Agenda and draft minutes

Public Speaking: To register your intention to speak at a Council, Cabinet or Committee meeting, please contact Democratic Services on committee@uttlesford.gov.uk or 01799 510410, 510548, 510369 or 510467. Panel, Forum and Working Group meetings do not generally permit public speaking. Please refer to a specific meeting's pdf agenda pack for further information and registration deadlines.

Live Broadcast: For Council, Cabinet and Committee meetings the video player will be available on this page under the Media banner a few minutes before the meeting is due to begin. Please note that Panel, Board, Forum and Working Group meetings are not generally broadcast on the website. The Council uses Zoom and Youtube to broadcast its meetings. Please note that Zoom and YouTube have their own privacy and data security policies, which can be accessed at www.zoom.us and www.youtube.com.

Venue: Council Chamber - Council Offices, London Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4ER. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Email: committee@uttlesford.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

C1

Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest

To receive any apologies and declarations of interest.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Caton, Eke, Fairhurst, Foley, Gregory, Loughlin and Luck.

 

C2

Councillor Eke - Approval of Absence from Meetings

Cllr Eke is at present unable to attend Council meetings by reason of ill-health.  If a member of the Council fails to attend a qualifying meeting throughout a period of six consecutive months, they will be automatically disqualified from office, unless the reason for their absence is approved by the Council before the expiry of the six month period. It is possible that Cllr Eke will not be able to resume attendance at meetings within the six month statutory period. Council is therefore asked to approve his absence by reason of ill-health for the purposes of section 85(1), Local Government Act, 1972.

Minutes:

The Chair requested that Council take Item 13 next in proceedings, owing to the urgency of the item. Council consented.

 

RESOLVED to to approve Councillor Eke’s absence by reason of ill-health for the purposes of section 85(1), Local Government Act, 1972.

 

C3

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 220 KB

To receive the minutes of the previous meetings held on 18 May, 10 June and 28 June.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 18 May and 10 June were approved as a correct record.

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 28 June were approved as a correct record subject to the following request:

 

Councillor Light requested that Minute C26 of the meeting held on 28 June be amended; she said she left the meeting as she felt it was illegitimate and she wanted this noted.

 

C4

Chair's Announcements

To receive any announcements from the Chair.

Minutes:

The Chair listed his engagements since the previous meeting including visiting Saffron Walden Castle, raising the flag for Armed Forces Week and Frontline Workers Day, and the Churching of the Mayor ceremony in Saffron Walden.

 

The Chair invited the departing Chief Executive, Dawn French, to address Council. She thanked officers Peter Snow, Philip Hardy and Ben Ferguson for their support and work in facilitating electoral and democratic processes in the years she was in post. Adrian Webb, Director of Finance and Corporate Services, and Roger Harborough, Director of Public Services, were praised for their hard work and she said she was immensely grateful for their contributions to the senior leadership team. Heartfelt thanks went out to Susan Kempster, Manager of the Executive Support Team, whose professionalism and organisation had been essential to Ms French’s time in post; she was a great asset to the Council. Finally, Ms French thanked her partner, Simon, for his constant support and good counsel. She thanked Members and wished Council and her successors all the best in the future.

 

Councillors Lodge, Dean, Criscione, Light and Lees made statements thanking and praising the departing Chief Executive. Her dedication, work ethic, professionalism, personality and leadership were widely praised. Ms French departed the Chamber to a standing ovation.

 

C5

Reports from the Leader and Members of the Executive pdf icon PDF 315 KB

To receive matters of report from the Leader and members of the Executive. Written reports have been submitted by:

 

·        The Leader – update on Planning Appeal costs

·        Portfolio Holder for the Environment & Green Issues; Equalities

·        Portfolio Holder for Council and Public Services

·        Portfolio Holder for Planning and the Local Plan

·        Portfolio Holder for Communities, Youth, Public Safety & Emergency Planning

·        Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure, Education and the Arts

·        Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader welcomed the incoming Interim Chief Executive, Rob Tinlin. He said he would only be with the Council for a short time but had been tasked with a number of difficult objectives, involving the recruitment of a permanent Chief Executive, improvements to the development management service and driving the ‘Uttlesford Moving Forward’ transformation project.

