Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 1 March 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: This will be a virtual, online meeting.

Contact: Candida Mckelvey, Democratic Services Officer 

Link: This is a virtual meeting - you can watch it here

Items
No. Item

90.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

None.

91.

Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of items on the agenda for this meeting. 

 

Minutes:

None.

92.

Urgent business and chair's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chairman determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chairman. 

Minutes:

The chair ran through housekeeping for the virtual meeting.

93.

Public participation

To receive any questions or statements from members of the public that have registered to speak. 

Minutes:

Two public speakers were registered to speak about the car park order.

 

The first public speaker to present to the committee was Paul Harrison, a Henley resident. Mr Harrison spoke against the cabinet decision on the car park fees and charges. Opinions raised included;

  • Sunday parking was a tax on prayer
  • How would the council pay to enforce?
  • Concern over affecting Sunday trading
  • Electric car owners getting discounted charges. Most cannot afford to own an electric car.
  • Clarification was asked regarding the volume of church visitors. Mr Harrison responded that there are 6 churches that people, including out of area, come into the centre to visit.

 

The second speaker was Lee Upcraft, a Wallingford resident. He spoke against the Cabinet decision on car parking fees and charges. The opinions raised included:

  • Why a one size fits all approach?
  • There are good elements – but where is the evidence, cost analysis and impact analysis?
  • Sunday charging was opposed in the survey.
  • Sundays should be an opportunity to encourage visitors to come and spend money in the area.
  • Clarification was asked regarding the impact on traders and the fact that some stores had now closed.
  • Clarification was asked regarding the frequency of buses on a Sunday. Free parking was considered anti-bus – were more buses needed? It was responded by Mr Upcraft that most tourist visitors would not be using buses anyway.

 

94.

Call-in of Cabinet decision on car park order 2021 pdf icon PDF 185 KB

The Scrutiny Committee is asked to consider the call-in of a Cabinet key decision taken on 4 February 2021.  The decision relates to ‘Car park order 2021 – consultation results’. 

 

The call-in request was made by Councillor Ian White, Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, for the following reasons:

1.         At its meeting on 9 November 2020, the Scrutiny Committee asked that the report be brought back so that further consideration could be given following the public consultation, prior to a decision being made.  This point is noted but not addressed in the officer’s report. 

2.         Public concern over the consideration of their responses to the consultation, with especial concern for residents of Wallingford. 

 

The head of legal and democratic has accepted the call-in request as valid and has called this committee meeting to consider it.  The call-in request is deemed valid as it was made within the five days call-in period and seeks to scrutinise a key decision of Cabinet. 

 

The effect of this call-in is that the decision will not be implemented until Scrutiny Committee has considered the matter. 

 

In making the decision, Cabinet considered the attached report and appendices.  Cabinet also received advice from the Cabinet member for housing and environment, Councillor David Rouane, and officers at the Cabinet meeting. 

 

______________________________________________________________

 

 

Cabinet decision

 

The Cabinet decision taken on 4 February 2021 was as follows:

 

RESOLVED: to

 

(a)      note the comments received on the proposed South Oxfordshire District Council car parking order 2021 and agree to make the following changes:

·         Align all charging car parks in the centre of market towns of Didcot, Henley, Wallingford and Thame, as well as Goring, to all have up to one hour of free parking between the charging hours, and to amend charging hours to 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday in all car parks where a charge is made (including introducing free parking for up to one hour in Kings Road and Greys Road car parks, Henley), with the exception of Goldsmiths Lane car park in Wallingford which has up to two hours no charge, and to carry out annual usage surveys;

·         Change the current Mondays to Saturdays permitted parking period to charge on Sundays from 10am to 5pm in all car parks, including one hour free, with the exception of Goldsmiths Lane car park in Wallingford;

·         Introduce half priced parking permits for electric vehicles only, in line with those vehicles eligible for a discount from the London Congestion Charge (with the exception of Goldsmiths Lane car park in Wallingford);

·         Introduce limited waiting in High Street car park, Chinnor;

·         Introduce enforcement at charging points for electric vehicles;

 

(b)      authorise the head of legal and democratic to make the new order and to determine the date it comes into effect. 

