Agenda and minutes

Council
Thursday, 17th December, 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

41.

Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking. The Democratic Services Manager will read the following announcement:

 

“The Chairman 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).

 

If you are seated in the lower public seating area it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast.

 

This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if you wish to avoid this you should move to the upper public gallery.”

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager 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.

42.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 173 KB

That the minutes of the last meeting will follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

          RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the Council Meeting held on 29 October 2020 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record subject to page 4, Questions without Notice, (d) New Epping Sports Centre, it stated Councillor J H Whitehouse had asked a question to the Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio when in fact it should have read Councillor J M Whitehouse.

43.

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.

44.

Announcements

(a)        Apologies for Absence

 

(b)        Chairman’s Announcements

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)        Announcements by the Chairman of Council

 

(i)         Former Joint Chief Executive John Scott

 

It was with much sadness that the Chairman informed Members that former Joint Chief Executive John Scott had recently passed away.

 

John Scott joined Epping Forest District Council as a housing manager and rose to become joint Chief Executive. As District Health and Housing Officer, his signature appeared on countless tenancy documents and agreements. His name was synonymous with house and home for thousands of local families.

 

He was an ‘old-school’ public servant. Housing was his vocation. Sometimes seen as a gruff plain speaker, those closest to him knew him to be a sensitive man who cared deeply. Today, many thousands of people live in safe, warm, good quality housing thanks to John Scott’s legacy.

 

When the council restarted its council house-building programme, John Scott Court in Waltham Abbey was named in his honour.

 

Members paid tribute to the memory of former Joint Chief Executive John Scott and a minutes silence was held in his honour.

 

(ii)        Lighting of the Menorah in Epping

 

The Chairman advised that she was delighted to be invited to attend the switching on of the Menorah in Epping.

 

At sundown on Thursday 10 December 2020 a giant Menorah (candelabra) was lit on the green in Epping to mark the start of the Jewish Festival of Chanukah.


It was the first time the festival had been marked in this way in Epping and had been brought about by Rabbi Yossi Posen and his wife Rivka who direct a Jewish Community Centre, the Chabad Centre which served Epping and the wider areas of West Essex.

 

(iii)       Julie Chandler

 

The Chairman informed Members that Julie Chandler, Service Director, Communities  left EFDC on the 11 December 2020 after 42 years of dedicated service to Epping Forest District Council.

 

The Chairman advised Members that Julie was one of the most committed members of staff she had the privilege to work with in her capacity as Portfolio Holder for Leisure. Hours were spent discussing and monitoring the progress of the refurbishment of the Museum and the excitement of opening the Tenders for the New Leisure Contract.

 

Julie started her career at EFDC as a lifeguard and sports coach at Ongar leisure centre back in 1978 she was promoted to an assistant manager working from the Hemnall Street offices where at its peak the over 50’s New Horizons programme had over 2000 taking part in physical and social activities every week.

 

Promotion again came and as an Assistant Sports Development Officer Julie was responsible for managing holiday playschemes across the district. Stepping up again she was appointed Leisure and Promotions Officer responsible for the new logo’s and marketing materials of all the leisure centres and the museum.

 

Many other promotions followed until Julie was appointed Service Director for Communities and Partnerships.

 

It must be noted that in her time Julie and her teams have competitively secured around £10 million external investment in Council Services for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.

45.

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.

46.

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.

47.

Reports from the Leader & Members of the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 213 KB

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

 

(a)        Report of the Leader (verbal);

 

(b)        Report of the Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder (attached);

 

(c)        Report of the Customer and Corporate Support ServicesPortfolio Holder (attached);

 

(d)        Report of the Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio Holder (attached);

 

(e)        Report of the Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder (attached);

 

(f)         Report of the Housing and Community ServicesPortfolio Holder (attached); and     

 

(g)        Report of the Planning and Sustainability Portfolio Holder (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

 

Councillor C Whitbread stated that it had been a busy time since the Council last met and a lot of the Council’s efforts had revolved around the Covid-19 situation. Members were aware that the Covid figures have been rising and the UK were in the top ten for infection rates.

