Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

59.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

Cllrs Dunne and Abrishami declared non-pecuniary interests as users of the East Oxford Community Centre (item 7 on the agenda).

 

60.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair noted the  clash of the next scheduled meeting on 06 December with the Lord Mayor’s Christmas Party. It was agreed that the meeting would be held on 08 December instead.

The Chair said the City Council’s membership of the Child Poverty Review Group, to be run in partnership with the County Council, would comprise Cllrs Pegg, Dafari-Marbini, Rehman and herself

The Scrutiny Officer explained that County Council’s participation with the Review Group was contingent upon its capacity and  work starting no sooner than January 2022 . The Committee agreed that the desirability of the County’s involvement  warranted this  slight delay.

 

61.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 399 KB

 

Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 05 October be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The Committee resolved to APPROVE both the open and confidential minutes of the meeting held on 05 October 2021 as  true and accurate records.

62.

Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 237 KB

The work plan is driven to a very large extent by the Cabinet Forward Plan a summary of which is attached. The Scrutiny Committee agrees its priorities for items coming onto the Forward Plan, which then form part of its work plan.

 

The Committee is recommended to:

 

1.    Confirm its agreement to the current priorities and the work plan both of which are attached.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee confirmed its agreement to the priorities and work plan attached to the agenda.

63.

Anti-social Behaviour Policy pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 10 November, will consider a report on the Anti-Social Behaviour Policy. The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations thereon.

Cllr Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer Healthy Oxford and Richard Adams, Community Safety Manager,have been invited to attend for this item. 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer Healthy Oxford introduced the report, noting that anti-social behaviour (ASB) could blight lives if unchecked and the Council had a responsibility to challenge it both in relation to its own housing stock as well as the wider community. This was a responsibility carried out in close partnership with other agencies. The policy set out what the Council could do and, as importantly, what it could not. It also set out what complainants might expect and was expected of complainants. ASB often had its root causes in deep seated difficulties for those involved and officers were trained to take proper account of that and to respond accordingly.

Richard Adams, Community Safety Service Manager, said the Council had a statutory duty to provide a policy, to review it regularly and to investigate certain matters. The Council played a leading role in addressing ASB as a Responsible Authority of the Community Safety Partnership in the City, notably but not exclusively in relation to Council property and its tenants. The last 18 months had seen a sharp decline in the incidence of ASB but as Covid restrictions had eased, so the incidence had increased and was now at a higher level than pre-pandemic. While there was an unequivocal responsibility to deal with ASB in Council properties there was no equivalent responsibility in relation to private rented property, however this was not to say that the Council would not offer  appropriate support in such cases as, indeed, it often did. He noted that complaints about noise was one matter which the Council was bound to investigate irrespective of its source (subject to the limitations set out in the policy). The ASB team, through its partnership working, connected with a host of programmes, initiatives and activities to address the challenges and behaviours that may be experienced by those exhibiting ASB. The covering report and the policy itself avoided explicit references to them however as they were so many and various. 

The Committee made a number of detailed observations and suggestions. One of  the five core principles referred to anti-social behaviour being “...addressed firmly, fairly and proportionally”, it was agreed that this could be expanded to include “holistically.” Another principle referred to “…high quality customer service.” It was agreed that this could be changed to “...delivering a high quality service for citizens.”

The collection of evidence in support of complaints was a sensitive matter. The council did not employ covert means that require Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act authority and did not ask residents to do so. Gathering data in relation to noise complaints was however straightforward, was not invasive and could be straightforwardly achieved with help from the Council if needed.

The list of circumstances under which the Council  would not investigate a complaint included “Alcohol consumption in a public space that is not causing anti-social behaviour and noise from late night revellers”. It was explained that this was intended to apply to occasional and fleeting incidents in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

East Oxford Community Centre - Improvement Scheme pdf icon PDF 476 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 10 November, will consider a report on the East Oxford Community Centre. The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations thereon.

Cllr Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities has been invited to attend for this item. 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities, introduced the report which brought forward proposals for redevelopment which had been worked on since 2014. This major scheme and investment would provide an important, sustainable cultural hub as well as some much needed affordable housing. The East Oxford Cultural Centre had strong emotional connections for many residents and much of the preparatory work had focused on positive and constructive discussions with the many and various groups and organisations which use it or have used it in the past.

Hagan Lewisman, Active Communities Manager, said a considerable amount of work had preceded the report including consultations with users and  a number of detailed feasibility studies.  The necessary planning permissions and budget were in place.

