Venue: Virtual Meeting on Zoom. View directions
Contact: Gary Woodhall Tel: (01992) 564243 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This virtual meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to unmute before speaking.
The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager 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, the Chairman may need to adjourn the meeting.”
The Democratic and Electoral Services Team Manager reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.
Declarations of Interest
To declare interests in any item on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest made pursuant to the Council’s Code of Member Conduct.
To approve as a correct record and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 25 February 2021, as attached.
That the minutes of the Council meeting held on 25 February 2021 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record subject to the following:
Councillor L Burrows advised that the last sentence of his question was missing under minute item 66 Questions by Members without notice, (h) which has been added to the minutes of 25 February 2021:
‘How can residents trust the Epping Liberal Democrats.’
Councillor S Heap advised that under item 68 The Pay Policy Statement that he did ask questions regarding the senior salary payments. He was advised by the Democratic Services Officer that the minutes of the meeting were not verbatim and under this section so long as the decision was correctly recorded the discussion by Members was not mandatory to record in the minutes.
Councillor J M Whitehouse stated that as Councillor L Burrows asked for his minute item to be corrected then he would also like to have his comments recorded in the minutes for clarity of Councillor Burrows information that was incorrect and misleading.
(a) Chairman’s Announcements
(b) Members not seeking re-election
To acknowledge that Councillor B Sandler, M McEwen, D Roberts and A Beales were not seeking re-election as Members of Epping Forest District Council at the District Election on Thursday 6 May 2021, this would be their last official Council meeting.
Ceremonial recognition of the length of service would be presented at the Annual Council on the 25 May 2021.
(a) The Chairman reminded Members to submit their Related Party Declarations for the year 2020/21.
Councillor C C Pond stated that he and Councillor C P Pond had not received the related party declarations to complete.
The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager advised that he would check with accountancy and get back to the Councillors.
(b) Members as you are aware this would be the last Full Council meeting of the Civic Year and a time for us to reflect on the last 12 months.
There have been many changes for all of us over the year and I would like to acknowledge the strength and fortitude that many of us in our community have had to endure with when faced with Covid 19.
Many have escaped the virus but had restricted freedoms, many have suffered from Covid 19 and still suffer the consequences and many too have lost loved ones and their hearts are still broken. Indeed, not due to the pandemic, we have all suffered a loss back in July when our dear friend and valued council member Syd Stavrou passed away. I still miss her to this day.
But through these unprecedented times, we have all learnt valuable lessons, to appreciate those around us that we care and love and to value our community.
As a Council we have had to change to ensure our staff remained safe and that our residents and businesses were still supported and you too Members have had to adapt in so many ways. We have had to learn new skills, especially in how our council meetings were administered. We have all managed to join a meeting in zoom, learnt how to mute our microphones and to raise a hand, simple tasks now that almost seemed impossible 12 months ago.
Members, I would like to thank you all for overcoming the problems we all faced and for accepting my changes and adjustments to how a council meeting was conducted. I am sure you will agree with me that despite the adversity we have faced we have all risen to the occasion and ensured that council business was conducted in a fair and professional manner.
Looking back over the past year I cannot let this opportunity pass without mentioning the members of staff who work for Epping Forest District Council. They too have had to change, by changing how they work and where they work.
Change was not always welcome, but I know that we have a loyal and committed workforce who always go that extra mile to uphold the behaviours and values of the Council and for that I would like to say a personal thank you to each and every one of them.
The Chairman acknowledged some of the Council’s staff who had taken this opportunity to develop their own careers and had moved onto pastures new. Julie Chandler and Peter Charman, who helped me so much during the Leisure Contract, with the enhancements of the Loughton, Epping and ... view the full minutes text for item 78.
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.
The Council noted that there were no public questions under notice that had been submitted for consideration at this meeting.
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.
The Council noted that there were no questions by members under notice that had been submitted for consideration at this meeting.
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;
(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).
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 since the last Full Council meeting on the 25 February 2021, it had been a busy time for the Council, high streets, businesses and the Country as a whole, as the timetable to bring the Country out of lockdown had begun. The Council have been actively engaged in helping businesses back to life on the high streets. Throughout Epping High Street there were notices on the lampposts to encourage people to shop local and it was encouraging to see the car parks getting busier and also the hospitality venue gardens being open and I am sure as the Country progresses to the next stage of the lockdown programme on the 17 May, with inside dining getting ready to open again.
