Venue: Virtual meeting viewable by weblink
Contact: Kevin Jacob, Future Oxfordshire Partnership Senior Democratic Services Officer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for absence, substitutes; declarations of interest, Chair's announcements
Apologies for absence were submitted from Councillor Brad Baines, (substituted by Councillor Charlie Hicks), Oxfordshire County Council, Councillor Nathan Boyd, Vale of White Horse District Council, Councillor Sandy Dallimore, Cherwell District Council, and Councillor Charlie Maynard, West Oxfordshire District Council.
There were no declarations of interest.
The Panel’s attention was drawn to the first Future Oxfordshire Partnership newsletter which had recently been distributed to members via e-mail and aimed to provide a regular summary of Partnership-related events and activities for members and officers.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2023.
The minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2023 were confirmed as a correct record.
Members of the public may submit an address or question in writing to the Scrutiny Panel, where full notice of the question or address is given to the secretariat no later than 17:00 on Tuesday 7 March 2023. Questions and addresses submitted should be no longer than one side of A4 paper in Arial 12 font. The address or question will be circulated to the Panel and public speakers will be invited to speak at the virtual meeting. Written submissions may also be read out by the Chair or Democratic Services Officer where requested or if the person making the request for public speaking is not able to attend the meeting. A response may be given at the meeting or a written answer supplied. Questions and notice of addresses must be submitted to email@example.com
Note: This meeting may be recorded for live broadcast via the Future Oxfordshire Partnership’s YouTube Channel - at the start of the meeting the Chair will confirm the meeting is being filmed. By registering to speak you are consenting to being recorded and to the use of those video and audio recordings for webcasting.
The Scrutiny Panel considered two public questions.
George Curtis on behalf of Bioabundance asked a question relating to the Oxfordshire Net Zero Route Map and Action Plan agenda item. Quoting from the report, Mr Curtis referred to the scale of the challenge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the need to embed climate change into decision-making across Oxfordshire. He noted that reducing Scope One and Two carbon emissions were a key focus of the document and a critical priority for Oxfordshire in the decades ahead. He also highlighted the report’s finding that Scope Three emissions, such as embodied carbon in materials, would likely form a continuingly growing proportion of the county’s total emissions.
Mr Curtis expressed the view that the Net Zero Route Map and Action Plan would be invalid if it did not include Scope Three emissions arising from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal and indicated that councils would be faced with difficult decisions around housing (e.g., numbers, density and occupancy). He, therefore, suggested that this was an opportunity to employ the Doughnut Economics model which would enable wellbeing and prosperity for existing residents while minimising environmental harm.
The Scrutiny Panel was asked to recommend to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership that:
1. Before its acceptance, the Net Zero Route Map & Action Plan be reworked to include the Scope Three emissions of building development and new roads in the County.
2. The Economic Strategy should include the use of Doughnut Economics measures. It should also present plans/strategies designed to enable prosperity for existing residents while minimising environmental harm.
Suzanne McIvor on behalf of Need Not Greed Oxfordshire asked a question related to the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) and the current Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) agenda item.
She stated that the priority behind the LIS (and its investment plan) had been purely economic growth and had failed to give consideration to the natural world. In the view of Need Not Greed, it was shocking that the LIS, given its ambition and potential impact on Oxfordshire, had not been subject to public consultation.
Furthermore, while the proposed SEP did include mention of inclusivity and net zero carbon, it overlooked/ignored biodiversity and the natural environment. She stated that a SEP prepared along these lines would not be acceptable and that the economic growth that it would generate would create a housing need that not all of Oxfordshire’s councils would welcome. It was, therefore, suggested that a better balance between economic growth and the natural environment was required and that the Doughnut Economic model could be an example of how to achieve this.
The Scrutiny Panel was asked to recommend to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership that:
1. Any Strategic Economic Plan must balance economic growth with our natural environment and biodiversity. The briefing relating to this must, therefore, be amended accordingly.
2. The Strategic Economic Plan is the subject of a full public consultation.
3. The effect of any Strategic Economic Plan on Oxfordshire's housing need is clearly explained ... view the full minutes text for item 46.
To consider the Future Oxfordshire Partnership’s response to the recommendations from the Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 18 January 2023.
