Skip to main content

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Council Offices, Woodgreen, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 1NB. View directions


No. Item


Apologies for Absence and Temporary Appointments


Apologies were noted from Councillors Nick Leverton, Michele Mead, Mathew Parkinson, Rizvana Poole and Alex Wilson.

Councillor Jeff Haine substituted for Councillor Alex Wilson.

Councillor Colin Dingwall substituted for Councillor Michele Mead.

Councillors Andy Goodwin and Carl Rylett were both absent.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations from Members of the Committee on any items to be considered at the meeting


There were no declarations of interest received.


Minutes of previous meeting

The draft minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2023 will be considered at the meeting on 10 January 2024.


The draft minutes of the meeting held on the 6 December 2023 will be considered at the meeting on 10 January 2024.


Participation of the Public

To receive any submissions from members of the public, in accordance with the Council’s Rules of Procedure.


There was no public participation.


Publica Review pdf icon PDF 221 KB


To outline the conclusions from the recent Strategic Review of Publica Services carried out by Human Engine on behalf of the four Publica Councils, and to consider the next steps.


The Committee agreed to hold an additional “Spotlight” meeting to consider this item.



That the Committee resolves to:

  1. Note the report.
  2. Make any comments or recommendations that the Committee wishes to make on the next steps for the Council and partners.



Councillor Andy Graham, Leader of the Council

Giles Hughes, Chief Executive Officer

Madhu Richards, Director of Finance

Andrea McCaskie, Director of Governance

Jonathon Noble, Managing Director of Human Engine (joining remotely)

Additional documents:


The Leader of the Council, Councillor Andy Graham introduced the Publica Review report and explained that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would have further opportunities to review progress at various stages in the new year. The next progress report was due early in the new year.

The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Andrew Beaney, explained to members that the Human Engine report would be summarised by Jonathon Noble, Managing Director of Human Engine first, followed by questions. Then the second part of the item would be to scrutinise the Executive recommendations and next steps in the process of transferring the majority of services delivered by Publica to the Council.

The Managing Director of Human Engineinformed the Committee that the Publica Review report reflected the Council’s Senior Team’s view that the majority of services should return to the Council. The Publica Senior Leadership Team viewed that services should remain with Publica.

The Committee asked a number of questions and noted that:

·         Some Services like, ICT, HR, and Payroll would remain with Publica but this could be reviewed again at a later date.

·         ICT at present had a high level of specialist expertise which was costly. There would be significant financial and other risks associated with returning this service to the Council at the same time as other services were being transitioned back to the Council.

·         The Council had thought that Publica was fairly responsive and local services were good. However, the other councils in the partnership had other views.

·         The Future Publica model included investment in technology but the Council could invest in technology themselves and many other councils were delivering savings in a similar way.

·         Publica had originally been established to provide an acceptable level of service at the lowest cost. Now the councils wanted a “turn key” style of operation.

·         A new Programme Director would be appointed to run the transition programme, supported by a Transition Team. This post would be funded and shared by all councils. The day rate for this interim post and which Council they would be employed by had not been decided upon, although this information should soon be available.

·         Communication to Councillors, the Councils’ management teams and all staff must be a key responsibility of the Transition Manager and each Council.

·         Communication to staff must be sensitively managed.

·         There was a lack in detail within the report, especially on costings. The financial implications would become clearer as transition and due diligence continues.

·         The Human Engine (HE) report helped the Council decide on the direction of travel for the future but only gave a high-level indication of the financial implications such as pension costs.


In the discussion about next steps the Committee noted that:

·         The councils would have free assistance and advice from the Local Government Association.

·         A new Council structure would be designed which would help with understanding staffing costs. Pension costs were the biggest variable. Each Council would adopt a new management structure, they did not need to be the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.