Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices, High Street, Epping
Contact: V. Messenger Tel: (01992) 564243 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Appointment of Chairman & Vice-Chairman
(1) To confirm the appointment of District Councillor R Bassett as the Chairman of the Committee for the municipal year; and
(2) To appoint a Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the municipal year.
(1) It was confirmed that District Councillor, R Bassett, was the Chairman of the Committee for this municipal year; and
(2) Councillor C C Pond was appointed the Vice-Chairman of the Committee for this municipal year.
This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking. The Chairman will read the following webcasting announcement:
"I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the Internet and will be capable of repeated viewing and copies of the recording could be made available for those that request it.
If you are seated in the lower public seating area it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast.
This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if any member of the public wishes to avoid this they should move to the upper public gallery".
The Assistant to the Chief Executive 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 confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 11 March 2019 and any matters arising therefrom.
That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 11 March 2019 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record, subject to the following amendment to Issues Raised by Local Councils – Air Quality (Min no 16 (d)), paragraph 6, the inclusion of ‘in Loughton’ to read:
Cllr C C Pond agreed and that there was a further Government report on idling near school gates, and could joint action be taken between the Council and North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP). NEPP had some surplus money to spend. Also Transport for London would be deploying electric hybrid buses in Loughton on 23 March 2019.
Issues Raised by Local Councils
To discuss the following matters raised by the local councils.
(a) Street lighting (Min no 16 (f) – 11 March 2019)
To receive a verbal update from the Council’s Service Director (Contracts and Technical Services).
(b) Electric vehicle charging
To consider electric vehicle charging and responsibility for future Council and commercial provision.
To discuss Essex County Council’s (ECC) “Essex Future Library Services Strategy: 2019-2024”. The document can be viewed at the following link:
This will likely affect a number of local councils within the Epping Forest District.
North Weald Parish Council has the following general concerns:
(1) The sum of money allocated, £18,000, is to be spread over five years with funding available over three years. Will there be any dispensation from Epping Forest District Council regarding rateable value for library buildings when run by groups who are not actually Essex County Council and are relying on the £18,000 to run the library?
(2) The amount of time it is taking to get information from ECC on how this will affect those groups / organisations who have placed ‘Expressions of Interest’.
(3) The continuing recruitment of volunteers, in communities where volunteers are not that easy to ‘get on board’. How does ECC expect there to be a continuing string of volunteers?
(d) Unauthorised traveller encampments
Whilst Loughton Town Council has received great support and advice from Epping Forest District Council, the individual parish / town councils must operate on a standalone basis to remove unauthorised encampments which can be expensive in seeking the appropriate legal advice and also weighs heavily on officers’ time and resources. This has proved costly for the Town Council in the past.
The Town Council is aware that the ECC Essex Countrywide Traveller Unit (ECTU) provides a comprehensive service to move on unauthorised encampments and charges a modest sum to each District Council, which then covers every town / parish council within that particular district. This removes the costs and pressure on individual councils.
Apparently only Harlow, Southend and Epping Forest District Councils refrain from using this service.
Loughton Town Council has the following questions:
1. Why is this historically the case?
2. Would the District Council reconsider using the ECTU service, given the economies of scale that this service would bring and also the potential benefit to town and parish councils alike?
(a) Street lighting (Min no 16 (f) – 11 March 2019
The Service Director (Contracts and Technical Services), Q Durrani, reported that Epping Forest District Council had written to local councils at the beginning of January 2019 regarding the costs of night street lighting for their parishes for the hours when Essex County Council (ECC) normally switched them off. An agreement had been reached with ECC that the District Council would collect the funds and there would be a legal contract with ECC. A draft version of the ECC contract had been received, which would start on 1 April 2020. However, the four-year contract could start as soon as it was ready, but prices were dependent on energy prices each year and would likely fluctuate.
Councillor D Wixley was concerned if local councils were paying for night street lighting that this would not delay LED lighting, which used less electricity. The Service Director (Contracts and Technical Services) replied that he could not comment on LED lighting for ECC but hoped this would not be an issue. Councillor C C Pond explained that ECC had got established programmes for LED lighting and a number of street lights had been changed in Loughton.
