Agenda and minutes

Council
Thursday, 28th October, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

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

Media

Items
No. Item

33.

Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking. The Democratic and Electoral Services Team 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 meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.

34.

FORMER COUNCILLORS H TAYLOR AND D KELLY AND SIR DAVID AMESS, MP

The Council is invited to stand for a minute’s silence in tribute to the memory of former District Councillor and Chairman of Council Harry Taylor, who recently passed away.

 

Former Councillor Harry Taylor served as a Conservative District Councillor representing the High Beach Ward of Waltham Abbey from 1974 to 1987 then representing Waltham Abbey West from 1991 to 1995 and 1999 to 2003. Former Councillor Taylor became Vice Chairman of Council in 1978/79 and he was elected as Chairman in the 1979/80 municipal year. During his terms of office former Councillor Taylor served on various committees, sub-committees and working groups, including the Development Committee, Plans Sub-Committee C as Chairman, Public Health Committee as Vice Chairman and the Grange Farm Management Sub-Committee as Vice Chairman.

 

Former Councillor Taylor also sat as the Council’s representative on various outside bodies, Association of District Councils (Essex Branch), Citizens Advice Bureau Cheshunt and Waltham Abbey, Waltham Abbey Community Association and Waltham Holy Cross Old People’s Welfare Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)        Former Member of Parliament Sir David Amess

           

The Chairman paid tribute to the sad loss of Sir David Amess who served as a Member of Parliament for Southend West from May 1997 until his death on 15 October 2021. Deepest condolences go to his family and friends and all those who knew him.

 

(b)       Former District Councillors Harry Taylor and Doug Kelly

 

The Chairman informed members that former Councillors and Chairmen of Council Harry Taylor and Doug Kelly had recently passed away.

 

Former Councillor Harry Taylor had served as a Conservative District Councillor and represented the High Beach Ward of Waltham Abbey from 1974 to 1987 and then Waltham Abbey West from 1991 to 1995 and 1999 to 2003. He became Vice-Chairman of Council in 1978/79 and was elected Chairman of Council in the 1979/80 municipal year. During his terms of office former Councillor Taylor served on various committees, sub-committees and working groups.

 

Former Councillor Doug Kelly served as a Liberal Democratic District Councillor representing the Roothing Country and Moreton and Fyfield Wards from 1996 to 2008. He became Vice Chairman of Council in 2001/02 and was elected Chairman of Council in the 2002/03 municipal year. During his terms of office former Councillor Kelly served on various committees, sub-committees and working groups.

 

Members paid tribute to the memory of Sir David Amess MP and former District Councillors Harry Taylor and Doug Kelly and a minute’s silence was held in their honour.

35.

APPOINTMENT TO VICE CHAIRMAN

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In the absence of Councillor J Share-Bernia, who had tendered her apologies for the meeting, the Chairman requested that Councillor M Sartin be appointed as the Vice-Chairman for the meeting.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That Councillor M Sartin be appointed Vice-Chairman for the duration of the  meeting.

36.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 377 KB

To approve as a correct record and sign the minutes of the meeting held on the 29 July 2021, as attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the Council meeting held on 29 July 2021 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

37.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Pursuant to the Council’s Code of Member Conduct, Councillor S Murray declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 11 Motion, regarding Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by virtue of being a weekly volunteer at the Epping Forest Foodbank and the Free Food for You, Loughton Hub.

38.

Announcements

(a)        Chairman’s Announcements

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)        Chairman’s Announcements

 

(i)         The Chairman advised that she would like to acknowledge that one of our Members, Richard Morgan, who after a delay of over 18 months, had now been presented with a national honour at Windsor Castle by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal. Richard Morgan MBE had been awarded with this honour in recognition for his services to the community. Without a doubt, Richard had been, and still was, one of the most active and influential Local Councillors serving Epping Forest District Council.

 

Richard was elected as a local Ward Councillor on the District Council in 1983 and as we all know he was still serving and representing local people to this day. He was elected Chairman of Council in the 2004/05 municipal year.

 

Richard, I speak on behalf of all Members, would like congratulate you on receiving this honour and we are all delighted that you have been recognised in such a way, by becoming a member of the Most Excellent order of the British Empire.

