Agenda and minutes

Council
Thursday, 29th October, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting on Zoom. View directions

Contact: Gary Woodhall Tel: (01992) 564243  Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

26.

Webcasting Introduction

This virtual meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to unmute 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 (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties). Thereby by participating in this virtual meeting, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings for webcasting and/or training purposes. If members of the public do not wish to have their image captured they should ensure that their video setting throughout the virtual meeting is turned off and set to audio only.

 

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 Chairman reminded everyone present that the virtual meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.

27.

FORMER COUNCILLOR T. BOYCE

The Council are invited to stand for a minute’s silence in tribute to the memory of former District Councillor Tony Boyce who recently passed away.

 

Former Councillor Tony Boyce served as a Conservative District Councillor representing the Moreton and Fyfield ward of the district for 9 years, from May 2008 until May 2017.

 

In 2014 former Councillor Tony Boyce was elected to the position of Chairman of Council, a position that he enthusiastically embraced. He enjoyed a very successful year raising over £25,000 for local charities including a new minibus for Community Transport.

 

During his time on the Council, former Councillor Tony Boyce served as:

 

·     May 2008 to May 2017   Conservative Cllr for Moreton & Fyfield ward

·     May 2008 to May 2013   Chairman of Area Planning Sub-Committee East

·     May 2009 to May 2010   Vice-Chairman of Safer, Cleaner, Greener Scrutiny

Panel

·     May 2010 to May 2013   Vice-Chairman of District Development Control

Committee

·     May 2011 to May 2017   Licensing Sub-Committee Chairman (1 of 6)

·     May 2013 to May 2014   Vice-Chairman of Council

·     May 2014 to May 2015   Chairman of Council.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was with much sadness that the Chairman informed Members that former Councillor Tony Boyce had recently passed away.

 

Tony Boyce served as a Conservative District Councillor representing the Moreton and Fyfield ward of the district from May 2008 until May 2017, where ill health forced him to step down. He had served on many of the Council’s committees, working groups and outside bodies during this time. In May 2014 Tony was elected Chairman of Council and successfully raised over £25,000 that year for charity.

 

Members paid tribute to the memory of former Councillor Tony Boyce and a minute’s silence was held in his honour.

28.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 283 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 30 July 2020, as attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the Council Meeting held on 30 July 2020 be taken as read and to be signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

29.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

30.

Announcements

(a)        Apologies for Absence

 

(b)        Chairman’s Announcements

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)        Announcements by the Chairman of Council

 

Remembrance Day

 

The Chairman informed Members that due to the current Covid-19 restrictions there would not be any official wreath laying services. Ward Members would lay wreaths in their Towns or Parishes and would be doing this in their own time.

 

The Chairman advised that she would be laying her wreath in Waltham Abbey at the 11th hour on the 11th day.

 

The Chairman also advised that the Civic Offices would be lit up in red from the weekend of the 7 November in honour of the armed forces who had died in the line of duty.

31.

Public Questions (If Any)

To answer questions asked after notice in accordance with the provisions contained within Part 4 of the Council Rules of the Constitution on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties or which affects the District:

 

(a)        to the Leader of the Council;

 

(b)        to any Portfolio Holder; or

 

(c)        to the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

Questions, if any, will follow if not received in time to be incorporated into the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council noted that there were no public questions under notice that had been submitted for consideration at this meeting.

32.

Questions By Members Under Notice

To answer questions asked after notice in accordance with the provisions contained within the Council’s rules in Part 4 of the Constitution on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties or which affects the District:

 

(a)                  to the Chairman of the Council;

 

(b)                  to the Leader of the Council;

 

(c)                  to any Member of the Cabinet; or

 

(d)                  the Chairman of any Committee or Sub-Committee.

 

The Council’s rules provide that answers to questions under notice may take the form of:

 

(a)             direct oral answer;

 

(b)             where the desired information is in a publication of the Council or other published work, a reference to that publication; or

 

(c)             where the reply cannot conveniently be given orally, a written answer circulated later to the questioner.

 

Answers to questions falling within (a) and (b) above will be made available to the member asking the question one hour before the meeting. Answers to questions falling within (c) above will be circulated to all councillors.

 

Questions, if any, will follow if not received in time to be incorporated into the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council noted that there were no questions by members under notice that had been submitted for consideration at this meeting.

33.

