Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet
Thursday, 21st January, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting on Zoom. View directions

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

Media

Items
No. Item

125.

Webcasting Introduction

 

1.         This virtual meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to unmute before speaking.

 

2.         The Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties).

 

Please also be aware that if technical difficulties interrupt the meeting that cannot be overcome, I may need to adjourn the meeting.”

 

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.

 

 

126.

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.

 

 

127.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 3rd December 2020.

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

 

The Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 03rd December 2020 be taken as read and would be signed by the Leader as a correct record.

 

 

Minutes:

Decision:

 

The Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 03rd December 2020 be taken as read and would be signed by the Leader as a correct record.

 

 

128.

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:

There were no verbal reports made by Members of the Cabinet on current issues affecting their areas of responsibility.

 

 

129.

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.

 

 

130.

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 & Scrutiny Committee reported that they held a special meeting on 7th January 2021 to discuss a call-in. It was for a Planning & Sustainability Portfolio Holders decision of 18 December 2020, PLS-003: Adoption of Epping Forest SAC Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy.

 

After a full debate the Committee voted to confirm the decision of the Portfolio Holder.

 

Their next meeting will be held on 2nd February, when they will receive a presentation from North East Parking Partnership.

 

Councillor Murray commented that it had been a majority decision at the call-in meeting with, he thought, a low level of involvement by members. He then asked when the special Council meeting would be held and was told sometime in February.

 

 

131.

Council Housebuilding Cabinet Committee - 08 December 2020 pdf icon PDF 333 KB

(Housing and Community Services Portfolio Holder) to consider the attached minutes from the meeting of the Council Housebuilding Cabinet Committee, held on 08 December 2020, and any recommendations therein.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

That the minutes of the Council Housebuilding Cabinet Committee held on 08th December 2020 be noted.

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor H Whitbread introduced the minutes of the meeting of the Council Housebuilding Cabinet Committee held on 8th December 2020.

 

Councillor Morgan noted that there had been no mention of the culvers at Matching Green in the report. Officers were going to look at ways to increase car parking before the garages were demolished. Was there any further development on this? Councillor H Whitbread said that she would provide an update as soon as possible.

 

Councillor Heap asked which parcel of land was in Marlescroft Way that had been allocated for building. Councillor H Whitbread replied that she would reply by email on this matter. Councillor Murray said that he would also be interested in the answer.

 

Councillor Caroline Pond asked when would ward councillors be consulted on the new plans as outlined on pages 28 and 29 of the agenda. Councillor H Whitbread noted that the consultation phase had already begun, but she would be happy to chase up any specifics for her.

 

Councillor Wixley noted that the land around Marlescroft Way had been underwater this week so it was not a good place to develop.

 

 

Decision:

 

That the minutes of the Council Housebuilding Cabinet Committee held on 08th December 2020 be noted.

 

 

132.

Highways Ranger Service - Update pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Environment & Technical Services – (C-054-2020-21) - to provide an update on the Highways Ranger Service.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

That the Cabinet noted the good progress of work that the Highway Rangers have made since the transfer of service from Ringway Jacobs to the Council.

 

 

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Environment and Technical Services, Councillor Avey, introduced the report updating the Cabinet on the Highways Ranger Service. He noted that the Highway Ranger services was provided by Essex Highways through each of the Local Highways Panel for district and borough Councils. Across Essex a number of authorities delivered the service in house. Epping Forest District was one of the few authorities where the service was provided by Ringway Jacobs.

 

Following a joint agreement, the service was transferred from Ringway Jacobs to Epping Forest District Council on 1 April 2020. Despite the onset of Covid-19 and the challenges it had presented, the Council had been successful in setting up the new service. Funding for the Rangers was provided by Essex County Council. However, EFDC has allocated some additional funding to do some additional work which was over and above their core duties.

 

Councillor H Whitbread commented on the wonderful service this was providing. She had noticed a difference in her ward such as having the pavements mended. It was a good thing for the district to be doing.

 

Councillor Patel noted that it was a great idea to bring this service back in house, members and residents could see the benefit of this.