 

Councillor Richard Morgan thanked the Chairman for her kind words and stated that it was a great honour to have received this award from Princess Anne who he found to be an extremely nice lady to talk to. He advised that he should have gone to Buckingham Palace in March 2020 to receive this award which had to be postponed 2 days before due to the Pandemic.

 

Councillor Morgan stated that he and his family had a lovely day out at Windsor Castle and he felt really honoured to have received such an award.

 

(ii)                        The Chairman advised that she had been very busy attending Civic functions since the last Council meeting in July. Although it had been good to feel that some normality was returning we still need to be very careful as Covid had not gone away.

 

(iii)                      The Chairman highlighted some of the engagements that she had recently attended:

 

·        She stated that she was delighted to attend the all-day Health and Wellbeing event at the Civic Offices in the Community Hub, it was a great event to happen and in the newly refurbished Council offices; and

 

·        She advised that it was an honour to present the Arts Awards at the Waltham Abbey Museum. It was wonderful to see so many young people in the district and how they have been engaging with the arts, it showed what we did best, collaborate and work with the local community.

 

(iii)       The Chairman congratulated everyone who participated in the London Marathon, Councillor Jon Whitehouse who finished in record time, Keira Seager, the daughter of Pat Seager, who raised £3,500 for the Dogs Trust and one of our officers Gerry Greenwold who works in the Business Rates Team, well done to them all.

 

(b)       Flowers

 

The Chairman announced that she intended that the flowers from this evenings meeting to go to the Community Hub in the Civic Offices to be enjoyed by all of the visitors.

39.

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 that had been submitted for consideration at this meeting.

40.

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.

 

Question by Councillor C C Pond to the Portfolio Holder for Planning Services, Councillor N Bedford

 

To prevent the uncontrolled exercise of inappropriate and deleterious development, will the PFH for planning please give 12 months public notice of issuing article 4 directions to prevent the use of permitted development rights in respect of the following:

 

·        Conversion of shops to residential units;

·        Conversion of offices and similar buildings to residential units; and

·        Any works to frontages, boundaries, roofs and the surfacing of front gardens in conservation areas and heritage assets, similar to those imposed by EFDC on two CAs 25 years ago.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Question by Councillor C C Pond to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Sustainability, Councillor N Bedford

 

“Could the Planning and Sustainability Portfolio Holder agree;

 

To prevent uncontrolled exercise of inappropriate and deleterious development, will the PFH for planning please give 12 months public notice of issuing article 4 directions to prevent the use of permitted development rights in respect of the following:

           Conversion of shops to residential units;

           Conversion of offices and similar buildings to residential units; and

           Any works to frontages, boundaries, roofs and the surfacing of front gardens in conservation areas and heritage assets, similar to those imposed by EFDC on two CAs 25 years ago.

 

Response to Councillor C C Pond from Councillor N Bedford

 

The District Council can only impose an “Article 4” directions in very limited situations where it was necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts and protect local amenity.  It must be based upon robust evidence and can only apply to the smallest geographic area possible.

 

The Council have controls in place through their policies in the emerging Local Plan which seek to limit the loss of office and retail space.  Planning permission will not normally be permitted unless evidence demonstrates that there was no longer a reasonable prospect of the site being used for the existing employment use.   

 

It was important to note that article 4 directions to restrict the change of use of shops/offices to residential use may accelerate conversions as applicants can apply for the change of use prior to the Article 4 direction taking effect. 

 

There was also a risk of compensation for those owners/occupiers affected by the additional burden of securing planning permission for something that would otherwise be permitted development.  

 

Additionally, it could be seen as contrary to the Government’s objective to provide flexibility and adaptability for businesses, particularly during periods of uncertainty such as the pandemic.

 

Likewise, seeking to restrict permitted development rights in relation to conservation area/heritage assets requires careful consideration. The Council would need to identify the harm being caused to such assets and assess their significance to justify Article 4 for restrictions. Again, it would need to be routed in evidence.  

 

Conclusion

 

At this point, the Council does not have the evidence or justification to demonstrate that it would be appropriate and proportionate to consider the introduction of Article 4 directions.  However, the Council will continue to monitor the loss of office and retail space and the economic and social impact it has upon the evolution of our town centres and any future compensatory measures that may need to be made to offset the loss of retail and office floorspace. 

