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Contact: Khalid Ahmed, Committee Officer Tel: 07990 368048 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Link: videolink to meeting
Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments
An apology for absence was submitted by Councillor Bob Johnston (Councillor John Howson substituted).
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 17 June 2022 and to receive information arising from them.
The minutes of the meeting held on 17 June 2022 were agreed as a correct record.
The Cabinet is scheduled to consider the Property Strategy in November. The Committee is asked to consider the current proposals.
Cllr Calum Miller, Cabinet Member for Finance, Claire Taylor, Corporate Director – Customers, Organisational Development and Resources, and Vic Kurzeja, Director of Joint Property Services, have been invited to present the report and answer questions.
The Committee is recommended to consider the report and having raised any questions, to AGREE any recommendations it wishes to make to Cabinet accordingly.
Cllr Calum Miller, Cabinet Member for Finance, Claire Taylor, Corporate Director – Customers, Organisational Development and Resources, and Vic Kurzeja, Director of Joint Property Services, attended the meeting and gave the Committee a presentation on the Council’s Property Strategy proposals which were to be considered at Cabinet in November.
Members were informed the Council owned around 900,000 square metres of property assets across 905 sites. A significant part of this estate was controlled by third parties under long-term leasing arrangements, producing around £2.9m per annum of income through 353 lease arrangements.
There were three main asset portfolios - Community, Investment and Operational assets. The latter of which was divided into educational, non-educational and corporate assets.
The Property Strategy was an attempt to refresh the approach to the Council’s property assets which in recent years had seen relatively limited investment. Reference was made to many of the assets requiring sizeable investment to meet modern office and service delivery standards as well as the Council’s environmental obligations and ambitions.
The Committee was informed that the strategy had to take into consideration the worsening financial situation facing the Council, as well as the increase in agile working by staff following Covid, which had implications to the use of property assets by both staff and the public.
The Corporate Director for Customers, Culture and Corporate Services, informed Members on the progress of the report to Cabinet, which would be delayed by a month, to enable her greater oversight having only very recently assumed responsibility for the area within her directorate.
Issues raised by Members
· Members asked that with capital assets of £2.9 Billion, there should be detailed financial information on property contained in the report to Cabinet. Members asked that more information be brought back to the next meeting of this Committee.
· There was no comparative information with the previous strategy to enable to see where proposed changes were. Officers reported that proposed changes were mainly brought about because of Covid. The emphasis of the strategy was on consolidation and moving forward.
· Did the Council have enough staff to take the strategy forward? Officers replied that this was being considered as part of plans for delivery.
· Reference was made to schools on Council’s freehold sites and that these were not mentioned in the document. Particular reference was made to the recent High Court Case on the rebuilding of Nettlebed School and the financial impact of this. Therefore, when the Schools portfolio was considered, the Committee suggested that the impact of the recent court judgement over reversion clauses won by the Council be fully considered
· There were no costings of financial information for Members to analyse and the impact the proposals would have on the budget. With assets of £2.9 Billion, it would be good to see a breakdown of the costs to the Council of maintaining these. Officers would consider incorporating this information into the Cabinet report.
· There was a case for consolidation of office working space as there was flexibility within the Council’s ... view the full minutes text for item 24/22
To receive the recommendations from the peer review and to receive a presentation updating on work undertaken to date in response.
Susannah Wintersgill, Director of Strategy, Insight and Communications, will attend and give a short PowerPoint presentation on the Council’s response to the recommendation and actions taken so far.
Cllr Glynis Phillips, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, and Claire Taylor, Corporate Director – Customers, Organisational Development and Resources will also be available to answer questions.
The Committee is recommended to consider the report and, having raised any questions, to AGREE any recommendations it wishes to make to Cabinet accordingly.
The Committee was provided with a presentation on the outcomes of the recent LGA peer review of communications.
Councillor Glynis Phillips, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Claire Taylor, Corporate Director – Customers, Culture and Corporate Services, and Susannah Wintersgill, Director of Strategy Insight and Communications, attended the meeting to give the presentation.
Members were informed that the review took place as a result of some disquiet from some Members at the performance of the Communications Team. The review sought to clarify whether the current ways of working supported the strategic direction of the Council, the level of innovation in communications with both members and the public, whether the team was clear about the Council’s priorities, and the adequacy of the resourcing for the Communications function.
Details of the results which came back were reported to the Committee. Overall, the feedback received was positive with the reviewers praising the competence and leadership of the team with the level of resourcing found to be adequate.
