Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 19 September 2019 6.30 pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1, 135 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, Milton, OX14 4SB

Contact: Steve Culliford 

Items
No. Item

Sc1

Apologies for absence

To record apologies for absence and the attendance of substitute members. 

Minutes:

Councillor Samantha Bowring had sent her apologies for absence. 

Sc2

Minutes pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the Scrutiny Committee minutes of the meeting held on 28 March 2019 (attached). 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: to adopt as a correct record the minutes of the committee meeting held on 28 March 2019 and agree that the chairman signs them as such. 

Sc3

Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting.  

Minutes:

Councillor Mike Pighills declared a personal interest in the performance report for The Beacon, Wantage as his partner was the Cabinet member for leisure. 

Sc4

Urgent business and chairman's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chairman determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chairman. 

Minutes:

The chairman made two announcements:

1.    advising all present of the emergency evacuation arrangements; and

2.    requesting that all future committee meetings commence at 7pm. 

Sc5

Public participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak. 

Minutes:

Two members of the public had registered to speak at the meeting as follows:

 

1.    Mr Michael Tyce spoke on behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England about the Local Plan Part 2, which he believed was unsound.  The housing numbers in the plan were too high and based on the outdated housing needs assessment from 2014.  The plan also included an allocation of Oxford’s unmet housing need, figures which had not yet been tested at the Oxford Local Plan examination hearing.  With increased housing density in the plan, this would provide sufficient housing numbers.  He urged the committee to recommend that the plan’s adoption was deferred until Oxford’s unmet housing need figures had been tested. 

 

2.    Honorary Alderman and former district councillor Joyce Hutchinson had registered to speak about The Beacon’s performance report but was not present at the meeting. 

Sc6

Local Plan 2031 Part 2 - options for adoption pdf icon PDF 202 KB

To consider the report of the head of planning (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the head of planning’s report on the council’s options on Local Plan Part 2.  The report was presented by Councillor Catherine Webber, the Cabinet member for planning, together with planning officers.  The report set out the background to the local plan’s development to date, together with three options open to the council at this stage:

1.    To withdraw Local Plan Part 2

2.    To not adopt Local Plan Part 2

3.    To adopt Local Plan Part 2

 

The Cabinet member for Planning recommended option 3, to adopt Local Plan Part 2, as the plan had been found to be sound by the independent planning inspector.  Work could then commence on a new local plan. 

 

The committee was being consulted on the options before Cabinet on 4 October made its recommendations to full Council on 9 October. 

 

The committee raised several questions regarding the options, including whether the council had a fourth option to defer adoption of the plan, pending the outcome of the examination of Oxford City’s Local Plan and its unmet housing need allocated to the Vale.  Officers advised that the outcome of that examination could be some time away, in which time the Vale could be exposed to the threat of speculative housing development if it lost its five-year housing land supply. 

 

The committee noted that the local plan preparation process was set out in detailed regulations.  The analysis of the options and the risks attributed to each were based on officers’ experience of this and other councils.  The committee expressed concern that the process to form and describe the options, and the analysis of those options, provided insufficient detail to allow councillors to make an informed choice.  In particular, councillors believed that the report had not sufficiently analysed the risks of each option, for example, was the council at risk of judicial review if it adopted the plan (option 3)?  The committee also asked that all councillors were provided with a copy of the confidential legal advice. 

 

RESOLVED: to

 

(a)      note the head of planning’s report on Local Plan Part 2 but agree not to recommend any of the options, due to insufficient information being available on the process to develop the options, whether there are any further options, and the risks of each option, in particular the risk of judicial review if the council chose to adopt the plan; and

 

(b)      to request officers to provide all councillors with a copy of the confidential legal advice. 

Sc7

Financial outturn 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To consider the report of the head of finance (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the head of finance’s report on the financial outturn from 2018/19.  This showed that the council had a revenue and capital underspend at the year end. 

 

The Cabinet member for finance welcomed the committee’s comments on the report.  He accepted that the council needed to be more focussed on better budgeting in future but recognised that it was difficult to set a budget and keep to it as some events were outside of the council’s control. 

 

The committee noted that the revenue underspend of £2.2 million was largely due to the revenue underspend carry forwards from the previous year.  Capital expenditure on several projects was paused during the year due to uncertainty over future government funding, resulting in a capital underspend also. 

 

The accountant present at the meeting answered councillors’ questions on budget preparation, in-year monitoring, and budget variances.  To help the budget process, it was suggested that the committee reformed its budget task group.  The Cabinet member for finance welcomed this. 

 

RESOLVED: to

 

(a)      note the overall financial outturn position for 2018/19, as well as the outturn of individual service areas; and

 

(b)      reform the committee’s budget task group to support the Cabinet member for finance to form the budget process. 

Sc8

Continuation of meeting

Minutes:

RESOLVED: to continue the meeting for an additional thirty minutes, in accordance with the committee’s procedure rule 35. 

Sc9

Business and Innovation Strategy Action Plan update pdf icon PDF 404 KB

To consider the report of the head of development and regeneration (attached).

Minutes:

The committee considered the head of development and regeneration’s report, which updated on progress against the business and innovation strategy’s action plan 2017 to 2020.  The report showed progress up to 31 March 2019. 

 

The Cabinet member for development and regeneration reported that the strategy had been developed to gain a better understanding of the needs of the Vale’s business community, in particular the needs of small and medium sized enterprises.  Most actions were either completed or on track for completion.  The key successes were outlined in the report, as were the key initiatives for 2019/20. 

 

The committee welcomed the report and congratulated officers on the work carried out to-date.  Councillors also asked officers to feedback on customer satisfaction in the next monitoring report. 

 

It was noted that the next iteration of the strategy would look at how the council could help businesses become greener and more sustainable.  It was suggested that the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee could be asked for suggestions on this.  The Cabinet member for development and regeneration agreed to pursue this. 

 

RESOLVED: to

 

(a)      welcome the progress made against the business and innovation strategy’s action plan 2017 to 2020, as set out in the head of development and regeneration’s report;

 

(b)      advise the Cabinet member for development and regeneration that the committee supports the key initiatives for 2019/20 set out in the report; and

 

(c)       ask the Cabinet member for development and regeneration to seek ideas from the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee on how the council could help businesses become greener and more sustainable. 

Sc10

2018/19 Performance report for The Beacon, Wantage pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To consider the report of the head of community services (to follow).

Minutes:

Councillor Mike Pighills declared a personal interest in the performance report for The Beacon, Wantage as his spouse was the current Cabinet member for leisure, and therefore he left the meeting during consideration of this item. 

 

The committee considered the head of community services’ report on the 2018/19 performance of The Beacon at Wantage.  The Cabinet member for community services reported that The Beacon had achieved four per cent revenue growth during 2018/19 but accepted that transformation was a long-term project and that there was more work to be done. 

 

The committee welcomed the report and congratulated staff on achieving four per cent revenue growth. 

 

RESOLVED: to note The Beacon’s performance in 2018/19. 

Sc11

Work schedule and dates for all South and Vale scrutiny meetings pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To review the attached scrutiny work schedule. Please note, although the dates are confirmed, the items under consideration are subject to being withdrawn, added to or rearranged without further notice.

 

Minutes:

The committee reviewed its work programme.  The chair asked members to contact him with any suggestions for future agenda items.