Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest

To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the Chief Executive and Councillor Dean (Uttlesford Liberal Democrats’ Group Leader).

 

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 222 KB

To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 9 September.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2020 were approved as a true and correct record.

 

3.

Questions or Statements from Non-Executive Members of the Council (standing item)

To receive questions or statements from non-executive members on matters included on the agenda.

Minutes:

The Leader said he had received written questions from Councillor Dean, who had sent his apologies for the meeting. He said the questions would be dealt with during the relevant items.

 

4.

Consideration of reports from overview and scrutiny committees (standing item)

To consider any reports from overview and scrutiny committees.

Minutes:

Councillor Gregory said it had been a busy period for the Scrutiny Committee since the previous Cabinet meeting in September. He spoke on matters which related to the Local Plan, as well as other areas of council work. He raised the following issues:

 

·      The National Audit Office report relating to the commercial investments of Local Authorities. He said it had been an illuminating exercise, particularly in demonstrating bad practice and “how not to do things”. UDC were a model of probity and he thanked Councillor Caton for his effective presentation to the Committee.

·      The Medium Term Financial Strategy had been met with a unanimous vote of thanks for the impressive work of the finance team, who had achieved a fantastic turnaround in the Council’s finances.

·      A worthwhile discussion had taken place regarding the Corporate Plan Delivery Plan (CPDP). He said the Portfolio Holder for the Economy and Corporate Strategy should consider the implementation of performance and success indicators to ensure a positive direction of travel. The Committee looked forward to seeing further progress but the CPDP was on sound foundations.

·       In regards to Local Plan Scrutiny, all of the recommendations that had been presented at the meeting on 7 October had been endorsed by the Committee unanimously.

·      He asked Cabinet to ensure due attention was paid to communicating and consulting relevant organisations that reflect the interests across the district, such as parish and town councils.

·      The Committee were impressed with the arrangements regarding project management of the Local Plan. Regular monitor meetings had been put in place with the Project Manager and Councillor LeCount.

·      The Committee remained concerned regarding governance arrangements surrounding the Local Plan. The nature of the project sponsors were of particular concern. Councillor Evans had promised an update note on the matter.

·      The pre-scrutiny roles of Councillor Criscione and Councillor Coote had been established to look into Local Plan issues. This had proved to be successful, as problems could be ironed out before they became an issue.

 

The Leader thanked the Chair of Scrutiny and the said the Committee’s input was helpful to the Administration. He added that the Local Plan process was now picking up pace and the time it had taken to get the right structure had proven worthwhile.

 

5.

Report of Delegated Decisions taken by Cabinet Members (standing item) pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To receive for information any delegated decisions taken by Cabinet Members since the previous Cabinet meeting.

 

·         Changes to the Planning System Consultation – published on 1 October 2020.

Minutes:

Cabinet noted the delegated decision relating to Changes to the Planning System Consultation – published on 1 October 2020.

6.

Report on assets of community value determined by the Assets of Community Value and Local Heritage List Committee (standing item)

To receive for information any decisions made by the Assets of Community Value and Local Heritage List Committee since the previous Cabinet meeting.

Minutes:

There had been no reports submitted in relation to Assets of Community Value (AoCV), although the Leader noted the fact that the Railway Arms public house in Saffron Walden had been purchased by a local community group.

 

7a

Cabinet Appointments: MMWG pdf icon PDF 29 KB

To consider the Cabinet Membership document and to approve the following appointments:

 

·         Appointment of Cllrs Armstrong and Freeman to the Museum Management Working Group (MMWG).

Decision:

RESOLVED to appoint Councillors Armstrong and Freeman to the Museum Management Working Group.

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the appointments of Councillors Armstrong and Freeman to the MMWG.

 

RESOLVED  to appoint Councillors Armstrong and Freeman to the Museum Management Working Group.

 

8.

Cabinet Appointments: Outside Bodies pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To consider the following appointments to Outside Bodies:

 

·         To appoint Cllr Reeve to the Saffron Walden Business Improvement District (SW BID).

·         To appoint Cllrs Day and Lodge as trustees to the Crawley Prize Endowment charity.

Decision:

RESOLVED to:

 

·         To appoint Cllr Reeve to the Saffron Walden Business Improvement District (SW BID).

·         To appoint Cllrs Day and Lodge to the Crawley Prize Endowment charity.

 

Minutes:

Cabinet considered the appointments of Councillors Lodge and Day to the Crawley Prize Endowment Charity, and Councillor Reeve to the Saffron Walden Business Improvement District (SWBID).

 

RESOLVED to:

 

·         To appoint Councillor Reeve to the Saffron Walden Business Improvement District (SW BID).

·         To appoint Councillors Day and Lodge to the Crawley Prize Endowment charity.

 

9.

Revised Corporate Plan Delivery Plan 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider the Revised Corporate Plan Delivery Plan 2020/21.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED to approve the Corporate Plan Delivery Plan attached as Enclosure 1 to the report.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Reeve summarised the report regarding the revised Corporate Plan Delivery Plan (CPDP). He said much time had been spent on the CPDP and it had been considered by the Scrutiny Committee a number of times. He asked Cabinet to approve this iteration of the CPDP.

 

In response to a comment from Councillor Day, the Director – Public Services said the document would be updated to include the correct portfolio holder titles for each Cabinet Member.

                       

RESOLVED to approve the Corporate Plan Delivery Plan attached as Enclosure 1 to the report.

 

10.

Medium Term Financial Strategy - Mid Year Update pdf icon PDF 543 KB

To consider the Medium Term Financial Strategy – Mid Year update report.

