Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

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Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: Oxford Town Hall

Contact: Stefan Robinson, Scrutiny Officer 

No. Item



Substitutions are not allowed.


There were no apologies for absence.



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the previous meetings pdf icon PDF 123 KB

To consider the minutes of the meetings held on 14 March 2018 and 7 June 2018.

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings held on 14 March 2018 and 7 June 2018 were confirmed as a correct record, subject to a minor typographical correction in the 14 March Minutes.



Appointment of Finance Director to the Boards of ODSL and ODSTL

The Shareholder will be requested on 2 August to appoint Aled Bath, Finance Director, to the boards of Oxford Direct Services Limited and Oxford Direct Services Trading Limited. The Companies Panel are invited to note this appointment.


Tim Sadler, Chair of Oxford Direct Services (ODS), explained that a rigorous selection process had been undertaken for the position of Finance Director, and high numbers of applications were received. Aled Bath, who had a commercial background and local government experience, had been appointed to the position on a full time basis. The Boards of the Companies had resolved to recommend to the Shareholder on 2 August that he be appointed to the Company Boards. 


The Panel noted the proposal to the Shareholder Group concerning Mr Bath’s appointment and was informed that the selection of an external non-executive director would follow later.



Appointment of Mazars as External Auditor to Oxford Direct Services

The Shareholder will be invited to confirm the appointment Mazars as External Auditors to Oxford Direct Services. The Companies Panel are invited to note the appointment.



The Chairman of ODS explained that a robust selection process had taken place to select Mazars as the external auditors to ODS, and the Shareholder Group would be invited to confirm the appointment on 2 August 2018.


The Panel noted the proposal to the Shareholder Group concerning Mazars’ appointment.



Reports Containing Confidential or Exempt Information

Please note that the Oxford Direct Services Update Report is exempt from publication under the terms of Paragraph 3, Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.  Accordingly, to consider this item, the Panel will be required to pass a resolution “That members of the public be excluded from the meeting on the grounds that their presence would involve the likely disclosure of exempt information.”








The Chair highlighted that the presentation and report from Oxford Direct Services was commercially sensitive and an exempt paper. The Panel therefore moved into private session under the terms of Paragraph 3, Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972. However, a public summary of the discussion is set out below.



Presentation to the Board by Simon Howick and Aled Bath

To receive a presentation from Simon Howick and Aled Bath


The Panel considered a presentation from the Managing Director of ODS which reflected the information contained within the update report.


Oxford Direct Services Update Report

To consider an update report from Oxford Direct Services, which will be considered by the Shareholder Group on 2 August 2018.


The Managing Director of ODS explained that this was the first quarterly update of ODS’ activities to the Shareholder Group since going live as a company in April 2018. The new company arrangement would enable the Council to carry on delivering high quality services, whilst securing a financial return through commercial growth and income generation. The headline objectives for year 1 were as follows:


·         Delivering the Medium Term Financial Plan

·         Driving efficiency

·         Maximising the work ODS could do for the Council

·         Developing an organisation which could support ODS’s  ambition

There were also plans to widen the specialist skills base within the workforce, including recruiting senior staff with business development, IT and digital skills.


The ambition by 2021/22 was to be returning £500,000 annually to the Council as a minimum. ODS held the skills and ambition to deliver on medium sized construction, highways and engineering projects, and growth in these areas was a key part of the business plan moving forwards.

The Managing Director explained that there were a number of achievements in quarter one, including:


·         The TUPE transfer of 712 employees from the Council to ODS, whilst maintaining good trade union relations

·         Retaining all customers through the transition

·         Finance, billing and payroll systems were in place and operational

·         No interruption in the delivery of services

·         ODS was on target to deliver £1.4m net profit back to the Council by the end of year 1

·         Of the 38 internal Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), 35 were on target, with the remaining 3 being marginally missed

·         A values framework had been developed based on staff feedback, which broadly aligned with the values of the Council.

It was emphasised that health and safety matters were a key risk to the business and the Council’s reputation, as well as staff wellbeing. Accordingly, a stronger culture of health and safety was being fostered within the organisation, which was being led by senior managers and on-site team leaders. Accident rates remained low compared to previous years. The Panel members stated that they were impressed with the work being done in relation to health and safety.


Previously, the Shareholder Group had requested to review eight KPIs as part of the quarterly reporting process. The quarter one results were available for six of the eight KPIs and showed positive results, and there had also been instances of positive feedback from members of the public. The eight KPIs were:


·         Tenant satisfaction

·         Housing repair costs

·         Void housing turnaround time

·         Street cleanliness

·         Recycling rates

·         Parks satisfaction

·         Car parking income

·         Highway defect repairs

Members of the Panel challenged some of the projected income data presented. Lyn Barker, Finance Business Partner to ODS, clarified that the figures did not account for a £500,000 payment back to the Council for start-up costs and other sundry costs borne by the Council. Also, the quarterly data did not take account of seasonal variation in income expected over the remaining three quarter reporting periods. The Finance Business Partner to ODS said she was confident in meeting the annual  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.


Future meeting dates

Please note that some of these dates have been revised in recent months, and will need to remain flexible to the Shareholder reporting cycle:


11 September 2018 

26 October 2018 

12 December 2018 

3 January 2019 



The future meeting dates were noted as follows:


11 September 2018

25 October 2018

12 December 2018

3 January 2019


It was noted that dates were challenging to secure, and dates may need revising in line with reporting cycles or member availability,