 

C6

Questions to the Leader, Members of the Executive and Committee Chairs (up to 30 minutes) pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To receive questions from members for the Executive and committee chairs. Written questions are attached and responses will be published on 19 July 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair said the pilot protocol was being implemented for the first time in regards to questions to the Executive and Committee Chairs. It would be trialled for two meetings and he asked for Members to give the new process time.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Barker, the Chair said he would like to proceed with the protocol and notice of urgent questions had been received on Cabinet Member reports.

 

The Chair invited Councillor Dean to ask his urgent question regarding the continuation and funding of Day Centres in the district.

 

In response, Councillor Freeman said the term ‘former day centres’ was a working term and had replaced the previous term ‘reimagining day centres’, although he conceded that it was confusing as the day centres were continuing, although he hoped they would take on a different incarnation than previously. He said the objective of the working group was to future proof day centres in the district. They should be independent of politics and stability should be provided regardless of the Group in administration. He said the working group was looking at extending the function of these Centres to attract a wider demographic. He said this was still a work in progress and two work streams had arisen early in the process; one, to ensure that the day centres were operating as they were previously. Secondly, to reinvigorate day centres in order to fulfil additional functions for the wider community. He said it was likely in future that day centres would draw more heavily from their own resource, as well as the support of volunteers, rather than employees of the district council.

 

Councillor Dean was invited to ask his second urgent question regarding the publication of potential sites for development and housing numbers in the emerging Local Plan process.

 

In response, Councillor Evans said this information could be found in the minutes of Cabinet and Local Plan Leadership Group (LPLG) meetings, and the newsletters circulated on 21 June and 13 July. He encouraged all members to sign up for updates to ensure they stayed informed. The question of housing numbers was reviewed by the LPLG and details on how the figure was calculated could be found in the relevant Housing Numbers report. The call for sites information would be published tomorrow (21 July), and officers had worked hard to get the information into the public domain as soon as possible. Engagement with the public and parish councils would begin next week.

 

Councillor Khan was invited to ask his urgent question regarding the ring-fenced budget for Day Centres and its use for redundancy pay.

 

In response, Councillor Freeman said he had only recently learnt that part of the £94k ring fenced for Day Centres had been reassigned for redundancies and rent costs. He said he had raised the matter and a satisfactory budget would be required to move ahead with the Day Centres project. He was aware of the outstanding request for funding from the day centre in Stansted.  ...  view the full minutes text for item C6

C7

Matters referred from the Executive and the Council's committees - Annual report of the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee pdf icon PDF 222 KB

To consider any reports referred from the Executive and the Council’s committees and receive questions and answers on any of those reports.

 

·        The Annual Report of the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee.

Minutes:

Councillor Oliver presented the Annual Report of the Governance, Audit and Performance Committee (GAP). He said much work had been carried out in the past year and he thanked Councillor Driscoll, as Vice-Chair, and the Committee for their contributions. He said there were loose ends in regards to the external audit not being signed off due to an ongoing police enquiry, which he hoped would be resolved in the near future. The other open issue related to the loan from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to Debden Parish Council, which had been called back. There was a debate as to whether this loan was to be paid by Uttlesford District Council, or the parish.

 

Councillor Isham referred to the work of the Committee’s Task & Finish Group that had reviewed the question time procedure; he said he could not recall the curtailment of democratic debate being the purpose of the review and he asked for clarification.

 

The Democratic Services Manager said twelve questions had been asked and answered during the new procedure and that the protocol had been carried unanimously through both GAP and Council.

 

Councillor Sell referred to leisure centre operators and the managing of contractual arrangements throughout the pandemic, and asked for a cumulative total of the amount of money waived, and whether the operator had resumed payment.

 

Councillor Oliver said he was unsure but he would find out and the answer would be circulated.

 

The Annual report was noted.

 

C8

Complaint upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman pdf icon PDF 197 KB

To consider the report regarding the Complaint upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Oliver presented the report regarding the complaint upheld by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) relating to a disabled facilities grant application. The report had not been considered by the GAP Committee due to its urgency. He said compensation of £7,000 had been awarded and paid to the complainant and lessons had been learnt which would be incorporated into new procedures.

