 will be asked to agree the process and criteria for awarding a community lease and approve terms for new leases for Bullingdon, Headington, Risinghurst and Florence Park Community Centres.  This is an opportunity for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Dee Sinclair, Board Member for Community Services;

·         Ian Brooke, Head of Community Services.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Acting Communities Manager and the Council’s lawyer with responsibility for leases introduced the report and answered questions.

The Committee noted in answer to questions:

1.    Two different types of lease are being offered: eight community associations currently operate a community centre on a licence and the Council is offering these associations an ‘unprotected lease’.

2.    Protected leases had been given to some community associations about 15-20 years ago and this type of lease could not be rescinded: such leases would not be offered now as they were no longer the preferred means of achieving the good management of council property.

3.    Unprotected leases offer a 25 year term with a rolling twelve month rolling break for either tenant or landlord. This gives flexibility to both the council (to manage its assets in the best interests of the city) and the community associations (to provide activities and management to best support the changing needs of their growing communities) with sufficient control by both parties.

4.    Performance measures allowed both parties to work to make the centres effective.

5.    The poor state of repair of three of the buildings, and Florence Park community centre in particular, was known. The protected leases had break clauses which allowed either party to terminate the lease at fixed points. There was a clause permitting the council to terminate the lease if the cost of repairs exceeded £100,000 but this was not intended as a mechanism to avoid the Council’s responsibilities.

6.    The community centres’ opening hours and activities relied on demand; volunteers; and paid staff. The Communities team was helping the associations to manage centres and attract and retain volunteers which should help improve the centres’ activities and increase their opening hours. However, while the council should make good use of valuable assets, expectations of the associations and the use of the centres had to be realistic.

The Committee commented that they would want all community associations to be satisfied with their lease arrangements and received assurances that the Council was actively supporting community associations to help them ensure that the centres were accessible to all of the diverse communities they served.

The Committee asked for information about the reason for the large grant given to offset all of the rent paid by Museum of Modern Art, and the benefit this offered to the wider community in the city. They suggested that, to distinguish between those organisations actually paying a low rent and those where the rent was off-set by grants, the information on rents should show the actual rent charged; the grant (if any) off-setting this; and the residual rent (if any) paid.

The Committee made no recommendations to the City Executive Board.

12.

Safeguarding Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee has asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.

Why is it on the agenda?

The City Executive Board on 20 June 2017 will be asked to agree the safeguarding action plan 2017/18. This is an opportunity for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Hayes, Board Member for Community Safety;

·         Val Johnson, Policy and Partnership Manager

·         Daniella Granito, Safeguarding Coordinator

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Policy and Partnership Manger, the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, and the Board Member for Community Safety, Councillor Hayes, introduced the report and answered questions.

 

The Committee noted in answer to questions:

1.    The full Self-Assessment Audit had been completed and the full report was available. The action plan was not fixed for the year but would be updated as necessary.

2.    There had been a significant investment in safeguarding training.

3.    In state schools, teachers and other staff had detailed training and the schools completed a safeguarding audit. There were monitoring and reporting systems in place to report concerns, including absences, involving the home and then a multi-agency panel and the police. The communities team worked directly with schools on some issues.

4.    Independent schools were not subject to the same requirements as state schools and did not participate in the same reporting or monitoring regime. There was no mechanism by which local authorities could oblige them to do so.

5.    Licensing authorities across the county now contributed to monitoring, information sharing and joint working on taxi licensing, and with other councils through shared service arrangements.

6.    Targeted mental capacity training had been offered to nearly 130 key staff.

7.    Information sharing across IT systems was complicated: the proposed corporate system would help but may not interface well with existing systems.

8.    Training in safeguarding for the voluntary sector (such as community associations and parish councils) could be provided through the safeguarding boards rather than this council, although there may be a cost for this. The council had offered awareness training to its own volunteers.

9.    It was currently too early to assess the full effectiveness of the training.

10. The team were working on how to ensure adults and mental health referrals were always adequately followed through.

11. The team were working with county council and community centre colleagues to ensure that the most effective service possible was offered within the resources available and without duplication. Staff were aware of the impacts of cuts to services.

 

The Committee asked for:

·         the next report to set out how far the councils’ ability to intervene where issues and concerns were identified has been compromised by the changes to the supporting and surrounding service provision, and on the risks that raised.

·         as well as the annual report, any key issues that arise should be put before the committee mid-year

·         the action plan to be clear and readable for a wide audience.

 

The Committee thanked the Policy and Partnerships Manager for her work on this.

 

The Committee made no recommendations to the City Executive Board.

13.

Performance Monitoring - quarter 4 pdf icon PDF 105 KB

 

 

Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee has a role in monitoring Council performance and quarterly reports are provided on a set of selected corporate and service performance indicators.

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Committee to note and comment on Council performance at the end of 2016/17 quarter 4 (31 March 2017).

 

Councillor Fry was the Committee’s lead member for performance monitoring in 2016/17.  It is proposed that Cllr Fry continues as lead member in 2017/18.