Reference was made to further work being required to cultivate relationships with the diversity of media locally, whilst also building relationships at a regional and national level. Reference was made to the work carried out on Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) issue which took up much of the capacity highlighted as engulfing much of the Communication team’s capacity.
The key actions implemented as a response to the recommendations included:-
· the integration of Communications into strategic planning meetings
· the development of new Video and Media Strategies,
· trialling training on political awareness and
· a review of the Council’s digital presence.
Issues Raised by Members
· Communications should be embedded within the Council’s policy forming and implementation process from the very outset.
· The integration of Communications was critical to successful policy
development and implementation and should be a priority.
· Whilst recognising the professionalism of the Team, Members noted the recommendation that training on political awareness had been identified and commented that there needed to be a balance between the Team’s responsibility to communicate messages on behalf of the Council, and on behalf of the administration.
· There needed to be proactive communication of Scrutiny which would increase engagement.
It was agreed that the annual review on the Communications Team would come back to the Committee and be placed in the Committee’s work programme.
RESOLVED – That Cabinet is RECOMMENDED to note the observations made by the Committee.
The Committee has been requested by Cabinet to review the Citizens’ Jury report, detailing participant experience, the findings, and to consider whether and potentially how the Council might take the recommendations on board for future consultations.
Report authors Alison Chisholm, Qualitative Researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and Juliet Carpenter, Research Fellow at Kellogg College, will present the report.
Members of the Citizens’ Jury have been invited to attend in order to answer questions. Cllr Glynis Phillips, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Claire Taylor, Corporate Director – Customers, Organisational Development and Resources, and John Disley, Head of Transport Policy, will also be available to answer questions.
The Scrutiny Committee is recommended to
i) AGREE which recommendations from the report it endorses and inform Cabinet accordingly
ii) AGREE any further recommendations it wishes to make to Cabinet
NB the document is best read in two page mode, side-by-side.
The Committee received a presentation from the Citizens’ Jury report authors, Dr Alison Chisholm, Qualitative Researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Dr Juliet Carpenter, Research Fellow at Kellogg College, two Jury members, the Jury facilitator Paul Kahawatte, and Robert Weavers from the research team.
Councillor Glynis Phillips, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Claire Taylor, Corporate Director – Customers, Culture and Corporate Services, and John Disley, Head of Transport Policy, were also in attendance.
The Committee reviewed the Citizens’ Jury report, detailing participant experience, the findings, and considered how potentially the Council might take the recommendations on board for future consultations.
The presentation given provided details of the Citizens’ Jury make-up and process, documented the recommendations and proposals generated by the Jury and presented the process evaluation.
Reference was made to the recommendations which were identified in the report. Members noted that due to the Committee’s remit as the Scrutiny Committee responsible for corporate services, including consultation, focus should be on this area.
Members raised the following issues:
· There was a limitation of consulting only residents of Oxford, particularly when there was a large proportion of travel within the city from people who lived outside the city, which limited deliveries.
· The target audience was not in line with the population and therefore was not demographically representative.
· There were limitations of exploring proposals with no costings involved.
· It was noted that the recommendations made by the Citizen Jury were consensually agreed and were not agreed by majority of jurors.
The Committee asked that Cabinet adopts a clear policy in future on the use of Juries, and in particular, the location of juries within the Council’s decision-making process.
The Committee felt there was a lack of clarity over the status of the Citizens’ Jury recommendations, and their ongoing treatment within the wider Council’s processes. In addition, the recommendations made had no reference to the cost implications of the proposals.
There was opinion expressed by some Members at the value for money of Citizens’ Juries, particularly if used as an additional consultation method.
RESOLVED – (1) That the information be noted and the members of the Citizen’s Jury be thanked for the work carried out.
(2) That Cabinet be asked to adopt a clear policy on the future use of Juries and their place within the Council’s decision-making process.
To receive an update on the Committee’s proposed work programme for 2022/23.
The Committee is recommended to AGREE the proposed work programme
Members received an update on the Committee’s proposed work programme for 2022/23.
During discussion it was agreed that the following be added to the Committee’s future work programme:
· Law and Governance functions at an appropriate time
· Annual Review of the functions of the Communications Team
RESOLVED – That approval be given to the work programme.
The Committee is asked to NOTE the Cabinet’s responses made to:
- EDI Action Plan
The Committee noted the Cabinet’s responses made to this Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee is asked to NOTE the progress of previous recommendations and actions having raised any questions on the contents.