Agenda and minutes

Local Councils' Liaison Committee
Thursday, 7th March, 2013 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Mark Jenkins (The Office of the Chief Executive)  Tel: 01992 564607 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

16.

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.”

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Minutes:

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.

17.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 54 KB

To confirm the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 8 November 2012 (previously circulated) and matters arising.

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Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 8 November 2012 be agreed.

18.

Presentation by Gary Herbert, Senior External Stakeholder Manager, Post Office Ltd

Mr Gary A Herbert, Senior External Stakeholder Manager – East Network Services and Transformation, Post Office Ltd, had attended the Council’s Management Board in October 2012 to give a presentation regarding the Post Office’s plans for modernization and service provision. He had been invited to attend this committee for the November meeting but could not attend. However he has confirmed that he will be attending the 7 March 2013 meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from Mr G Herbert, Senior External Stakeholder Manager, Post Office Ltd, regarding the future of the Post Office.

 

(a)        The Post Office had 1,800 branches

 

(b)        post offices served 8 million customers per week.

 

(c)        97.7% of the public lived within 3 miles of a Post Office

 

(d)        There was a programme of modernizing with £1.4 billion being invested.

 

(e)        no closures were envisaged, there was currently the lowest percentage rate of closures for 25 years.

 

The committee was informed that in the next three years 6,000 branches would become main or local post offices. A main post office would resemble a commercial or retail establishment situated in a major thoroughfare. The main branches would number 4,000 and adopt an open plan layout with hours of business the same as retails, 7 days a week, 8.00a.m. to 10.00p.m.

 

The local post offices would number 2,000 – 3,000 and would have similar business hours but were to lose their cubicles being replaced by a serving till in an open plan environment. All sub post office masters were being invited to volunteer for one of these models.

 

The committee were advised that there was a trial run currently involving 300 post offices. It was found that 22% of existing customers were using these post offices outside of core hours. The retail element had risen by 9%, takings were up by 4% with an overall satisfaction of over 9%.

 

It was planned to have 1,200 post offices converted by April 2013 and 6,000 by 2015.

 

Members were concerned about security in open plan post offices with large financial transactions taking place. Mr G Herbert advised that security was better, it was also felt that this led to tensions with customers. Security screens added extra costs with crime rates dropping overall.

 

Members asked if public libraries could become venues for post offices. Mr G Herbert said that they could consider this, but it had to have equal consideration with other projects.

 

The committee asked what effect would there be on the Business Plans for Sub Post Office Masters. Mr G Herbert replied that Post Office Ltd were sometimes investing between £70,000-£80,000 in a branch to modernize it. Business had dropped overall, with the main effect having been changes to the benefits system whereby Post Office Ltd had lost a tender bid. They had won the DVLA contract.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Presentation by Mr G Herbert, Senior External Stakeholder Manager, Post Office Ltd, be noted.

19.

Issues Raised by Local Councils

To discuss the following matters raised by Local Councils at the Epping branch of EALC on 13 February:

 

(a)        LOCAL PLAN UPDATE

 

Commenting on the recent workshops members had felt that the second workshop had been more task oriented that the first which had been described as too intensive with around three hours of slides followed by an afternoon activity which did not appear to build on the information given in the morning.

 

The Chairman felt that some of the information presented was of questionable accuracy and some Members expressed concern that the workshops were being held primarily as being required as part of a process rather than to genuinely inform the draft Local Plan.

 

It was believed that the forward planning team would engage with the information provided at the workshops and act on these findings.

 

Members stated that anyone unhappy with the level of consultation would no doubt need to take it up with the independent examiner once the draft Local Plan is published. He expected that there would be perceived winners and losers once the detail was better known and reminded that individuals need to respond directly as well as be encouraged to do so through their parish or town councils.

 

The local councils requested that this item should go forward to the 7 March Local Council Liaison Committee with the consideration that the Forward Planning Team work closely with Parish and Town Councils to host public feedback sessions as an integral part of the next consultation phase of the Local Plan.

 

(b)       DISTRICT LICENCING APPLICATIONS

 

Branch Members agreed that parish and town councils should be informed of, and given opportunity to comment on licence applications in their locality. In lieu of a statutory duty to consult with local councils, it was hoped that arrangements could be made with EFDC Licensing to allow for timely consideration of comments from parishes and towns.

 

An example was given of a recent licence application for a truck stop on the M25. Waltham Abbey Town Council was not given any opportunity to comment.

 

Cllr Jon Whitehouse commented that current arrangements sought representations from those within 150 metres of premises submitting a licence application.

 

The local councils agreed that this item should go forward to the 7 March Local Council Liaison Committee with the consideration that EFDC Licensing give notice and opportunity to comment on licence applications to the corresponding local council.

 

(K Tuckey, Senior Licensing Officer will be in attendance to answer questions).

 

(c)        LOCAL COUNCIL TAX SUPPORT GRANT

 

The branch paid thanks to Epping Forest District Council for the arrangements put in to place to ensure that local councils were not left disadvantaged by the Localising Council Tax Scheme (LCTS) for the financial year 2013/14.

