Agenda item

Agenda item

Council Business Plan 2021-22 and Business Plan 2020-21 update

Cabinet, at its meeting on 10 March, will consider a report on the Council Business Plan 2021-22 and Business Plan 2020-21 update. The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations thereon.

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



Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council, introduced the report. The last 12 months had been most unusual and,  as a result,  the focus had been on producing a plan which both met the Council’s objectives as well as meeting the atypical needs faced by the City as it emerged from the pandemic. Members and officers across the Council had worked hard to secure the right objectives which were fit for purpose and informed by a high level of engagement with stakeholders. The plan included targets which were both exciting and realistic. The section on Equalities Impact” was worthy of particular attention because of the way in which it exemplified the  critical importance of equalities as a key theme throughout the plan. She went on to draw attention to a few examples such as the promotion of the Oxford Living Wage; the promotion of socially responsible businesses (which would be helped by the recently revised procurement strategy); and the importance of employment and economic  recovery over the next year and beyond. Housing and homelessness comprised another important element, building on the good work of the last year. It continued to be important to deliver the Workforce Equalities Action Plan with its key objective of securing a properly representative and inclusive workforce. 

Mish Tullar, Head of Corporate Policy, Partnerships and Communications, emphasised that this ambitious plan was the product of significant engagement with, among others, all senior officers and portfolio holders. The plan had been constructed on the basis that it was deliverable (although this necessarily included assumptions about the ability to proceed with some activities as the current Covid-19 driven restrictions receded). The structure of the plan echoed that of the Council’s 4 year strategy and this included, for the sake of clarity and conciseness, the capturing of an item in the plan just once. It was important not to misinterpret this as meaning that an item was not considered relevant or important in some other strand of the plan also. It was important also to note that the plan’s focus was on transformative actions and not those which might be considered to be both important but also “business as usual.”  A great deal of thought had been given to the KPIs, seeking to identify ones which were both accessible and meaningful.

The Committee expressed support for the overall objectives of the plan and went on to raise a number of detailed  observations. These included the desirability of identifying how to track social value; clarifying the meaning of ‘infrastructure’ in the context of the Oxford Cambridge Arc; clarifying what was meant by the  Transport and Connectivity Prospectus; some actions appeared not to be aligned with those CERG recommendations  which seemed likely to be agreed by Cabinet; a better measure in relation to the conversion of fleet vehicles might be how many miles are covered by  both types of vehicle rather than the number of them; some apparent inconsistencies between aspirations for zero carbon buildings and what is in the Local Plan (which is silent on the matter of  carbon targets for non-residential buildings); and the assertion that there had been a 40% reduction in carbon emissions across the City was not, yet, demonstrable.

It was agreed that some of the detailed matters raised would have to be responded to outside the meeting. In relation to infrastructure in the context of the Oxford  Cambridge Arc it was confirmed that this would only ever refer to that which would support the City’s aspirations, needs and economy. The Transport and Connectivity Prospectus did not yet exist but was the expression of the need for something which addressed those issues across the County. Alignment with agreed CERG recommendations would be addressed in the final iteration of the plan.  Changing the measurements in relation to the conversion of vehicles would need further discussion outside the meeting.

The Plan included reference to embedding use of the Residents’ Panel among others. It was suggested that there might be merit in adding a reference to the “Inclusive Transport Group” but as this was not a standing group in the way that the others listed were so this was probably not appropriate (which was not to undervalue the  important  the work of that group).

The plan made reference to social prescribing. This was something which the Council had the opportunity to influence through its work with other Districts and the County through the Health & Wellbeing Board and Health Improvement Board as well as through the Leader’s engagement with, for example, the Director of Public Health and other leaders. Councillor Brown was hopeful that emergence  from the pandemic would see  greater levels of co-operation between the health service and local government to tackle endemic health inequalities.

The plan referred to the establishment of an Inclusive Economy Commission in 2022-24 and it was suggested that there would be merit in bringing this forward to 2021 so as  to follow  more swiftly on the heels of the  Inclusive Economy  seminar series  run by the Council. In response it was explained that a great deal of work was needed to help the local economy recover after the pandemic and inclusivity, in the widest sense, would be a central element of that throughout. So the reference to 2022 should not be taken as an indication that matters of  inclusivity would not be addressed until then. The date was, rather, a function of the practical reality of the time it would take to address all of the matters listed in the plan.

The Committee made some detailed observations about the proposed indicators including, among others: the lack of a social value indicator; the absence of targets for some measures; the reference to landlords  and working to improve the quality and energy efficiency of privately rented homes was lacking in a target relating to energy efficiency; the target(s) for carbon reduction appeared not to be sufficient to reach the Council’s aspiration of zero carbon by 2030. It was agreed that the detailed observations about the targets would be incorporated in the Committee’s report to Cabinet. More specifically the Committee made the following recommendations to Cabinet, that Council:

1: Aligns the Business Plan with recommendations from Climate Emergency Review Group (once approved by Cabinet);

2: Includes a glossary of terms and aconyms used in the Business Plan, to include Social Value, OLW, OxLEP, MEEES, Net Zero, ZEZ, Energy Super hub;

3: Checks alignment with the current Local Plan 2036 policies priority 4 page 57; and

4: Includes reference to the circular economy as part of transformational agenda for waste and resource management


Supporting documents: