Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 27th January, 2022 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

71.

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.

72.

SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that Councillor K Rizvi had been appointed as a substitute for Councillor I Hadley.

73.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 7 December 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 7 December 2021 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

74.

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 3 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.

 

(b)         Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor S Murray declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Corporate Plan Key Action Plan Year 4 2021/22 quarter 3 corporate performance reporting in relation to Roding Valley Recreation Ground under the Green Infrastructure Strategy corporate project, as he was a member of Loughton Town Council’s Recreation Committee.

 

(c)          Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor K Rizvi declared a non-pecuniary interest in the item on Forthcoming changes to the delivery and organisation of health services and the associated role of the local authority, as he was a GP based in West Essex.

75.

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.

 

76.

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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that no executive decisions had been called-in for consideration since the previous meeting.

 

77.

Forthcoming changes to the delivery and organisation of health services and the associated role of the local authority pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To receive a presentation from the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group – Dr Rob Gerlis (Chairman) and Peter Wightman (Managing Director) will be detailing the development of the Integrated Care System and what the changes mean for the Epping Forest District (see report attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor M Sartin (Chairman) introduced the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group – Dr Rob Gerlis (Chairman), Peter Wightman (Managing Director) and Ian Tompkins (Corporate Services Director). The Committee was informed that the Health and Care Bill published July 2021, set out proposals to reform the delivery and organisation of health services in England. From 1 April 2022, Epping Forest District would become part of the Herts and West Essex Integrated Care System (ICS) along with other district and county authorities, all NHS Trusts in the area, the voluntary sector and Healthwatch. The ICS comprised two statutory parts – an Integrated Care Board, NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex, responsible for NHS functions and budgets; and the Integrated Care Partnership that brought together a wider set of system partners to develop a plan to address the broader health, public health and social care needs of the local population. The Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS would have three of these ‘places’ – two in Herts and one for West Essex. The West Essex ‘place’ was known as the One Health & Care Partnership. A detailed question and answer session followed.

 

Councillor K Rizvi asked about the ICS recruitment strategy and how it would cope with any workforce crisis, e.g. through Covid or stress? Also, what was in place across the ICS regarding its governance, accountability and transparency? Mr Wightman replied it was a challenge, but the vacancy rate was down to 5%, so there had been some success on this, and advice was provided for those coming from abroad. There was a special workforce hub and lots of work had been done in the GP community with some work being taken over from GPs, such as back pain. Dr Gerlis added that prior to the Covid pandemic, changes had been made to the way the budget was delivered, for example to first contact physiotherapists and opticians (for minor eye conditions), thus bypassing GPs. A balance and continuity were needed. People could be dealt with over the phone but for those that couldn’t, a balance needed to be found.

 

There had been a low uptake of Covid vaccinations in Waltham Abbey, but Councillor J Lea remarked that the large, new GP practice near Tesco supermarket had not been providing Covid injections. Also, diabetes tests were held in Loughton but there were no bus service links and many elderly people did not drive, so could more services be provided at this new GP practice? Mr Wightman replied that health equity work was important because feedback was needed to organise provider needs, e.g. for diabetes screening, to see how people were accessing health issues and collectively think how this could be done. Mr Tompkins advised that, to access vaccinations in Waltham Abbey, there was a free taxi service. Therefore, qualitative research was important. Dr Gerlis said that some services did need to be centralised, and so ICS must talk with you to address problems such as transport issues. Councillor M Sartin added that there were some rural  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77.

78.

HRA Business Plan pdf icon PDF 489 KB

To consider the attached HRA Business Plan and make recommendations to Cabinet prior to its decision at the meeting on 7 February 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee agreed to bring forward the HRA Business Plan, ahead of Corporate Plan Key Action Plan Year 4 2021/2 – Quarter 3 Corporate Performance reporting.

 

D Fenton (HRA Project Director) introduced the HRA business plan that had been developed in partnership with the Council’s retained consultant, A Marshall-Smith of Abovo-Consult. A bespoke HRA model was being used that enabled the Council to provide a reasonable cashflow projection over the next 30 years. It was based on evidential data from the Council’s current systems and projections for economic assumptions in the social housing sector. Furthermore, the plan gave the Council the ability to stress test. This was vital given the key dynamic risks such as, the borrowing rate and changes in Government legislation regarding social housing. In early 2020, the Council’s vision to ‘create great places where people wanted to live’ and the ‘more than bricks and mortar’ housing schemes were reflected in the HRA Business Plan. There was a clear link between poor housing and health. A new rent regime meant that the government had agreed the amount of rent that could be charged. The Council had a duty of care that its housing stock / properties were safe, dry and warm. Through good asset management and by undertaking regular maintenance and upgrades when these were needed, this helped to empower residents to feel proud of where they lived. Monies came from rents, high value property sales, sales of small parcels of land, obtaining planning permissions to develop of smaller plots of land and licensing income. In addition, Housing officers were reviewing the Local Plan and working with Qualis.