 

Whilst it was accepted that last minute changes meant that the tax base figures were unusually delayed this year, Branch Members reported that their precept setting process had been significantly disrupted. Some commented that it had been very difficult to understand.

 

With the  ...  view the full agenda text for item 19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)        Local Plan Update

 

The Committee received a presentation from Mr I White, Forward Planning Manager, regarding an update of the Local Plan.

 

Members had raised this issue for discussion as they felt that the recent Local Plan workshops had not been as helpful, or constructive, as they could have been. They felt that consideration should be given for the Forward Planning Team to work closely with Parish and Town Councils to host public feedback sessions as an integral part of the next consultation phase of the Local Plan.

 

Mr I White acknowledged that the second workshop had been more successful than the first and advised that members should feedback if they thought anything was wrong. The third workshop was scheduled for 9 March and would deal with settlements and rural areas, the outcomes of which would be reported to the Local Plan Cabinet Committee on 25 March. The fourth workshop would discuss population and household projections, and would take place in late May or early June 2013.

 

There would be a report submitted to the Local Plan Cabinet Committee in early July agreeing population and housing numbers up to 2033 and narrowing down the strategic distribution options, taking into account the outcomes of the latest study on the future of North Weald Airfield, and feedback on the Essex County Council Consultation on Junction 7A on the M11, if available.

 

Following the fifth member workshop to discuss outcomes, there would be a report to the Local Plan Cabinet Committee to determine “Preferred Option” version of plan for next round of public consultation. It was anticipated that consultation would commence in late autumn.

 

Members thanked the Forward Planning Team for working exceptionally hard on the Local Plan.

 

Mr I White advised that some elements of the Local Plan needed to be in place as soon as possible as old policies ceased to have an effect from the end of March 2013. He added that neighbourhood planning resources were reasonably limited and these plans had to make room for as much development as the Local Plan.

 

(b)       District Licensing Applications

 

The branch members felt that parish and town councils should be informed of, and given opportunity to comment on licence applications in their locality. Although it was acknowledged that there was no statutory duty to consult with local councils, it was hoped that arrangements should be made with the Council’s licensing section to allow for timely consideration of comments from parishes and towns.

 

In attendance on behalf of the licensing section was the Senior Licensing Officer, she advised that the Licensing Act 2003 stated that going beyond its legal parameters could assist the applicant with an appeal. The District Council did display all licensing applications on its website and they ensured that notification was published in the local press with officers also checking newspaper circulation as well. The Chief Executive recognised this as a legal anomaly which the Council could not change.

 

(c)        Local Council Tax Support Grant

 

Local councils paid thanks  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Weekly List of Planning Applications

Planning and Economic Development produce a weekly list of planning and other applications, the Service Director would like to check that Local Councils appreciate that the information in the list is much more wide ranging than it once had been. (J Preston to report).

 

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Minutes:

Planning and Economic Development produced a weekly list of planning and other applications. The Forward Planning Manager advised that the information available on the list was more wide ranging than it had once been and local councils were encouraged to check the new material which was included after the list of new applications (alphabetically by parish).

21.

Local Highways Panel

To receive an update on the work of the Local Highways Panel. This is now a standard item on the committee’s agenda.

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Minutes:

The Chairman of the Local Highways Panel, County Councillor G McEwen advised that the panel had agreed a list of highways projects for 2012/13 with a similar sum allocated for next year. He added that Members should be thinking about future projects.

 

It was noted that excellent work had been undertaken in Stanford Rivers regarding a Speed Watch, the equipment used could be lent to other councils. Members complained of the problems they and their constituents had experienced with the Highways Call Centre. It was advised that the call centre was designed to protect highways officers from a high volume of calls for example there were thousands of calls on pot holes.

 

Councillor G McEwen advised that he wasn’t standing as a councillor in May, and Councillor J Knapman, if re-elected, would chair the Panel. Members paid tribute to County Councillor G McEwen for his dedication to the Local Council’s Liaison Committee.

22.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

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Minutes:

The Assistant Director, Corporate Support Services (Facilities Management) was in attendance. He advised that there was an initiative to support Emergency Planning, with the backing of the Cabinet office, to build a network of local volunteers, they would be a resource in emergency situations and could probably undertake other roles such as, in severe weather, clearing snow and ice. It was noted that these volunteers would work with Essex Fire and Rescue Service and receive training. It was noted that the volunteers would not self activate but rather be tasked by Essex Fire and Rescue.

23.

Dates of Future Meetings

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

 

Thursday 4 July 2013 at 7.30p.m.;

 

Thursday 7 November 2013 at 7.30p.m.; and

 

Thursday 6 March 2014 at 7.30p.m.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The following meeting dates of the committee were noted:

 

(a)        Thursday 4 July 2013 at 7.30p.m.;

 

(b)        Thursday 7 November at 7.30p.m.; and

 

(c)        Thursday 6 March 2014 at 7.30p.m.