Agenda and minutes

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Items
No. Item

107.

Addresses and Questions by Members of the Public pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Diana Volpe, Mark Ladbroke, Cat Hobbs and Jamie Clarke addressed Cabinet on the subject of the Leisure Services Contract Award. 

Caroline Raine and Liz Peretz had submitted questions relating to the Leisure Services Contract Award.

The statements and questions, and the response provided by the Leader, are attached to these minutes.

108.

Councillor Addresses on any item for decision on the Cabinet agenda pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Chris Jarvis addressed Cabinet on the subject of the Leisure Services Contract Award, expressing concerns about the proposed award of the contract to Serco Leisure and urging Cabinet not to accept the recommendations set out in the report.

A statement from Councillor Jarvis clarifying a comment made in his address is appended to these minutes.

109.

Councillor Addresses on Neighbourhood Issues

Minutes:

None received.

110.

Items raised by Cabinet Members

Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, to speak on the flooding response in Oxford.

Minutes:

Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, spoke to express appreciation and gratitude to ODS and Oxford City Council employees for their work in responding to recent flooding in the city.  Councillor Railton commended the well-planned, co-ordinated and well-executed response involving the two councils, emergency services and Environment Agency to mitigate the effects of the flooding.  This had involved putting up flood barriers, moving sandbags, manning pumps, finding temporary accommodation, finding working toilets, disseminating information, checking on vulnerable people, and cleaning up once the floodwater had receded.

111.

Scrutiny Reports pdf icon PDF 227 KB

The Scrutiny Committee met on 16 January 2024 and the Finance & Performance Panel met on 22 January 2024.  The following reports are expected, together with any other recommendations from those meetings:

·        Leisure Services Contract Award

·        Draft Corporate Strategy 2024-28 for Consultation

·        Private Rented Sector Regulation Policies – Result of Consultation

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Lucy Pegg, Chair of Scrutiny, presented the outcomes of considerations by the Scrutiny Committee and its Panels.

The Scrutiny Committee had met on 16 January 2024.  The following reports had been considered:

(i)     Leisure Services Contract Award

(ii)    Draft Corporate Strategy 2024-28 for Consultation

(iii)   Private Rented Sector Regulation Policies – Result of Consultation

(iv)   Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) Accreditation and Domestic Abuse Review Group Update

In total, 19 recommendations had been made to Cabinet which were included in the separately published supplement together with Cabinet Members’ responses.

The Finance & Performance Panel had met on 22 January 2024 and had considered the Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2024/25 and the Housing Revenue Account Rent Setting report.  No recommendations on these two reports had been made: recommendations on the Corporate KPI review which had also been considered would be reported to a future Cabinet meeting.

Councillor Pegg also presented the outcomes of scrutiny in relation to the following reports which had been considered by the Climate and Environment Panel on 29 November 2023:

(v)     Biodiversity Action Plan for Oxford City Council Parks and Nature Areas Review

(vi)    Retrofit.

In total, 7 recommendations on these two reports had been made to Cabinet which were included in the separately published supplement, together with Cabinet Members’ responses.

 

112.

Leisure Services Contract Award pdf icon PDF 206 KB

The Head of Community Services has submitted a report to recommend the award of a contract to Serco Leisure Ltd to manage and develop Oxford’s three leisure centres, Hinksey Outdoor Pool, and the Oxford Ice Rink.

Cabinet is recommended to:

1.       Award a ten-year contract (with a five-year extension option) for managing and developing the Council’s three leisure centres, Hinksey Outdoor Pool and the Oxford Ice Rink to Serco Leisure Ltd, subject to officers completing necessary due diligence and pre-contract negotiations;

 

2.       Delegate authority to the Interim Executive Director (Communities and People), in consultation with the Head of Financial Services (Section 151 Officer), Head of Law and Governance (Monitoring Officer) and the Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks to:

 

            i)        complete due diligence, contract negotiation and final contract terms prior to the award of the contract;

 

           ii)        agree, subject to the limits set by procurement law and the Council’s Constitution and for a maximum period of 2 months from the contract start date, interim arrangements for the delivery of the contract services by Serco Leisure Ltd where necessary to allow them to complete contract mobilisation after 29 March 2024;

 

         iii)        vary the current contractual arrangements with Fusion to enable them to continue to provide essential members data systems and related back-office support functions for a period of up to 2 months to ensure the continuation of these specific functions and ensure a smooth transition, to the end May 2024, only should the need arise; and

 

         iv)        establish necessary service and corporate staff arrangements for the effective commissioning, delivery and management of the leisure services contract; and

 

3.      Agree to receive annual reports on the performance of leisure services and the contractor and agree the business plan priorities for the following year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Community Services had submitted a report to recommend the award of a contract to Serco Leisure Ltd to manage and develop Oxford’s three leisure centres, Hinksey Outdoor Pool, and the Oxford Ice Rink.

