Venue: Virtual Meeting on Zoom. View directions
Contact: Vivienne Messenger Tel: (01992) 564243 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 virtual meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of subsequent repeated viewing (or other such use by 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 then they should ensure that their video setting is turned off throughout the meeting and set to audio only.
Please be aware that if technical difficulties interrupt the meeting that cannot be overcome, I may need to adjourn the meeting.”
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.
To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.
The Committee noted that Councillor H Kane had been appointed as substitute for Councillor P Stalker.
Minute's Silence for HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
The Chairman, Councillor M Sartin, invited all members to join in a one minute’s silence as a mark of respect following the death of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on 9 April 2021.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 2 February 2021.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 2 February 2021 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman.
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.
There were no declarations of interest pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct.
Public Questions & Requests to Address the Overview and Scrutiny Committee
(Democratic and 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.
The Committee noted that no public questions or requests to address the meeting had been received.
Executive Decisions - Call-In
(Democratic and 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.
The Committee noted that no executive decisions had been called-in for consideration since the previous meeting.
To receive a presentation by the Epping Forest Youth Council on activities completed during this municipal year and activities proposed for the forthcoming year.
The Youth Councillors will also be screening their short promotional film about the MiLife C19 project, which can be viewed at the link below:
The Committee received an annual progress report on the work undertaken by the Epping Forest Youth Council supported by the Community, Culture and Wellbeing Team. Four Youth Councillors, Aliza Zarras from West Hatch, Martin Prinsloo from Davenant Foundation, Natalie Moffat from Roding Valley and Sonny Bazzoni from Epping St John’s gave an informative presentation on the activities of the Youth Council. Their views on the challenging year that unfolded with the unprecedented Covid crisis and national lockdowns was inspiring for the Committee to hear, and especially how the Youth Council’s work had helped them and their fellow students in the District’s secondary schools cope. The Community, Culture and Wellbeing Team was also commended for their guidance, training and support in continuing the strength of the District’s national award-winning Youth Council.
· A thank you for Council funding of £5,000 for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021;
· Awards and additional funding received from the Jack Petchey Foundation;
· #Your Say survey where young people shared their experiences during the Covid pandemic, and that the top three concerns were mental health, loneliness and isolation and education pressures;
· MiLife C19 project and websitehttps://www.rbf.org.uk/milife that was helping young people to build their emotional resilience;
· MiLife C19 promotional film had been distributed to seven District’s secondary schools see link https://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/youth-council-launch-new-wellbeing-project/
· October 2020 half term community day litter picking event;
· Staying safe campaign poster of youth councillors wearing their face coverings;
· ‘Keep your Granny safe’ poster in October 2020 to remind everyone of the Covid guidelines for ‘hands’, ‘face’ and ‘space’ on hygiene and socially distancing;
· Consultations and surveys undertaken with various local to national organisations;
· EFYC topical mugs were sent to NHS staff at Princess Alexandra Hospital in February 2021 to remind them to take regular breaks;
· Mugs were also sent to the secondary/independent schools’ headteachers/headmaster;
· Being (virtual) guests of the Right Honourable Dame Eleanor Laing and the High Sheriff of Essex;
· Having a youth voice and their continued liaison with other Essex youth councils;
· Future EFYC projects, one of which had involved researching their family histories and working with Epping Forest District Museum on the exhibition on the Loughton Boys, holocaust survivors; and
· Taking part on the EFYC 2021 conference in November 2021.
Councillor M Sartin, had been very impressed with the powerful message conveyed in the EFYC’s Keep your Granny safe poster.
Councillor S Rackham asked the youth councillors what had helped them get through the Covid pandemic? N Moffat replied that having something to do every day had made her feel active and the world more normal. M Prinsloo recalled that when the lockdown had started the Youth Council saw what the problems were and had wanted to make people feel less lonely and making the videos had helped him. S Bazzoni said that the Youth Council’s work had benefitted and helped him as their work had reached over 5,000 others and he was proud to be playing a part in that.
Councillor D Sunger praised the ‘Staying safe campaign’ poster ... view the full minutes text for item 94.
To undertake external scrutiny of local mental health services for young people with Ms Sarah Garner (Assistant Director, Southend, Essex & Thurrock Children & Young Peoples Emotional Wellbeing & Mental Health Collaborative/Programme Director Joint Commissioning SEND (Essex)) – please see attached report.