 

A Marshall-Smith highlighted some key criteria of the HRA Business Plan:

 

·       comparison of cash in, against cash spent

·       ensure HRA reserve balance did not go negative

·       loans were repaid when they were due

·       interest on loans was affordable

·       invest in stock

·       careful monitoring of right to buy receipts

·       there were adequate resources of a decent home standard

·       staffing costs were in line with the establishment

 

Basic assumptions had been built into the HRA business plan for accuracy. On capital spend, the Council’s current forecast was being used. The financial plan modelling aimed to balance all these criteria. The financial summary (page 61 of the agenda report) summarised the position on the loans and the HRA surplus carried forwards over 30 years – but was sustainable.

 

Councillor R Balcombe addressed the Committee giving an overview of questions raised by members at Stronger Communities Select Committee on 11 January 2022. A list of FAQs on the HRA Business Plan had also been issued as a supplementary agenda to provide members with as much information as possible.

 

Councillor S Murray supported the HRA Business Plan and that it was very important that recommendation (2) of the report – to receive a yearly update that would include stringent stress testing – was reviewed by members, but queried if this would be undertaken by the select committee or Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor H  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.

79.

Corporate Plan Key Action Plan Year 4 2021/22 - Quarter 3 Corporate Performance Reporting pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To review the attached FY 21/22 quarter 3 Corporate performance report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

M Hassall (ICT Manager) introduced quarter 3 and reported on projects at red or amber status (exceptions). The full report had been reviewed by Stronger Council Select Committee on 18 January 2022. There were eight projects at amber status but none at red status. Seventeen projects had been closed and there were sixteen projects on green status. The KPI data showed comparisons to the previous quarter and this showed that there were eight at green status, two at amber and four at red. Strategy, Delivery and Performance was looking at refreshing the KPIs probably in the same cycle when officers would be looking at the Corporate Plan going forward.

 

(a)          Project CPP093 Green Infrastructure Strategy

 

Councillor S Murray stated that he was the Roding ward member and a Loughton Town councillor, and reminded members of his earlier declaration of interest. EFDC had written to the inspector on 21 December 2021 looking for the Roding Valley Recreation Ground (RVRG) to be included in the Local Plan as a SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) but he had not been aware of this previously. Loughton Town Council had a 125-year lease on the recreation ground and managed it but, in his opinion, had been marginalised by the whole process. Councillor N Bedford stated he had written to Councillor Murray and reiterated details of this at the meeting. Officers of Natural England had visited the site and it was particularly important the RVRG acted as a further SANG as identified in the Green Infrastructure Strategy. It would also provide sufficient green space for some 520 houses within the Local Plan, which residents would be able to walk to. Councillor D Wixley added that he was the chairman of the Town Council's Recreation Committee but it was unfortunate there had not been a consultation as this could have provided more information because the route of a footpath encroached on areas of the Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

 

(b)          Project CPP096 Local Plan

 

Councillor N Bedford reported that this seemed to be progressing well and the Inspector’s Final Report was expected to be available during 1st quarter of 2022.

 

(c)          Stronger Communities KPIs – Contracts: % change of leisure centre attendees from previous years quarter, gym visits

 

Councillor J H Whitehouse commented that Epping Sports Centre was showing a significant decrease in memberships. Although her own membership had finished, she had been surprised that she had not been contacted to renew it. The Leader, Councillor C Whitbread, replied that he would take this up with the Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor N Avey, but the District’s leisure centres were being used a lot more now. Councillor S Murray added that school staff had been offered a very good deal on leisure centre memberships.

 

(d)          Stronger Places KPIs – Contracts Waste: reduction in household waste

 

Members expressed thanks to the Council’s Waste Management Team over the recent collection of household waste, as well as Biffa whose workforce had experienced staff shortages. It  ...  view the full minutes text for item 79.

80.

Cabinet Business pdf icon PDF 221 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 4 January 2022 is attached as an Appendix to this report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cabinet’s Key Decision List (KDL) updated to 4 January 2022 was scrutinised by the Committee and the following points were raised.

 

(a)          Environmental and Technical Services

 

Transfer of Services to Qualis – Councillor S Murray queried these items but Councillor C Whitbread and A Small (Strategic Director and 151 Officer) confirmed they would be going to a scrutiny committee before going to Cabinet for a decision.

 

(b)       Housing Services

 

Improving Payment Options for Leaseholders – Councillor D Wixley queried which scrutiny committee this item would go to. Councillor H Whitbread and D Fenton confirmed that this item would be scrutinised by Stronger Place Select Committee, as it was do with the physical side of housing.

 

Councillor S Murray commended J Gould (Community and Wellbeing Project Director) for the handling of the consultations on the four Housing policies / strategies in a model way, which had provided members with a real opportunity to influence their outcomes.

 

(c)       Community and Regulatory Services

 

It was noted that the review of the Market Policy would be coming to this Committee for scrutiny on 31 March 2022.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Committee reviewed the Executive’s current programme of Key Decision of 4 January 2022.

81.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 246 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 stated that the draft Market Policy would go to 31 March meeting along with the Epping Forest Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMM), as decisions by Cabinet were due on 11 April. Epping Forest Youth Council’s annual report and the People Team induction process were also scheduled for the next meeting. The Committee noted that the Elections Planning Progress Report had been reviewed by Stronger Council Select Committee and the Enforcement Policy scrutinised by Stronger Place Select Committee, instead of this Committee. Scrutiny of the transfer of services to Qualis and environmental information requests (EIRs) had yet to be confirmed. The external scrutiny item on the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest Management Strategy and Business Plan 2020-2030 had been deferred to the work programme for the next municipal year.

 

The Committee noted Councillor J H Whitehouse’s concern that members would not be able to influence the SAMM Strategy, as the gap between scrutiny on 31 March and the decision by Cabinet on 11 April was too close together. Also, work programme item (2), Group Company Structure, was an ‘ongoing’ item for the Committee to review at each meeting, but this did not happen.

 

(b)          Reserve work programme

 

Thames Water – there was support for external scrutiny of the water company. Councillor S Murray explained Thames Water’s repair works in Loughton last summer had caused chaos for Loughton residents. Councillor M Sartin replied that Thames Water had also been raised by the Joint Meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen on 20 January 2022 and would be followed up by G Woodhall.

 

Housing associations – Councillor J Lea was interested in more in-depth scrutiny. It was noted that Councillor B Jennings had also raised this at the same joint meeting, and G Woodhall would be liaising with D Fenton on this.

 

Members were asked to apprise G Woodhall of any other organisations they wished to nominate for external scrutiny, as soon as possible, for the Committee to consider at its first meeting in the new municipal year on 16 June 2022.

 

RESOLVED:

 

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

 

(2)          That members apprise G Woodhall of any organisations they wished to nominate for external scrutiny, as soon as possible, for the Committee to consider at its first meeting in the new municipal year on 16 June 2022.

 

(Post meeting update: For information, the minutes of the Joint Meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen on 20 January 2020 could be viewed on the Council’s Intranet/Extranet at this weblink:

https://eppingforestintranet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=770&MId=10892&Ver=4 )

82.

Select Committees - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 137 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

 

As Councillor R Balcombe had reported the select committee’s scrutiny of the HRA Business Plan earlier in the meeting, Councillor J Lea (Chairman) added that she would be liaising with D Fenton over housing scrutiny as resident seemed to have many complaints.

 

(b)       Stronger Council Select Committee

 

Councillor P Bolton, Chairman, commented that at the last meeting on 18 January, seven of the Cabinet had attended which was useful as they were able to answer members’ questions directly. As some of the business was repetitive and cyclical, as with Corporate Performance reporting of the KPIs, he would not report on these. With the Council’s move towards members using digital communication, there was a discussion on digital versus telephone. However, some members were having difficulties with this and found it easier to telephone. Members also discussed why there were hardly any planning applications coming before Area Plans West Committee. The select committee had reviewed the quarter 3 Budget Monitoring Report and the draft budget for 2022/23 but there were no major problems highlighted, although it was noted that inflation was one of the greatest threats.

 

Councillor S Murray commented that in regard to work programme item (11), he understood Voter ID legislation was still going through Parliament, but remarked that it would have major implications for the Council and would be quite costly to introduce.

 

Councillor J Lea asked if planning delegations had changed for applications coming before planning committees, as many Area Plans West meetings had been cancelled. G Woodhall replied that he thought they had been updated two years ago, but he would look this up in the Constitution and let Councillor Lea know.

 

(c)       Stronger Place Select Committee

 

Councillor M Sartin advised that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman had both given their apologies for this meeting. Councillor S Murray remarked that he had not been able to attend the last meeting on 13 January but had been concerned by the agenda report on the “Introduction of charging for additional/replacement waste containers”. Councillor M Sartin replied she had asked this question at the meeting and her comments had been noted, so these would be published in the minutes in due course.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)          That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted the progress of the three select committees against their work programmes.

83.

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.