Agenda item

The Committee is asked to consider and comment upon, as appropriate, the initial proposals for the highlight priorities for 2024/25 submitted to it by the Cabinet.



The Committee heard that, at Cabinet’s meeting held on 15 December 2023 (Minute 62 referred), Cabinet had considered a report of the Leader of the Council & Portfolio Holder for Corporate Finance and Governance, which had reminded Members that the Council’s strategic direction was set out in its Corporate Plan which was a fundamental element of the Council’s Policy Framework.  The Corporate Plan (‘Our Vision’) had been adopted unanimously by Council on 28 November 2023 (Minute 76 referred) and covered the period 2024-28. Key elements of delivering against the adopted Corporate Plan would be through annual highlight priority actions approved by the Cabinet. The 2024/25 initial proposals for highlight priorities had been set out at Appendix B to the Portfolio Holder’s report. Through that report, Cabinet had been invited to adopt those initial proposals for consultation purposes before finalising its highlight priorities for 2024/25; which would involve consideration of the outcome of the consultation undertaken.


It was reported to Members that recognising the rationale for the Portfolio Holder’s recommendations was to set out openly for all concerned the initial proposals for highlight priorities for 2024/25 and that this supported the openness agenda of the Council and provided an opportunity for engagement with the public, businesses and partners on those initial proposals.  Through consultation it was hoped that the views received could help shape the priorities that would finally be adopted (within the reality of the Council’s budgetary position). Cabinet had therefore -


“RESOLVED that Cabinet resolves that -


(a)    the initial highlight priorities for 2024/25, as set out at Appendix B to report A.2, be approved for consultation;

(b)    all Councillors, other partners and the public be invited to consider the initial priorities referred to in (a) above; and

(c)    the outcome of the consultation referred to in (b) above be reported to Cabinet on 15 March 2024 in order that Cabinet can formally adopt its finalised highlight priority actions for 2024/25.”


A copy of the published Leader of the Council’s report (and its appendices) to the Cabinet meeting held on 15 December 2023 were attached to Officer’s covering report.


A series of written questions had been previously compiled by the Committee and put to the Portfolio Holders.  The Portfolio Holders’ responses had been provided in writing and circulated to the Committee prior to the commencement of the meeting.  The Minutes of this meeting record those questions and responses below. Further supplementary questions were asked of Cabinet Members and responses provided and they are also recorded below.



Portfolio Holder/Officer


Question to be asked.




Cllr M Stephenson

Cllr Griffiths

I note on page 9 that it is anticipated by 2026/27 that there are likely to be initial development work on the Garden Community Site.  I also note that on page 12 (reference B5) that a highlight priority for 2024/25 is intended to be the development of the DPD for the Garden Community.  So my question is where is the imperative around stewardship of public facilities as part of the Garden Community.  If that is not correct at the beginning it will have negative implications for decades.  Surely that should be a highlight priority.


The need for robust stewardship arrangements for both the governance and management of assets within the Garden Community are a requirement of the adopted Local Plan and the emerging Development Plan Document. These arrangements will need to be in place and tied into a s106 legal agreement before the first planning permissions are granted. The Lead Developers Latimer are considering necessary stewardship arrangements alongside their work in preparing the planning application and the Members of the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community have been giving consideration to a variety of stewardship models and examples of best practice from across the country, with guidance from Officers and expert consultants. Whilst the highlight priority refers to the DPD and the development of the Garden Community thereafter, the requirements of the Local Plan and the DPD themselves make it implicit that stewardship arrangements will be confirmed, as stated above, through the s106 legal agreement on the first planning permission.

Cllr M Stephenson





















Deputy Chief Executive

Cllr Griffiths

Supplementary Questions


When will scrutiny of these Stewardship arrangements come in? As I believe that TDC Councillors should have some input into the Stewardship arrangements before they are approved by the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community Joint Committee.







What is a Town Board?




Stewardship has to be in place before planning applications can be approved and this will be tied to the section 106 legal agreements.


