Agenda item

Update following the Joint Workshop between the Health & Wellbeing Board and the Future Oxfordshire Partnership

To consider a report to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership setting out notes and any actions arising from a joint meeting between the Future Oxfordshire Partnership and the Oxfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board.


The Panel considered a paper to the Future Oxfordshire Partnership providing an update on actions to address common areas of concern between the Future Oxfordshire Partnership and the Oxfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board which had been highlighted at their joint workshop on 9 March 2022. Rosie Rowe, Healthy Place Shaping Lead, Oxfordshire County Council, introduced the report and answered questions from the Panel.


In discussion, members of referred to the update on retrofit in housing and the Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire project (PaZCO). It was felt that this was an important area of activity – due to its links to multiple issues besides the cutting of greenhouse gas emissions e.g. the cost of living – and should be given a high priority. Ms Rowe responded that the significance of this issue was fully recognised, especially in relation to the county’s existing housing stock. All of Oxfordshire’s councils had contributed a total of £210,000 of additional funding for the Health and Care System Fund via the Better Health Service to provide telephone and home visits to people with housing issues. It was hoped that through this money, support could be provided to approximately 10.0 per cent of those living in fuel poverty within Oxfordshire over the next twelve months (it was, nevertheless, also recognised that more needed to be done). The service aims to maximise the income of its clients by both investigating options such as grant entitlements for retrofitting and analysing bills to identify changes that could save money. In addition, more broadly the link was also being made between housing, health and climate change. Ms Rowe agreed that a stretch target in this area could potentially be helpful and that this would be looked into.


Members also raised the issue of air quality and Air Quality Action Plans. While they welcomed the work already undertaken, they questioned the value of additional data gathering given that the locations/roads with poor air quality – and the underlying causes – were well known. They stated that significant investment and action was required to reduce the level of traffic using these roads was required. The Panel was informed that the details of the actions being taken were set out within the individual council’s Air Quality Action Plans. It was, however, recognised that many of these activities consisted of transport policy and highway infrastructure improvement (alongside behavioural changes such as the promotion of cycling and walking). The public health sector was, therefore, seeking to do all that it could to facilitate a joined-up approach between Oxfordshire’s local authorities in addressing these issues (and to improve the alert system at times when air quality levels were poor). It was, though, recognised that this would be a difficult and long-term task.


The Panel referred to the need to consider the connectivity of new developments in the round when considering planning applications. This should not just be restricted to an assessment of the road safety of a proposed scheme but should also its cumulative effects on air quality. Members also reiterated their view that building standards needed to be strengthened. Ms Rowe confirmed that the Public Health Team did comment on the impact of major planning applications from a public health perspective and that around issues around connectivity formed part of this. She also mentioned that the rollout of Health Impact Assessments as part of the planning process would assist in this work.


Concerns were expressed by some members of the Panel that too much reliance was being places on the transition to electric vehicles as a way of improving air quality. While this shift could help to reduce noxious gases, it was necessary to recognise that air particulates were probably more dangerous to public health. There also remained the issue of poor quality inside dwellings and public buildings, with the situation potentially being made worse by people cutting back on their heating due to the costs. The Panel were informed that new guidance was going to be issued and targeted campaign launched on this topic.   


RESOLVED: The Panel noted the report.

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