Agenda and minutes

Constitution Working Group
Monday, 25th June, 2018 7.00 pm

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

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

No. Item


Appointment of Chairman


In the absence of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, Councillor J Philip was appointed Chairman for the duration of the meeting.


Substitute Members

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


It was reported that Councillor G Chambers was substituting for Councillor M McEwen and Councillor S Kane was substituting for Councillor M Sartin.


Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 95 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Working Group held on 16 April 2018.




That the notes of the last meeting of the Working Group held on 16 April 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)            The Assistant Director (Governance) reported that he would be liaising with the Chairman, Councillor M McEwen, on a draft work programme for this municipal year.


(ii)           Item (3) (iv) Planning Process Review 2017/18 Committee systems – the Working Group would come back and look again at the planning committee structure. It had not considered this since the meeting on 20 February 2018 (Min no 17).


(iii)          The ongoing restructure of the Council to replace the old directorates would fundamentally alter the schedule of delegations, the Leader’s and those that came from Council directly. Hence the Assistant Director (Governance) would be working with the Leader to ensure the decision making processes of the Council were sound.


(iv)         The new (eight) service directors would be given as much delegation as possible in this new Council structure. More essentially, all the old job titles of the ex-staff that had gone would need to be omitted from the Constitution documents. The Assistant Director (Governance) would need to work through the Constitution and replace officers’ names to reflect these changes.


It was noted accordingly that members would be required to consider these amendments to the Constitution and to make recommendations for Council accordingly.


Constitution - Revisions & Amendments

(Director of Governance) To note that no further 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.


It was noted that no further revisions or amendments had been made to the Constitution since the previous meeting of the Working Group, pursuant to the authority delegated to the Assistant Director (Governance).


Planning Process Review 2017/18 - Delegations to Planning Officers pdf icon PDF 81 KB

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

Additional documents:


(a)          Revised new delegation schedules


The Assistant Director (Governance) explained for the new members of the Working Group that the Planning Process Review had so far been considered at its meetings in January, February and April 2018. However, as it had been agreed the first consultation with all members and local councils in April was too short, a second but longer consultation had been carried out from 2 May to 6 June 2018 with the same consultees.


Appendix 1   detailed a few amendments that had been achieved from the first consultation and a Replacement Planning Delegations document, CLD2 Replacement, was published in this agenda.

Appendix 2   detailed the comments received from the first consultation.

Appendix 3   collated members’ responses; and

Appendix 4   was the local councils’ responses and appendix 5 showed the current delegations.


Appendix 3: members’ responses


Councillor H Brady felt that the Council was taking powers away from local councils and that members had been elected to spend more time in planning meetings if this was required so that full, householder, outline and variations of conditions planning applications should come to the Area Planning Sub-Committees.


Councillor P Stalker supported a quality control system. The bar needed to be raised in terms of the quality and relevance of objections from local councils and that the clerk should have received appropriate planning training to facilitate advice at its meetings when planning applications were being commented on. If a written objection was received from a local council that clearly had no merit in planning terms, there should be a system whereby a senior planning officer (perhaps in consultation with a non-ward member) could screen out inappropriate objections, advise the local council of the reasons why, and thus optimise the Area Planning Sub-Committees’ time.


Councillor G Chambers was strongly against reducing the planning committees, and would welcome more committee meetings for Buckhurst Hill and Chigwell. The more delegated powers taken away from residents would not be welcomed either. He was concerned over who would decide what was material to the planning merits of an application (A 3) and (A 4). He would prefer two objections for an application to come to an Area Planning Sub-Committee with an objection from a local council (A 3b). There needed to be some consideration for the remoter parts of the District. He suggested stopping outline applications (A (c)). On members’ applications (A 5), from a public perception point of view, these should go to the District Development Management Committee (DDMC) as currently, or moved to another Area Planning Sub-Committee, but applications from senior officers could be determined by an Area Planning Sub-Committee.


Councillor E Webster, who had attended the informal meeting of the planning committees chairmen and vice-chairmen on 31 May 2018, had two main concerns. She would like more clarification on material planning merits, who decided them and how this was achieved, and that this appeared to be the responsibility of the Head of Planning. She recommended that members and local councils were given a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting of the Working Group will be held at 7pm on 27 September 2018.


It was noted that the next meeting of the Working Group would be held at 7pm on 27 September 2018.