Councillor Hicks queried whether there was a process for the Panel to follow up on the status and implementation of their recommendations. In response, it was agreed that officers would bring a summary of this information to the next meeting.
To consider a report to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership from City Science on the Oxfordshire Net Zero Route Map and Action Plan.
The Panel considered a report to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership setting out a Net Zero Route Map and Joint Action Plan for achieving the emission reductions required by 2050. This work had been initiated in response to the Partnership’s request that officers develop a route map and identify areas for joint working following its receipt of the Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire (PAZCO) report in 2021.
Sarah Gilbert, Head of Climate Action, Oxfordshire County Council; Suzanne Malcolm, Deputy Chief Executive – Place, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils; and Laurence Oakes-Ash (on behalf of City Science, the authors of the route map and action plan) presented the report and answered member’s questions.
In discussion, the Panel commented that they were very pleased to be considering the Net Zero Route Map and Joint Action Plan. They felt that it represented a significant step forward in delivering a zero carbon Oxfordshire and expressed their appreciation for the considerable amount of complex work undertaken by officers and City Science in the development of this important document. Nevertheless, there were several areas where the Panel felt that that the Route Map and Joint Action Plan could be strengthened further. They also suggested that there was a requirement for clarifications to be made to sections within City Science’s report. Specific points were raised in relation to the following:
· The alignment of the transport Net Zero Route Map to the latest Oxfordshire Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP).
· The need for a workstream to investigate the evidence of effective mechanisms to reduce car use. This would include decisions on capital infrastructure, road building and traffic demand management policies.
· The accuracy of the data and statements in para 3.3.2 of the Net Zero Route Map and Action Plan relating to trip reduction targets and align with the LTCP.
· The inclusion of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) relating to cycleway delivery.
· That there was insufficient reference made to certain aspects of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure e.g., EV bikes and EV car sharing clubs.
· That the reporting frequency of the delivery of the Route Map should be increased from six monthly to quarterly.
· The opportunities for re-examining the potential of onshore wind power for electricity generation.
· Encouraging the provision of solar panels on the roofs of properties (including through the Local Plan process).
· That motor bike journeys tended to be shorter and generate less emissions than those undertaken by car. They should, therefore, be classified separately.
· That freight should be moved to rail.
· Rail improvement schemes should be based on electrification.
· That any campaign linked to reducing emissions from school transport should have a wider focus on potential alternatives than simply school buses.
· There was a need to apply the use of Climate Change Impact Assessments across a wider range of local authority policy and decision making.
· Emissions from Scope Three sources should be considered prior to 2023.
· Education and training would be required in order to achieve the route maps requirements around retrofitting.
· Endorsing green ... view the full minutes text for item 48.
To consider an update to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership setting out an update on revised reporting requirements to HM Government relating to the Homes from Infrastructure Programme.
The Scrutiny Panel considered a report providing an update on the arrangements for managing schemes funded through the Housing from Infrastructure (HfI) programme. It was presented to the Panel by Kathy Wilcox, Head of Financial Strategy, Oxfordshire County Council.
The Scrutiny Panel was reminded that a revised HfI programme had been endorsed by the Future Oxfordshire Partnership in September 2022. At that time there had been some uncertainty around the release by HM Government of the final tranche of funding. In December 2022, a letter had been received from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, (DLUHC) setting out the conditions for the release of this final payment. The report asked the Future Oxfordshire Partnership to request that the Chief Executive of Oxfordshire County Council write to DLUHC to accept these terms and agree that the County Council would as the accountable body, and in consultation with the relevant city and district councils, take decisions to manage the programme. The Partnership was also alerted to the fact that their Terms of Reference and Memorandum of Association would need to be amended.
In discussion, members of the Panel commented that the matters addressed by the report were largely procedural – the acceptance of HM Government’s terms were a necessary pre-condition for the release of funds. It was stressed that failing to receive this money would have a materially adverse impact on the HfI programme and, therefore, securing an agreement was important.
