Meeting documents

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Return to Agenda






MINUTES of the meeting held on 21 October 2008 commencing at 2.00 pm and finishing at 3.55 pm.




Voting Members:          Councillor Keith R Mitchell CBE – in the chair


Councillor Roger Belson

Councillor Louise Chapman

Councillor Jim Couchman

Councillor Mrs J. Heathcoat

Councillor Ian Hudspeth

Councillor David Robertson

Councillor C.H. Shouler

Councillor Melinda Tilley

Councillor Michael Waine


Other Members in         Councillor Alan Armitage   (for Agenda Items 5 and 8)

Attendance:                   Councillor Zoe Patrick (for Agenda Items 6, 13 and 14)

                                          Councillor Colin Lamont (for Agenda Item 7)

                                          Councillor Jean Fooks (for Agenda Item 10)

                                          Councillor Lesley Legge (for Agenda Item 11

                                          Councillor Anda Fitzgerald-O’Conner (for Agenda Item 12)




Whole of meeting:           Chief Executive and S. Whitehead (Legal & Democratic Services).


Part of meeting:


Agenda Item

Officer Attending


Assistant Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer and L. Baxter (Financial Planning)



Deputy Chief Fire Officer


Assistant Head of Transport (Highway Management) 

8 and 15

Head of Property and M. Tailby (Property Services)


A. Milward (Property & Assets)


A. Smith (Early Years and Family Support)


Head of Community Services


J. Hehir (Policy & Performance)

13 and 14

Assistant Head of Legal and Democratic Services



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/the following additional documents: and decided as set out below.  Except insofar as otherwise specified, the reasons for the decisions are contained in the agenda, reports and schedule/additional documents, copies of which are attached to the signed Minutes.



100/08    MINUTES


Subject to the following amendments the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 September 2008 were approved and signed.


Present – Delete Councillor John Howell and replace by Councillor Melinda Tilley


91/08 (p4) third paragraph - should be Chilterns rail service, not Chilton


fourth paragraph - second sentence to read:


Cabinet stressed that work on the models should stop until there was clear agreement about who would pay.


fourth paragraph - third sentence    - come to read concerns


94/08 (p 6) second paragraph - penultimate sentence – local uses to read local users


third paragraph – Manlier to read Member


96/08 (p 8) second paragraph - second sentence – mattes to read matters


97/08 (p 8) third paragraph - second sentence – Conan to read concerns



(Agenda Item 5)


The Cabinet considered a report (CA5) that set out the Council’s forecast financial position for the 2008/09 financial year based on five months of actuals to the end of August 2008.  It included projections for revenue, balances, reserves and capital.  The report set out explanations where the forecast outturn was significantly different from the budget with action plans to recover the position where appropriate.


The in-year overspend for Directorates was forecast to be £1.677m.  The year-end forecast of general balances was £19.438m.  After taking into account the forecast Directorate outturn, the consolidated revenue balances forecast was £17.761m.


The projected in-year commitment on capital was estimated at £101.6m, compared with the July capital programme of £105.3m, a variation of -£3.7m. Actual expenditure to the end of August was £21.5m, 21% of projected spend.


The report also included an updated capital programme. The revised programme reflected the projected spend in 2008/09, as well as changes to phasing of schemes and revisions to capital receipts. 


The Cabinet considered a supplementary report outlining the recent turmoil in financial markets that had made managing investments within the existing credit matrix set out in the Treasury Management Strategy increasingly difficult and recommending changes to the strategy for recommendation to Council.


Councillor Alan Armitage, speaking as Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance referred to paragraph 20 of the main report that related to the energy contract for street lighting. He did not fault the approach being taken by officers to deal with the situation but asked that if there was to be an impact on road and pavement maintenance that there be proper public notice and consideration of the impact.


Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Cabinet Member for Transport, indicated that he had attended every Area Committee in the past month and so was aware of local feelings.


RESOLVED:         to:


(a)          note the report;


(b)          approve the virements as set out in Annex 2a;


(c)          recommend Council to approve:


(i)           the addition to the approved credit matrix of any nationalised bank which has a government guarantee for wholesale deposits, with maturities up to the period of the guarantee, up to a limit of £15m;

(ii)          the increase to the lending limit for the Debt Management Account Deposit Facility to 100% of the investment portfolio;

(iii)         an increase to the level of funds placed externally with Investec by £20m.  These additional funds will be held in a sub-fund which invests in UK Sovereign Issues, Government Gilts and European Supranationals (traded in Sterling);

(iv)         the revised tables of specified and non-specified investments as set out in the supplementary report;

(v)          any further changes required to the credit matrix be delegated to the Chief Finance Officer after consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and leaders of the Opposition and other groups.


