Agenda and minutes

Stronger Council Select Committee - Tuesday 20th July 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: A Hendry (Democratic Services)  Email:


No. Item


Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking.


The Chairman will read the following announcement:


“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties).


Therefore, by entering the Conference Suite and using the seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings for webcasting and/or training purposes.”

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The Chairman reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live

to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its  meetings.




Subsitute Members (Council Minute 39 - 23.7.02)

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

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The Committee noted that Councillor S Heather would substitute for Councillor H Brady and Councillor A Lion would substitute for Councillor R Bassett for the duration of this meeting.




Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 312 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 13th April 2021.

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That the notes of the meeting held 13 April 2021 were agreed as a correct record.




Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

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There were no declarations of interest made pursuant to the Member’s Code of Conduct.




Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 100 KB

(Chairman/Lead Officer) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee has agreed the terms of reference and work programme for the select committee. Members are invited at each meeting to review both documents. 


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The Select Committee noted their terms of reference and work programme. They also noted that item 3 of the work programme ‘Digital Enablement’ included the IT Strategy.


Mr Small noted that two other items had to be added to the programme; that of quarterly budget monitoring and the quarterly Qualis management report.




Corporate Performance Reporting - Qtr. 1 pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To consider the attached report and note the progress of project delivery against Q1 milestones.



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Maryvonne Hassall the ICT Manager introduced the corporate performance reporting against the Q4 milestones and noted that some KPI Q1 data was not available at the time of this report. She went through the corporate projects on an exceptions basis only commenting on any amber issues. She noted that quite a lot of list were highlighted in blue, indicating that the projects had been completed.


Councillor Janet Whitehouse raised concerns about museum collection rationalisation project, although it was highlighted as green. She asked what was the roles of the Parish and Town councils in this, were they being consulted?  M Hassall said that she would investigate and get back to her. The Chairman asked that something be added to the minutes on the involvement of the local councils.


·         Post meeting update on the ‘Museum Collection Rationalisation’:


“The update is that all items that are stored at the North Weald storage location have been reviewed and 44 out of the 55 have been agreed to be outside the museum’s collecting policy – these have been signed off by the steering committee and the PH decision process. The museum is currently exploring new homes for these items – so far 10 have been transferred to local community allotment projects to be used by the community.


In terms of local council involvement – it was extremely unlikely that the museum will be removing any items that have a local story to tell. If items from specific local areas are being considered the relevant local town or parish council will be consulted. It is likely these items will be paper documentation which will need to be transferred to the Essex Record Office which is responsible for paper archives and therefore will still very much be within the public domain.


It has been confirmed that the parish and town councils were consulted.”


The item ‘Reprovision of Hostel’ was showing as amber as a proposal document was being brought to Governance group for discussion. Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked which hostel this was referring to. He was told that they did not have that information there and would provide a written response. Councillor Neville commented that the committee did not want generic titles that did not tell them anything. Could officers be more specific.


·         Post meeting update on ‘Reprovision of Hostel’:


“Temporary housing for homeless People:

The provision of temporary housing for homeless people is one of the most important services provided by Epping Forest District Council. There are many reasons why someone may become homeless and the deficiencies of temporary Bed and Breakfast accommodation are well-known. We have a long and positive track record of helping people in need. For many years Epping Forest District Council has therefore provided dedicated hostel accommodation with on-site support staff and communal facilities to help people back on to their feet and into permanent housing. Currently we have no one in B&B. Everyone is provided for within our dedicated schemes.


Around 80% of our dedicated temporary accommodation is currently  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Accommodation Programme Report pdf icon PDF 424 KB

To consider the attached report on the accommodation update for the council offices.



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Maryvonne Hassall the ICT Manager introduced the accommodation update report. She noted that things had changed since this had been written due to the opening up of restrictions as from the 19 July. This would not mean a return to the office for everyone. It was expected that people would mainly operate in a hybrid mode, sometimes in the office, sometimes at home, and sometimes at other locations, or working out in the field. The accommodation project would be formally closed within the next few weeks when they will review its outcomes and the need for further actions and the understanding of how we could use the new spaces. Familiarisation sessions have been set up and have started. Preparations were underway for the opening of the Community Hub. A provisional opening had been set for the 16th August subject to final agreement with the partners on the 2nd August. We are also still in discussions with Essex County Council about usage of some of the ground floor space for the library.


