Agenda and minutes

Stronger Place Select Committee - Tuesday 12th January 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting on Zoom. View directions


No. Item


Webcasting Introduction

This virtual meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to unmute 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 participating in this virtual meeting, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings for webcasting and/or training purposes. If members of the public do not wish to have their image captured they should ensure that their video setting throughout the virtual meeting is turned off and set to audio only.


Please also be aware that if technical difficulties interrupt the meeting that cannot be overcome, I may need to adjourn the meeting.”


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The Chairman made a short address to remind all present that the virtual meeting would be broadcast on the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.





Substitute Members

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

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The following substitution was reported:


That Councillor Janet Whitehouse was substituting for Councillor C McCredie.




Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

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(a)  Pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor R Basset declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 10, Demand Responsive Transport, by virtue of being the Chairman of Trustees for Epping Community Transport.




Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 307 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 29 September 2020.

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(1)  That the minutes of the last meeting held on 29 September 2020 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.




Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 22 KB

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

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Cllr Janet Whitehouse suggested that the large number of items on the work programme was unmanageable and that there was an imbalance in the works streams between the select committees. The Chairman advised that the Agenda Planning Group would address any disparity in the work programmes.


The Select Committee noted its Terms of Reference and work programme.




Local Plan Update pdf icon PDF 164 KB

To note progress on the emerging Local Plan (report attached).

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Cllr Bedford provide an update on the Local Plan and the Interim Air Quality Mitigation Strategy (AQMS), which had been reviewed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 7 January 2021. He clarified that several mitigation measures including the potential for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) from 2025 had been included as part of the AQMS.  No charges or decisions on the form of Clean Air Zone had been agreed. He outlined that the adoption of the AQMS was a way to enable the Council to determine planning applications that had been held in abeyance since June 2018.

The Interim Assistant Director, Planning Policy and Implementation, A Blom-Cooper advised members of the MCHLG consultation on further permitted development rights was open for comment until 28 January 2021. These proposals would give a new national permitted development right for a change of use from commercial, business and service use class to residential use.  It will go significantly beyond existing rights, allowing for restaurants, indoor sports, and creches to benefit from the change use to residential under permitted development rights for the first time and will have implications for High Streets including those in conservation areas.  Other proposals include; a streamlined planning application process for public service infrastructure projects; and a simplification and consolidation of existing permitted development rights.

Cllr Rackham asked if there would be some communication on the CAZ as she had received a range of queries from residents.  Cllr Bedford advised that there would be a press release to set out the facts and address the misinformation that had been circulated. The proposed mitigation measures were similar to those developed by LB Redbridge with Natural England and a recent High Court judgement had shown these to be, wholly appropriate for the protection of the Forest. He suggested that the Green Party wanted the additional mitigation measures in the Interim AQMS.


Cllr Heap agreed that there was no mention of any sums of money in relation to the CAZ. He advised the Green Party approved of anything that helped the Forest, but that scientific aspects did not cover all the chemicals that could cause harm. He submitted that the CAZ would split the district and acknowledged that whilst the tube was an option for some residents, there were limited transport links especially in Waltham Abbey.  He suggested the CAZ could not be delivered and should not be compared to LB Redbridge as a unitary authority. He stated that some residents felt this was a tick box exercise to give planning permission and referenced Dowding Way and requested greater transparency in relation to Trinity Hall. He summarised that the Green Party would support anything that protected the Forest and people, but not in this way, and advocated that more buses were required.


Cllr Bedford advised that this had been debated at Overview and Scrutiny on 7 January 2021 and reiterated that a series of mitigation measures, agreed by Natural England, had been put forward similar to those approved by Judicial review  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.


Leisure Management Contract

To note the following Leisure Management Contract, performance and progress update.


The Leisure Contract with Places Leisure continues to perform well under testing circumstances. All four leisure centres in the District were closed in March following Government announcement. They reopened in August under strict Covid-19 restrictions which includes a rigorous cleansing regime and restrictions on the number of users allowed at any one time. Usage during September and October was above expectations however, the centres had to be closed again during the second lockdown in November. The leisure centres re-opened in early December after lockdown 2 but were unable to offer group exercise classes under Tier 3 restrictions. The Tier 4 announcement impacted on leisure facilities.


As a result of closures and reduced/restricted usage the Council has agreed a financial arrangement with Places Leisure. Instead of paying a management fee income Places Leisure are receiving support payment from the Council in advance. A reconciliation process is carried out and payments are adjusted for the subsequent months. This arrangement will continue until the Centres are back in profit and thereafter Council will receive a management fee income. Details of Leisure centre performance and usage data can be viewed in the notes of the previous Leisure Management Partnership Board.

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The Service Director, Contracts and Technical Services. Q Durrani, updated the members on the challenges associated with the Leisure Contract though the COVID restrictions and leisure centre closures. He advised on the revenue pressure associated with the loss of income and payments to the contractor to ensure the viability of the leisure centres and support the Council’s commitment to health and well-being.


Cllr Brookes asked about financial support and grants to alleviate the cost burden of leisure facilities through the lockdown. Q. Durrani advised that a there were a variety of options and that all avenues of support were being explored, and a new submission would be made to Sport England. Cllr Philip confirmed that the assumptions on the grants received from the Government in relation to leisure had been included in the figures reported to Cabinet on 22 December 2020.




(1)  That  the operational update on the Leisure Management Contract be noted.




Waste Management Contract

To note the following Waste Management Contract, performance and progress update.

The Waste Contract has come under pressure due to the restrictions around Covid-19. This includes additional cleaning and disinfecting requirements on operations on the one hand and the increase in waste and recycling collections tonnage on the other as more people are at home. Biffa have done well to collect waste and recycling materials from the residents door steps. Full details of the service performance can be viewed in the notes of the last Waste Management Partnership Board.


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The Service Director, Contracts and Technical Services. Q Durrani, informed the Committee that Biffa, the waste contractor, had managed the operations effectively through the COVID pandemic and had addressed operational issues, maintained safe working practices for their staff and used their commercial wing to support the waste collection service. Waste and recycling had increased, and the increased volumes of cardboard had increased the number of trips.  Mr Durrani advised that additional costs linked to the pandemic had been claimed. He also reminded the Committee that the contract was a 10 year contract with the potential to extend for a further 10 years and there would be changes to the contract in due course.


The Committee congratulated Biffa on delivering an effective waste and recycling collection service through the pandemic and acknowledged issues relating to increased carboard and packaging.


Cllr Brooks asked if the contractor had requested additional funding. Mr Durrani explained that through effective client, contractor relationship had ensured that additional costs had been contained to those that could reclaimed by the Council and Cllr McIvor asked how the additional costs of Biffa were calculated. Mr Durrani advised the Committee that the current contract had a mechanism to ensure any additional income from recycling materials was shared between the Contractor and the Council, any increased waste was included in the contract. Biffa had justified all additional costs this included additional mileage, fuel and disinfection costs .


Cllr Philip commented that the Waste Management Partnership Board received details of the operational challenges, mitigation and costs pressures from the contractor.


Cllr Patel asked if the committee could be advised on the Council’s performance in relation to recycling, the potential for glass and new material recycling and if waste collection vehicles and staff could be used for road condition surveys and to support Council initiatives.  Mr Durrani advised that glass was collected and that new materials for recycling were included in communications. He highlighted that due to increased awareness associated with climate change the waste hierarchy was focused on reducing waste. Mr Durrani acknowledged that other authorities do use vehicles and staff for wider purposes and suggested that these and other social value elements would be considered when the contract is reviewed


Cllr Heap suggested a way forward was to reduce use packaging in the first instance.




(1)  That the operational update on the Waste Management be noted;


(2)  To commend Biffa for their commitment and performance  through COVID pandemic; and


(3)  To note that the Waste Management Partnership Board review the performance of the waste and recycling contract




Demand Responsive Transport (DRT)

To note the Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) Trial project update.

Following the Cabinet approval on 3 December 2020 which included funding for a three month trial starting from 2 January 2021, this bus service will be operated along the route of the current Bus 87 by Epping Forest Community Transport. An application has been made to the Traffic Commissioner for registering the service. Media releases have been issued, posters have been placed in bus shelters advising users of the new service. NHS and Clinical Commissioning Group will publicise to their staff. On the Council website an expression of interest form has been created. We have already seen residents using the link as well as interest from some members of the EFDC staff.



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The Service Director, Contracts and Technical Services, Q. Durrani advised the Committee that  Cabinet had approved funding for a three month trial  for Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) in December 2020. The DRT was launched on 2 January 2021 in partnership with Epping Forest Community Transport and ran along the old Bus route 87. This service had passengers, primarily from the NHS on every journey. People are able to register an expression of interest in the service through an on-line form and there had been interest from residents in the rural areas along the route. COVID restrictions had limited the number of passengers on the vehicle and this could present a viability challenge for the service. Usage data would be collected and a report on the outcome of the trial would be reported to Cabinet.


Cllr Bassett advised that DRT was the way forward and when people were familiar with the booking system the service would be provided to match demand.


Cllr Jennings, welcomed the DRT service and commented that the three months would not be typical, due to lockdown travel restrictions. She questioned if the off-peak service was responsive and why customers needed to complete such a complex and lengthy form to register. Mr Durrani advised the peak service was bookable and responsive and the off-peak service was scheduled on 1 hour timetable, like the previous number 87 bus as Cabinet had felt it was important to maintain this service. Mr Durrani stated that he would review the form and explore options for non-digital completion an explained that the membership form was a requirement of the way the service was operated.


Cllr Basset advised that community transport could be contact directly by phone and would address any issues.


Cllr Heap suggested this model could be presented to Essex County Council. Cllr Philip detailed that this was a trial and DRT could be a future option for transport.  He acknowledged that the lockdown could impact on the DRT trial but suggested it was better to run the service through the pandemic rather than delay the start.




(1)  To note the commencement of the trial of Demand Responsive Transport (DRT).




Dates of Future Meetings

To note that future meetings of the Select Committee will be held at 7.00pm on 29 March 2021

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It was noted that the next meeting of the Select Committee would be held on 29 March 2021 at 7.00pm.