Appendix 3 – new member working groups and advisory bodies – Part 4

(i)&(ii): new member working groups:




Brighton and Hove City Council holds, in public ownership, 12,500 acres of Downland Estate surrounding and within the City of Brighton and Hove. The City Downland Estate covers the council’s tenanted farmland and grazing land managed by the Estates Team and “conservation land” managed by Cityparks.  The city is one of the largest landowners in the South Downs and its estate is the largest publicly owned estate in the Park.

Some years ago, the council adopted a City Downland Estate policy whose overarching aim and vision is to: reconnect the people of Brighton & Hove to a more biodiverse Downland with better education, improved access and a better sense of connection to the land


ETS Committee in July 2013 adopted the policy statement to:

‘Sustain natural resources provided by the council’s downland estate by working in partnership with relevant stakeholders and potential beneficiaries and pursuing an economically sustainable approach for the council and its tenant farmers.’

The City Downland Estate is mainly within the South Downs National Park which itself has two statutory purposes and a Special Duty:

·         To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area;

·         To promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park by the public.

·         Duty: To seek to foster the social and economic wellbeing of the local communities within the National Park in pursuit of our purposes.

Brighton & Hove is part of the Living Coast UNESCO World Biosphere Region which extends from the Adur to the Ouse and covers the City Downland Estate. The core of the biosphere is BHCC land. The Biosphere has three key objectives:

·           To conserve and enhance nature

·           To support sustainable human development

·           To promote environmental awareness, knowledge, learning and engagement

and six themes:

·           Urban Greening

·           Strengthening our Natural Capital

·           Thriving Communities – health, wellbeing & economy

·           Climate Change & Carbon

·           Awareness, Understanding & Engagement

·           The Living Coast as a site for Research & Knowledge Sharing.


There are other legislative drivers such as the Water Framework Directive which will shape future policy development for the City Downland Estate.

Two years ago, Brighton & Hove City Council passed a notice of motion committing it to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Since then, the Corporate Plan passed under the Labour administration reiterates the commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and promises to promote and protect biodiversity. It undertakes to develop a new City Downland Estate plan to promote biodiversity, mitigate climate change and deliver health and social benefits for communities.

Asset Management Board

Within the council, the purpose of the Asset Management Board (‘the Board’) is to advise the Policy & Resources Committee and other relevant Policy Committees on policy, governance and strategies relating to the management of the Council’s urban and rural estates, and how this relates to the Corporate Strategic Plan.

It currently has oversight of the city council’s operational and non-operational portfolios. It reviews and monitors the management of the city council’s urban and agricultural asset management policies. Among other things, it advises P&R Committee on maximising the use of the council’s commercial assets in the context of the council’s budget and the development of an asset investment strategy for the council’s urban portfolio to reduce its latent risk and consolidate its performance. It continues to promote regeneration in the City, with a focus on low-cost housing, community wealth building and moving to a low-carbon economy. It advises on the implications of Brexit in relation to the council’s urban and rural estates; agree an approach to define and measure social value in relation to the council’s rural and urban estates and reviews the circumstances under which agricultural land can be identified for release or acquisition, alongside a wider review of the agricultural strategy in the council’s Asset Management Plan (AMP) and considers the definitions of agricultural core and non-core property. It is currently (December 2020) advising on the development of a Whole Estate Plan for the City Downland Estate in partnership with South Downs National Park.


Property & Design are currently conducting a consultation on a Whole Estate Plan facilitated by community consultation experts Planning for Real around how we best protect the city’s water, enhance biodiversity, improve access to the downland, regenerate the soil, encourage sustainable agriculture and mitigate and adapt to the climate emergency, all within the context of the council’s commitment achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The council is committed to making the consultation as inclusive and thorough as it can be, given the current Covid-related restrictions. To this end, it has sent postcards to around 140,000 households with Brighton & Hove addresses; is conducting a number of online Planning for Real Zoom sessions and is inviting input via the website and the Bang the Table platform.

Purpose of the Downland Advisory Panel

The council recognises that, in addition to engaging local residents, it particularly needs input from key stakeholders such as the SDNPA, the Downland Alliance, the Sussex Wildlife Trust, the Permaculture Trust, the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, Southern Water, the Local Access Forum, the Brighton & Hove Estate Conservation Trust, BMECP/the Trust for Developing Communities and tenant farmers.

Following the initial round of Planning for Real consultations, it is proposed that these organisations be approached for specific input into the discussion and to gauge their interest in serving on the Advisory Panel.

Once the WEP is completed, the purpose of the Downland Advisory Panel will be to provide advice on its implementation within the SDNPA purposes and duty, the Biosphere objectives and the incorporation of BHCC Corporate Plan objectives around carbon neutral 2030 and community wealth-building. This means advice on policy development, plans and delivery. The Advisory Panel will report annually to the P&R Committee on implementation of the Whole Estate Plan and to the Asset Management Board on an ad hoc basis but at least twice a year.

The advice will be used to inform decisions made by the council to further its policy aims.

Day to day management of the estate will be undertaken by the council within policies agreed by the Council.


Membership of the Panel needs to reflect the main and varied interests in the Downland Estate, specifically, the interests of future generations and the city’s BME communities, as well as bringing in different expertise from different organisations able to advise on aspects of Downland policy which will allow the purpose of the Panel to be met. Membership will be by invitation from the Council and the Panel and will be kept under review as the Advisory Panel develops.

