Agenda and minutes

Joint Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Susan Harbour, Democratic Services Team leader 

No. Item


Apologies for absence

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


Councillor Debby Hallett sent her apologies; Councillor Judy Roberts attended as her substitute. Councillor Chris Palmer sent his apologies: Councillor Mike Badcock attended as his substitute.


South Cabinet members Lynn Lloyd (leisure) and Rob Simister (development and regeneration) sent apologies for their items. Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, John Cotton, attended in their places.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To adopt and sign as a correct record the Joint Scrutiny Committee minutes of the meeting held on 22 May 2017. 


The minutes of the meeting held on 22 May 2017 were agreed by the committee as an accurate record of the meeting and were signed by the chairman as such.


Declarations of interest

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


There were no declarations of interest.


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. 


The chairman changed the order of the agenda to allow the item involving external contractors (GLL) to be heard first. He informed the committee that members of the press were present but had confirmed that they would not be video recording the meeting.


Public participation

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


Three members of the public registered to speak on the Didcot Garden Town item and would be heard with that item.


2016/17 performance review of GLL pdf icon PDF 673 KB

To consider the report of the head of waste, leisure, parks and environmental health on the performance of GLL in providing the joint leisure management service in South Oxfordshire and Vale of the White Horse for the period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 – report attached. 



Steve Hercus and Ben Whaymand from the contractor GLL were in attendance.


Councillor Charlotte Dickson, portfolio holder at Vale of White Horse; Councillor John Cotton, leader, South Oxford; Chris Webb, Facilities Development Officer (Leisure) and Ian Matten, Interim Head of Waste, Leisure, Parks and Environmental Health attended the meeting.


The Cabinet members introduced the performance report which related to the 2016/17 financial year and provided the committee with the details of the performance from GLL in delivering the leisure contract.


The scores were based on the review framework used by the councils and these indicated improvements across the scoring criteria which would hopefully lead to an improved overall score in 2017/18.


The ongoing relationship between the councils and the GLL team remained strong and there were continuous improvements being made both to the facilities and the standards of service delivered to customers.


GLL had recently achieved Quest scores of Excellent for the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre: there were only 17 centres in the country with an excellent score. They had also achieved Quest scores of Very Good for Thame Leisure Centre, Wheatley Park and Abbey Sports Centre. Quest was the leisure industry externally validated scheme which defined industry standards and good practice and encouraged their ongoing development and delivery within a customer-focused management framework. Although these outcomes would be recognised in next year’s report, the preparatory work to achieve those outcomes had been done in 2016/17. This outcome was a good example of the direction being taken across the contract.


There had been many examples of service improvements and developments between the councils and GLL in the reporting year, in particular the participation work and health improvement work which ran alongside the more traditional centre based work that GLL provided, which expands the range and activity base of the community with an ultimate aim of getting more people active and healthy.


Officers from the council and GLL continue to work to develop the leisure service and next year it was hoped the overall score would be one of excellent.


The committee discussed this item and the following matters were raised and responded to by the officers, Cabinet members and the contractor.


The divergence between the customer satisfaction (“excellent”) and officer satisfaction (“fair”) was due to the fact that customers were offering a snapshot, based on single visits, whereas officers have a long-term relationship with the contractor and are looking at different, broader criteria.


The scoring system used was based on the councils’ corporate system.


In order to improve staff retention and development, GLL had undertaken bench-marking of salaries to improve staff retention rates. They had undertaken a significant recruitment of apprentices. There had been supervisory staff training to reduce the attrition of staff.  There had also been recruitment of more mature staff.


In order to ensure an accurate assessment of standards, council offiers carried out spot checks at the leisure centres at “odd” hours and without notice. Mystery visits were also carried out by external organisations  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Didcot Garden Town Delivery Plan pdf icon PDF 496 KB

To consider the report of the head of development, regeneration and housing on the proposed Didcot Garden Town Delivery Plan – report attached.

Additional documents:


Neville Harris, an independent town and county councillor for Didcot Ladygrove, asked a question about the potential financial implications of this plan, given that South and Vale district councils were not signed up to the Oxfordshire Growth Bid for infrastructure funding.


Phil Armstrong, a resident of Didcot, raised issues concerning the potential relocation of the station and the impact on residents.


Simon Hewerdine, an independent town councillor for Didcot Ladygrove, spoke objecting to the Didcot Garden Plan which he claimed was inaccurate and misleading and that the public consultation was inadequate, particularly in consideration of the closure of Cow Lane.


South Oxfordshire District Council Leader John Cotton, Vale of White Horse District Council Cabinet member Mike Murray and Gerry Brough, Interim Head of Development and Regeneration, attended committee for this item.


Councillor John Cotton introduced the report which provided the Joint Scrutiny Committee with an opportunity to;

·           review and comment on the contents of Didcot Garden Town Delivery Plan;

·           be informed of the results of the recent public consultation process; and

·           be re-assured that officers had addressed the main constructive issues arising from the public consultation process.

The Didcot Garden Town Delivery Plan had been produced over a one year period and had involved:

·           a considerable number of interactions between local stakeholders, business and community groups and the external technical consultants employed to work on each of the document’s main chapters;

·           a number of large stakeholder group and resident group meetings, where ideas had been proposed and relevant feedback has been used to modify and improve these ideas (and in some cases to reject them and remove them from the plan);

·           interaction between council officers, local schools, various community interest groups and parish councils;

·           close working between council officers, to make sure the delivery plan was fully consistent with both councils’ emerging Local Plans;

·           close working with government civil servants in the Department for Communities and Local Government, to secure the capacity funding needed to pay for key staff and external technical consultancy assistance, so that the delivery plan could be produced, and a start could be made on implementing some key projects, at minimal cost to South and Vale council tax payers.

The delivery plan production process had been overseen by a project advisory board comprising the Leaders and lead Cabinet members for development of both Councils, South and Vale’s Chief Executive and the councils’ Interim Head of Development, Regeneration and Housing.


The vision for Didcot Garden was to:

·           provide new houses, to meet the needs of a growing local economy;

·           create more and better publicly accessible open spaces;

·           integrate advanced, sustainable technologies within Didcot;

·           develop Didcot’s two Enterprise Areas; and

·           implement a number of key projects linked to four key programmes areas, namely:

o   The Town Centre

o   The Gateway Spine

o   The Cultural Spine, and

o   The Garden Line.

A final version of the Delivery Plan was due to be submitted to South and Vale cabinets on 5 and 6 October.


Councillors Mike Murray and John Cotton  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Work schedule and dates for all South and Vale scrutiny meetings pdf icon PDF 451 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.



This was noted by the committee.


The democratic services officer explained that scrutiny of the Five Council’s Partnership would now be carried out by the Joint Scrutiny Committee (although members would continue to attend the Partnership Scrutiny Committee). This was to allow for more robust scrutiny and because the Partnership had no formal executive to scrutinise.