Agenda and minutes
Safer & Stronger Communities Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 13 February 2012 10.00 am
Venue: County Hall, Oxford, OX1 1ND
Contact: Kathrin Luddecke, Tel: (01865) 323965 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments
Councillor Alyas Ahmed was not present; Councillor Kieron Mallon had sent his apologies.
Declarations of Interest - see guidance note on the back page
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve the minutes of the meetings held on 7 November (SSC3a), 12 December (SSC3b) and 15 December 2011 (SSC3c) and to note for information any matters arising from them.
The minutes of the meetings of the Committee held on 7 November (SSC3a), 12 December (SSC3b) and 15 December 2011 (SSC3c) were approved and signed.
· Item 158/11: Councillor Lilly had established through relevant portfolio holders and officers that appropriate back up and remote working arrangements were in place for all three sites mentioned and updates on power outage actions had been circulated to committee members; Councillor Pressel noted that her concerns extended to other businesses in the area – AGREED for Councillor Lilly to raise with Cabinet members outside the meeting, keeping Councillor Pressel informed
· Item 161/11: Members noted the information circulated by Mike Bardsley following the meeting and that a fuller item remains on the committee’s forward plan; Councillor Heathcoat informed members that an OFSTED report rating the service as ‘good’ was expected next month
· Item 171/11: Committee members were reassured that the Library Service, including the proposed review of mobile libraries, remains on its Forward Plan.
Speaking to or petitioning the Committee
There were no speakers or petitions.
The Deputy Chief Fire Officer & Acting County Librarian, on behalf of the Director for Social & Community Services, will give verbal updates on key issues affecting their directorate.
As part of the update, a written report on the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 by Oxfordshire County Council is attached for consideration by the committee (SSC5).
The Acting County Librarian, Karen Warren, on behalf of the Director for Social & Community Services, gave a verbal update on Community Services. She gave a more detailed overview of developments concerning the Library Service.
Management support across Library Services is being rationalised from 15 to 9 posts, with changes to come into effect for April 2012. Jillian Southwell has been appointed to the lead post for the service of Library Service Manager, with other appointments to be confirmed. Contact with Friends’ Groups is being maintained. The support programme in place for the current 140 volunteers in the service is being evaluated. Liaison is taking place with Oxfordshire Rural Community Council and Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action in relation to their joint project to engage with people in communities that are not usually active or who are at risk of social exclusion.
Book issues have increased over quarter 3 last year by 1.89% (4.49% for children’s books). Self-service is now available in Summertown library. The WifFi pilot project has been introduced in Central Library since December and is to be introduced to Abingdon, Banbury, Didcot and Witney libraries before the end of March; it will then evaluated before considering further roll-out. E-books and e-audio downloads will be available from the library website from the end of this month.
Karen Warren gave a verbal update on other services on behalf of the Head of Strategy & Transformation, including:
· History Service: a full report will come to the next meeting of the committee
· Museums Service: agreement with the Soldiers of Oxfordshire almost in place; work expected to begin on site later in the summer.
· The Mill Arts Centre (Banbury): positive year with ministerial visit to Job Club hosted there; future to be considered as part of master planning for the town
Responding to a query from Councillor Goddard, Councillor Heathcoat asked for her personal thanks to staff undertaking the libraries work, in particular Karen Warren, to be placed on record. Other issues raised by members included:
· Work is being planned to ensure Friends’/community groups form around libraries, including those in more deprived areas, and the Service is linked into work on ‘Breaking the Cycle of Deprivation’
· A business case would have to be made for further roll-out of wifi following the evaluation; Councillor Service noted that district councils may wish to support
AGREED that the Library Service will keep local elected members informed about discussions with Friends’/community groups.
The Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Colin Thomas, gave an update on key issues in Community Safety and Fire & Rescue, including:
· As a result of work by Trading Standards’ financial investigator, a successful prosecution had been brought against a letting agent, resulting in a confiscation order of £250k
· Citizens Advice Consumer Service: county council is monitoring the transfer and supporting local Citizen Advice Bureaus; the council’s own calls will transfer on 2 April 2012
· Gypsy & Traveller Service budgets: Richard Webb had provided a written note to members, any queries should be referred back to him
· Fire Control: ... view the full minutes text for item 5/12
Carol Anderson, Museum Service Manager, will present the draft Oxfordshire Museums Strategy (SSC6).
The committee is invited to comment before the Strategy is considered by Cabinet in March.
Carol Anderson, Museum Service Manager, presented the draft Oxfordshire Museums Strategy (SSC6). It was noted as a correction that in par.4.2 on p.23 “Oxford University Museums” should be inserted.