Reports from the Leader & Members of the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 187 KB

To receive reports and any announcements from the Leader and members of the Cabinet on matters falling within their areas of responsibility:

 

(a)        Report of the Leader – Councillor C Whitbread;

 

(b)        Report of the Commercial and Regulatory ServicesPortfolio Holder – Councillor A Patel (attached);

 

(c)        Report of the Customer and Corporate Support ServicesPortfolio Holder – Councillor S Kane (attached);

 

(d)        Report of the Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio Holder – Councillor N Avey (attached);

 

(e)        Report of the Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder – Councillor J Philip (attached);

 

(f)         Report of the Housing and Community ServicesPortfolio Holder – Councillor H Whitbread (attached); and     

 

(g)        Report of the Planning and Sustainability Portfolio Holder – Councillor N Bedford (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received written reports from Portfolio Holders. The Chairman invited the Leader of Council to provide an oral report and the opportunity for other members of the Cabinet to give updates on matters concerning their relevant portfolios.

 

(a)        Leader of Council

 

The Leader advised that it had been a very busy few months since the last Council meeting and gave thanks to Cabinet Members and Officers who had been busy over the recent months setting out a positive agenda, on a whole range of issues, despite the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

Members would have recently seen a presentation on the five sites in Epping and the ambitious plans to build a new sports centre in Epping. The Council Housebuilding programme was ongoing and the Council were supporting the High Streets in the District by maintaining the 20p parking charges for 2.5 hours up until Christmas.

 

The second wave of Covid-19 was now upon us and the Council took the decision, on the advice of the Public Health department, along with Essex County Council and all District and Borough Councils across Essex and asked the Secretary of State to consider Essex moving into tier 2 earlier rather than being told at a later date when the Covid figures per 100,000 would be much higher.

 

When we look at the figures for Covid-19 this week in Epping Forest, we were one of the highest districts with figures of over 100 for every 100,000. Therefore, it was the correct decision to move into tier 2 although there was a conspiracy that we moved into tier 2 for extra funding from the Government. After it had been decided and we had requested to move into tier 2, at that time there were no indications that that any extra funding would be provided. When it was agreed that Essex would go into tier 2 a few days later Government announced that there would be an extra £3 of funding per person across Essex which totalled £4.4 million that money was for welfare and supporting businesses. Essex County Council were working out a package for every District and Borough Council in Essex.

 

Essex County Council had put additional funding into food banks and schemes where food for the vulnerable would be provided.

 

There would be a long road ahead of us and he was pleased that all Districts and Borough Council’s in Essex supported Essex County Council in their decision to ask the Secretary of State to move Essex into tier 2.

 

We were in difficult times and my thoughts go out to residents and businesses within the district and the disruption this Pandemic would cause to them but we must move forward to overcome this virus everyone should be encouraged to stick to the rules by wearing face masks, wash hands regularly and give other people space. It would not be an easy winter but together we would get through this Pandemic and look forward to the times when we could have less restrictions.

 

(b)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Questions by Members Without Notice

The Council’s rules provide for questions by any member of the Council to the Leader or any Portfolio Holder, without notice on:

 

(i)            reports under the previous item; or

 

(ii)           any other matter of a non operational character in relation to the powers and  duties of the Council or which affects all or part of the District or some or all of  its inhabitants.

 

The Council’s rules provide that answers to questions without notice may take the form of:

 

(a)            a direct oral answer from the Leader or, at the request of the Leader, from another member of the Cabinet;

 

(b)            where the desired information is in a publication of the Council or other published work, a reference to that publication;

 

(c)            where the reply cannot conveniently be given orally, a written answer circulated later to the questioner; or

 

(d)            where the question relates to an operational matter, the Leader or a member of the Cabinet will request that a response be given direct to the questioner by the relevant Service Director.

 

In accordance with the Council’s rules, a time limit of thirty minutes is set for questions. Any question not dealt with within the time available will receive a written reply. The Chairman may extend this period by up to a further ten minutes at their discretion.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman thanked Members for giving notification of their intention to ask questions without notice and commented on how well this had gone at the last meeting and that every Member who wanted to had a chance to ask their question within the time limit.

 

(a)        Proposed new Sports Centre in Epping

 

Councillor L Burrows asked the Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio Holder to confirm that the provision of a new sports centre, including a sports hall, squash courts and a swimming pool, would still viable in a post-covid world.

