Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 18th December, 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping

Contact: R. Perrin Tel: (01992) 564243  Email:


No. Item


Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking.


The Chairman will read the following announcement:


“This meeting will be webcast live to the Internet and will be archived for later viewing. Copies of recordings may be made available on request.


By entering the chamber’s lower seating area you consenting to becoming part of the webcast.


If you wish to avoid being filmed you should move to the public gallery or speak to the webcasting officer”


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The Chairman 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.



To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

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It was reported that Councillor D Stocker was substituting for Councillor H Whitbread.


MINUTES pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 29 October 2018.

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That the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 29 October 2018 be signed by the Chairman as a correct record.



To declare interests in any items on the agenda.


In considering whether to declare a pecuniary or a non-pecuniary interest under the Council’s Code of Conduct, members are asked pay particular attention to paragraph 11 of the Code in addition to the more familiar requirements.


This requires the declaration of a non-pecuniary interest in any matter before overview and scrutiny which relates to a decision of or action by another committee, sub-committee of the Council, a joint committee or joint sub-committee in which the Council is involved and of which the Councillor is also a member.


Paragraph 11 of the Code of Conduct does not refer to Cabinet decisions or attendance at an overview and scrutiny meeting purely for the purpose of answering questions or providing information on such a matter.

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


Public Questions & Requests to Address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

To receive questions submitted by members of the public and any requests to address the Committee.


(a)       Public Questions


Members of the public may ask questions of the Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny Committee at ordinary meetings of the Committee, in accordance with the procedure set out in the Council’s Constitution.


(b)       Requests to address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee


Any member of the public or a representative of another organisation may address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on any agenda item (except those dealt with in private session as exempt or confidential business), due to be considered at the meeting.

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It was noted that there were no public questions or requests to address the Committee.


Executive Decisions - Call-In

To consider any matter referred to the Committee for decision in relation to a call-in.



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There had been no decisions called in for consideration at this meeting.


People Strategy pdf icon PDF 601 KB

(G Blakemore) To verbal update members on the People Strategy.


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The Strategic Director, G. Blakemore updated the Committee on the Council’s People Strategy.


The Strategy had commenced in 2017 under the corporate ambition, Stronger Council and a significant amount of progress had been made. The Strategy consisted of five work streams which included Developing Leadership, Developing the Organisation, Developing Skills & Capacity, Resourcing the Council and Pay, Grading & Benefits.


Within this, various models had been used to progress the Strategy including Decision Making Accountability (DMA), which developed the leadership of the organisation and defined clear accountability for decision making and responsibilities. This led to the creation of four levels of management; Team Management, Service Management, Service Director Management and Strategic Management. Alongside this, another model was used called the Common Operating Model (COM), which consisted of the Customer, Business Support and Specialist/Technical. It determined how the authority worked through process mapping, the creation of a Customer Contact Centre and Business Support, ultimately leading to a higher level of understanding from staff and customer satisfaction.


The Strategic Director advised that the authority had completed the top tiers of the DMA, although the recruitment process for a Chief Executive was currently active and only one of the Strategic Directors was in post. The eight Service Directors had been internally recruited and in post since September 2018, (although reducing to seven from January 2019) and the Level 2 Manager posts were to be reduced to 17, with internal recruitment progressing. The Level 1 Managers would proceed shortly afterwards and the services area as a whole would be considered over the next 12-18 months.


In additional to the reorganisation, a piece of work was being carried out on changes to Pay, Grading and Benefits of the staff, for the future of the authority, to manage costs, address external pressures and improve equality and fairness and should be completed by May 2019.


Finally, the overall target of £2.5m of savings by 2020/21 had been set, with the £647,000 achieved in 2018/19 and a target of £1.5m in place for 2019/20 with anticipated target of £353,000 in 2020/21.


Councillor R. Jennings asked how the authority would be taking the organisation through the process, whilst keeping everyone updated with the changes and progress. The Strategic Director advised that it was a Leadership Team priority with the same messages at both management and staff level. Communication included manager’s conferences, staff events, information in District Lines and general email updates. The Acting Chief Executive advised that the staff briefings were also being webcast for anyone who was not able to be present and could be view at a later date.


Councillor A. Patel asked how the process of external and internal recruitment was being pursued within the new management model. The Strategic Director advised that her level had been externally recruited and the same recruitment process would be used throughout the four levels of management. The Service Directors had been internally recruited and currently the 56 managers had been internally ring-fenced for the 17 Level 2 Manager roles. Councillor M.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.


Overview & Scrutiny Select Committee Framework - Review pdf icon PDF 117 KB

To consider the attached report.

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The Acting Chief Executive presented a report regarding proposals to establish a new Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee Framework that reflected the implementation of the Council’s People Strategy and reduced the number of Select Committees to two cross-service select committees.


