To consider the head of partnership and insight’s report.
Councillor Hayleigh Gascoigne declared a personal interest in this item as she was a local resident and local ward member.
The committee considered the head of partnership and insight’s report into the project delivery and governance arrangements of Didcot Garden Town. The report also updated on recent community engagement and the potential timeline for work programmes. The Vale’s Cabinet member for partnership and insight and South Oxfordshire’s Leader answered the committee’s questions.
The Cabinet member reported that since the report was first considered by the Vale’s Cabinet in July, the governance arrangements had been amended to take into account Cabinet’s concerns. The governance structure proposed was now more inclusive and community-driven. There were three sounding boards, one for local residents, one for the business community, and one for parish councils to feed in their ideas to an advisory board. The advisory board would make recommendations to the representative organisations. In response to the request from Sutton Courtenay Parish Council, there was now a designated parish council representative on the advisory board.
The committee welcomed the changes to the governance arrangements but made two suggestions to improve the structure further:
· that the parish council representative on the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board should be chosen from the five parish councils within the Didcot Garden Town boundary; and
· that the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board be asked to consider adding a voting member to increase its environmental representation.
The committee’s rationale behind these suggestions was that the most appropriate parishes to represent parish councils on the advisory board were the five parish councils nearest to Didcot and the parishes that fell within the Didcot Garden Town boundary. The outer lying parishes within the area of influence could feed in their ideas through the parish councils’ sounding board. Also, the committee considered that adding an environmental representative was important to balance the other competing aims. However, it was recognised that finding an appropriate environmental representative was not an easy task. The committee considered that this representative should be independent of the other partners.
RESOLVED: to recommend the South and Vale Cabinets that they:
(a) approve the operating guidelines, terms of reference and revised governance for the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board and sounding boards, as set out in appendix 2 to the head of partnership and insight’s report to the Joint Scrutiny Committee on 16 January 2020, with the following changes:
(i) the parish council representative on the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board be chosen from the five parish councils within the Didcot Garden Town boundary;
(ii) recommend that the Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board considers adding a voting member to increase its environmental representation;
(b) agree to name the nominated Didcot Garden Town Board as the ‘Didcot Garden Town Advisory Board’;
(c) agree the Didcot Garden Town Delivery Plan project priorities; and
(d) delegate authority to the relevant head of service to apply for future funding opportunities that directly align with the Didcot Garden Town Delivery Plan as appropriate.