Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Declarations of interest




Chair's Announcements


The Chair noted that Council had considered the Committee’s Annual report earlier in the week and thanked the Scrutiny Officer for an excellent piece of work.

He proposed a re-ordering of the agenda for the benefit of guests of the Committee and noted that it was intended to take screenshots of the next Committee meeting one or some of which would be incorporated in the following year’s annual report.



Annual Air Quality Status Report pdf icon PDF 242 KB

The Annual Air Quality Status Report is now a standing item on the Committee’s agenda. This is an opportunity for the Committee to note the report for 2019 and comment if it wishes.


Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford will be available to present the report, and Pedro Abreu, Air Quality Officer, will be able to answer technical questions.



Additional documents:


 Cllr Tom Hayes gave a brief introduction to the report.  After a significant period of improving air quality, the rate of improvement was plateauing, contributed to, in part, by 3 months in 2019 of extreme weather conditions across the city. This underlined the importance of the steps proposed in the Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) which had been  the subject of discussion at the previous meeting of the Committee and, in particular, the establishment  of a target for air quality improvement which was more stringent than that required by Government. A target which would be contributed by the  measures set out in the AQAP such as the introduction of a Zero Emissions Zone; the electrification of the Council’s vehicle fleet; encouraging the local bus and taxi trade to move towards the increasing use of electric vehicles etc.

In response to a question   Cllr Hayes agreed that the previous recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee in relation to the AQAP would be worked into future monitoring reports.

The Committee enquired about the contribution of weather conditions to the decline in air quality cited in the report, asking if it was likely to be a deep seated and ongoing issue as a consequence of climate change. Pedro Abreu, Air Quality Officer, confirmed that climate change was producing more extreme weather conditions than hitherto  and so it was likely to continue to be a factor from time to time. DEFRA had independently confirmed that the conclusions of the report were properly evidenced.

In subsequent discussion it the Committee  agreed that there would be no real merit in monitoring and recording detailed weather conditions to be read in parallel with the air quality data not least because of the natural variation of conditions which were sometimes beneficial and sometimes detrimental to air quality. Notwithstanding the Committee’s view  Cllr Hayes argued that there was still merit in providing relevant contextual factors when producing a public report.

The report’s reference to the Energy Superhub was thought to be in need of some clarification in relation to whether or not its spare capacity was to be fed back into the grid or used for high speed charging stations.  It was agreed that clarification would be provided to the Committee on this matter.

Cllr Hayes said it was difficult, at this point, to quantify the potential beneficial impact of the Superhub on air quality. This was because it was not known to what extent the “private wire” capability would be taken up by businesses, fleet operators et al. The Council would encourage all those who might benefit to do so  with a particular focus on the bus companies. The introduction of a significant number of electric vehicle charging points should increase the number of electric vehicles in the City.

In discussion about the possible connection between poor air quality and Covid-19 Cllr Hayes said an emerging research base was looking at the links between Covid-19 and air quality.  It was however prudent to wait until there could be complete  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 401 KB


Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 01 September 2020 be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.



The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 01 September 2020 as a true and accurate record.


Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 395 KB

The Scrutiny Committee operates within a work plan which is agreed at the start of the Council year the latest version of which is attached.  The work plan is driven to a very large extent by the Cabinet Forward Plan.  A summary of the latest version of the Forward Plan is attached.


Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Officer spoke to proposed changes to the published version of the Committee’s work plan which were noted and agreed.


Scrutiny of next year’s budget would be dealt with by a combination of the  budget review group and finance panel, following a similar timetable to the previous year.



Report back from Panel representatives and on recommendations to Cabinet from the Committee and its Panels pdf icon PDF 213 KB

Since the last meeting of the Scrutiny Committee, the Housing & Homelessness Panel; Finance Panel; and Companies Scrutiny Panel have met.  Councillor Aziz and Councillor Fry will provide verbal updates.


At its meeting on 09 September, Cabinet received the Committee’s recommendations in relation to the Air Quality Action Plan; Selective Licensing; and the Discretionary Housing Payments Policy. Copies of Cabinet’s responses to those recommendations are attached.









Councillor Aziz fedback on the most recent meetings of the Housing & Homelessness Panel.


Councillor Fry fedback on the most recent meetings of the Finance & Performance Panel and the Companies Panel.


Cabinet’s responses to the Committee’s previous recommendations were noted.




Tourism Review Group Update pdf icon PDF 278 KB

This item will provide the Committee with an update on progress with recommendations flowing from its recent Tourism Review Group.

Councillor Mary Clarkson , Cabinet Member for  the City Centre, Covered Market and Culture and  Matt Peachey, Economic Development Officer,  have been invited to attend for this item.

The report will follow as  a supplement.


Tom Bridgman, Executive Director Development,  introduced the report by reminding the Committee of the profound effect Covid-19 had had on the visitor economy and the City centre with footfall down by some 39%, contributed to in some  part by many peoples’ current  reluctance to use buses. Implementation of many of the review group’s recommendations remained partial, this was principally due to the limited capacity of the Economic Development Team which had had to divert its attention, temporarily, from work on the City Centre Vision and the Economic Development Strategy (which will frame the response to the matters raised by the review) to focus on the more immediate demands of responding to Covid-19. Going forward, this work would seek to address the recovery of the Visitor economy at a County level through the Economic Recovery Plan which OxLEP is required to deliver to central Government by the end of the year.

Matt Peachey, Economic Development Officer, said the review had been and would continue to be valuable in framing the City’s economic strategy. He went on to highlight some key points from the report.

The Chair noted that not all of the Cabinet responses were covered in the report and was anxious that the spirit of the original recommendations should not be lost.

The Committee recognised the particularly difficult challenge of addressing these matters in the present environment. 

It was intended to brief members on the City Centre Vision before Christmas. Publication and engagement with the wider stakeholder groups was likely to be best timed after Christmas.

Budget discussions to confirm what bids might be made to support this work were ongoing. Given the significance of the challenges facing this sector, efforts would be focused on the countywide economic recovery plan (and ultimately central Government funding) referred to above.

It was noted that the “Rediscover Oxford” scheme had been beneficial. It was agreed that a future version of it (one was proposed for Christmas) would benefit from refined messaging to emphasise the measures taken to ensure the safety of visitors.

While not one of the original review’s recommendations, it was noted that the previously rehearsed arguments for a cable car in the City might be better framed as a tourist attraction rather than, principally, as a transport option.

In relation to tourist coaches coming into the City it was hoped that they would be subject to the same emission requirements as those vehicles based in the City.

The community toilets scheme had been recognised as being important for visitors (the absence of which was a recognised factor in visitor dissatisfaction). The City Centre Manager had been in touch with local businesses about the scheme. There was awareness of a similar scheme in Bath and it had been flagged as something which may be brought forward as part of  the City Centre Strategy.

Recent applicants for Covid-19 Discretionary Grants had been asked if they paid the Real Living Wage (RLW). While the Council is clear that the aspiration is for employers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


Dates of future meetings

Meetings are scheduled as followed:


Scrutiny Committee

·       03 November

·       01 December


Standing Panels

·       Housing & Homelessness: 08 October, 05 November

·       Finance & Performance: 14 December

·       Companies Scrutiny:  14 December


All meetings start at 6.00 pm.



Meetings are scheduled as followed:


Scrutiny Committee

·         03 November

·         01 December


Standing Panels

·         Housing & Homelessness: 08 October, 05 November

·         Finance & Performance: 03 December

·         Companies Scrutiny:  14 December


All meetings start at 6.00 pm.