 

Councillor N Avey advised that the Council was committed to providing leisure and sporting facilities to residents. A recent consultation by Qualis resulted in residents wanting a spots hall, squash courts and a swimming pool. The Council were listening to what the residents had indicated they would like in the proposed leisure centre. Given the likely aftermath of the Pandemic, leisure facilities would be ever more important for residents health and wellbeing.

 

In this context he asked Members to note his report and the efforts being made with our partner, Places Leisure, to keep the districts leisure centres open and working safely.

 

(b)        Fly-tipping in Buckhurst Hill

 

Councillor S Neville advised that his question was to the Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio Holder and stated that he had recently been in contact with Portfolio Holder regarding fly-tipping in his ward, in particular the Hornbeam Close area. He stated that over the years the number of times he had been called to deal with fly-tipping in this area and instead of the Council sending out a team to clear this up it was about time to try and find the culprits for this. Therefore, would the Portfolio Holder come and visit the area to see what could potentially be done in a proactive way.

 

Councillor N Avey advised that he would be happy to come and visit the area to see what could potentially be done to alleviate this problem. Councillor H Whitbread was more on the enforcement side whereas his portfolio dealt with the clearing up of fly-tipping. Therefore, working together, it was hoped that we could come up with some solutions.

 

(c)        Qualis Consultation

 

Councillor I Hadley asked the Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder how the second stage of the Qualis consultation would be handled this time with the current Covid-19 situation.

 

Councillor A Patel replied that the consultations were beginning on the 2 November 2020, there would be five days of virtual online sessions which would give residents a chance to see how Qualis Commercial had listened to their comments and fed them into the revised proposal for the five sites in Epping Town Centre. Residents were able to book a place on one of the virtual online events by visiting the Working Together for Epping website.

 

A pre-recorded presentation would also be available for residents from the 2 November on the Working Together Epping website and they would be able to leave comments up until  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.

35.

Motions

To consider any motions, notice of which has been given under the Council’s rules.

 

Motions, if any, will follow if not received in time to be incorporated into the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman reported that there were no motions to be considered at the meeting.

36.

Appointment of Qualis Board Members pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To note the recommendations in the attached report from the Senior Management Selection Panel for the permanent appointment of the Qualis Board members.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mover: Councillor C Whitbread, Leader of the Council

 

Councillor C Whitbread thanked the members of the Interview Panel for giving up several evenings meeting and interviewing the potential board members. The Panel recommended the appointment of:

Role

Name

Chair – independent non-executive director

Paul ffolkes Davis

Independent non-executive director

Peter Baynham

Independent non-executive director

Farooq Mohammed

Council member

Cllr H Kauffman

Council member

Cllr R Bassett

CEO Council

Georgina Blakemore

Managing Director – Qualis

Sacha Jevans

Group Finance Director - Qualis

Nick Dawe

Group Operations Director – Qualis

Paul Hewitt

 

 

He stated that it was a good selection and it would be good now to move away from the interim board to a more permanent board.

 

Councillor S Murray stated that he was speaking because members had been asked to endorse the recommendations in the report and advised that he would be abstaining on the basis that he didn’t feel he had enough information on some of the names on the list to know whether he could endorse the recommendations or not.

 

Councillor Murray asked how many Councillors had applied to become members of the board and of the two Councillors that had been successful he asked what their view was on a general principle that would have to apply in detail to actual situations. If other services were transferred to Qualis would they as a general proposition feel that any new staff should be on similar terms and conditions of the ‘Tuped’ staff who were doing a similar type of job.

 

Councillor C Whitbread stated when they interviewed people and brought reports to the Council for the appointment to positions within the Council very few of us would have known them before. We had a very experienced panel conducting the interviews. With regard to the rest of Councillor Murrays question that was not what this report had been asked to do, it had asked Members to endorse the recommendations from the Senior Management Selection Panel for the permanent appointment of the Qualis Group Board members. He advised that all members were entitled to apply for the position, it was advertised in the Members’ Bulletin and there were four cross party members who did apply to be interviewed.

 

Councillor S Heap advised that he was one of the Members that did apply and thought that the Panel had chosen wisely and this report should be endorsed.

 

Report as first moved: ADOPTED

 

            RESOLVED:

           

That the recommendations from the Senior Management Selection Panel for the permanent appointment of the Qualis Group Board members be endorsed.

37.

Qualis Financial Report pdf icon PDF 246 KB

To discuss and agree any actions required on the Qualis Quarterly Monitoring Report – Q1/Q2 and Q3 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor A Patel, Commercial and Regulatory Portfolio Holder

 

Councillor A Patel submitted a report regarding the Qualis Quarterly Monitoring Report – Q1/Q2 and Q3 2019/20. He advised that Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny had considered the Qualis Board Reports for Quarters 1, 2 and 3 at their respective meetings in September and October 2020.

