Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 19th November, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting on Zoom. View directions

Contact: V Messenger Tel: (01992) 564243  Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

48.

Webcasting Introduction

This virtual meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to unmute before speaking.

 

The Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties). Therefore by participating in this virtual meeting, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings for webcasting and/or training purposes. If members of the public do not wish to have their image captured they should ensure that their video setting throughout the virtual meeting is turned off and set to audio only.

 

Please also be aware that if technical difficulties interrupt the meeting that cannot be overcome, I may need to adjourn the meeting.”

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

49.

SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that no substitute Members had been appointed for this meeting.

50.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 189 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 15 October 2020 (to follow).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 15 October 2020 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

51.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

 

In considering whether to declare a pecuniary or a non-pecuniary interest under the Council’s Code of Conduct, Members are requested to 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 & Scrutiny which relates to a decision of or action by another Committee or 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 & Scrutiny meeting purely for the purpose of answering questions or providing information on such a matter.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)          Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor R Bassett declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Executive Decisions – Call-in agenda item by virtue of being Chairman of the Business Stakeholder Group at New City College.

 

(b)          Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor B Jennings declared a non-pecuniary interest in the UK Innovation Corridor agenda item by virtue of being a longstanding close friend of the Director, Mr J McGill.

52.

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, in accordance with Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Council’s Constitution.

 

(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 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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that no public questions or requests to address the meeting had been received.

 

53.

UK Innovation Corridor - Scrutiny of External Organisation pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To consider the attached report and undertake external scrutiny of the UK Innovation Corridor with the Director, John McGill, and Chairman, Dr Ann Limb.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed to bring forward this item at the meeting.

 

The Chairman, Councillor M Sartin, introduced from the UK Innovation Corridor, Director Dr J McGill, and Independent Business Chairman, Dr A Limb, as the Committee had requested an opportunity to undertake external scrutiny of this organisation. The Innovation Corridor’s geographical area extended from north east London to Cambridge and Peterborough, and from Stevenage eastwards to beyond Stansted Airport. The local authorities that formed the Innovation Core included Epping Forest (a founder member), Broxbourne, East Hertfordshire, Harlow and Uttlesford district councils.

 

The Innovation Corridor had become the UK’s most productive region and was home to 2.1 million jobs. A fifth of those people were employed in the ‘knowledge economy’ – ICT, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and engineering, transport and logistics. The main sectors for Epping Forest were construction, business services, public admin and health, but lower employment in the information, financial services, communications and R&D sectors.

 

How did the Innovation Corridor support the Council? It was a voice to Advocate, Broker and Co-ordinate – an ABC. It was a non-statutory, like-minded group and coalition of the willing that gave it a bigger voice to lobby national and London government and private investors for districts’ ambitions, such as Harlow and Gilston and the Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ). The Innovation Corridor was a leading sci-tech region and was a collective corridor to England as a whole. It lobbied for infrastructure, rail, road and digital, and promoted the local economy but there were areas of deprivation. It helped to promote investment opportunities, such as those for the North Weald Airfield Masterplan. The London Stansted Cambridge Corridor was also referenced in the Council’s Local Plan Submission Version (December 2017) in respect of employment needs across the functional economic market and the needs of the Council.

 

Councillor M Sartin asked why it had changed its name? Dr A Limb replied that while its former name the London – Stansted – Cambridge Consortium had identified its geographical location, the UK Innovation Corridor evidenced the importance of ‘innovation’ to match the scale of its ambitions, and no one else had claimed the name.

 

Councillor B Jennings asked what work had been done to promote skills and what was its support in this area? Dr A Limb replied that colleges within the Innovation Corridor were now collaborating more effectively as they had signed the Regional Skills Concordat to get investments into colleges and therefore, would have the skills going forward to retrain older workforce and provide the younger workforce with the skills it needed. Dr J McGill added that it was a fragmented system, but the Innovation Corridor was bringing colleges together, and as a collective would get more attention from the business sector.

 

Councillor S Murray was glad to hear about the work they were doing with colleges and that there was more collaboration, However, he had not seen much on their website about economic growth that could widen social inequality. How did  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Executive Decisions - Call-In pdf icon PDF 312 KB

To consider any matter referred to the Committee for decision in relation to a call-in, in accordance with Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Council’s Constitution.