Deb Wyatt, Affordable Housing Supply Officer said the scheme would provide 26 affordable, low carbon and highly energy efficient homes.

The Committee noted that a Council press release had implied that the Committee had already agreed the proposals given in the report. This was regrettable both because it pre-empted any views the Committee might have and also because it was Cabinet rather than the Committee which would ultimately agree the report’s recommendations. Cllr Aziz apologised for this miscommunication and said she would ensure that the matter was addressed and the press release corrected accordingly.

The Committee made a number of detailed observations and suggestions. The  focus on energy efficiency/ carbon reduction was very welcome and  it was agreed that some means of measuring what savings will have been achieved as a result would be welcome. The Affordable Housing Supply Officer said consultants were being appointed to measure this (among other things) in relation to the housing element.

A project of such a scale inevitably ran the risk of overruns; this was not reflected in the risk register accompanying the report and it was agreed that it should be.  The Active Communities Manager said that there was tight governance of the project which included regular meetings with consultant Project Managers and Architects Arcadis, robust contingency provision and a project risk register that captured wider project risks.

The final arrangements for governance of the centre was an important matter. The report proposed that there should be a year of operation before agreeing the future arrangements. It was agreed that there should be an ambition to have concluded the arrangements two years after that.

Members of the Committee had received correspondence about the use by “Catweasle” of the centre, a matter which had the potential for some reputational damage for the Council. The Active Communities Manager reassured the Committee that a positive relationship was being re-established with Catweasle which was a much loved and valued community activity at the centre.

Concerns had been expressed about the need to demolish the building used by Fusion Arts. The Active Communities Manager explained that the building was in very poor condition and not economical to maintain. The building  was particularly inefficient from an energy point of view and it would not be cost-effective to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.

65.

Reports for approval pdf icon PDF 228 KB

The Committee is asked to approve reports and recommendations on the following  for subsequent submission to Cabinet:

 

1.    Housing & Homelessness Panel report on Housing & Carbon Reduction

2.    Report on Air Quality further to discussion at the previous meeting.

 

These reports will be published as a supplement

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Smith, as Chair of the Housing & Homelessness Panel commended the report on Housing & Carbon Reduction to the Committee. It was agreed that a third recommendation should be added which would encourage the availability of ongoing technical  support for tenants who have had new energy saving equipment installed.

The Chair commended the report on Air Quality to the Committee which included those recommendations agreed at the previous meeting.

The Committee agreed that both reports should be forwarded to Cabinet.

66.

Report back on recommendations and from Scrutiny Panel Meetings pdf icon PDF 198 KB

Cabinet, at its meeting on 13 October, considered the Committee’s recommendations in relation to the South Oxford Science Park and  Housing Performance in Q1. Cabinet responses to those recommendations are attached.

Cllr James Fry will feedback on the most recent meetings of the Companies Scrutiny Panel and Shareholder & Joint Venture Group.

 

Minutes:

The Chair was pleased to report Cabinet’s positive response to the Committee’s  recommendations in relation to the South Oxford Science Park.

 

Cllr Smith, as Chair of the Housing & Homelessness Panel, was pleased to report Cabinet’s positive response to its recommendation that the breadth and depth of its engagement with the Lived Experience Advisory Forum (and other similar groups in shaping Council homelessness services) should be increased.

 

Cllr Fry, as Chair of the Companies Scrutiny Panel, said it had considered a  report on the structure of OxWed, a  joint venture involving Nuffield College and the City Council. It had become apparent that the current arrangements, which had been in place for a few years, exposed both parties to a significant tax burden in the future. The report simply proposed an alternative arrangement for good commercial reasons, which  did not compromise the Council’s interests while at the same time being more tax efficient.

 

 

67.

Dates of future meetings

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

·       06 December 2021

·       18 January

·       01 February

·       07 March

·       05 April

 

Standing Panels

Housing & Homelessness: 04 November, 02 February, 04 April

Finance & Performance: 08 December, 24 January, 09 March

Companies: 24 November, 13 December, 24 March

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

 

 

Minutes:

Scrutiny Committee

 

 

·         08 December 2021 (changed from 06 December)

·         18 January

·         01 February

·         07 March

·         05 April

 

Standing Panels

Housing & Homelessness: 04 November, 02 February, 04 April

Finance & Performance: 08 December, 24 January, 09 March

Companies: 24 November, 13 December, 24 March

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.