 

Councillor C C Pond stated that the question was phrased as it was, as by giving six months’ notice any question of compensation could be avoided. I have heard what the Portfolio Holder has said and I will write to him, particularly in respect of the bullet point added regarding demolitions, where some rather sharp practice has been going  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Reports from the Leader and Members of the Cabinet pdf icon PDF 329 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;

 

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

 

(c)        Report of the Corporate ServicesPortfolio Holder (attached);

 

(d)        Report of the Customer and Partnerships Portfolio Holder (attached);

 

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

 

(f)         Report of the Finance, Qualis Client and Economic Development Portfolio Holder (attached);

 

(g)        Report of the Housing Services Portfolio Holder (attached); and    

 

(h)        Report of the Planning and Sustainability Portfolio Holder (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council received written reports from the 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 any updates on matters concerning their relevant portfolios.

 

(a)        Leader of Council

 

The Leader expressed his disappointment at having to join the meeting on zoom due to him having contracted Covid and he advised that it was bad enough to have Covid after having both vaccinations and would recommend to everyone present if you get an opportunity of having the booster vaccination to take it as well as the flu vaccination as he would not want to wish Covid on anyone and was quite unpleasant.

 

He advised that he had watched the DDMC meeting the previous evening and stated what a good result it was for Epping with a new sports centre with a swimming pool being approved, at a very well chaired and very well debated meeting and he thanked the Members that participated in the meeting.

 

The summer seemed a long time ago and much had happened since. Firstly the Boundary Commission were looking as the size and nature of the Council going forward. A Portfolio Holder Advisory Group had now been set up and the first meeting was on the 4 November 2021 and that would progress by starting to look at the make-up of the Council, the number of Members, whether the Council should opt for all out for selection or stay as thirds. There was a huge amount of work to be done around this review and Officers were addressing some of the background work.

 

He advised that he had recently met with the Leader and Deputy Leader of Essex County Council where he had the opportunity to show them around the Civic Offices and the Civic Hub which they were very impressed by and other Councils were now looking towards what EFDC had done as a way forward post pandemic, to make buildings work in a more productive manner. He stated that partnership working with County and all levels of local government was the way forward for the future to get the best value for money and the best services for EFDC residents.

 

He advised that he and Councillor J Philip had been meeting regularly with planning colleagues, the Harlow Garden Town Team and the Leaders of Harlow and East Herts. Members may be aware that there will be a new Leader of Harlow shortly and that he would speak more about that at the next Council meeting in December 2021.

 

There were challenging times ahead of the Council, the Government had done what it could to help through the Pandemic, to which we are still all recovering from and it was encouraging news that the high streets were starting to show signs of recovery. Everyone should still take precautions and wear a mask in closed in areas, do the right thing to help protect each other and the local economy.

 

(b)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

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 a question without notice.

 

(a)        Waste Management Contract

 

Councillor S Murray advised his question was to Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio Holder and expressed concerns regarding the shortage of suitably qualified HGV drivers and that there were contingency plans put in place and what were these plans. Secondly what contingency plans are being made to deal with the issue around the shortage of wheelie bins.

 

Councillor N Avey advised that the Council were constantly discussing with Biffa driver issues and contingency plans around the countrywide shortage of HGV driver and that was affecting Biffa. They have advised us that they were managing to have enough drivers to meet the needs and I would like to praise Biffa, especially over the last couple of difficult years, at the wonderful service they had given the Council throughout the Pandemic and even with the HGV driver shortage they are providing a terrific and professional service to the residents of Epping Forest.

 

Regarding the wheelie bin shortage I believe there are still stocks of both the household waste and the green waste wheelie bins but as the Portfolio Holder I will be looking at that situation and find out why there was a shortage and when it would be resolved.

 

(b)        Viability assessments on planning applications

 

Councillor K Williamson advised his question was to the Planning and Sustainability Portfolio Holder and stated with the viability assessments on planning applications that do not meet the 40% affordable housing criteria, who pays the consultants’ fees for Epping Forest District Council (EFDC). If EFDC pay these then shouldn’t it be on a similar basis to party wall awards where the applicant pays. He further expressed concerns with the basis that the 40% could not be achieved due to enhanced specifications.

