Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping
Contact: A. Hendry Tel: (01992) 564243 Email: email@example.com
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”
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.
It was reported that Councillor Jon Whitehouse was substituting for Councillor Janet Whitehouse and that Councillor S Heap was substituting for Councillor S Neville.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 4th June 2018.
That the minutes of the last Committee meeting held on 4th June 2018 be signed by the Chairman as a correct record subject to replacing the word ‘County’ with ‘Country’ in the first line of the 9th paragraph in minute item 6 and that the word ‘Acting’ replace the word ‘Assistant’ in the 3rd paragraph of minute item 16.
Councillor Patel would like the questions he posed at the last meeting answered; they were about:
1) How was the aspects of DIZ to be fitted into our corporate plan (page 9 of the agenda, minute item 6);
2) The report on Customer Satisfaction closure report, where he asked how the sample was chosen (page 14 of the agenda, minute item 15); and
3) On the transformation programme – project dossier item, he had asked if an anticipated progress column could be added for these reports (page 15 of the agenda minute item 16).
Mr Macnab said that he would endeavour to get responses to these questions.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
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.
Councillor Murray declared a non-pecuniary interest in the following item of the agenda by virtue of seeking to become a trustee of Citizen’s Advice Epping Forest.
· Agenda item 6 - Scrutiny of External organisation – Citizen’s Advice Epping Forest District.
To undertake appropriate external scrutiny of Citizen's Advice Epping Forest District, with regard to the provision of independent advice services for residents of the Epping Forest District.
The Chairman was very pleased to welcome three officers from the local Citizen’s Advice - Epping Forest District. The officers were Nnenna Anyanwu, the Chief Executive; Peter Gordon a Trustee; and Jean Wells a Trustee.
A copy of their presentation is attached for information.
Ms Anyanwu reviewed the work that the Citizen’s Advice Epping Forest (CAEF) did in the district, saying that they were an independent charity that provided specialist and general advice within the EFDC area. They had 3 offices in Loughton Library, Waltham Abbey Town Hall and Hemnall Street, Epping. They also had 2 outreaches, one in Limes Farm and one in the Ongar Library.
They provided free, confidential, independent and impartial advice to people so that they did not suffer from lack of knowledge of their rights and responsibilities.
Their core areas of advice and expertise were in benefits, debt management, housing, employment, relationships, legal matters and financial services.
They provided advice to local residents on a face to face basis and by telephone. They also run an evening pro bono solicitors rota and a family solicitor’s rota once a week.
They also campaigned for better policies and practices which affected people’s lives.
Last year they saw nearly 2000 people and advised them on 7,409 different issues. So far this year they have dealt with around 800 clients most with multiple issues. They have 44 volunteers and solve the problems of 2 in every 3 clients with an 88% satisfaction rate. In the first quarter of this year (April to June 2018) they had maintained £5,720 worth of benefits and tax credits and had written off £134,980 of debts for their clients.
Their strategic objectives were:
1) To make it easier to get good quality advice;
2) Be more influential;
3) Become more sustainable and effective in the community; and
4) Be a stronger equality champion.
They have also faced the following challenges:
· Funding – this as always was a challenge. The EFDC grant had stayed the same for a number of years, but costs have gone up and they were having to do the same amount or more with the same money which amounted to a cut in funding. They were trying to diversify the funding base but it was a challenge.
· EFDC geographical environment – rural settlements were widely spread and the transport system was not very good. They tended to see a lot of elderly clients and also clients with mental health issues and they had difficulty in travelling in to attend their offices. However, reaching out to rural areas costs money.
· Volunteering recruitment and training – they have lost a few of their volunteers due to retirement recently and they needed to train up new people, which was expensive and time consuming.
· Staff shortages – again this was linked to funding. They needed to recruit more people to fill in the gaps and they were working towards raising money to fund more positions.
· Building partnerships relationships – again this was something that took ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
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.
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.
There were no call-ins of decisions to be considered.
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 Committee reviewed the council’s programme of key decisions for 2018/19.
Planning and Governance
Councillor Murray asked who did they gain approval from for an electoral review. Councillor Chris Whitbread said that this was part of the Transformation agenda, but until we had a Local Plan in place how could we do a boundary review. It was something for the long term that we needed to look at.
Councillor Murray asked about the waste management review – was the dry recycling bags a cost to the authority or the residents. Councillor Avey said that this was a cost to the authority but was under review at present.
Councillor Murray commented that Loughton Town Council was very impressed by the Homelessness strategy. Councillor Stavrou said she would pass this on to the officers concerned.
Assets and Economic Development
Councillor Sartin commenting on the Epping Forest Shopping Park said that she now understood that all the units had been let. Councillor Grigg concurred, confirming that they had now been let.
Councillor Murray asked if ‘Homebargins’ had any impact on the Broadway. Councillor Grigg said that she was not in a position to assess what the impact would be. They would have to wait for the impact study to take place.
