Agenda and minutes

Stronger Council Select Committee
Tuesday, 9th July, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: R Perrin Tel: 01992 564532  Email:


No. Item


Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking. The Chairman will read the following announcement:


“The Chairman 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).


If you are seated in the lower public seating area it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast.


This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if you wish to avoid this you should move to the upper public gallery.”

Additional documents:


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.


Subsitute Members (Council Minute 39 - 23.7.02)

To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

Additional documents:


There were no substitute members for the meeting.


Declaration of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

Additional documents:


There were no declarations of interest made pursuant to the Member’s Code of Conduct.


Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 54 KB

(Chairman/Lead Officer) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee has agreed the terms of reference and work programme for the select committee. Members are invited at each meeting to review both documents. 

Additional documents:


The Chairman, Councillor P Bolton advised that the Terms of Reference and work programme for the Select Committee had been agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 16 April 2019.


(a)          Terms of Reference


The Committee were informed that the Terms of Reference set out the core areas of responsibility and role of the Stronger Council Select Committee.


The Committee noted the Terms of Reference.


(b)          Work Programme


The Committee were advised that following each meeting, the work programme would be updated to reflect the Committee’s progress and evolving issues. Currently, items on the work programme had been assigned meeting dates for when the Committee would consider these items.


The Committee were concerned that they didn’t appear to have a clear understanding of their role and what they were required to scrutinise, as the Committee’s remit seem very vast. Furthermore, the People Strategy and Accommodation Project affected many elements of the Council services, which were also overlapped by Stronger Places and Stronger Communities Select Committee. The Chairman advised that this  Committee’s focus would be to monitor the Corporate Plan Action Plan and Key Performance Indicators and to scrutinise these where appropriate.


The Customer Services Portfolio Holder stated that the select committees were all in their infancy and perhaps the work programmes should be discussed at the next  Overview and Scrutiny Committee, to see whether members were happy with the allocation of responsibilities. The Committee concurred with this suggestion.


The Chairman advised that there was an opportunity for the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of each Select Committee to discuss these issues at their joint meeting on 12 September 2019.


The Community and Partnerships Services Portfolio Holder commented that the Task and Finish Panel had agreed to reduce the select committees from four to three, on the basis that the work programmes would be more fairly distributed and that the select committees were based on the Council’s three Corporate Priorities rather than service areas. 


The Committee noted the work programme and agreed for the work programmes to be discussed at the joint meeting of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny on 12 September 2019.


Review of Polling Districts, Polling Places & Polling Stations 2019 pdf icon PDF 172 KB

To consider the attached report.


Additional documents:


In attendance for this item was the Democratic Services Manager, S Tautz and Senior Electoral Services Officer, W MacLeod.


The Democratic Services Manager reported that the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 introduced a change to the timing of compulsory reviews of UK Parliamentary polling districts and polling places, which had to be completed every five years. The current review of the parliamentary polling districts and polling places within the Epping Forest District commenced on 18 February 2019 and was required to be completed by 31 January 2020.


The Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed at its meeting on 18 December 2018, that the appropriate select committee would directly make recommendations to Council, to ensure that the review was completed on time, following the local elections in May 2019 and prior to the commencement of the next Electoral Register canvass in August 2019.


The notice of a review together with details of the existing polling districts, polling places and polling stations was given on 18 February 2019, which ran until 1 April 2019. Submissions from the (Acting) Returning Officers of the UK Parliamentary constituencies in the district, electors and other interested persons and bodies were invited to comment. A Number of responses were received from the (Acting) Returning Officer - Epping Forest Constituency, the (Acting), Returning Officer – Harlow Constituency, various District Councillors, Epping Town Council and Stanford Rivers Parish Council.


The proposals that had been determined viable by the Electoral Registration Officer were that;


·         Within the Epping Forest Parliamentary Constituency, the transfer of:


house numbers 1-25 in Rayfield, Epping from polling district AN to polling district AO, resulting in the polling station for these electors being the Epping Town Council Offices in St. John’s Road, rather than the Epping United Reformed Church in Lindsey Street; and


house numbers 2-38 in Coopersale Street, Epping from polling district AK to polling district AL, resulting in the polling station for these electors being the Coopersale Social Institute, rather than the Allnutts Institute (now the Scout Hut, Flux’s Lane, Epping).