 

(a)          Release of Restrictive Covenants – Epping Forest College

 

The Cabinet Decision on 14 September 2020 was called-in by Councillors C C Pond (lead member), H Kauffman, S Murray, C Roberts and D Roberts. The following documents are attached for information:

 

·      Cabinet report (C-017-2020/21);

·      Call-in notification; and

·      Call-in notes of informal meeting on 7 October 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following the report (C-017-2020/21) to Cabinet on 14 September 2020 that approved New City College (formerly Epping Forest College) be granted a “variation to the covenants further to previous removal of restrictive covenants, in order to facilitate the College’s plans for the site”, the decision was called-in by Councillors C C Pond, H Kauffman, S Murray, C Roberts and D Roberts. An informal meeting was held on 7 October 2020 between the lead call-in Councillor, C C Pond, Councillor A Patel (Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder) and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairman, Councillor M Sartin, and Vice-Chairman, Councillor B Jennings and relevant officers.

 

At the informal meeting it was noted that the covenants ran with the land and with the successors entitled to the land. Officers agreed that the point made on the use of the land for community purposes and a Wellness Centre was valid and they could ask that the contract include a community benefit such as a Wellness Centre. The Legal Services Manager, N Boateng, would seek to tie this in with the contract. She would draw up documents in liaison with Councillors C C Pond and A Patel. Councillor C C Pond agreed if this could be arranged then it should satisfy most of the points his members had raised. The call-in was put on hold but, as the College had not been willing to reciprocate, the call-in had come back to Overview and Scrutiny for a decision, in accordance with Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Council’s Constitution. As some members felt that the procedure had not been made clear in the agenda, a motion to defer this decision to another meeting was taken, but the motion was lost.

 

Councillor C C Pond explained that at the informal meeting on 7 October (as detailed above) they had been close to achieving an agreement. This had stemmed from ten years ago when the College had sold the land where a community sports centre had been located for an old people’s home and benefitted financially. There had been negotiations between the College and Council officers to secure a replacement covenant for a sports centre and wellness centre, and grounds for the community. A ‘side letter’ between the Council and the College had allowed this to be carried out in perpetuity with the former owner of the College and the Council owed it to Loughton’s citizens. Councillor C C Pond suggested this matter be referred to Cabinet to negotiate a new covenant to protect the land, as Essex County Council had stated that there was no requirement for the land to be used for education in which case the College could argue that the need for the covenant was redundant and apply to the Lands Tribunal to release the covenant. Councillor A Patel had consented to go along this route. However, there had been a delay after the informal meeting waiting for a response from the College. Councillor C C Pond hoped that with a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Corporate Plan Key Action Plan 2020/21 Quarter 2 Progress pdf icon PDF 204 KB

(Service Director (Strategy, Delivery and Performance)) To consider the attached report on Corporate Programme Governance and Reporting, and the Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 performance of KPIs. (NB: This item was deferred from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 15 October 2020).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item, which had been deferred by Overview and Scrutiny on 15 October 2020, was current up until 30 September 2020. L Wade, Strategy, Delivery and Performance Director, summarised the key points in the report, which included an internal officer governance structure that had been established to focus on the delivery of the Corporate programmes aligned to the Stronger ambition objectives. This would strengthen governance and internal decision-making, as the programmes would be led by a director enabling corporate performance management to be aligned with individual performance management. All projects would be aligned under one of the three Stronger select agendas.

 

There were three exceptions under the Corporate plan programmes scope and performance measuring report. These were:

·      Telecare offering project;

·      ICT restructure delayed by Covid-19; and

·      Local Plan due to Inspector’s capacity to digest main modifications’ (MMs) submissions.

 

Under Town Centre development, Councillor D Wixley queried what was meant by ‘barriers’ in the feasibility study that set out opportunities and remedies for barriers in relation to high streets in Waltham Abbey, Ongar, Loughton, Buckhurst Hill and Epping. N Dawe, Chief Operating Officer, replied that there were no specific barriers, but this was part of the high streets’ reviews and making high streets safe. The draft paper for Waltham Abbey had identified 28 points to help raise the barriers, e.g. street furniture. Councillor D Wixley was specifically interested in Loughton but would like to know the barriers for each high street. The Chief Operating Officer agreed to apprise Councillor D Wixley of the barriers identified thus far for each town centre to help make them safe.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse said that the report was interesting and informative but asked why under the select committees’ corporate programmes of work, Stronger Place had more than either Stronger Communities or Stronger Council because it was unbalanced? G Blakemore, Chief Executive, replied that select committee scrutiny was driven by members, not officer driven, and suggested that this was followed up by the scrutiny chairmen and vice-chairmen at their next Joint Meeting in January 2021. Councillor J H Whitehouse reminded the Committee that it was agreed that any Housing policies would go to Overview and Scrutiny Committee before they went to Cabinet. Options would show the level of delay provided. There were summaries in each sector that highlighted any exceptions.

