Cabinet 9 March 2017

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The Local Plan, better use of council assets, housing for homeless people, pay and display car parks and the investment of additional fees in the planning service dominated debate at Cabinet on 9 March.

Draft Local Plan consultation

Preliminary findings from the draft Local Plan consultation were presented by Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor John Philip to the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 9 March.

Councillor Philip outlined some clear themes coming through for more work on infrastructure and employment sites including the wider area of East Herts and Harlow. New potential sites and changes to previously identified sites are also being reviewed and will be fed into the revisions of the draft plan. A new transport assessment is also being done in conjunction with Essex County Council.

Councillor Philip emphasised that publication of the next draft depended on full analysis and assessment of the additional work programmed in over the next year or so. Councillors noted the initial findings of the consultation, agreed progression of the Local Plan to the next stage and approved the publication of the Council’s updated Local Development Scheme online.

Better use of council buildings

The interests of residents and customers must remain at the heart of council services. Council Leader Chris Whitbread received Cabinet support for proposals to reduce the need for office space at the Civic Offices in Epping.

Reports show flexible working by staff including home and remote working, and use of other council buildings could allow the Council to move out of the older part of the Civic Offices known as the Conder Building. Councillor Whitbread described the proposals as part of the wider transformation programme to improve services.

Pay and Display set to save £58,000

Final preparations have been agreed for the transfer of the council’s off-street parking management from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to NSL.

Portfolio Holder Gary Waller reminded fellow councillors of the improvements the change of contract will bring to residents and the Council. The Council will save £58,600 under the new arrangements even though Councillor Waller said that NSL did not submit the cheapest bid. They did submit the best quality bid. Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) rates remain the same.

Housing for Homeless People

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou received approval to progress plans for a small pilot scheme of three ‘Pods’ to accommodate people at Norway House in North Weald. The pods containing individual living accommodation and shared kitchens are manufactured by a North Weald based company. Subject to planning approval, the Council plans to help homeless people who would otherwise find themselves in Bed and Breakfast.

Increased planning application fees

Cabinet accepted an offer by the Department of Communities and Local Government to increase planning fees. Governance Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett confirmed that any extra income would be reinvested in planning services.

Charter to inspire climate change action

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Reducing emissions and tackling climate change are the key aims of a new Environmental Charter signed by Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread and Chief Executive Glen Chipp.

Leader of Council Councillor Chris & Chief Executive signing the Environmental Charter


Climate Local

The Environmental Charter is part of Climate Local. Climate Local is a Local Government Association (LGA) initiative which asks councils for a commitment to help drive and inspire climate change action in the UK.

We have

  • Installed solar panel’s at the civic offices
  • Increased the recycling of our waste – through providing more bins and training staff
  • Insulated all council-owned properties to a high standard

We will

  • Help local people and businesses to be smarter about their energy use
  • As service providers aim to deliver services that are resource efficient and less carbon intensive
  • Ensure council owned buildings and operations are resource efficient and prepared for the impacts of a changing climate

Responsibility to our environment

Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “As a council we have a responsibility to our environment, by endorsing this Charter we are taking steps in the right direct towards making change.”

“Not only do we hope to reduce our carbon footprint but hope to inspire residents to make small changes resulting in a big difference.”

More info

Mental health outreach for local schools

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MiLife, an innovative mental health project developed by Epping Forest District Youth Council is touring local schools.

1 in 4 school age children experience mental health problems before the age of 18.

MiLife Roadshow

Click to enlarge photo and then click to see more photos

Addressing mental health

Delivered by a local theatre group, the latest MiLife performance helped Year 7 and Year 8 students at the Ongar Academy think about their mental welfare and that of their friends.

Using electronic voting handsets, students were asked what they would do in a series of different scenarios. The results of their choices were then played out by the actors.

Bringing the subject out into the open

MiLife was the innovation of Epping Forest District Youth Council. It evolved from the annual district-wide youth conference and was produced with the support of Epping Forest District Council.

Epping Forest Youth Councillor Adam Freeman said: “There tends to be quite a bit of focus on adult mental health at the moment but people can forget your school years can be some of the most stressful. There could be many different reasons for poor mental health.”

“By bringing the subject out into the open and talking about it, we hope to give young people the knowledge and skills they need to look after themselves and each other.”

