Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 18th November, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

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

Media

Items
No. Item

51.

Webcasting Introduction

The Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

This meeting is to be webcast and the Chairman will read the following announcement:

 

“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet and will be capable of subsequent repeated viewing, with copies of the recording being made available for those that request it.

 

By being present at this meeting, it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in your image becoming part of the broadcast.

 

You should be aware that this may infringe your human and data protection rights, and if you have any concerns then please speak to the Webcasting Officer.

 

Please could I also remind Members and Officers to activate their microphones before speaking.”

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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.

52.

SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that Councillor J Share-Bernia had been appointed as a substitute for Councillor K Williamson.

53.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 257 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 12 October 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2021 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record, subject to the following amendment:

 

·               Minute no 48 (a) Current work programme, (ii) New items (Unaffordable rents) – to replace ‘in respect of communities’ with ‘on behalf of a member unable to attend’ to read: “Councillor J H Whitehouse said this question was on behalf of a member unable to attend because she had been made aware…”

 

The Chairman, Councillor M Sartin, reminded members that the climate change action plan public consultation (Minute no 43) would close on 26 November 2021 at 17.00. It was hosted on the Council website home page along with the action plan document and frequently asked questions. At the Civic Offices Reception, there was also a leaflet available which explained how paper copies could be obtained, if required. Comments could be emailed to climatechange@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or posted to the Civic Offices in Epping.

54.

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 D Wixley declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Corporate Plan Key Action Plan Year 4 2021/22 quarter 2 corporate performance reporting in relation to Roding Valley Recreation Ground under the Green Infrastructure Strategy corporate project, as he was chairman of Loughton Town Council’s Recreation Committee.

55.

Public Questions & Requests to Address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

(Democratic & Electoral Services Team Manager) 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.

56.

Executive Decisions - Call-In

(Democratic & Electoral Services Team Manager) 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)          Jessel Green tree planting

 

Following the call-in by Councillor C C Pond and four other councillors of Housing Services Portfolio Holder Decision PFH-004-2021/22, an informal meeting was held on 1 November 2021 with a further informal meeting organised for early December.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman advised the Committee that a call-in of Housing Services Portfolio Holder Decision PFH-004-2021/22 by Councillor C C Pond and four other councillors had led to an informal meeting being held on 1 November 2021, which had been productive. A follow-up meeting on 6 December 2021 would be reporting back on alternative tree planting sites.

57.

Corporate Plan Key Action Plan Year 4 2021/22 - Quarter 2 Corporate Performance Reporting pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To review the attached FY 21/22 quarter 2 Corporate performance report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

C Graham, Project Manager (Performance), introduced quarter 2 and reported on projects at red or amber status (exceptions). The KPI data now showed comparisons to the previous quarter. Performance project officers were relooking at the KPI data in its entirety to understand the processes behind them and she would share any information on this at a future meeting.

 

The Committee scrutinised the following areas.

 

(1)          Status and Progress Report: Key Corporate Projects

 

(a)          Community Health and Wellbeing service area

 

Waltham Abbey Community and Cultural Hub

Why was the project on hold? A Small, Strategic Director and 151 Officer, replied this was in relation to cost of project queries.

 

(b)          Planning Policy and Implementation service area

 

Green Infrastructure Strategy

On the draft paper that had been developed for the implementation of the Roding Valley Recreation Ground and Theydon Bois to Loughton/Debden Public Rights of Way Network, there was no reference to working with Loughton Town Council that held the land under a 125-year lease. C Graham noted the information. The project came under the Planning Services Director, N Richardson. N Dawe, Chief Operating Officer, replied that as a site visit was imminent with EFDC officers and other interested parties, he would ensure this information was passed on, so the Town Council could also be informed of the planned site visit.

 

(2)          Quarterly KPI Reporting

 

(a)          Community Health and Wellbeing service area

 

Number of families in B&B accommodation for 6 weeks+

How difficult was it for the Council to meet this legal requirement? Councillor H Whitbread, Housing Services Portfolio Holder, replied that the people needing temporary accommodation were being housed in our housing stock and the good news was that Norway House was under occupied largely because of the work around homeless prevention.

 

If the Council was meeting the requirement by housing the homeless from its own stock, had that increased waiting times for other people and was Norway House’s future under question? Councillor H Whitbread replied that there was a wait of up to two years for larger accommodation and we had to make sure the right stock was being provided; this was being looked at under the Council housebuilding programme. Regarding plans over Norway House’s future, there were no immediate plans to close it but it was being looked at as part of a wider project on temporary accommodation. Norway House was a good facility, well run and ingrained in the North Weald community, although it was not the most modern accommodation. She encouraged members to engage in the Housing public consultations, as member feedback was useful.

 

(b)          Stronger Place KPIs

 

Contracts waste – recycling

In the new waste collection leaflet, it stated that cardboard waste should be put into recycling bags to be collected or loose card taken to a recycling centre but information on where these centres were had not been provided. Did this mean that if residents put out cardboard on its own, it would no longer be collected? If this was the case, why had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Endorsement of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Transport Strategy pdf icon PDF 156 KB

To consider and comment on the attached report (and appendices A – E) prior to the Cabinet decision due on 6 December 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

N Polaine (HGGT Director) and I Braddick (HGGT Lead) were in attendance. I Braddick introduced the report with a short presentation outlining the reasons and ambitions crucial to the endorsement of the HGGT Transport Strategy. It had been developed to meet the ambitions for sustainable movement set out within the HGGT vision, against the backdrop of the challenges of future travel demand linked to planned growth as set out in the Council’s emerging Local Plan. The Council had declared a climate emergency in 2019. With transport now the largest contributor to UK greenhouse gas emissions, the HGGT transport strategy supported the highest commitment across the Garden Town Authorities to become carbon-neutral by 2030. Key to this was making it easier to choose to travel sustainably, by providing reliable and high quality sustainable and active travel routes, and by creating connected communities and safe, enjoyable streets that offered local facilities and travel options for everyday activities. Members were also advised that the decision would now be taken by Cabinet on 25 January 2022.

 

Questions raised by members during the meeting were summarised below.

 

How would communities be constructed to reduce travelling and promote sustainable transport and growth? I Braddick replied it was fundamental that people’s needs had to be met locally and hub set-ups were one of the first things to look at in masterplanning. The transport strategy was built into reducing travel, so the ability to work, live, play and visit locally was key. N Polaine remarked a modal shift of 60% of all trips starting and/or ending in the new garden communities of the HGGT should be by active and sustainable travel modes.

 

Not everyone was able to use bikes, buses or walk, some people might not work in the area and would the results from the 2021 Census in relation to zero emission vehicles be used to amend this data? I Braddick replied the transport strategy enabled a genuine alternative for short journeys but if people needed to use a car then it was not stopping these. Promoting a shift to public transport and 60% active travel was key, as sustainable modes must be in a transport strategy. The results from the Census were expected in 2023, but it was recognised that such vehicles played a large part in tackling zero emissions and the transport strategy would allow for updates to be done. M Polaine commented that 60% modal shift left 40% for other ways to travel, but this could include collective car ownership, car sharing etc. Zero emission cars could still cause congestion. The transport strategy would put in place sustainable travel for the next 20 to 30 years.

 

Regarding principle 1, which gave priority to reducing unnecessary travel, and action 5, maximising opportunities which meant exploring and introducing new and innovative transport technologies as they developed, what was the vision on this? People would use buses providing they were cheap, reliable and frequent. M Polaine replied an example was trips to schools and could we influence  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Cabinet Business pdf icon PDF 218 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 of 1 November 2021 is attached as an Appendix to this report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor S Murray was concerned by the small number of Cabinet attending the meeting as in his opinion they should attend. Councillor M Sartin replied that hybrid meetings allowed other members to come in via Zoom. It was noted that Councillors C Whitbread, N Bedford and J Philips had given their apologies.

 

Councillor S Murray said that he had emailed a portfolio holder three months ago and had only received a holding reply, so what was the expectation of a reply? Councillor M Sartin commented that there was an expectation of a reply within a reasonable amount of time and if a Cabinet member did not have an immediate reply, to acknowledge the email. Councillor H Whitbread said that she did try to reply as soon as possible. Councillor S Kane was usually quick to respond.

 

Cabinet’s Key Decision List (KDL) updated to the 1 November 2021 was scrutinised by the Committee and the following points were raised.

 

(a)          Planning and Sustainability Portfolio

 

It was noted that under Implementation of the Local Plan, the Council had not received a reply from the Inspector yet.

 

(b)          Finance, Qualis Client and Economic Development Portfolio

 

Under the description of the wording for the sale of the Pyrles Lane site item, it read, “to agree”, but why not “to consider”? This was noted and the wording would be amended in next month’s KDL.

