Agenda and minutes

Constitution Working Group
Thursday, 25th January, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping. View directions

Contact: V. Messenger Tel: (01992) 564243  Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

7.

Substitute Members

(Director of Governance) To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

Minutes:

It was reported that Councillor G Chambers was substituting for Councillor S Kane and Councillor G Shiell was substituting for Councillor L Hughes.

8.

Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Working Group held on 28 September 2017.

Minutes:

            RESOLVED:

 

That the notes of the last meeting of the Working Group held on 28 September 2017 be agreed as a correct record.

9.

Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 45 KB

(Director of Governance)

 

(a)    To note the Terms of Reference (resolved by Council on 1 November 2017) attached; and

 

(b)    To consider the current Work Programme attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that there were two outstanding items on the Work Programme:

 

(i)      Review of the Audit and Governance and Standards Committees – scheduled for 20 February 2018, as the Working Group had been requested by members to review this after two years.

 

(ii)     Gifts and hospitality – to be confirmed, as it was unlikely that advice would be ready in time to report at the next meeting.

10.

Procurement Rules pdf icon PDF 103 KB

(Director of Communities) To consider the report on the Procurement Rules, adopted by Council in 2016, which details the review undertaken by officers after one year’s operation and the Appendix, which identifies the proposed changes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Communities, A Hall, reported on the outcome of the 12-month review of the Council’s Procurement Rules. The new set of Procurement Rules, which replaced the Council’s former Contract of Standing Orders, was adopted by the Council in April 2016. A review had been carried out after a year’s operation in accordance with good practice by the Procurement Rules Working Party (PRWP). Its recommendations were considered by the Corporate Governance Group, who acknowledged overall that the introduction of the new Procurement Rules had been very successful. The Working Party’s review had identified a few minor changes, which were summarised in the report circulated with the agenda.

 

Councillor C C Pond asked about a Spending Control Officer (SCO), to which A Hall replied that this was a generic term. The Council employed many SCOs and the term referred to a person who was responsible for ensuring the compliance of the Procurement Rules for a specific section / area.

 

Councillor M Sartin queried the Table of Tendering Requirements for Nos. of Tenders, Returns and Openings, that a minor correction to the last two columns of the Contract Category 5, be made to read, “As 1-4 above” and not “As 1-5 above”, which was noted.

 

Agreed:

 

(1)       That the outcome of the 12-month review of the Council’s Procurement Rules by the PRWP be noted;

 

(2)       That the proposed new Procurement Rules, shown as track changes in the Appendix to these notes with the minor correction above, be submitted to Council for adoption at the meeting on 22 February 2018; and

 

(3)       That no changes be made to the Total Contract Values thresholds set out in Appendix 1 of the Procurement Rules.

11.

Constitution - Revisions & Amendments

(Director of Governance) An updated version of the Constitution was published on 3 January 2018, to include the minor change to the wording of the Officer Employment Rules agreed by the Council at its meeting on 21 December 2017.

 

No revisions or amendments have been made to the Constitution since the previous meeting of the Working Group, pursuant to the authority delegated to the Director of Governance. The Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2018/19, which was also agreed by the Council on 21 December 2017, will be included in a future update of the Constitution.

Minutes:

It was noted that an updated version of the Constitution was published on 3 January 2018 to include the minor change to the wording of the Officer Employment Rules (No 33, Part 4), which had been agreed by Council on 21 December 2017.

 

Although no changes had been made to the Constitution since the previous meeting of the Working Group, pursuant to the authority delegated to the Director of Governance, the Members’ Allowance Scheme for 2018/19 (No 39, Part 6), which had been agreed by Council on 21 December 2017, would be included in a future update of the Constitution as it would not take effect until May 2018.

12.

Planning Process Review 2017/18 - Delegation, Objections and Committee Systems pdf icon PDF 244 KB

(Assistant Director of Governance) To consider the report attached.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Governance advised that the agenda report was a discussion document that would be the beginning of a review process and require consultation with other parties. The Council had adopted the new Corporate Plan, in which a commitment had been given to undertake a review of its Governance arrangements. The governance review would look at the structure of the Council’s Cabinet and committees to increase efficiency and decision making.

 

At the last meeting in September 2017, members had agreed that the focus of this meeting would be to consider:

 

(i)      Officer delegations;

 

(ii)     How objections are considered and resolved;

 

(iii)    How objections trigger a member review;

 

(iv)   Committee systems for members considering planning applications; and

 

(v)    Style of officer reports.

 

Local Plan Update

 

The Interim Assistant Director of Planning Policy provided a brief update on the current status of the new Local Plan (LP). Importantly, there was likely to be a surge in planning applications after the adoption of the LP to meet the Council’s projected housing target to cover the period up to 2033. This was of course subject to the LP having been independently examined and finally approved by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. A report to Cabinet on 7 December 2017 had agreed to an Implementation Team to ensure the effective delivery of the required growth in housing. A key consideration of the review was the need to match available staffing resources to ensure that they would be used in the most effective way.

 

The submission version (Regulation 19) consultation of the LP would close on 29 January 2018. Five hundred representations had so far been received but many more were expected. A large number of sites were coming forward. On the larger ones, there were nine masterplan sites and two concept areas. There would be a process to manage the masterplans and applications for the larger developments, with a requirement to commit resources to take the masterplans forward. Members would want to be involved in this process which would include presentations during the early stages from the masterplan applicants. This would give applicants the opportunity to go away and check that their masterplans were more to what members would prefer, which would result in higher quality schemes. A panel of seventeen professionals had been set up to give critical advice to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to improve the quality of the applications coming before members, and to ensure members would have more engagement at meetings.

 

Councillor C C Pond asked if it was likely during the passage of the LP through the examination process that additional sites might become available for masterplanning. The Interim Assistant Director of Planning Policy replied that the Inspector might require additional sites only if he/she was concerned that the housing quantity could not be met. Councillor J Philip added that the Council progressed masterplanning in June 2017. If there were other sites then these could be considered, they did not have to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Date of Next Meeting

To note that the next meeting of the Constitution Working Group will be held on 20 February 2018 at 7pm.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Constitution Working Group would be held on 20 February 2018 at 7.00pm.

 

The Assistant Director of Governance advised members that it was quite likely extra meetings might be required. This could include one before the end of this municipal year and others in the next municipal year, as only two Constitution Working Group meetings had been scheduled for 2018/19.