Agenda and minutes

Constitution Working Group
Tuesday, 20th February, 2018 7.00 pm

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

Contact: V. Messenger Tel: (01992) 564243  Email:

No. Item


Substitute Members

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


There were no substitute members at the meeting.


Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 379 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Working Group held on 25 January 2018.




That the notes of the last meeting of the Working Group held on 25 January 2018 be agreed as a correct record.


Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 45 KB

(Director of Governance)


(a)    To note the Terms of Reference and progress with the achievement of the current Work Programme for the Working Group; and


(b)    To consider the current Work Programme attached.

Additional documents:


(a)    The Terms of Reference were noted.


(b)    Work Programme


(i)         Item (4) Procurement Rules – it was noted that the updated Procurement Rules would be going to Council on 24 February 2018 for adoption.


(ii)        Item (5) Review of Audit and Governance and Standard Committees – this item would be deferred until the next meeting.


(iii)       Item (6) Gifts and hospitality advice – as this item was still outstanding, it would be rescheduled into the 2018/19 meetings cycle.


Planning Process Review 2017/18 - Delegation, Objections and Committee Systems pdf icon PDF 244 KB

(Assistant Director of Governance) To consider the report attached, which is a continuation of the discussions held at the previous meeting on 25 January 2018.


(1) Committee systems for members considering planning applications


Most councils had one or two planning committees which this Council had also had up until 1999. These two planning committees had dealt with applications when they were ready for determination on a non-geographic basis. In 1999 approval was given by members to create four area committees, A, B, C and D. However, these committees had a wider remit that had included some devolved budgets. In 2007 a review reduced the planning committees to three areas, East, South and West.


It was noted that all other meetings of the Council followed the provision in the Local Government Act 1972 in that they were:


(a)   Subject to pro rata at the same proportions of seats for groups as it held on the main council;

(b)   Maintained the overall majority for each committee that reflected that of the full Council seats;

(c)   Did not have a membership made up of one group only (except those related to Cabinet which was allowed under the 2000 Act).


Further, exceptions to pro rata were allowed by the Local Government (Committee and Political Groups) Regulations 1990, Section 19(c) (SI 1990, 1553), where:


(a)   the voting members of the committee consisted solely of persons who were elected for the electoral divisions or wards which were wholly within that part; and

(b)   the area of that part did not exceed two fifths of the total area of the authority; or

(c)   the population of that part, as estimated by the authority, did not exceed two fifths of the total population of the area of the authority as so estimated.


This was the basis on which the current three Area Planning Sub-Committees had been formed – to consider only those applications located within its geographic area.


However, research undertaken by officers had shown that between November 2016 and October 2017, there had been:


·           An imbalance in workloads of these sub-committees, as Plans South dealt with significantly more applications;

·           Plans South held more than 40 per cent of the District’s population (contrary to 20(c));

·           Plans East had more than 40 per cent of the District’s area (contrary to
20 (b));

·           A greater number of household applications were submitted from the District’s more urban area; and

·           Pro rata could not be achieved under the current configuration of committees.


The Assistant Director (Governance) advised that the forthcoming District elections on 3 May 2018 were an unknown quantity that might create additional imbalances. However, all the current planning committees did meet legal requirements but were not really in the spirit of the LGA. Also the District Development Management Committee (DDMC), which met once every other cycle, had the capacity to do more meetings, perhaps  monthly.


Thus the following options were considered by members of the Working Group:


(a)   Do nothing at this time pending the assessment of the effect of not routinely referring ‘other’ category and householder applications to sub-committees and review in a year;

(b)   Change the number of or configuration of the sub-committees  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Review of Audit and Governance and Standards Committees pdf icon PDF 99 KB

(Assistant Director of Governance) To consider the report attached.


It was noted that this item would be deferred to the next meeting for consideration.


Date of Next Meeting

To confirm the date of the next meeting of the Working Group.


It was noted that an additional meeting would be required in the first half of April 2018 to allow recommendations from the Working group to be made to Council before the end of April.