Agenda and minutes

Local Councils' Liaison Committee - Tuesday 29th November 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: R. Perrin  Tel: (01992) 564243 Email:


No. Item


Webcasting Introduction

1. This virtual meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to unmute before speaking.


2. The Chairman will read the following announcement:


“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such 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 they should ensure that their video setting throughout the virtual meeting is turned off and set to audio only.


In the event that technical difficulties interrupt the virtual meeting that cannot be overcome, the Chairman may need to adjourn the meeting”.

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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.


Appointment of Chairman & Vice-Chairman

(1)          To confirm the appointment of District Councillor Sartin as the Chairman of the Committee for the municipal year; and


(2)          To confirm the appointment of Councillor B Scrutton, (the Essex Association of Local Councils Epping Forest Branch Chairman) as the Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the municipal year.

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1.    It was confirmed that District Councillor M Sartin would be the Chairman of the Committee for this municipal year; and


2.    Councillor B Scrutton was appointed the Vice-Chairman of the Committee for the municipal year.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 164 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 14 March 2022.

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The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 14 March 2022 be taken as a correct record.  


Issues Raised by Local Councils pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To discuss the following matters raised by the local councils:




A.    Communication – Over recent years there has been a tangible decline in the communication methods chosen by EFDC, moving towards a more remote contact centre approach.  This has led to a widening chasm in relationships, unfortunately resulting in a poor experience not only for our residents but also with Town and Parish Councils.  As the first tier of local government, these Councils are the bodies closest to their residents with a greater understanding of local issues and concerns than any other tier of local Government.  The current communication stream open to Town and Parish Councils is the same as that offered to members of the public – via the EFDC contact centre.  This is long winded, frustrating, laborious, bureaucratic, and created entirely for the benefit of EFDC and not its residents.   If there are issues of local concern identified by Town and Parish Councils requiring a swift response, this communication method is simply unacceptable.  Owing to the massive change in staffing, gone are many of the more experienced officers with whom Parish and Town Councils held relationships and forged bonds, working together for the benefit of its residents. This corporate style of operating is contributing to a breakdown in relationships.   We ask the following:


·         How does the new communication system installed by EFDC benefit its residents?

·         How does the new communication system installed by EFDC help to forge and maintain good relationships with Town and Parish Councils?

·         Why must Town and Parish Councils first point of call be to the contact centre and not to relevant EFDC Officers?

·         The EFDC Constitution states that the Monitoring Officer will make arrangements to ensure good communication with the Town and Parish Councils in the District – What are these arrangements?

·         Does EFDC accept that its relationship with the first tier of local Government needs improvement, and if so how and by when does it intend on doing this?


The Customer Services, Service Manager, Susan Lewis and Team Manager - Complaints and Customer Satisfaction, Tracy Scott would be attending the meeting. (Attached is the Town and Parish queries flow chart)


B.    New Planning System – Mid 2022 EFDC rolled out its new online Planning System.  Parish and Town Councils have noted a number of flaws / difficulties with this system, making it cumbersome and difficult to use by both Town and Parish Councils and residents alike. A number of Councils have already sent feedback to EFDC about the new system and areas where changes should be considered.  Town and Parish Councils were never trained on this new system, so went into it completely blind which has been extremely unhelpful.   EF Branch has collated a list of issues being experienced by Town and Parish Councils in the District.

·         Why did EFDC change to this new planning system?

·         Who did EFDC consult about the introduction of this new system, considering Town and Parish Councils are statutory consultees.?

·         Is the system now fully functional without  ...  view the full agenda text for item 23.

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The Committee received written responses which were set out in the agenda for the New Planning System and Epping Forest Recycling Hubs. It was noted that the ECC Cabinet Member for Highways, Councillor Lee Scott had sent his apologies for this meeting, although he would be invited to the next meeting.


Officers for Customer Services and Planning and Waste were in attendance to clarify any further questions. The webcast for this meeting can be found here Local Councils' Liaison Committee - Tuesday, 29th November 2022 at 7:00pm - Epping Forest District Council webcasts (


Written responses to the questions raised regarding Communication were set out below.


·                     How does the new communication system installed by EFDC benefit its residents?


First point of contact for all service areas excluding Housing & Rev/Benefits was managed by the customer contact centre. The team were not a switchboard but highly trained to resolve customer queries at first point of contact and in approximately 65% of cases they could do this using scripts developed in conjunction with our technical officers. If they cannot a call back request was allocated to the relevant Officer for response and the contact centre would ensure a response was given in a timely manner in line with SLA’s. We must free up our technical officer’s time to focus on their day jobs and we must introduce more efficient ways of managing contact. We were going through change, 80% of our residents use digital in everyday lives, we were in the process of making our online experience as simple to use as possible with customers involved in the consultation. If we can deflect those residents who prefer to use digital to a simple online solution, we free up our phone lines and improve our answer rate for the 20% who cannot use digital. The majority of people do not want to hold on to speak to someone they want the transaction to be as simple and quick as possible.


·                     How does the new communication system installed by EFDC help to forge and maintain good relationships with Town and Parish Councils?


It would seem that the engagement with T&P was not to the level it should have been when the new operating model was implemented. We must now look forwards together, be mindful of budget constraints and resource challenges to mutually agree communication channels and ways of working. We have developed a process for T&P to get queries resolved in the most efficient way and that was by using our online form, the query would be logged, allocated, triaged, and tracked to ensure a response was given within the agreed SLA. If the query was an emergency i.e. risk of life & death, then you can call our contact centre. A copy of the flow diagram describing this process has been attached.


·                     Why must Town and Parish Councils first point of call be to the contact centre and not to relevant EFDC Officers?


The agreed operating model was outlined above, Members approved this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Epping Forest District Local Plan - Progress

(Epping Forest District Council) To report to the Committee on the current position of the new Local Plan for the Epping Forest District.

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The Planning and Development Management Service Director advised that the   consultation on the Further Main Modifications to the Local Plan was currently running until 9 December 2023. This was an opportunity to comments on the Further Main Modifications only, and if there were any comments that exceeded 300 words, an executive summary would be required. The Council would then submit the all the comments to the Inspector.


It was expected that the Local Plan would be adopted by the Council in late January or February 2023.


It was noted that a final Local Plan document would be created with the policies set out, although it would probably not be in a paper format and if required, a charge would be applied.


Any Other Business

1.    Parish Council Tax Bases for 2023/24, along with the annual pro forma Precept returns, are scheduled to be issued on Friday 2nd December 2022. Parish and Town Councils are reminded that completed Precept returns should be submitted in accordance with the 31st January 2023 deadline.   


2.    To discuss what format these meetings should take place i.e., face to face, virtual or hybrid and dependent on the above whether the meetings should take place in the daytime or evening.


3.    To discuss what the Committee want to get out of these meetings and any future items they would like to see on the next agenda.  


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1.            It was noted that Parish Council Tax Bases for 2023/24, along with the annual pro forma Precept returns should be submitted by 31st January 2023.


2.            That the preference for future meetings of the LCLC should be face-to-face and that there were no preferences to the day or time of these meetings.


3.            That future items of interest would be discussed by the Epping Forest Branch and forwarded to the Committee Officer.



Dates of Future Meetings

To note that the next meeting has been scheduled for 14 March 2023 at 1.00pm via Team/Zoom.



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The date of the next meeting would be changed due to the decision for face-to-face meetings and emailed to Parish and Town Councils accordingly.