·         Farming representatives x 2

·         Council officer representatives and Land Managing Agents

·         5 members, to reflect the constitution political party representations on the council

·         SDNPA x 1

·         Downland Alliance representative x1

·         Sussex Wildlife Trust x 1 who should also represent the SWT’s youth rangers

·         BMECP/the Trust for Developing Communities x 1

·         Permaculture Trust x 1

·         Brighton & Hove Food Partnership x 1

·         Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project x 1

·         Aquifer Partnership x 1

·         Local Access Forum x 1

·         Brighton & Hove Estate Conservation Trust x 1

·         Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust x 1

·         The Living Coast x 1

Expert advice will need to be drawn on as required and decided by the Advisory Panel from, for example, investment and business experts, tourism professionals, the National Trust and ecologists.


The Advisory Panel will be chaired by the member from the party that currently holds the administration.  The secretariat will be provided by Brighton and Hove City Council. While the Council’s political make-up is represented on the Panel, members also have the opportunity to influence Downland policy through the Asset Management Board. The focus of the panel is on hearing from key stakeholders.

The schedule of meetings will need to be agreed by the Advisory Panel with regard to the level of advice requested. Each year the Council should set out its work programme with the Advisory Panel.  This will provide an indication of the type and level of advice that is likely to be needed and a schedule of meetings can be established as required which also allows for flexibility.


The work of the Advisory Panel is subject to review by the Asset Management Board. However, the Panel will report directly to the Policy & Resources Committee and shall do so at least once a year.




The purpose of the Cross-Party Working Group for Planning Policy (“the CPWGP”) is to help the City Council develop and implement its Development Plans and Planning Policy Guidance as part of its activities, including partnership work with other agencies and bodies.


The CPWGP shall be an advisory board to the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee. The CPWGP will not have subcommittee status and the political balance rules in section 15 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 will not apply. However, it is expected that the CPWGP will be established on a cross party basis.

Areas of focus

The CPWGP will oversee the progress of the development and reviews of the Council’s Development Plans and other Planning Policy Guidance, and review their content having regard to evidence, national planning policy and guidance, best practice and corporate priorities.


The CPWGP will report to the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee, making recommendations as necessary.


Membership of the CPWG will consist of 3 elected Members, following nominations by the Group Leaders to reflect the political composition of the Council.

Meetings and ways of working

The timing and number of meetings will be dictated by the volume of business for the CPWGP. The Group will agree ways of working appropriate to the role and remit of the Group.


These terms of reference may be reviewed and amended (subject to formal Policy & Resources Committee) by the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee from time to time.


(iii) Advisory bodies:




Views and recommendations from this group will be taken into account and will be represented at the Children, Young People and Skills Committee by the Councillors and Youth Council representative.


· Councillors – usually one Member from each of the three political groups in the council who attend the Children, Young People and Skills Committee · Young people from different areas, groups and youth services in the city including representatives from the Youth Council, Children in Care Council, commissioned youth projects and other youth organisations. · Executive Director or Assistant Director for Families Children & Learning. · Youth workers to support young people if deemed necessary · Council Officer to oversee organisation and administration

Frequency – Every 3 months, with task and finish groups as agreed and additional meetings set up when deemed necessary. Young people to meet before the more formal meeting with councillors and senior officers.

Venue – The young people were keen to hold the meeting in various venues because it would be good to get to know other youth venues. Agreed to rotate venues across the city and include more formal meeting places to give young people that experience.

Agenda The young people would like the agenda going out well in advance (month before the meeting) so they have time to garner the views from the young people in their group so their voices can also be bought to the meeting. Agenda items can be proposed by young people, councillors or senior council officers.

Chairing The Chair of Children, Young People and Skills Committee Lead to chair the meeting with, if there is a volunteer, a young person.

Organisation/AdministrationCouncil Officer to organise the meeting, consult and agree an agenda, circulate papers a month in advance and type up notes from meeting and circulate. Communication We need to reach out to other young people; past members have been involved, mainly due to knowing and having a good relationship with a youth worker. It was agreed that we need a robust communication plan with the meeting dates, agenda items and how they can feed into the group published widely via various routes such as Facebook. It was agreed that further discussion is required on this.


Additional proposed text for the Introduction to Part 4, to clarify the role of Member Working Groups:


D.        Member Working Groups – ad hoc and permanent

Member Working Groups may be set up to support the Council’s decision-making in a particular area. They may be tasked with making recommendations and/ or comments to their parent Committee as a way of reducing Committee workloads.

Member Working Groups do not have decision-making powers. They are established on a cross party basis and substitutions are permitted. The Chair of each Member Working group will be appointed from the council’s largest political group unless Policy & Resources Committee or other relevant Committee has made alternative express provision. While all Member Working Groups are expected to achieve consensus where possible, the Chair shall have the right to exercise a casting vote.  

The principles for setting up a Member Working Group are as follows:

  1. Member Working Groups may either be ‘task and finish’ member groups (time-limited for six months with the option of being extended once, for a further six months) or permanent groups (likely to be required for at least a year).
  2. Permanent groups may only be established by the Council’s Policy & Resources Committee or by Full Council, normally at the recommendation of the parent Committee. Their Terms of Reference are published in the Council’s Constitution. They are reviewed annually and will only be retained where clear evidence of their effectiveness has been identified. 
  3. Ad hoc groups may be set up by any of the Council’s Committees. The parent Committee must agree their Terms of Reference and will receive reports back on a regular basis (at least annually). Where there is a need to continue an ad hoc group for twelve months or more, then it must be established as a permanent Member Working Group. These Groups were previously sometimes referred to as ‘Policy Panels’, a term no longer in use.
  4. All Member Working Groups will use a standard Terms of Reference template to ensure consistency and good governance and will normally include in their membership the Chair or Deputy Chair of the parent Committee.