 

Councillor Driscoll said policies had been reviewed and a procedural timeline would be introduced to ensure the events that had led to the complaint would not happen again.

 

The report was noted.

C9

Contract Procedure Rules pdf icon PDF 167 KB

To consider the Contract Procedure Rules report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Oliver presented the report on Contract Procedure Rules. He said there would be a shared procurement service with Chelmsford City Council and it was necessary to amend a number of contract procedure rules. A summary of these changes could be found at paragraph 11 in the report. He proposed approval of the recommendation.

 

Councillor Driscoll seconded the proposal.

 

RESOLVED to approve the Contract Procedure Rules as set out in the report and Appendix 1.

 

 

C10

RIPA Policy Report pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider the RIPA Policy report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Chief Executive spoke to the report. He said the item was urgent and had been brought to Council in order to action a number of unfulfilled commitments left from the previous RIPA review.

 

Councillor Freeman said he had been briefed on the subject and said it was a matter, in the main, for first tier councils. 

 

Councillor Light said she was alarmed at the contents of the report. She asked for a full and detailed briefing to ensure Members were informed before voting on the matter. She proposed that the report be referred back to the report author, and for further information and training to be provided before the item was brought back to Council.

 

Councillor Dean seconded the proposal.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Emmanuel, the Chief Executive said the procedures related to the operation of CCTV cameras and surveillance, and ensuring that the correct safeguards were in place.

 

Councillor Isham said he did not feel adequately briefed on the subject and asked for further information before taking an informed vote on the matter.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Bagnall regarding the urgency of the item, the Chief Executive referred to the report and pointed out that the Council were at risk of breaching legal requirements if the recommendation was not approved.

 

Councillor Lees said she was bemused; the report had been available for a week and information should have been sought before the decision was brought to Council.

 

Councillor Khan asked why were there outstanding actions following the inspector’s previous review and why had this not been brought to the attention of the GAP Committee. This raised concerns with the way in which the Council managed risk. He added that this should be referred to the GAP Committee.

 

Councillor Lavelle, Chair of the Licensing and Environmental Health Committee, said Enforcement Officers needed a clear, compliant policy in order to carry-out their obligations. He said the policy was clear and well written, and the issue around covert surveillance was a red herring. In the main, the CCTV within the remit of the district council related only to security surveillance on council premises. He commended the report.  

 

Councillor Light said further training and information were required before voting on the matter. She said sufficient training on the issue was required otherwise the Council would be at risk of falling into disrepute or legal challenge.     

 

Councillor Barker said the Council had an existing RIPA Policy and the recommendation was simply bringing the Policy up to date and ensuring that officers had sufficient training.

 

The Chair took the proposal to refer the report back to the report author to a vote.

 

The motion was defeated.

 

The Chair returned to the recommendation outlined in the report and moved to a vote.

 

RESOLVED to:

 

i.              Adopt the RIPA policy annexed to the report and set in place provisions for training to be undertaken by relevant key officials.

ii.             Amend the Council’s scheme of delegation as set out in  ...  view the full minutes text for item C10

C11

Governance Review Working Group - Implementation of Portfolio Holder briefings pdf icon PDF 158 KB

To consider the recommendation of the Governance Review Working Group.

Minutes:

The Vice-Chair took the Chair for this item in order for Councillor Coote to present the report relating to the recommendation of the Governance Review Working Group (GRWG) to implement Portfolio Holder briefings.

 

Councillor Coote said he had been informed that there was no longer cross-party support for the recommendation to introduce Portfolio Holder Briefings. He proposed to refer the report back to the GRWG for further work.

 

Councillor Lees seconded the proposal.

 

Councillor Sell said the Liberal Democrat Group had withdrawn their support as they felt the proposal did not go far enough. A review of the Cabinet system was required and he felt there was not sufficient political will for this to take place. He questioned whether this would be kicked into the long grass. He concluded that the Liberal Democrat Group were not completely opposed to the recommendation, as there was agreement that it could help create a more collegiate atmosphere, but the proposal was not radical enough.

 

Councillor Coote said it would be referred back in order to get support of the entire working group. He felt he could not propose the recommendation without this support.