 

(c)           Housing Services Portfolio

 

A draft of the new trees policy had been scrutinised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 3 June 2021, but it had not been to Cabinet yet even though the KDL was showing a decision date of 21 June 2021 and would a final draft come before this Committee? Councillor H Whitbread replied that she would check on the timings so the KDL could be updated.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)          That the Committee reviewed the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions of 1 November 2021;

 

(2)          That the description of the wording for the sale of Pyrles Lane site be amended to, “To consider the sale of the site to Qualis for development” in the next KDL; and

 

(3)          That the Cabinet decision date for the new policy (trees) item be updated on the next KDL.

60.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 234 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

 

G Woodhall, Democratic and Electoral Services Team Manager advised that two representatives, M Meredith and J Hogan, from the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust had accepted the invite to attend the Committee’s next meeting on 7 December 2021. Members were asked to forward their questions to G Woodhall so he could brief them ahead of the meeting. The only other item going to this extra meeting would be a review of the Council’s Epping Forest District Markets Policy.

 

Councillor S Murray remarked that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had visited the hospital in the summer and that members should read the report that had been published on the CQC website.

 

Councillor D Wixley said the Conservators of Epping Forest had published a Management and Strategy Business Plan for 2020 to 2030 at the beginning of the year and it might be worth inviting the Superintendent to a future meeting, which members agreed to pursue in the new year.

 

(b)          Reserve work programme

 

The Committee noted this.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)          That the Committee reviewed its current work programme and reserve programme;

 

(2)          That G Woodhall would collate members questions for the PAH external scrutiny item and apprise their representatives before the meeting on 7 December 2021;

 

(3)          That the Committee would review the Council’s Epping Forest District Markets Policy at this December meeting; and

 

(4)          That the Conservators of Epping Forest would be invited to attend a future meeting in relation to its Management and Strategy Business Plan 2020 to 2030.

61.

Select Committees - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 131 KB

(Chairman of the Select Committee) 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:

(a)          Stronger Communities Select Committee

 

It was noted that the last meeting had been held on 21 September when progress had been reported to the Committee at the meeting on 12 October 2021. The next meeting was due to be held on 11 January 2022.

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse queried if twice a year updates of the Customer Services Strategy would be more appropriate rather than quarterly. Councillor M Sartin advised that select committee members had the opportunity to discuss their work programme at each meeting.

 

(b)          Stronger Council Select Committee

 

Councillor P Bolton, Select Committee Chairman, reported on the meeting of 16 November 2021 when the select committee reviewed the quarter 2 corporate performance reporting, the updated Medium-Term Financial Plan 2022/23 to 2026/27, Capital Programme Update 2022/23 to 2026/27 and quarter 2 Budget Monitoring Report. There would be cost pressures next year, but the Council had no plans for specific cuts. Members also discussed the closure report for the Accommodation Project, but what happened when projects were completed and there would be no further feedback? It had been agreed that if members wished to pursue an outcome there could be a further update.

 

On the Cabinet’s KDL, customer satisfaction was a corporate aim aligned to Stronger Council, so it was requested that this be discussed at the next joint meeting in January 2022 as to where this sat, as it was related to how the Council worked. The Committee noted this action for the next joint meeting.

 

Councillor S Murray asked about item 11, report on new election legislation on Voter ID and any financial implications for the Council, was that waiting to be confirmed because it was dependent on national legislation? G Woodhall agreed this was the case.

 

(c)          Stronger Place Select Committee

 

Councillor A Lion, Select Committee Chairman, reported on the extra meeting held on 4 November 2021. He noticed that Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust representatives would now be attending Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 7 December. Members had received an Essex Highways update from County Councillor L Scott mainly on its generic policy, for instance, looking at potholes. The select committee reviewed the off street parking tariffs and electric vehicle charging points at the Oakwood Hill East car park. It also considered a report on improving payment options for leaseholders. The Council had gone some way to help mitigate this for leaseholders and come up with a payment plan. Scrutiny training, which was outstanding for this year, would be welcomed especially by new members. The select committee also reviewed the waste and recycling collection / street cleansing contract, which although a confidential item, was an indication of where the waste management contract would be going, so more was to be discussed on this. The work programme was considerably enhanced, so some items would be carried forward to the next municipal year.

 

Councillor M Sartin advised that G Woodham had sourced two trainers for scrutiny member training, but the dates were yet to be confirmed.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Exclusion of Public and Press

Exclusion

Democratic & Electoral Services Team Manager) 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 & Electoral Services Team 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.