To invite the Committee to consider the appropriate arrangements to be adopted for scrutiny of the North Essex Garden Communities Interim Business Plan 2018- 19 and the future Business Plans. The content of the current and future Business Plans does and is likely to continue to impact on matters which are the responsibility of both this Committee and the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The Committee had before it the Report of the Head of Democratic Services and Elections – A.2 – Scrutiny of the North Essex Garden Communities Business Plan 2018/19 and Beyond.
This report invited the Committee to consider the appropriate arrangements to be adopted for Scrutiny of the North Essex Garden Communities Interim Business Plan 2018-19 and the future Business Plans. This Committee’s approved work programme envisaged scrutiny of the NEGC Business Plan at its meeting on 2 December 2019 and this report sought to respect the wish to undertake this scrutiny, to establish a revised timeframe for this scrutiny and address the appropriate arrangements for that scrutiny.
It was further reported that there is a legitimate rationale for both this Committee and the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee to scrutinise the NEGC Business Plan however this might not be efficient nor effective and could unduly lead to a drain on capacity of Members of the two Committees and Officers in supporting those Committees if both operate separately on this matter. This report was therefore submitted to invite the Committee to consider whether there was value in establishing specific scrutiny arrangements for the NEGC Business Plan that span both Overview and Scrutiny Committees. The Corporate Director (Planning and Regeneration) has indicated that it would be entirely reasonable to accommodate a meeting within August/September on the basis that the arrangements have been settled upon.
The Committee were made aware that a similarly worded Report was submitted to the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 29 July 2019, and had before it the decisions of that Committee relating to this report. These decisions included a request to this Committee for its views on establishing a joint scrutiny panel for NEGC.
It was moved by Councillor Miles, Seconded by Councillor Davidson to endorse the decisions as put forward by the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 29 July 2019. As such this Committee RESOLVED:
(1) To record that this Committee believes that the value of scrutinising the NEGC is demonstrated as it will:
· The topic is of high local importance and reflects the concerns of local people about the delivery of sustainable growth/development and protection of the identity of existing settlements in the District.
· There is a commitment from Members to the time to conduct the review.
· The findings from the scrutiny can realistically influence and shape delivery against the business plan and future business plans.
· The issue is relevant to all or large parts of the local area
· The review would be in the council’s interests to ensure that the investment in the scheme is independently overseen.
(2) To record that the broad range of the NEGC, spanning the responsibilities of both of the existing Overview and Scrutiny Committees (OSCs) and the impact of the proposed Garden Community in the District necessitates a joint approach, unfettered by considerations as to whether the issues are internal to the Council or its partnership working. The creation of a new Joint Scrutiny Panel with a Membership drawn from the existing OSCs would avoid work duplication; a key consideration in good scrutiny.
(3) That, as proposed by the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, a Joint NEGC Scrutiny Panel be established with a view to its first meeting being held within a month of this meeting and that the Chairmen of the two Committees be authorised to determine the Membership of the Joint Panel on the basis of equality of representation on the Panel from the two Committees and a broadly proportionate political representation. Such decisions will be subject to ratification by the respective OSCs.
(4) That the Chief Executive be requested to identify any necessary amendments to the Constitution to facilitate the above and to submit the necessary reports to achieve this.