Agenda item

Agenda item

Asset Management Strategy 2021-2031

The Cabinet will, at its meeting on 10 August 2022, consider the Asset Management Strategy 2021-2031.  Councillor Ed Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Asset Management, Jane Winfield, Head of Corporate Property and Mike Scott, Senior Estates Surveyor have been invited to present the report and answer questions. 

The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations it wishes to make to Cabinet.


Cllr Ed Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Asset Management, introduced the report which sought Cabinet approval on the Asset Management Strategy 2021 – 2031 and recommendation to Council for adoption.  The strategy provided an ongoing framework for the management of the Council’s property assets, prior to adoption by the Council.

Cllr Turner highlighted that the Asset Management Strategy provided a clear statement of direction for internal and asset stakeholders and set out for the public the way in which the Council would manage its land and buildings during the next 10 years.  He advised that it was a high level document encompassing a more flexible Asset Management Action Plan underneath it, monitored through an Asset Review Group to ensure strategic alignment with escalation to the Council’s Development Board.

Jane Winfield, Head of Corporate Property, advised Members that the Asset Management Strategy had been prepared to replace the existing strategy adopted in 2016.  She added that the pre-consultation version of the document had previously been reviewed by the Finance and Performance Panel prior to approval by Cabinet for it to go out for public consultation in December 2021.  The version before the Committee at the meeting was the post-consultation version.

During discussions, the Committee noted the following:

·       The lack of consultation responses was disappointing, however the Committee was in agreement that of the 180 organisations identified, which included the Council’s commercial tenant base, the consultation would have benefited from engagement with more local community organisations and parish councils.

·       The Committee was disappointed to note that the consultation was not delivered in a more user friendly format.

·       Whilst the Committee recognised the challenge of preparing a Corporate Asset Strategy, it was disappointed that social and environmental outcomes had not been considered equally with economic outcomes within the document.

·       The environmental impact of asset management activity would be monitored via workstreams as part of the Asset Management Action Plan.

Cllr Arshad joined the meeting.

·       Other Council strategies would focus on detailed areas, the focus of the Asset Management Strategy was to provide an overall strategy on how the Council would achieve income revenue.

·       The weighting of different elements within the report would be difficult to dissect from this comprehensive document, however increased emphasis on biodiversity especially in respect to Council buildings would be valuable.

·       The report detailed conserving biodiversity, rather than enhancing and strengthening, and the Committee considered this could be reworded to address this imbalance.

·       The lack of reference to climate resilience within the report was noted.

·       The Committee queried whether the Council was exploring ethical investments.

·       Whilst the report documented Oxford’s waterways, the Committee was mindful that those documented should include specific reference to the Cherwell as a major waterway through the City.

·       Council policy was not to allow additional food takeaway units within its parades of shop units in residential areas, prioritising the selection of tenants for social reasons (e.g. community health).  Concerns were raised regarding the impact on Council income of selecting tenants for social reasons rather than necessarily selecting the first or highest offer.

·       The report made reference to free parking at park and ride sites, which could be read as encouraging car use to the City.  Officers advised that this section required rewording in order to clarify meaning and the Council’s commitment to lower carbon access to the City Centre.

·       Noted that the report did not provide information for numerical goals where they had been met or not met, which it agreed would be a useful inclusion.

The Committee resolved to make the following recommendations to Cabinet:

1.    That the Council ensures that, when the next iteration of the strategy is consulted on, it is sent directly to parish councils and community associations for their input – in a more user friendly format.

2.    That the Council explores opportunities to draw out and consider issues relating to the environment and biodiversity within the strategy, to ensure they are given equal weight to economic issues.

3.    That the Council addresses and emphasises the topic of ‘climate resilience’ within the strategy.

4.    That the Council explores ethical investments as part of its asset portfolio.

5.    That the Council formally reports on the degree to which Council income is reduced as a result of its policy of selecting tenants of district retail parade units for social reasons (e.g. community health), rather than necessarily selecting the first or highest offer.

6.    That the Council reports on the quantitative outcome where the strategy states numerical goals, rather than simply stating whether the goal was met or not.

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