The Chairman introduced Ms S Garner who was the Assistant Director, Southend, Essex & Thurrock Children & Young Peoples Emotional Wellbeing & Mental Health Collaborative and Programme Director Joint Commissioning SEND (Essex)) and was based at St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping. She collaborated with seven Clinical Commissioning Groups and three local authorities. As she was the lead commissioner in Essex, equal access across Essex was important. Targeted and specialist services for children and young people 0–18 were accessed via a single point of access, supported by a County-wide crisis team, learning disability service and eating disorder service. Continued support where clinically appropriate was also available up to age 25. There was a locality hub based at Harlow and others sited in each CCG area. Various mental health disorders were covered, but of all the referrals, including self-referrals, coming into the Essex single point of access, 25 per cent were referred on to other people/organisations. The Crisis Support teams visited individuals to review and assess them 24/7. The Children and Young People Eating Disorder service, which covered anorexia and bulimia, and the Learning Disability service had seen a rise for their services during the lockdowns. There were seven community teams that worked alongside six youth offending service workers. There was a lot of provision with place base teams, life coaching and various support help available. The referrals between 2015 and 2020 had increased annually, but it was better to catch these early. During the Covid pandemic services had continued to operate as usual. Digital help offer had been expanded through apps and online therapy. Group therapy and support offers were widened, as was communication through schools and community groups to reach young people in need. Additional support was being provided for community eating disorder services and the voluntary and community sector to support the Crisis teams and single point of access. Future plans for young people’s mental health services were outlined, which included development of 0–25 services, and getting risk support and the Crisis teams integrated and working across the NHS and Children’s Services.
The Chairman invited the youth councillors and Community, Culture and Wellbeing team to stay and ask questions after members as their input would be welcome. Councillor M Satin continued that mental health services for young people was a very broad area.
Councillor S Rackham asked how many referrals had there been over the Covid period and now the UK was coming out of the latest lockdown would cases decrease? An increase in anorexia was highlighted but had there been increases in any other mental health issues? S Garner advised that there had been a year-on-year rise in demand for their services predominantly from anxiety and depression, which could be because of parents losing their jobs, losing their home, poor housing could affect children, not having enough food, or anxiety from young people worried about being in a large group. Anyone could self-refer. There had been a sharp rise in young people feeling very lonely and isolated, as well as a ... view the full minutes text for item 95.
To consider the attached first draft of the Overview and Scrutiny 2020/21 Annual Report. A final draft copy will be reviewed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1 July 2021 for approval by Council on 29 July 2021.
The Chairman emphasised that this was the first draft of the Overview and Scrutiny 2020/21 Annual Report, as it was not completed yet. The photographs on the cover were not final, as the Civic Offices’ refurbishment was nearing completion. If members had any comments, she asked members to forward these to Democratic Services. The final draft would be submitted to the Committee on 1 July 2021 and then to Council for approval on 29 July 2021.
Councillor D Wixley said he would report some minor corrections directly and that the last select committee cycle was still finishing, so this still needed to be factored into the final report.
Councillor S Murray remarked that this was our report and members needed to take ownership of it. Overview and Scrutiny had three key functions – scrutiny of external services and bodies, the scrutiny role of the Council and its services and that it acted as a body of the call-in mechanism. There was a national executive scrutiny model and the call-in mechanism was very important but rarely used by this Council, so when it was used, it was because members were really unhappy with a Cabinet or Portfolio Holder decision. The Councillor wanted greater detail to be given on the two call-in requests especially as the Joint Meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen seemed more detailed to him. Councillor M Sartin replied that she would discuss this with Democratic Services officers before the final version of the report but if Councillor Murray wanted to email details of what he wanted included, then to contact Democratic Services.
Councillor J H Whitehouse said we should ask ourselves who this annual report was for. When the Cabinet model for scrutiny was introduced in 2000, there was a real enthusiasm for scrutiny. The Council took up residents’ concerns and reports were written by officers which were publicised in libraries for the benefit of residents. The annual report was written in the style of minutes and although she found the sections on the Agenda Planning Group and Joint Meeting interesting, she could not imagine residents being very interested in the annual report. She thought some of the external scrutiny could be better dealt with by a Task and Finish Panel that could be done over a few weeks, not months. The report showed that we were looking at things more internally rather than the scrutiny concerns of residents. The Chairman replied that this report was looking back at the scrutiny undertaken over the last year. Perhaps this was a discussion to have at another time to look at how scrutiny could be undertaken by the Council.
