Agenda item

Public participation

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 Thursday 15 September 2022.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


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 questions and one address from members of the public.


Ian Green, on behalf of the Oxford Civic Society, referred to the ending of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 programme. The Society’s view was that a lot of good work had been undertaken before its cessation and that this now needed to be utilised/deployed within the Local Plans. The Panel was asked whether it agreed that a public discussion should be held by the Future Oxfordshire Partnership on making the best use of the work developed to date as part of the creation of Local Plans. 


In order to update the Local Plans, the Civic Society was of the opinion that the district and city councils would have to come to a mutually acceptable position on both growth rates and distribution if they were to achieve compliance with the statutory Duty to Cooperate. In order to achieve this each local authority would have to be clear on the levels of employment, housing growth and affordable housing it wanted. Mr Green enquired as to whether the Panel believed that the Future Oxfordshire Partnership should continue to seek agreement across Oxfordshire on growth and also if the Partnership should – at a draft stage – look at the strategic infrastructure implications of all of the Local Plans.  


The Society felt that some of the principles of the previous Oxfordshire Plan 2050 programme could still be used, alongside links to other strategies, to assess the environmental and social implications of proposed levels of growth.


John Hill stated to the Panel that there was a continued need for full transparency around the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (OGNA). In his view, this remained, despite the end of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 programme, an extremely relevant document. Mr Hill referred to answers that had previously been provided to him following questions that he had asked at the Future Oxfordshire Partnership meeting in June 2022. Those queries had related to the assumptions behind the employment forecasts/projections by seeking clarity about their reliability/validity in light of the changed economic circumstances (he had also sought an explanation about which items were forecasts and which were projections). The responses provided had not in his opinion adequately addressed the issues raised.


The Scrutiny Panel was asked to consider whether it thought that proper answers had been provided to Mr Hill’s questions and to enquire as to whether the Partnership intended to rely on evidence gathered as part of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 (and if so, why it had not adequately addressed the points he had raised in June). 


Councillor John Fouweather, Oxford City Council, made an address to the Panel in reference to Agenda item 11 – the Review of the Housing from Infrastructure Programme (HfI) – which was due to be considered by the Future Oxfordshire Partnership on 27 September. He commented that for bodies such as the Panel to perform their scrutiny function, papers needed to come before decisionmakers in good time and be publicly available. Councillor Fouweather highlighted the fact that although documents on the proposed changes outlined in the review had been considered by the Infrastructure Advisory Group on 15 September, nothing had been added to the Scrutiny Panel’s agenda by morning of the meeting. This not only meant that members had not been afforded the opportunity to read the papers, but also that the public and other stakeholders had not had the time or chance to register to speak on this matter. In his view, this had prevented the Panel from effectively exercising its scrutiny function and removed the opportunity for democratic oversight prior to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership meeting. 


Councillor Fouweather set out several detailed points in favour of the retention of both the Milton Heights pedestrian and cycle bridge scheme, the expansion of the Kidlington roundabout proposal and the retention of the original Woodstock Road project. He also laid out arguments for the removal of the Oxpens Bridge scheme from the HfL programme. Councillor Fouweather asked the Panel whether they agreed that the scrutiny of the HfL proposals had been inadequate and not in the spirit of collective decision making. He also enquired as to whether they thought that the case for the Osney Mead/Oxpens Road scheme had not been made.


At the conclusion of Councillor Fouweather’s address, the Chair thanked him, Ian Green and John Hill for their attendance. She also welcomed their contributions and commented that these would be considered by the Panel as part of the wider agenda items they related to.


Following an invitation from the Chair to make an initial response to the questions from Ian Green and John Hill, Giles Hughes, Senior Responsible Officer for the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, commented that the issues that they had raised were touched upon within the substantive agenda report – in particular, the principles around future joint working by the councils and the retention of evidence developed through the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 work. Mr Hughes also stated that OGNA (which had been a consultation draft and not agreed policy) was not, in light of the position reached with regards to housing need and the ending of the Plan, going to be taken forward. Instead, local councils would need to come to their own decision about the evidence base needed to support their Local Plans (they would, nevertheless, have to be mindful of the Duty to Cooperate).   


In answer to enquiries from the Panel as to whether the demise of the OGNA meant a return to the previous Oxfordshire Strategic Market Assessment and the consultant who produced it, Mr Hughes clarified that each individual council would not only need to come to their own view on housing need and requirements, but also commission work to inform and evidence their conclusions.

Supporting documents: