Agenda and minutes

Stronger Council Select Committee - Thursday, 28th April, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: Adrian Hendry (01992 564243)  Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

53.

Election of Chairman

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In the absence of the Chairman and Vice Chairman, the meeting appointed Councillor R Bassett as Chairman for the duration of the meeting.

 

 

54.

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:

 

“The Chairman 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).

 

If you are seated in the lower public seating area it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast.

 

This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if you wish to avoid this you should move to the upper public gallery.”

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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.

 

 

55.

Subsitute Members (Council Minute 39 - 23.7.02)

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that Councillor S Heather would substitute for Councillor H Brady, Councillor P Keska would substitute for Councillor P Bolton, and Councillor J H Whitehouse would substitute for Councillor J M Whitehouse for the duration of this meeting.

 

 

56.

Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 3rd March 2022.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

That the notes of the meeting held 03 March 2022 were agreed as a correct record.

 

 

57.

Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

 

58.

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. 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Select Committee noted their terms of reference and work programme.

 

 

59.

Stronger Council Update pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To consider the attached update asked for at the last meeting of the Stronger Council Committee and a list of members Training Courses.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee were presented with a set of answers to matters that were raised at the last Stronger Council meeting.

 

Councillor Janet Whitehouse said that she was pleased to see the item, but she was concerned that the training indicated was not taking in the needs of new councillors who worked full time. The new member’s training was a full day on a Friday and that would be difficult to attend for some members. Also, the evening training sessions were getting earlier, some were now starting at 6pm. Would it be useful to have a consultation with members on start times. There was also nothing there about the skills that councillors would need for doing their job and keeping safe or dealing with difficult people, most of the topics were inward focused.

 

One of the other things missed, was getting to know what the various departments of the Council did. We used to have presentations where we could meet the officers and have a talk on what their sections did. This would inform the new members what the council did and what we were responsible for. A Small replied that dates and times were a bit of a balance as there was quite a lot of training that members had to go through and to squeeze those all into evenings would be a challenge, concentrating a day’s worth of courses gives an opportunity to get the bulk of the training done which can be supplemented with further evening sessions. He noted the comments about the timings of evening meetings and would investigate with Democratic Services. As for the more general courses mentioned such as keeping councillors safe, there was an intention to have this on the councillor new learning system for the more general training referenced in the next item. He would also take back the points made about what the council services were and who provides them.

 

Councillor Janet Whitehouse noted that there was nothing about the member/officer budding proposal and what this was; and she wondered why the training for Chairman and Vice Chairman of planning was not mandatory as it was an important role. Mr Small said the budding proposal was a point raised at the last meeting to help new members. This was something we were looking into.

 

Councillor H Kane noted that years ago we had a whole day’s training with a lunch, this was a heavy schedule, and this should be for every councillor as they needed to attend both as a new councillor and also as experienced ones that may need a refresh.

 

Councillor Brookes welcomed the fact that you had listened and to have that face-to-face interaction and not virtual. When you first get elected you get inundated with case work and we do need that training in those first few months.

 

Resolved:

 

The update was noted.

60.

People Strategy Overview pdf icon PDF 258 KB

To consider the attached report updating the People’s Strategy.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A Small introduced report updating the committee on the People’s Strategy for 2022. He noted that the current people’s strategy was coming to an end, and they were in the process of developing a new one which would come to Stronger Council in due course with the objectives for the 2023/25 period.

 

Councillor Bassett noted that there was a lot of changes and postulated if it was worthwhile to have a module for members on how to use it, especially with iTrain etc.

 

Councillor Brookes asked about getting legal advice. She said that it was difficult to get advice on monitoring issues. There also seemed to be less expert legal advice in house and more use of external people. Mr Small replied that this came under the heading of the Common Operating model devised four years ago when all council teams went through a restructuring process. The legal team was yet to go through this process. We were mindful of members concerns about having legal advice and structures were being devised to make sure there was more capacity in house. The nature of legal was that there were a lot of specialist areas, and we could not maintain such experts in house; these were the areas we would have to go out for. The restructure would leave the legal team in a better position.

 

Councillor Sunger thanked the team for their work on this project, especially the mental health first aider team and the apprentices.

 

Councillor Keska commented that for some of the more longer serving members on the council, this report looked like it was written in a foreign language, it was full of buzz words such as ‘onboarding’ and ‘work buzz’. As far as licensing was concerned, we seemed to have adequate legal advice when we needed it. However, if you went back a few years if you wanted advice, you just went to the relevant office and spoke to whoever was in charge. Now that was just not possible, and you had to leave messages for officers to get back to you. Councillor Bassett noted this and said it may be worthwhile to have an appendix explaining the buzz words used. Councillor Sunger noted that you could usually work out what they meant.  Councillor Bassett replied that you could make assumptions on what they meant but you could get it wrong. Mr Small added that most of these were internal initiatives, and we were always trying to rebadge a new initiative and make it sound interesting to get employee’s interest; not necessarily intended for an outside audience. But he took the point that we should explain to members what they were.

 

Resolved:

 

The Committee considered the report on the continuing People Strategy for 2022. They also noted the People Strategy for 2023-2025 was currently in review and draft format.

 

 

61.

Corporate Performance Reporting pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To consider the attached report on the progress of project delivery against Q4 milestones.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

C Graham introduced the report reviewing progress for quarterly performance measurement delivery against Quarter 4 milestones.

 

Key Corporate Projects.

 

The Chairman went through the report page by page asking for any questions as they arose.

 

CPP014 (Rentsense) – this had a request that this could be removed, who could authorise this? The officer said that came from the project management office as the project had been completed and closed.

 

CPP024 (Travel Local) – Councillors Bassett, H Kane and Janet Whitehouse would like to see this report. Councillor Janet Whitehouse wanted to know what sort of input did members have in these reports once they were closed or before this. She was told that once a project was closed and a report agreed, any comments from members were welcome and would be considered by the relevant steering group. Councillor Bassett suggested that if there were any problems identified by a councillor it should be brought back to this committee via the chairman. Councillor S Kane suggested that the reports could be published, and a link provided via the weekly bulletin.

 

Asked what input members had into the reports, officers noted that they had none as they were operational issues that just get reported to the committee. Members generally got issues that were strategic and part of the council’s priorities and part of the corporate plan.

 

CPP037 (Corporate approach to resident engagement) – noted that this had been cancelled, would this come back. Officers noted that there was a revised project ongoing at present meeting the statutory requirements that we now have for engagement. It is now just being done in a different way.

 

CPP100 (Attracting, onboarding & retaining talent) – Councillor Bassett would like to see this report.

 

CPP092 (Climate Action Plan) – Councillor Bassett would like to see the report.

 

CPP093 (Green Infrastructure Strategy) – Councillors Bassett and H Kane would like to see this report.

 

CPP094 (Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy) – Councillors Bassett and H Kane would like to see this report. Councillor Bedford noted that project closure was probably appropriate at this point as the air quality monitoring would be starting again in 2024/25, which will be a new report that can be compared to what has already been completed.

 

CPP096 (Local Plan) – Councillor Bedford noted that the inspector was currently on maternity leave, but we were progressing where we could.

 

CPP131 (Back-office System (Digital Planning System)) - noted that we did not have any dates as yet for this. Councillor Bedford stated that there was a new digital solution being implemented to come in by end of May, when there should be a vast improvement on what we have at present. Bearing in mind that we had to transfer about 2million bits of information into the new system and officers need to be trained etc. We have invested in the new IT system to help relieve some of the pressures on the planning team.

 

CPP120 (Councillor Portal) – Councillor S Kane noted that this had now  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Dates of Future Meetings

This is the last meeting for this municipal year.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The meeting noted that this was the last scheduled meeting for the municipal year.