To consider the attached report.
The Acting Chief Executive introduced the Transformation Programme – project dossier report. The Committee were asked to consider and review the list of active High and Medium complexity projects, known formally as the Project Dossier.
He noted that the five projects listed were all progressing well but P145 the Customer Reception project was now delayed because of the review and listing of the building.
That the updated Project Dossier for the Transformation Programme – Office of the Chief Executive be noted.
Resources Select Committee 2018/19 - Membership
(1) That the Committee make further appointments to membership of the Resources Select Committee for the remainder of the 2018/19 municipal year, in place of Councillor A. Patel and Councillor J. M. Whitehouse; and
(2) That the Committee make a new appointment to the position of the chairman of the Resources Select Committee (and, if necessary, the vice-chairman of the Committee) for the remainder of the municipal year.
The Council’s Constitution (Article 11, Paragraph 8 (Eligibility for Membership - Councillor Members)), provides that councillors appointed to the Audit and Governance Committee may not also be members of any Select Committee appointed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee with responsibility for reviewing the Council’s finances or financial procedures. For the purposes of the Council’s current Overview and Scrutiny framework, this provision relates directly to the Resources Select Committee.
Councillors A. Patel and J. M. Whitehouse have been appointed to both the Audit and Governance Committee and the Resources Select Committee for 2018/19. Unfortunately, the Article 11 provision of the Constitution was not appreciated at the time that these appointments to the Resources Select Committee were made by the Committee at its meeting on 4 June 2018.
The next meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee is on 30 July 2018. It is therefore necessary for the Committee to make new appointments to membership of the Resources Select Committee for the remainder of 2018/19, including the position of the Chairman of the Select Committee, which is currently held by Councillor Patel.
It was noted that members appointed to the Audit and Governance Committee could not also belong to any scrutiny committee that had responsibility for reviewing the Council’s finances or financial procedures, in this case this would mean the Resources Select Committee.
Inadvertently two Councillors had been appointed to both to both committees, Councillors A Patel and Jon Whitehouse.
Councillor Patel has since indicated that he wished to stay on the Resources Select Committee and had therefore resigned his position on the Audit and Governance Committee.
Councillor Jon Whitehouse had indicated that he wished to stay on the Audit and Governance Committee and come off the Resources Select Committee. He had nominated Councillor Janet Whitehouse to replace him on this Select Committee. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee were in favour of this arrangement.
That Councillor Jon Whitehouse be replaced by Councillor Janet Whitehouse on the Resources Select Committee with immediate effect.
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.
The Committee reviewed their work programme for the rest of the year.
It was noted that item 2 of the work programme ‘Corporate Priorities 2018/19’ would now be going to the October meeting.
They noted that the Manchester Airport Group had been approached to attend the next O&S Committee meeting in October 2018. Members would be asked for topics that would like covered via the Council Bulletin.
If it turned out that any external organisations could not attend, then the item on the ‘People Strategy’ in the reserve programme would be substituted.
The Committee was advised that it was still hoped that representatives of ECC Passenger Transport would be able to attend a future meeting. The chairman indicated that she would be writing to the relevant Portfolio Holder of Essex County Council in this regard. Councillor Mohindra also noted that for the School Transport Provisions he had spoken to the relevant member at County Hall and that he would be more amenable to a private briefing with the members this committee rather than a standard O&S meeting.
Councillor R Jennings suggested that at a future date the Committee invite the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to give a presentation to this Committee. The South East LEP was the second largest in England comprising of Essex, Kent and East Sussex. When Government published its white paper on the industrial strategy it confirmed its intention to use those partnerships to produce local industrial strategies and off course this would apply to Epping Forest District; so we will need to start working with the LEP soon. He suggested that once this had settled down and they had clear guidance from the Government that we look at this and invite them sometime early next year. Councillor Mohindra agreed and said that ECC were would be leading this conservation but the Chairman and Managing Director should be happy to attend, but not in the near future.
The Committee agreed to add this to their work programme.
Councillor Dorrell would like to prioritise the 6th Form consortium item. Councillor Murray noted that all three schools had a new head teacher, and we should give them time to bed in. He would like to prioritise the review of the EF College now that the Principal had now gone. He noted that about 80% of young people do not go to the Epping Forest 6th Form consortium. In light of this it would be important to get someone here from the new college as he had real concerns of what they would be offering and for their long term future.
Mr Macnab noted that the Council’s response to the College’s consultation had been published in the Bulletin, resulting in a meeting between him and senior management from the college. A full written response was also published in the Member’s Bulletin. He noted that it was the intention of the college to seek representation from this council on their local governing body and to invite 3 ... view the full minutes text for item 29.
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.
The Committee noted their schedule of recent external scrutiny carried out over the past few years.