Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre. View directions
Apologies for absence
Apologies of absence were received from Councillor David Carter. Councillor Simon Carter was in attendance as a substitute for Councillor David Carter.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors declarations of interest (if any) in relation to items on the agenda.
None. All members of the Sub Committee stated they were not subject to a party whip in respect of matters on the agenda for this meeting.
Procedure for the Meeting
To note the following procedure, which will apply for this meeting:
(i) The Councillors who called-in the decision will explain their reasons for doing so.
(ii) The Sub Committee will consider information in relation to the background to the decision and receive evidence from relevant Councillors and Officers.
(iii) Members of the Sub Committee will question the information received and ask questions of the witnesses.
(iv) The Sub Committee will determine what action to take in response to the call-in. The decisions available to the Sub Committee are:
(a) Not to take any further action;
(b) To refer the decision back to the Cabinet for reconsideration. (Such a reference would need to be accompanied by a written statement of the Sub Committee’s concerns).
(c) Separately, to refer the matter to the Scrutiny Committee.
The Chair explained the procedure for the meeting as detailed on the agenda and explained that the Leader of the Council, Councillor Jon Clempner and the Chief Operating Officer, Graham Branchett, are in attendance as witnesses to respond to questions by Sub Committee members.
The Sub Committee received a report that explained the call in process and included the original call in notice signed by Councillors Joel Charles and Clive Souter.
In accordance with point (i) of the meeting procedure, Councillor Charles outlined the reasons for the call in. These were as detailed in the call in notice signed by himself and Councillor Clive Souter. He reiterated the request of the call in notice, that the decision be referred back to Cabinet for reconsideration.
In accordance with point (ii) of the meeting procedure, Councillor Clempner provided an explanation for the Cabinet’s decision on 17 September. He stressed that the decision was informed by a detailed and independent assessment of the available options; it was not an attempt to impose political dogma. Councillor Clempner had prepared a document that aimed to answer all of the questions raised in the call in notice. The Sub Committee felt that it would not be practical to consider Councillor Clempner’s note and asked instead that he answer its questions directly.
In accordance with point (iii) of the meeting procedure, the Sub Committee asked a series of questions of attending witnesses.
Councillor Charles asked a series of questions on the proposed governance arrangements for the LATC, including details of recruitment of Board Members/Directors; level of Councillor involvement in LATC management; stakeholder engagement; compliance with EU procurement legislation; strategies for ensuring retention of current Kier Harlow Ltd staff; managing conflicts of interest; accountability and customer contact under the LATC; and performance management. Councillor Charles asserted that certainty of such detailed matters is necessary before the Council can make a decision on whether or not to create a LATC and felt that the report to Cabinet on 17 September 2015 did not include sufficient detail to enable the Cabinet to achieve such certainty.
Councillor Souter asked a series of questions on the Council’s transition/exit arrangements from the JVCo. They included questions on service specification; staffing and TUPE; transfer of assets such as vehicles, plant and machinery; condition surveys of Mead Park Depot; and ICT requirements.
Councillor Simon Carter asked a series of questions on the financial aspects of the Cabinet’s decision. Councillor Carter asked why a full business plan for the LATC had not yet been produced. He also asked Councillor Clempner if he agreed that the decision of the consultant to use the same cost base for all options (in the financial appraisal of the appraisal report) represented a fundamental flaw in the options appraisal.
Councillor Clempner and Graham Branchett responded to each question in turn. The following is a summary of the main points that were made in response to the questions:
(i) Some questions regarding detailed arrangements for governance processes are premature. This is because best practice guidance recommends that a LATC be set up in a staged approach and issues such as governance arrangements, supply chain and preparation of a full business plan comprise the latter stages of this process. Therefore it was not necessary ... view the full minutes text for item 4.