Councillor Chewe Munkonge, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks presented the report, thanked all those who had made representations on the proposal, and acknowledged the concerns which had been raised.  Cllr Munkonge reiterated the Council’s commitment to retaining its leisure centres and providing a good quality leisure service, highlighting that a number of options had been considered in relation to the procurement.  This had included considering the option of bringing the service in-house.  However, detailed work undertaken by officers had concluded that this would have required a level of investment which was not an affordable option within the context of the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan.  Officers had worked hard to ensure that the procurement process had been robust, open and fair: it had also been undertaken in accordance with the legal parameters.  As a result of this procurement process it had been concluded that Serco Leisure’s tender best met the Council’s criteria and requirements.

Councillor Munkonge highlighted some of the benefits of Serco Leisure’s proposal, which included an investment of over £2.7m to enhance Oxford’s leisure centres and facilities; a contribution of annual operative revenue to promote inclusive access; a commitment to increase participation rates and staffing; and an offer which included inclusive activities such as free swimming and youth night activities.

Councillor Munkonge reported that, should Cabinet agree the proposal, officers would complete the due diligence required to finalise the contract, including ensuring that it contained appropriate contractual terms to safeguard Serco Leisure’s delivery of its commitments.  Specialist legal advice would be taken throughout this process.  Officers would also work with Serco Leisure on their mobilisation plan to ensure a smooth transition from Fusion.

Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice, highlighted the wider financial context relevant to the re-procurement, noting the closure of leisure centres in a number of areas the country - including in areas of high deprivation - with further closures predicted in future years.  As it was not a statutory service, leisure services were often the subject of cuts in order to balance tight budgets.  The proposal before Cabinet would safeguard leisure provision for the people of Oxford; included a commitment to future investment and a commitment to pay staff the Oxford Living Wage; would maintain important schemes such as free swimming for children; and would not require substantial cuts to other services in order to achieve these aims. 

Cabinet also noted that the process for procuring contracts was prescribed in law and the Council would be held financially liable in the event that the lawful process was not followed. 

Cabinet resolved to:

1.       Award a ten-year contract (with a five-year extension option) for managing and developing the Council’s three leisure centres, Hinksey Outdoor Pool and the Oxford Ice Rink to Serco Leisure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 112.

113.

Brownfield Land Release Fund: Development of Small Sites for Affordable Housing pdf icon PDF 284 KB

The Executive Director (Development) has submitted a report to seek project and contract approvals and delegations; budget; and delegations in relation to affordable housing schemes across five small / garage sites.  All sites have been allocated initial funding through the Brownfield Land Release Fund following a successful bid. The report seeks approval for appropriation from General Fund to Housing Revenue Fund, and to a planning purpose, where necessary; approval for the disposal of land as required; approval for the demolition of garages held in the General Fund and approval for demolition of vacant units currently held within the Housing Revenue Account.

Cabinet is recommended to:

1.   Note the Council’s participation in the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF2) in order to undertake demolitions and groundworks and prepare five Council-owned sites to deliver affordable housing. The sites are at:

a) Underhill Circus (referenced in paragraphs 26 - 35 of this report)

b) Leiden Road (referenced in paragraphs 36 – 44 of this report)

c) Balfour Road (referenced in paragraphs 49 - 54 of this report)

d) Harebell Road (referenced in paragraphs 55 - 64 of this report)

e) Pegasus Road (referenced in paragraphs 65 - 74 of this report);

2.  Grant project approval to undertake the works on the basis of which BLRF 2 grant has been made available and for which budgetary provision is detailed;

3.   Recommend to Council the allocation of a £340,213 capital budget (which will be funded entirely by the BLRF2 grant) to carry out the demolition/ enabling works on each site as detailed within the BLRF2 application (see table, paragraph 14);

4.   Delegate authority to the Executive Director (Development) in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing; the Head of Financial Services/Section 151 Officer; and the Head of Law and Governance/Monitoring Officer, to enter into agreements and contracts to facilitate the works specified within the BLRF2 application, within the allocated capital budget;