 

Councillor Morgan said that they had done an excellent job and asked if there was any chance they could tackle potholes as they had not been done for the past two years in rural areas and was getting really bad in places. Councillor Avey replied that we were not allowed to fix potholes at present, maybe in the future.

 

Councillor Philip noted that the budget was now underway, if they could add resources to the Highways Rangers within the confines of the existing budget then it would be worth doing, but had to recognise the financial constraints we were working under at the moment.

 

Councillor C Whitbread said he was mindful of the constraints but also of our desire to improve the place where we lived. He thanked the officers for the exceptional quality of their work.

 

 

Decision:

 

That the Cabinet noted the good progress of work that the Highway Rangers have made since the transfer of service from Ringway Jacobs to the Council.

 

 

Reasons for Proposed Decision:

 

To provide an update to Members on the successful launch and ongoing work of the Epping Forest Highway Rangers.

 

Other Options for Action:

 

To not provide an update to Members. This has been discounted as this is a new service and it is felt that Members should receive an update.

 

 

133.

Bakers and Cottis Lane Development Sites pdf icon PDF 653 KB

Finance and Economic Development – (C-055-2020-21) - to provide an update on progress of key regeneration sites.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

The Cabinet consider the options set out within the report and:

 

(1)           Agreed to the inclusion of the Revenue and Capital implications associated with these schemes within the Cabinet’s Budget and Medium-Term Financial Plans and their Capital Programme proposals for Council; and

 

(2)           Agreed that subject to Council’s agreement of these plans, to instruct officers to enter detailed negotiations with Qualis and Places Leisure for the delivery of these proposals, with the final form of the agreements to be brought back to Cabinet at a later date for agreement.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder introduced the report. This was for a proposed Leisure Centre and a Multi-Storey Car Park in Epping, replacing the aging 1970’s sports facility in the Town which was now approaching the end of its useful life.  Both the sports facility and the car park were critical, in Planning terms, to unlocking the other regeneration sites within the Town.

 

As the redevelopment of the sports centre site would result in a net deficit in parking spaces, the overall regeneration proposals required the existing surface car park in Cottis Lane to be replaced with a Multi Storey Car Park. 

 

He pointed out a typo in paragraph 1.4 of the report which should have said Waltham Abbey and not Waltham Forest.

 

The Portfolio Holder noted that originally it was to be for Qualis to build it and own it and potentially operate or sell back to the council. The report however suggests that we progress negotiations with both Places for Leisure and Qualis to see what would be the best deal we could get to get the sports centre built on a build contract rather than Qualis taking ownership and us having to pay Stamp Duty going in both directions.

 

Councillor S Kane agreed it was not good having to pay two sets of stamp duty and supported talking to Places for Leisure as well as Qualis, as they had done a very good job for us over the last few years and they were the professionals in this field. Councillor Philip said it was sensible and prudent in avoiding an unnecessary tax burden. It was worth highlighting that a design had gone in with the planning application as Qualis had been working closely with Places for Leisure on this.

 

Councillor Patel agreed that it was right that they were liaising with Places for Leisure on this, they had done good work for us and were the experts.

 

Councillor Heap citing paragraph 5.4 of the report asked if Qualis failed, would the council have to bail them out. He was told that was a decision that we would have to make at the time. They were unlikely to fail but it may be a risk. If they did, they would have to come back to the council and we would see what we could do.

 

Councillor Wixley was interested in the sports centre. He was impressed with the plans shown but noted that Loughton Football Club was not among the user groups listed. Could they be added to the list?  Also, if the car parking was to be free, the disadvantage would be that the non-centre users would also park there. He was told that the list of consultees would be reviewed and noted that car parking would not be free, this was a decision that has yet to be made.

 

Councillor Jon Whitehouse leant towards the same model as used in Waltham Abbey and Places for Leisure had the experience in doing things like  ...  view the full minutes text for item 133.

134.

