The Commission was asked to determine its work programme for the coming year and had before it the various suggestions that had been made for the creation of task and finish groups.
Local Plan Task and Finish Group
The on-going work of the Local Plan Task and Finish Group was considered, with updated terms of reference. A change was proposed to the terms of reference so that the Task and Finish Group could test the case for a Saunderton Area Action Plan, to include public engagement. This was agreed.
Councillor John Savage had agreed to chair the Local Plan Task and Finish Group, which was endorsed by the Commission. A briefing for the Task and Finish Group was envisaged for August, ahead of commencing work in in September.
The role of Local Members on the Saunderton specific work of the Local Plan Task and Finish Group was outlined. Their presence at such meetings as important witnesses to give evidence, shape a view point etc. was explained rather than as Group Members actually formulating recommendations.
Budget Task and Finish Group
The proposed work of the Budget Task and Finish Group was also outlined, which for this year work would be undertaken in two distinct phases. Last year the conventional Budget Task and Finish Group meetings scheduled around Christmas had proved problematic with the exceedingly late indication of Central Government settlements to Local Authorities. This year an initial phase would start now, looking at issues for consideration in the drawing up of next year’s budget, making recommendations to Cabinet in November. A second phase from November to February next year would look at the emerging Council budget as a whole, reporting to Cabinet at its February meeting.
Councillor Collingwood (Vice Chairman of the Commission) had been approached to Chair the Group. This appointment was endorsed by the Commission.
In respect of the proposed task and finish group regards the review of Saunderton Lodge Temporary Accommodation it was noted that a report on proposals was scheduled to go to Cabinet on 21 September 2015. In order that the Commission could have input it was proposed that rather than setting up a Task and Finish Group, a report could be brought to the Commission meeting of 16 September 2015, just before the Cabinet Meeting, so that the Commission could make any recommendations on the issue alongside the report to Cabinet for consideration. The appropriate Cabinet Member and lead officers would be invited to the Commission’s 16 September meeting.
Ward Member role in Planning
This suggestion of a review of Ward Members and Officer Roles in planning process and planning enforcement was seen by Members as problematic as a review subject, given that it strayed into non-executive matters i.e. the work of the planning committee / the local planning authority. The Planning Portfolio Advisory Group was seen as a more appropriate forum for this review.
Volunteers from the Commission to serve on the Local Plan and Budget Task and Finish Groups were encouraged to approach the relevant Chairmen. Similarly Chairmen would approach Members they saw as skilled in respect of the Tasks involved, to join their Groups. The opportunity of Members not on the Commission (as long as they were not Members of the Executive (Cabinet Members or Deputies) to serve on these Groups was noted.
Cabinet Forward Plan
The Commission asked for the Corporate Plan item to come to its November meeting, ahead of consideration by Cabinet, if considered necessary following the Members seminar in October.
RESOLVED: That (i) the Local Plan Task and Finish Group be established, under the Chairmanship of Councillor John Savage (Vice-Chairman Councillor Alex Collingwood), with the terms of reference as set out, subject to testing the case for a Saunderton Area Action Plan, with public engagement, as outlined above;
(ii) the Budget Task and Finish Group be established, under the Chairmanship of Councillor Alex Collingwood to start its initial phase of two planned pieces of work, as outlined above;
(iii) the issue of the Review of Saunderton Lodge be dealt with by means of a report to the Commission’s 16 September 2015 meeting ahead of Cabinet consideration later that month, as outlined above;
(iv) the issue of the Review of Ward Members and Officer Roles in planning process and planning enforcement be referred to the Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainability for consideration for review with the Planning Portfolio Advisory Group rather than by Task and Finish Group; and
(v) The Corporate Plan be submitted to the Commission’s November meeting, if considered necessary following the Members Seminar in October.