 

Since the previous report, Councillor Fry and Councillor Chapman met with the Business Development and Support Manager to discuss performance monitoring and may wish to update the Committee on that meeting.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor James Fry;

·         Councillor Nigel Chapman.

 

Minutes:

The Committee noted the report and made the following observations:

 

  • The quarter 4 report was an improvement on previous reports.
  • It was not clear how the targets were set and who was involved.
  • It would be helpful to know which (if any) targets were set by government.
  • CE002 – The level of commercial property income achieved significantly exceeded target but it seemed odd that Financial Services were unable to provide figures that exclude VAT.
  • It would be useful to have more targets for ICT.
  • CS054 – This needed to be clearer as it looked like targets had not been set.
  • LG002 – Jeremy Thomas’s name should have been removed.
  • CS025 & BV009 – Is the Council being penalised for missing the collection rates targets?
  • WR002 & WR003 – Why is under-recording taking place; what’s wrong?
  • NI195a-c – These targets were not useful to the Committee and there could be a more useful target around responding to reports of graffiti.
  • NI008 – Will we drop the Sport England measure?
  • BI001 – An estimate would have been useful in the absence of information on the tower block project.
  • It would be useful to see some key Fusion Lifestyle measures in this report as that information is collated quarterly for other forums.
  • Column headers should appear at the top of every page.
  • It would be useful to see some historical context in this report.
  • There should be a role for Scrutiny in sense checking the performance measures for the year ahead before they are set in stone.

 

The Committee agreed that Cllr Fry would continue as lead member for performance monitoring and would select performance measures for Scrutiny to monitor in the year ahead.

 

14.

Scrutiny Operating Principles 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

 

Background Information

The Council’s Constitution sets out the role and procedures of the Scrutiny Committee but is not prescriptive about how the scrutiny function will be organised and managed.  Previous Committees have agreed operating principles to govern key aspects of the scrutiny function that are not covered by the Constitution.

Why is it on the agenda?

For the Scrutiny Committee to agree a set of operating principles for the 2017/18 Council year which will provide clarity as to how the scrutiny function will be organised and managed.  

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Andrew Brown, Scrutiny Officer

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered and agreed the operating principles as set out in the report.

15.

Preparation of the 2017/18 Scrutiny Work Plan pdf icon PDF 134 KB

 

Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee operates within a work plan which is agreed at the start of the Council year based on suggestions from members and senior officers.  These suggestions are listed in the paperwork and have been rated by the Scrutiny Officer against criteria previously used by the Committee.

 

The work 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?

For the Committee to make decisions in respect of its work plan for the 2017/18 Council year.

 

Recommendation(s): That the Scrutiny Committee resolves to:

1.    Re-establish the Finance and Housing standing panels.

2.    Re-establish the Shareholder Panel as a third standing panel to scrutinise issues and decisions relating to Council-owned companies. 

3.    Appoint to the panels as follows:

a)    Finance (4 members): Councillors Fry, Landell Mills, Simmons & Taylor.

b)    Housing (6 members): Councillors Goff, Henwood, Pegg, Sanders, Thomas & Wade.

c)    Shareholder (5 members): Councillors Chapman, Fry, Gant, Henwood & Simmons.

4.    Include all suggested items rated 6 orhigher in the work plan and agree any other items to be included.

5.    Agree two priority topics for review in 2017/18 including:

a)    A Finance Panel review of the Council’s annual budget and medium term financial plan (December to February)

b)    One other review topic (August to December), which could be one of the following suggestions: child obesity, Disabled Students’ Allowance, restorative justice, impacts of the Westgate Centre.

6.    Note the meeting agenda schedules for July 2017.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Andrew Brown, Scrutiny Officer

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered the list of topics and schedule for the 2017/18 work plan.

 

The Scrutiny Committee resolved to:

1.  Re-establish the Finance and Housing standing panels.

2.  Re-establish the Shareholder Panel as a third standing panel to scrutinise issues and decisions relating to Council-owned companies. 

3.  Appoint to the panels as follows:

a)     Finance (4 members): Councillors Fry, Landell Mills, Simmons & Taylor.

b)     Housing (6 members): Councillors Goff, Henwood, Pegg, Sanders, Thomas & Wade.

c)     Shareholder (5 members): Councillors Chapman, Fry, Gant, Henwood & Simmons.

4.  Include all suggested items rated 6 or higher in the work plan.

5.  Agree priority topics for review in 2017/18 including:

a)     A Finance Panel review of the Council’s annual budget and medium term financial plan (December to February)

b)     One other review topic (August to December), the topic itself to be agreed at the July meeting which could be one of the following suggestions: child obesity, Disabled Students’ Allowance, the use of restorative justice to resolve low level instances of antisocial behaviour, impacts of the Westgate Centre, implementing the Oxford Living Wage across Oxford.

6.  Note the meeting agenda schedules for July 2017.

 

16.

Dates of future meetings

Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

4 July 2017

31 July 2017 – Provisional

7 September 2017

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

 

Standing Panels

Finance Standing Panel – 6 July 2017, 5.30pm

Housing Standing Panel – 10 July 2017, 5.00pm

Shareholder Standing Panel – 13 July 2017, 5.30pm

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee noted the dates.