To consider the Stansted Airport Appeal report.
Councillor Caton was invited to speak and he set out his concerns. He thought there were a number of governance issues as a result of the appeal, and said that there needed to be a comprehensive review, not only related to planning issues. He said an internal review would not be as transparent as an independent one.
The Chair thanked Councillor Caton for his comments and agreed that the governance issues were of great importance, as well as the decision making process and transparency. He said that Scrutiny had a duty to residents to conduct the first review and then if required an external inquiry could follow on. He also agreed that seeking advice on governance matters from external experts would be important.
Councillor Driscoll questioned whether the review should come after the final appeal had finished as he was concerned that it could produce a whole different outcome.
The Chair said that the preparatory work could be carried out at this stage, and some historical aspects reviewed, not least to include the governance issues.
Councillor Sell said it was important that the task and finish group had the resources, including financial, that were needed to carry out the work efficiently.
Councillor Criscione agreed with Councillor Driscoll and said it should be sensitively managed; he supported moving to a review.
The Chair read out paragraph 14:-
"...Furthermore, Council calls on the Scrutiny Committee, at the appropriate time,
to consider whether there is a need to initiate a Member-led review and, if so, to
engage with the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) or similar body to audit and
scrutinise the process which commenced under the previous Administration in
He asked if the Committee wanted to take on the request of Full Council to undertake the review, there was unanimous consent in favour.
There was a further unanimous vote in favour of setting up a task and finish group to carry out this work.
The Chair said the task and finish group would be set up with 5 members: - Councillor Le-Count – Chair
Councillors Coote, Criscione and Fairhurst
A Liberal Democrat member to be nominated by Councillor Caton.
The members agreed and voted unanimously for the proposed members of the task and finish group.
The Assistant Director – Corporate Services said the fifth member did not need to be formally agreed by the Committee, he said the details could be circulated once confirmed.
The Chair requested that an early meeting be convened, and asked if a draft terms of reference; a work programme and some initial observations could be brought back to the Committee as soon as possible and by September.
The Assistant Director – Corporate Services confirmed that the Monitoring Officer would be the Lead Officer for the group.
The Chair said there also needed to be some independent advice and Mr Sharp from the LGA had been suggested relating to the planning issues. He said advice and guidance from someone regarding Governance would also be needed.
The Chair said the task and finish group would have a huge amount of work. He said the Governance issues were of equal importance to any planning matters and these could be looked at straight away without interfering with the on going legal process.
Councillor Evans said the composition of the group made sense and he thought an outside advisor would be able to provide the necessary guidance and clarity to the group.
In response to a suggestion from Councillor Criscione to ask for initial advice from the Centre of Public Scrutiny (CfPS), the Assistant Director – Corporate Services said that their view had previously been that planning issues were not a scrutiny function, therefore he questioned whether they would be the best option.
I. Establish a Task and Finish Group in order to review the Stansted Airport Appeal process
II. Appoint Councillors LeCount, Coote, Criscione, Fairhurst and a Liberal Democrat Member to the Task and Finish Group.
III. Request that the Task and Finish Group bring back terms of reference for approval by this Committee no later than the September 2021 meeting.
IV. Request that the Terms of Reference include any details of external support, if required.