Carol Anderson explained the increasing importance of collaborative working between museums and of active engagement with communities, through outreach where required. Local museums had become increasingly independent, with the service providing guidance and professional support where required. Partnership working would help maintain a broad spectrum of support with reduced budgets.
Members raised a number of queries, including:
· Engagement of district councils through the Museums joint working group
· Outreach to schools, in particular state schools, and marketing
· Close working with other council Community Services, e.g. the History Service
· Storage facilities (extensions to Standlake Resource Centre) and review of collections including archaeology
· Oxfordshire’s and the County Museums Service’s share of the Arts Council funding recently awarded (currently being negotiated).
AGREED for the Museums service to keep the committee updated on progress, in particular as the governance structure for Oxfordshire Aspires will be developed.
Mat Carlile, Area Manager - Business & Improvement, will give an update on this plan (SSC7), following consultation. The draft plan had been discussed by the committee in November 2011.
The committee is invited to make any final comments before Cabinet considers the Plan on 14 February.
Mat Carlile, Area Manager – Business & Improvement, gave a further update on this plan (SSC7), following consultation. The positive response overall was noted; members supported the service’s plans to broaden the consultation for the service’s 5-10 year vision next year by working with Oxfordshire Voice and focus groups.
AGREED members could to help check future consultation papers were accessible.
Responding to Councillor Pressel, Mat Carlile provided reassurance that the Road Safety educational service was linked into national networks and aware of best practice. Noted a discussion is scheduled for the committee meeting in June.
In March 2012 Cabinet will consider a proposal to create a joint Trading Standards Service with Buckinghamshire County Council. This proposal results from a period of research into, and evaluation of, the benefits and risks of creating a joint service to fulfil the Council's statutory consumer protection obligations in the most efficient and effective manner.
The report (SSC8) will be presented by Sarah Langley, Interim Manager – Trading Standards and outlines the findings from the research that led to the proposals that are to be considered by Cabinet. The Committee is invited to consider the proposal and raise matters that they would wish to be considered or addressed
Sarah Langley, Interim Manager – Trading Standards, presented the report (SSC8) outlining the findings from the research that led to the proposals to be considered by Cabinet in March. In developing proposals for a joint governance board, learning from other Trading Standards services across the country would be taken into account. A key concern was to retain political control including scrutiny of the service.
Members commended officers for the work to date and a clear report. They raised concerns about meeting increased demand, staffing levels and specialisms, TUPE arrangements and mitigating risks to the council, maintaining the excellent service currently provided in Oxfordshire and keeping local knowledge and priorities. It was noted that a joint service with Buckinghamshire would help enrich the service, increase resilience and put it in a good position for the future as the landscape for Trading Standards is changing.
AGREED for Richard Webb to provide further information about how staff savings will be achieved.
Carys Alty, Manager - Safer Communities Unit, will present an update to clarify the current position regarding preparing for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the setting up the Thames Valley-wide Police and Crime Panel (PCP) (SSC9) which will have implications for local Scrutiny Committees.
CarysAlty, Manager - Safer Communities Unit, gave an update on the current position in preparing for the election of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in November this year, focusing on the setting up the Thames Valley-wide Police and Crime Panel (PCP) (SSC9). Noted as a correction to par.8 that the Home Office had increased the funding for the authority hosting the Panel to £53,500.
The committee was concerned that:
· The importance of retaining a diverse set of local priorities, reflecting diversity across both the area and the county, was to be communicated to the Commissioner and Panel
· Funding for projects considered to be successful in addressing local needs (such as for the Domestic Abuse and Mantra co-ordinator posts) might be at risk given funding will go from the district Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to the PCC next year
· The Commissioner, as well as the county council’s representative appointed to the Panel, were encouraged to consider themselves as accountable to this committee (similar to the Chief Constable coming before it once a year).
In response, Carys Alty mentioned the importance of developing a robust evidence base to demonstrate what works and noted that the Thames Valley Police Authority (before it is abolished in November) and the Chief Constable will be developing a draft of the five year Police and Crime Plan before the Commissioner is elected. The Commissioning Prospectus will provide good coverage across all community safety work.
· CarysAlty will circulate further information about the plans, including a timeline
· Officers will take into account the discussion at committee in representing the council on the Transition Group set up to develop arrangements
· Officers leading on the work will ensure the committee receives frequent updates leading up to November.
AGREED for the committee officer to circulate the committee’s draft Work Plan.
Close of Meeting
Close of meeting 1pm