·         That no changes had been identified in relation to polling places;


·         That each of the proposed polling stations were fully accessible;


·         That the revised register would be published on 1 December 2019, following the completion of the annual canvass;


·         That electors affected by the review would be made aware of changes to the places where they voted;


·         That there were no proposals for changes to existing polling districts, polling places and polling stations arising from consideration of the review, in either the Brentwood and Ongar or Harlow Parliamentary Constituencies.


The Committee were asked to recommend the proposals of the review to Council on 30 July 2019.


Councillor R Brookes thanked officers for the detailed reported and endorsed the comments of Councillor S Murray for the polling district AZ Whitebridge to revert to Whitebridge Junior School, Greensted Road, as the parking and accessibility to this polling station was much better than the combined polling station at St Michaels and All Angels Church Hall, Roding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Accommodation Project pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:


The Interim Strategic Director, S Jevans updated the Committee on the progress of the Accommodation Project which included four workstreams;


·         Construction of a new building;

·         Sale of land at the back of the Civic Offices;

·         Refurbishment of the Civic Offices; and

·         Recruitment of partners/tenants for the Civic Offices.


The Interim Strategic Director advised that the construction of a new building would form part of a development brief and Masterplan exercise for the North Weald Airfield site. It would incorporate the most appropriate uses, provide an indicative layout and analysis of the envisaged economic, employment and social implication and include a traffic impact assessment. In addition to this, options for new office space were also being explored by the Assets Team.


Regarding the sale of the land at the back of the Civic Offices, valuation work had been completed and the timetable for this now depended on the decanting and alternative options for EFDC accommodation. The next steps required would include modelling options and planning requirements.


The refurbishment of the Civic Offices had progressed following a positive meeting with Historic England. The designs would include a new café provision, the letting of the first floor, council chamber refurbishments and open planned office space. 


Furthermore, work had commenced on selecting an independent commercial agent who would provide marketing advice for potential partners/tenants for the Civic Offices. This would be progressed once it was understood from Historic England and Bissett Adams to what extent, alterations could be made.


Councillor S Rackham enquired whether the Airfield usage would remain and whether the infrastructure had been considered. The Interim Strategic Director advised that the Airfield usage would remain and the infrastructure would be consider as part of the Masterplan, where a travel plan would be included.


Councillor J M Whitehouse asked whether the project manager for the refurbishment of the Civic Offices had been recruited internally and whether an updated valuation for the sale of the land to the rear of the Civic Offices was available. The Interim Strategic Manager advised that the project manager had been recruited externally and she would have to come back to him with the current valuation.


Councillor R Bassett enquired whether members would be able to view the proposed plans for the Civic Offices and future new offices. The Interim Strategic Manager advised that plans would be made available for members in the Members Room.


The Community and Partnerships Portfolio Holder advised that the Stronger Communities Select Committee had received a detailed presentation regarding North Weald Airfield at their first meeting, which may benefit this Committee.


The Customer Services Portfolio Holder asked about timescales. The Interim Strategic Manager advised that she envisaged the preliminarily work to be completed by December 2019.


The Committee were concerned that they were required to have an overall understanding across the Council’s service areas and scrutinise the performance, but they did not appear to be given all the information. The Interim Strategic Manager advised that the report was intended to give a brief update  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


People Strategy pdf icon PDF 47 KB

To receive a presentation from P Maginnis Service Director (Business Service).

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The Business Services Director, P Maginnis gave an overview on the People Strategy. The main objectives were for the Council to have the right people, in the right places with the right skills, being paid competitive salaries.


The strategy was based on five workstreams which were leadership capacity; developing the organisation for the future; skills of the workforce; resourcing the organisation and pay and benefits of the Council.


Recently the Council has undergone a management restructuring process, to improve decision making and reduce the management spine, along with a common operation model separating business support from technical skills. This brought together administrations support across the Council into one area. The restructuring process for Management Levels 1-4 had now been completed.  