 

Councillor N Bedford stated that the starting point for affordable housing provision for residential developments providing 11 units or more and a requirement of 40% of the total provided in-situ, as set out in the emerging Local Plan. The target set out in this policy included provision for the amount of affordable housing permitted under the policy to be subject to viability, in practice this meant that if the applicant wished to argue that their scheme could not afford to make the required on-site provision, or an offsite affordable housing contribution, in lieu of an on-site provision, the applicant could seek to make their case through the submission of detailed viability assessments and evidence to the Council.

 

The Council used viability consultants to consider the information and could decide to accept a lower amount of affordable housing where viability issues had been clearly demonstrated. The cost of the consultant was paid for by the applicant, the cost of what they have purchased for their site was not a determining factor in the viability argument and was not an issue for the Council.

 

The Council are looking to see if they could provide some member training  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

Motions

(a)        Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit

 

Proposed by: Cllr Stephen Murray

 

Seconded by: Cllr Steven Neville

 

“That Epping Forest District Council notes that:

 

(1)        The Government has, as from 6th October 2021, cut universal credit and working tax credit by £20 a week;

 

(2)        This weekly cut is equivalent to £1,040 a year;  

 

(3)        Epping Forest Food-bank estimates that here in Epping Forest this decision is likely to have a serious impact on more than 9,000 people; and

 

(4)        That Epping Forest District Council resolves to ask our three local MP’s to actively seek the reinstatement of this £20 cut as soon as possible.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)        Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit

 

Moved by Councillor S Murray and seconded by Councillor S Neville

 

That Epping Forest District Council notes that:

 

(1)        The Government has, as from 6th October 2021, cut universal credit and working tax credit by £20 a week;

 

(2)        This weekly cut is equivalent to £1,040 a year; 

 

(3)        The Epping Forest Food-bank estimates that here in Epping Forest this decision is likely to have a serious impact on more than 9,000 people.

 

(4)        That Epping Forest District Council resolves to ask our three local MP’s to actively seek the reinstatement of this £20 cut as soon as possible.

 

Amendment moved by Councillor S Kane and seconded by Councillor N Avey

 

That Epping Forest District Council notes that:

 

(1)        The Government has, as from 6th October 2021, withdrawn the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit- a temporary measure brought in to help people on lower incomes during the coronavirus pandemic;

 

(2)        There are currently over 8,000 claimants of Universal Credit in the District, some of whom may experience difficulties as a result of the decision to withdraw the uplift to UC;

 

(3)        Epping Forest District Council welcomes the increase in the minimum wage to £9.50 an hour and the cut in the Universal Credit taper by 8% by 1 December, bringing it down from 63% to 55% - allowing claimants to keep more of the money they earn; and

 

(4)        That Epping Forest District Council resolves to continue to support affected residents, providing access to:

 

·        Household Support Fund, Small grants worth up to £500 million intended to help struggling families meet costs for daily needs such as food, clothing and utilities;

·        Free school meals;

·        The provision of half term holiday camps from Essex County Council delivered by Active Essex and school meal vouchers;

·        Food bank vouchers;

·        EFDC Hardship Fund;

·        Support and assistance in returning to work through schemes such as:

o   The Kickstart scheme - this is funding to encourage employers to take on 16 to 24 year olds who receive Universal Credit, with the government covering the cost of 25 hours of work per week for a total of 6 months, as well as the employer's national insurance contributions. This will be extended until the end of January.

o   Job Entry Targeted Support scheme - people who have been on Universal Credit for more than 13 weeks can get employment support for 6 months, which includes a personal careers adviser.

o   Apprenticeship Incentives - this encourages employers to take on apprentices, with a payment of £3,000, in addition to the £1,000 already on offer.

o   Working in partnership – with local organisations including Voluntary Action Epping Forest, Epping Forest Food Bank and Citizens Advice to ensure that the most vulnerable receive the support they require.

 

·        Ensuring advise and support is accessible – enhancing delivery of such services through technology and the new ‘Civic Hub.’

