Agenda and minutes

Constitution Working Group
Monday, 16th April, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, 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 94 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Working Group held on 20 February 2018.




That the notes of the last meeting of the Working Group held on 20 February 2018 be agreed as a correct record.


Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 45 KB

(Director of Governance) 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)            Item (3) Committee systems for members considering planning applications – this would be reviewed at the next scheduled meeting in September 2018.


(ii)           Item (8) Gifts and hospitality advice – this outstanding item had been rescheduled into the 2018/19 meetings cycle.


Constitution - Revisions & Amendments pdf icon PDF 91 KB

(1)       (Director of Governance) To note that the following revisions or amendments have been made to the Constitution since the previous meeting of the Working Group, pursuant to the authority delegated to the Director of Governance. (Report attached).


(2)       To receive an oral update relating to the Staff Appeals Panel which was discussed by the Joint Consultative Committee on 9 April 2018.


It was noted that a revised version of the Constitution was published on 26 February 2018, details of which were also published in the Council Bulletin on 28 February. This had included revisions to the following elements of the Scheme of Delegation (Part 3), owing to changes in the Council’s senior management structure, which had been agreed by the Council on 22 February 2018:


·                Appendix 3 – Delegation of Officers from Full Council; and

·                Appendix 5 – Delegation to Officers from the Executive.


The latest version of the Constitution also incorporated the following:


·                Members’ Allowance Scheme for 2018/19 municipal year, which had been agreed by the Council on 21 December 2017; and


·                Procurement Rules, revised and agreed by the Council on 22 February 2018.


Planning Process Review 2017/18 - Delegation, Objections and Committee Systems pdf icon PDF 105 KB

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

Additional documents:


The Assistant Director (Governance) advised members that in the previous two meetings of the Working Group in January and February 2018 they had looked at officer delegations. Both he and the Assistant Director (Development Management) with the help of planning officers had developed the ‘Replacement Planning Delegations’ scheme, shown in Appendix 1 of the agenda. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990, in particular, and other planning legislation made it challenging to keep protocols up to date. Officers had tried to come up with a scheme to reflect members’ comments and to keep it as simplified as much as possible to reduce errors or misinterpretation. Another objective was to give the planning committees more time for determining applications for larger sites. Planning had already started to employ an Implementation Team in preparedness for a greater influx of planning applications, particularly those for Local Plan (LP) sites.


As the next scheduled meeting of this Working Group was not until September 2018, this extra meeting today had been agreed with the Chairman. A letter to members and local councils had been circulated before Easter, via email. Four members had replied that the timescale of the consultation was not long enough and only one local council had declined to comment on the basis the consultation period was too short. The Council was not statutorily required to consult with local councils but had chosen this route following members’ support at the Local Councils’ Liaison Committee (LCLC) in March 2018. Much of the LP work, would be well under way by the next Working Group meeting in September. Also the Assistant Director (Governance) would soon unveil the induction training and planning courses for new and existing councillors after the May 2018 elections.


The Assistant Director (Governance) summarised the responses he had received from six members and fourteen local councils, most of which had been published in two supplementary agendas.


There was a mixed reaction to A(1) because only applications for residential developments consisting of 10 or more dwellings on unallocated sites or 25 or more dwellings on allocated sites would go to committee. Where this was felt to be unacceptable it was because even 5 dwellings might have an ‘adverse impact’ on a neighbourhood or village setting.


On A(2) (Council applications for developments on its own land or disposal of assets) while some local councils considered the District Development Management Committee (DDMC) should only determine these applications others considered the area sub-committees also should, to ensure local input.


A(3) about the number of objections required to be received for the sub-committees to determine, there were various comments received. While some supported the proposals given in Appendix 1, there was concern that local councils would not know, for instance, if they were the only objector. Others that 5 objections was too much in rural areas. Also there should be training for parish/town councillors. The Assistant Director (Governance) clarified that local councils were not statutory consultees in the planning process as some thought, but that the Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Review of Audit and Governance and Standards Committees pdf icon PDF 175 KB

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


The Council on 26 April 2016 had not adopted the proposal to merge the Audit and Governance Committee with the Standards Committee, but  instead required the Working Group to review the proposal within two years. The Standards Committee had not been in favour of a merger, as under the proposal the current nine members available to consider Standards issues would reduce to three, which it did not consider was sufficient.


The Assistant Director (Governance) advised members that this review should be deferred, as the structure of the Council’s departments was changing significantly. A report would be going to Cabinet in June on the Council’s new structure, which would replace the old directorates. There would be more matrix working. In addition, the overview and scrutiny structure currently focussed on the four directorates. The structure of the overview and scrutiny committees might be required to change, to reflect this new directorate structure. He therefore suggested that this review be revisited towards the end of the 2018/19 municipal year, and that when it was brought back, there would be a further report on where the Council was with its structural changes and Audit and Governance.


Councillor D Stallan proposed that the Working Group wait to review this merger once the Council’s new structure was much clearer.




That the Working Group defer its review of the merger of the Audit and Governance and Standards Committees, until the Constitution Working Group meeting in March 2019.


Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meetings of the Working Group for 2018/19 will be held at 7pm on:


·           27 September 2018

·           28 March 2019


The Working Group agreed to a further meeting towards the end of June, which was arranged with the Chairman to held at 7pm on 25 June 2018.