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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.”
The Democratic and Electoral Services Team Manager 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.
The Committee noted the following substitutions reported at the meeting.
(1) That Councillor R Brookes had been appointed as substitute for Councillor R Baldwin;
(2) That Councillor H Kane had been appointed as substitute for Councillor K Williamson; and
(3) That Councillor D Stocker had been appointed as substitute for Councillor S Heather.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 27 January 2022.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2022 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
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.
(a) Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor S Murray declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Annual review of the work undertaken by the Epping Forest Youth Council item, as two of the youth councillors were pupils at Roding Valley High School where he worked part time.
(b) Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor S Murray declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy and Governance Arrangements item, as he was a member of Loughton Town Council, which held a 125-year lease on the Roding Valley Recreation Ground, he was a member of the Town Council’s Recreation Committee and was also a member of the Epping Forest Heritage Trust.
(c) Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor D Wixley declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy and Governance Arrangements item, as he was a member of Loughton Town Council, which held a 125-year lease on the Roding Valley Recreation Ground, he was chairman of the Town Council’s Recreation Committee and was also a member of the Epping Forest Heritage Trust.
(d) Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor R Brookes declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy and Governance Arrangements item, as she was a member of Loughton Town Council, which held a 125-year lease on the Roding Valley Recreation Ground and fully participated in the Recreation Committee debates. She was also a member of the Epping Forest Heritage Trust.
(e) Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor J H Whitehouse declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy and Governance Arrangements item, as she was a member of the Epping Forest Heritage Trust.
(f) Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor B Jennings declared a non-pecuniary interest in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy and Governance Arrangements item, as he was a member of the Epping Forest Heritage Trust.
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.
The Committee noted that no public questions or requests to address the meeting had been received.
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.
The Committee noted that no executive decisions had been called-in for consideration since the previous meeting.
To receive a presentation on the annual progress of the work undertaken by the Community, Culture and Wellbeing Team with the Epping Forest Youth Council (see report attached).
The presentation was introduced by Epping Forest Youth Councillors Sonny Bazzoni, Martin Prinsloo, Daniel Turner, Finlay Wallbanks. They were joined by other Youth Councillors Frank Cullis, Archie Flynn and Sydnae Smith along with the Community, Culture and Wellbeing Team – G Wallis (Service Manager), D Gilson-Butler (Young Person’s Officer) and K Lucas (Young Person’s Assistant). Their highlights included:
· Youth Council elections in March 2022 that had been competitively contended;
· #yoursay survey in June 2020 evidenced the need for a mental health project;
· MiLife C 19 project was updated to respond to Covid 19’s impact on young people and now generated an income for the council by reaching a wider audience;
· Worked with Red Balloon Foundation to create and deliver 10 lesson plans on mental health and wellbeing in schools;
· Contributed to 17 surveys for local, regional and national consultations;
· Actively promoted their achievements in local council newsletters, local press, their schools and on social media;
· Interacted with other Youth Council and the British Youth Council;
· 8 Youth Councillors received achievement awards from the Council Chairman, Cllr H Kane, at this year’s Civic Awards in March;
· 6 Youth Councillors received the Jack Petchey Achievement Award for their outstanding work;
· Hosted the Annual Youth Conference at the Civic Offices in November that focussed on climate action;
· Youth Activities Map on the Council’s website was fully interactive and growing with 68 listings to date; and
· A thank you for the Council’s continued support of the Youth Council’s project work.
Members asked the following questions after the presentation.
What was the biggest impact the Youth Council had had on you? The youth councillors replied that they had made lots of friends with like-minded people. The Youth Council was helpful and accepting, it had grown their interest in politics and had given them the opportunity to help make a difference.
It was good that youth councillors used social media as they bridged a gap between young people and older generations, but did they use Tik Tok? Promoting the youth council’s work on social media was a good way to reach other young people, so Tik Tok could also be used.
If you could use technology to change one thing in the District, what would that be? The Youth Council was involved with the Ripples Project in relation to the ripple effect of crime on the community and raising awareness. In February during half term, they had taken part in a consultation with Essex Police Press officers and held an interesting discussion on social media on how it could influence young people’s lives.
Were the Youth Council involved in knife crime awareness? The Youth Council had worked heavily with the Essex Police Media Team and on the Ripples Project. They would be doing some casework projects alongside the police using actual incidents to spread the word in a young person friendly way. The Youth Council also had representation on the Independent Advisory Group. Youth councillors promoted the County Council knife bin initiative in schools to design ... view the full minutes text for item 90.
To comment on the attached report and make recommendations on the adoption of an Epping Forest District Market Policy and associated Fees Policy, prior to consideration by Cabinet on 11 April 2022.
It was noted that this item had been withdrawn from the agenda by officers prior to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 31 March 2022 because more work was required but it would come back to this Committee before going to Cabinet for a decision.
To comment on the attached report and make recommendations on the adoption of a Partnership Agreement for the delivery of Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM) Strategy for the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation for consideration by Cabinet at its meeting on 11 April 2022.
Vicki Willis (Principal Planning Officer) introduced the detailed report concerned with the potential impact of residential development on the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in relation to additional visitors using the Forest for recreational purposes. The Council had a legal duty as a ‘competent authority’ under the Habitats Regulations to protect such internationally important sites, which could be best achieved using measures put in place at the Local Plan level. The Partnership Agreement was jointly developed by the Council with other competent authorities, Natural England and the Corporation of London as the delivery body. It would replace the ‘Interim Approach to Managing Recreational Pressure on the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation’ adopted by the Council in October 2018. The document outlined the updated SAMM Strategy for Epping Forest and the governance arrangements to ensure that financial contributions that had been / would be collected from developments were spent in accordance with the purposes for which they had been secured and that proper monitoring of spending would be put in place.
A selection of the questions raised by members were detailed below, which the Planning Officer answered.
Was the Technical Oversight Group there to ensure that the money raised was spent on implementing the measures and costs in Schedule 1 of the Partnership Agreement? Yes, the Epping Forest Conservators had created the list, but work to progress it was ongoing, as the Conservators were the delivery body. The representatives from Natural England and the Conservators had been very supportive.
Regarding the in-perpetuity period in the original SAMM Strategy, 125 years seemed right, but the finance period had been interpreted as an 80-year cost? As the original SAMM Strategy had not had any allowance for in-perpetuity, an 80-year period was determined to be more appropriate with Natural England and the Technical Oversight Group.
There was support for the recommendation that all qualifying development was required to contribute with a ‘tiered’ approach taken, so that development that was closest to the Epping Forest SAC paid proportionately more than those further afield.
Councillor S Murray asked about the £716 per dwelling that would be required from new residential development within 3 kilometres of the Forest in respect of the implementation of the Roding Valley Recreation Ground (RVRG) between Buckhurst Hill and Loughton, as a Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG). Loughton Town Council had not been consulted yet, but it held a 125-year lease to manage the RVRG. How detailed were the plans for the RVRG as a SANG and how had the £716 per dwelling been worked out? The work was at an early stage, but the Council had adopted a Green Infrastructure Strategy that provided the District wide framework for designating new areas of SANG together with identified opportunities to provide an alternative recreational offer to the Forest, including through enhancements to existing open spaces. N Dawe, Chief Operating Officer, continued that the budgeted figures were from the Green Infrastructure Strategy. The Roding Valley Recreation Ground work was being led ... view the full minutes text for item 92.
To consider the attached report on the outcomes of the Climate Change Action Plan Consultation ahead of the Climate Change Action Plan going to Cabinet on 11 April 2022.
F Edmonds, Climate Change Officer, updated the Committee. The draft action plan had been approved by Cabinet and a public consultation was held last autumn. The methods, a summary of the responses received and changes to the Climate Change Action Plan were detailed in the report. The consultation survey included general questions around individual and community behaviours to understand the level of engagement with climate change in the District and to inform a behaviour change strategy for the future. The survey asked other questions related to businesses, travel and the Climate Change Action Plan itself. The Epping Forest Youth Council had also participated in the consultation and provided valuable input.
Members raised several issues, which the Climate Change Officer replied to, as detailed below.
In relation to the consultation’s travel specific findings, Councillor A Lion commented that in Chigwell there was a limited bus service through lack of use, many of the roads did not have footways so there were issues there, and it had the highest number of electric vehicles but there were not any on street charging points. Buses and the rural network were a major challenge and although the Council was working with Essex County Council which had a bus improvement programme, there was not much for Epping Forest District. S Lloyd Jones, Sustainable Transport Officer, was looking at EV charging points and had carried out an audit on Council-owned car parks and rapid charging points had been installed this month. Also, disused Council-owned garages could be converted to EV charging points, so there was more work to be done.
Nationally construction counted for 50% of all emissions and would low-emission concrete be used as an alternative on building developments? Within the emerging Local Plan there were environmental projects and details of what was expected on materials that builders needed to use to keep carbon emissions as low as possible and address sustainability.
To promote increased walking and cycling in the District was there a plan to improve pavements? Where the Council had walking and cycling plans within the action plan, it was aiming to make improvements and there were additional actions for the County Council.
How were household emissions tackled? Raising people’s awareness through campaigns aimed at households and advising residents how they could reduce their energy use in the home, especially as energy bills were rising. Promoting grant funding, such as the Green Homes Grant and the Sustainable Warmth Scheme, for low energy efficient homes by upgrading properties. There was also the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme from April 2022 to encourage property owners to install low carbon heating systems.
That the Committee reviewed the outcomes of the Climate Change Action Plan Consultation ahead of the Climate Change Action Plan going to Cabinet on 11 April 2022.