 

Resources had been received from Essex County Council and the Government as businesses in the district had been hit very hard and he thanked the Officers for all their hard work and effort to help in getting the grants out to businesses across the district. There was also help for the residents who were self-isolating and encouraging those that should be. The message to all residents was about personal responsibility and hope that over the Christmas period people keep their travelling down to a minimum and to keep themselves as much as they can to stay within their own homes, so enjoy Christmas make the best of it but keep in mind all the people around us and lets try and get this virus beaten. It was encouraging to know that a vaccination has been found and the roll out of that had now started and we can all look forward to a better 2021.

 

The Council have signed and completed on a lease with HMRC for a customs facility at North Weald Airfield, which had been achieved within Government timescales and will become effective on the 1 January 2021 when Great Britain leaves the European Union and Members will be kept updated at this progresses.

 

Good progress was being made on the refurbishment of the Civic Offices and would be finished on schedule, by the fourth quarter of this municipal year and it will be good to get back to face to face meetings. It was encouraging to see that the apprenticeship scheme was continuing with a new intake of apprentices.

 

The recovery was high on the Councils agenda and there has been some brilliant work done by Members and Officers and a number of reports that have come forward to Cabinet and then onto Council in recent times and again my thanks go out to Officers for all that they were doing to help and aid that recovery. This will be really important when we come through the post-Covid period that we have an economic strategy that works as we move forward.

 

(b)        Housing and Community Services Portfolio Holder

 

Apprentices

 

Councillor H Whitbread advised that she had recently met six of the new housing apprentices and that she was really impressed how they had all gotten involved so quickly within the few months they had been working particularly during the pandemic.

 

Stay Well this Winter

 

Councillor H Whitbread stated that senior residents in the district were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

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 intentions to ask questions without notice.

 

(a)        Essex County Council’s for the vulnerable during the Christmas period.

 

Councillor L Burrows asked the Housing and Community Services Portfolio Holder if she would like to comment on Essex County Council’s support for the vulnerable through the Holiday Hunger and Welfare schemes.

 

Councillor H Whitbread replied that she was pleased when Essex County Council announced a Holiday Hunger programme, with the help of Government funding were able to roll out this programme. There were two specific programmes running in the district, one at Ongar Primary School run by the Red Balloon Foundation from the 21-23 December, there will be activities, arts and crafts for residents and children to get involved with as well as a healthy meal and a food parcel to take home. The second programme was at Oakwood Hill Community Centre in Loughton run by the Restored Church. In addition to this programme Voluntary Action Epping Forest and Essex Child and Family Wellbeing services were also providing food parcels and support to vulnerable families during this time.

 

(b)        Demand responsive and regular services which were replacing bus route 87

 

Councillor C C Pond asked the Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio Holder what was being done with regard to linking in the Epping Forest Retail Shopping Park with Debden Broadway. He added that it seemed wrong that the Council should own a retail park and the only way to travel to the park was by car.

 

Councillor N Avey advised that he did not know the answer to the question but did agree with what Councillor Pond had said, he advised that he would speak to the officers concerned and reply back to Councillor Pond.

 

(c)        How Covid had affected the District in 2020

 

Councillor G Chambers stated that 2020 had been a very difficult year and asked the Leader of Council if he could sum up how Covid had affected the district in 2020 and how the Council had performed during this period.

 

Councillor C Whitbread agreed that it had been a difficult year but it had shown the importance of Local Government, how good the officer teams were, how well that everyone, Councillors and Officers, had pulled together through the pandemic. There had been some brilliant examples in the way the Government grants were quickly turned around and sent out to businesses, Epping Forest was one of the fastest to get these grants paid in Essex. The work done around the welfare section and the ability to help high streets become socially distanced and doing the job as normal against the most difficult times. Learning to work from home, being flexible and doing all those extra things that make Epping Forest a special place to live and work in. As we move into 2021 there will be some hard times ahead and he had every confidence that Epping Forest would weather the storm and move forward. 

 

Councillor C Whitbread advised that this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

Motions

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

 

(a)        Epping Forest District Council

 

Proposed by:   Councillor Stephen Murray

Seconded by:  Councillor Steven Neville

 

“That the Council notes and:

 

(i)         recognises and celebrates the contribution and hard work of the voluntary sector and the many community groups working throughout Epping Forest;

 

(ii)        puts on record our thanks to the many volunteers for their many hours of service to our local community; and

 

(iii)       resolves to continue to support the voluntary sector and as many community groups as possible throughout 2021 and beyond.”