Following the meeting on 29 October 2018, the Committee requested that members be consulted on the proposed new Select Committee Framework, which was undertaken through the Council Bulletin. This commenced on 2 November 2018 and ran for a four-week period, closing on 30 November 2018.The consultation was promoted within the Council Bulletin on two separate occasions during this period with 8 responses received. There were mixed responses and it was suggested that a task and finish panel should be set up to consider all the issues relating to the proposed establishment of a new Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee Framework and any other options that had not already been identified.


The Acting Chief Executive advised that the terms of reference, membership and work programme for the task and finish panel had to be approved by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The panels work would need to be completed quickly, in order for the Committee to consider the outcomes on 16 April 2019 and the appropriate select committee framework are in place for the commencement of 2019/20 municipal year. The formation of the task and finish panel was flexible in the number of members that could be appointed and it was thought that the best way forward, would to determine the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, agreed the terms of reference and work programme and invite other members to join the panel through the Members Bulletin.


The Committee was supportive of the recommendation in the report, although Councillor A. Patel commented that some of the information received by the select committees measuring the performance was not always clear, concise, relevant and included financial implications. He requested that a further point be added to the terms of reference, which was seconded by Councillor S. Neville.


Councillor D Wixley asked that the task and panel considered ways of encouraging pre-decision scrutiny. The Acting Chief Executive advised that this was incorporated into the regular standing item on the Committee’s agenda which reviewed the Forward Plan of Key Decisions. The Business Services Portfolio Holder advised that some of the larger contracts included Partnerships Boards and Portfolio Holder Advisory Groups also acted as pre-scrutiny of executive decisions.


Councillor A. Patel enquired who the lead officer would be of this task and finish panel. The Acting Chief Executive advised that the Strategic Director, G. Blakemore would be the lead officer and she would be supported by G. Nicholas and the Project Management Team.


Councillor G. Mohindra enquired whether executive members would be allowed to attend the panel. The Acting Chief Executive advised that this would be possible.




(1)       That the Committee had considered the results of consultation undertaken amongst all members of the Council, with regard to the proposed establishment of a new Overview and Scrutiny Select  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.


Review of Polling Districts, Polling Places and Polling Stations pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To consider the attached report.

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The Acting Chief Executive advised that on 23 October 2018, the Governance Select Committee had considered a comprehensive report of the Returning Officer which reviewed the planning and delivery of the local elections held in May 2018 and addressed other matters relating to the responsibilities of the Returning Officer and the Electoral Registration Officer.


He advised that the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 had introduced changes to the timing of compulsory reviews for parliamentary polling districts and polling places. The next review for the constituencies within the Epping Forest District was required to be completed between 1 October 2018 and 31 January 2020. The Returning Officer had considered that the review should commence in January 2019, as it would enable the completion of the annual canvass for the Register of Electors for 2018, allowing for the review to be completed prior to the commencement of the canvass for 2019.


The findings of the review of parliamentary polling districts and polling places and any recommendations arising therefrom, was a matter for the Council to approve, although the Governance SelectCommittee would normally recommend the findings of the review to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and then to full Council, with the desired completion of the review by July 2019. The Governance Select Committee were requesting that it be authorised to submit its report directly to the Council.


The Committee raised concerns that, if any significant changes were made, the Council meeting was not really the right place to have detailed discussions. The Planning Portfolio Holder advised that this review occurred annually and no significant changes were expected, although to ensure that the review was completed on time, the Returning Officer had determined that the period following the 2019 local elections and prior to the commencement of the canvass for 2019 in August 2019 would be best suited. He advised that all members were welcome to attend the Governance Select Committee.




That any proposals arising from the next review of polling districts, polling places and polling stations from the Governance Select Committee report directly to Council in July 2019.


Forward Plan of Key Decisions - Review pdf icon PDF 140 KB

The Cabinet’s forward plan of key decisions is reviewed by the Committee at each meeting, to provide an opportunity for the scrutiny of specific decisions to be taken over the period of the plan. Wherever possible, Portfolio Holders will attend the Committee to present forthcoming key decisions, to answer questions on the forward plan and to indicate where appropriate work could be carried out by overview and scrutiny on behalf of the Cabinet.


The structure and responsibilities of the Council’s Executive Portfolios have been realigned to reflect the implementation of the Council’s new senior management framework although the Forward Plan remained in the previous Portfolio’s and would be updated in due course. (To follow)

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The Committee considered the Council’s programme of Key Decisions for 2018/19. The structure and responsibilities of the Council’s Executive Portfolios had been realigned to reflect the implementation of the Council’s new senior management framework.


The committee enquired about the officers named within the Representation Arrangements column and when it would be updated. It was explained that the Council would be considering an updated version of the Schedule of Delegations at the Council meeting on 20 December 2018 and once this had been confirmed, the names would be changed.


Councillor A. Patel enquired about the Key Decision regarding Private Water Supplies.  The Acting Chief Executive advised that this related to the Land Drainage Department and the regulations of the water suppliers in the District, where associated costs could be recovered and the quality of drinking water was monitored. 


Corporate Plan Key Action Plan 2018/19 - Quarter 2 Progress pdf icon PDF 207 KB

(Interim Transformation Programme Manager) To consider the attached report.

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The Interim Transformation Manager, G Nicholas advised that the Corporate Plan 2018-2023 was the authority’s key strategic planning document. The Plan laid out the journey that the Council would take to transform the organisation to be ‘Ready for the Future’. The plan linked the key external drivers influencing council services, with a set of corporate aims and objectives, grouped under three corporate ambitions.


A Corporate Specification for each year (previously called the Key Action Plan) detailed how the Corporate Plan was being delivered through operational objectives, with these in turn linked to annual service business plans.


The success of the Corporate Plan was assessed through the achievement of a set of benefits, each measured through one or more performance indicators, focussed on what the Council achieved for customers. Management Board, Cabinet and the Scrutiny Committees had overview and scrutiny roles, to drive improvement in performance and ensure corrective action was taken where necessary.


The Interim Transformation Manager highlighted the performance indicators that had not achieved their quarter targets and the reasons for this, as follows;


·         M2.2 – Number of days to process benefits claims – The target had not been met, although process had now been adapted and it was hoped that it would meet the target in the next quarter.

·         M4.3 - Number of New Residential Properties Built or Acquired by the Council – The value was 8 and remained static. It related to the Council House Building Programme and the Housing & Property Portfolio Holder advised that 5 homes from phase 3 had been handed over.

·         M9.6 – Delivery of the Technology Strategy - The new projects added had reduced the overall percentage of completions and a number of projects were on hold due to the accommodation work.

·         M10.2 –Annual Council Tax collection - This had marginally missed the target.


Further updates included;


·         M2.1 Number of Safeguarding Concerns and M3.1 – Number of Community Champions and volunteers –Both indicators had met their targets in quarter 2; and

·         M8.3 – Number of Governance Meetings – The figure had been inputted incorrectly as 61 and should have been 16.


The Committee commented on M1.2 Number of ‘take-away’ restaurants signed up to ‘Tuck In’ pledge, enquiring about the associated costs, whether the hygiene stars were involved and that the Rock N Roe details were incorrect as previously mentioned at the Neighbourhoods Select Committee on 20 November 2018. The Acting Chief Executive advised that this was an Essex County Council (ECC) initiative and funded by a number of stakeholders, which aimed to increase awareness of healthier alternatives in take away shops. The hygiene ratings were completely separate and the details regarding the Rock N Roe would be corrected.


Councillor J H Whitehouse asked for further information to be provided at the next Communities Select Committee regarding the Buckhurst Hill Social Isolation Pilot Project Report mentioned in Corporate Objective 3.1 – Enabling communities to support themselves and the three thematic Health & Wellbeing Action Groups mentioned in M1.1 – Delivery of the Epping Forest Health  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Overview & Scrutiny Committee Work Programmes 2018/19 - Review pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Progress towards the achievement of the work programmes for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and each of the select committees, is reviewed by the Committee at each meeting.


(a)          Current Work Programmes


The current overview and scrutiny work programmes are attached as an appendix to this report.


(b)          Reserve Programme


A reserve list of scrutiny topics is developed as required, to ensure that the work flow of overview and scrutiny is continuous. When necessary, the Committee will allocate items from the list appropriately, once resources become available in the work programme, following the completion of any ongoing scrutiny activity.


Members can put forward suggestions for inclusion in the work programme or reserve list through the adopted PICK process. Existing review items will be dealt with first, after which time will be allocated to the items contained in the reserve work plan.


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The Acting Chief Executive updated members on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme for 2018/19. He advised that the Committee would invite Epping Forest College in June 2019.


Councillor S. Murray advised that representatives from both the curriculum and landholdings aspects of the college would be required, to answer the relevant questions that may be put to them by the Committee.


Councillor A Patel asked that when the Committee received the annual report regarding Customer Services, he would like further details be given on the response time for compliments and complaints.


In addition, the Acting Chief Executive suggested that the Transformation Programme – Travel Plan on the Reserve Programme Items be included on the Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme 2018/19 for the 16 April 2019 meeting. This followed the completion of stage one, which had included a consultation with staff and members regarding travelling to all the Council owned sites. Councillor D. Wixley questioned whether this would cover the proposed move to North Weald. The Acting Chief Executive advised that this had been taken into consideration.


Councillor J H Whitehouse asked that the Essex Probation Services be placed on the work programme.


Scrutiny of External Organisations - Review pdf icon PDF 56 KB

For the information of the Committee, a schedule setting out the external scrutiny that it has undertaken over the last three years is attached as Appendix 1. This schedule has been updated to include those external scrutiny activities already agreed by the Committee for the remainder of the current municipal year.



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The committee noted their schedule of recent external scrutiny which had been carried out since 2014.