(1) That the first draft of the Overview and Scrutiny 2020/21 Annual Report of the work undertaken during the past municipal year, be agreed, subject to members submitting any further comments to Democratic Services;
(2) That the final draft be reported to Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the meeting on 1 July 2021; and
(3) That the ... view the full minutes text for item 96.
To review the quarter 4 Corporate performance report (to follow).
This report reviewed and commented on the delivery against the quarter 4 milestones specifically the projects that highlighted exceptions, which was determined by a red status. There were more ‘reds’ than in previous quarters but the reasons for the red status were referenced. The focus on the red status was where there had been missed targets on key milestones, a key issue of resolution or KPIs had missed targets. These had been reviewed in detail at the recent Stronger Council Select Committee. The majority of cases would be re-baselined to achieve a green status and the reasons for this would be referenced. The quarter 4 KPIs had been unavailable because of the timing of the reporting period and these would be available in the minutes. Also, People KPIs were in their infancy. Staff turnover had increased mainly because of the ICT restructure.
Councillor D Dorrell queried the re-baselining of project milestones and that better descriptions would be helpful. He wanted to know what would be carried over into 2021/22 where delivery had been intended for 2020/21. L Wade, Strategy, Delivery and Performance Service Director, replied that she would supply this information, which was to be included in the minutes.
Councillor D Wixley was worried by the high staff turnover and asked if the Council had a process of interviewing staff when they left, as there was a concern about efficiency when losing experienced people. The Strategy, Delivery and Performance Service Director replied that the ICT restructure had involved new roles and not all staff had been successful at interview. The Council did hold exit interviews and collated information on this. Also, the Senior Leadership Team looked at employee feedback on a quarterly basis.
Councillor J H Whitehouse asked where the project to create vibrant high streets and town centres had got to? The Strategy, Delivery and Performance Service Director advised that progress on this was reported to the Stronger Place Select Committee.
Councillor S Murray highlighted that a more detailed report had been reviewed by Stronger Council Select Committee on 13 April 2021 and that the meeting could be viewed on the webcast.
(1) That the Committee reviewed the quarter 4 performance report;
(2) That the updated quarter 4 KPI performance reporting be included in the minutes (see attached); and
(3) That information on the re-baselining of project milestones that would be carried over into 2021/22 where delivery had been intended for 2020/21, be provided in the minutes (see Post Meeting update below).
(Post meeting update: Re-baselining of project milestones carried over into 2021/22:
Projects from FY20-21 rolling over to FY21-22
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 April 2021 is attached as an Appendix to this report.
Cabinet’s Key Decision List updated to the 1 April 2021 was scrutinised by the Committee and the following points were raised.
(a) Finance and Economic Development Portfolio
On the Town Centre Regeneration of Loughton, Epping and Buckhurst Hill, Councillor S Murray asked would member input be sought from Loughton councillors? No officers had contacted them, yet they had some expertise and wanted to see discussion at an earlier stage in the drafting of this report. Councillor A Patel advised that the officer was still researching this project for the report draft but would liaise with ward councillors. Councillor S Murray replied that town centres did not work like that as all his ward residents used the High Road and The Broadway and he would not be satisfied if just the ward councillors were consulted. The Chairman agreed that some discussion before the report was produced and finalised would be necessary, and believed the lead officers were N Dawe, Chief Operating Officer, and J Houston, Partnerships and Economic Development Specialist. The Leader, Councillor C Whitbread, assured councillors that there would be input from District and Town councillors. The Epping scheme had been done with Essex County Council, so local input was important, and input from businesses, as they were all partially shaping the future place. The final impact of Covid on high streets was not known.
(b) Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio
Councillor J H Whitehouse remarked that Cabinet could not make a decision on the transfer of services to Qualis before pre-scrutiny and also Epping Leisure Centre deserved scrutiny. The Chairman replied pre-scrutiny was an opportunity for members to raise any concerns. The Leader emphasised that the Key Decision List showed the decision timelines and highlighted the importance of scrutiny before a Cabinet decision. G Blakemore, Chief Executive, advised that transfers of services to Qualis had been moved from Stronger Place Select Committee to Overview and Scrutiny Committee to give members this pre-scrutiny opportunity. Councillor S Murray asked that sufficient time in a future agenda needed to be factored in. Councillor B Jennings agreed this Committee should rightfully pre-scrutinise in depth the transfer of services to Qualis. It was noted that an extra meeting of this Committee had been arranged for 8 June 2021 for members to pre-scrutinise three Qualis items.