Councillor Janet Whitehouse commented that the projects were not ready for closure as members had not seen the building and they needed an opportunity to give feedback. As an example, the air conditioning went off in the evening just when the members were coming in for meetings. She also noted that the Civic Offices were being referred to as ‘The Civic’ which did not make sense as it was just an adjective.


Councillor Morgan noted that members had not had their familiarisations sessions as yet. The Chairman noted that a tour would be arranged on the 29th July and there had been one previously.


Councillor H Kane noted that at the beginning of the project members were asked what they would like to see in the building, but since then some of the officers had left and other people had taken over, so our suggestions were lost. Things had changed and we needed to know what had changed from the original plans and since our consultations. A Small noted that the familiarisation sessions were next week, and it seemed sensible that we waited until after that to capture members views and then come back with a further report to this committee for a further debate.


Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked why we no longer issued the clear rubbish sacks from the Civic Office reception, why was that an improvement, as it was a basic service. He was told that the number of places where you could pick them up from around the district had increased and so we no longer used the Civic Offices.


Councillor Morgan commented that originally, we were going to have a Members room, but we do not have a Members room anymore. He was told that the space was still there for Members and officers. It would be better to have this conversation after the familiarisation session next week.




The Committee noted the summary of progress on the Accommodation Programme as at 6th  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Beyond the Pandemic Employee Survey (April-May 2021) pdf icon PDF 257 KB

To consider the outcome of an employee survey that followed on from the 2020 employee wellbeing survey.

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Joanne Budden the Service Manager (People, Culture & Wellbeing) introduce the report. She noted during the past year, officers had not only provided business as usual in support of our residents but assisted with other essential work on Project Shield and Highstreet recovery projects. They had completed an office refurbishment on time and on budget, improved productivity, and digitalisation for our residents, and had vastly improved employee engagement and wellbeing.


Through the pandemic many of the employees had been working remotely - no longer reliant on a fixed desk, in a fixed building, working fixed hours.  


In April 2021 an employee survey was designed, this followed on from the 2020 employee wellbeing survey. This new survey was called ‘Our Ways of Working 2021-2022 Beyond the Pandemic’. When completing this survey, employees were encouraged to challenge their thinking, giving them the opportunity to give valuable feedback and insight to help inform plans for beyond the pandemic and help reshape the Council’s future ways of working for them and the organisation.


Part two of the survey was a selection of 8 travel questions. A short video was played, outlining the results of the survey. *A copy of this presentation as a PDF, is attached to these minutes for information.


Councillor H Kane thanked J Budden for the presentation saying it was good to know how people felt. She then asked about the Council’s out of hours service, had this not been included in the survey asking how people felt about it. She added that to the best of her knowledge, we had about three weeks without an out of hours service. J Budden said that she would investigate.


Councillor Sunger noted that the last 18 months had been difficult and challenging and thanked the staff for continuing to provide vital front line services. He was also proud that we had now trained more than 80 mental health first aiders which provided important support for the staff.


Councillor Lion said it was an interesting presentation. He asked about people working from their dining room tables how many of them would not be happy working from home. There were also other aspects of remote working, not only could people work from home or the Civic Offices, but we did have other hubs that they could use, as working from home could be very isolating. He was told that the survey covered this as it did not reference just a single site. Councillor Lion asked if people were keen to do this. He was told that as a new way of working, people would get used to this way.


Councillor Neville noted that the presentation went by too fast for them to take it all in. He asked if it actually went out to 438 people or was that just people who viewed the survey. J Budden replied that 438 employees viewed the survey, 356 started doing the survey and 292 had completed it.


He then asked how many people took up the free DRT87  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Dates of Future Meetings

To note the future meeting dates of this Committee:


14 September 2021;

16 November 2021;

18 January 2022;

03 March 2022; and

14 April 2022

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The Committee noted their future meeting dates.