Carried

Motion as amended ADOPTED

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            That Epping Forest District Council notes that:

 

(1)             The Government has,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

44.

APPOINTMENT TO OUTSIDE BODY - WHIPPS CROSS JOINT HEALTH OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

(Leader) At the last meeting of Council on 29 July 2021, Councillor A Patel was nominated to be the Council’s representative but it was suggested that under primary legislation the nomination of an Executive Member to this panel was debarred. However, as this was an observer position clarification would need to be sought.

 

Clarification has now been sought and Councillor J Share-Bernia is nominated instead of Councillor A Patel to represent the Council as a non-voting member to sit on the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Council is asked to consider this, and any other nominations from the other Groups, before deciding who the Council’s representative should be.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader advised that clarification had now been sought for the appointment of a non-voting representative to the JHOSC and advised that as there were no other nominations Councillor J Share-Bernia would be the Council’s representative.

45.

COUNCILLOR D PLUMMER - RESOLUTION TO EXTEND 6-MONTH RULE - SECTION 85 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972

Recommended:

 

That Council approves an extension of the 6-month rule for Councillor D Plummer on ill-health grounds until the 24 May 2022.

 

(Leader of the Green Party, Councillor S Neville) To consider an extension of the 6-month rule for Councillor D Plummer, having regard to the circumstances of his absence from meetings.

 

Section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972 requires a Member to attend a meeting no longer than six consecutive months from the date of their last attendance, failure to do so unless approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, means that the member ceases to be a member of the authority.

 

Councillor D Plummer has been unable to attend meetings since May 2021 on family matters and ill health grounds and has requested an extension for absence until 24 May 2022. This would not prevent Councillor Plummer from returning to meetings at any time, if his health allowed, but would give flexibility and prevent further recourse to Council.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that as Councillor D Plummer had attended this Council Meeting there was no need to take this item as the 6-month rule had not been breached.

46.

AUDIT AND GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE - ANNUAL REPORT 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 148 KB

(Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee) To consider the attached report recommending that the Annual Report of the Audit and Governance Committee 2020/21 be noted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor I Hadley, Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee

 

Councillor I Hadley presented the Audit and Governance Annual Report 2020/21.  He advised that the Audit and Governance committee comprised of 7 members, 2 of which were independent members. The makeup of the committee was to ensure that EFDC was compliant and robust over financial and non-financial transactions, fraud, risk and value for money.

 

He advised that there had been a delay in the previous year’s accounts being approved due to the Pandemic and going forward it had been recommended that the Audit and Governance Committee be given delegated authority to approve the Council’s annual Statement of Accounts.

 

The Finance, Qualis Client and Economic Development Portfolio Holder thanked the officers and members of the Audit and Governance Committee for their work throughout the year.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the Annual Report of the Audit & Governance Committee for 2020/21 be noted.

47.

CONSTITUTION WORKING GROUP pdf icon PDF 216 KB

(Chairman of the Constitution Working Group) To consider the attached report recommending that the Constitution be amended as detailed in the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor S Rackham, Chairman of the Constitution Working Group

 

Councillor S Rackham advised that at the Constitution Working Group meeting on the 2 September 2021 they covered the regulations governing the publication of the Council’s Statement of Accounts that had changed with the deadline being brought forward by 2 months to the 30 September 2021. Currently the Audit and Governance Committee considered the Statement of Accounts and the report of the external auditors before referring this to Full Council.

 

The Constitution Working Group recommended:

 

(1)   That the Constitution be amended to give the Audit and Governance Committee delegated authority to approve the Council’s Annual Statement of Accounts with effect from the 2020/21 financial year; and

 

(2)   That the Monitoring Officer be authorised to make the necessary revisions to the Council’s Constitution.

 

Councillor S Rackham also advised that the Constitution Working Group recommended the decision taken by the Cabinet Committee at its meeting on the 3 December 2020 (Report ref: C-045-2020/21). The Cabinet agreed the updated Procurement Strategy for 2021-2026, which came into effect on the 1 January 2021, this had been updated to reflect how Procurement supported the delivery of the Council’s Corporate Objectives and the Covid-19 recovery plan.