Ongar Town Centre pdf icon PDF 528 KB

Finance and Economic Development – (C-56-2020-21) – To note the second of the studies focussed on Chipping Ongar and its high street and the detailed report produced by Studio 3 attached to this report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

The Cabinet considered and agreed the report produced by independent business consultants, Studio 3, on the economic viability of Ongar Town Centre, which included recommendations to improve short and medium-term sustainability of businesses in the High Street.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder introduced the report on the Ongar Town Centre.

 

He noted that as part of the Council’s work to assist the economic recovery and sustainability of local High Streets across the district, Studio 3 Business Consultants were appointed in September, to undertake a series of independent economic reviews. The purpose of these being to identify quick wins and to consider longer-term recommendations to increase footfall to town centres, to support local businesses and identify opportunities for attracting new business to the area.

 

The second of the studies focussed on Chipping Ongar and its high street and the detailed report produced by Studio 3 (attached to the covering report), set out a range of recommendations for action, including quick wins.

 

Following on from the first report on Waltham Abbey, the Cabinet agreed in their meeting of 22nd December 2020, to the appointment of a Town Centre Manager, a role which would have a direct involvement in all high street developments including those given the go-ahead as a result of this report.

 

Councillor Keska thanked the Cabinet for this report and for appointing an experienced consultant to carry out the background work. The report built on work undertaken by the Town Council and as the Ward Member he supported the recommendations and asked that the Town Manager be appointed without delay. There was a lot of work to be done and the sooner it was started the better. Councillor Philip pointed out that the Towns Centre Project Manager was not delegated to individual Town Centres. He was currently exploring whether to nominate a local member for that area to act as the Town Centre Champion to work with the project manager to keep things moving. He was working on a role description for this to ensure that they would add value to what we were doing.

 

Councillor Bedford welcomed the report noting that there were a lot of quick wins in there to help Ongar. Councillor Avey said that it was a good report. It mentioned the Highways Rangers and that they would be spread out across the district and not just working in Ongar. We must also start thinking about car parking tariffs for the area and the impact other car parks in the area. Also, we have always talked about re-establishing the commuter line between Ongar and Epping, but the stumbling block has always been TfL who did not want to put in a platform at Epping. We needed to find a way to talk them round.

 

Councillor Philip echoed Councillor Bedford’s comments, quick wins were the key part to this. He also took onboard Councillor Avey’s comments about the Highway Rangers and car parking. Councillor C Whitbread agreed that we had to look afresh at our Town Centres, and this was the way to do it.

 

Councillor Patel welcomed the report. The Cabinet had wanted achievable targets and needed to support High Streets and Town Centres especially as we were in our third  ...  view the full minutes text for item 134.

135.

Digital Gateway for Place pdf icon PDF 896 KB

Finance and Economic Development (C-057-2020-21) – update on the development of a digital platform for the district that will create a single online point of access for a wide range of information and services.

 

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

(1)       That Cabinet noted the work undertaken by officers in relation to the development and implementation of a digital platform for the district; and

 

(2)       That Cabinet considered the proposals and agreed to go for ‘off-the-shelf’ software rather than the Council developing its own and authorised the IT Development Team in conjunction with the Portfolio Holder to make the final decision.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder introduced the report on the setting up of a digital gateway.

 

The Economic Development team had been tasked with the development of a digital platform for the district that would create a single online point of access for a wide range of information and services catering for the needs of residents and public and private sector organisations plus links to EFDC and other public sector websites and information. 

 

This report therefore provided an overview and update for Cabinet on work carried out to date.

 

Councillor Philip noted that this came in two parts an electronic presence for businesses and online support. His own preference was that the Council should not be looking to craft its own system but to acquire something from off the shelf for doing this as it would allow a more rapid turn round in implementation.

 

Councillor S Kane was also in favour of finding an ‘off the shelf’ solution, it would keep the costs down, would be quicker to implement and reduced the risk to the Council.

 

Councillor H Whitbread said that this was an important piece of work and important to have because of the Covid crisis. She welcomed the report and agreed the recommendations.

 

Councillor Patel also welcomed the report as it would help the businesses to benefit from it.