To consider the attached draft annual report. A final draft would be reviewed on 16 June 2022 for approval by Council on 28 July 2022.
Councillor M Sartin advised that the final draft would go before the Committee at the 16 June 2022 meeting, and then to Council in July for approval.
The following amendments were noted at the meeting:
· Sale of the Pyrles Lane site, Loughton, to Qualis – the number of houses within the scheme had been increased to 37 following the Committee’s meeting in June 2021; and
· Epping Forest District Market Policy report – the item had been withdrawn from the agenda and it would not be scrutinised this municipal year, as it was the last meeting.
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 March 2022 is attached as an Appendix to this report.
Cabinet’s Key Decision List (KDL) updated to 1 March 2022 was scrutinised by the
Committee and the following points were raised.
(a) Environmental and Technical Services
Regarding the two businesses case items for the transfer of services to Qualis of Ground Maintenance and MOT and Fleet, the Portfolio Holder, Councillor N Avey, replied that it would be pre-scrutinised before Cabinet made a decision.
(b) Housing Services
Councillor C Whitbread, Leader, confirmed that the item on the new policy on Proposed Change to Service Charges RTB Receipts would come before Scrutiny, prior to a decision by Cabinet.
(c) Corporate Services
The Portfolio Holder, Councillor D Sunger, confirmed that the Direct Award of the Print Contract would go to Cabinet on 11 April for a decision.
That the Committee reviewed the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions of 1 March 2022.
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
G Woodhall, Democratic and Electoral Services Manager, stated that most of the work programme for this year had been completed with the exception of the Market Policy that had been withdrawn. Any transfers of services to Qualis would come to committee for pre-scrutiny before going to Cabinet for a decision. It was noted that the report on cash payments solutions was scheduled for the first meeting in the new municipal year on 16 June 2022.
The Committee agreed that external scrutiny of the City of London Corporation Epping Forest Management Strategy and Business Plan 2020-2030 should be earmarked for the meeting on 26 July 2022, which G Woodhall was to progress.
(b) Reserve work programme
Councillor M Sartin reminded members that they could suggest outside organisations they wished to scrutinise. Currently those listed included Essex County Council Children’s Services, Essex Highways and Thames Water.
(1) That the Committee reviewed its current work programme and reserve programme; and
(2) That G Woodhall invite City of London Corporation to the Committee meeting on 26 July in respect of the Epping Forest Management Strategy and Business Plan 2020-2030.
(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.
(a) Stronger Communities Select Committee
Councillor J Lea, Chairman, reported that it had been interesting to ask questions after the presentation from Chief Inspector Paul Ballard, Essex Police District Commander for Epping Forest and Brentwood, on current policing and crime issues in the District at the last meeting on 22 March. Everything seemed to have gone well over the last year. The work programme included some items for the next municipal year, and she also hoped that external scrutiny of a housing association might be possible.
It was noted that items 17 (Housing Associations) and 20 (Unaffordable rents) had yet to be confirmed by relevant officers.
(b) Stronger Council Select Committee
Councillor P Bolton, Chairman, reported the select committee had reviewed the Qualis Monitoring reports for quarter 4 (2020/21) and quarter 1 (2021/22) but they had already been to the Cabinet and Full Council. The Auditors were satisfied with their accounts.
Councillor S Murray declared that he would be a candidate in the 2022 elections being held on 5 May and queried if there had been an update report on the forthcoming elections, such as where the Count was taking place etc. Councillor M Sartin replied that the Elections Planning Group met regularly and information on the arrangements for the 2022 elections was usually publicised in the Council Bulletin. G Blakemore, Chief Executive and Returning Officer, advised that the Count would take place in the Civic Offices this year. A briefing for candidates and election agents would also be organised.
(c) Stronger Place Select Committee
Councillor A Lion, Chairman, reported that the select committee had achieved a lot this year and thanked the members who had contributed so much during the year. The Sustainable Transport Officer, S Lloyd-Jones had made a presentation to the select committee at the 15 March meeting on transport strategy and sustainability, a strategic overview and status update, as the Council was working hard to maximise use of its own land and assets to provide EV charging. He also remarked that littering across the District (work programme item 6) needed a higher profile next year.
Councillor M Sartin thanked her Vice-Chairman, Councillor B Jennings, for his support over the last year, and all the members and officers for their work over the last year, as this was the last meeting in this municipal year.
(1) That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted the progress of the three select committees against their work programmes;
(2) That it was noted that Stronger Communities Select Committee work programme items 17 (Housing Associations) and 20 (Unaffordable rents) had yet to be confirmed by relevant officers;
(3) That members would be kept informed about the arrangements for the 2022 Elections through the Bulletin; and
(4) That littering across the District needed a higher profile on the Stronger Place Select Committee next year.
Exclusion of Public and Press
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):
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.
(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.
The Committee noted that there was no business which necessitated the exclusion of the public and press from the meeting.