Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet
Monday, 18th November, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping

Contact: A. Hendry (Democratic Services)  Tel: (01992) 564246 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

56.

Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast and Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking.

 

The Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the Internet and will be capable of subsequent repeated viewing, with copies of the recording being made available for those that request it.

 

By being present at this meeting, it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in your image becoming part of the broadcast.

 

You should be aware that this may infringe your human and data protection rights. If you have any concerns then please speak to the Webcasting Officer.

 

Please could I also remind Members to activate their microphones before speaking.”

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of Council made a short address to remind everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the internet, and would be capable of repeated viewing, which could infringe their human and data protection rights.

 

 

57.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on this agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest pursuant to the Council’s Code of Member Conduct.

 

 

58.

Reports of Portfolio Holders

To receive oral reports from Portfolio Holders on current issues concerning their Portfolios, which are not covered elsewhere on this agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)          The Strategic Projects Portfolio Holder gave a short update on his portfolio. He noted that the broadband fibre service continued to be rolled out in our area. Also, members of the Leadership team and the digital innovation zone members visited Adastral Park, the BT and IT research facility in Suffolk, to see what the digital future could look like in action and what the potential was to improve services to our residents.

 

We had also been advised that East Devon District Council had developed an ‘Alexa’ App. to deal with waste services, providing information on such things as where to recycle and how to recycle. This was something that we were also looking at to develop for ourselves.

 

(b)          The Planning Services Portfolio Holder updated the meeting on an item that had been raised in the past on pre-applications and notifications to members. They were still working on the ‘Crystal’ reports to run successfully. In the meantime, each Friday they will produce a list manually and email this out to members.

 

(c)           The Community and Partnership Services Portfolio Holder noted that they had recently held a very successful Economic Development Growth meeting, attended by about 75 people. This would lead on to the Nurturing Growth document and he was looking forward to receiving responses back on this.

 

 

59.

Public Questions and Requests to Address the Cabinet

To receive any questions submitted by members of the public and any requests to address the Cabinet.

 

(a)        Public Questions

 

To answer questions asked by members of the public after notice in accordance with the provisions contained within Part 4 of the Constitution (Council Rules, Rule Q3) on any matter in relation to which the Cabinet has powers or duties or which affects the District.

 

(b)       Requests to Address the Cabinet

 

Any member of the public or a representative of another organisation may address the Cabinet on any agenda item (except those dealt with in private session as exempt or confidential business) due to be considered at the meeting, in accordance with the provisions contained within Article 7 of the Constitution (The Executive, Paragraphs 27 and 28).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet noted that no public questions or requests to address the Cabinet had been received for consideration at the meeting.

 

 

60.

LGA Corporate Peer Review pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Cabinet to receive a presentation from Gary Hughes, Principle Advisor from the Local Government Association (LGA) on what a Corporate Peer Review is, the benefits of the review, who is involved and the process, timings of the review and subsequent report publication. Corporate Peer Reviews are flexible and the overall aim is to challenge and share learning to support EFDC in their improvement journey.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet received a short presentation from Gary Hughes a Local Government Association (LGA) Principal Advisor on what a Corporate Peer Review was, the benefits and the process involved (a copy of his presentation is attached). He noted that his colleague Kirsty Human would be this council’s Peer Challenge Manager, but she was away at another council at present and so could not be here.

 

Mr Hughes noted that the LGA was the national voice of local government and they aimed to influence and set the political agenda on the issues that matter to councils.  They have a sector led improvement offer that cover what councils do and as they were a demand led organisation they would work with them to deliver improvements. They have three types of offers to members; 1) a universal offer open to all their members; 2) a bespoke offer for councils that need more in-depth support; and 3) intensive offer, where they would help and support council that were working towards significant improvements. They would do this through a range of activities including mentoring, leadership development and peer challenge. They also use lessons learned by councils and share these experiences with other councils that need help. They do this by working with their peers, officers with officers and members to members and providing support and challenges to each council as a critical friend. He emphasised that they were not inspectors or assessors and did not give a score, it was all about support and improvement. The people doing your peer review know what it’s like working in local government now, not ten years ago but now. They would know the challenges that you face, the financial issues and demands made on you.