(d)          approve the changes to the capital programme as set out in paragraphs 51 to 56 and the updated programme at Annex 7.



(Agenda Item 6)


The Cabinet considered a progress report (CA6) as requested by Cabinet in November 2007 in relation to the severe flooding in Oxfordshire in July 2007.


Councillor Zoe Patrick, speaking as the Leader of the Opposition welcomed the report. She referred to paragraph 16 in relation to future legislation and stated that she did not welcome additional responsibilities being placed on the Council without the necessary funding to do the job.


RESOLVED:         to:


(a)          note the contents of this report and ask the Chief Fire Officer to provide the Cabinet with a further update of progress of the Local Resilience Forum in relation to flood planning;


(b)          ask the Chief Fire Officer to report to Cabinet on options for ensuring Fire and Rescue operational response and resilience concerning water related incidents; and


(c)          ask the Chief Fire Officer to report to Cabinet should legislation be introduced which places further or new statutory responsibilities on the functions/services within Community Safety.



(Agenda item 7)


The Cabinet considered the Scrutiny Review of Flooding (Executive Summary at CA7). The final report drew together a range of evidence on how to mitigate the effects of flooding and detailed a set of practical recommendations to enable Oxfordshire County Council to mitigate the risk that future floods may present to Oxfordshire’s installations, its people and their property.


Councillor Lamont, speaking as the Lead Member of the Review, introduced the contents of the report, stressing that it was a series of small practical measures designed to prevent damage to people and property. He stressed that one of the aims was to encourage and educate the public about their responsibility to take measures to protect themselves.


The Cabinet Member for Transport responding to the recommendations congratulated the Fire and Rescue Service on their response to the severe flooding last year. Referring to the recommendations he stated that he accepted them all. Work was already underway on a number of them with many of them being incorporated in the work programme. He referred to the pressure from Government on local authorities to lead the response to flooding but alongside that was a lack of funding. He added that the recommendations in relation to lobbying Government and partner organisations would be carried out by himself.


The Leader noted that there were recommendations for partner organisations and he hoped that the tracking of progress would include actions taken by partners in response to these recommendations.


RESOLVED:          to respond to the Environment & Economy Scrutiny Committee as set out above.



(Agenda Item 8)


The Cabinet considered the annual report (CA8) detailing the performance of the Council’s property portfolio from April 2007 to March 2008.  The report included benchmarking information and targets for 2008/09. Consideration was also given to the comments from the Corporate Governance Scrutiny Committee as set out in the addenda.


              Councillor Alan Armitage, speaking as Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance questioned whether there was the capacity in primary places within the City of Oxford as there had been only 5 spare places available this autumn. Councillor Waine, Cabinet Member for Schools Improvement noted that the figures in the report covered the period up to 31 March 2009. He added that the acceptance of a place did not always mean that a place would be taken up.


              During discussion the Cabinet Member for Finance emphasised that steady progress was being made with a continued reduction in unfit properties. Reactive urgent maintenance as a percentage of all maintenance was going down with the percentage of planned maintenance increasing.


RESOLVED:          to note the report.



(Agenda Item 9)


The Cabinet considered a report (CA9) which outlined the informal and formal consultation procedure together with the responses and implications in order that a Statutory Notice in respect of the opening of a new foundation Stage unit (Nursery Class) at Radley CE Primary School could be considered for determination by the Cabinet as ‘decision maker’, or rejected or approved with modification. 


Note: As set out under Rule 17(a) of the Scrutiny Procedure Rules, this decision was exempt from Call-In as it was deemed urgent and any delay would seriously prejudice the Council’s interests, in that the Cabinet’s role would be negated by referral to the Schools’ Adjudicator if the decision was not taken within two months of the publication of the Statutory Notice, in this case being 18 January 2008.


RESOLVED:         to approve the proposals.



(Agenda Item 10)


The Cabinet considered a report (CA10) seeking member support for the revised proposals in relation to the provision of Children’s Centres 


The report outlined progress to date in identifying sites, where locations had yet to be found, and how the risks associated with the programme would be managed to seek approval for the strategy of capital allocations and the proposed indicative funding for each project.


