Agenda and minutes

Joint Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 7 December 2023 6.30 pm

Venue: Abbey House, Abbey Close, Abingdon OX14 3JE

Contact: Candida Basilio, Democratic Services  07895 213820 Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence

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


Apologies were received from Councillors Ed Sadler, who was substituted in the meeting by Councillor Tony Worgan.

Apologies were also received from Councillors Alexandrine Kantor and Andrew Skinner. Councillor Jo Robb would join later online.


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. 




Declaration of interests

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests, other registrable interests and non-registrable interests or any conflicts of interest in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting. 





Minutes pdf icon PDF 243 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the Joint Scrutiny Committee minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2023. 


Two references to ‘RPI’ in the minutes needed to be amended to CPI. It was also raised that the reference to Leisure Centre at the bottom of page 7 in the pack, related to Wantage not Faringdon.



Based on these amends being made, the minutes were agreed as a correct record.


Public participation

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


Public speakers spoke to the Joint Local Plan consultation document.


Councillor James Barlow (South Oxfordshire District Council) spoke to committee, welcoming the new variations to enable people to access the consultation and provided comments on the “Joint Local Plan in a nutshell” consultation document (“in a nutshell” for short).


Sue Roberts spoke about the different ways of getting the housing numbers down being shown in the “in a nutshell” document. She also spoke about housing subdivision to reduce need to build and retrofitting as benefitting the environment and wildlife.


David Marsh from Campaign to Protect Rural England (for Vale) spoke about the consultation documents and how they align with the Plan and whether the right policies were covered in the “in a nutshell” document, as it covered a selection of the policies. He also mentioned ways to encourage groups to send combined consultations / single response documents, and ways to make the documents more user friendly.


Andrew Wilkins, Chief Executive of Lonestar Land, spoke to committee spoke about the Bayswater Farm allocation site. In response to the Cabinet approving the consultation document ahead of scrutiny committee, it was responded to Mr. Wilkins that the scrutiny meeting was rearranged but chair had been given assurance that comments from Scrutiny would be fed into Cabinet and amends considered before the consultation went live.


John Salmons spoke to committee about local green space allocations and asked about how such delegations would be covered in the Joint Local Plan. He felt that the councils should ask residents what they would like to see protected.




Work schedule and dates for Joint scrutiny meetings pdf icon PDF 172 KB

To review the attached scrutiny work schedules for South and Vale, including Joint Scrutiny committee. Please note, although the dates are confirmed, the items under consideration are subject to being withdrawn, added to or rearranged without further notice.


Additional documents:


Committee noted the work programme.


A discussion was had regarding the size of agendas and the balance needed for effective scrutiny.


Community Safety Partnership annual report 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 701 KB

Joint scrutiny committee is asked (a) to note the progress that the South and Vale Community Safety Partnership (CSP) made in 2022-23 in delivering its priorities and statutory functions; and

(b) to support the CSP’s view that the 2022-25 plan will deliver core priorities and statutory functions and focus on these four key priorities:

Additional documents:


Cabinet member for Community Health and Wellbeing (Vale) introduced the paper. Also attending virtually was the South Leader, who had responsibility for Community Safety.


Also present to answer any questions was Chief Inspector Rachel Patterson from Thames Valley Police, the Licensing and Community Safety Manager, and the Community Safety Team Leader.


The purpose of this report was to update the Scrutiny Committee on the progress that the South and Vale Community Safety Partnership (CSP) was making to reduce crime and the fear of crime, focusing on the benefits it generated for residents, businesses, and partner agencies in the two districts.

CSP was formed in April 2011, bringing together the two existing district CSPs that were created in accordance with the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. This was done so that the partnership corresponded with the local police area and mirrored the shared working across the district councils. Under the umbrella of the CSP, a wide variety of local agencies work together to maintain low levels of crime and protect vulnerable people in both districts to ensure residents feel safe and stay safe.


Committee were asked to consider the performance of the CSP for 2022-23 and to comment on the four key areas of focus proposed for the CSP.


Committee were informed by officers that they had secured £201k funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner towards a rural crime project with West Oxfordshire, running until March 2025. There will be further promotion and communication about this in due course.


Comments were as follows:

  • Members discussed early interventions and were informed of work going on in schools and youth groups.
  • Environmental visual audits were commented on as a good way of assessing issues and could we have more of them.
  • Further promotion of safe places was raised.
  • Diversionary projects to deter criminality – how do we measure the effects? Officer responded that after establishing need, we will look at the impact, but it was hard to measure.
  • Modern Slavery rising figures and funding – how are we responding to this and also in light of new legislative changes. Officer responded that there was a resource through County Council – there was an Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator, and we work closely on cases reported to us. This was outside the CSP expenditure. Officer also noted higher figures as people are more trusting and aware of support services, and able to come forward as a result. It was noted by Council Leader that an increase can be a good thing as a sign of crimes being reported where they weren’t before.
  • Chief Crime Commissioner presentation was well received. Increased investment in Community Officers. How will the CSP monitor the delivery and effectiveness of this? Chief Inspector responded that there were Neighbourhood Officers in place to support existing neighbourhood teams. We were having an uplift of officers rather than Police and Community Support Officer (PCSO’s).
  • Discussed percentages being misleading if the numbers were low.
  • Under 18’s alcohol admissions to hospital. A member felt  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Biffa contract performance 2022 pdf icon PDF 889 KB

Joint scrutiny committee is asked to consider Biffa Municipal Ltd (Biffa) performance in delivering the household waste collection, street cleansing and ancillary services contract for the period 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022 (2022 calendar year) and make any comments before a final assessment on performance is made.