5.   Grant project approval to the proposals to enter into contracts and any other necessary agreements or contracts and incur associated development cost spends, as set out in this report, and within the allocated Housing Revenue Account capital budget and business plan, for the purpose of delivering more affordable housing in Oxford for the sites of Underhill Circus and Leiden Road - conditional on the Council approving the budget for these sites;

6.   Delegate authority to the Executive Director (Development) in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing; the Head of Financial Services/Section 151 Officer; and the Head of Law and Governance/Monitoring Officer, to enter into build contracts and any other necessary agreements or contracts for the purpose of delivering more affordable housing in Oxford in relation to the sites at Underhill Circus and Leiden Road and within the allocated Housing Revenue Account capital budget and business plan and to apply to the Secretary of State for consent (insofar as required) to the appropriations and disposals under section 19 of Housing Act 1985;

7.   Delegate authority to the Executive Director (Development)  ...  view the full agenda text for item 113.

Minutes:

The Executive Director (Development) had submitted a report to seek project and contract approvals and delegations; budget; and delegations in relation to affordable housing schemes across five small / garage sites.  All sites had been allocated initial funding through the Brownfield Land Release Fund following a successful bid. The report sought approval for appropriation from the General Fund to the Housing Revenue Fund, and to a planning purpose, where necessary; approval for the disposal of land as required; approval for the demolition of garages held in the General Fund and approval for demolition of vacant units currently held within the Housing Revenue Account.

Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, highlighted that the proposal would allow for derelict small and garage sites, which often attracted litter and anti-social behaviour, to be put to better use for affordable housing.  It was hoped that up to 30 new homes would be provided (subject to planning permission), of which 100% would be affordable housing.  Councillor Smith reported that work was ongoing to survey other unused small sites across the city which might also be suitable for redevelopment for affordable housing should future funding opportunities allow.

Cabinet resolved to:

1.   Note the Council’s participation in the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF2) in order to undertake demolitions and groundworks and prepare five Council-owned sites to deliver affordable housing. The sites are at:

a) Underhill Circus (referenced in paragraphs 26 - 35 of this report)

b) Leiden Road (referenced in paragraphs 36 – 44 of this report)

c) Balfour Road (referenced in paragraphs 49 - 54 of this report)

d) Harebell Road (referenced in paragraphs 55 - 64 of this report)

e) Pegasus Road (referenced in paragraphs 65 - 74 of this report);

2.  Grant project approval to undertake the works on the basis of which BLRF 2 grant has been made available and for which budgetary provision is detailed;

3.   Recommend to Council the allocation of a £340,213 capital budget (which will be funded entirely by the BLRF2 grant) to carry out the demolition/ enabling works on each site as detailed within the BLRF2 application (see table, paragraph 14);

4.   Delegate authority to the Executive Director (Development) in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing; the Head of Financial Services/Section 151 Officer; and the Head of Law and Governance/Monitoring Officer, to enter into agreements and contracts to facilitate the works specified within the BLRF2 application, within the allocated capital budget;

5.   Grant project approval to the proposals to enter into contracts and any other necessary agreements or contracts and incur associated development cost spends, as set out in this report, and within the allocated Housing Revenue Account capital budget and business plan, for the purpose of delivering more affordable housing in Oxford for the sites of Underhill Circus and Leiden Road - conditional on the Council approving the budget for these sites;

6.   Delegate authority to the Executive Director (Development) in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing; the Head of Financial Services/Section  ...  view the full minutes text for item 113.

114.

Private Rented Sector Regulation Policies - Results of Consultation pdf icon PDF 126 KB

The Head of Planning and Regulatory Services has submitted a report to provide the results of the consultation exercise carried out into three key policies and seek approval for the following policies attached to the report:

·      Fit and Proper Person Policy

·      Banning Orders and Rogue Landlord Database Entry Policy

·      Civil Penalty Policy

Cabinet is recommended to:

1.     Note the results of the public consultation shown in the report;

 

2.     Approve the amended policies, as attached at Appendix 1-3 to the report, in relation to:

 

·      Fit and Proper Person

·      Banning Orders & Rogue Landlord Database Entry

·      Civil Penalties in relation to residential enforcement

 

3.     Delegate authority to the Head of Planning and Regulatory Services to review and update the policies in consultation with the Head of Law and Governance where new legislative powers have been enacted to give the Authority powers to issue fines for private rented homes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Planning and Regulatory Services had submitted a report to provide the results of the consultation exercise carried out into three key policies and to seek approval for the following policies attached to the report:

·      Fit and Proper Person Policy

·      Banning Orders and Rogue Landlord Database Entry Policy

·      Civil Penalty Policy

Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, highlighted that regular updating of these policies represented good practice.  No major amendments had been proposed: the changes mostly related to providing improved clarity and transparency for members of the public and for officers in terms of interpreting the policies.