 

            Resolved:

 

(1)          That the Committee noted the internal governance that has been established to manage and deliver the programmes of work aligned to the Stronger council ambitions in 2020/21;

 

(2)          That the Committee noted the programme of work aligned to the Stronger select ambitions;

 

(3)          That the Committee noted the scope of the corporate programme of work and associated benefits in 20/21 which will be used to baseline Corporate performance management;

 

(4)       That the Committee agreed on the scope of reporting for Overview and Scrutiny in 2020/21 such that:

(a) Detailed progress on programmes of work and project level would be scrutinised by Stronger Council; and

(b) Overview and Scrutiny Committee would receive summaries  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Accommodation Update pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To consider the attached progress report on the Accommodation Programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategy, Delivery and Performance Director’s report covered progress on the accommodation programme until 16 October 2020. Works had been progressing well and had reached a critical stage of the project, in confirming the design and the fixtures and fittings. The contract continued to be within budget, and a positive variance of £91,806 was being forecast. A Members briefing had been held on 16 November 2020 where plans, layouts and more information around the delivery of the programme had been shared.

 

Councillor S Murray had attended the informative briefing but was concerned the loop system would not be very extensive and restricted to part of the building. As the whole of the civic offices were being refurbished the loop system should be as extensive as possible. He had raised this at the briefing and was awaiting a response from officers on this.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse asked for more information about the civic arrangements for the Chairman and where would functions be going to take place as the Leader and Chairman would share an office? The Strategy, Delivery and Performance Director replied that in addition to the collaboration area (previously the Members area) there would be an extensive space on the ground floor for larger events which could also be divided up into smaller areas. The decision had also been made for the Leader and the Chairman to share an office. Councillor M Sartin commented that the reality of the situation when the Leader and the Chairman had separate rooms was that they were not being used sufficiently.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the Committee noted the summary of progress on the Accommodation Programme as at 16 October 2020.

57.

People Strategy pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To consider the attached report on the People Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

P Maginnis, Service Director (Corporate Services), provided a further update to the report made to Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s October meeting in relation to the workstream creating a culture of engagement and wellbeing. A new Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), known to employees as Perkbox had been launched on 1 September 2020. The platform enabled employees to access online counselling, financial and legal support and discounts from major retailers. As part of this platform there was also an integrated wellbeing platform that provided easy online access to mental and physical wellness programmes. As part of this platform employees also had access to Perkbox Medical, 24/7 access to online GPs. A free learning platform hosted by Magpie also offered employees further personal development opportunities. Officers had already used its functionality in a recent survey of employees.

 

Councillor S Murray was interested in the results of the survey and asked if the Service Director could provide a report on the survey’s findings and the uptake of Perkbox by employees at the Committee’s next meeting in February 2021, which was agreed.

 

            Resolved:

 

(1)          That the report be noted; and

 

(2)          That a report on the uptake of Perkbox by employees and the survey’s findings be reported to the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 2 February 2021.

58.

Budget Monitoring Report Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 695 KB

To consider the budget monitoring report for quarter 2 (to follow).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

C Hartgrove, Finance Consultant, explained that the Budget Monitoring Report was usually reported to the Stronger Council Select Committee but as its next meeting was in January 2021, the Chairman had agreed it was more timely for the quarter 2 report to come before this Committee tonight.

 

This report dealt with the 2020/21 General Fund revenue and capital positions, as at 30 September 2020 (quarter 2) and provided an update on the quarter 2 capital position for the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). The revenue elements of the HRA were currently under review, with detailed projections being developed for the quarter 3 stage for consideration by members. This would include an update on progress against the Council’s adopted 30-year HRA Business Plan. In terms of General Fund revenue expenditure at quarter 2, a budget over spend of £1.944 million was forecast, with projected net expenditure of £19.118 million against an overall budget provision of £17.174 million. The General Fund revenue position for 2020/21, at quarter 2 was summarised by service area in Appendix A of the agenda report.