 

A peer challenge was voluntary, commissioned by a council to aid their improvement. It involves a small team of local government peers spending time in another council to challenge and share their learning to aid improvement. They would engage with a wide range of people connected with the council and work on triangulation, where if someone says something to them they note it, if two people say the same it becomes more interesting and if three people say the same they take it as evidence and investigate it further; three points of evidence. They would spend four days on site and on their final day their findings would be delivered verbally back to the council.

 

They would like a council to prepare a position statement for their team at the outset along with key documents that were normally produced by the council. Outcomes (the feedback and the report) from this review are for the council, but they would ask that these are also published

 

Mr Hughes noted that a start date of 27 January 2020 had been agreed upon and he would ask the council to develop an onsite timetable that also listed who to visit and a formal position statement. It should be open and honest and not stage managed. The council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.

61.

Overview and Scrutiny

To consider any matters of concern to the Cabinet arising from the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny function and to identify any matters that the Cabinet would like the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to examine as part of its work programme.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee was not present as there had been no meeting prior to this cabinet. However, the Leader noted that there was a major Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 19th January with some important reports going to it.

 

 

62.

Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee - 10 October 2019 pdf icon PDF 122 KB

(Commercial and Regulatory Portfolio Holder) To consider the attached minutes from the meeting of the Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee, held on 10 October 2019, and any recommendations therein.

 

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet noted and agreed the minutes of the Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee meeting of 10 October 2019.

Minutes:

The Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder introduced the minutes from the Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee meeting held on 10 October 2019.

 

Decision:

 

The Cabinet noted and agreed the minutes of the Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee meeting of 10 October 2019.

 

 

63.

Local Plan Cabinet Committee - 17 October 2019 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

(Planning Services Portfolio Holder) To consider the attached minutes from the meeting of the Local Plan Cabinet Committee, held on 17 October 2019, and any recommendations therein.

 

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet noted and agreed the minutes of the Local Plan Cabinet Committee meeting of 17 October 2019.

Minutes:

The Planning Services Portfolio Holder introduced the minutes from the Local Plan Cabinet Committee meeting held on 17 October 2019.

 

Decision:

 

The Cabinet noted and agreed the minutes of the Local Plan Cabinet Committee meeting of 17 October 2019.

 

 

64.

Statement of Community Involvement pdf icon PDF 368 KB

To consider the attached report (C-019-2019-20).

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet agreed that the Statement of Community Involvement be adopted.

 

 

Minutes:

The Planning Services Portfolio Holder introduced the report on the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).

 

The meeting noted that the preparation of an SCI was a legal requirement of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 as amended by the Planning Act 2008, the Localism Act 2011 and the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017. The legislation required the Council to prepare a statement setting out how it would notify and consult the community and other stakeholders in the preparation and review of planning policy which included: the Local Plan; supplementary planning documents; neighbourhood plans; policy such as that contained in master plans; and in the consideration of planning applications. A draft Statement of Community Involvement was considered by Cabinet on 13 June 2019 and it was agreed to publish for a six-week period of public consultation.  This took place between Monday 1 July 2019 and 13 August 2019.  This report set out the responses to the consultation and proposed final Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) for adoption.

Councillor J H Whitehouse remarked that the SCI had a description of notifications and site notices for proposed applications. She noted that she had complaints that not all neighbours received letters and wondered if we could make more use of ‘yellow notices’ out on the streets. The Portfolio Holder said that he would not want to do that. The Council only used ‘yellow notices’ when they were really needed. However, applications are advertised in the weekly list of applications which is sent to local newspapers and notified to all Parish and Town councils. There has to be a cut-off point in notifying neighbours and there is now a good balance.

 

Decision:

 

The Cabinet agreed that the Statement of Community Involvement be adopted.