 

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)        Voluntary and Charitable Organisations

 

Moved by Councillor S Murray and seconded by Councillor S Neville

 

“That Epping Forest District Council:

 

(1)        Notes, recognises and celebrates the contribution and hard work of the voluntary sector and the many community groups working throughout the Epping Forest District;

 

(2)        Puts on record Member’s thanks to the many volunteers for their many hours of service to our local community; and

 

(3)        Resolves to continue to support the voluntary sector and as many community groups as possible throughout 2021 and beyond.”

 

Carried

Motion as first proposed ADOPTED

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            That Epping Forest District Council:

 

(1)        Notes, recognises and celebrates the contribution and hard work of the voluntary sector and the many community groups working throughout the Epping Forest District;

 

(2)        Puts on record Member’s thanks to the many volunteers for their many hours of service to our local community; and

 

(3)        Resolves to continue to support the voluntary sector and as many community groups as possible throughout 2021 and beyond.

50.

QUALIS BUSINESS PLAN pdf icon PDF 201 KB

To receive the attached report of the Commercial and Regulatory Portfolio Holder on the Qualis Group Business Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mover: Councillor A Patel, Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder

 

In the absence of Councillor A Patel, Councillor C Whitbread presented a report regarding the Qualis Business Plan 2020/21. He advised that Cabinet had considered the Qualis 2020/21 Business Plan Report at its meeting on 3 December 2020 and had Recommended the Plan to Council to be approved.

 

The Governance framework for Qualis, as agreed by Cabinet on 6 February 2020, set out the requirement that Qualis should seek agreement from its sole Shareholder (Epping Forest District Council - Cabinet and Council) for its proposed activities in the forthcoming year.

 

Under the terms of the Shareholder agreement between Qualis and the Council, Qualis were required each year to bring forward an annual and a 4-year Business Plan for agreement. The Business Plan set out the detailed activities for Qualis in the forthcoming year and once agreed by the Council, Qualis could deliver these activities without further recourse to the Council. Approval of the Business Plan represented the Council’s main mechanism for annually influencing and controlling the activities of Qualis. During the year Qualis must only seek Shareholder approval if an action or activity sat outside of the approved Business Plan.

 

The Business Plan submitted by Qualis, attached to the agenda (pages 51-52), met the requirements to produce a 1 year Plan, setting out their immediate priorities. However, Qualis had asked for more time to produce their 4 year Strategic Plan as the permanent Board membership was only confirmed by Council on 29 October 2020.  This would then give the new Board sufficient time to properly consider direction, longer term plans and strategy.  Cabinet agreed that more time to properly undertake the development of a 4 year Plan was appropriate.

 

Councillor H Kauffman advised that in terms of complete transparency to all Members, he would like to propose a Full Members briefing to take place towards the end of January 2021 on the Qualis Investment Strategy, the two properties that have been bought, the one that was under negotiation and a discussion around the rationale behind those properties and their risk profile. If a presentation from an economist could also come to the meeting to give a strategy for the goals Qualis are trying to achieve, to assemble a institutional portfolio with limited risk that would stand Qualis and the Council in good stead for the long term.

 

Proposed by Councillor H Kauffman and seconded by Councillor S Kane.

 

Report as first moved: ADOPTED

 

            RESOLVED:

 

(1)   That the Qualis 2020/21 Business Plan be agreed; and

 

(2)   That an All Member Briefing be held towards the end of January 2021 on the Qualis Investment Strategy.

51.

LOCAL COUNCIL TAX SUPPORT SCHEME 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 112 KB

To consider the attached report of the Customer and Corporate Services Portfolio Holder.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mover: Councillor S Kane, Customer and Corporate Support Services Portfolio Holder

 

Councillor S Kane presented a report regarding the Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2021/22, which had remained unchanged from 2020/21.

 

Report as first moved ADOPTED

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            That the revised Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2021/22 be approved.

52.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To receive the report of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and to answer any questions without notice asked in accordance with Council Rules.

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 19 November 2020. She advised that there was an amendment on page 75 of the Agenda in paragraph 1. where it referred to Dr John McGill this should in fact be Mr John McGill.

 

Councillor S Murray expressed concerns regarding the release of the restrictive covenants to Epping Forest College (New City College). He thanked the Members and Officers involved with the call-in to safeguard the land and the proposed new wellness centre for the community; and to resolve the future of the remaining open space and its protection for the community in perpetuity.

