of a meeting of the

Joint Scrutiny Committee


held on Monday, 29 January 2024at 6.30 pm

at Abbey House, Abbey Close, Abingdon OX14 3JE.



Open to the public, including the press


Present in the meeting room:


South Oxfordshire District Councillors (SODC): Alexandrine Kantor, Leigh Rawlins, Jo Robb and Kate Gregory

Vale of White Horse District Councillors (VOWHDC): Katherine Foxhall (co-chair), Andy Cooke, Ron Batstone, Judy Roberts and Andrew Skinner


Officers: Adrianna Partridge (Deputy Chief Executive - Transformation and Operations) and Candida Basilio (Democratic Services Officer)


Also present: Cabinet members for Environment - Councillor Sue Cooper (SODC) and Councillor Mark Coleman (VOWHDC), Councillor Andrew Crawford (Finance, VOWHDC)


Virtual attendance:

Officers: Sally Truman (Customer Services Manager), Mark Minion (Head of Corporate Services), Paul Fielding (Head of Housing and Environment)

Cabinet Members: Councillors Andrea Powell (Corporate Services, SODC), Maggie Filipova-Rivers (Community Wellbeing, SODC), David Rouane (South Leader)





Sc.25               Apologies for absence


Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak gave apologies. Councillor Ed Sadler sent his apologies, and Councillor Kate Gregory attended in his place as a substitute member of the committee.




Sc.26               Urgent business and chair's announcements


Chair ran through housekeeping matters and reminded members of meeting etiquette.




Sc.27               Declaration of interests






Sc.28               Minutes




The minutes of the meeting on 7 December 2023 were agreed a correct record, and these would be signed by the chair at the end of the meeting.




Sc.29               Public participation






Sc.30               Work schedule and dates for Joint scrutiny meetings



Chair reminded members that ideas were welcome for the work programme, and recent ideas were to ask Thames Water and the Environment Agency to speak to us. Members previously mentioned how other authorities had invited Police to scrutiny.

A member asked if they could invite the Integrated Care Board (BOB ICB) back to tackle concerns over health centres. Chair asked members to help form the context / scope of a potential conversation and what Scrutiny Committee would like to achieve from discussions. The co-chairs would discuss this further.

There were no further comments raised about the Joint Scrutiny work programme.




Sc.31               Garden waste permit


Joint Scrutiny was asked to review and provide comments for Cabinets on the proposal to implement a garden waste permit model from 1 April 2025.


Chair opened this item by explaining that although this seemed a small agenda, this item affected many residents. Although it was a discretionary service, the Environment Act would make the garden waste provision a service that must be provided by councils from 2026 (however it would still be optional for residents to take up).


Cabinet Members for Environment (South and Vale) were present to introduce this item. Officers present online were Head of Corporate Services, Head of Housing and Environment, and the Customer Services Manager. Cabinet member for Corporate Services (South) was also online.


Cabinet member for Vale briefly summarised the report. The aim was to move all customers to one payment date and move away from direct debit. It was proposed to move all customers to the same renewal date of 1 April, with payment to be made in February-March for the service to be provided from 1 April to 31 March as of 2025 (municipal year). It was felt that moving to a single payment date would be less confusing for customers. Residents would be given a tamper-proof permit sticker to label their brown bin. The sticker system would make it easier for waste crews to identify who had paid for the service. The councils were committed to improving operational efficiency and creating customer service improvements.


The new system was considered by officers to provide efficiencies in administering the service, simplifying the process for both customers and staff. There would be a comprehensive communications plan in place to inform residents of the transition to this new system. The cost of the permit system to the council was expected to be slightly lower than the existing costs to the councils, and the cost of the sticker would be part of the consideration when setting the annual garden waste fee. Staff would remind residents on a yearly basis to pay for their new permit(s).

Committee commented as follows:

·         Much discussion was had around the payment schedule and integrating existing payment into the new yearly payment. Head of Corporate Services explained that offering a 6-monthly fee in the first year made sense due to the seasonal nature of the service.

·         A member felt customer goals were not met by this and they raised bin micro chipping as a future proofing method. The costs of micro chipping were unknown in the meeting, but this was thought to be a longer term solution.

·         A member asked what would happen when collection staff encounter a bin with no sticker yet? It was responded it would not be emptied and a pink hanger would be put on the bin, for the resident to ring up and sort any issue around payment/non-payment. It was expected that stickers would be issued in February/March 2025, well ahead of April 2025, when the system starts. Head of Housing and Environment added that bins not paid for can be collected/removed over time if not paid for (assumed not wanted). He also explained that crews would continue to empty unstickered bins in the first few weeks of the new scheme whilst customers got used to the new approach.


A member expressed a view that on balance, as an optional service, those wanting the service can take the time to make a payment, and also reduce cost by lessening the officer time administering the process. However, some members were concerned about the one-off annual payment and moving away from direct debits. Cabinet member for Corporate Services (South) added that this new system was to help all to access the service but also not to make it more difficult for council staff.


A member motioned that micro chipping bins should be looked into before proceeding, but other members did not agree that there was time to do this – it was felt that we needed to continue to progress efficiencies with a new CRM system and getting better customer records. Cabinet member for Environment (South) felt this could be a future consideration.


Members further discussed their concerns along with the positives of the new method, concluding with the following motion that committee agreed on.



Scrutiny committee request that South and Vale cabinets consider continuing to offer direct debit payments, and scrutiny committee also supported other payment methods such as cash and over the phone payments.


Committee asked that both Cabinets consider retaining the minimum number of collections per year, for customer assurance. Cabinets were asked to ensure that a clear communications plan be put in place to:

1. show residents how to pay and

2. keep residents updated on the changes


Further comments:

Separate to the recommendation, it was noted that future consideration should be given to the following methods:







The meeting closed at 8.00 pm