A marvellous programme

Leisure and Communities Portfolio Holder Councillor Helen Kane supports the scheme. She said: “This is a fantastic  initiative. The issues around mental health are often misunderstood or worse ignored. Perhaps we tend to dismiss it as part of growing up.”

“However, there are many reasons why a young person might not have good mental health and I congratulate our Youth Council for developing such a marvellous programme.”

MiLife is touring schools and colleges throughout the district.

Find out more

To find out more about MiLife please visit

Overview and Scrutiny 28 February 2017

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The newly-appointed principal of Epping Forest College, Saboohi Famili came before councillors at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 28 February to discuss the damning recent OFSTED report.

Principal sets out college improvement plans

Ms Famili joined the college a matter of weeks before the inspection and is addressing the wide range of short-comings identified in the report. She was joined in Overview and Scrutiny by Councillor Gagan Mohindra in his capacity as the newly-appointed chairman of governors.

A new senior leadership team is in place. Ms Famili confirmed that recruitment of the next level of high-quality leadership and management was already underway. Action plans monitored and assessed on a monthly basis are being introduced. The Board of Governors led by Councillor Mohindra are undertaking regular scrutiny. Ms Famili also confirmed OFSTED will be making frequent repeat inspections to ensure changes are implemented. Councillor Mohindra confirmed that the board of governors would be ‘robust’.

OFSTED carried out its inspection during November 2016. Councillor Stephen Murray suggested the problems were deeply ingrained and asked Ms Famili how she felt these issues had come about. Ms Famili described a previous culture of ‘blame and fear’. This resulted in a tendency to hide problems. Ms Famili said the new culture could be characterised as ‘Proud to share and not afraid to ask’. By bringing issues into the open and recognising the problems she believed the cultural was changing.

Councillors applauded the accessible approach being adopted Ms Famili.

Highways, rail and health scrutiny

Councillors also noted the latest responses of Transport for London, Essex County Council Highways and Princess Alexandra Hospital to previous scrutiny enquiries.

TFL reported on the evolving organisational structure and engagement with non-Greater London councils. It supplied further information on the provision of Oyster cards and improvements to the line between Epping and Loughton.

Councillors noted difficulties in resolving issues with highways and disappointment with the County Council’s reluctance to attend a meeting of Overview and Scrutiny. In the absence of the County Portfolio Holder, councillors supported the formation of a delegation to attend County Hall in order to put the district’s concerns in person.

Councillor Ricky Gadsby updated fellow councillors regarding the concerns of the Care Quality Commission on the performance of Princess Alexandra Hospital. Councillors noted the commitment of the Chairman and Chief Executive of Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust to attend Overview and Scrutiny on 6 June 2017.

Cabinet 2 February 2017

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The budget, Careline, Epping Forest District Council’s 24 hour emergency monitoring service for older people and investment in the Council’s housing stock were among items discussed at Cabinet 2 February 2017.

Council Tax freeze recommended

Cabinet recommended another nil-percent increase on Epping Forest District Council’s share of the Council Tax when the budget goes to Full Council on 21 February.

Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread complimented Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra and his staff on the freeze for the seventh successive year.

Councillor Whitbread also updated Cabinet on the progress of the Council’s transformation programme which continues to look at more efficient ways of working and using the Civic Offices to its full potential.

Careline monitoring

Councillors have taken steps to protect the future provision of Carline, the Council’s 24 hour emergency monitoring service for elderly and vulnerable people living within the district.

Cabinet received a report presented by Communities Select Committee Chairman Councillor Yolanda Knight setting out proposals for the long term enhancement and protection of the service in partnership with an external provider, instead of providing the monitoring service by the Council itself.

Councillor Knight reassured councillors that the Careline service itself will still be provided by the Council, it was only the monitoring service that would be provided by a new provider, on behalf of the Council.

She said that the Council’s own Monitoring Control Centre has provided an excellent and reliable service since June 1984 and has always meet every requirement set by the TSA (Telecare Service Association). However, as the ageing population of the district continues to grow, demands upon Careline have increased leading to difficulty maintaining staff cover to the levels expected by the Council and now required by the TSA.

