Agenda and minutes

Constitution Working Group
Tuesday, 20th September, 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping. View directions

Contact: M. Jenkins Tel: (01992) 564607  Email:

No. Item


Substitute Members (Minute Item 39 - 23.7.02)

(Director of Governance) To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.


There were no substitute Members appointed.


Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To approve the notes of the meeting of the Working Group held on 22 March 2016.




That the notes of the last meeting of the Working Group held on 22 March 2016 be agreed.


Terms of Reference and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 44 KB

To review the Terms of Reference and Work Programme for the Working Group.

Additional documents:


(a)          Terms of Reference


It was noted that Item (1) To complete a review of the Council’s Constitution by 31 March 2016 needed deletion as this had been completed.


(b)          Work Programme


There were 3 items on the Work Programme:


(i)            Review of Planning Protocol (for discussion at this meeting).


(ii)           Gifts and Hospitality Provisions – Review was scheduled for the 21 February 2017 meeting.


(iii)          Audit and Governance Committee – Review was scheduled for 2018.


Review of Planning Protocol pdf icon PDF 93 KB

(Director of Governance) To consider the attached report and appendices.

Additional documents:


The Working Group received a report on the Planning Protocol from the Assistant Director Governance and Performance Management.


The Working Group were reminded that work on the new Constitution was substantially completed in March 2016. The Working Group did wish to come back and review two elements, firstly the guidance on gifts and hospitality and, secondly, the Planning Protocol. There documents were not included in the final version of the Constitution.


The Planning Protocol was last reviewed in 2007, since that time, the passing of the Localism Act meant that there had been some clarification on the role of Members, particularly interests in planning matters and the types of interests that were now required to be disclosed.


Counsel had been asked to provide a commentary on the current protocol. Mark Beard, therefore, had provided the Council with some exemplar codes and protocols from other authorities. It was suggested that the Council’s document should be updated and as a minimum should cover the following:


(a)  The aim and application of the Planning Protocol.


(b)  The relationship with the Local Member’s Code of Conduct.


(c)  Roles and responsibilities.


(d)  Declaration of Interests.


(e)  Predisposition, predetermination and bias.


(f)   Membership of their councils and bodies.


(g)  Pre-application discussions.


(h)  Contact with applicants, developers and interested persons.


(i)    Lobbying of and by Councillors.


(j)    Officers.


(k)  Attendance and participation at public meetings.


(l)    Site visits.


(m)Officer reports and recommendations.


(n)  Conduct during public meetings.


(o)  Decision making.


(p)  Decisions contrary to the officer recommendation.


(q)  Training.


(r)   Review.


In the Member’s discussion, it was felt that the protocol should take account of the “Way Forward” which Councillors suggest for the benefit of applicants where planning applications have been refused. The Assistant Director Governance and Performance Management advised that he would speak with the Assistant Director Development Management about this.


Changes to pre-determination and disppositive meant it was important to acknowledge the difference in the new protocol. For example a Cabinet decision on a particular site would not necessarily mean that any Portfolio Holder involved had a Declarable Pecuniary Interest in a future planning application connected with that site. It was advised that members may have seen the same planning application more than once through different tiers. Any unsurety should be directed to the Monitoring Officer for clarification. However the Protocol would need to delve deeper into this.


The Working Group suggested that a Licensing Protocol was also needed, this should be discussed with the Licensing Committee. Councillor D Stallan proposed that a draft licensing Protocol should be added to the Working Group Work Programme and consultation take place with he Licensing Committee members, at the appropriate time. This was seconded by Councillor C C Pond, the Working Group agreed.


It was felt that the Standards Committee, Parish and Town Councils, Local Council’s Liaison Committee and the Members of the Joint Meeting of Development Management Chair and Vice Chair needed to be consulted on the new Planning Protocol.


It was advised that an updated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Update on New Constitution

The Assistant Director Governance and Performance Management to give an oral report on updates to the Constitution since the last meeting.


The Select Committee were advised by the Democratic Services Manager of recent updates made to the Constitution. There had been slight amendments to the document but no operational issues had developed in the preceding 6 months.


Dates of Future Meetings

To note that future meetings of the Working Group will be held on Tuesday 21 February 2017 at 7.00p.m. in Committee Room 1.


The next meeting of the Working Group would be held on Tuesday 21 February 2017.