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1. This virtual meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to unmute
2. 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.
In the event that technical difficulties interrupt the virtual meeting that cannot be overcome, the Chairman may need to adjourn the meeting”.
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.
To confirm the minutes of the Extraordinary Committee held on 28 January 2021 and any matters arising from the meeting on 7 September 2020 .
The following responses have been given;
(a) Issues Raised By Local Councils, Minute 4(a) Unauthorised traveller encampments.
The Housing & Community Services Portfolio Holder will be in attendance at this meeting.
(b) Any Other Business Minute 9(b) Local Government Reorganisation
There were no further updates at this time.
(c) Digital Buddies, Minute 7.
Response from the Service Manager – Customer Services, S Lewis.
We began the rejuvenation of our Digital Buddy Programme in September 2020 by undertaking a consultation with our existing Digital Buddies to identify barriers they were encountering to providing digital support and to get their ideas on how the programme could be further developed. We used this feedback to design and deliver a refresher workshop to Buddies where discussions were held to explore the work of our individual teams and how we can use our roles to provide digital support to residents. We gave consideration to our residents that are not digitally enabled who may be excluded when services changes are made, such as digitalising an application process, to ensure appropriate support is considered for these residents.
This has created good connections with internal departments who are approaching us when implementing these type of changes, so we can help them to explore the impact on residents who are not yet digitally enabled and look at how we can support these people so they can continue accessing our services. Digital Buddy support has also enabled residents to access a Council health and wellbeing challenge on the fitness App Strava, six residents have so far received help to access this app.
Reaching out to residents
We have set up a dedicated phone line that our residents in Council Sheltered Housing Schemes can contact if they require digital support. This support varies from setting up an email address, online shopping, or contacting friends and family via social media. So far, two residents have contacted us and been supported with mobile device issues.
The Community Culture and Wellbeing team have been visiting residents at their doorsteps in super output areas including Shelley and Paternoster, to identify who requires digital support so we can link them with a Digital Buddy. As a result, four residents have received support to access their family history records, watch online videos via YouTube and use email.
We have been working with our partner charities Digital Unite and Citizens Online to get useful technology guides uploaded to our website. This allows our digitally enabled residents to share information and easy how-to guides with their friends and family who need it.This information is also regularly going out on our Social Media platforms.
We have also been working alongside the Corporate Communications team to identify local and national campaigns that we can use as a platform to promote digital support to residents. The campaigns identified include All Digital Week ... view the full agenda text for item 17.
1. That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 28 January 2021 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record; and
2. The following responses were noted in relation to actions from the meeting on 7 September 2020;
(a)Issues Raised By Local Councils, Minute 4(a) Unauthorised traveller encampments.
The decision was made previously not to join ECTU in 2012 and 2016 due to following rationale:
· The additional cost/benefit of joining compared with EFDC enforcement officers historically already being very quick at responding to unauthorised encampments (UE) on EFDC land.
· Conceding decisions on the level of tolerance of UE to Essex County Council (ECC).
· Difference in decision process between EFDC and ECTU before eviction proceedings commence (ECTU perceived to be marginally more tolerant of UE).
· In 2012, “Cabinet members expressed their main reservation as being the likely attitude of the proposed Unit to urgent responses to unauthorised gypsy and traveller encampments occurring in this District. Past practice has been for this Council to initiate action through the Police or the Courts very quickly in order to satisfy concerns expressed by the local community concerned”. 2012 Minutes of cabinet meeting available at https://eppingforestintranet.moderngov.co.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=36074
· The 2016 Portfolio holder report states “ECTU has informed the Council that the cost of being a member will reduce from the current cost of £7,200 per authority, to £6,500 a year. However, as this would not be offset by savings elsewhere, it would represent an increase in costs to the Council. In the light of this it is recommended that the Council does not seek to join ECTU at this time but would wish to continue sharing information and having regular contact with ECTU”. Full report available at https://eppingforestintranet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=643&MID=8862#AI55470
Following the issue being raised again in the September 2019 by LCLC, the Community Resilience Service again considered membership of ECTU. The current costs are £8500 per annum, this would effectively provide an insurance policy for Parish and Town Councils, as we would continue to deal with any incursions on our and within our current resources
We currently provide advice to the Parish and Town Councils on unauthorised encampments; However, we do not go through the possession order process for them. Both Lea Valley and the Corporation of London deal with incursions on their land by way of byelaws. ECTU do not deal with any incursions on private land, nor do they deal with those who are rough sleepers (e.g. tent dwellers, and not travellers). Essentially, buying into ECTU underwrites any possible incursions by Gypsy & Travellers on Parish and Town Council land, and there is no added benefit to EFDC by signing up to the service.