Decision:

RESOLVED to recommend to Council the mid-year updated Medium Term Financial Strategy for approval.

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Hargreaves summarised the report which provided an updated financial position for the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS). The report had also been considered by the Scrutiny Committee at its meeting in September. He said it had been a particularly difficult year to forecast, due to the impact of Covid-19 on the Council’s services and finances. All losses incurred due to the non payment of Council Tax and Business Rates were expected to be managed by the Council and no additional financial support was expected. He spoke on the Business Recovery Fund and the emergency reserves set aside in the event that the Covid-19 situation took another turn for the worse. He drew Cabinet’s attention to the Council’s reliance on investment income, and highlighted the Investment Income Protection Reserve that had been established in case of any tenant failure at any one of the commercial assets. He said council tax, regardless of the income generated via commercial investments, would always be a vital income stream for local authorities. It was important that the Council diversified its income and that residents had a stake in the services provided to the local community. 

 

In response to a question from Councillor Criscione regarding Covid-19 funding issued by Government, the Director – Finance and Corporate Services said there were two methodologies to calculate the income that would be received and details would be circulated with Members once the Council had been sent this information.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Criscione regarding a Council Tax freeze, Councillor Hargreaves said he was happy to discuss this another time but the Uttlesford precept was already low and the previous increase had amounted to an average of £5 extra per annum. He added that UDC had the most generous Local Council Tax Support scheme in Essex for those who could not afford to pay.

 

In response to a comment from Councillor Criscione, Councillor Lees said a new initiative on domestic abuse had been rolled out by Essex County Council and Essex Police and the Council would look into whether funding was available from a district perspective.

 

The Leader apologised as he had received an email from Councillor Dean regarding the CPDP considered during the previous item. He read the email which expressed disappointment that the CPDP did not differ from the version presented at the previous Scrutiny meeting, despite his questions and suggested improvements. The Leader thanked Councillor Dean for his comments.

 

Councillor Armstrong thanked Councillor Hargreaves and the financial team for their hard work in improving the Council’s finances. Due to their hard work, he said he was delighted to announce that £150,000 would be made available for the Saffron Walden Sports Pitch Project. He said this was subject to due diligence and the MTFS being approved at Full Council.

 

The Leader said the resident groups behind the project had raised significant monies through their own fundraising efforts and the project had been led by the great efforts of boys and girls football teams  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Revised Equality Policy pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To consider the Revised Equality Policy.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED to recommend that Council adopts the amended Uttlesford Equality Policy published in September 2020

 

Minutes:

Councillor Pepper presented the report on the Council’s revised Equalities Policy. She thanked the Communities team for their great work in producing the policy. She said the Equalities Act of 2010 had established the single public sector duty which ensured no protected group faced discrimination in their place of work. She said the Council’s aim was to ensure that the workforce was representative and compliant with legislation. The policy was “live” and could be updated at anytime, and revisions would need to be applied following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

 

Councillor Lees said she was impressed with the Policy and was encouraged it would change with the times. She thanked Councillor Pepper and the officers for putting forward a comprehensive Policy.

 

RESOLVED to recommend that Council adopts the amended Uttlesford Equality Policy published in September 2020

 

12.

Local Plan Reports (Items 12 to 16) pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To consider the Local Development Scheme.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED to adopt the Local Development Scheme.

Minutes:

The Leader invited Councillor Evans to present items 12 - 15 to Cabinet as they were all related to planning and the Local Plan. Councillor Eke would introduce item 16 as the relevant Portfolio Holder for Infrastructure. The Leader proposed taking all remaining recommendations as a single vote at the end of the presentations. Cabinet agreed.

 

Councillor Evans said it was important to acknowledge the input of the late Councillor Storah in these reports in his capacity as Chair of the Local Plan Leadership Group. He also thanked Councillor Gregory and the Scrutiny Committee for their remarks as a critical friend; the reports had benefitted from the scrutiny provided by the committee.

 

The Local Development Scheme

 

Councillor Evans presented the report on the Local Development scheme. He said this was a very important document as it underpinned the Council’s approach to the Local Plan process, including timetables and consultations. He said adjustments to the Scheme were likely, in part due to the current Government consultation on the Planning White Paper, and the document would be updated to reflect real practice.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Freeman regarding energy efficiency, Councillor Evans said the Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) in relation to energy efficiency would be looked at.

 

Councillor Freeman thanked Councillor Evans and said such SPDs were important as, in the absence of a Local Plan, they set out planning standards which developers were obliged to follow. He offered his assistance on the matter.

 

Councillor Pepper said there was an interim climate planning document that would also cover the energy sector.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Lees, Councillor Evans said there was no reason to assume that the Local Plan timetable would slip due to the Government’s consultation on the Planning White Paper. He said he would liaise with Councillor LeCount who was monitoring progress.

 

Community Engagement Strategy

 

Councillor Evans said this was an updated version of a previously considered document, and the Strategy had taken into account the comments of the Scrutiny Committee. It set-out the nine themes on which the community could comment. He said the messages in the Strategy would need to be frequently communicated to the public and parish and town councils.

 

Councillor Criscione said the one area in which the Strategy fell short was deliverability of the Local Plan. He referenced the Essex Developers Group as an organisation which could advise on the issue of deliverability.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Lees regarding parish involvement in the Community Forum, Councillor Evans said the Town and Parish Council Forum already existed and it would not be appropriate for local councils to be involved in the additional Community Forum as this would duplicate their participation.

 

Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)

 

Councillor Evans said the SCI, which explained how the Council would involve the community in the Local Plan process, had been thoroughly considered by the LPLG and costs had now been budgeted for. He said the document would be shared widely with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.