 

Councillor Criscione said approving the recommendation was not mutually incompatible with Councillor Sell’s comments that the review had not gone far enough; the implementation of Portfolio Holder briefings did not necessarily mean the end of the governance review.

 

Councillor Light said she supported the briefings but they needed to be constructed in a way that allowed opposition members the opportunity to engage with the administration on policy matters. She also wanted a more democratic and participatory system.     

 

The Vice-Chair moved to a vote.

 

RESOLVED to refer the report relating to the Implementation of Portfolio Holder Briefings back to the Governance Review Working Group for further work.

 

 

C12

New arrangements for Statutory Senior Officer Disciplinary Procedures pdf icon PDF 236 KB

To consider the proposed new arrangements for Statutory Senior Officer Disciplinary Procedures.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Oliver presented the report relating to statutory senior officer disciplinary procedures. He said the procedures only related to the Head of Paid Service, Chief Finance Officer and Monitoring Officer. He said this had been recommended by the GAP Committee and proposed the recommendation.

 

Councilor Driscoll seconded the proposal.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

i.              The JNC model procedure be adopted for all three relevant statutory officers and that the Council’s disciplinary procedures and the Constitution be amended to reflect this.

 

ii.             The establishment of the following standalone Committees to manage the procedure: An Investigating and Disciplinary Committee (IDC) to deal with disciplinary matters relating to the relevant officers. This committee is to be a politically balanced committee of at least five members, at least one of whom is to be a member of the Cabinet. There should be two reserve members in case of any conflict of interest. An Appeals Committee (AC) to deal with disciplinary matters short of dismissal relating to the relevant officers. This committee is to be a politically balanced committee of at least five members, at least one of whom is to be a member of the Cabinet. There should be two reserve members in case of any conflict of interest. An Independent Panel (IP) comprising of three people appointed under section 28 Localism Act 2011 to advise Council in the event of a recommendation from the IDC to dismiss a relevant officer.

 

iii.            The delegation of power to an elected Member most usually the Chair of the IDC to suspend a relevant officer immediately in an emergency.

 

iv.           That in the case of a complaint against a relevant officer, the decision whether to refer the matter to the IDC will be delegated to the Monitoring Officer or Chief Finance Officer in conjunction with the HR Manager in the case of a complaint against the Head of Paid Service and delegated to the Head of Paid Service in conjunction with the HR Manger in the case of a complaint against the Monitoring Officer or the Chief Finance Officer. In all cases the JNC will be consulted prior to referral and independent legal advice will be taken as appropriate.

 

v.             That the relevant officers will be given the same right to be accompanied at any disciplinary hearing as all Uttlesford District Council employees. Additionally, this will include the right to be accompanied by a legal representative at their own cost.

 

vi.           That the Assistant Director Governance and Legal and Monitoring Officer be authorised to make all necessary and consequential amendments to the constitution to give effect to these recommendations.

 

vii.          That the HR Manager in conjunction with the Assistant Director Governance and Legal and Monitoring Officer be authorised to appoint three new persons to comprise the IP.

 

viii.         That the HR Manager be authorised to arrange appropriate mandatory training for members serving on the IDC and AC and the Independent Persons serving on the IP.

 

ix.           That the HR Manager be authorised to amend the Councils disciplinary procedures  ...  view the full minutes text for item C12

C13

Exclusion of Public and Press - Withdrawn

Consideration of a report containing exempt information within the meaning of section 100I and paragraphs 1, 2 part 1 Schedule 12A Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

The Chair said there was no need to exclude the public and press unless Members wished to discuss the appointment of the Assistant Director – Governance and Legal at length.

 

C14

Recruitment of the Assistant Director - Governance and Legal and Monitoring Officer pdf icon PDF 121 KB

To consider the report relating to the appointment of the Assistant Director - Governance and Legal and Monitoring Officer.

Minutes:

The Leader presented the report and said the appointment process was particularly rigorous.  He said he was delighted to propose the appointment of Jane Reynolds as Assistant Director - Governance and Legal and Monitoring Office, with delegated powers as set-out in the Constitution.

 

Councillor LeCount seconded.

 

RESOLVED to appoint Jane Reynolds as the Assistant Director Governance and Legal and Monitoring Officer with delegated powers as set out in the Constitution.

 

The meeting was closed at 8.48pm