Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

103.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

104.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair had no announcements.

105.

Annual Update of the Council Business Plan pdf icon PDF 157 KB

The Cabinet will, at its meeting on 16 March 2022, consider a report on the Annual Update of the Council Business Plan. Councillor Susan Brown, Leader and Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economic Recovery and Partnerships and Caroline Green, Chief Executive have been invited to present the report and answer questions.

The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations it wishes to make to Cabinet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Susan Brown, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economic Recovery and Partnerships introduced the report, which looked ahead to year three of the four-year Council Strategy. She said that a key aim in the development of this work had been to be realistic with objectives and ensure a narrow focus in order to achieve the Council’s aims – which she felt the document did well.

Cllr Brown provided a short commentary on progress related to each of the four Council priorities and outlined key actions planned to be undertaken. Caroline Green, Chief Executive reiterated that the purpose of the Business Plan was to set out key actions that would be delivered against the Council’s priorities, therefore the list of actions was not exhaustive but focused on key deliverables which resources had been identified for. She added that a number of other projects would be detailed in individual Service Plans, which sat underneath the Business Plan.

The Chief Executive highlighted that the Council delivered against the majority of its plans last year. She said that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were being reviewed and a separate report was due to be presented to the Scrutiny Committee’s Finance and Performance Panel in the near future.

The Committee raised a number of points, including:

·         Links with other strategies/plans – a concern was raised that there appeared to be mismatches between the Council’s Business Plan and Economic Strategy. Cllr Brown advised that a number of strategies/plans fell out of the Business Plan, including the Oxford Economic Strategy and the City Centre Action Plan; these were referenced in the report. She added that in her view the Business Plan and Oxford Economic Strategy were linked and addressed the same priorities; and that the Committee would have the opportunity to consider the Oxford Economic Strategy in the not too distant future.

·         Growth – in response to comments, Cllr Brown confirmed that Oxford was a world-leading city in a number of industries, which attracted people to the area and the Council had no power to stop that growth. She added that the Council was aiming to encourage sustainable growth by working with local partners and organisations to ensure opportunities were provided for local people; this work would be driven by the Oxford Economic Strategy.

·         Inter-priority tensions – it was pointed out that tensions existed within the document, particularly related to priority one (enable an inclusive economy) and priority two (deliver more, affordable housing). Cllr Brown agreed that there were conflicting priorities and it was difficult to get the balance right.

·         High rent prices – a question was asked related to whether the Council could work with landlords and universities to get some agreement around rent prices to prevent prices being so high. Cllr Brown said it was difficult and the City needed the universities to build as much purpose-built student accommodation as possible in order to make private rented homes available for families and prevent prices being pushed up,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 105.

106.

Oxfordshire Recovery and Renewal Framework pdf icon PDF 165 KB

The Cabinet will, at its meeting on 16 March 2022, consider a report on the Oxfordshire Recovery and Renewal Framework. Councillor Susan Brown, Leader and Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economic Recovery and Partnerships and Caroline Green, Chief Executive have been invited to present the report and answer questions.

The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations it wishes to make to Cabinet.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Susan Brown, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economic Recovery and Partnerships introduced the report. She highlighted that the Framework was very high level and was developed as a result of the joint working with other Oxfordshire councils during the pandemic. The purpose of the document was to better align the strategies being brought forward across Oxfordshire so that the councils could continue to work well together.

Caroline Green, Chief Executive added that the Framework was also proposed for adoption by other partner organisations, including OxLEP and health bodies. She said that the Framework was reflective of the close working relationships built through the pandemic, which brought multiple agencies together to focus on the response. The Chief Executive added that the Council wanted to build on the traction, which the Framework would facilitate and that consideration would be given to how the partnership reports back on the Framework.

The Committee raised a number of points, including:

·         Child poverty – the Committee raised concerns about the fact that, despite best efforts, the child poverty statistics in the City had not changed for quite a long time. It was noted that some wards had seen improvements, but child poverty in other wards was very persistent. It was suggested that the document should include a focus on tackling child poverty and bringing other partners on board.

·         Health inequalities – there was recognition that the document was framed as responding in a post-COVID world, but the document appeared to suggest that health inequalities did not exist before COVID-19 and the pandemic created them all. It was suggested that the document should be revised to ensure the relevant history was referenced and that COVID had exacerbated issues rather than created them.

·         NHS governance – it was felt that the document did not demonstrate an understanding of the change taking place in the governance of the NHS after 01 July 2022 and the responsibilities of NHS bodies in tackling health inequalities.

Cllr Brown highlighted that she had sympathy with the comments made, but advised that the Framework was not a Council-owned document so there was limited opportunity to implement changes. However, she added that she was happy to try as she agreed with the comments made.