 

Covid-19 had made a massive impact on the General Fund revenue position most notably on:

·       Leisure facilities (c. £2.8 million)

·       Qualis income (c. 2.1 million

·       Car parking (c. 1.01 million)

·       Development Control (c. £0.67 million)

 

On a positive note the Government had been generally supportive of the financial challenge facing local authorities. £1.947 million in general un-ringfenced funding had already been provided, along with further support through an income loss compensation scheme, which was forecast to rise to £1.875 million by the year end. This amounted to a combined funding of circa £3.8 million.

 

The General Fund Capital Programme for 2020/21 at service level as at 30 September 2020 was detailed in Appendix B of the agenda report. Spending in the first 6 months had been £1.4 million, with a forecast outturn of £17.34 million and, if this happened, would lead to a small net underspend of £0.094 million.

 

The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Capital Programme for 2020/21 as at 30 September 2020 (detailed in Appendix C) showed the programme budget totalled £25.313 million. Spending in the first 6 months had been £6.369 million, with a forecast outturn of £18.427 million, and if this happened, would lead to an underspend of £6.886 million.The dominating factor on the HRA Capital Programme for 2020/21 had been Housing Development, with a net underspend of £6.742 million forecast for the year end at the quarter 2 stage.

 

Councillor S Murray said to the Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder, Councillor J Philip, that what happened this financial year had a potential impact on the next financial year, and would there be a Council Tax increase and were non-core services under threat? Councillor J Philip replied that a report (C-040-2020/21 – Medium Term-Financial Plan Development and Scene Setting) to Cabinet on 16 November 2020 allowed £4 million in next year’s budget to minimise this. Council Tax could increase by £5 a year for a Band D property  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Cabinet Business pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Recommendation:

 

That the Committee review the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the overview and scrutiny work programme and the overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.

 

Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Constitution requires that the Committee review the Executive’s programme of Key Decisions (the Cabinet Forward Plan) at each meeting, to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the overview and scrutiny work programme and to provide an opportunity for the overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.

 

The Constitution (Article 14 (Decision Making)) defines a Key Decision as an executive decision which:

 

(a)       involves expenditure or savings of £250,000 or above which are currently within budget and policy;

 

(b)       involves expenditure or savings of £100,000 or above which are NOT currently within budget and policy;

 

(c)       is likely to be significant in terms of its effect on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more wards;

 

(d)       raises new issues of policy;

 

(e)       increases financial commitments (i.e. revenue and/or capital) in future years over and above existing budgetary approval;

 

(f)        comprises and includes the publication of draft or final schemes which may require, either directly or in relation to objections to, the approval of a Government Minister; or

 

(g)       involves the promotion of local legislation.

 

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 Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions is to follow as an Appendix to this report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cabinet’s Key Decision List updated to the 17 November 2020 was scrutinised by the Committee and the following points were raised.

 

There were issues raised with the portfolios of the Leader, Finance and Economic Development, Commercial and Regulatory Services, Customer and Corporate Support Services, and Planning and Sustainability.

 

(a)          Environmental and Technical Services (Councillor N Avey)

 

Waste and recycling

 

Councillor S Murray remarked that the review of waste and recycling should involve the fullest of public consultations, as this was the most essential service and the Council did not want to get it wrong. On the transfer of services to Qualis, he would be looking at the business case very carefully as he felt there was a little bit of ideology on this from members. Councillor N Avey replied that the business case was most important, absolutely not ideology, and he assured members he would have to be satisfied with the business case before considering the transfer of a service to Qualis. In respect of the waste contract, there would be lots of details in future on this as it was an exceptionally important contract.

 

Councillor M Sartin continued that Councillor Murray had asked if there would be consultations of this, would this be a public consultation, or would it also depend on the review? Councillor Avey replied that it would likely depend on the review and lots of waste guidance from the Government was changing how local authorities would have to deal with waste. If there was a chance for a public consultation with residents, the Council would obviously take this opportunity.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse asked when would there be another meeting of the Waste Management Task and Finish Panel to review the third wheelie bin? Councillor N Avey replied that he would check with officers as a meeting had not been scheduled but he believed the Council was waiting for recommendations from the Government on the separation of food waste and would let the Councillor know after the meeting. Councillor M Sartin said it was her understanding that the Task and Finish Panel would be reconvened in the future when the Government had progressed/finished its consultations and further guidance was issued.

