Agenda and minutes
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Contact: Alice Courtney, Committee and Member Services Officer email DemocraticServices@oxford.gov.uk
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The Chair highlighted that she had received emails from two organisations ahead of the meeting related to the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 item that would be considered later in the agenda – Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Oxfordshire and Need Not Greed Oxfordshire. These emails had been circulated to the Committee for information prior to the start of the meeting.
The Chair advised that she had approved requests for two individuals to speak on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 item – Cllr Andrew Gant and Suzanne McIvor were both in attendance. The Committee agreed to hear the speakers first, followed by the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 and then return to the agenda as listed.
Suzanne McIvor, who was in attendance on behalf of Need Not Greed Oxfordshire raised the following concerns:
· There was a lack of opportunity for proper scrutiny afforded to the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 process.
· The officer summary in the report appeared to give a false impression of the consultation responses.
· Many organisations across Oxfordshire had called for a review of the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment, but this had not been mentioned in the summary of key findings.
· The reference to support for a comprehensive review of the Oxfordshire Green Belt was a misleading representation of the consultation responses.
· Need Not Greed Oxfordshire was so concerned with the summary of key points contained in the report that it had raised a formal complaint with the Future Oxfordshire Partnership.
· The Oxfordshire Plan 2050 consultation process was long and technical, making it inaccessible to many people. This meant that local groups had to make representations on behalf of residents – but there was no reference in the report to the fact that local groups represented the views of thousands of people. Need Not Greed Oxfordshire therefore felt that the voices of Oxfordshire residents were not being heard and the views of promoters and developers were being given more weight than they should be.
· It was not clear how, when and by whom key decisions related to the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 would be taken, such as the number of houses to be built. The organisation wanted councillors to be in charge of this decision and take residents’ views on board.
The Scrutiny Officer clarified that the Committee was not being asked to just note the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 report, but that it was being asked to agree any recommendations for consideration by Cabinet.
Cllr Andrew Gant advised that he was speaking on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 item in his capacity as a City Councillor and supported the previous speaker’s call for proper scrutiny. He advised that the common text of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 was likely to go out as part of the statutory Regulation 19 consultation around the middle of 2022, after it had been the subject of a vote at each of the five Oxfordshire planning authorities.
He said that a feature of the text would include a choice among the scenarios for growth set out in the Oxfordshire Growth Needs ... view the full minutes text for item 87.
This is a common report to each of the Oxfordshire local planning authorities which provides an update on the preparation of the Oxfordshire Plan, including a summary of the comments received during the recent consultation.
Once adopted, the Oxfordshire Plan will provide a high-level spatial framework to shape the future planning of the county up to 2050 and will sit alongside Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans.
The Committee is recommended to:
· Note the summary results from the recent regulation 18 (part 2) consultation;
· Note the revised scope of the Oxfordshire Plan, with clarification over its relationship to city and district Local Plans and supporting evidence base;
· Note the next steps of the Oxfordshire Plan process; and
· Recommend the adoption of the revised Statement of Community Involvement, subject to approval at the cabinets of the five Oxfordshire councils.
The Chair reconfirmed that the Committee was able to make recommendations to Cabinet related to the report.
Cllr Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Delivery explained that it was not his report but confirmed he was happy to comment as required. He added that he had made his view clear that the timetable for the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 needed to ensure opportunities for the Scrutiny Committees to have meaningful input before final drafts were put together. He suggested that the Committee should consider requesting sight of the Regulation 19 report before it was in the final stages of drafting.
Cllr Hollingsworth highlighted that he could only express personal views, not those of Cabinet Members from the other four planning authorities.
Rachel Williams, Planning Policy and Place Manager introduced the report. She highlighted that the process to deliver a development plan was lengthy, particularly on a large scale. She explained the process of developing the Oxfordshire Plan 2050:
· Regulation 18 (Part 2) consultation document – outlined the range of policy options for the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 that had been identified. This was presented to the Committee in July 2021 but there was limited opportunity to make changes to the document at that point. The Committee was assured that its recommendations had been included as part of the Council’s response to the consultation.
· Refining policy options – this was the next formal stage of the process. A series of different tasks would be involved in this stage, including listening to views from the last round of consultation, building the evidence base and testing what was practical, feasible and deliverable. Draft policies from the policy options outlined would then be selected and included in the next stage document.
