Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

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Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: Plowman Room - Oxford Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Stefan Robinson, Scrutiny Officer 

No. Item



Substitutes are not allowed.


Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors Simmons and Munkonge. Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Corais. Councillor Simmons provided comments in advance of the meeting specifically concerning the Social Value report, which the Panel addressed during its discussion.



Declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Notes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 10 September 2018.


The Panel asked that they receive more information on the current Legal Services revenue position.


The Panel resolved to agree the notes of the previous meeting. 


Budget Review Group Scoping Document pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To review and approve the Draft Scoping Document for the Budget Review Group 2018/19.


The Panel discussed and agreed that it did not want to consider the detail of Fusion Lifestyle’s performance or financing, in light of the ongoing oversight of the issue by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, and the wish not to duplicate its work. It was noted that the Panel would have preferred to have 3 consecutive daily meetings for the Budget Review Group (instead on 2), and that other Council business had limited officer availability.


The Panel agreed the Scoping Document as presented.


Monitoring Social Value pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Report to follow as a supplement: To consider a report concerning how the how the social value requirement relates to the current procurement process at Oxford City Council, and what processes are in place to monitor the social value delivered by council contracts.


Amanda Durnan, Strategic Procurement and Payments Manager, introduced the report. She explained that in preparing the report, she had looked at other best practice authorities that champion social value through the procurement process. Oxford City Council compared well to other local authorities, in terms of spend with local businesses and wider consideration of social value. Spend with local companies peaked in July 2018 at 73.6%. Another local example of social value through contracts was the prioritisation of low sugar products at the Town Hall cafe, for example.


The report also highlighted a number of ways to improve the level of influence social value had in the procurement process, including providing a scored weighting to social value outputs, and updating the Councils Environmental, Sustainability and Ethical Policies to draw attention to the requirements of the Social Value Act 2012. It was explained that the Council’s current weighting in awarding contracts was 60% for quality and 40% for value / cost. The Panel was pleased to note the emphasis on quality in contracts.


The Panel discussed the challenges of monitoring whether social value had been delivered, given its subjective nature. One example of social value that the Panel wished to see in the awarding of contracts related to whether contractors paid their employees the Oxford Living Wage. However, it was recognised that as private companies, the Council had no role or right in knowing the salaries paid by an external contractor, beyond assurances that they are legally compliant. In response to questions, it was clarified that businesses were offered support by the Council to access and use the procurement portal, but there had been a low level of take up on this.


The Panel noted that social value was also delivered through the Council’s Grants Programme to voluntary and community organisations, but it was not clear where these grants were scrutinised and reviewed to ensure they were delivering on the Council’s objectives. The Panel wanted to understand where the transparency was in the grant awarding and review process, and asked that this question be put to the Council’s Welfare Reform Manager. For example, it was not understood why Bicester Green Re-use Centre had been awarded a grant, because it was outside of the City.


The Panel supported the principle of providing a weighting to tender bids which could demonstrate social value. Whilst there were specific European Union Contract Regulations (OJEU) which set out how social value must be taken into account for contracts of more than £181,000, there was more autonomy for local authorities to give a greater social value weighing to contracts below this level of spend. Manchester City Council for example had a target of 10% of the quality score in awarding contracts (as opposed to the cost / value score) being based on social value when evaluating non OJEU tenders, and this was increased in November 2018 to 15% of the overall weighting. Bristol City Council similarly retained a 10% weighting.


The Panel were of the view that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95.


Integrated Report for Quarter 2 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 123 KB

To consider the Integrated Report for Quarter 2 2018/19.

Additional documents:


The Head of Financial Services, Nigel Kennedy, explained that there had been an adverse variance on the General Fund position of £0.154m against a net budget of £22.098m. An additional £0.300m was expected to be returned to the Council from Oxford Direct Services Limited. There was a £0.494m adverse variance arising from a decline in car parking income which was offset in part by £0.400m of favourable variance due to higher than expected business rates income from the Westgate Centre. There was only a small number of units left to receive a business rated valuation by the Valuation Office. Nigel also highlighted that the 7 of the Council’s eleven corporate performance targets were being met, 3 were within an acceptable tolerance limit, and 1 was at risk related to housing.


It was also noted during questions that the pedestrianisation of Queen Street (£0.500m) had slipped into 2019/20, as the Council was waiting for progress to be made by the County Council. Spending of £3.353 million for the 1-5 George Street project had also slipped into 2019/20. The issue of local government reorganisation was still considered a risk, but there was it was expected that there would be little movement on the issue in the short term.


The Panel asked about the four new risks identified in the report:


·         Terrorism

·         Business Continuity Planning & Disaster Recovery

·         Resilience of Trading Models

·         Health & Safety (Buildings)


In response to questions, it was clarified that these risks had not become more significant; only that it had been decided they should be added to the risks report. It was also noted that the planning permission had expired for the Council to be able to use the OxPENS decked car park. Any reapplication for planning permission would be of significant cost to the Council. There had also been a delay in the transfer of land from the Council to OxWED.


The Chair remarked that capital slippage continues to be an area that needs improvement, and that the overall slipping in the capital programme was disappointing. The Panel agreed that this was an issue that needed to be focussed on. It was suggested that the new Project Management Office within the Council would be able to look at issue such as slippage, and provide better cross-council oversight to foresee possible delays and better forecast capital spend. The Panel indicated that it wanted to hear more about the work of the Project Management Office at a future meeting.


The Panel noted that there had been a minimal amount of spend against the planned Go Ultra Low budget for 2018/19, and asked that they revieve more information on why this was the case. It was noted that the Pilot was on the Scrutiny Committee’s work plan, but there was not yet a report timetabled for consideration. The Panel asked they receive an explanation as to the delays in the project, and reasons for the lack of spending on the project.




Councillor Corais arrived during this item.


Work plan pdf icon PDF 64 KB

For the Panel to note and agree its work plan, which can be adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Panel.



The Panel noted its Work Plan.


Future Meeting Dates

Meetings are scheduled as follows:


7 January - CANCELLED

8 January 2019 (Budget Review Group) - 5pm start

9 January 2019 (Budget Review Group) - 6pm start

16 January 2019 - 6pm start (Budget Review Group + Finance Panel)

30 January 2019 - 6pm start (Budget Review Group + Finance Panel)

4 April 2018 – 6pm start


The Panel note the next meeting dates for the Budget Review Group on 8 and 9 January, and the combined meeting dates with the Finance Panel on 16 and 30 January 2019.