Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

1.

Public Speaking

Minutes:

Mr Davies and Councillor Pavitt spoke on the Local Plan Governance Arrangements item. Their statements have been appended to these minutes.

2.

Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest

To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.

Minutes:

Councillor Sutton was substituting for Councillor Reeve who was unable to sit on the Scrutiny Committee following his appointment to Cabinet.

3.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To consider the minutes of the previous meetings held on 21 May 2020 (attached) and 16 June 2020 (to follow).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 21 May were approved as a correct record. The minutes of the Call-In meeting held on 16 June were not available and would be considered for approval at the next meeting.

 

4.

Consideration of any matter referred to the Committee in relation to call in of a decision

To consider any matter referred for call in.

Minutes:

The Chair referred to the Scrutiny Call-In meeting held on 16 June 2020. The Committee had rejected the proposal to refer the Corporate Plan Delivery Plan back to Cabinet.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Sell, the Chair said he would welcome sight of the scrutiny call-in protocols of neighboring authorities. If appropriate, such a protocol could be referred to the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee for consideration.

 

5.

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 46 KB

To receive the updated Cabinet Forward Plan.

Minutes:

In response to a question relating to the Corporate Plan Delivery Plan (CPDP), the Leader said he expected the CPDP to be complete and ready for further review by the Scrutiny Committee in September.

 

Councillor Sell said he expected the Portfolio Holder for Finance to attend Scrutiny when the Budget Strategy and Funding Update report was brought before the Committee at its meeting in October.

 

6.

Task & Finish Group: Fly-parking pdf icon PDF 199 KB

To consider the report on Fly-parking.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director – Planning summarised the Task and Finish Group’s report on Fly-Parking. He said the emergence of Covid-19 had prevented the Group from progressing their work, primarily due to the fact that the problem of fly-parking had disappeared in the face of the global pandemic and the subsequent impact this has had on air travel.

 

Councillor Driscoll said he had researched the experience of fly-parking at other airports, such as London Southend Airport, where the problem was solved through Traffic Regulation Orders.

 

The Chair said the issue would re-emerge as the economy recovered and asked for a brief report to be submitted on Fly-Parking for the Committee meeting in September.

 

7.

East of England Local Government Association Phase 2 Local Plan Support pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To receive a report which advises on the work of the EELGA Peer Review team for the phase 2 work.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair asked the Portfolio Holder for Planning and the Local Plan, Councillor Evans, to present the report on East of England Local Government Association’s (EELGA) recommendations on the new emerging Local Plan arrangements.

 

Councillor Evans said the report had been drafted in collaboration with Councillor Storah and the EELGA consultants, who had provided expert advice and helped develop the bespoke structure of governance that had been outlined in the report. He said both he and Councillor Storah disagreed with a number of EELGA’s recommendations in regard to the Local Plan Leadership Group (LPLG), namely a restricted membership  and the proposal for meetings to take place in private, which they felt were in direct contradiction to the Administration’s mandate. In contrast, they proposed a larger membership, somewhere between eleven and fifteen members, and meetings open to the public. Councillor Storah would likely Chair the LPLG but Councillor Evans would not sit on the Group as a voting member. He said the timetable was very tight with a proposed completion date of December 2023.

 

Councillor Dean said he had concerns around timings as the process of engaging members had yet to begin, although the papers stipulated that the phase of member engagement on governance arrangements concerning the Local Plan, such as workshop sessions, would end on 31 July 2020. He said he also had concerns regarding the arrangements of the LPLG, particularly the idea of an extensive membership.

 

The Chair asked Members to bear in mind that the Local Plan Governance Arrangements would be discussed specifically on the next item.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Criscione, Councillor Evans said the Planning Policy team were working on the project initiation document which should be available later this week. Furthermore, he hoped that a member workshop could be scheduled before the end of July.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, Councillor Evans said slippage had already occurred but a project plan was coming forward and it would be vital that those dates referred to in the plan were adhered to. 

 

Councillor Criscione expressed his concerns regarding the timetable and the prospect of government intervention. He said the initiation document was pivotal if Members were to keep the project on track for completion in 2023.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Jones, Councillor Evans said slippage had been caused by the delay in receiving the documentation from EELGA.

 

Councillor Storah clarified that the target date, as specified by the Government, for adoption of the Local Plan was December 2023. Most Local Plans took four years to make but he was confident that this could be completed in less time. He said this stage of preparation would be vital as it would set the direction of travel for the entire Local Plan process.

 

The Assistant Director – Planning said the work programme was still being finalised but it was unlikely that a Plan could be adopted by the end of 2023. He said the Council would remain in dialogue with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

The New Local Plan Governance Arrangements pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To consider the New Local Plan Governance Arrangements (report attached 29 June).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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.

9.

Local authority investment in commerical property - National Audit Office report pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To receive the ‘Local authority investment in commercial property – National Audit Office’ report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Councillor Caton, who had sat on the Scrutiny Committee in the previous municipal year and had worked on the matter of Local Authority investments, to present the report.

 

CouncillorCaton said he had asked the Committee to look into the National Audit Office report that had been published in February for three reasons: to ensure that Members were aware of any forthcoming changes on national policy in regard to Local Authority investments; to consider the need to audit the Council’s processes to ensure they were robust enough, and; to ensure that all Members were aware that Uttlesford was an outlier in terms of investments. He said 66% of UDC investments were outside of the district, with 34% in the area. The national split was 49% within a Local Authority and 51% outside. He said the Council could not be complacent and said such a significant divergence to the national average warranted an investigation.

 

As the Director – Finance and Corporate Services was not present to answer questions, Councillor Caton  asked for the item to be deferred for further discussion until the next meeting.

 

The Committee agreed.

 

The meeting ended at 10.30pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Speaking – 6 July 2020

 

Councillor Richard Pavitt

 

I have really struggled to understand this document. Something I learnt long ago is that if people don’t understand what you’re saying, then it is either too complex or you’re a bad communicator. 

 

One of the criticisms of the last plan process was that it did not consult the community early enough or sufficiently. Did they even understand when they could or ought to contribute? 

 

Last time, the term “community” was skewed towards landowners and developers. They were consulted from the outset and in continuing detail, but Parish and town councils were a grudging also ran.

 

In effect, our communities – the people who live here - were told where the housing was to go and asked what colour curtains they would like.

 

Last time the plan was reactive. It reacted to a housing target, it reacted to a call for sites, it reacted to Govt’s desire for garden communities. There was little done to harness creative and pro-active thinking from our communities. 

 

I don’t see anything in these papers that reassures me this will not happen again. 

 

The LGA consultants report at 2.4 says: 

 

Public value can be created, for example, by engaging communities in making a plan that is evidence led, puts infrastructure before new homes, provides homes that are affordable for local people and built in locations evidence shows are most sustainable.

 

I would argue that engaging communities is more and lot earlier than reg 18 consultation.

 

This administration has said it will do things differently. I am concerned that it may get dragged back into the conventional thinking that applied last time, that the public are a bunch of nuisance nimbies best avoided unless contact is absolutely necessary.

 

I appreciate that this document is intended to layout a governance structure rather than  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.