 

(Post meeting update: J Warwick (Contracts Service Manager) advised that the Council was waiting for the Government’s waste proposals due sometime next year, so it would make sense to put this on hold. The report C-047-2020/21, Strategic Options for Waste Management Contract, was approved by Cabinet on 3 December 2020 to engage consultants regarding the waste contract review. When the review was completed, if it contained any significant service changes/options, or if the Government announced any changes, members might want to set up the Task and Finish Panel).

 

(b)          Housing and Community (Councillor H Whitbread)

 

Review of service charges

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse remarked that the review of fees and charges used to come to scrutiny, would they do so in future? Councillor H Whitbread replied that she would confirm this with officers, but it was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 166 KB

Progress towards the achievement of the work programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is reviewed at each meeting.

 

(a)          Current Work Programme

 

The current work programme for the Committee is attached as an appendix to this agenda.

 

(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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)          Current Work Programme

 

The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager introduced the work programme, but members did not raise any issues.

 

(b)       Reserve Programme

 

The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager introduced the items in the reserve programme, but members did not raise any issues.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)          That the current Overview and Scrutiny work programme for 2020/21 be noted; and

 

(2)          That the current reserve programme be noted.

61.

Select Committees - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 199 KB

(Chairmen of the Select Committees) Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Constitution requires that the chairmen of the select committees report to the meeting in regard to progress with the achievement of the current work programme for each select committee and on any recommendations for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

The current work programme for each select committee is attached as an appendix to this agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the current work programmes for the three select committees.

 

(a)          Stronger Communities Select Committee

 

Councillor D Sunger reported that the select committee was looking forward to the District Police Commander coming in January 2021. In relation to monitoring homelessness in the District, a progress report on how the Council has been helping those individuals sleeping rough within the District was due in January. Officers were working to distribute Universal Credit and the furlough scheme had been extended. The community GROW project in Loughton was a good achievement.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse requested that the Epping Forest District Museum be added to the work programme. There was some interesting work being done on the museum collections, as detailed in the report on Overview and Scrutiny – Corporate Programme Governance and Reporting by the Strategy, Delivery and Performance Director. Councillor D Sunger agreed for this to be added to the work programme.

 

(b)          Stronger Council Select Committee

 

Councillor P Bolton reported that the combination strategy was going ahead. Also, the current financial situation was very unpredictable.

 

Councillor S Murray commented that as this select committee scrutinised the business case, could it scrutinise the transfer of business services to Qualis? The transfer of a service was very significant, and he could not see Qualis giving back a service once it had been transferred. How would scrutiny be undertaken and what would be the best way to scrutinise the transfer of a business service to Qualis, which he thought members should be doing? The Strategic Director, A Small, replied that it depended on which service was being transferred, as to which select committee scrutinised it.

 

(c)          Stronger Place Select Committee 

 

As Councillor R Bassett had left the meeting, Councillor M Sartin stated that the work programme was as detailed in the agenda.

 

Councillor S Murray complimented Cllr Bassett on being a good select committee Chairman for Stronger Place, which was noted.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)          That the Committee noted the work programmes of the three select committees;

 

(2)          That Epping Forest District Museum, with regards to the ongoing work on its collections, be added to the Communities Select Committee work programme;

 

(3)          That scrutiny be undertaken by the relevant select committee when a service transferred to Qualis; and

 

(4)          That it be noted that Councillor S Murray complimented Councillor R Bassett on being a good Chairman of Stronger Place Select Committee.

62.

Local High Streets Task and Finish Panel pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To discuss the potential reconvening of the Task and Finish Panel. The Terms of Reference is attached for information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Operating Officer, N Dawe, said that the Local High Streets Task and Finish Panel had been established a year ago but was suspended after the first meeting on 24 February 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. Making high streets safer, in addition to the economic recovery and social wellbeing focus was being reported back to Cabinet and there would be other reports coming forward. The Policy Advisory Group under the Commercial and Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor A Patel, oversaw Covid-19 work on the high streets, the degree and nature of the economic recovery and some other items.

 

In view of the progress being made with the post Covid-19 town centre projects, the Committee was being asked if it should reconvene the Task and Finish Panel as per its existing terms of reference; or should it recommence its activities but alter its terms of reference and mode of operation; or should the Panel cease and members involvement and oversite of the High Street projects needed to be addressed differently.

