The Head of Policy and Public Affairs introduced the report of the Director: Policy, Strategy and Partnerships.
· Members commended the report and information made available commenting that this was a positive and helpful way of presenting an item and should be used as an example for future scrutiny topics
· The Board noted that the views of the Corporate Strategy Member Working Group had been clearly incorporated into the report, which was welcomed
· Members queried the date of the Quality of Life Survey used within the evidence base for the Strategy. Officers advised that the Strategy had been informed by last year’s Quality of Life Survey, and that due to the annual timing of the survey, this year’s results would feed into future plans, including the annual Business Plan.
· The Chair referred to HC2 ‘Lower Carbon Homes’ and queried the decision to amend the phrase ‘we will deliver carbon neutral homes’ to ‘we will deliver lower carbon homes’. Members were advised that this was to ensure commitments were achievable, but this would be referred to the service lead for a full response.
· There was a discussion around the number of responses to the consultation, including low rates in disadvantaged areas. . Members enquired about the approach taken to engage people and heard that COVID-safe practices placed some restrictions on how the team could reach out to communities and that the usual activities such as physical presence in public spaces, could not take place.
· A Member raised the point that Ward Councillors had not been identified within the ‘Community Participation’ section, and recommended that the role of elected Councillors to enable participation should be recognised and utilised within the Strategy.
· The Chief Executive advised the Board that the Council had a good record of outreach and engagement; for example with the award winning budget consultations that had taken place. He added that Corporate Strategies tended to attract low interest from the public due to their generality, and it was noted that the response rate was higher than that of the previous Corporate Strategy consultation.
· Members referred to HC5 ‘Community Participation’, welcoming the commitment to the importance of investment into the sector, and asked about the funding for ‘greater investments in community-based organisations…’ Members were advised this would be referred to the appropriate officer.
· The Board referred to ENV3 ‘Cleaner Bristol’ and welcomed the commitments, which included making it easier for people living in flats to recycle and increasingthe number of fly-tipping and litter enforcement officers.
· Clarification was sought on the rationale behind the decision to change the title of ENV3 ‘Waste Reduction’ to ‘Cleaner Bristol’; that the terms were not interchangeable and meant different things, and so there should be clarity on the commitment to one or both of these. Members were advised the heading was changed to ‘Cleaner Bristol’ as a result of the consultation and discussions which suggested the original term ‘Waste Reduction’ was not broad enough.
· Members asked for clarity on what was meant by ‘economic growth’, and were advised that the Corporate Strategy was centred around inclusive and sustainable economic growth as described within the document.
· The reference to the role of scrutiny in section ED05 ‘Good Governance’ was endorsed by Members.
· Members queried specificity about the Council’s contributions to the One City Plan, and heard that these were currently identified in detail within the annual Business Plan and this would continue. It was noted that the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board would consider the Business Plans later in the Municipal Year.
· It was suggested that a more explicit reference to social enterprise and social value within the Strategy would be helpful. Members were advised to consider the Strategy in conjunction with the Council’s other policy documents, in this case the Social Value Policy.
· It was noted that the pandemic had highlighted financial exclusion as a particular challenge and Members recommended a specific focus on this area within the Strategy.
· The Board commented that community resilience was important within the context of COVID-19 recovery as set out in the Corporate Strategy, and that now was a good opportunity to underline the need for focus on this area.
· It was recommended that there should be more content and detail about the role of the Council owned Companies, and the Council’s relationship with them.
· There was a discussion around CYP3 ‘Equity in education’ and there was a concern that there was a disproportionate focus on universities, and there should be a greater emphasis on further education and other pathways to skills and employment. The Chair recommended that this section should be reviewed and noted that the Member Working Group had made similar points.
· A Member recommended that the ambitions within the TC2 ‘Improved Bus Services’ section should have been reviewed within the context of the recent withdrawal of the No.5 bus service, which served areas of Bristol with the lowest rates of car ownership.
· Members referred to TC3 ‘Safe and Active Travel’ and there was a recommendation that the word ‘connected’ was inserted where there was reference to ‘segregated’ networks for both cyclists and pedestrians.
· The Head of Policy and Public Affairs advised Members that the intention was that this would be a high-level strategy with aspirations and ambitions for the next five years, and that the detail would come from the Council’s business planning process, which Members would review in the new year.
· Members were told that their engagement in the development of the strategic documents was appreciated and valuable.
· Members commended the process, and the way Officers had engaged with Members.
· Members recommended that, when the document referred to areas of land (for example ‘42 Sq miles’ cited in the Foreword), comparisons and examples should be used so as to provide the reader with a sense of scale.
· Examples of typographical errors were raised and Members were advised that this was a working draft and all detail would be proofed before finalisation.