 

Councillor Patel highlighted that the Covid-19 Pandemic had dramatically impacted on all Council activities, including the set-up and initiation of the Qualis Business Plan. This had caused delay as Covid-19 became the focus of the Council, this could not have been foreseen when the plans were agreed, so taking this into account, the impact of Covid-19, Qualis had performed in line with the expectations for these periods.

 

For the first three quarters Qualis had been focused on set-up and not trading and given the Council’s focus elsewhere the set-up had taken longer than originally anticipated. It should be noted that all deliverables were flagged as Green with the exception of agreeing the loan finance from EFDC to Qualis. He confirmed that this had now been agreed and that the first loans had been paid. Housing maintenance activities had also been successfully transferred to Qualis and would appear in the Q4 monitoring report.

 

The Shareholder Agreement and Governance arrangement, agreed by Cabinet in February 2020, set out the decision-making framework for Qualis and the ways in which the Council, in its capacity as Shareholder, could influence or control the activities of Qualis. The principal control would be through the approval of the annual Business Plan which Qualis was required to present its proposals each year within the Business Plan and only if the Council agrees the Business Plan could Qualis implement the proposals contained within it. This represents the critical control over the activities of Qualis and detailed consideration would be given to the sign-off accordingly.

 

Finally, Members should note that Covid-19 was having a huge financial impact on the Council and now more than ever the Council needed Qualis to be a success in order to smooth the costs of Covid-19 and provide a new income stream. Members were asked to note the report.

 

Councillor J M Whitehouse stated that there was a long delay in publishing the Q3 report and given that we were a working day away from Q4, would the Q4 report be going to the next Cabinet meeting in November and if not when could Members expect to see the Q4 report.

 

Councillor A Patel replied that it would not be ready in time for the Cabinet meeting in November but that he could provide a verbal update at that meeting. The Q4 report would be ready to go to the Cabinet meeting in December.

 

Councillor J Philip advised that before the Q4 report could go to Cabinet, the end of Q4 had to be reached, the reporting on the end of Q4 had to be written by the financial officers at Qualis, it then had to go to the Qualis Board  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 225 KB

Overview and Scrutiny Chairman’s report to Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received a written report from Councillor M Sartin, the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee regarding the meeting that was held on the 15 October 2020.

 

Councillor Sartin commented that Members took some comfort in the presentation from the Essex Partnership University Trust and the impact Covid-19 had on the mental health services and how they coped with the increased demands during this Pandemic and that they felt comfortable that they could continue to meet with the current demands.

 

Councillor Sartin highlighted paragraph 8 of her report and in particular, the last sentence which read, “Members were requested to inform Officers of potential lines of enquiry for the external scrutiny of the UK Innovation Corridor.” She advised that there was some confusion around the name of the UK Innovation Corridor which was originally known as the London – Stansted - Cambridge Consortium and part of the exercise the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be looking at was to learn more about the current set up of this organisation and what it was doing within our district. Therefore if Members did have any questions or thoughts could they let Gary Woodhall know and he would then pass them on to the Officer coming to give a presentation at the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny meeting from the UK Innovation Corridor.

 

Councillor S Murray thanked the Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny for her report. He advised that he would like to endorse Councillor Sartin’s views on the presentation regarding adult mental health services which was reassuring.

 

He stated item 4 of the report refers to the Accommodation Strategy and he would like to highlight again to Members that he was concerned that the community hub was not going to be like what we thought. We were aware that the Library wouldl be relocated to the community hub and Voluntary Services but were not aware of anything else and hoped to see more developments in this area.

 

Councillor Murray referred to paragraph 7 of the report regarding the Council’s response to the first wave of Covid-19 and wanted it put on record of how pleased he was with how the Leadership of Council, Councillor C Whitbread responded to the first wave of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

 

Councillor Murray then highlighted item 9 of the agenda, Questions by Members without Notice, he and other members were referred to as ‘the opposition’, he advised that he had never thought of himself as opposition to the Council he stated he was an independent Member of the Council and not affiliated to any group, and because he questioned other Members did not make him the opposition a better phrase would be a ‘critical friend’.

39.

