Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

64.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

None.

65.

Chair's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Susan Sale, the new head of Law & Governance, to her first meeting of the Committee.

66.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 410 KB

 

Recommendation: That the minutes of the meeting held on 01 December 2020 be APPROVED as a true and accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The Committee resolved to APPROVE the minutes of the meeting held on 01 December 2020 as a true and accurate record.

67.

Work Plan and Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 342 KB

 

The Scrutiny Committee operates within a work plan which is agreed at the start of the Council year the latest version of which is attached.  The work plan is driven to a very large extent by the Cabinet Forward Plan.  A summary of the latest version of the Forward Plan is attached.

 

The Committee is asked to agree the work plan having taken account of any updates and after discussion.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer updated Members with one change to the Committee’s Workplan. An additional item had been added to the agenda for the Finance & Performance Panel meeting on 27 January, to consider the consequences of recent changes to conditions surrounding Public Works Loan Board borrowing which would have a consequence for the Council’s Commercial Property Strategy.

 

He noted that the Cabinet response to the Committee’s Climate Emergency Review Group recommendations was still being worked on. This was partly to take account of Government funding which had recently become available.  The Committee was disappointed to hear of the continuing delay in finalising this response. The Chair agreed to bring this concern to the attention of Cabinet at its meeting the following week.

 

68.

Report back on recommendations and Scrutiny Panel meetings pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Councillor James Fry will report back on the activity of the Finance and Performance Panel meeting on 03 December and the Companies Scrutiny Panel on 14 December.

 

At its meeting on 09 December Cabinet considered the recommendations from the Committee and its Panels in relation to the following.

 

·       Hidden Homelessness

·       Draft Strategic Vision for Oxfordshire

·       Workplace Equalities & Action Plan

·       Waterways Report

 

The Committee is asked to note the Cabinet responses to those recommendations which are attached.

 

 

The Shareholder and Joint Venture Group considered the recommendations from the Companies Scrutiny Panel for the following reports:

 

·       OxWED Update

·       OCHL Update – the recommendation was almost identical to one made in the Climate Emergency Review Group, to which Cabinet would be responding imminently. It was agreed to make the response then.

The Committee is asked to note the Shareholder Joint Venture Group’s responses to those recommendations which are attached as a confidential paper at the end of this agenda. 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Cllr Fry fed back to the Committee about the most recent meeting of the Finance & Performance Panel. The Panel had considered 4 reports in relation to Treasury Management; Integrated Performance;  Boswell’s Development; and Commercial Property Investment . Among other things the Panel had heard that revenue from property investments had fallen slightly because of reduced interest rates and that there would be some support from Government to compensate for losses of sales, fees and charges, this might amount to about £5m for the current financial year.

 

The Chair reminded the Committee of the Cabinet’s responses to its most recent recommendations which had, for the most part, been accepted. In relation to the Waterways Report it was noted that there was provision in the following year’s budget for the currently vacant part time  post of  Waterways Coordinator.

69.

Citizen Engagement pdf icon PDF 403 KB

This report will provide an update for the Scrutiny Committee on the Council’s approach to citizen engagement and consultation and the variety of methods used. The Committee is asked to note the report and make such recommendations to Cabinet as it wishes.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council and Mish Tullar, Corporate Policy, Partnership and Communications Manager, have been invited to attend for this item.

Please note that this report will be published as a supplement.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council, introduced the report which had been prepared at the Committee’s request. Engagement with the City’s  citizens was of paramount importance. All Councillors would share a sense of frustration at the difficulty of face to face engagement with constituents given the constraints imposed as a result of the pandemic. On the other hand, the experience of the pandemic had shown how the Council could be more creative in its approach to engagement as well as building on innovations that were already in place. Engagement with local citizens through the local media was already well established, the Residents’ Panel had already been set up, something which didn’t require face to face engagement. Online meetings had made it clear that audiences and participation for some activities could be greater than would otherwise have been the case. The Council’s Citizens’ Assembly had been a very significant element of the Council’s engagement with residents, both as a process and in relation to possibly the most important issue facing the City and the world. The very rich output from the Assembly was still being worked through. Despite the good work being done already, it was important to be alive to the potential for improvement and finding new and diverse ways of engaging with residents. She sounded one note of caution, the continuation of the current practice of holding statutory meetings remotely would require the introduction of primary legislation in a few months’ time and the Government had not yet taken any steps to do so.

Mish Tullar, Corporate Policy, Partnerships & Communications Manager, said that the process of preparing the report had proved to be very helpful in improving the team’s understanding of the full spectrum of engagement activity. At the same time it was important to be clear that the report did not provide an exhaustive account. The report did not mention, for example, the regular contact between Councillors and their constituents, something in relation to which it might be helpful to establish a formal means of recording. Recent months had illustrated the great potential for digital engagement.  A virtual Town Hall session, for example, had been “attended” by some 2000 people and seen by some 1000 people after the event. While digital communication was likely to play an increasingly important role, it would be important to ensure that those who could not or would not engage in that way were not disenfranchised.

The Committee confirmed the view that the role of Councillors was key and  one which should not be lost sight of. This was not just about 1:1 engagement and could take many forms such as  setting up temporary stalls in shopping centres and involvement with school activities such as international days.  

The Committee confirmed the need to take appropriate account of the so called ‘digital divide’ which was not always simply about access to IT equipment but also the data costs associated with it. This was something which had been exacerbated to some extent by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.

70.

Dates of future meetings

Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee

·       02 February, 02 March, 08 April

 

Standing Panels

·       Finance & Performance: 27 January

·       Companies Scrutiny:  15 March

·       Housing & Homelessness Panel: 01 February, 04 March

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Meetings are scheduled as followed:

 

Scrutiny Committee

·       02 February, 02 March, 08 April

 

Standing Panels

·       Finance & Performance: 27 January

·       Companies Scrutiny:  15 March

·       Housing & Homelessness Panel: 01 February, 04 March

 

All meetings start at 6.00 pm.

 

71.

Matters Exempt From Publication

If the Committee wishes to exclude the press and the public from the meeting during consideration of any of the items on the exempt from publication part of the agenda, it will be necessary for the Committee to pass a resolution in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph 4(2)(b) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 on the grounds that their presence could involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in specific paragraphs of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

The Committee may maintain the exemption if and so long as, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

72.

Shareholder and Joint Venture Group responses to recommendations from the Companies Scrutiny Panel

Minutes:

There was no discussion of this item.