Agenda item

Agenda item

Scrutiny Committee Reports

At its meeting on 02 April the Scrutiny Committee had considered reports on the Oxford Living Wage and the recent audit of Fusion Lifestyle and subsequently made recommendations to the City Executive Board. 


Councillor Gant, in his capacity as Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, spoke to both reports. In relation to the Fusion Lifestyle  report, the Committee had been reassured by the audit report and what had been heard at the meeting. It seemed likely that the Committee’s initial concerns about performance could be accounted for by a ‘rogue’ year that was partly attributable to seasonal factors  and that performance  was now settling down to a more acceptable level, with reassurances from Fusion Lifestyle representatives and officers that measures were in place to ensure that it was maintained and improved. He was grateful for the Board’s  response to the Committee’s recommendation.


The Board Member for Leisure and Housing (Councillor Linda Smith), said she had been pleased to support the recommendation for an appropriately timed ladies only swimming session and confirmed that Fusion Lifestyle were making the necessary arrangements to introduce one.


In relation to the Oxford Living Wage (OLW) , Councillor Gant said the Committee had been keen that the Council should explore a range of measures to increase the take up by employers of the OLW and  was grateful for the Board’s acceptance of the Committee’s three recommendations.


The Chair said she had been pleased to accept the recommendations, adding that she took every opportunity in her role as Leader of the Council to promote the OLW.


Cllr Gant concluded saying that he had been asked by the Committee  to convey the following points relating to street art and graffiti removal following the Board’s previous response to the Committee’s recommendations:


·         for smaller businesses, the charging scheme should clearly state if free-of-charge removal was available on more than one occasion, and if so on what basis, for ‘graffiti up to 4m2’. 

·         street art projects could be contentious so there should be consultation with ward councillors, residents, and people whose routes regularly pass the project, and with clear options including rejecting the proposal.


The Board noted the points but expressed reservations about aspects of the second one.


At its meeting on 08 April, the Housing Panel of the Scrutiny Committee had met to consider a report on building control enforcement and the development of a homeless shelter and assessment hub at Floyds Row (item 9 of the agenda). Cllr Bely Summers, in her capacity as Chair of the Housing Panel, spoke to the reports which had subsequently been submitted to the Board.


In relation to building control enforcement, Councillor Bely-Summers was grateful to the Board Member for Transport &  Planning  and the Building Control Team Leader for their contribution to a very useful meeting. The Panel had become aware that the provision of building control  was a competitive market and that it was important to ensure high standards and best value for building projects in which the Council had an interest such as social housing projects.  To that end, the employment of a Clerk of Works for significant developments was an important means of providing  quality assurance to the Council, above and beyond the minimum standards that building control check for. She was grateful for the Board’s agreement to the Panel’s  recommendations about this and the continued prioritisation of the employment of apprentices in the Building Control team.


The Board Member for Transport & Planning  (Councillor Alex Hollingsworth) had been  pleased to support the recommendation in relation to the employment of apprentices. In a competitive market it made good sense for the Council to ‘grow its own’, a practice which had already been shown to be successful in the planning department. The Board Member for Housing (Building Better Homes), Councillor Mike Rowley, was grateful for the report and , in particular, the recognition of the importance of ensuring good quality building.


In relation to Floyd’s Row, the Panel had welcomed the report and its proposal for a significant enhancement of provision. It had, however, expressed concerns about the possible capital funding shortfall  and was keen that the Council should build on the successful service user engagement that had already taken place.  Councillor Bely –Summers was grateful for the Board’s  agreement to the  Panel’s recommendations.


The Chair repeated the assurance that  the Council would continue to do all it could to secure the necessary funding for this important piece of work.





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