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.
(Democratic & Electoral Services Manager) Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Constitution requires that the Committee review the Executive’s programme of Key Decisions (the Cabinet Forward Plan as was) 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 the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny function on behalf of the Cabinet.
The Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions is attached as an Appendix to this report.
The Committee considered the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions.
Leader of the Council
When questioned about the proposed land sale of the Pyrles Land Nursery site in Loughton, G Blakemore undertook to issue a full written response to the Committee in the days following the meeting.
Cllr C Whitbread assured the Committee that public consultation and member engagement on proposals for the Epping development sites would be brought forward shortly.
Planning & Sustainability
Cllr N Bedford explained to the Committee that there was currently an issue with the access road for the Latton Priory Masterplan and that, as the Masterplan was part of the Harlow & Gilston Garden Town project, the Healthy Town framework also applied to the Latton Priory development.
In respect of the Mitigation Strategy for the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation, Cllr N Bedford informed the Committee that the Strategy was in the process of being developed, and high level talks had taken place with the District’s three Members of Parliament to make them aware of the ongoing issues with Natural England.
Finance & Economic Development
Cllr J Philip explained that work on the Council budget for next year was beginning, but the Council would not need to enact an emergency budget in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. This process would involve revising the Medium Term Financial Strategy, however, the exact timing had not been decided upon. It was intended to have the accounts for 2019/20 signed off by the end of October 2020.
Environmental & Technical Services
Cllr S Murray highlighted the Strategic Review of Waste Management item and commented that as this was one of the Council’s key services then the review should have full member involvement and a public consultation if any significant changes were proposed.
Cllr D Wixley enquired if any changes were required to the Council’s Procurement Strategy now that the United Kingdom had left the European Union? Cllr C Whitbread reassured the Committee that as the majority of the European Union laws were enshrined in British Law, considerable changes to the Strategy were not expected.
Cllr D Plummer asked if the Council had formally made any representations to the County Council to re-open the Recycling Centre at Waltham Abbey? Cllr C Whitbread stated that he believed social distancing was the reason why the Centre had not yet re-opened.
Housing & Community
Cllr D Wixley commented that, as the policy of the County Council was to keep people in their own homes for as long as possible, should more single-storey properties be considered as part of the Council Housebuilding Programme? Cllr H Whitbread informed the Committee that a full update would be presented to the Stronger Place Select Committee in July, but reassured that Councillor that the suggestion would be considered.
Cllr D Sunger asked if the bidders for the External Maintenance Repairs and Redecoration Programme contract had considered social distancing as some of the Council’s tenants would still be shielding at home. Cllr H Whitbread undertook to provide a fuller response to the Committee but highlighted that Housing Officers had been fully socially distanced during the pandemic.
Commercial & Regulatory Services
G Blakemore drew the Committee’s attention to a typographical error, as the entry for Qualis should have read “The consideration of the business case for the transfer of Grounds Maintenance … “. It was emphasised that the aim was to protect the Council’s discretionary services. Cllr S Murray highlighted that the impact on local Town and Parish Councils would need to be considered if the Grounds Maintenance function was transferred to Qualis.
(1) That the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions be noted.