of the Meeting held on 18 July 2006 commencing at 2.00 pm and finishing
at 3:32 pm
Other Members in
The Cabinet considered the matters, reports and recommendations contained or referred to in the agenda for the meeting, together with a schedule of addenda tabled at the meeting, and decided as set out below. Except insofar as otherwise specified, the reasons for the decisions are contained in the agenda, reports and schedule, copies of which are attached to the signed Minutes.
119/06. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Roger Belson and Don Seale.
120/06. HEAD OF COMMITTEE SERVICES
The Leader of the Council noted that this would be the last Cabinet for Mr John Leverton who was retiring in a few weeks’ time. The Leader paid tribute to the significant contribution John Leverton had made since the inception of the Executive, now the Cabinet. He paid tribute to his wise advice, his good humour and his diplomatic qualities in keeping elected members on the "straight and narrow". The Leader observed that John Leverton had given 34 years of quality service to the County Council, thanked him for this on behalf of the Cabinet and the County Council and this was warmly endorsed by Cabinet members and by other members and work colleagues present.
121/06. DECLARATION OF INTEREST
Item 8 - Post 16 SEN Provision
Councillor Mitchell declared a personal interest in relation to Agenda Item 8 on the grounds that he was a member of the Oxford and Cherwell Valley College board.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2006 were approved and signed.
123/06. PETITIONS AND PUBLIC ADDRESS
Agenda Item 15 - SEEDA: Regional Economic Strategy
Councillor Purse, speaking as Shadow Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, welcomed the environmental questions raised in the officers’ report. She wished to see a balance struck between environmental protection and economic development within the Regional Economic Strategy and referred to examples in the draft Strategy of proposals for development where a comprehensive case had not been made and which could lead to further overheating of the regional economy.
124/06. FINANCIAL MONITORING
(Agenda Item 5)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA5), which covered the two-month period ended 31 May 2006 for both revenue and capital. The report included an updated Capital Programme and was the first report of the year to include a year-end variation forecast.
Councillor Armitage, speaking as Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance, reiterated his request of one month ago for Cabinet to review the Premature Retirement Scheme budget and queried how this budget, which was described as ‘cash-limited’, had now become overspent. He further queried how the budgets for Early Years and Older People were now also predicted to be in overspend.
In response to Councillor Armitage’s comments, Councillor Shouler indicated that the report merely warned of the possibility of a Premature Retirement Scheme costs overspend and that this position had not yet been reached. If in the event an overspend was incurred then this would need to be dealt with by supplementary estimate or virement in the usual way. Councillor Waine confirmed that reviewing this budget would be premature since the current Scheme had only recently been introduced.
Councillor Shouler also drew attention to the £1m in funding set aside for future social care needs that might arise from NHS service changes, which appeared likely to pose a major problem for social care services. Measures were being taken to bring the Early Years budget under control.
125/06. TREASURY MANAGEMENT OUTTURN
(Agenda Item 6)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA6) which reviewed the Treasury Management activity carried out during 2005/6. It covered both debt financing and investment of temporary cash surpluses.
Councillor Shouler congratulated the officers on their excellent Treasury Management performance.
126/06. OXFORD RADCLIFFE HOSPITALS: PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT AND COST REDUCTION PROGRAMME
(Agenda Item 7)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA7), which summarised the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust’s main plans and proposals for service changes it wished to introduce at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury and the Trust’s hospitals in Oxford, and their implications for the County Council.
Councillor Godden, speaking as Shadow Cabinet Member for Social Care & Policy Co-ordination, generally welcomed the report’s recommendations and endorsed the Scrutiny Committee response. She proposed that the Cabinet write to the Secretary of State pointing up the relatively low level of government funding health in the Thames Valley and the even lower growth allocation for social care funding in Oxfordshire. She expressed concern at effects on both the County Council and the primary care trusts of the trading approach of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust and referred to the inability of social care services to meet rapidly changing demands from increased turnover in health care. She felt that rebalancing between the different sectors was required.
Councillor Couchman endorsed Councillor Godden’s comments with particular reference to the effects on social care services of faster discharges and avoidance of admissions. He expressed concern at the Trust’s framing of its service provision without consideration for other service areas.
RESOLVED: whilst acknowledging the necessity for financial stability and balance to be achieved in the health sector, to:
127/06. POST 16 SEN PROVISION
(Agenda Item 8)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA8), which addressed options for delivering the framework for change to post 16 SEN provision in Oxfordshire.
Councillor Fitzgerald-O’Connor, speaking as Chairman of Children's Services Scrutiny Committee, commended the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee and expressed regret as to the apparent lack of understanding on the part of the Learning & Skills Council about the position in Oxfordshire.
Councillor Turner, speaking as Shadow Cabinet Member for Schools Improvement, urged the adoption of option 3 within the report. He cited Oxford and Cherwell Valley College as a good example of SEN provision but suggested that overall there were few such examples among the colleges. He accepted that re-allocating responsibility for Post-16 SEN provision to schools would not be without expense, but believed that there were signs that the LSC would consider some funding if the County Council agreed to make such provision. He believed that this should be pursued.
Councillor Moley, speaking as a local member for the Fitzwarren Special School, also spoke in support of option 3, referring to the anomalous position of Oxfordshire in relation to Post-16 SEN provision.
In line with the recommendations of the Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee the Cabinet -
128/06. PRIMARY SCHOOL PROVISION
(Agenda Item 9)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA9) which provided an update on pupil numbers in primary schools and the implications for Oxfordshire.