 

______________________________________________________________

 

 

What can the Scrutiny Committee do?

 

In accordance with the Scrutiny Procedure Rules in the council’s Constitution, the Scrutiny Committee has the following options:

1.      The committee may refer the decision back to the decision-maker: Cabinet.  The committee must define  ...  view the full agenda text for item 94.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors Ian White and George Levy had called in the Cabinet decision of 4 February on the car park order. The Head of Legal and Democratic had accepted that this was a valid request. 

 

The reasons for the call-in were as follows:

  1. At its meeting on 9 November 2020, a member of the Scrutiny Committee asked that the car parking charges report be brought back so that further consideration could be given following the public consultation, prior to a decision being made.  The committee motioned to note the report and for comments made to be considered. This point is noted but not addressed in the officer’s report. 
  2. Public concern has been raised over the consideration of their responses to the consultation, with special concern for residents of Wallingford. 

 

Cabinet member for Housing and environment, Councillor David Rouane, introduced the item.

 

The Cabinet member explained that he considered fairness whilst producing this report. Regarding Wallingford concerns, there was a long-standing agreement with the Goldsmiths Lane car park, where there was two hours free parking and free Sunday parking. Wallingford Town Council objected to reduction in two other car parks. However, the Goldsmiths Lane arrangement should be ample to accommodate visitors.

Regarding the electric car charges – Wallingford was one of the towns under air quality management and encouraging electric car use was part of reducing pollution in the town centre.

Now, on Sundays, in response to comments, the Sunday charge has been reduced by one hour. Further research had been impeded by the pandemic, and car park usage was not as normal.

 

Questions of clarification on the report followed.

  • Cabinet member was asked to elaborate on the fairness issue – was there church representation in the survey? Cabinet member responded that he was willing to listen to special circumstances, but nothing was presented. The Wallingford concerns were mainly regarding visitors blocking car park spaces for shoppers.
  • Will there be further research? It was responded that in future there would be reviews. For Sunday, there was no data because there was no charging at present. The charging changes would help address the car park budget deficit. In 12 years, the price had not changed. The car parks need to cover the costs of running, not be in deficit. We were currently making a loss.
  • It was confirmed that the changes were to address the deficit and in the interest of fairness.
  • It was discussed that it had taken 18 months to get to this point and action was needed now. It had been through scrutiny committee and the Climate and Ecological Emergency committee already.
  • Officer added that car parks were in deficit, and parking costs should not fall on the taxpayer, but car park users instead. The car parks were not-for-profit. Fees were set to cover expenditure.
  • Cabinet did discuss the consultation, and changes were made in response.
  • The electric vehicle spaces were a work in progress, with an estimated 5-7 percent of spaces being dedicated currently.
  • The new plan would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 94.

95.

National Green Grant and capacity/abilities in South Oxfordshire Task And Finish Group pdf icon PDF 88 KB

This item has been added to the Scrutiny Committee agenda at the request of the Chair, Councillor Ian White. 

 

1)        To officially inform Scrutiny Committee of the creation of the National Green Grant. 

2)        The intention to invite Vale of White Horse District Council members to join a task and finish group to make it a joint piece of work.  (The Task and Finish Group’s Terms of Reference are attached)

3)        To invite members to make suggestions for the way forward. 

4)        To invite members to participate. 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Sam Casey-Rerhaye updated the committee on the progress of the task and finish group for green grants.

 

The group were looking for volunteers and they wanted to invite members of Vale of White Horse (VOWH) scrutiny committee, to make this a joint working project.

 

The Terms of Reference (ToR) had been circulated and no comments raised.

 

The group is looking to proactively tackle the lack of local expertise to retrofit green home features, such as heat source air pumps. Ideally, a retrofit officer would be in place. Work with Cosy Homes was also underway.

 

Deputy Chief Executive for Place added that officers were supporting this, and Elizabeth Kingdom had been recruited in the insight and policy team, joining Andy Egan as a Climate Action Lead officer, and she was in attendance at this committee meeting.

 

Chair confirmed he would write to the VOWH scrutiny chair to invite members.