(Chairman/Lead Officer) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee has agreed the Terms of Reference and the previous years work programme for this Select Committee. Members are invited at each meeting to review both documents and to consider the work programme for 2021/22
The Chairman, asked members to consider the terms of reference and work programme. He suggested that the terms of reference were generic and that a definition of what was included in Place would be beneficial. He detailed the definition of Stronger Place from the 2018 Corporate Plan:
Delivering effective core services that people want:
· Keeping the district clean and green
· Improving the district housing offer
A district with planned development:
· Planning development priorities
· Ensuring infrastructure supports growth
An environment where new and existing businesses thrive:
· Supporting business enterprise and attracting investment
· People develop skills to maximise their employment potential
· Promoting retail, tourism and the visitor economy
He advised that there would be discussion with the Chairmen of the other Select Committees and felt that it was important to get input from Members of the Committee and asked for comments, suggestions or proposals for areas that should be scrutinised either from the floor or in writing after the meeting.
Cllr Hadley suggested that there was some overlap between Stronger Communities and Stronger Place, and suggested that Place related to infrastructure and physical things. He suggested a number of areas that should fall in the remit of the committee: the implementation plan after the adoption of the Local Plan; Public Transport within the scope of the district; electric scooters, flooding; tree preservation, climate change and the clean air strategy.
Cllr Whitehouse reminded the Committee that she had raised the lack of correlation of the Scrutiny Panels to the corporate objective at Overview and Scrutiny Committee. She suggested that all members should have the opportunity to put forward areas for scrutiny, this process had been hindered as members did not know what scrutiny was covering and scrutiny had become officer led. She asked which Portfolio Holders and which services were aligned to each Committee. Mr Dawe (Chief Operating Officer) responded that Cllr Avey, Environment and Technical Portfolio covered waste, parking, sustainable drainage; Cllr Patel, Community and Regulatory, covered North Weald, and the employment land and the Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) and countryside development was expected to be scrutinised; Cllr H Whitbread, Housing , the physical build of the programme, with improvements and digital. Cllr Philip, Finance, covered the Town Centre Plans which centred on economic activity, digital and other infrastructure issues; and Cllr Bedford, Planning and Sustainability, covered planning, climate change and sustainable travel, these all aligned with Stronger Place. He advised that The Climate Change Strategy and North Weald Master Plan consultation would take place in autumn if the Committee wanted to consider inclusion in the work programme.
Cllr Whitehouse commented that there were many interesting ideas, but only three meetings per year. She suggested small focussed task and finish groups for half or single day sessions for focused areas of scrutiny.
Cllr Bassett suggested that there could be alignment between The Utilities 5 year plans and the Council’s development plan, and questioned where healthcare, the new junction 7a on the M11 and Qualis should be scrutinised due to their cross cutting nature.
Cllr Balcombe suggested that there should be liaison between the Select Committees for joint working. Cllr Lion responded that he hoped areas of overlap would be address at the meeting of the Joint Chairs of the Select Committees.
Cllr Lion suggested that broadband development, the climate emergency, transport and electric charging points that could be added to the programme. He also drew attention to the potential impact that closure of civic amenity sites to commercial operators by Essex County Council may have increased fly tips and how total impact of decisions could be considered.
Cllr Heap supported the area proposed by Cllr Hadley and requested more scrutiny on how planning and enforcement operated. Nigel Richardson advised that KPI could be presented at future meetings. Cllr Share-Bernia asked if there could be something presented in a pictorial form to show overlapping responsibilities.
Nick Dawe suggested a spatial and sequenced overview which would set out where and when things are due to happen could be provided with a brief paper on KPI to provide an overview of information to allow members to prioritise and focus on of areas of interest.
Cllr Heap asked if meeting could go back to zoom, Nick Dawe advised that as a response to national legislation and the removal of emergency powers members had to be present at decision making meetings, this was being continually reviewed.
Cllr Lion, thanked everyone for their participants, suggestions and ideas.
Cllr Lion stated that to be able to effectively operate a scrutiny function, written reports were required to be submitted so members of the Committee could consider issues and questions before the meeting.
It was proposed that ideas should be submitted by 6th July to be considered by the Chairman.
The Committee would review the terms of reference and develop a Members led work programme