Parish Councillor S Jackman asked if local councils had been informed of the costs, to which the Service Director (Contracts and Technical Services)replied, yes, by the former Acting Chief Executive, D Macnab. There would be new figures for the coming year.
Parish Clerk, S De Luca, remarked that North Weald Parish Council had not wanted to pay for all-night street lighting as it was too expensive, but had the costs dropped? The Service Director (Contracts and Technical Services) replied that the cost was the same.
Parish Clerk, A Belgrave, said that Chigwell Parish Council had initially wanted to pursue this but it would have cost £16,000. However, the Parish Council was still waiting for a reply to its questions, to which the Service Director (Contracts and Technical Services) replied all responses had been sent last week.
The Service Director (Contracts and Technical Services) asked local councils to confirm in writing that they wanted to pay the additional costs for all-night street lighting, as he was keen to sort out the contracts.
(b) Electric vehicle charging
Councillor C C Pond said it would be interesting to know what the District Council’s intentions were on electric vehicle charging. Six constituents had asked him, particularly taxi drivers complying with the Mayor of London on electric cabs, if charging points could be provided as they did not have off street parking?
The Service Director (Contracts and Technical Services) replied that the District Council was implementing changes as a result of the Local Plan going through. Local Plan policies were encouraging the installation of charging points on planning applications. The District Council could also install charging points in its own car parks. However, it was difficult to find a suitable charging supplier because if you were not a member, you could get charged excessive ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
(Epping Forest District Council) To consider and agree the draft Terms of Reference (attached) for this Committee.
Democratic Services Officer, V Messenger, reported that a request from members had been made for a Terms of Reference for this Committee. However, research had only led to a similar document, the former Local Charter with Parish and Town Councils. This had come into existence in 2006 when the fifth version was agreed and had been part of the Constitution until December 2015. This Local Charter had not been included when the whole of the Constitution was revised in 2016. Therefore, a proposed draft Terms of Reference was drawn up using elements of this former Local Charter for members to discuss and agree.
The Chairman said that this was a proposed draft that members could update so that it could be agreed at the next meeting, but asked if members had any comments.
Councillor C C Pond explained that this had come about because when local councils were looking at items for this Committee meeting, a number affected ECC issues, rather than on responsibilities that came under the District Council. The County Councillors present at the meeting could report back to ECC. However, this was no substitute for formal representation, where a representative could formally report back to the decision-making bodies within ECC, or for a formal mechanism to be in place. Therefore, there was a big gap in what members of this Committee did and how that feedback reached the right people at ECC. What this draft version did not cover was the County’s roles, such as Highways etc, and that this Committee ought to be formally reporting back decisions reached by this Committee through an agreed mechanism, e.g. that the District Council Leader write to the County Council Leader or the Chairman of the North Essex Parking Partnership, whichever was relevant. The Chairman commented if this could possibly be included in the draft under ‘Aims’.
Councillor S Jackman agreed with Councillor C C Pond’s comments. Items at tonight’s meeting were of County Council interest to members of the parishes and asked whether the Committee could invite a member(s) of ECC to the Local Councils’ Liaison Committee to address them directly.
Councillor G Mohindra said that a lot of his Cabinet colleagues did go to the Essex of Local Councils (EALC) meetings and they found it easier to disperse information at that level. ECC Members could be invited but problems had previously been experienced with speakers attending the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor C C Pond said that until recently there was the Locality Board, which was a formal meeting between the Members of Parliament, County Councillors and the District Council’s Cabinet. It had also included one member of the ECC political leadership team who was also the designated officer for Epping Forest. This had been helpful and the parishes had also been able to attend the Locality Board. He was unsure why the Locality Board had ceased to exist, but could this be taken back to the District Leader. Councillor S Kane agreed to apprise the Leader, Councillor ... view the full minutes text for item 24.
Epping Forest District Local Plan - Progress
(Epping Forest District Council) To receive a verbal report on the current position of the new Local Plan for the Epping Forest District.