Cabinet resolved to:

1.     Note the results of the public consultation shown in the report;

 

2.     Approve the amended policies, as attached at Appendix 1-3 to the report, in relation to:

 

·      Fit and Proper Person

·      Banning Orders & Rogue Landlord Database Entry

·      Civil Penalties in relation to residential enforcement

 

3.      Delegate authority to the Head of Planning and Regulatory Services to review and update the policies in consultation with the Head of Law and Governance where new legislative powers have been enacted to give the Authority powers to issue fines for private rented homes.

115.

Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Rent Setting Report 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 308 KB

The Head of Financial Services has submitted a report to present the outcome of Oxford City Council’s annual rent review and associated rent setting proposal for 2024/25 in respect of all council dwellings within the Housing Revenue Account, including the setting of associated services and facilities charges.

Cabinet is recommended to:

1.     Recommend to Council to approve an increase of 7.7% for 2024/25 (subject to any subsequent cap on increases imposed by central government) in social dwelling rents from 1st April 2024 giving an average weekly increase of £9.27 per week, and a revised weekly average social rent of £129.72 as set out in the Financial Implications section of this report;

 

2.     Recommend to Council to approve an increase to rents for shared ownership dwellings as outlined in paragraph 15 of the Financial Implications;

 

3.     Recommend to Council to approve an increase to service charges by 7.7% (CPI + 1%) to enable the HRA to recover the associated cost of supply;

 

4.     Recommend to Council to approve an increase to the charge for a garage of 7%, equating to an increase of £1.25 per week for a standard garage with a revised charge of £19.10 per week, and an increase of £1.44 per week for a premium garage with a revised charge of £21.60 per week; and

 

5.     Recommend to Council to approve the option to exercise the Rent Flexibility option in respect of re-lets to new tenants as outlined in paragraph 6.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Financial Services had submitted a report to present the outcome of Oxford City Council’s annual rent review and associated rent setting proposal for 2024/25 in respect of all council dwellings within the Housing Revenue Account, including the setting of associated services and facilities charges.

Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, outlined that the report’s recommendations were consistent with the Council’s budget consultation.  An increase to rents and service charges of 7.7% was proposed in the next financial year, in order to keep pace with inflation and ensure that landlord services and investment in the Council’s properties could continue to be delivered.  Social rents would remain less on average than £130 per week, and would remain covered by Local Housing Allowance rates.

Councillor Smith drew attention to a key paragraph within the report which set out that: ‘A rent increase that is lower than inflation will have a detrimental impact on the viability of the HRA as the income will not be able to keep pace with rising costs and as a consequence would be at risk of failing its tenants in the supply of services and support.

Responses to the budget consultation had also indicated support for continued investment in new social housing, investing in current stock and improving the energy efficiency of properties.

Councillor Ed Turner, Deputy Leader (Statutory) – Finance and Asset Management, drew attention to the anomaly between the proposed increase in garage charges of 7% and the proposed rent and service charge increase of 7.7%.  Councillor Turner proposed an amendment to the recommendation to Council in the report, which was accepted by Cabinet, such that the increase to the charge for a garage be 7.7%.

Cabinet resolved to:

1.     Recommend to Council to approve an increase of 7.7% for 2024/25 (subject to any subsequent cap on increases imposed by central government) in social dwelling rents from 1st April 2024 giving an average weekly increase of £9.27 per week, and a revised weekly average social rent of £129.72 as set out in the Financial Implications section of this report;

 

2.     Recommend to Council to approve an increase to rents for shared ownership dwellings as outlined in paragraph 15 of the Financial Implications;

 

3.     Recommend to Council to approve an increase to service charges by 7.7% (CPI + 1%) to enable the HRA to recover the associated cost of supply;

 

4.     Recommend to Council to approve an increase to the charge for a garage of 7.7%, equating to an increase of £1.37 per week for a standard garage with a revised charge of £19.22 per week, and an increase of £1.55 per week for a premium garage with a revised charge of £21.71 per week; and

 

5.     Recommend to Council to approve the option to exercise the Rent Flexibility option in respect of re-lets to new tenants as outlined in paragraph 6.

116.

Draft Corporate Strategy 2024-28 for Consultation pdf icon PDF 195 KB

The Chief Executive has submitted a report to seek Cabinet approval to publicly consult on the Council’s Draft Corporate Strategy 2024 to 2028.

