Agenda item

Reports from the Leader, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Members of the Cabinet

To receive reports from the Leader, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and members of the Cabinet on matters falling within their area of responsibility:


(a)         Report of the Leader;

(b)         Report of the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee;

(c)         Report of Community Safety and Transport Portfolio Holder;

(d)         Report of Environment Portfolio Holder;

(e)     Report of Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder;

(f)          Report of Housing Portfolio Holder;

(g)        Report of Legal and Estates Portfolio Holder;

(h)        Report of Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder;

(i)          Report of Performance Management Portfolio Holder.


The Council received written reports from the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Community Safety and Transport Portfolio Holder, the Environment Portfolio Holder, the Housing Portfolio Holder, the Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder and the Performance Management Portfolio Holder.


The Chairman invited the Leader, the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Members of the Cabinet to provide an oral report or an oral update of their written reports.


(a)        Leader of the Council


Councillor Mrs Collins announced that together with Councillor Ms Stavrou she had interviewed staff nominated for staff awards and had been impressed with the hard and innovative of work demonstrated.  A lunch was to be held for the nominated officers, their Directors and appropriate Portfolio Holders on 23 February 2010 at which the winners would be announced.  A formal presentation of awards to the winners would take place at the Civic Awards Dinner on 18 March 2010. 


The Leader advised that she had attended a dinner at Harlow Civic Centre to celebrate the liaison been Harlow College and Anglia Ruskin University which would provide higher education in the town from September 2010.


Councillor Mrs Collins reported that two meetings had been held regarding the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document.  Officers had been summoned to Go East to meet senior civil servants and had been questioned on the need for a meeting with a Minister and on the Council’s approach to the Direction to make suitable provision for Gypsies and Travellers in the District.  She advised that she was now waiting to hear whether the Minister would agree to meet Council members and officers.  The Leader reported that if a meeting was to be held it would be with Shahid Malik, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and not the Minister of Housing and Planning.  The Council’s representatives at a meeting would be herself, Councillor Mrs A Grigg, the Director of Planning and Economic Development and the Assistant Director of Planning (Policy and Conservation).  Members noted that Eleanor Laing M.P. and Bill Rammell M.P. had also expressed a wish to be present at any meeting. 


The Leader advised that following a meeting with Counsel a number of bullet points had been identified for discussion with the Minister and officers had produced additional graphs as suggested at the meeting with Go East officials showing the Council’s performance in relation to authorities in the Eastern Region as opposed to authorities only in Essex.  She explained that the graphs showed the Epping Forest District as being the fifth highest provider of sites in the Eastern Region and emphasised the inconsistent approach which had been taken by central government in only making Directions in relation to Epping Forest District, Brentwood Borough and South Cambridgeshire District.  She pointed out that the graphs also showed that only an additional 10 to 15 pitches needed to be found by the end of 2011 in order to meet the required number of tolerated sites.  She suggested that this could be achieved through the normal planning process and that there was therefore no justification in maintaining the Direction.  However, Counsel had advised that whilst the Minister might be persuaded to suspend the Direction he was unlikely to revoke it at this stage.


The Leader reminded members that the Council was investing in the future of young people.  Working across Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford the Local Strategic Partnerships had succeeded with 30 partners in a bid of just over £1,000,000 to bring career opportunities to young unemployed people in the three districts from the Government’s Future Jobs Fund.  The Council was already employing some of these young people and was at interview stage with others.  She advised that there were only two such schemes running in the East of England and that if the scheme in West Essex could be seen as successful there was a possibility of attracting additional Government funds.


(b)       Environment Portfolio Holder


Councillor Mrs M Sartin confirmed that she would be attending the launch of the campaign against fast food litter with Keep Britain Tidy on 26 February 2010, following which she would provide members with more information.

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