· Regulation 19 consultation document – the report would include draft policies and would be presented to the Committee for consideration and recommendations before Cabinet approved it to go out for consultation.
The Planning Policy and Place Manager confirmed that the Committee’s request for additional input into the process had been taken on board, which was partly why the report was being presented to the Committee. The report under consideration was a report of the last consultation so that the Committee could see its comments reflected back, hear what others said and look at what that meant for the policy options which were consulted on. The Planning Policy and Place Manager added that additional opportunities for the involvement of the Committee between the Regulation 18 and Regulation 19 stages would be explored so that the Committee could consider the draft policies ahead of Cabinet approval.
It was clarified that all of the five planning authorities were required to approve content at each stage of the process and the final draft.
The Committee raised a number of points, including:
· Traction points – the Committee required clarity on where the traction points in the process that it could provide input and recommendations into were.
· Sewage pollution and waste water – it was felt that the report ... view the full minutes text for item 88.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Marie Tidball (substitute Cllr Lizzy Diggins).
Cllr Linda Smith left the meeting and did not return.
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.
The Chair had no announcements.
Minutes from 18 January 2022
Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2022be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.
The following amendment was requested to minute 81:
· Between ‘Definition of Net Zero’ and ‘RAG Rating’ bullet points, insert additional bullet point: “ZCOP Transport workstream -- concern was expressed that the Partnership should include examination of the proposals for a cable car into the city as an important means of reducing CO2 emissions and pollutants.”
· On the bullet point related to ‘Equalities Impact’, after the sentence “Cllr Hayes agreed to take that point back and ensure it was reflected in future reports”, insert: “It was also pointed out that measures to reduce energy consumption in council-owned homes also had potentially significant equalities impact.”
The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2022 as a true and accurate record, subject to the above additions.
The Work Plan is driven to a very large extent by the Cabinet Forward Plan. 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. Note the summary of the current status of the Forward Plan (to follow).
2. Confirm its agreement to the current priorities and the Work Plan (both attached)
The Committee reviewed the Work Plan and noted the following changes to the Forward Plan:
· Grant Allocations – deferred to September
· Allocation of Homelessness Prevention Funds 22/23 – deferred to March
· Draft Oxford Playing Pitches Strategy 2021-2036 – deferred to June
The Scrutiny Officer advised that there were a lot of papers being considered by Cabinet in March and suggested that the Committee consider the following reports:
· Oxford Economic Strategy and City Centre Action Plan
· Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy
· Oxfordshire Recovery and Renewal Network
The Committee agreed it was important that it considered the Food Strategy and asked the Scrutiny Officer to secure a date for an additional meeting to ensure key Cabinet reports could be considered, in consultation with the Chair.
The Committee also requested an additional meeting to discuss the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 item once more information had been received.
Reports for approval
The Committee is asked to approve reports and recommendations on the following for submission to Cabinet:
· Climate Emergency Review Group Update (to follow)
· Procurement Update (to follow)
· Budget Review Group Report (to follow)
Cllr Marie Tidball, who had sent her apologies for the meeting, had made some suggested amendments to the Climate Emergency Review Group Update related to the language around disability inclusivity. The amendments were shared at the meeting and the Committee agreed the report with the changes.
The Scrutiny Officer advised that he had spoken with Cllr Imogen Thomas in relation to the Procurement Update and she wanted to put a recommendation together. There was no time pressure for the recommendation and it was agreed that the item should be deferred for approval at the next meeting.
The Committee approved the following reports for submission to Cabinet:
· Budget Review Group Report
· Climate Emergency Review Group Update
Report back from Scrutiny Panel meetings
Since Scrutiny’s previous meeting, the following Panel has met:
· Finance and Performance Panel
The Committee is asked to note the update from the Panel Chair.
The Committee noted the following update from Cllr James Fry, Chair of the Finance and Performance Panel:
· The Budget Review Group report was signed-off at the meeting on 24 January 2022.
Dates of future meetings
· 07 March
· 05 April
Housing and Homelessness: 02 February, 04 April
Finance and Performance: 09 March
Companies: 24 March, 07 April
All meetings start at 6.00 pm.
The dates of future meetings were noted:
· 07 March 2022
· 05 April 2022
It was agreed that the meeting on 07 March 2022 would take place remotely and the meeting on 05 April 2022 would take place in-person.
The Committee asked the Scrutiny Officer to find and circulate a date for an additional meeting in March, to be held in person if possible.