 

 

Reasons for Proposed Decision:

 

To comply with the statutory requirement to review the SCI every five years and to update the SCI to include recent changes in legislation and practice.

 

Other Options for Action:

 

Not to adopt a new SCI. This would mean that the Council was not meeting the legislative requirements and was not seeking an up to date, fit for purpose, statement regarding the engagement of stakeholders and the public in the planning service and system. 

 

 

65.

Implementation of the Local Plan - Update on Progress pdf icon PDF 476 KB

To consider the attached report (C-021-2019/20).

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet noted the progress of the Masterplans and Concept Frameworks, including the use of Planning Performance Agreements and the progress of other proposals at pre-application and application stage.

Minutes:

The Planning Services Portfolio Holder introduced the report updating the cabinet on progress in the implementation of the Local Plan. He stated that the Council is continuing to make progress on the Local Plan to address the Inspector’s actions set out in her advice note dated 2 August 2019 and a lot of background work to update the Habitats Regulation Assessment was taking place. He had been asked what the costs was so far for preparing the Local Plan. Going back to when this was started at around 2011, he estimated that by the end of next year the Council would have spent somewhere in the region of £5 million on commissioning external support to prepare the evidence base, legal costs and the costs of the examination.

 

The Council has now responded to the advice letter of the inspector but were not expecting a formal response prior to the general election.

 

As part of the Independent Examination of the Local Plan, the Council had agreed and signed Statements of Common Ground with all the site promoters of the following strategic sites: North Weald Bassett, Waltham Abbey North, South Epping, West Ongar and South Nazeing.  In relation to the Garden Town allocations, which consists of Latton Priory, Water Lane and East of Harlow, the Council were able to sign Statements of Common Ground with all of the principle site promoters.

 

The strategic sites were progressing well and were all on track to meet the delivery of housing noted within the Housing Implementation Strategy Update 2019.

 

Councillor Bedford noted that a further report on the Epping Forest SAC would be brought to the December Cabinet, which had now been postponed. He was told that it would now be going to the rescheduled January cabinet meeting instead.

 

Councillor S Kane asked about the Quality Review Panel (Appendix D). He noted that a number of schemes appeared several times in that list but had no indication of change of status as they progressed through, could this be expanded on. He was told that if a developer came forward with a well designed scheme then it probably would not need to reappear on the Quality Review Panel list. If you see a scheme that has appeared multiple times on the panel then you can assume that they have reworked their scheme a number of times. We are a unique district and it may take a number of times to get an application up to scratch with a good quality design that fits in its context. We want any developments to make this a better place to live.

 

Decision:

 

The Cabinet noted the progress of the Masterplans and Concept Frameworks, including the use of Planning Performance Agreements and the progress of other proposals at pre-application and application stage.

 

Reasons for Proposed Decision

To ensure that members were kept fully up to date on the progress of Masterplans and Concept Frameworks and other major proposals being promoted within the District.

 

Other Options for Action:

 

Not to update  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

Customer Services Strategy pdf icon PDF 290 KB

To consider the attached report (C-20-2019/20).

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet noted and approved the direction and content of the Customer Strategy and its outputs.

Minutes:

The Customer Services Portfolio Holder introduced the report on the customer service strategy. The report detailed the proposed improvements to customer services for launch in early 2020. It was a two phased approach, firstly by embedding and adopting new approaches to customer services internally before rolling it out externally.

 

Councillor Philip noted that item 1 of the report gave a target of 45% for increasing first point resolution with customers. Was this just a first year target, as 45% seemed quite low. He was told that this was just a first year only target. Once the first phase had been achieved then they would be looking to achieve better than this.

 

Councillor Lion asked for more information on item 4, ‘new service/phone guide’. The Service Manager, Customer Services, said that one of the customers biggest frustration was that the first person they speak to can’t necessarily answer their query and they get passed from officer to officer. With so much change going on in the Council at present not everyone knew what other people did. So, as soon as roles were finalised they would be providing an up to date telephone and guide for each service area. Councillor Lion then asked if it would be made available to members, he was told that it would be.