Councillor S Rackham asked whether the Local Government Association(LGA) study had revealed that the Council was top heavy in management; whether redundancies had occurred; how the Council recruited staff; and whether any interim staff were currently employed. The Business Services Director advised that the amount of management roles within the organisation had been identified by the LGA study and that it effected the speed and process of decision making. Regarding compulsory redundancies there had not been any, although there had been a combination of voluntary redundancies and staff leaving. There were also interim staff that had been employed, to allow the Council to adapt and change to future requirements.


The Community and Partnership Services Portfolio Holder asked how the business support team would work across the various sites and whether the Council had met  the relevant targets for employing staff with disabilities. The Business Services Director advised that the business support teams were not currently based together and going forward they would be using ICT and digital means to improve the services and therefore not requiring to be based in one place. Regarding the disability figures, she would have to come back to him.


Councillor R Bassett asked when members would receive an updated structure of the Council and if technical people would be managed by a technical manger. The Business Service Director advised that an update management structure would be published shortly in the members bulletin. The new Team Manager roles would be based mainly on the management experience but with the expectations that they had the relevant experience or technical knowledge to deal with their teams.


Councillor J M Whitehouse enquired about the job evaluations process; what were the currently vacancies broken down into deliberately held jobs and ones that were out for advertisement; and which service area’s required immediate attention. The Business Services Director advised that the job evaluation process was being altered to be based on job families and the organisation requirements rather than an individual  requesting an evaluation, although the right appeal would remain. She was unable to give up to date  figures on the vacancies but would come back to him. Furthermore, the service areas that required immediate resources, interim staff had been employed enabling the Council to consider the future needs rather than  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Corporate Plan Action Plan Year 2 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:


The Community and Partnerships Services Director, J Chandler advised that Corporate Plan Action Plan provided a mechanism for reporting the Council’s Key Performance Indicators and Programme of Works to members. It highlighted the Council’s overall performance against the Corporate Objectives on a quarterly basis.


The Year 2 reported had been streamlined to enable an improved focus and the plan was a working document and officers would report on an exception basis. 


The Community and Partnerships Service Director updated members as follows;


1.            Engaging with the changing needs of our customers –


Increased Customer Satisfaction – The measure would be reported quarterly going forward. The first quarter was 73.4% which had exceeded the overall target for the year, so the overall target had now been increased to 75%.


Improved Customer First Contact Resolution – The green tick represented that the overall target would be achieved as the first quarter had a value of 37.41% with the overall target being 45%.


4.         Safeguarding & Supporting People in Vulnerable Situations –


It was noted that the KPI related to customer satisfaction of Homesafe and Sanctuary schemes, relates to both the number of survey returns as well as satisfaction with service provided.


5.         Keeping the District Safe -


Community Safety Hub Added Value – To correct a typo from ‘disposables’ to ‘disposals’. The comments would also be updated to confirm that the two self generated actions had been completed and only two externally generated tasks were outstanding and this was due to ongoing case investigations with Essex Police.


Councillor R Bassett commented that the Committee had to review the value of the additional funding for Police Officers in Epping Forest, therefore could the measure  be  broken down to provide more information. The Community and Partnership Services  Director advised that the Stronger Communities Select Committee had recently received a presentation from the Council’s Police Sergeant and Community Safety Officer and that this information could fed into the report.


ACTION: The Committee requested that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee discusses the allocations of responsibilities to each Select Committee, if  the Stronger Council Select Committee had to scrutinise the overall performance.


10. Planning Development Priorities & 11. Ensuring Infrastructure Supports Growth -


The RAG rating was currently showing amber, although the Council expected to receive interim findings from the Inspector’s Report for the Local Plan, shortly and this would be updated accordingly.


13. People Develop Skills to Maximise their Potential


The RAG rating was showing as amber although this was being addressed by the draft Economic Strategy ‘Nurturing Growth’ and required updating.


17. Efficient Use of Our Finance Resources, Buildings & Assets -The Committee asked for more information on the target and whether it was achievable. The Interim Strategic Director, N Dawe advised that the Council was currently reviewing cost improvements, achievements and the use of finances and the preliminary work would be available by the end of July  2019. This would provide a clearer picture for the financial targets and the budget and associated papers.


18. Working with Commercial  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Dates of Future Meetings

To note the next meeting date of this Committee will be held on;


8 October 2019;

14 January 2020; and

14 April 2020.

Additional documents:


The Committee noted the next meeting would be held on 8 October 2019.