 

The sports hall that was built with public subscription for ordinary working class people to use which then got transferred to the college without any compensation to the local community. The College then proceeded to knock it down and sold the land for millions of pounds and an old peoples home was built on that land. New City College have campuses all over the country so what guarantee do the Council have that the money will be spent on the college in Loughton.

 

Councillor S Murray then went onto comment about the appointment of the new Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Stronger Place Select Committee and thought it was unfair that none of the minority groups were considered for these positions.

 

He asked the Leader if in 2021/22 he would be prepared to accept nominations for any chairman and vice-chairman for the Council and the Select Committees from a non-Conservative group.

 

Councillor C Whitbread advised that his group would be meeting regularly and would discuss Councillor Murrays question and would in time let the other groups know what they decide. It had been a very difficult year and next year would be no easier therefore, we all had to focus going forward to do the best that we can for the Epping Forest district.

 

Councillor M Sartin stated this was an outline report of the Overview and Scrutiny meeting on the 19 November 2020 and the minutes of that meeting will be published shortly and they were very detailed minutes going in depth on a lot of these items. The call-in for the release of the restrictive covenants to Epping Forest College (New City College) did get referred back to Cabinet on 3 December 2020 and it was Cabinet who made the decision.

 

Councillor C C Pond stated that the fact the call in was referred back to Cabinet for further consideration, he advised he was looking to the Leader of Council to find a way of protecting in perpetuity the remaining open space which will be left in the so-called wellness centre so that at 5, 10 or 15 years down the line we do not have to have the same argument again and that it should be protected for the use of the people of the district  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

STATEMENT OF LICENSING POLICY pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To receive a report of the Chairman of the Licensing Committee to recommend that the Council adopts the Statement of Licensing Policy attached as an appendix to the report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mover: Councillor R Morgan, Chairman of the Licensing Committee

 

Councillor R Morgan advised that on 30 November 2020, the Licensing Committee considered a report on renewing the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy.

 

The Licensing Authority had a statutory duty to review its licensing policy and as such, a consultation was carried out, beginning 22 September 2020 to 16 November 2020.

 

The new Policy updated the existing, to align with current internal council decision making; informing on current guidance and other publications and updating details of consultees. There was also a section that covered Exchange of Information, not included in the previous Policy document, which recognised the Council’s responsibilities under the General Data Protection Regulations. The Policy document would be reviewed again no later than 2025 or such earlier time if deemed necessary.

 

Report as first moved: ADOPTED

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            That the recommendations from the Licensing Committee be adopted.

54.

CALL-IN AND URGENCY - ADDITIONAL RESTRICTIONS GRANT POLICY pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To note the attached decision taken by the Chairman of the Council to waive the call-in provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Rules.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman of Council, Councillor H Kane advised that in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Rule 53 (Special Urgency) of the Constitution she was satisfied that the following decision of the Cabinet was reasonable in all circumstances and should be treated as a matter of urgency as any delay likely to be caused by the call-in process would seriously prejudice the Council’s interests, as it would substantially lessen the time to get grant payments to struggling businesses.

 

The Government has made available a range of grants for businesses during the Covid period. One of the grants related to those businesses that can remain open during the latest Covid lockdown but were severely affected by its impact, as an example there will be businesses that supply the hospitality business and remain open yet their income has been severely affected. The grant was referred to as the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) and it was for each local authority to determine their own policy in relation to this in accordance with Government guidelines.

 

Decision:

 

(1)        That the Additional Restrictions Grant policy be approved; and

 

(2)        That the Chairman of Council be requested to waive the call-in requirements for this decision due to it being considered urgent and any delay caused by the call-in process would seriously prejudice the public interest.

55.

Joint Arrangements & External Organisations

(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)        Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF)

 

The Council received a verbal report regarding VAEF from Councillor B Rolfe, he advised that he had now attended the AGM and a meeting of the Trustees. He stated that he did not see any minutes from the VAEF as these were private meetings and he thought he should be party to those minutes.

 

The next meeting was on the 25 January 2021 and he stated he intended to bring a report to the next Council meeting.

 

Councillor S Murray thanked Councillor Rolfe for his report and stated that VAEF had a private element where other member’s are not invited, this was normal practice amongst most organisations.

 

Councillor D Plummer advised that VAEF sent out regular email updates to members and he found these to be very informative.