 

Councillor D Wixley asked if the membership of the Panel could be clarified after the meeting.

 

(Post meeting update: The membership of the Local High Streets Task and Finish Panel comprised Councillors J Share-Bernia (Chairman), B Jennings, J Jennings, H Kane, H Kauffman, P Keska, D Plummer, S Rackham, C Roberts, D Stocker and J H Whitehouse).

 

The following councillors supported the recommencing of the Panel:

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse said she was a Panel member and she agreed with N Dawe that things had changed since they last met. It was up to the Panel to see what had changed and the terms of reference could also be changed. As the Policy Advisory Group (PAG) did not publish any minutes, members were not always aware of the work it was doing, and it had a wider remit than the Panel. The Councillor recommended that a further meeting should take place and could report back to Overview and Scrutiny on how the Panel thought it should move forward.

 

Councillors S Murray and D Plummer thought that the Panel should recommence and re-look at its terms of reference to see if any changes were necessary.

 

Councillor A Patel said that the PAG was looking at the revival of high streets and its work had superseded that of the Task and Finish Panel’s. He was keen to avoid officers having to duplicate work and reporting, and that the PAG was better placed to take this work forward.

 

Councillor M Sartin disagreed as the PAG looked at broader issues and was not open to scrutiny and therefore, she could see the value of the Task and Finish Panel having one more meeting.

 

Councillor C Whitbread, the Leader, emphasised that officers were under pressure to write reports and he did not want duplication of officer time. He asked the scrutiny members to bear with the Executive and postpone the reconvening of the Task and Finish Panel at the moment. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

Any Other Business pdf icon PDF 209 KB

To consider the attached report on the appointment of a Chairman (and possible Vice-Chairman) of the Stronger Place Select Committee.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)          Stronger Place Select Committee – Appointment of Chairman (and possibly Vice-Chairman)

 

G Woodhall, Democratic and Electoral Services Manager, reported that the current Chairman of the Stronger Place Select Committee, Councillor R Bassett, had resigned as Chairman of the Select Committee, but he intended to remain as a member of the Committee. Therefore, a new Chairman and possibly Vice-Chairman needed to be appointed for the remainder of the municipal year by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Conservative members proposed and seconded Councillor S Heather as the new Chairman while the Loughton Residents Association members proposed and seconded Councillor J Jennings for this position. The result of the vote was for the current Vice-Chairman Councillor S Heather to become Chairman.

 

A second vote for the Vice-Chairmanship saw the Conservative members propose and second Councillor R Morgan, while the Loughton Residents Association members proposed and seconded Councillor J Jennings. The result of the vote was for Councillor R Morgan to become the new Vice-Chairman.

 

            Resolved:

 

(1)          That the resignation of Councillor R Bassett as Chairman of the current Chairman of the Stronger Place Select Committee, be noted;

 

(2)          That the Committee appointed Councillor S Heather to the position of Chairman of the Stronger Place Select Committee for the remainder of the 2020/21 municipal year; and

 

(3)          That the Committee appointed Councillor R Morgan to the position of Vice-Chairman of the Stronger Place Select Committee for the remainder of the 2020/21 municipal year.

64.

Exclusion of Public and Press

Exclusion: To consider whether, under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press should be excluded from the meeting for the items of business set out below on grounds that they will involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the following paragraph(s) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended) or are confidential under Section 100(A)(2):

 

Agenda Item No

Subject

Exempt Information Paragraph Number

Nil

Nil

Nil

 

The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, which came into effect on 1 March 2006, requires the Council to consider whether maintaining the exemption listed above outweighs the potential public interest in disclosing the information. Any member who considers that this test should be applied to any currently exempted matter on this agenda should contact the proper officer at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

 

Background Papers 

(Democratic Services Manager) Article 17 - Access to Information, Procedure Rules of the Constitution define background papers as being documents relating to the subject matter of the report which in the Proper Officer's opinion:

 

(a)        disclose any facts or matters on which the report or an important part of the report is based;  and

 

(b)        have been relied on to a material extent in preparing the report and does not include published works or those which disclose exempt or confidential information and in respect of executive reports, the advice of any political advisor.

 

The Council will make available for public inspection for four years after the date of the meeting one copy of each of the documents on the list of background papers.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that there was no business which necessitated the exclusion of the public and press from the meeting.