Agenda and minutes

Constitution Working Group
Thursday, 28th March, 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping. View directions

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

No. Item


Substitute Members

To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.


It was noted that there were no substitute members for this meeting.


Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Working Group held on 3 December 2018.




            That the notes of the meeting of the Working Group held on 3 December 2018 be agreed as a correct record.


Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 46 KB

To review the terms of reference and progress with the achievement of the current work programme for the Working Group.

Additional documents:


(a)          The Terms of Reference were noted.


(b)       Work Programme


(i)            Constitution – amendments (item 1) was a standing item.


(ii)           Planning Delegations (item 2), Petition Scheme (item 3) and Honorary Alderman (item 4) had been completed at the meeting on 3 December 2018 and then approved by Council on 20 December 2019.


(iii)          Section 106 and Section 278 Agreements (item 6) where a review of planning delegations and practise to examine the approach taken was scheduled for the next Working Group meeting in September 2019.


Councillor J Philip advised that as the Local Plan progressed, an additional meeting of the Constitution Working Group might be required in relation to this item, before the next scheduled meeting on 24 September 2019.


(iv)         Gifts and hospitality (item 7) where a review of the existing guidance in the Constitution was due by members also had to be considered by the Standards Committee in the same cycle and would shortly be discussed by the Corporate Governance Group.


(v)          Reviews of Audit and Governance and Standards Committees (item 8), and the committee systems under the Planning Process Review 2017/18 (item 9) were outstanding items from this municipal year.


(vi)         Financial Regulations (item 10) to be advised by the Chief Finance Officer was also outstanding. The Democratic Services Manager, S Tautz, informed members that the current 151 Officer would be leaving the Council shortly. Therefore, this would need to be discussed with the new incoming 151 Officer. Councillor C C Pond asked if arrangements had been made as this was a statutory position required by law, to which S Tautz affirmed.



Constitution - Revisions & Amendments pdf icon PDF 92 KB

(Monitoring Officer) To note the report (attached).


S Tautz, Democratic Services Manager, was in attendance.


A revised version of the Constitution had been published on 21 December 2018, which had included revisions to the Scheme of Delegation (Part 3) (Delegation to Officers from Full Council). This was as a result of the ongoing Council restructure of senior management and the removal of a number of positions from the Council’s establishment. This had also included the arrangement for the new Monitoring Officer, N Boateng, and the removal of references to the Staff Appeals Panel, which had been discontinued during 2018.


Any further revisions to the Constitution would be published after Council on 25 April 2019, but would incorporate the Members’ Allowance Scheme for the 2019/20 municipal year that had been agreed by Council on 20 December 2018.


Members were advised that all forthcoming revisions to the Constitution would be publicised in the Council Bulletin.




            That the report be noted and agreed.


Area Plans Sub-Committees - Site Visits pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To consider the report (attached).


S Tautz, Democratic Services Manager, and N Richardson, Service Director (Planning Services) were in attendance.


This proposal had originally been made to improve the efficiency of the Area Plans Sub-Committees to avoid speakers waiting lengthy times. It had given members the opportunity to identify and agree requirements for formal site visits to be held prior to consideration of planning applications at the Area Plans Sub-Committees. It had been in operation since the commencement of the 2018/19 municipal year on a 6-month trial basis, subject to being reviewed by the Constitution Working Group. Therefore, a review of the success of this arrangement was overdue.


This item had been discussed at the Joint Meeting of Development Management Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen on 4 March 2019. Members were of the opinion that this procedure should be adopted on a permanent basis and that site visits should be agreed with a minimum of debate. There was also concern that if a site visit had taken place at an Area Plans Sub-Committee but the application referred for determination by the District Development Management Committee (DDMC), for consistency a further member site visit should be arranged prior to its consideration, which might delay an application coming before the next DDMC.


However, this did not preclude site visits being agreed by any planning committee, which could be achieved:


·           by a resolution of a majority of members during consideration of an application prior to its determination; or


·           that a formal site visit could be held on the approval of a Sub-Committee Chairman on the recommendation of the Service Director (Planning Services) under the Constitution (Article 10 – District Development Management Committee and Area Plans Sub-Committees).


However, to be consistent with the Area Plans Sub-Committees under Article 10 of the Constitution, a further suggestion was made at the Joint Meeting that a site visit could be held on the approval of the DDMC Chairman on the recommendation of the Service Director (Planning Services).


N Richardson said that this trial had seen an increase in the number of site visits being organised, even for Area Plans South. S Tautz added that the ideal situation was that a site visit would be voted on without debate, but this would also allow some further discussion on why a site visit was being requested. Nothing prevented a site visit being proposed during the debate of an application when that agenda item was reached and therefore, served to strengthen the opportunity to have site visits.


Councillor C C Pond said the (South) site visits he had attended had been very instructive for both members and officers, and had therefore been a worthwhile experience.


Councillor J H Whitehouse asked if topics to be discussed could be made known before a site visit.


Councillor J Philip wanted members to propose good reasons for holding a site visit. It would be up to the Chairman of a planning committee to ensure that a request for a site visit did not continue into a debate on the planning merits.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting of the Working Group will be held on 24 September 2019 at 7.00pm.


It was noted that the next meeting of the Working Group would be held on 24 September 2019 at 7.00pm.