Buying into ECTU can also limit our current local ability to resolve things quickly – EFDC would effectively hand over all control of dealing with the issue to County. We would still deal with the telephone calls from the members of the public and be liable (as would the Parish and ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
(Epping Forest District Forest) To receive a presentation regarding Rural Affordable Housing and Community Led Housing Opportunities.
“The most successful affordable rural housing developments are initiated and supported by active and committed parish and town councils. As they are often the first to hear the concerns of local people, they can offer an insight into the housing needs of the local community and take the first steps to tackle the housing problem. This presentation hopes to provide inspiration, alongside a refresher, on these opportunities and how you might initiate and find support for the process”.
The Committee received a presentation from James Shutt, EFDC Senior Housing Development Officer and external partners Laura Atkinson, Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) Rural Housing Enabler & Community Led Housing Advisor, Sophie Robinson and Isobel Wright from Hastoe Group on the Rural Affordable Housing and Community Led Housing Opportunities. (attached)
The Committee enquired how ‘rural’ was defined, as there were many hamlets within urban areas of the District. Mr Shutt advised that the main criteria was a settlement of less than 3000 people. It was also noted that these opportunities would still have to be considered against the Council’s planning criteria and Local Plan.
It was mentioned that previous developments within the District had relied on farmers releasing land for these opportunities and whether this was still the case. Ms Wright advised that yes there were opportunities although a lot of considerations had changed.
The Committee asked what was meant by 80% ownership and legal protection for the housing developed in these schemes. Ms Wright advised that the properties could have up to an 80% ownership, which would mean that future purchases would have to fit the criteria of the legal agreement, to be able to purchase the property. Ms Muonweokwu-Egbunike advised that the housing association would work with the owner to assist with the sale of the property, to ensure the criteria was met and they were supported through the process.
Issues Raised by Local Councils
To discuss the following matters raised by the local councils:
(a) Epping Forest District Council Local Plan – Progress report
(b) Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy – To advise and clarify on ‘Clean Air Zone’;
(c) Update on the Elections Planning Process for the Elections being held 6 May 2021; and
(d) Epping Forest District Council training Schedule and prospectus for 2021/22.
Note: The Members Trainings Programme for 2021/22 has been arranged although officers had advised that the offer to Parish and Town Councils would be dependent on Covid Restrictions and how the training would be provided.
(a) Epping Forest District Council Local Plan
The Service Director (Planning Services) Mr N Richardson advised that following the hearing sessions for the Independent Examination of the Local Plan, the Inspector had released her advice on 2 August 2019, which set out a number of changes to the Plan which were required to remedy issues of soundness in the form of Main Modifications (MMs).
In accordance with the high level programme in the Council’s response to the Inspector, dated 24 April 2020, the Planning team had worked hard to ensure that the final tranche of Main Modifications (MMs) were submitted to the Inspector in September with a view to consultation on the MMs as soon as possible thereafter.
However, the Inspector wrote to the Council on 2 October 2020 (ED115) to advise that due to other work commitments during October and November it was unlikely that she would be able to provide a full response immediately. The Inspector provided an update on progress on 8 February 2021 (ED118) advising that the volume and complexity of the documentation meant that progress of finalising the MM schedule was taking some time and the current lockdown measures had unfortunately prolonged it. It was envisaged that the Local Plan would be adopted this year but firstly the MM’s would need to go out to consultation.
(b) Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy
The Service Director (Planning Services) advised following a report to Cabinet on 20 July 2020 and Council on 8 February 2021, the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy (APMS), as adopted, would enable the Council to properly approve any planning application that could demonstrate no adverse effect on Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation.
At the meeting of Council on 8 February 2021 the Council agreed that the Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainability would form a cross party Portfolio Holder Advisory Group to support the delivery of the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy and provide oversight of the work of the Technical Stakeholder Group. This could include working with officers to consider where further initiatives had not been identified in the APMS and could be brought forward to advance Air Quality Improvements with the objective of removing the need to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ). Alongside the acceleration and enhancement of mitigation measures, the Portfolio Holder Advisory Group would provide democratic oversight of the development of any CAZ scheme prior to its consideration through the Council’s formal decision-making processes and public consultation, in the event that future air quality monitoring and modelling continued to demonstrate that even after the acceleration and enhancement mitigation measures, a CAZ was required.
The Committee enquired who had been appointed to the Portfolio Holder Group. The Service Director (Planning Services) advised that any queries could be raised with the appropriate Ward members and who could contact the relevant members on this Group.
(c) Update on the Elections Planning Process for the Elections being held 6 May 2021
The Service Director ... view the full minutes text for item 19.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
It was noted that there no other business raised.
Dates of Future Meetings
To note that subject to approval by Council on 29 April 2021, the next meetings of the Committee will be held on;
Monday 27 September 2021; and
Monday 14 March 2022.
The Committee noted that the dates for the next municipal year were as follows;
Monday 27 September 2021; and
Monday 14 March 2021.