The Panel noted that the National Audit Office had highlighted the significant inflationary cost pressures, project delays and inaccurate initial forecasts affecting HM Government’s Road Investment Strategy. Members expressed concerns that this would likely have an impact on both the HfI budget and the deliverability of the programme. They, therefore, asked officers to confirm the date of the inflation indexes being used as a way of reassuring the Partnership that the level of contingency remained sufficient in light of current circumstance and rising capital costs. It was agreed that this would be confirmed outside of the meeting.
Comments were also made regarding Oxfordshire County Council’s recent review of its Capital Programme which was intended to ensure that it aligned with the Oxfordshire Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (including targets for a reduction in car mileage). When officers were asked whether this had also been applied to the HfI programme they responded that it remained in the revised format endorsed by the Future Oxfordshire Partnership in September.
Several members of the Panel also raised questions relating to specific HfI schemes. These queries were responded to by officers.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.
To consider a report to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership setting out a financial summary for Quarter 3, Year 5 for the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal.
The Scrutiny Panel received a report to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership setting out the financial position for the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal. This provided an update on the Housing from Infrastructure (HfI) programme and Growth Deal Capacity Fund and was considered in tandem with the paper on arrangements for managing the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal.
While the Panel noted the advice of officers that sufficient contingency provision had been made for inflation within the revised HfI programme, they, nevertheless, requested further information regarding the date of the inflation indexes being used (this would help to provide reassurance that the level of contingency remained sufficient in light of current circumstances and rising capital costs).
RESOLVED: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership, in noting the financial update as of quarter three, satisfy itself on the level of contingency within the HfI programme.
To consider a report to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership concerning Oxfordshire’s Visitor Economy. The report provides an update on progress of the £1.64 million Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme and also highlights potential destination management changes in relation to Government’s response to the independent review of destination management organisations (DMOs) in England.
The Scrutiny Panel considered a report to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership setting out progress in relation to the Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme (VERP) and the future landscape of the Oxfordshire visitor economy. Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive, OxLEP, presented the paper and addressed questions from the Panel.
Members of the Panel asked that the VERP gave consideration – perhaps linked to the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan – to the management of tourist flows around key tourist destinations. It was also felt that there should be more recognition within the vision for the Programme of the importance of leisure cycling and active travel in reducing car journeys.
The Panel was informed that the management of demand flows around key tourist destinations within Oxfordshire was being actively thought about as part of the development of the Destination Management Plan (DMP) for Oxfordshire. The challenges of the existing transport infrastructure to the management of tourist flows, particularly within Oxford, and the potential for innovative solutions were appreciated but these did not form part of the DMP’s remit – these issues would be better framed within the wider context of strategic transport planning. Nevertheless, it was intended that there should be greater emphasis and links between the promotion and marketing of tourism and the management of visitor flows through the DMP.
There is an intention to hold several public workshops as part of the process of developing the DMP – these would be circulated to the Panel.
a. approaches to managing the flow of tourist coaches into and out of key tourist destinations, and the provision of appropriate layover parking for coaches.
b. approaches to communicate to tourists about transportation options to and from destinations including the use of park and rides; and
c. an explicit focus to facilitate an active travel-based visitor economy through the promotion and creation of a network of bike repair stations, e-bike charging points, and bike parking at key tourist destinations for leisure cyclists.
To consider a presentation to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership setting out an update on the emerging Strategic Economic Plan for Oxfordshire, which includes the undertaking of an independent economic review.
The Scrutiny Panel considered a presentation on the development of an Oxfordshire Strategic Plan (SEP) by OxLEP and SQW. The Chair reminded members of the contributions made by the public speakers earlier in the meeting and their relevance to this Agenda item.
The Panel was informed that previous economic plans and accessible funding arrangements had been driven and shaped by HM Government policy. While efforts had been made locally to consider other issues, the primary focus had been the achievement of economic growth.
The current economic review shaping the SEP had been underway for some time and was examining the opportunities and challenges facing the county – including the possibility of doing things differently in relation to climate change, good growth, net zero etc. In terms of public engagement, three public workshops had been scheduled to take part in different parts of the county and it was hoped that a broad range of contributors would participate (it was also stressed that the brief for the review had been consulted upon with a wide range of stakeholders).
Although it was highlighted that Doughnut Economic model was not formally part of the SEP, there was a willingness to engage with its principles.
It was agreed that details of the workshops could be circulated to the members of the Panel.
