That the Committee review the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the overview and scrutiny work programme and the overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.
Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Constitution requires that the Committee review the Executive’s programme of Key Decisions (the Cabinet Forward Plan) at each meeting, to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the overview and scrutiny work programme and to provide an opportunity for the overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.
The Constitution (Article 14 (Decision Making)) defines a Key Decision as an executive decision which:
(a) involves expenditure or savings of £250,000 or above which are currently within budget and policy;
(b) involves expenditure or savings of £100,000 or above which are NOT currently within budget and policy;
(c) is likely to be significant in terms of its effect on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more wards;
(d) raises new issues of policy;
(e) increases financial commitments (i.e. revenue and/or capital) in future years over and above existing budgetary approval;
(f) comprises and includes the publication of draft or final schemes which may require, either directly or in relation to objections to, the approval of a Government Minister; or
(g) involves the promotion of local legislation.
Wherever possible, Portfolio Holders will attend the Committee to present forthcoming key decisions, to answer questions on the forward plan and to indicate where appropriate work could be carried out by overview and scrutiny on behalf of the Cabinet.
The Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions is attached as an appendix to this report.
The Democratic Services Manager presented the Executive’s current Programme of Key Decisions for the Committee to consider.
The Democratic Services Manager informed the Committee that the standard report for this item had been revised to reflect the requirements of the Constitution, and the definition of a Key Decision from Article 14 of the Constitution had also been included for the benefit of the Committee.
Councillor Murray urged the Leader of Council to include all the Epping District Councillors for the St John’s Road Development, to encourage good decision making. The Leader stated that a Working Group had been appointed for the St John’s Road Project, which included both Town and District Councillors, as well as members of the Cabinet. The Leader acknowledged that there were no members of the Liberal Democrat group on the Working Group, but there would be regular progress reports on the project submitted to the Cabinet and the Council.
Councillor Murray responded that it would be useful to have the whole range of opinions on the Working Group, and opined that there had been problems caused in Loughton by not having Councillors from the Loughton Residents Association on Working Groups.
Contract & Technical Services Portfolio
Councillor Jennings enquired as to whether the Vere Road Car Park item should be listed, as it was recorded as not being a Key Decision? The Leader replied that he would find out the status of this item and report back to the Councillor. Councillor Murray requested that local District Council Members be included, and their views considered for the Vere Road Car Park item.
Housing & Property Services Portfolio
Councillor Murray thanked the new Portfolio Holder for replying this morning to the important questions concerning the Fire Safety Policy that the Councillor had raised in respect of the Oakwood Hill Estate. Councillor Murray also felt that it was imperative that there was some Scrutiny involvement in the Options Appraisal for the Future Delivery of the Council’s Responsive Repairs Service, and the Service Company and Development Company items, as both items marked a significant change of direction for the Council. The Leader reassured the Committee that Scrutiny involvement in the Service Company and Development Company in particular, was being considered as this was a momentous change for the Council.
The Housing & Property Services Portfolio Holder confirmed that the new Action Plan for the Housing Strategy 2018 was currently out for consultation.
Councillor Knight enquired about the item regarding the development potential of the Council’s Sheltered Housing Assets, and pointed out that it would be the Stronger Communities Select Committee which would be reporting on this item, not the Communities Select Committee as listed. The Portfolio Holder explained that the Council needed to have a discussion on the future of its sheltered housing assets, looking at different options, and the Select Committee would be a good place to start this discussion. Councillor Knight stated that the Select Committee was informed a year ago that there was a dire need for sheltered housing within the District, but the Portfolio Holder reassured the Committee that the Council was looking at how to best utilise its sheltered housing assets as part of the Council’s provision of affordable housing, not developing and selling off the current assets. Councillor J H Whitehouse requested that the report on Sheltered Housing should contain evidence on the current situation when it was considered by the Stronger Communities Select Committee.
The Service Director for Communities & Partnerships informed the Committee that the Council’s current Sheltered Housing accommodation was mainly bedsits and not fit for purpose. The Council needed to make its sheltered housing more attractive and relevant for residents. Councillor Wixley requested that there should be scope for residents to move to more independent accommodation if they found that they had entered sheltered housing too early. The Leader elucidated that there were different levels of sheltered housing available, and it would depend on the individual’s needs. The review was intended to ensure that the Council’s stock of sheltered housing was relevant for residents.
The Democratic Services Manager explained that the item for the District Electoral Review referred to a boundary review, which would examine the ward boundaries, and was an objective for the current year in the Corporate Plan. However, the Leader added that the District Electoral Review had been removed from the Corporate Plan until the Local Plan process was complete, and therefore this item should not have been listed on the Key Decision List.
(1) That the Executive Programme of Key Decisions be noted; and
(2) That no appropriate matters were identified for addition to the Overview & Scrutiny Work Programme and overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken, save for the involvement of the Stronger Communities Select Committee in the review of the Council’s Sheltered Housing Assets.