 

Councillor Philip asked if any of the Cabinet members had any preferences for the two applications mentioned in the report to let him know or if were they happy for himself and the Economic Development team to pick the best one. He asked that the second recommendation be modified to recommend that we went for an ‘off the shelf’ application rather than develop our own one, this to be left up to the Economic Development team and the Portfolio Holder to make the final decision. This was agreed.

 

Councillor C Whitbread commented that we have had three very good economic development reports at this meeting, and he would like to express his thanks to the officers concerned, John Houston, Nick Dawe and his Cabinet team who have been working on this. There was still a lot to do and we had to get around the district, but he believed that this was an opportunity presented by the current pandemic to get something good for the district.

 

 

Decision:

 

(1)       That Cabinet noted the work undertaken by officers in relation to the development and implementation of a digital platform for the district; and

 

(2)       That Cabinet considered the proposals and agreed to go for ‘off-the-shelf’ software rather than the Council developing its own and authorised the Economic Development Team in conjunction with the Portfolio Holder to make the final decision.

 

Reasons for Proposed Decision:

 

To give guidance and approval for the site and its initial design, development, construction and approval for purchase of the Maybe* support/training package.

 

Other Options for Action:

 

N/a

 

 

136.

Tree Planting Strategy pdf icon PDF 390 KB

Planning and Sustainability – (C058-2020-21) - update on work being done to move forward a joined up and proactive strategy that aims to increase tree and hedgerow planting throughout the Epping Forest District.

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

The Cabinet noted the work being undertaken on a large-scale tree planting strategy and endorsed the approach taken by officers.

 

 

Minutes:

The Planning and Sustainability Portfolio Holder introduced the report on the Council’s tree planting strategy. This report looked to update Cabinet on work being done to move forward a joined up and proactive strategy that aimed to increase tree and hedgerow planting throughout the Epping Forest District. The overall aim was to enable and support all organisations in the public and private sector to have a proactive approach to planting. Initially the Council would look to lead this activity by getting significant planting underway this planting season (November-March).

 

The Council’s Corporate Plan aimed to make the District a good place to live, work, study and do business, significant tree planting supported these aims by enhancing health and wellbeing in the area, capturing carbon and improving air quality. This strategy also encompassed the tree planting project within the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy and the call for sites from Essex County Council for the Essex Forest Initiative.

 

It should be noted, that the success of this initiative was dependent on the established and developing links with Parish and Town Councils and other interested groups, charities and volunteers.

 

He noted that it had got to a certain stage with the Green Arc project and our Tree Planting project but was then stymied by Covid. He urged the Town and Parish councils to apply for tree planting packs from the Woodland Trust.

 

Councillor Heap asked if private individuals could offer land to grow young trees on to be lifted later to be replanted elsewhere. Councillor Bedford said that was a good idea and asked that he get in touch with Mr Houston.

 

Councillor Patel asked how this compared with work for the Green Arc Project. He was told that they were linked together but this was a more local thing, the Green Arc ran from the Thames up through Epping Forest and through Barnet Forest, trying to link areas together, creating natural habitats and bio-diversity.

 

Councillor Sunger noted that in Chigwell a number of people, in memory of recently deceased loved ones, had donated money to plant trees; how had this affected your project. Councillor Bedford was unaware of this and would get Mr Houston to call him to discuss.

 

Councillor Murray noted that trees helped many people during the lockdown. They had an active scheme for people to donate money to tree planting in memory of departed loved ones. This should be given more publicity as part of this strategy.

 

Councillor Wixley welcomed the report. The report mentioned links between the District and Town Councils, was there any more information on this. Loughton Town Council had been in the process of recruiting volunteers, but this had ground to a halt with Covid. He also wondered if ward councillors were to be consulted on where to plant trees, such as Jessel Green. Finally, he would like to thank the Portfolio Holder and Mr Houston for resurrecting the Green Arc Project. Councillor Bedford replied that they have been working with the Town and Parish  ...  view the full minutes text for item 136.

137.

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.

 

 

138.

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

10

Bakers and Cottis Lane Development Sites

Appendix B

3

 

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 for consideration which would necessitate the exclusion of the public and press from the virtual meeting.