 The TCBGC Joint Committee is made up of 3 TDC members, 3 from Colchester City Council and 2 from Essex County Council who will decide the Stewardship arrangements, TDC’s members on the Joint Committee are our input in these arrangements.


As part of the Towns Grant Government Funding TDC is required to set up a Town Board to come up with a vision for spending the funding.

Cllr M Stephenson

Cllr Griffiths

I note at reference F4 on page 14 that there is intended to be a new communications strategy – will that specifically address the problems we have at TDC of differentiating ourselves from services provided by others.  In this regard I specifically note that in the corporate plan consultation many residents thought that TDC was responsible for road and pavement repairs (e.g. potholes) and clearly we are not.  In my mind there should be an effort to tell the public just who is responsible for which services.

The Communications Strategy hasn’t been drafted completely as of yet as it is necessary to take on board the feedback from consultees on the initial proposed highlight priorities.  As such, this feedback around the relative responsibilities of partners, including Essex County Council (ECC), will be reflected on as the draft new Communications Strategy is developed.  Having said that, the Strategy is intended to be a guiding principle on the delivery of Communications by the Council and the distinction between TDC and ECC is only one element to consider. 

Cllr M Stephenson

Cllr Griffiths

Supplementary Questions


In the new Communications Strategy can we make it clear what TDC is responsible for, what falls under our remit as opposed to partner agencies and can this also be applied to future consultations?




While I agree with the sentiment of your idea, the practicality of it could be resource intensive for something that is comparatively easy to deal with.

Cllr G Placey

Cllr Steady

On page 12 at reference D1 it mentions measures to reduce Health Inequalities; what will those measures include please?  I ask as to whether it includes signing up to compassionate communities.

Firstly, may I point out that we are going in the right direction with our health indices improving as reported recently. But as Chris Whitty said when he visited us, there is no silver bullet, no one size fits all and there is still a lot of work to do.


There are a broad range of ongoing health inequality initiatives. This includes a Fuel Poverty Officer to help support residents to access the correct type of fuels and tariffs and also to maximise benefits.  Funding from the Integrated Care Board (ICB) has enabled us to provide specialist support to Children’s Social Care to help families most in need as part of a multidisciplinary team. 


Family Solutions has been funded with a specific post in Harwich to support struggling families and to develop community resilience.  The ICB funding has also been used to enable the voluntary sector to directly address cost of living issues via food and fuel vouchers and support and is also being provided to help support with hospital discharge.

Further funding has been provided by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to support those furthest from employment; two staff are now employed to deliver this. 


The work with Active Essex around the Local Delivery Pilot Sport England funding has also provided multiple examples of supporting communities as the funding was focussed on the most deprived areas and has included initiatives such as Essex Pedal Power, Beat the Streets and Parkplay which encourage people to get active and has been proved to enable easier access to work and Education .


Following a meeting with the Hospice a report has now been produced to consider signing up to the Compassionate Communities charter taking into account the resource implications but also the benefits of doing this.




Head of Health and Community

Cllr Steady

Supplementary Questions


Are there any plans for any outreach of Family Solutions into rural areas of the District?




There are 2 ECC staff, hosted by TDC – 1 covers the whole of the District while the other focuses primarily on Harwich.




Head of Health and Community

Cllr Ferguson

Supplementary Questions


Is the Officer for Harwich based in Harwich?









After a detailed discussion it was moved by Councillor Steady seconded by Councillor Griffiths and unanimously RESOLVED that:


(a)  the following recommendation be submitted to the Cabinet namely that when, each quarter, a summary report on delivery against all of the Cabinet’s Annual Highlight Priority Areas for the year is sent to Portfolio Holders a copy of such summary report should also be sent to the members of the Council’s overview and scrutiny committees.


(b)  Cabinet be also informed that this Committee is pleased to note that it has covered most, if not all, of the new Corporate Plan Themes in its work undertaken to date in 2023/24.


Supporting documents: