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Chair's Opening Remarks
The Chair welcomed the group to the first Local Plan Leadership Group meeting and extended the welcome to members of the public listening to the broadcast.
Cllr. Storah outlined the procedural rules for the meeting.
It was important to continue to conduct the meeting in an orderly and professional manner.
- Members should be kept on mute at all times when not speaking to reduce background noise and interference.
- Members wishing to speak should raise the blue hand in the participants column.
Cllr. Storah introduced the Council officers in attendance, Gordon Glenday, Stephen Miles, Sarah Nicholas and Hayley Richardson.
Sarah Nicholas took a register of attendance for the benefit of listeners to confirm members in attendance and all members on the attendees list were present. Councillors C. Day and M. Foley were noted as visitors to the meeting.
Cllr. Storah highlighted an error in the headings on the agenda to be rectified for future meetings. Cllr. Evans was recorded on the attendees as a non-voting member and it should have read as a non-voting guest.
Apologies for absence and declarations of interest
To receive any apologies and declarations of interest.
Cllr. Foley said a resident had contact him to congratulate the Council on having more open meetings and asked for clarification on meetings always being held in public or would they follow a part 1, part 2 format?
The Chair responded that the group aimed to be open and transparent as possible, but on occasion there would be the need to consider confidential information in private, but he would not see this being a regular occurrence.
Cllr. Pavitt said a member of public contacted him to say there was background noise on the live stream and asked for this issue to be resolved.
The Chair asked Hayley Richardson to look into the issue. She said that the way the meeting is being recorded, there would be some background noise, however it would be kept to a minimum.
The chair asked Cllr. Pavitt if the background noise made it difficult to follow the meeting. He said he was unsure and would clarify with the member of public who contacted him.
It was agreed to continue the meeting after the chair highlighted the need for the meeting to be of such quality that it could be understood by listeners and referred to as a reference of the session.
Cllr. Light declared an interest as a Saffron Walden Town Councillor.
The Chair said he was unsure whether such a declaration was necessary and he would check the regulations.
Cllr. Merifield added if it was the case of being necessary, she wanted to declare being a Stebbing parish councillor.
Cllr. Lemon declared himself as a parish councillor for Hatfield Heath and White Roding.
Cllr. Reeve declared himself as a parish councillor for High Easter in addition to his additional ward responsibilities.
Cllr. Freeman declared himself as a parish councillor for Saffron Walden Town Council.
Cllr. Evans declared himself as chair for the Stebbing Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.
Cllr. Bagnall Said he didn't think it was necessary as all members present had an interest in the Local Plan. He declared himself as a member of Takeley PC.
The Chair responded that it would be unfortunate to repeat this process at the beginning of every meeting. He acknowledged that the group represented all wards and some attendees were on local councils.
To consider the Draft Terms of Reference for the Local Plan Leadership group.
TheChair readout theLocal PlanLeadership GroupWorking Arrangements. Thearrangements outlinedhow themeetings wouldbe managed.
LPLG: WORKING ARRANGEMENTS
I intend to Chair the Group as follows:-
· As a cross-party working group seeking to ensure the optimum outcome for the district as a whole (as distinct from either an individual or a party-political group seeking to protect any particular area(s) of the district from development, or direct development to any particular area(s));
· In furtherance of the above, I shall look to Members to act as District, rather than Ward, Councillors. This will require:-
- in accordance with recognised best practice, resignation from membership of any organisation either promoting or opposing development in any particular locality in the district; and
- In accordance with the National Code of Local Government Conduct, Members declaring a private or personal non-pecuniary interest arising at meetings and deciding whether that interest is clear and substantial. If it is not, then you may continue to take part in the discussion of the matter and may vote on it. If, however, it is a clear and substantial interest, then you should not take any further part in the proceedings and should withdraw from the meeting.
In deciding whether such an interest is clear and substantial, you should examine your conscience and ask yourself whether members of the public, knowing the facts of the situation, would reasonably think that you might be influenced by it. If you think that that would be the case, you should regard the interest as clear and substantial and withdraw accordingly;
· Members should feel free, where appropriate:-
- to question and challenge the guidance and recommendations to our Group from the officers of the local plan team; and
- to invite consultants undertaking studies on behalf of the council to make a presentation to the Group explaining the overall approach taken, summarise their findings and answer any questions that Members pose;
· Whilst I have previously met with, discussed and agreed matters with planning policy officers together with the portfolio-holder on local plan matters, I have now stepped away from that (because of the obvious conflict of interest to which it would give rise) and, with regard to reports to this group, will communicate only indirectly with officers through meetings with the portfolio-holder (as indicated in the process set out in the organogram (entitled Appendix 2 UDC Local Plan 2020 - 2040 Governance Structure, Activities and Networks) which shows how the various forums and meetings relate to each other in the overall decision-making process);
· All Members are treated fairly and reasonably with regard to the length and, more importantly, frequency with which they are allowed to speak;
· In the event that a Member cannot attend a meeting, no substitute will be allowed;
· I will appoint a Vice-Chair of the Group;
· The Portfolio-holder for Planning and the Local Plan meetings will be invited to ask and/or answer any questions that may arise.
· Given that we have a monumental, complicated and ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To receive the report on Community Engagement on the Local Plan.
The Chair asked Stephen Miles to present the report to the group.
Stephen Miles; The consultation and engagement of the new Local Plan would be key to its success. Officers are currently drafting a statement or community involvement and supporting engagement strategy with the aim of taking these through governance processes to be agreed in September. This report is being presented today to get the groups feedback on engagement and how to do that and incorporate your views into the engagement strategy. The paper outlines the "What, Who, When and How" and there are three discussion points at the end that members may want to use to inform discussions.
Cllr. Caton said he was concerned as the report reflects the old Local Plan process that suggested an issue and options consultation at the Reg 18 stage of the process. At the all member workshop, the consultation was suggested to be an ongoing conversation. He would be much more supportive of a flexible process. He highlighted the point that most of the consultation was web based and that would not reach people in the district who do not use technology everyday.
Stephen Miles explained that the document does consider other medium of communication such as posters and leaflets, however he said if there are any other ways to reach out, he would welcome the input to ensure the engagement is successful.
Cllr. Caton suggested using village magazines to circulate information.
Cllr. Light said as a person who doesn't use social media, she didn't want to be left out. Going back to the terms of reference, the Cllr. asked how would the development needs be met and by whom, clarity was asked for on this point. Additionally on page 9 in points 15 and 16, she asked at what point the residents could engage in the plan early on in the process.
On page 10, the gunning principles is a critical point and should be included in the main body of the document.
Stephen Miles highlighted from the all member workshop, the Peer Review Team talked about a series of interlinked conversations on a number of themes, starting early engagement without any fixed ideas to allow the community and other stakeholders to input into and shape the process. The current document didn't capture the ideas from the Peer Review Team from the recent workshop, however they should be explored.
Cllr Freeman said it was vital to ensure people without computers still feel comfortable commenting and will be counted.
Cllr Sutton suggested ward Councillors take a role in the monthly update community and parish council meetings, putting information of parish Facebook pages and parish magazines and assisting with letter writing for people who need assistance.
The Chair highlighted caution when offering letter writing assistance as it may appear to be steering the public.
Cllr. Bagnall with regards to engagement there were 61 town and parish councils across the district. We should utilise them to relay information in their own communities.
Cllr. Merifield supported ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To receive the quarterly Local Plan response to government.
The Chair asked Stephen Miles to present.
Stephen Miles; when the council resolved to withdrew the local plan in April, they agreed to keep the government up to date with the progress on the new Local Plan for the district. The council will therefore be writing to Ministry on a quarterly basis. The paper presented is a drafted comment for government for your note and comment.
Cllr. Light raised a point on the wording of paragraph 9 " at cabinet on 9th July the Council agreed"..She suggested it should read "the Cabinet agreed"… The addendum was agreed by the group.
Cllr. Reeve asked the meaning of the acronym "MHCLG", he otherwise approved the wording.
Stephen Miles confirmed the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.
Cllr. Bagnall suggested under the mitigating actions in the risk analysis it said "quarterly updates to MHCLG will provide the government confidence the council are working towards a new Local Plan". He suggested re-wording the statement as it would be the content of the update that would provide confidence.
Stephen Miles agreed this comment.
The Chair made some suggestions for the group to consider.
In the context of paragraph 8, between the 2 sentences he suggested adding the following wording or similar, "it should be noted that members did not accept the review teams recommendation that the members group should be small and held in private. This was considered to be unacceptable to both the members of the council who may wish to be involved in the process and more importantly to members of the public, to whom the council are committed to being open and transparent".
The group supported this insertion.
The Chair asked for clarification on paragraph 9, would be appropriate to replace the word process with " the Local Plan Leadership Groups recommendations to Cabinet"
Cllr. Bagnall remarked that the description was in line with the diagram and the proposed wording would change the context.
The group concluded that there was no need to change the wording in paragraph 9.
The Chair suggested at the end of the letter the proposed wording, "The Council wishes to emphasize that in producing the local plan it is currently totally committed to achieving the government's specified target adoption date for the Local Plan of the end of December 2023".
Cllr Light asked what happened if we don't meet the deadline.
Stephen Miles cautioned against committing to a date. Officers were currently working on the local development scheme for the Local Plan supported by a project plan to ensure the timetable being proposed is realistic.
He proposed giving the government an update of schedule in the next update after the council had looked at the timetable in more detail.
The Chair was wary if the council did not put forward a date, the following correspondence may still not give a proposed date of submission. He didn't think this was the right message to put across being non-committal.
Cllr. Bagnall challenged Stephen Miles ... view the full minutes text for item 5.