Agenda and minutes

Joint Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 15 November 2016 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Ron Schrieber, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item


Notifications of substitutes and apologies for absence

To record the attendance of substitute members, if any, who have been authorised to attend in accordance with the provisions of standing order 17(1), with notification having been given to the proper officer before the start of the meeting and to receive apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from:


·         South Councillor David Dodds; substitute Jeannette Matelot


Declarations of interest

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





Urgent business and chair's announcements

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





Statements, petitions, questions from the public relating to matters affecting the scrutiny committee

Any statements and/or petitions from the public under standing order 32 will be made or presented at the meeting.





Communication Strategy pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To consider the report of the head of corporate strategy (attached).

Additional documents:


The committee considered the report of the head of corporate strategy on a proposed joint communication strategy for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils.


Anna Badcock and Matthew Barber, South and Vale Cabinet members for communications, introduced this item. Also present to answer questions were Clare Kingston, head of corporate strategy, Jayne Bolton, communication and grants manager and Patsy Cusworth, principal communications officer.


This, the first joint communication strategy for both councils, set out the structure, aims and objectives for communicating with the councils’ audiences. Cabinet members emphasised the importance of:


·         developing a consistent co-ordinated communication strategy;

·         using social media to engage with the public whilst continuing to use more traditional methods to communicate with those who are unable to or choose not to use new technology; and

·         strengthening relationships with local media.


In response to questions and issues raised by the committee, it was reported that:


·         New council websites were being developed and user acceptance testing would be included in the development process;

·         Current evaluation of the effectiveness of communications was via the annual customer survey and the monitoring of the councils’ twitter accounts.  The intention was to introduce key performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of particular campaigns;

·         Once the strategy was approved, the level of resources required would need to be reviewed;

·         It would not be possible to provide a 24 hour/7 day service responding to social media requests for information and complaints. However, whenever there were critical incidents such as flooding or snow, frequent updates were provided via social media and the council websites to keep residents informed and this would continue to be the case. .


Following further discussion, members made the following suggestions:


·         Councillors should be offered social media training;

·         Councillor web pages on the new council websites should enable them to provide more information to their constituents;

·         If possible, there should be a local government portal giving access to both district and county websites; and

·         More information on responses to freedom of information requests and complaints/code of conduct resolution should be published.


The committee welcomed and endorsed the proposed joint communication strategy.


Work schedule and dates for all South and Vale scrutiny meetings pdf icon PDF 64 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.



The committee considered its current work schedule and noted that there was likely to be a meeting in late January 2017 to consider a report on commuted sums and affordable housing.


The committee agreed to request that officers/cabinet members submit a report on the corporate services contracts.