Additional documents:


Cabinet members for Environment and Waste Services (Vale) and Environment (South) presented the report. Also in support were the Environmental Services Technical Team Leader, Head of Housing and Environment, and the Environmental Services Manager. Biffa representative Francis Drew was in attendance.


This contract was of great importance and affected all residents. There were three key areas of performance measured within the report. The overall rating was considered ‘good’, but there were weaknesses that shall be monitored, such as street cleansing. The report was an assessment of performance, and contractual developments and purchase of waste vehicles was not a subject of this particular report.


Discussion was as follows:

  • Street cleansing was discussed by members as being of significance and they discussed what the challenges were. For example, road edges – road sweepers can’t get around parked cars. Also, verges tend to be the issue. How do we prevent people from littering, for example, throwing rubbish from their car. There were complexities to cleaning A roads (A34). When the summer comes, longer grass hides some of the litter and it becomes more apparent in the colder months. Cabinet member for South explained that due to driver shortages, resources would be given to priority tasks – household bins. Biffa representative explained that there were more workers after a pay increase for staff, and at the end of 2022 they were in a better position and were currently nearly at full deployment.
  • A member asked about communications and the role this played – for example, do the public know who to contact for various issues. Cited example of fly tipping and the clear communications that mean these issues were reported correctly. Multi agency issues for example, it is either County, District, Thames Water - who is responsible for the infrastructure?
  • A4130 issues over spring. Lots of complaints received. A member asked about the independent assessors and what their criteria was, noting that resident’s feedback was likely to differ from the inspector’s report. It was explained that Keep Britain Tidy assessed roads every three months and took photos.
  • Can we tie in Christmas waste collection timetable changes communications with other waste contacts. Officer considered that we could tie in with the Keep Britain Tidy litter pick.
  • Discussed the two complaints over the year, and an officer added that this was a very low complaint rate comparatively.
  • Members discussed use of ‘Fix My Street’, which was independent. Head of Corporate Services added that this was being looked at with the environment team, and what was the best customer experience.
  • Can we liaise with OCC timetable for cutting back vegetation?
  • Discussed the reasons behind missed bins, and how this was rectified.
  • Discussed blocked drains and flooding and who was responsible (confirmed to be OCC) – noting issues after grass cutting, which blocks drains.
  • Can CCTV on roads help catch littering?
  • A member thanked Biffa for excellent responsiveness. Biffa representative added there would be a comms piece on litter picking on the A34 – and they had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Joint Local Plan Regulation 18 Part 2 - preferred options for consultation pdf icon PDF 350 KB

The Joint Scrutiny Committee is being asked to review this report and share any comments or suggestions with the Head of Policy and Programmes, South Cabinet Member for Planning and the Vale Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Policy and Programmes, for consideration prior to the commencement of the consultation period.  


The report has six appendices. Due to the size of the documentation, please refer to page 179 in this agenda pack for instructions on viewing the documents.

Additional documents:


Cabinet members for Corporate Services, Policy and Programmes (Vale) and Planning (South) were present to introduce the report. Officers present were Head of Policy and Programmes, Policy Manager, Principal Planning Policy Officer and the Planning Policy Team Leader.


Cabinet member for South explained that the consultation showed policy topics and the preferred options so far. Policy options had been tested and developed with shaping via Councillor roundtables and cross-party steering group meetings. Technical studies had been undertaken and others were in progress and officers will add the details of those and refine approaches as they emerge ahead of consultation stage Regulation 19 (draft plan stage) in Autumn 2024. This stage was to seek public views via consultation documents set out in the agenda pack.


Cabinet member for Vale explained that Corporate Plan ambitions were mirrored in the new Joint Local Plan and it was innovative. This plan pushes the envelope on climate and biodiversity. The consultation was interactive with maps and infographics, and the “Joint Local Plan in a nutshell” consultation document (“in a nutshell” for short), which helps the public to get to grips with the plan without needing to go through all the documentation if they don’t want to.


Comments from Scrutiny Committee would be considered ahead of publication of the consultation. Both Cabinets had set a meeting in the diary to discuss the outcome of this meeting.


Committee’s comments:

  • IN1 – 7 policies: a member suggested that some of his residents were interested in infrastructure. IN3 – there was a long list of safeguarded transport schemes that some residents would be very keen to comment on. Was there a route to getting resident’s views on infrastructure? Cabinet member for South explained that the ‘in a nutshell’ document would help more people to engage and give their views. Section nine deals with community infrastructure, and they were also able to swap to the full document. Chair added that officers should ensure full communications to explain how the documents were intended to be used.
  • Wording of the questions – please double check the wording to ensure no confusion. Officer did add that questions had been checked by other officers, but they would take this comment into consideration.
  • Officers were thanked on the work done, as well as the Cabinet Members. Praised for the ambition in the document.
  • Can we add heat transfer – noting the data centres we were expecting.
  • Given the large proportion of AONB and green belt land in the districts - was there justification for going below the standard method as we had historic housing supply baked into our current plans. Cabinet member for South explained that standard method was recommended for housing need, no local exceptions justified going lower. These policies can be reviewed in full and such responses can be put into the consultation and taken into consideration.
  • Bigger font size for the ‘in a nutshell’ document. Streamline the links to the main documents. Officer confirmed it will be an interactive webpage and you  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Vale of White Horse District Council