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Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest
To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.
Apologies were received from Councillor Coote, Criscione and Lavelle
To consider the minutes of the previous meeting.
The minutes of the meeting held on 2nd February 2021 were approved and would be signed by the Chair as a correct record at the next opportunity.
Councillor Dean chased the written report promised to Ms Tealby-Watson. The Chair said he would contact Councillor Merrifield to find out when the report would be available and e-mail Ms Tealby-Watson to apologise for the delay.
To receive the updated Cabinet Forward Plan.
In response to a question from the Chair regarding the grant for the Carver Barracks running track, the Chief Executive said the grant was given by the Council to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Infrastructure Defence Organisation and said it was separate to the Armed Forces Covenant Grant.
The project had been delayed due to a procurement issue and the pandemic and it was proposed that the back stop date be moved to 31st December 2021. The Chief Executive was confident it would be completed before that date.
In response to further questions from Councillor Dean the Chief Executive confirmed that no request had been made by the Council to have the running track grant money returned. She clarified that the two matters were separate and it was the Armed Forces Covenant Trust who had requested recovery of the monies relating to Debden Village Hall. A full legal opinion would be provided to the Trust and all parties were working together to resolve the matter.
The Director of Finance and Corporate Services confirmed that the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee were dealing with the issue.
Councillor Sell said he was pleased that the running track was on course to complete by the end of the year. It had been given a significant amount of public money and he said it was important that the public had maximum use of the shared facility.
Councillor Jones joined the meeting at 7.15pm
Further to a question from Councillor Sell about the omission from the Cabinet Forward Plan of the Post Covid Recovery Plan, Councillor Reeve said this was very important and there was a great deal happening. The Economic Development Team were expanding, and some of the activities planned included a virtual job fair; administration of grant schemes; re-skilling and new employment opportunities.
The Chief Executive said the Business Recovery Action plan had been brought to the Scrutiny Committee and a budget of £1m provided over 3 years to support the economy. She reassured members that it was a priority.
Councillor Sell agreed with the comments but said it should be on the forward plan. He asked if the economic recovery work could be a regular item at the Scrutiny Committee.
Update on Planning-Related Studies
To consider the Update on Planning-Related Studies (oral report)
Councillor Le Count said he was waiting for the final PAS report and that it would be ready for the next meeting.
A proposed meeting date had been discussed and the Assistant Director - Corporate Services said the next Scrutiny meeting would look at planning-related studies coming from the Task and Finish groups.
To consider the Corporate Plan Delivery Plan 2021/22
Councillor Reeve introduced the report and said the Corporate Plan 21-25 had been adopted by the Council on 23rd February 2021; it was mainly unchanged from last year to provide a sustained plan over the course of the administration.
He said the draft delivery plan aimed to make progress on the ambitions of the administration in 2021/22. He said most items had detailed plans and objectives but some were not yet completed. He noted that the pandemic was still having an effect and still posed a risk to some actions.
He made Members aware that the Uttlesford Moving Forward programme was not included in the delivery plan and was being managed by Officers.
The plan incorporated business as usual items which made the plan a longer but more comprehensive document.
There were 4 main themes and Councillor Reeve highlighted some items in each:-
Putting residents first
· Expanding the opportunities for young people, Councillor Day as the portfolio holder was working on a more detailed plan.
· The completion of the £300m investment programme to ensure the Council was financed sufficiently.
Being an active place maker for our towns and villages
· Defined milestones within the Local Plan detailed in the Local Development Scheme
· The Economic Development Recovery Plan and the current £350k budget for the coming year.
· Updating the housing strategy and within that affordable housing.
Being progressive custodians of the rural environment
· To build on the Climate Change Strategy document, approved at the last Council meeting.
Champion for the District
· Supporting the ageing population which required more detail but the task and finish group had been set up to take this forward.
Members agreed that the document was too long and said that the business as usual items should be taken out.
· Councillor Reeve said it would be considered for next year.
Councillor LeCount said it was a good plan overall. He thought the document was over optimistic in places and would like to see more detail regarding the numbers as it helped to have data on how much was being spent and what the targets were.
· Councillor Reeve said he would need more details on what items were overly optimistic.
Councillor Reeve confirmed that he had considered all of Councillor Dean’s comments from last year and had been able to work some into the plan.
Councillor Sell highlighted some issues with the plan:-
He said it should mention relevant items within the year, for example Covid and the Investments Program to give context to readers.
· Councillor Reeve said this was a valid point which would be taken into consideration. He also agreed that a plan for the period of the administration could be an option going forward but it was currently done on a yearly basis and followed the budget process.
On page 21, item 2a he was disappointed with the review of governance.
· Councillor Reeve said Councillor Coote were working on the review but he did not know the outcome yet.
On page 23, item 3f he said ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider Work Planning for 2021/22
The Assistant Director - Corporate Services proposed a more formal approach to work planning for 2021/22. He asked that each Councillor emailed him a list of 5 to 10 items ideally across different areas, (page 46 showed different places to draw ideas from). An informal meeting could be arranged to discuss. These proposals would then be collated into a full list which would be scored by each member. This would produce a short list of the most important topics to take forward. There were no timescales currently but these would be planned once the next Scrutiny meeting was agreed.
Further to member’s questions, the Assistant Director - Corporate Services stated the following:-
· A list of items from each Councillor to be e-mailed, date to be advised.
· The benefit of the process would be a back up list which could be used if all the chosen items had been completed.
· Paragraph 24 of the document showed that time would need to be set aside for the outstanding items from this year which were:-
o Planning Obligations Report
o Airport Fly Parking
o Major Planning Applications
· Little was off limits but the Committee did not have scope to scrutinise the work of regulatory committees.
· A template would be sent to keep all submissions in the same format.
Councillor Driscoll suggested that the Airport Fly Parking be suspended until September. The Chair asked for this to be discussed outside of the meeting.
Councillor Sell asked that members considered what items would be of benefit to the Council and provide added value. He thought the Committee should not take on too much and should complete fewer items in a more thorough way.
The meeting ended at 9.20pm.