(Epping Forest District Council) To consider and agree the draft Terms of Reference (attached) for this Committee.
Democratic Services Officer, V Messenger, reported that a request from members had been made for a Terms of Reference for this Committee. However, research had only led to a similar document, the former Local Charter with Parish and Town Councils. This had come into existence in 2006 when the fifth version was agreed and had been part of the Constitution until December 2015. This Local Charter had not been included when the whole of the Constitution was revised in 2016. Therefore, a proposed draft Terms of Reference was drawn up using elements of this former Local Charter for members to discuss and agree.
The Chairman said that this was a proposed draft that members could update so that it could be agreed at the next meeting, but asked if members had any comments.
Councillor C C Pond explained that this had come about because when local councils were looking at items for this Committee meeting, a number affected ECC issues, rather than on responsibilities that came under the District Council. The County Councillors present at the meeting could report back to ECC. However, this was no substitute for formal representation, where a representative could formally report back to the decision-making bodies within ECC, or for a formal mechanism to be in place. Therefore, there was a big gap in what members of this Committee did and how that feedback reached the right people at ECC. What this draft version did not cover was the County’s roles, such as Highways etc, and that this Committee ought to be formally reporting back decisions reached by this Committee through an agreed mechanism, e.g. that the District Council Leader write to the County Council Leader or the Chairman of the North Essex Parking Partnership, whichever was relevant. The Chairman commented if this could possibly be included in the draft under ‘Aims’.
Councillor S Jackman agreed with Councillor C C Pond’s comments. Items at tonight’s meeting were of County Council interest to members of the parishes and asked whether the Committee could invite a member(s) of ECC to the Local Councils’ Liaison Committee to address them directly.
Councillor G Mohindra said that a lot of his Cabinet colleagues did go to the Essex of Local Councils (EALC) meetings and they found it easier to disperse information at that level. ECC Members could be invited but problems had previously been experienced with speakers attending the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor C C Pond said that until recently there was the Locality Board, which was a formal meeting between the Members of Parliament, County Councillors and the District Council’s Cabinet. It had also included one member of the ECC political leadership team who was also the designated officer for Epping Forest. This had been helpful and the parishes had also been able to attend the Locality Board. He was unsure why the Locality Board had ceased to exist, but could this be taken back to the District Leader. Councillor S Kane agreed to apprise the Leader, Councillor C Whitbread, of this.
The Service Director (Planning Services) asked if the Terms of Reference could be kept simple like the draft version and that it did not become over complicated.
It was agreed:
(1) That the draft version of the Terms of Reference be emailed to all local councils for comment; and
(2) That a revised and final draft go forward to the next meeting in March 2020.