Venue: virtual meeting
Contact: Candida Mckelvey, Democratic Services Officer
Note: the meeting will be live streamed. Please follow this link to view:https://www.youtube.com/c/SouthandValeCommitteeMeetings/
Apologies for absence
To record apologies for absence and the attendance of substitute members.
No apologies were received.
Urgent business and chair's announcements
To receive notification of any matters which the chair determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chair.
There were no urgent announcements, but chair did remind the committee of how to notify the chair should a member wish to speak.
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.
To review the informal notes of a meeting of Scrutiny Committee members held on 24 March 2022.
Committee reviewed the previous meeting’s notes, and no comments were raised.
To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak.
There was one public speaker – Councillor Hugo Raworth, speaking from Sutton Courtenay Parish Council.
Councillor Raworth expressed his opinion that Vale of White Horse District Council had an inadequate complaints procedure regarding handling of planning applications. He was concerned with a lack of oversight from the council or any independent evaluation for complaints.
Councillor Raworth explained that complaints were raised about the planning department and its handling of a planning application on the site of Hobby Horse Lane in Sutton Courtenay over several years.
He requested that Scrutiny Committee a) recommended to cabinet that the complaints procedure should be revised to overcome issues and include involvement of elected members and b) that the complaint made by the parish council on the planning departments handling of the application by reconsidered by an independent reviewer in conjunction with the council.
Committee thanked the speaker for his time. Councillor Raworth had since been advised to contact officers to find answers to his concerns regarding the process, or information on next steps.
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 Please note, although the dates are confirmed, the items under consideration are subject to being withdrawn, added to or rearranged without further notice.
Chair had moved future meeting times to 7pm for Vale scrutiny committee, considering feedback from other members, as there was now a requirement to travel after work to formal meetings. Joint scrutiny meeting times would be decided on a meeting by meeting basis, depending on what the chair decides (there were two co-chairs) to be a suitable time.
Chair updated committee that we were still awaiting information from National Highways on the A34 Diversion Routing. Vale officers had been chasing for information and had not received yet. Chair thanked officers for their efforts on this. When the information emerges, it will return to scrutiny.
Committee were reminded to let chair know if anything should be added to the work programme.
For committee members to note the review into the councils’ public consultation and engagement approaches and provide any comments to the Cabinet Member for Community Engagement.
Cabinet member for Community Engagement, Councillor Bethia Thomas, opened this item.
A Senior Consultation Officer had been employed to lead this area of work. This report provided an overview of the current service, with suggested next steps for achieving ambitions. Key to this work was use of technology and social media to engage a wider audience.
Chair asked members whether they had any questions or comments, and below outlines the main comments.
Officers and Cabinet member were thanked.
Committee noted the report and provided comments
To note the draft Active Communities Strategy and provide any comments for consideration to the Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities.
Cabinet member for Healthy Communities opened this item.
The strategy’s main purpose was to support the health and wellbeing of communities and contribute to the delivery of several corporate priorities. The strategy fits into a wider framework for the community. Promotion of healthy lifestyle choices was important. The plan proposed maximising the use of natural green spaces and blue spaces. The strategy will be supported by a delivery plan which will be regularly reviewed and monitored to ensure it remains effective. Planned mapping work will help us to identify gaps and inequalities that need closing.
Committee were invited to ask questions for officer and Cabinet member consideration:
Chair thanked officers and the Cabinet member
Committee noted the report on Active Communities Strategy and provided comments.
To note the quarter 4 performance and provide any feedback for consideration to the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services.
Chair reminded committee that detailed questions can be asked of officers and Cabinet member offline, as the detail may not be available in the meeting. Members had been encouraged to email if they wanted to drill down into particular items/projects.
Cabinet member for Corporate Services introduced the Quarter 4 report and the annual report 2021/22.
The annual report provided a year end summary / high level review with a RAG rating system.
Green = Objective will be met by the timescale given or the end of the corporate plan period.
Amber = On track but certain concerns had been identified, and actions were being taken to deal with that.
Red = Delivery Programme was behind schedule and won’t make the deadline.
It was noted that no parts of the report were on a red status.
A reporting mechanism for the website had been created to help guide people to the reports on the website as well as social media promotion.
Head of Policy and Programmes added that no date had been set yet on adding things onto the website and instead this would be gradually phased in.
Members received the report positively and a member asked for a few diagram clarifications. Cabinet member reminded committee that specific projects could be added to the work programme (with chair’s agreement) to ensure the correct officers were available to answer questions. A member did question the impact of inflation on delivery. Cabinet member stated that under current budget and for next year we were on track (this was what the report was based on), but in future, costs such as energy were uncertain but may not impact many projects. This would be reassessed with future budgets. Committee member suggested that leisure centre decarbonisation could be affected. Cabinet member added that there was an officer team to look into this and officers could take this point away.
Councillor Mabbett asked about the environment sections, requesting more detail around the aims and how the report was progressing to those aims. It was responded that there were bullet points stating the aims and how they will be met. Councillor Mabbett was asked to consider phrasing his question specifically in an email for a more targeted response from officers, in order to answer his concerns.
Officers and Cabinet member were thanked for their work in producing these reports.
Committee noted the corporate plan performance reports and provided comments.
Exclusion of the public
To consider whether to exclude members of the press and public from the meeting for the following item of business under Part 1 of Schedule 12A Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 and as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 on the grounds that:
(i) it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1-7 Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, and
(ii) the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Committee agreed to exclude the public to consider exempt information.
Covid 19 Leisure support package update
To note an update report from the Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities.
Committee considered a report on the outcome of negotiations of the Covid-19 leisure support package and committee thanked the Cabinet member for Healthy Communities and the officer team involved in achieving the outcomes.