The Chief Executive added that a number of conversations had taken place related to the document and it had improved significantly from where it was. She said that it had gone to all partners, so going back to partners with lots of changes probably was not feasible. The Chief Executive pointed out that responsibility had been delegated to her and her local authority counterparts to make certain changes to the final version of the Framework and that she could probably incorporate the reference to NHS governance arrangements within the bounds of the delegated authority granted.

Cllr Brown added that the Framework described the bare minimum of what Oxford City Council was already doing, but that the Council was doing much more. She said that it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 106.

107.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 186 KB

The Committee is recommended to confirm its agreement to the current priorities and the Work Plan (both attached).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the Work Plan. The Scrutiny Officer asked Members to start thinking of and suggesting items to be included on the Work Plan for the next municipal year.

The Scrutiny Officer advised that he would be circulating a self-evaluation to the Committee for completion which would help in assessing the Committee’s areas of strength and weakness.

 

 

108.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 507 KB

Minutes from 01 February 2022

 

Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 01 February 2022be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The following amendment was requested to the recommendations contained in Minute 88:

 

·         After (and related to) the first recommendation, insert: The Council requests that the supplementary report referred to above identifies consultation responses by respondent type so that Members and the public can understand where particular respondents, or groups of respondents are pressing for particular policy choices.  

 

The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 01 February 2022 as a true and accurate record, subject to the above addition.

 

The Committee asked the Scrutiny Officer to also amend the recommendations in the report to Cabinet to reflect the above.

109.

Reports for Approval pdf icon PDF 219 KB

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

·         Procurement Update

·         Oxfordshire Plan 2050

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee approved the following reports for submission to Cabinet:

·         Procurement Update

·         Oxfordshire Plan 2050 (subject to the amendment requested by the Committee in Minute 108 above)

The Chair reminded the Committee about the briefing on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 which was scheduled to take place on Monday 14 March, 6pm. The Chair added that the Committee would have the opportunity to consider a report on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 and make any recommendations at a meeting in the summer.

110.

Report back on recommendations and from Scrutiny Panel meetings pdf icon PDF 306 KB

At its meeting on 09 February the Cabinet considered the following reports from Scrutiny and made responses to the recommendations:

·       Budget Review Group Report

Since Scrutiny’s previous meeting, the following Panels have met:

·       Housing & Homelessness Panel (02 February)

·       Child Poverty Review Group (09 February, 17 February, 23 February, 01 March)

 

The Committee is asked to:

 

1.    Note Cabinet’s responses to its recommendations.

2.    Note the updates from Panel Chairs.

 

Minutes:

The Committee noted the following update from the Scrutiny Officer related to the Budget Review Group recommendations and responses:

·         Only one recommendation was refused and the vast majority of recommendations were agreed. Some recommendations were deemed ‘not applicable’ in cases where the Budget Review Group asked for clarification rather than making specific recommendations.

·         Advice Centre reinstatement occurred prior to the Budget Review Group making recommendations.

The Committee made the following points:

·         In relation to recommendation 6, which was refused, it was requested that the Committee monitor how much the Council spends on biodiversity consultants. The Scrutiny Officer suggested that the Committee could ask planning officers to review this as part of the budget-setting process before Christmas 2022.

·         In relation to recommendation 13, concern was raised that the response was not reassuring and did not address the recommendation in the way that was intended. The Committee agreed that it would monitor progress against recommendation 13.

The Committee noted the following update from Cllr Linda Smith, Chair of the Housing & Homelessness Panel:

·         The Panel met on 02 February 2022; it considered the work of the Tenant Involvement Team and heard about the Council’s preparations for the Social Housing Bill, which would place more duties on the Council in terms of tenant involvement in housing services.

·         The Panel was looking to publish a report related to the Social Housing Bill which made recommendations related to the Council’s response, which it was hoping to sign-off at its next meeting on 22 March 2022 before presenting to the Committee for final approval.

The Committee noted the following update from Cllr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini, Chair of the Child Poverty Review Group:

·         The Group had engaged with a range of local groups, organisations and national experts.

·         Work was developing in two parallel strands:

o   How the work of the Council and its work with the Voluntary Sector can be better coordinated to tackle the issue of child poverty.

o   How the structure is embedded so that we see some changes to child poverty levels in the next decade.

 

The Committee resolved to:

·         Ask planning officers to review spend on biodiversity consultants as part of the budget-setting process prior to Christmas 2022.

·         Monitor progress against the Budget Review Group recommendation 13.

 

111.

Dates of future meetings

Scrutiny Committee

·       05 April (in-person)

Standing Panels

Companies: 24 March, 07 April (both Zoom)

Housing & Homelessness: 04 April (Zoom)

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

Minutes:

The dates of future meetings were noted:

·       05 April (in-person)

In response to a request from Cllr Chapman, the Committee agreed that he could ask Cllr Fry to Chair the Companies Scrutiny Panel meeting scheduled for Thursday 24 March on his behalf.

112.

Budget Review Group Report - Exempt Recommendations and Responses

Minutes:

There was no discussion under this item.