 

Councillor H Whitbread asked about point 2 and the reference to “#customer shoes”. The Portfolio Holder said that it was about thinking from the customer perspective. The Service Manager added that it was more about how we made the customer feel. This was evolving and building all the time, responding to our customers, and once the staff have settled in their roles, we then want them to put themselves into the customer shoes.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse asked about the external consultation groups and if older people were represented in them. She was told that the consultation carried out so far was with existing groups such as ‘active living’ for the older generation. They were also looking to reach out to our partnerships throughout the community. They have also done an initial customer survey on the website, had a few focus groups, and have just joined the Institute of Customer Service after Christmas we will reach out to our partners for more feedback.

 

Councillor Patel reminded the meeting that they were customers as well. He went on to praise new customer contact forms that he had recently used.

 

Councillor Bedford made a plea to add in lay residents’ services, such as the County Council, as it was not always EFDC that provided these services. And it was good to have staff trained in recognising where to transit people to if not within our council. The Portfolio Holder agreed it would good to do this, but they were not ready as yet, we had to get ourselves organised first before we went on to outside organisations. This was something for the future.

 

Councillor Wixley asked about item 10 and the use of Artificial Intelligence and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.

67.

Finance Report Six Month To End of September 2019 pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To consider the attached report (C-022-2019/20).

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet noted and commented on the report and actions in the Financial Performance report for the six months to the end of September 2019.

 

 

Minutes:

The Business Support Services Portfolio Holder introduced the new format financial report summary report covering the period to the end of September 2019. It was noted that this was the first of the new format of summary financial report, which would be produced and issued monthly. It would report on progress and actions and would develop as circumstances required. The new format had been well received as it was easier to understand.

 

In revenue terms, the Authority was currently performing £3million to the good with a forecast year-end position of break even.

 

Decision:

 

The Cabinet noted and commented on the report and actions in the Financial Performance report for the six months to the end of September 2019.

 

 

Reasons for Proposed Decision:

 

This was introducing a new format financial summary report.

 

 

Other Options for Action:

 

N/A.

 

 

68.

Any Other Business

Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, together with paragraphs 6 and 24 of the Council Procedure Rules contained in the Constitution requires that the permission of the Chairman be obtained, after prior notice to the Chief Executive, before urgent business not specified in the agenda (including a supplementary agenda of which the statutory period of notice has been given) may be transacted.

 

In accordance with Operational Standing Order 6 (non-executive bodies), any item raised by a non-member shall require the support of a member of the Committee concerned and the Chairman of that Committee.  Two weeks' notice of non-urgent items is required.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that there was no other urgent business for consideration by the Cabinet.

 

 

69.

Exclusion of Public and Press

Exclusion

To consider whether, under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press should be excluded from the meeting for the items of business set out below on grounds that they will involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the following paragraph(s) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended) or are confidential under Section 100(A)(2):

 

Agenda Item No

Subject

Exempt Information Paragraph Number

Nil

Nil

Nil

 

The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, which came into effect on 1 March 2006, requires the Council to consider whether maintaining the exemption listed above outweighs the potential public interest in disclosing the information. Any member who considers that this test should be applied to any currently exempted matter on this agenda should contact the proper officer at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

 

Background Papers

Article 17 of the Constitution (Access to Information) define background papers as being documents relating to the subject matter of the report which in the Proper Officer's opinion:

 

(a)        disclose any facts or matters on which the report or an important part of the report is based;  and

 

(b)        have been relied on to a material extent in preparing the report and does not include published works or those which disclose exempt or confidential information and in respect of executive reports, the advice of any political advisor.

 

The Council will make available for public inspection one copy of each of the documents on the list of background papers for four years after the date of the meeting. Inspection of background papers can be arranged by contacting either the Responsible Officer or the Democratic Services Officer for the particular item.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet noted that there was no business which necessitated the exclusion of the public and press from the meeting.