After further discussion it was:
RESOLVED: That it be recommended to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership that, in noting the Strategic Economic Plan update, acknowledgment is given in the further development of the plan to the cross-cutting contribution of ecosystems services and biodiversity to the economy within Oxfordshire. The economic plan needs to be driven by climate change considerations and the loss of biodiversity.
To discuss the draft work programme for the Panel and status of actions from the previous meeting.
The Panel reflected upon its work programme and action log (as set out in the Agenda). The Chair commented that in light of the elections it was possible that different members would be considering these items in future (Beth Wilks, the Future Oxfordshire Partnership Manager would, however, be continuing to consider the inputs made as part of the engagement process arising from the Oxfordshire Strategic Vision).
Councillor Hicks expressed concern that the second action relating to the request by the Panel for further information on the methodology and criteria used in determining the revised Housing from Infrastructure (HfI) programme was still outstanding from September 2022. Councillor Turner followed up on a request for further information on the district and city councils’ delivery against the agreed Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal overall housing targets.
Andrew Down, Future Oxfordshire Partnership Director, responded it would be necessary to go back to officers at Oxfordshire County Council for details regarding the methodology used in determining the current HfI programme. As it was necessary to report progress against the programme, this might provide an opportunity to seek to build in a reminder of the criteria.
In relation to delivering against housing targets, as part of monitoring the last tranche of HfI funding there was a requirement to supply quarterly returns to HM Government – with the expectation that these would include housing numbers. If this was the case, the requested information would be available in due course to members.
Councillor Hicks commented that it was his understanding that significant changes had been made to the County Council’s capital prioritisation framework in its capacity as the responsible authority for the HfI programme. It was important that there was transparency around the decision-making criteria, as, in his view, it was not clear that the decisions taken by the Future Oxfordshire Partnership were consistent with the County Council’s policies.
To receive the summary notes from the Infrastructure Advisory Group held on 9 January 2023.
The Scrutiny Panel considered the notes of the Infrastructure Advisory Group (IAG) held on 9 January 2023.
Councillor Turner referred to the advisory group’s receipt of a presentation on the Vision Zero aspects of the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP). He queried whether, as indicated in the notes, only fatal road accident statistics were recorded as it was his understanding that personal injury data was also documented. Officers agreed to follow this up outside of the meeting.
Councillor Broad stated that Vision Zero should encompass all forms of transport including motorcyclists.
In response to a question, Andrew Down, Future Oxfordshire Partnership Director, commented that it was his expectation that further work taking account of the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP) would be undertaken to update the Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS). Further, some of money from the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal Capacity fund would be used for this purpose. It was also accepted that given the shift back to individual Local Plans, this needed to be taken forward.
Councillor Hicks wondered whether the car journey reduction targets within the latest LTCP objectives would be considered as part of this work. His point was noted and would be taken away for consideration from the meeting.
The Chair referred to the recommendations of the advisory group to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership. She suggested that the Panel would wish to support all the IAG’s recommendations.
In addition, the Chair noted a recent development in relation to an earlier Scrutiny Panel recommendation regarding the co-option of an active travel representative to the membership of the IAG. Active Travel England had announced its capability ratings for active travel and Oxfordshire had only scored two out of a possible four. It was, therefore, felt that the open offer from Active Travel England to assist local authorities in improving their score should be accepted.
RESOLVED: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership recommends that the IAG take up the offer of support by Active Travel England to help Oxfordshire to its capacity rating.
Dates of next meetings
The dates of confirmed future Scrutiny Panel meetings are below. Please refer to https://futureoxfordshirepartnership.org/meetings/ for the most up to date information on times and locations.
· Tuesday 06/06/23
· Tuesday 18/07/23
Proposed meeting dates for September 2023 to March 2024.
· Thursday 14/09/23
· Tuesday 21/11/23
· Monday 22/01/24
· Monday 11/03/24
Recommendation: That the Future Oxfordshire Partnership Scrutiny Panel note the dates of proposed meetings September 2023 to March 2024.
The dates of future meetings as set out in the Agenda was noted.
Considering that it was their final meeting before the 2023 local elections, the Chair thanked members and officers for their contributions over the previous year. In turn, members congratulated the Chair for her service to the Panel.