Agenda and minutes

Local Councils' Liaison Committee
Thursday, 5th July, 2012 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping

Contact: Adrian Hendry (The Office of the Chief Executive)  Tel: 01992 564246 Email:


No. Item


Appointment of Chairman and Vice Chairman

Decision Required:


(1)        To confirm the appointment of District Councillor B Rolfe as the Chairman of the Committee for the Civic Year;


(2)        To appoint a Vice Chairman of the Committee for the Civic Year.



Additional documents:


The Assistant to the Chief Executive requested that the appointment of the new District Council Chairman be confirmed as the Chairman of the Committee for the municipal year. The appointment of a Vice-Chairman from amongst the Local Council representatives was also requested; Councillor S Jackman was nominated and seconded.




(1)        That Councillor B Rolfe be confirmed as the Chairman of the Local Councils Liaison Committee for 2012/13; and


(2)        That Councillor S Jackman be appointed as the Vice-Chairman of the Local Councils Liaison Committee for 2012/13.


Webcasting Introduction

1.         This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking.


2.         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”

Additional documents:


The Democratic Services Officer 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.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 45 KB

To confirm the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 22 March 2012 and matters arising.

Additional documents:




That the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 22 March 2012 be agreed.



Issues Raised by Local Councils

To discuss the following matters raised by Local Council’s:


1)                 Local Planning – Neighbourhood Plans – Local councils noted that the next stage in the District Council’s Local Plan was to be the Issues and Options consultation and they would like this item brought to this meeting. This is covered separately on this agenda; and

2)                 DCLG Consultations – Localising Support for Council Tax – Local Councils understood that the tax base, on which the Parish or Town precept is based, would likely be reduced should the legislation go ahead as proposed. They would like EFDC to advise further. This is covered separately on this agenda.


Additional documents:


The items raised by the Local Councils were: Local Planning (Neighbourhood Plans) and the DCLG Consultation on Localising support for Council Tax. Both these topics were listed further on in the agenda and the Committee were content to take them in turn as they came to them.


New Standards Regime

Ian Willett to report.

Additional documents:


The Assistant to the Chief Executive updated the meeting on the new standard arrangements which were now in force. So far seven Parish and Town Councils have opted to join in with a Joint Standards Committee; four Parish and Town Councils are coming in with EFDC’s arrangements; and two Parish/Town Councils are opting not to set up any committee arrangements.


So far eleven Parish/Town Councils are signing up to the Public Law Partnership (PLP) code of practice and one to the National Association of Local Council’s (NALC) code and one was opting to write their own code. As for putting in complaints procedures, eleven were adopting the PLP arrangements, and two were going to put in their own system as and when they get a complaint.


The schemes would be fine tuned at District level who will also put in a support system. A number of open surgeries for advice had been organised by Ian Willett. One will be held on 13 July between 10 and 12pm; the next one will be held on 16 July between 6 and 7pm and lastly on 18 July again between 6 and 7pm. He will of course, respond to individual calls and emails answering any questions and there will also be a further training course on interests held on 17 September at 7.30pm.


Councillor Sheila Jackman wanted to express her and the Liaison Committee’s thanks Ian Willett and Colleen O’Boyle for all their hard work, advice and support over the this process, it was much appreciated.


The item was then opened to questions from the floor.


Q:        Given that this was a three tier meeting, if someone wanted to declare an interest, which code should they use?

A:         They should use the code of their own authority. There was a need to standardise things over time and this should be reviewed again in twelve months.


Q:        What if my wife refused to respond to my request for her pecuniary interests for my declaration.

A:         If you genuinely do not know then you can’t declare it, but you must declare it if known.


Localising Support for Council Tax pdf icon PDF 81 KB

(Finance and  ICT) To consider the attached report.


Additional documents:


The Principal Accountant, Brian Moldon introduced the report noting the changes to the Council tax system. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a consultation document on proposals for the localisation of Council Tax support for England setting out how the Government intended to implement the Spending Review commitment to localise support for council tax from 2013/14, reducing expenditure by 10%.


Local authorities are reimbursed currently at a rate of 100% for correctly awarded council tax benefit through submitting audited subsidy claims to the Department for Work and Pensions.  Under the new scheme the Government will make funding available to Councils based on 90% of the forecast council tax benefit expenditure for 2013-14. The other 10% will need to be found from savings. Pensioners are excluded from this process.