 

The Constitution Working Group recommended:

 

(1)   That the updated Procurement Rules amended in August 2021, as set out in the report be agreed; and

 

(2)   That the Monitoring Officer be authorised to make the necessary revisions to the Council’s Constitution, Part 4 – Procurement Rules.

 

Councillor J Philip stated that it made sense for the Audit and Governance Committee to be given delegated authority to approve the Council’s Annual Statement of Accounts and if they felt there was something of sufficient concern with the Council’s Annual Statement of Accounts then they could still refer them back to Full Council.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse stated that at the Constitution Working Group meeting she did express some reservations regarding giving delegated authority to the Audit and Governance Committee to approve the Council’s Annual Statement of Accounts as they were only a small committee and when that report came to Full Council it alerted all members. Councillor Philip had given assurance that it would be brought to the attention of Full Council, although would not be debated and I would ask him to repeat these assurances for members.

 

Councillor J Philip stated that he was happy to repeat the assurances and that it would be flagged in the Members Bulletin when the Annual Statement of Accounts would be going to the Audit and Governance Committee to be approved so that all members would be aware.

 

Councillor J M Whitehouse stated that he could see the practical advantages of the accounts going to the Audit and Governance Committee and thought that this was something all Councillors should take an interest in. He referred to page 98 of the agenda which had been added to the Terms of Refrence of the Audit and Governance Committee which read:

(r)        to review and adopt the Statutory Statement of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 123 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:

Councillor M Sartin, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

 

Councillor M Sartin presented her report from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on the 12 October 2021.

 

She referred to paragraph 2 of the report where it had been proposed to plant around 2,300 trees on Jessel Green, which had led to some discussion and subsequently a call-in had now been received regarding that item, which will go through the correct process to move forward.

 

Councillor S Murray stated that there was no malice behind the Jessel Green call-in and that an amicable solution to the issue could be found. He advised that he would like to absolutely acknowledge and thank Epping Forest District Council for the turnaround to not build houses on this green space but to save it and plant trees on the green instead.

 

Councillor H Whitbread thanked Councillor S Murray for highlighting this issue. Discussion regarding the call-in were in progress and she advised that she was very open to listen to those discussions and an amicable solution being found. She stated that a huge amount of grant funding from an external organisation, looking to plant thousands of trees to help offset carbon emissions and really buying in to the districts green agenda. Although 2,300 trees were to be planted they were very young trees and the survival rate of the young trees would mean that a majority of them would die. This was a really positive initiative and she advised that she was listening to local concerns and would be working with local community groups regarding this project.

 

Councillor C C Pond advised that this was a cordial call-in because he agreed with what Councillor H Whitbread had said and advised that he would be looking to plant the 2,300 trees, to which the Council had obtained grant funding, but in different locations.

 

Councillor C C Pond asked the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny committee whether the information in the report given by the Climate Change Officers regarding the proposed electric bus between the Broadway, Loughton and the Epping Forest Shopping Park, have indicated what form it would take and when would it start. Running up to Christmas the footfall at the shopping park would more than double and the carbon emissions from idling vehicles would therefore also more than double.

 

Councillor M Sartin advised that she did not have an answer to Councillor Pond’s question and asked Councillor N Avey if he could answer as this was in the remit of his portfolio.

 

Councillor N Avey stated that he did not have the answer but there would be a report at the next Council meeting on transport and it would be reported then.

 

Councillor D Wixley advised that he was the Ward Councillor for Fairmead which included Jessel Green. He stated that the Save Jessel Green Group would be involved with the tree planting proposed, the Climate Change Officer had contacted Councillor Wixley with a view to informing her of a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

Joint Arrangements & External Organisations pdf icon PDF 8 KB

(a)                   To receive from Council representatives the reports (attached) 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)        The Royal Gunpowder Mills

 

The Chairman advised that the Royal Gunpowder Mills was still closed to the public but work was being done in the background ready for them to open at Easter 2022.

 

(b)       Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve

 

Councillor S Murray advised that he represented the Council on the Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve, a premier nature reserve in the district, which was managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust. The Warden had left to take up a new position, a temporary Warden was in place and arrangements were being made to appoint a permanent Warden.