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To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 10 December 2021 and to receive information arising from them.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 10 December 2021 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Budget and Business Planning 2022/23: Capital and investment strategies: Strategic plan - proposed priorities and objectives: Budget consultation findings PDF 246 KB
The Performance and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee is invited to consider and comment on the following documents attached as annexes:
• Budget consultation 2022/23 findings (Section 2.1) and the draft strategic plan (Section 2.2) with accompanying engagement feedback on the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance’s priorities (Section 2.3)
• The Capital and Investment Strategy (Section 5.1), incorporating
i. The Treasury Management Strategy and Annual Investment Strategy 2022/23 (Section 5.2)
ii. The Investment Strategy for Property Investment 2022/23 (Section 5.3)
iii. The Property Strategy (Section 5.4)
• Proposed additions to the Capital Programme (Section 5.5)
• The Draft Capital Programme 2022/23 to 2031/32 (Section 5.6)
The Committee was asked to consider and comment on the Council’s Capital and Investment Strategy, capital programme and supporting strategies, as part of the Committee’s scrutiny of the Council’s overall budget proposals for 2022-2023.
Members were provided with the following documents:
· Budget consultation 2022/23 findings and the draft strategic plan with accompanying engagement feedback on the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance’s priorities
· The Capital and Investment Strategy which incorporated: -
I. The Treasury Management Strategy and Annual Investment Strategy 2022/23
II. The Investment Strategy for Property Investment 2022/23
III. The Property Strategy
IV. Proposed additions to the Capital Programme
V. The Draft Capital Programme 2022/23 to 2031/32.
The Committee was informed that on 18 January 2022, the Cabinet would consider the proposed revenue budget for 2022/23, the Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2025/26 alongside the Capital and Investment Strategy. In addition, Cabinet would be asked to consider a Budget Scrutiny report and recommendations from this committee, to be finalised and agreed later on the agenda for this meeting.
Councillor Calum Miller - Cabinet Member for Finance attended the meeting and introduced the item. The Committee was informed that the Capital and Investment Strategy was an overarching strategy that brings together the strategies that drive the Capital Programme, the Investment Strategy and the Treasury Management Strategy.
There were seven strands to the proposed Council Capital Strategy:-
· Pupil Place Plan
· Major Infrastructure
· Highways and Structural Maintenance
· Property and Estates
· ICT Strategy
· Passported Funds
· Vehicles and Equipment.
Points Raised by the Committee
· In relation to borrowing to cover contingency funds, Members were informed that when to borrow was down to the judgement of the Treasury Management advisers. Borrowing would not take place in advance unless advised to do so.
· In the Capital Programme Investment Overview, Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, the extra £6m additional funding from the Council was relative to other parties. Savings would be achieved as a result of improvements to bus journey times expected to be achieved through the Bus Service Improvement Plan.
· The Capital requirement was increasing with changes to the cost of borrowing requirements and increases in interest rates.
· Property and Estates: Concern was expressed at the costs of invest to save and the return on the investment.
· Reference was made to the contingency of £50m and a Member expressed concern at the inability to scrutinise this figure due to a lack of financial detail.
· In relation to contingencies and the budgeted £50m, the Cabinet Member informed the Committee that this was based on future risks and pressures and had to be estimated.
· In response to a question regarding SEND provision in the capital programme, Members were informed that there was capital provision for two new SEND schools and to improve facilities in mainstream schools. The future plans for SEND provision were currently out for consultation.
· Regarding the governance of the capital programme, this would be more robust in the future to ensure better scrutiny.
The Committee was provided with a document which set out the ... view the full minutes text for item 2/22
Consultation and Engagement Strategy 2022 - 2025 PDF 199 KB
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the draft consultation and engagement strategy 2022 - 2025, which will be considered at Cabinet on 15 February 2022.
The Committee is RECOMMENDED to
a) consider the contents of the draft strategy and provide feedback to the Cabinet lead member for corporate services, the corporate director for customers organisational development and resources and supporting officers; and
b) endorse the content of the strategy.
The Committee considered a report which provided an overview of the draft consultation and engagement strategy 2022 - 2025, and was asked to provide any comments, suggestions or scrutiny recommendations on the draft Strategy, to the Cabinet meeting on 15th February 2022.
The Cabinet Member for Corporate Services introduced the report and informed Members that the strategy set out a new approach to consultation and engagement at Oxfordshire County Council, putting residents at the heart of decision-making to support strong active and inclusive communities.
There were two key aims: - i) to engage with and listen to residents and other partners in a more active and inclusive way and ii) to widen the Council’s reach so that diverse communities and audiences could be listened to.
Reference was made to a detailed action plan, which had been developed, with clear targets and measures, to ensure that progress was on track and there was a continued commitment to two-way engagement with residents. This would be updated on an annual basis
Points Raised by the Committee
· The list of people consulted should include the working class and those who had English as a second language. In response, Members were informed that community groups would be consulted and those in the community who were seldom heard.
· There should be a reflective statement in the strategy whereby reference could be made to the areas in the past, the Council have been criticised on, and the improvements which would be made to the Council’s consultation and engagement with residents.
· There were many consultations which operated within a timeframe, on a particular topic, could consideration be given to a general consultation which took place throughout the year asking residents for comments/ views on the Council. Reference was made to ‘Let’s Talk Oxfordshire’ which gave residents an opportunity to comment on the Council and to receive feedback.
· There needed to be a cultural shift on consultation, as sometimes consultation took place, for the sake of consultation. Residents could be asked for their views on what they wanted the Council to do. A framework on consultation needed to be built into the planning process of projects.
· Local Members should be included prior to consultations to ensure local expertise and knowledge was utilised and to keep local Members informed. Additionally, local Members should be included in the design of consultations.
· Discussion took place on the term “customer” and Members were informed that this was the preferred term of officers from customer services for residents
· The target of 10% respondents to consultations was the guide on best practise for engagement with residents and Members felt this should be more ambitious.
· The timelines for improvements to be made were ambitious but the Communications Team had been allocated extra resource to achieve the improvements.
The Chair informed Members that the comments and recommendations of this Committee would be referred to Cabinet for consideration at their meeting of 15 February 2022 and that Cabinet would be asked to respond to the Committee.
RESOLVED – ... view the full minutes text for item 3/22
Budget Scrutiny Report PDF 218 KB
The purpose of this report is to provide the Performance & Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee with its DRAFT Budget Scrutiny Report following the consideration of the Cabinet Budget Proposals on the 10 December 2021.
The Committee is RECOMMENDED to
(a) Consider the DRAFT Budget Scrutiny Report for submission to Council attached at Appendix A
(b) Agree a Budget Scrutiny Report for submission to Council at its budget setting meeting.
Members were provided with this Committee’s draft Budget Scrutiny Report which had been developed following the consideration of the Cabinet Budget Proposals at this Committee’s meeting on 10 December 2021.
The Committee was asked to consider and agree the draft Budget Scrutiny Report at Appendix A for submission to Cabinet on 18th January 2022 and to Full Council at its budget setting meeting on 8th February 2022.
RESOLVED – That the Budget Scrutiny Report be agreed and submitted to Cabinet and Council for consideration.