It would be interesting to see what happens after 17 May, when Council meetings will become physical again and meeting in the Civic Offices. I believe going forward this will be a positive outcome for the Council and our residents.
Over the last year we have all been conditioned to work differently, at times this has been challenging and again we will seek different challenges once we start going back to physical meetings with some meetings still being held virtually. I believe for a time there will be a mixture of virtual and physical meetings and some meetings will stay as virtual for the foreseeable future.
The refurbished Civic Offices had been completed and I have been liaising with the Essex Library Services regarding them bringing the library service into the Civic Offices. The meeting was held with the Cabinet Member for Libraries and the library staff and he reported that it was a very positive meeting and progress was being made and he looked forward to reporting on further progress.
He also advised that he had met with Councillor Murray and Councillor Pond to discuss the Debden Library and will be meeting with the Cabinet Member for Libraries again to discuss Debden but with the forthcoming elections the Cabinet Member may change. It was important that this Council can influence and can talk to the correct people to move the library decisions forward.
After this very difficult year the Council was about taking Epping Forest forward in the next year and the five sites in Epping would support and fund the new Epping Sports Centre.
(b) The Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder
Councillor A Patel advised that at the Cabinet meeting on the 20 April 2021 that he gave members a detailed verbal update on the Council’s assets at Centric Parade, Loughton, 202-226 High Road, Loughton and The Broadway, Debden.
To summarise Centric Parade had been hit by the effects of the Covid lockdown, four shops had become vacant and two ... view the full minutes text for item 81.
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.
The Chairman thanked Members for giving notification of their intention to ask a question without notice.
She advised Members that any interpretation of breaking the purdah rules, the Monitoring Officer would intervene and that she would not permit the question to be answered. The purdah rules were designed to ensure that Council resources would not be used to promote individual candidates. Any webcast meeting was a council resource and therefore cannot be used for self-promotion.
(a) Conservative Party Literature
Councillor S Heap stated that his question was to the Leader of Council and referred to a leaflet that was published and distributed by the Conservative Party about the Green Party which contained some inaccuracies that need to be addressed. Firstly, the Green Party want to abandon or abolish home ownership, which was not true and secondly that the Green Party wanted to introduce Clean Air Zones CAZ all over the country, maybe that was a good idea but that would only happen if there was a cheap and viable alternative to it. It should be pointed out that the CAZ which was proposed for Epping Forest was only proposed by the Conservatives and only voted in favour of by the Conservatives. Lastly, it was also stated in the leaflet that the Green Party wished to increase taxes and redistribute wealth. Therefore could the Leader explain how did any fiscal policy work at District, County or National level, if it’s not redistribution of wealth and how could the Leader as a member of the County Council vote to increase the ECC proportion of Council Tax and redistribute that wealth.
Councillor C Whitbread stated that Councillor Heap gave a very long diatribe which was a political broadcast before he got to any form of question and the information came from the 1919 Green Party election manifesto and if Councillor Heap had checked it then he would know where his party stood.
Council Tax in Epping Forest was the lowest in Essex and this Council protected frontline services. There was nothing wrong with increasing Council Tax for high quality services if you did it in the correct way and that has always been the way of Epping Forest and was also the way of Essex County Council. Therefore, I do not see the point of your question as it was not a question for this Council on wealth re-distribution, this Council was about providing the best quality frontline services for its residents at the best possible value.
He stated that there was had never been a vote on the CAZ because the CAZ had not even been designed or consulted on and what this Conservative group had said was that we will do everything we can to mitigate against the need for a CAZ. I would like to point out that it was the Liberal Democrats and the one Green party member at Essex County Council who voted to bring in road charges across hot spots in Essex, Epping Forest being one of ... view the full minutes text for item 82.
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.
The Chairman reported that there were no motions to be considered at the meeting.
(Commercial and Regulatory Services) To consider the attached Qualis Quarterly Monitoring Report for Q1 2020/21, which covers the period from 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021.