Councillor Jean Fooks speaking as Shadow Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Families welcomed the update and the continuation of mobile services but expressed concern that there were not identified sites in all areas and that funding for satellites remained unidentified. It would be helpful to see a timetable. Referring in particular to paragraph 14 Councillor Fooks queried how the proposals set out there supported ‘real choice’.


During discussion the Cabinet noted that the programme was now in Phase 3 and that it was positive in that it was focussed on making a difference by early intervention. It was noted that the hubs and satellites would give real choice to families in Oxfordshire by improving access to services.


RESOLVED:         to endorse the revised approach and proposals contained within this report.



(Agenda Item 11)


The Cabinet considered a report (CA11), which summarised the outcomes of the Fundamental Service Review of Cultural Services and sought Cabinet approval of its recommendations.  The review covered the following: Library Service, Heritage Services, Music Service, arts and recreation development, management, policy and performance.  The Adult Learning and Registration Services were not included in the scope.


Councillor Lesley Legge, speaking as a member of the Music Service House Committee expressed concern over the future staffing and finance of the Museums Service. She hoped that the proposals on page 13 would be fully considered by the Scrutiny Committee. She referred to the valuable work of the Music Service and the inspirational nature of its work with children. She believed that a semi-independent service would not work and she undertook to provide the Cabinet Member for Social & Community Services with details of other authorities where it had not been successful.


RESOLVED:         to:


(a)          note the conclusions of the Fundamental Service Review of cultural services contained in Annex 1; and


(b)          approve the following recommendations 1 to 7:


Recommendation 1.  The Library Service should adopt a strategy for the next five years based on the service’s core activities and the three principles of value for money, partnership, and customer focus.  In particular the strategy should focus on improving key service points where there is the highest level of customer use (town and city libraries and areas of significant population growth), engage with communities to en­sure that library services are delivered in the most cost-effective manner for the tax payer, and explore alternative means of delivery such as collocation with other facilities and use of technology.


Recommendation 2.  The Museums Service should focus its strategy on:

·     developing the Oxfordshire Museum as an attraction, through the provision of new and changing exhibitions and activities, partnership with the Soldiers of Oxford­shire, and improved welcome to visitors;

·          identifying suitable alternative use and management arrangements for Cogges Manor Farm, achieving revenue savings for the County Council;

·          creating one learning and outreach team to work across Heritage and Arts Services;

·          a more rigorous approach to collections management, including a reduc­tion in the range of collections, in accordance with professional standards and practice.


Recommendation 3.  The Archives Service and Oxfordshire Studies should be brought under a unified management. Family and local history resources should be brought together at the County Record Office on a short-term basis for the temporary closure of the Central Library.  Although the refurbished Central Library will provide good local studies resources as an integral and important element of the new service, the longer-term prospect of a combined “History Centre” approach, potentially in partnership with the University of Oxford and others, should be explored further.


Recommendation 4.  County Council revenue support for the Oxfordshire Victoria County History should continue at present level until March 2011.  Officers should work with the VCH Trust and others to identify options for the longer-term continuation of the project in the county.


Recommendation 5.  The Music Service should continue to improve its earned income through fees, further improvement in management efficiency, and external sponsorship in order to further reduce the need for County Council revenue subsidy.  The service should explore the possibility of eventual independent trust status.


Recommendation 6.  Arts grants should be focused on core funding strat­egic partners who can demonstrate their ability to deliver outcomes aligned to the county’s Sustain­able Community Strategy.  Funding partnerships should be regularly reviewed, with the opportunity of a managed refreshment of the portfolio of organisations funded.  Assistance should be given to arts and other cultural organisations to source project funding from elsewhere.


Recommendation 7.  Oxford Inspires should be approached with a view to their manag­ing the administration of the arts grants as part of a partnership agreement with the County Council.




(Agenda Item 12)


The Cabinet considered a Scrutiny Review report (Executive Summary at CA12) which explored the effectiveness of efforts to achieve a single point of access for people in need of care, for instance upon leaving hospital.  It looked at the role of the Access Team in Social & Community Services and of other agencies in the provision of care and at efforts to improve information flow and co-ordination. The Review report made a range of recommendations based upon the evidence gathered.


Councillor Anda Fitzgerald-O’Conner, Lead Member for the Review introduced the contents of the report.