Audit and Governance Committee pdf icon PDF 278 KB

To consider the attached report to revise two of the Treasurey Management Investment limits.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mover: Councillor I Hadley, Chairman of the Audit & Governance Committee

 

Councillor I Hadley advised that at its meeting held on 28 September 2020, the Audit & Governance Committee considered the Treasury Management Outturn report for 2019/20. This report considered the compliance with the Council’s adopted Treasury Management and Prudential Indicators and reported that full compliance had been achieved on most of the Indicators. However, the cash requirements of the Council’s recently expanded commercial activities had resulted in some technical breaches, especially on Investment Limits. The current investment limits were £3m for Single Institutions and a total of £10m for all Money Market Funds but due to the purchase of Centric Parade, High Road, Loughton this limit was breached.

 

The Audit & Governance Committee were happy to agree to; (a) increase the Single Institution to £4m; and (b) to increase the £10m limit for the Money Market Fund to £10m for each Money Market Fund, but had reservations regarding recommendation (b) and the lack of a limit on the Money Market Funds that could be invested, thereby allowing no total limit on investments. As a result, the Audit & Governance Committee suggested that a limit of three Money Market Funds be adopted with any breach of this to be discussed at the Audit & Governance Committee prior to it happening. This was not intended to be a financial restriction but was a method of flagging up a possible risk situation.

 

However, since the Audit & Governance meeting on the 28 September, it had transpired that (b) was contrary to the Council’s constitution and could be put forward for approval at this meeting. The recommendations from the Audit & Governance Committee were:

 

Recommendations:

 

(1)        That the following amended Treasury Management Investment Limits be approved:

 

(a)        Single Institution (excluding the UK Government) to be increased to £4million (previous limit was £3million); and

 

(b)        Money Market Funds to be increased to £10million per fund, with a maximum of 3 Funds to be invested in at any one time unless Officers have called an emergency virtual meeting with three members of the Audit & Governance Committee – preferably including the Chairman - to discuss the situation (previous limit was £10million in total for all Funds invested in).

 

Amendment moved by Councillor J Philip, Finance Portfolio Holder and Seconded by Councillor I Hadley

 

That (b) be amended to read:

 

(b)        That the Money Market Funds be increased to £10 million per fund with a normal limit of 3 funds to be invested in at any one time. If operational requirements need further use of Money Market Funds the section 151 officer, in consultation with the Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder, can authorise further use of these funds provided that this was reported to the Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee and that a report be presented to the next meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee at the latest.

 

Report as amended ADOPTED:

 

            RESOLVED:

 

(1)        That the following amended Treasury Management Investment Limits be approved:

 

(a)        Single Institution (excluding the UK  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Joint Arrangements & External Organisations pdf icon PDF 178 KB

(a)          To receive from Council representatives the reports (attached - if any) on the business of joint arrangements and external organisations and to receive answers to any questions on those bodies which may be put without notice; and

 

(b)               To request written reports from representatives on joint arrangements and external organisations for future meetings.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)        Royal Gunpowder Mills

 

The Chairman, Councillor H Kane highlighted her report and stated that there had been a successful bid of £104,000 from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

 

Councillor C C Pond asked the Chairman to agree that it was axiomatic to get this site opened to the public as soon as possible both to secure its future and because of the scientifically historical interest of the site.

 

The Chairman agreed with Councillor Pond and stated that some of the funding was to get the site ready to be reopened and they were all working very hard in the background towards that, but in order for the funding to be released projects must be put forward and that was why there would be some delay.

 

Councillor D Plummer asked if there was any further information for PGL to take over part of the site and turn it into a holiday camp.

 

The Chairman advised that she had recently asked the Council’s Planning department if there had been any planning applications submitted for the site and was informed that there had been none.

 

(b)       Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF)

 

Councillor M Sartin asked if Councillor B Rolfe was the Council’s representative on the Voluntary Action Epping Forest group and if so could he bring a report to the next Council meeting on the various areas of work that had been carried out in the District over the Covid-19 period.

 

Councillor B Rolfe advised that there hadn’t been any recent meetings that he had been invited to but he would make enquires and report back at the next Council meeting.

 

Councillor S Murray added that he received regular emails from VAEF outlining what they had been doing and assumed that the emails went to all Members.

 

Councillor Sartin advised that she also got the emails but thought it should come to a Council meeting so that the wider audience could be informed.

 

(c)        Epping Forest Care and Repair

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse asked if a report on the Epping Forest Care and Repair service could come to the next meeting as there had not been any updates for quite a while.