Councillor Turner, speaking as Shadow Cabinet Member for Schools Improvement, felt the report gave the impression of being unfairly discriminatory against rural areas and smaller schools in particular. He was concerned that the federated schools model could be difficult in terms of some schools’ ability to compete for pupils once partnerships were established and considered that there was a danger of prejudice to existing coordinated arrangements between schools. He urged that consultation be undertaken on the principles before the machinery proposed in the report was set up.
In response to Councillor Turner’s comments, Councillor Waine commended the report’s approach in order to bring about sustainability within schools in Oxfordshire. He indicated that no school was under threat of closure, but highlighted the need to respond to demographic change, limited availability of staff and especially headteachers and the need for a fair disposition of resources, while continuing to support the communities in which the schools were situated. A strategic view need to be taken, based on the development of alternative models of provision rather than school closures.
129/06. CHARGING POLICY FOR ACTIVITIES IN SCHOOLS
(Agenda Item 10)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA10) which set out the recommendations of the Children's Services Scrutiny Committee following its review of the operation of the Charging in Schools Policy.
Councillor Fitzgerald-O’Connor, speaking as Chairman of the Children's Services Scrutiny Committee, commended the recommendations from the Committee and welcomed the views expressed in the letter from Abingdon Citizen’s Advice Bureau. She stated that while not within the Children's Services Scrutiny Committee’s remit, she would undertake to discuss with the Music Service how charging policy operated in relation to that service and communicate this information back to the Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor Waine expressed thanks to Mr Michael Hocken and Ms Karen Thomas of the Abingdon Citizen’s Advice Bureau for raising this issue and for their input. His detailed response to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau advice is set out in Annex 1 (download as .doc file) to these Minutes.
130/06. OXFORDSHIRE FIRE COVER REVIEW
(Agenda Item 11)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA11) on progress on the review of fire cover in Oxfordshire, as required by the Integrated Risk Management Plan.
131/06. REGISTRATION SERVICE SCRUTINY REVIEW
(Agenda Item 12)
The Cabinet considered the recommendations of the Community Safety Scrutiny Committee set out in an executive summary of its Registration Service Scrutiny Review (CA12) which had aimed to look at how the budget overspend was being tackled and to examine whether the accommodation available was suitable for such a customer-focused service.
Councillor Farrow, speaking as Chairman of the Community Safety Scrutiny Committee, commended the Review recommendations, referring in particular to financial pressures facing the Registration Service and issues relating to the accommodation at Macclesfield House in the context of the review of property assets.
Councillor Jelf thanked the Review Team for their work and congratulated the Registration Service on its achievement of an Oxfordshire Business of the Year customer and staff care award. His detailed response to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations is set out in Annex 2 (download as .doc file) to these Minutes.
132/06. SUPPORT FOR ADULT CARERS SCRUTINY REVIEW
(Agenda Item 13)
The Cabinet considered the recommendations of the Community Safety Scrutiny Committee set out in an executive summary of the Support for Adult Carers Scrutiny Review (CA13) which had sought to identify the local needs of carers and to assess if the services provided to carers were working effectively together and to what degree the Council complied with legislation and guidance.
Councillor Sanders commended the Review recommendations, emphasizing that there had been full agreement between the members of the Review Group, especially on the fundamental issue of the need for support for carers.
Councillor Couchman thanked the Review Team for their work. He agreed that support for carers was a matter of national concern and should be regarded as a mainstream service, but had to express caution in terms of the potential financial commitment involved. He felt that the issues need to be considered as a package in the context of financial planning for 2007/08 and future years. His detailed response to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations is set out in Annex 3 (download as .doc file) to these Minutes.
In response to a question raised in the course of debate, Mr Welch confirmed that there was full coordination between directorates on carer services for adults and for young people. Much was achieved in the latter group through schools and other youth services.
The Leader of the Council and Councillor Jelf withdrew for the remainder of the meeting to attend to other business.
Councillor Robertson in the Chair.
133/06. DEVELOPER CONTRIBUTIONS TO SERVICE INFRASTRUCTURE
(Agenda Item 14)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA14) which presented a summary of the developer contributions secured through the planning process for 2005/06. The report identified the amounts negotiated, received and spent throughout the year and considered a motion adopted by Council the previous year asking for greater information about developer contributions.
134/06. SEEDA: REGIONAL ECONOMIC STRATEGY
(Agenda Item 15)
The Cabinet considered a report (CA15) which summarised and commented on the second draft of the Regional Economic Strategy. The Strategy had been substantially altered from the version that had been considered by the Cabinet in February.
Councillor Robertson recalled and endorsed the concerns expressed by Councillor Purse earlier in the meeting.
RESOLVED: to approve the comments made in the report as the basis of feedback to SEEDA on the second draft Regional Economic Strategy for the South East.
135/06. EDUCATION PROJECT APPRAISAL - GOSFORD HILL SCHOOL
(Agenda Item 16)
The Cabinet had before it a detailed project appraisal in respect of improvements at Gosford Hill School, Kidlington (CA16). This project would address the need to improve the specialist Design & Technology (D&T) accommodation by providing the school a new 2-storey D&T facility containing a total of 6 D&T workshops.
RESOLVED: to approve detailed project appraisal ED641.
136/06. FORWARD PLAN AND FUTURE BUSINESS
(Agenda Item 17)
The Cabinet considered a list of items from the Forward Plan (CA17) for the immediately forthcoming meetings.
RESOLVED: to note the items identified for decision by the Cabinet and Cabinet Members.
in the Chair
of signing 2006