The Cabinet Member for Social & Community Services proposed acceptance of recommendations 1 – 9. He noted that many of the recommendations were in train or had happened. He noted that patient confidentiality was always a difficult topic. In respect of recommendation 10 he was unable to recommend acceptance as it was not appropriate at this time to engage in a joint statement. He noted that the Chief Executives met regularly to discuss the situation. The Chief Executive added that reporting lines were beginning to come together and staff were being recruited.


RESOLVED:         to respond to the Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee as set out above.



(Agenda Item 13)


The Cabinet considered a report (CA13) on draft guidance in relation to the role of ‘Member Champion’, including a person specification/role description and reporting framework, for recommendation to Council for approval.


Councillor Zoe Patrick speaking as the Leader of the Opposition welcomed that the role was set out and that there was an expectation that there would be reports. The Leader indicated that there would be at least annual reports from Member Champions but that there was no intention to be prescriptive. He added that the existing Member Champions would remain in place for the remainder of the term. 


RESOLVED:         to RECOMMEND to Council that the Constitution be amended to include the role of Member Champion (on the basis of the duties and the means of appointment as set out in paragraph 11 of the report and the guidance at Annex 1).



(Agenda Item 14)


The Cabinet considered a report (CA14) on what executive arrangements the council should operate after the 2009 Elections. The report also contained proposals in relation to the calling of extraordinary meetings of the Council.


Councillor Zoe Patrick speaking as Leader of the Opposition expressed disappointment that the proposals would not be implemented until after the 2009 elections. She spoke against recommendation (b(iv)) below as she felt that some members would welcome proposals for Member budgets and noted that she believed that Oxfordshire County Council was unique amongst southern councils in not having any delegated budgets in place. She believed that if nothing happened then it would be a missed opportunity.


During discussion the Cabinet Member for Finance suggested that if the Council was to have an Executive Leader then Cabinet Members should be known as Executive Members.


RESOLVED:         to:


(a)         recommend to Council to amend Section D, Council Procedure Rules, rule 4 of the Constitution as follows:


(i)                 Add the words “or in the case of an extraordinary meeting such other appropriate venue as the Chairman may determine after consultation with Group Leaders” after the first bullet point “be held at County Hall, Oxford”

(ii)               After “at 10:00 am” in the second bullet point, add “or in the case of an extraordinary meeting such other time as the Chairman may determine after consultation with Group Leaders”.


(b)         With regard to the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, the Cabinet is RECOMMENDED to recommend to Council:


(i)                  To comply with the government’s instruction to adopt the “strong leader” model and to amend the constitution to provide for the Leader of the Council:

(a)               to be elected by the Council for the full term of the Council;

(b)               to determine the size of the Cabinet;

(c)               to appoint members of the Cabinet; and

(d)               To allocate all executive functions.


(ii)                To maintain the policy and budget framework as set out in the current constitution.


(iii)              To note the Leader of the Council’s decision to delegate executive functions to Cabinet Members as they are currently delegated in the Constitution.


(iv)              Not to delegate any non-executive functions to individual members of the Council.


(v)                To maintain the local choice functions as set out in Section H of the Council’s Constitution.


(vi)              To note that there are a number of methods by which members may ask for issues to be addressed and to await government guidance before considering implementing a process for a Councillor Call for Action.


(c)          Cabinet believes many members will be irritated and annoyed by the prescriptive nature of this legislation; by the short timescale in which it must be implemented; and by the inconvenience of having to convene a separate Council meeting to debate it and RECOMMENDS Council to ask the Leader of the Council to write to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government expressing this view. 



(Agenda Item 15)


The Cabinet considered for approval a Project Appraisal (CA15) supplementing the previous approval for £2.018 million.


The Cabinet Member for Finance referred to a request by the Environment & Economy Scrutiny Committee to include works to the Council Chamber. He noted that this supplementary appraisal was not about that part of the building and that a separate project may need to be considered.


RESOLVED:         to approve additional expenditure of £675,000 for replacement ceilings, improved reception and other increased costs giving a total capital cost of £ £2,693,000.



(Agenda Item 16)


The Cabinet considered a list of items (CA16) for the immediately forthcoming meetings of the Cabinet and the amended forward plan as detailed in the schedule of addenda. 


RESOLVED:         to note the items currently identified for forthcoming meetings.



................................................................................... in the Chair


Date of signing.................................................................. 2008


Return to TOP