Enforcement Improvement Programme Update
- Meeting of Economic and Social Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Thursday, 16th March, 2023 6.30 pm (Item 51.)
To update the members of the Committee on the Enforcement Improvement Programme.
Members of the Committee to scrutinise the update and ask questions to be put to officers if needed.
Phil Shaw Business Manager - Development Management, and Kelly Murray the Principal Planner for Enforcement & Appeals, introduced the slide presentation regarding the Planning Enforcement Update.
The presentation focussed on the following topics:
· Formal Enforcement Action;
· Future Work – Projects/Front End Improvements.
Following the presentation, Phil Shaw and Kelly Murray took questions from Members.
Councillor Charlie Maynard asked about deterrents, and if they had been considered the press, and if there was a visible list that Councillors could check against their ward.
Phil Shaw confirmed that legislation was clear enforcement, and is not a punishment, and it is not a criminal offence. The number of cases were dependant on the stage of the investigation or allegations, and the team were happy to brief Councillors if they were concerned about a particular area.
Councillor Rizvana Poole enquired as to how many complaints there were, and how were West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) were fairing against other local Councils. Kelly Murray confirmed that WODC receives on average 10 to 15 complaints per month, which is currently less that Cotswolds and Forest of Dean District Councils. Phil Shaw stated that some cases were easily resolved and that others took longer – it is case by case: there is no real average.
Councillor Ruth Smith enquired on when the new ICT Front End would be available. Phil Shaw explained that due to maternity leave there would be a gap in the project’s delivery timeline, but after looking at what was involved he had more confidence to leave it for the best person to deliver the project in full. This was envisaged to be end of summer.
Councillor Lysette Nicholls asked about non ICT users how they would be able to report. Scripts would be issued to Customer Services and they would be able to log the issues for non ICT users, on their behalf. The Chair asked if the Parish Councils would be trained on how to use the ICT front end. Phil Shaw was of the opinion that at the beginning this would not be the case and it is something they could keep in mind for future if there were a requirement.
Kelly Murray explained that one member on the team had a fair amount of experience, and that the remainder were new to the role. Learning on the job was key, as was enthusiasm and planning experience.
Phil Shaw added that the new posts were career graded, which made the posts more attractive by building in the career matrix.
The Chair enquired is the staff were protected enough, Phil Shaw confirmed that measures were in place for staff being out on site. Kelly Murray confirmed that on occasion they hired security, and the Inspectorate often did not allow filming so people were free to talk, it was about planning taking precautions and limiting social media.
The Chair thanked Phil Shaw, Kelly Murray and the Team for the good progress being made.
Committee Resolved to:
1. Note the Enforcement Improvement Programme Update.