The Service Director (Planning Services), N Richardson, said that the Planning Services Portfolio Holder report to Council on 19 September 2019 that had already been published, provided the most recent update to the Local Plan. The public hearings had finally closed on 11 June 2019. There had been much discussion and high turnouts at some of the hearing sessions. M Beard, the District Council’s Counsel, had thought that the public examination had gone well.
The Inspector had issued advice on 2 August 2019, which was published on the Council’s website, on the changes that would be required to the Local Plan. There were no major problems on the soundness of the Local Plan. The District Council was required to undertake some additional work to agree with the Inspector a final suite of main modifications, which would be subject to a public consultation. The timeline for this work was still being worked out. Further actions to finalise the main modifications included a sustainability appraisal and an updated Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA). The Inspector could not prove beyond all reasonable ‘scientific’ doubt, the robustness of the HRA and that the SAC would not be compromised. The Inspector had asked the Council to update the HRA modelling, which would involve undertaking additional transport modelling and air quality modelling. It would also require careful scoping with relevant consultants and agreement with Natural England on the methodology to be used. This would then feed into a final mitigation strategy addressing both the recreational impact on the Forest and the air quality impact across the whole of the District. A consequence of this was that the District Council was unable to issue planning decisions for additional houses or additional commercial floorspace until an agreement had been reached with Natural England, unless the developer was able to demonstrate that there would be no harm to the Forest in terms of air quality, and for the Council to assess it.
A neighbourhood plan referendum was being held by Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers Parish Council on 26 September 2019. If the referendum result was a yes vote, then a report would be going to Council on 5 November 2019 to be ‘made’. It would then form part of the statutory development plan for the District.
The District Council had been looking at the infrastructure to support growth across the District and was developing a contributions strategy and that had been agreed by Cabinet on 11 July 2019.
The Government had offered Green Belt authorities planning enforcement support. The District Council had made a bid for budget and would hopefully be successful.
The District Council had taken part in the Quality Review Panels, both for the Epping Forest District and Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. The Panel of eighteen experts was chaired by P Maxwell and would help improve the quality of developments. None of the planning applications or pre-planning applications had come before the planning committees yet but the Panel’s recommendations would form part of the planning officers’ ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
(a) Chairman’s charity event
Councillor R Bassett publicised a forthcoming charity event he was holding to raise money for young carers. There were over 10,000 young carers in Essex and he knew of 9 year-olds looking after parents and siblings. The charity Italian night would take place at Papillon Ristorante, Brook Parade, High Street, Chigwell on 28 October 2019. There would be a three-course meal along with a very good singer and guitarist. Tickets would cost £40 on the night.
Councillor D Wixley said he had attended a musical event last year at New City College in Loughton, in aid of the same charity. The talent of the young musicians was incredible and it was a very entertaining event, but more councillors could have attended. He asked if the Chairman would be holding another similar event again, to which Councillor R Bassett said he would.
(b) Member Training
Nazeing Parish Councillor, S Clarke, wanted to know if the District Council could possibly put on more member training, as the parish council had four new co-opted councillors since the May 2019 elections. The Code of Conduct training had been cancelled in July and another Introduction to Planning session would be helpful. She knew Roydon had new members, but would other local councils be interested in attending as well? The Service Director (Planning Services) replied that he had organised planning training for members after the May elections and also organised a bespoke training session for two other councillors. He would only consider organising another session if there was sufficient interest from 10 to 12 parish/town councillors.
It was noted that EALC could organise mobile training sessions for a parish council or two or more local councils if they wished to share the training costs.
Regarding the possibility of another Code of Conduct course, local councils were asked to contact the Democratic Services Manager, S Tautz, directly on to see if there was sufficient demand.
The Service Director (Planning Services) would be open to do another Introduction to Planning course. The only cost implication for the District Council’s training sessions was if local councils had booked members to attend but they did not turn up on the day.
Date of Future Meeting
To note that the next meeting of the Committee will be held on 16 March 2020 at 7.30pm.
It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held at 7.30pm on 16 March 2020.