The Council is currently working with other districts within Essex and major precepting authorities to design a scheme that gives the 10% savings.  Following the completion of this exercise and a draft scheme being developed, consultation on the scheme will be undertaken with interested parties and it is proposed that the final scheme will go to Cabinet on 22 October and then onto Council on 18 December.


Mr Moldon also gave a sample calculation on what this new arrangement would mean for a parish / town council.


The meeting noted that it was currently not possible to detail the effect for each Parish / Town Council on their tax base until the scheme has been agreed.  Also it was not possible to confirm what grant would be allocated to each parish until final figures are made available as part of Local Government Finance Settlement in December.


The meeting was then opened out to questions.


Q:        Because the 40% discount for single occupancy was being ring fenced and because benefits for people of state pensionable age was being ring fenced, this would impact harshly on people of working age and low incomes. Some parishes would be markedly more affected than others and the effect on the district would be different.

A:         Yes you are right, although I must point out that the changes to the tax base is 25%. But you are right in thinking it would have an impact on the areas you mentioned. However, we would not know what until we get the final information from central government in October or November. The number of claimants in each Town or Parish council area needed to be ascertained and the appropriate software incorporated into our computer system. This should be arriving at the end of this month or early next month. Officers were looking towards the end of the calendar year to have it all in place and running.


Q:        How would you address the aspect of privacy for the smaller parishes and houses that are in part year occupancy?

A:         The figures were taken as a snapshot, historically set at 1st October. Now Council Tax will fluctuate on a day to day basis depending on who claims  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Local Plan pdf icon PDF 79 KB

(Director Planning and Economic Development) To consider the attached report.


Because the draft Local Plan is 165 pages long it is not possible to reproduce it as a hard copy but is available online at the following address:





Additional documents:


The Committee received a report from the Assistant Director Policy and Conservation (Planning), K Polyzoides regarding the progress of the Council’s Local Plan. The meeting noted that the ‘Community Choices – Issues and Options’ paper was due to be published for public consultation. Community Choices covered a wide range of issues including options for potential growth targets, possible distribution patterns and locations for growth. It also identified a number of policy issues which needed to be addressed, including Green Belt, historic and natural character, transport, economic development and the Community Infrastructure Levy. It was noted that this had recently been through the Local Plan Cabinet Committee and had been approved to go out for consultation


The proposed consultation period was from 30 July to 21 September 2012. The existing Local Plan could be used until March 2013. The consultation was to make sure that the council had identified all areas of the plan.


The draft document proposed for consultation is split into a number of chapters which set out the key issues and potential options for the district up to 2033. 


Chapter 3 concerned the Green Belt and the character of the district. The continued protection of the Green Belt was the priority for residents of the district, and therefore this issue was addressed at the outset and the potential options for growth later in the document were included with this in mind.  It was clear that amendments to the Green Belt boundary would be needed in the period to 2033 to accommodate the growth needs of the district. No significant changes to the Green Belt boundaries in the district had been made since they were first established, and no housing or employment land allocations had been made since the last full Local Plan was adopted in 1998.  


Chapter 4 presents the reasonable options for the levels of growth that could be included in the Local Plan, and the potential strategies for distribution of this growth.  In the longer term the East of England Plan (EEP) was due to be abolished, but this had not yet happened and no timetable had been published by CLG for this. 


Key decisions that must be taken early in the preparation of the Local Plan are whether (i) growth on the periphery of Harlow should be supported, and (ii) land should be allocated for development on the boundaries of Harlow but within Epping Forest District. 


Officers were aware that the consultation period (30 July to 21 September) covered the holiday period, which was not ideal; however, they had extended the period from 6 weeks to 8 weeks. They also offered the choice to reply online as well as by hard copy.


A briefing pack had been issued in mid-June to all Town and Parish Councils and officers also hope to hold workshops in September.


The Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor R Bassett, added that the issues and options document was also available on the council’s website.  Other documents would also be published on the site.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.



Additional documents:


There was no other business for the committee to consider.


Dates of Future Meetings

Meetings of the Committee are scheduled for the following dates this year:


8 November 2012

7 March 2013

Additional documents:


The next meeting of the committee will take place on Thursday 8 November 2012 at 7:30 p.m. and then on Thursday 7 March 2013 at 7:30 p.m.