Cabinet is recommended to:

1.      Delegate authority to the Head of Corporate Strategy, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, to make any changes to the draft Corporate Strategy 2024-28 as may be required following its consideration by the Scrutiny Committee and then publish the draft Corporate Strategy 2024 to 2028 for public consultation.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive had submitted a report to seek Cabinet approval to publicly consult on the Council’s Draft Corporate Strategy 2024 to 2028.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader, highlighted that there had already been much input from various sources into the draft strategy, which would set out the Council’s priorities for the next four years.   It had also been supported and shaped by the LGA peer review in terms of prioritisation.  The new strategy retained much in common with the current one (such as priorities for zero carbon housing, ensuring a thriving city and an inclusive economy); however, the new strategy sought to set these out more clearly and with clearer performance indicators.

Following approval by Cabinet, the strategy would be subject to a public consultation period over the forthcoming weeks.

Cabinet resolved to:

1.      Delegate authority to the Head of Corporate Strategy, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, to make any changes to the draft Corporate Strategy 2024-28 as may be required following its consideration by the Scrutiny Committee and then publish the draft Corporate Strategy 2024 to 2028 for public consultation.

117.

Oxfordshire's Strategic Economic Plan pdf icon PDF 223 KB

The Head of Regeneration and Economy has submitted a report to seek endorsement for the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan.

Cabinet is recommended to:

1.        Noteand endorse Oxfordshire’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) 2023-2033; and

 

2.        Delegate authority to the Head of Regeneration and Economy, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy and Partnerships, to agree the SEP Action Plan including Oxford City Council’s role in supporting the delivery of actions within existing committed budgets and legal and constitutional constraints.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Regeneration and Economy had submitted a report to seek endorsement for the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader, outlined that the Plan had been commissioned and approved by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).  It was therefore before Cabinet for endorsement only.  The document set out the strategic plan for Oxfordshire’s economy but was also based on some of the issues which this Council wished to see, such as a recognition of the growth in Oxfordshire’s economy; the need for housing; the need for a fairer economy; and prioritisation of the Oxford Living Wage and inclusive employment opportunities.  It was considered that endorsement of the Plan might offer opportunities to regionally escalate and collaborate on issues which were important to the Council and could potentially also open further routes to government funding bids.

Cabinet resolved to:

1.        Noteand endorse Oxfordshire’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) 2023-2033; and

 

2.        Delegate authority to the Head of Regeneration and Economy, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy and Partnerships, to agree the SEP Action Plan including Oxford City Council’s role in supporting the delivery of actions within existing committed budgets and legal and constitutional constraints.

118.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 183 KB

The Head of Financial Services has submitted a report to seek approval for changes to the Council’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2024/25.

Cabinet is recommended to:

1.       Approve the increase in the income bands used in the Council Reduction Scheme for 2024/25 as per table 2;

 

2.       Note that no further changes are being recommended to the scheme for 2024/25; and

 

3.       Recommend to Council to adopt the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2024/25.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Financial Services had submitted a report to seek approval for changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2024/25.

Councillor Ed Turner, Deputy Leader (Statutory) – Finance and Asset Management, highlighted that the Council Tax Reduction Scheme provided assistance to people of working age with Council Tax.  The Council was unusual amongst authorities in funding up to 100% of Council Tax, although this was now becoming financially very difficult.  The scheme for 2024/25 did not introduce any major changes; however, it did increase the income bands which were used to assess entitlement.  This meant that eligible recipients whose income had increased due to inflation would continue to be supported.

Cabinet resolved to recommend to Council to:

1.       Approve the increase in the income bands used in the Council Reduction Scheme for 2024/25 as per table 2;

 

2.       Note that no further changes are being recommended to the scheme for 2024/25; and

 

3.       Adopt the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2024/25.

119.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 408 KB

Recommendation: That Cabinet resolves to approve the minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2023as a true and accurate record.

Minutes:

Cabinet resolved to approve the minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2024 as a true and accurate record.

 

120.

Dates of Future Meetings

Meetings are scheduled for the following dates:

 

7 February 2024

13 March 2024

17 April 2024

12 June 2024

10 July 2024

14 August 2024

 

All meetings start at 6.00pm.

 

Minutes:

Meetings are scheduled for the following dates:

7 February 2024

13 March 2024

17 April 2024

12 June 2024

10 July 2024

14 August 2024

 

All meetings start at 6.00pm.