In line with the British Standard, moving the Careline monitoring services to another provider will increase the number of operators monitoring the network. It will also:

  • Ensure no gaps in service
  • Enhance capacity
  • Allow other Careline services to be offered
  • Enable more alarms to be fitted across the district
  • Bring safety, security and peace of mind to more residents across the district
  • Reduce the overall cost of the Careline Service

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou, and Councillors Anne Grigg and Will Breare-Hall all spoke in support of the proposal, emphasising the importance of arranging a smooth transfer. They also complimented the service on the high standard that has been provided over the years, while looking forward to the continued expansion of its vital work under new arrangements.

£3.6m investment in repairs to empty Council Homes

Cabinet approved the letting of two major housing maintenance contracts worth £3.6 million over three years.

As existing tenants transfer into vacant Council properties, there is a need to repair, and the opportunity to improve and upgrade the properties, before they are re-let to new tenants.

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou reported that following inviting tenders from six companies, Cabinet was being asked to appoint Graceland’s CMS LTD and Mears PLC. Cabinet approved the recommendations and were pleased to appoint both contactors as both have previously carried out work to empty properties for the Council to a high standard.

Nu Bar license temporarily suspended

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The Nu Bar in Loughton has had its licence suspended pending a full hearing at Licensing Committee on 7 March 2017.

Licensing notice

Alleged breach of licence

An expedited review was brought by Essex Police after an incident took place in the bar in the early hours of the morning on 5 February 2017, alongside an alleged breach of licence conditions.

Temporarily suspended

A council spokesperson said: ”The decision was taken by Licensing Sub-Committee Councillors to temporarily suspend the licence, which means any licensable activities are not permitted to take place in the interim period between now and the full Licensing Committee hearing unless an interim hearing is applied for by the licence holder.”

Final decision on 7 March

They continued: “A final decision will be reached at this meeting, which is scheduled for 7 March 2017. At the hearing Councillors will assess the evidence brought by Essex Police and make the decision to either amend the licence or it’s conditions, allow it to remain in place or revoke the licence completely.”

The applicant, Essex Police Chief Inspector Lewis Basford said: ”Essex Police is continuing to work around the issue of public safety and crime and disorder in the night-time economy.”

New phone system rings in changes

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New phone connections saving Epping Forest District Council and its tax payers £12,000 a year are set to go live this weekend (17 February to 20 February).

Cllr Lion promoting EFDC's new phone connections

Out of hour’s services

Subject to go ahead, temporary emergency numbers will be used during the switch.

The council has planned the switch at the quietest time of the week to minimise service disruption.

During the switch the two emergency out of hours contact numbers (01992 564000 and 01992 564199 for housing) will temporarily change while the council works with BT.

To contact EFDC out of hours from 5pm on Friday 17 February to 9am on Monday 20 February please call:

  • Housing Repairs Emergency 0203 589 3012

  • Any other Emergency   0203 589 3013

Protecting services

Moving phone connections from an analogue to a digitally based internet system will:

  • Make an annual saving of £12,000
  • Makes it easier to move phone answering to other locations
  • Improve phone resilience
  • Protect vital services

There will be no difference in how residents contact the council via phone as all phone numbers will remain the same and there will be no increase any call charges.

Small changes making a big difference

Technology and Support Services Portfolio Holder Councillor Alan Lion said: “We are planning another 0% increase in Council Tax this year. This is the latest in a series of investments. From double glazing to LED lighting and solar panels it all adds up. Relatively small savings like our new connections to our phone system can play a large part in keeping Council Tax down at the end of the year.”

Happy 90th Birthday HM Queen Elizabeth II

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Let them eat cake …

A High Tea was held by our Neighbourhoods Customer Service Team during their lunch break to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday today, 21 April 2016.

To view photos in a slideshow, click on a picture below and click start slideshow.

Delicious homemade cakes, sandwiches and snacks were eaten by the team to honour the Queen’s milestone birthday.

Happy 90th Birthday Your Majesty!

The team all agreed: “We thought, what better way to celebrate and pay our respects to our monarch, and also say ‘Happy Birthday’, than to hold a High Tea in her honour. We all got involved by making and bringing in all sorts of goodies and was a lovely excuse to eat cake! Happy 90th Birthday Your Majesty!”