Mover: Councillor A Patel, Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder
The Chairman advised that this report had been to Cabinet and the Select Panels and suggested that Members go straight to questions. Were Members in agreement or would they like the Portfolio Holder to present the report to Council.
Councillor S Heap asked how many positions in the Qualis Group benefit from a bonus scheme and what was the expected total of the bonus scheme this year.
Councillor A Patel advised that he was not in a position to answer this question and would find out the information and come back to Councillor Heap outside of the meeting.
Councillor Heap stated that positions had been advertised with a bonus scheme related therefore, what was that bonus scheme which should have been known by the Portfolio Holder before the question was asked.
Councillor Patel reiterated that he did not have that information to hand and would have to report back to Councillor Heap at a later date.
Councillor S Murray stated that his question related to two sections of the report, page 102, section 10. Operational Performance, Qualis Management and page 103, section 12. Key Actions for completion in the next quarter, both of which refer to housing maintenance especially page 103 where it had referenced, Complete fine tuning of Housing Maintenance SLA and final confirmation of operational and financial KPIs. He stated that as Housing Management was a key frontline service, had any thought been given as to how members, going forward on those issues, would be able to exercise any scrutiny. The reason behind the question was that he regarded the housing repair service to the Councils tenants as a frontline service and although Qualis were now delivering this service for the Council it still must be scrutinised. Therefore, what level of member input will there be in the Service Level Agreement and scrutiny going forward.
Councillor A Patel stated that he believed Councillor Murray had already asked that question at a different meeting and therefore just to clarify as was stated at that meeting that he was happy for a report to come forward to the relevant Select Committee and to discuss the achievements of the maintenance team in relation to their KPIs. I suggest this report should go to a later scrutiny meeting on the year anniversary of when the service was transferred to Qualis.
Councillor C C Pond referred to page 87, 3.7. Roundhills and Pyrles Lane Delivery Plans to Board and advised that he spoke to someone who claimed that they had heard a conversation regarding the Pyrles Lane site which implied that the scheme would be delivered at a much greater intensity than the consented scheme which Area Plans Sub-Committee South gave permission for a few years ago. Therefore, would the Portfolio Holder like to deny that.
Councillor A Patel advised that in terms of the actual details of this scheme at present there was no scheme. A business case would have to be ... view the full minutes text for item 84.
(Customer and Corporate Support Services) To consider and adopt the Calendar of Meetings for the 2021/22 municipal year.
Mover: Councillor S Kane, Customer & Corporate Services Portfolio Holder
Councillor S Kane submitted a report regarding the Calendar of Council meetings for 2021/22.
Councillor C Whitbread requested that the Full Council meeting normally held towards the end of April be moved backwards as he felt that this was too near to the elections.
Report as first movedADOPTED
That subject to the alteration of the Full Council Meeting on the 28 April 2022, the draft Calendar of Council meetings for 2021/22 as attached be adopted.
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.
An extra meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been organised for 8 June 2021. This is to allow members the opportunity to pre-scrutinise Cabinet business before its decision deadline of 21 June 2021. (Referenced in Paragraph 7 of the Overview and Scrutiny report.)
The Council received a written report from Councillor M Sartin, the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which detailed the meeting held on 15 April 2021 which was for noting.
Councillor Sartin made reference to paragraph 1 of the report and the four Youth Councillors, Aliza Zarras from West Hatch, Martin Prinsloo from Davenant Foundation, Natalie Mofffat from Roding Valley and Sonny Bazzoni from Epping St John’s who gave a presentation at that meeting. She advised that each new cohort of Youth Councillors that were elected by their fellow pupils have never failed to impress us with their abilities and it was the same again this year. The four members representing the Youth Council on the 15 April definitely stepped up to the mark and they gave an excellent presentation on the work that they had undertaken under the difficult circumstances that had challenged them this year. All of their meetings have been held on Zoom and they have not had much opportunity to meet face to face with each other and we certainly look forward to hearing what they have been working on later this year.
(1) That the Overview and Scrutiny progress report for the meeting held on 15 April 2021 be noted.
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.
a) There were no updates from council representatives on any other business of joint arrangements and external organisations; and
b) There were no requests made for written reports by representatives on joint arrangements and external organisations for the next meeting.