To consider the New Local Plan Governance Arrangements report.
a) approve the proposed Local Plan governance arrangements , as set out by the EELGA Peer Review Team (Appendix A), with the exception of
its recommended numerical composition of the Local Plan Leadership Group (LPLG), the suggestion that the LPLG should meet in private and to not endorse EELGA’s recommendation to Full Council to establish a distinct Local Plan Scrutiny Committee.
Cabinet is resolved to agree that LPLG is instead made up of a greater number of members than proposed to allow not only for proportionate political but also geographical representation across the district and also held by way of a public meeting, although at liberty to hold meetings in private as necessary when discussing confidential information (as outlined in paragraph 13 of this report) and,
b. use the organogram highlighted in Appendix B to illustrate the governance arrangements instead of the one included in the peer review team’s report and,
c. review the Local Plan governance arrangements in December 2020 to
ensure that the new structure is providing the foundations for the timely
delivery of the Local Plan and,
d. to note the comments following 6th July Scrutiny Committee’s consideration of the governance arrangements as outlined in the supplementary report.
Councillor Evans, the Portfolio Holder for Planning and the Local Plan, presented the report on the new local plan governance arrangements. He said the report had been produced in collaboration with Councillor Storah and two consultants from East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) who had proposed a bespoke governance structure in relation to the new Local Plan. He said a Local Plan Leadership Group (LPLG) would be put in place of the Planning Policy Working Group, and it would have up to twelve, cross party members with geographical representation from across the district. Councillor Storah would chair the LPLG. Meetings would be held in public, although there would be provision to hold private meetings in the event that sensitive information would be discussed. He said this went against the advice of the EELGA consultants who had recommended a small membership and for meetings to be held in private. He said the new group would be committed to public consultation and any materials used in evidence by the LPLG should be easily accessible to the public.
The second aspect of the new governance arrangements for the Local Plan related to the scrutiny function. Councillor Gregory said the Scrutiny Committee had discussed this at length during its previous meeting and had endorsed the following recommendations to Cabinet as published in the supplementary report:
· We would welcome an explanation from the EELGA consultants as
to their reasoning in coming to their conclusions and how they were
illuminated in their thinking by the lessons learnt from the past.
· We wish to see the maximum amount of transparency in the
workings of all of the bodies in relation to the Local Plan process,
but we appreciate that by whatever mechanism there must be some
degree of confidentiality in certain fora.
· We would encourage the highest possible degree of consultation
with residents by the Local Plan Leadership Group. However, it is a
matter for that Group as to how they discharge that duty.
· The Committee would welcome a greater role for the Leader of the
Council alongside the Chief Executive on the Corporate Overview
He said there had been contention surrounding which body would be responsible for scrutinising the Local Plan process and no clear mandate could be put forward. He said the favoured option was for keeping the function within the current Scrutiny Committee’s remit but operating with two sets of meetings; one for general scrutiny matters, the second solely relating to the Local Plan.
The Leader said he favoured the principle of pre-scrutiny and was content with keeping the Local Plan scrutiny function within the current committee’s remit.
Councillor Evans said the new Local Plan governance arrangements would be kept under review with an assessment to take place in December 2020.
Councillor Lees supported the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations but asked that all costs relating to the new Local Plan to be recorded.
The Chief Executive said the issue of the scrutiny function was not for Cabinet to determine although they could welcome ... view the full minutes text for item 6
To consider the New Local Plan Governance Arrangements (report attached 29 June).
Councillor Storah presented the report on the proposed governance arrangements concerning the new Local Plan. He said he had concerns regarding the consultants’ proposals for a small and private Local Plan Leadership Group, which were shared by party colleagues, parish councils and residents. He said there was a political aspect to this process and perception was important. He was confident that the proposal for a larger, cross-party LPLG, with a wider geographical spread of Members, was the right thing for the district. In regards to scrutiny of the Plan, he said he had a preference for pre-scrutiny of planning policies but was ambivalent in terms of which body would be responsible for the scrutiny function.
Councillor Evans said accountability was at the core of the governance structure. He said there was no template to follow and the proposed arrangements outlined in the report were bespoke and designed with UDC in mind.
Councillor Criscione asked whether there were any similar tried and tested governance models in existence or whether UDC was acting as a “guinea pig” for this bespoke proposal. He said the Council could not afford to experiment and required a governance structure with a proven track record in producing sound and deliverable Local Plans. He asked what was the difference between the existing Local Plan governance bodies, such as the Planning Policy Working Group and Garden Communities’ Boards, and the new proposals. He said that private meetings could not be discounted as sensitive information could not be made public as it would disadvantage the Council during negotiations. He also said it was important that consultation took place “on the ground” and “out on the road” to ensure as many residents as possible contributed to the Local Plan process. Finally, he said he would welcome a distinct Local Plan Scrutiny Committee to ensure that the existing work streams of the current Committee would not be over shadowed by the Local Plan.
In response to questions from Councillor Criscione, Councillor Evans said that the proposals put forward by the consultants were bespoke to Uttlesford and therefore he could not say the proposed structure had a “proven track record” in producing deliverable Local Plans. However, the consultants had a great deal of experience on which the proposals were based and the intention was for the process to be reviewed in six months’ time.
In response to a question from Councillor Criscione, Councillor Evans said there was a desire to move away from the Planning Policy Working Group and create a new group with fresh terms of reference.
In response to a question from Councillor Criscione, Councillor Evans said it was his intention to take consultation “out on the road” and to ensure that “Joe public” took an interest and had an opportunity to contribute to the discussion.
Councillor Coote said he would not be happy with meetings of the LPLG being held in private. He added that formal consultation was required and that third tier councils should be given a leadership role ... view the full minutes text for item 8