(c) Housing and Community Portfolio
Councillor S Murray sought assurance that all Council Policies should be pre-scrutinised by the appropriate select committee before a Cabinet decision. This should, therefore, apply to the Allocations Policy and Tenancy Policy. The Chairman agreed such policies should be pre-scrutinised. Councillor H Whitbread advised that this should be undertaken by the Stronger Communities Select Committee.
(1) That the Committee reviewed the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions of 1 April 2021 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;
(2) That an extra meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to ... view the full minutes text for item 98.
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.
(a) Current work programme
Standing items on (3) Accommodation Strategy and (4) People Strategy had already been removed from the work programme and were being reviewed by Stronger Council Select Committee. Item (2) Group Company Structure would be looked at by this Committee at the first meeting in the municipal year on 3 June 2021. All other work programme items had been completed during 2020/21 except item (23) Environmental Information Requests (EIRs) regarding pre-scrutiny of charging for this service, which would be carried over into 2021/22.
(b) Reserve work programme
The reserve programme was noted.
The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager advised that he was starting to draft the Committee’s 2021/22 work programme and asked members to contact Democratic Services with their suggestions.
(1) That the current Overview and Scrutiny work programme for 2020/21 be noted;
(2) That the current reserve programme be noted; and
(3) That members contact Democratic Services with their suggestions for the 2021/22 work programme.
(Select Committee Chairmen) 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.
(a) Stronger Communities Select Committee
Councillor D Sunger reported that four meetings had been held so far with a fifth due on 22 April 2021. Essex Police District Commander for Epping Forest and Brentwood, Chief Inspector Ant Alcock, had attended the last meeting on 30 March when members had received interesting updates on current policing activities and crime issues in the District. The Epping Forest Community Safety Partnership Annual Strategic Assessment, Annual Report and Partnership Plan were reviewed, as was the six-month report on the work of the Council-funded Police Officers.
Councillor S Murray had attended that meeting and thanked Councillor D Sunger for the inclusive way that he had chaired it.
Councillor J H Whitehouse queried item 17, Museum collections, which had no date for when this item would be reviewed by the select committee. Work on the museum collections did not have to be finished before a report came before the select committee. Councillor D Sunder noted that she would like a report on what was happening to the collections to be considered at the next meeting.
(b) Stronger Council Select Committee
Councillor P Bolton reported on the ICT update and that members had been concerned by the large change of staff. However, this had been because of the nature of the change of the ICT programmes, which because they had changed so drastically, not all officers had been suited to the new developments. There was a big bedding in process while this restructure was ongoing which the select committee would monitor. The People Team did undertake exit interviews which were acted upon when necessary. The People Strategy set out the achievements realised during year 1 for 2021/22 and what would be achieved in year 2 for 2021/22. The Accommodation Strategy regarding the upgrading of the Civic Offices was completed and it was hoped that meetings would take place soon. A high court hearing was due to be heard on 21 April 2021 to agree if there could be an extension on distance / virtual meetings, but members would be let into the Civic Offices when it was safe to do so.
Councillor S Murray asked if small groups of members would be allowed to view the Civic Offices? The Strategy, Delivery and Performance Service Director replied that there was a phased return for Conder Building staff and then the offices would be used for postal vote issuing and opening sessions, so early to mid-May seemed to be the earliest councillors might be able to access to the offices.
(c) Stronger Place Select Committee
Councillor S Heather advised that the select committee had completed all its work programme apart from item 6, sheltered housing. Officers were now looking at leasing furniture instead of purchasing and the refurbishment of sheltered housing accommodation was ongoing. Members had also reviewed the Local Enforcement Plan and pre-scrutinised the Green Infrastructure Strategy before a decision by Cabinet in April 2021.
(1) That the Committee noted the work programmes of the three ... view the full minutes text for item 100.
Exclusion of Public and Press
(Team Manager - Democratic & Electoral Services) 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):
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.
(Team Manager - Democratic & Electoral Services) 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.
The Committee noted that there was no business which necessitated the exclusion of the public and press from the meeting.
The Chairman thanked all members of Overview and Scrutiny for attending over the last year and expressed her thanks to the vice-chairman, Councillor B Jennings, for all his help throughout 2020/21. The Chairman also thanked officers for their hard work. It had been an unusual municipal year with the Covid pandemic but hopefully everyone would be able to move into a more normal procedure by the next municipal year.