Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder Councillor Sam Kane said: “If you have a concern or wish to know more about the way our district is policed these meetings are a great opportunity to ask your questions.”
“The district has such a strong sense of community, and events like these are vital in ensuring we all feel safe and protected.”
“So come along and help the police understand the issues you’re facing, let’s work together to make our district a safer place to live.”
There are signs of improvement in services provided by Whipps Cross Hospital. Part of the Barts Health NHS Trust, the hospital has been in special measures following poor Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections. A presentation to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Epping Forest District Council following the latest CQC inspections in May suggest the hospital has improved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘overall requires improvement’. However, as one first-hand account of patient care at the end of the presentation demonstrated, there is still some way to go.
Dr Heather Noble – Medical Director, Whipps Cross Hospital
Alan Gurney – Managing Director, Whipps Cross Hospital
Signs of improvement at hospital trust
Alan Gurney, Managing Director said that any further CQC inspections today would see more improvements. However, he added that the condition of operating theatres was still a cause for concern. Investment in theatre refurbishments is scheduled for next year.
The CQC has seen an increase in the quality of the working environment and culture of the hospital. Bullying was previously identified as a major issue with high turnover of staff and heavy reliance on agency support. Significant improvements have been made in these areas. The hospital is also old. Many of its buildings pre-date the creation of the NHS. Investment is needed in new buildings.
Dr Heather Noble assured Councillor Steven Neville that issues around radiation exposure to staff had been resolved. Councillor David Stallan received assurances that Alan Gurney had no plans to relocate Whipps Cross, although the hospital is on a large site and could potentially operate from a smaller footprint.
Councillor Roger Baldwin asked about bed-blocking and capacity. Alan Gurney used the phrase ‘delayed discharge’ for which he had 11 cases at that moment. He assured councillors that he was working with partners to reduce discharge delays. No bed spaces had been closed this year and Mr Gurney considered it to be a lesser challenge than some other issues facing the hospital.
Councillors Mitchell and Sartin received further information in response to questions about bullying. Councillor Chambers explored the depth of hospital planning for the winter. Alan Gurney confirmed additional investment in building work and weekend cover arrangements to enhance winter cover. There is also additional ‘step-down’ coverage and coordination with partners in the ambulance service and care homes. The staff flu vaccination campaign is part of steps to prepare staff for the winter season.
Councillor David Wixley followed up on the issues of bullying and culture. Councillor Nigel Bedford focused on staff retention and reusing the defunct nursing home for other purposes. Alan Gurney provided assurance that recruitment and retention improvements are ongoing. He also felt that the site had plenty of capacity for development including accommodation for staff.
Responding to Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Dr Noble said that the Council could provide support by communicating the message about the need for redevelopment of outdated buildings.
Developing staffs careers
Dr Noble emphasised that managers as such ‘were not bad’ after Alan Gurney described how Whipps Cross was focusing on continual recruitment of nurses and a requirement for more doctors.
Dr Noble said that further work was needed in developing career and employment links with local schools and colleges. Responding to Councillor Holly Whitbread, she described good examples of work in Newham which could be adopted for Whipps Cross.
Mortuary facilities are old and in need of replacement but Dr Noble assured Councillor Bedford that the dignity of the deceased and care for the bereaved was a high priority.
Responding to Councillor Baldwin, Alan Gurney said that it would be wrong to say the use of Private Finance Initiative funding (PFI) was not an option but he added that there was no appetite for it.
Dementia care is also a priority. Responding to Councillor Aniket Patel, Dr Noble outlined some of the programmes including Dementia Friends and creating clinical areas more dementia ‘friendly’. Alan Gurney added that with the focus on older patients, dementia care was critical.
Councillor Mary Sartin, chairman of Overview and Scrutiny thanked Mr Gurney and Dr Noble, concluding questions with reference to the caring and compassionate approach of staff recognised in the latest CQC report.
Learning from the past
Mr Gurney and Dr Noble were invited to stay at the end of their presentation questions for a statement by a local resident. Janis Crowder gave an emotional account of her mother’s poor experience as a patient of Whipps Cross last year. Accepting improvements have since been made, Ms Crowder felt it was important to explain to hospital managers the difficulties and inadequacies of her mother’s care.
Transport for London managers have agreed to attend the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee to discuss various public transport issues in January. Essex County Council is also to be invited to attend the Neighbourhoods Select Committee to discuss County bus services.
Epping Forest College 27 February 2018
Committee councillors also noted the scheduled attendance of the Principal of Epping Forest College at the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny on 27 February 2018.
6 local community and voluntary groups have been awarded £12,840 in grants helping the district’s social and physical wellbeing.
Hertfordshire Boat Rescue £830 for radio equipment for use by volunteers on rescue missions and events
Playground at Theydon Association (PAT) £5,000 contribution towards the refurbishment of the Theydon Bois playground
Fyfield Bridge Club £1,200 contribution towards the cost of new scoring equipment for the club
Ongar & Villages Voluntary Care £1,770 to support their transporting service which supports older people
Loughton Voluntary Care £1,540 to support their transporting service which supports older people
Fyfield Village Hall £5,000 contribution towards the refurbishment of the gentleman’s toilets and cloakroom
Keeping our communities thriving
Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder Councillor Helen Kane said: “Our grants go on to help such a wide variety of people throughout our community, giving our parents and children a social place to be active in new playgrounds, to giving our older resident’s opportunities to get out of the house and gain more independence with Loughton’s voluntary care community transport service.”
“I am proud that these grants are actively helping people in our district, giving much needed and valued services the boost they need to go on and keep our communities thriving. Can you think of a community group or voluntary service that could use a cash boost? Don’t delay, apply now.”
Apply for a £5k grant
If your community group could use up to £5,000 to help with your one-off project, initiative or even the further development of an existing scheme, apply now.
Three Acres and a Cow connect the Norman Conquest and Peasants’ Revolt with current issues like fracking and the food sovereignty movement via the Enclosures, English Civil War, Irish Land League and Industrial Revolution.
It draws a compelling narrative through the history of England in folk song, stories and poems.
History, sing a-long & storytelling
The performance will include a history talk, folk club sing-a-long, poetry slam and storytelling session. Come and share in these tales as they have been shared for generations.
Paths Unseen project
Paths Unseen shows how poetry can be a shared sociable activity. Over the past 18 months performance poet Keely Mills and illustrator Jef Winter have engaged with many individuals and groups from across the local community enabling them to write, tell their own stories and share their work in their own voices.
Inspiration has also come from local folklore, encouraging museum audiences to consider art as a medium for rediscovering local history. Paths Unseen project has been funded by Arts Council England.
Properties are left empty for a variety of reasons but they can be the source of much misery to neighbours who have to live nearby. It is estimated that the home next door to an empty property can be devalued by 10%.
There is also the worry of nuisance, vermin, arson, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
For the owner, an empty property is a wasted resource and can be costly in terms of increased insurance, increased council tax premiums, property fraud, emergency repairs and break-ins.
We are committed to reducing the number of empty properties in the district and can offer financial help in certain circumstances. It is recognised that a stumbling block can be that the empty property is in disrepair and cannot be lived in, let or easily sold in its condition.
We can offer the following schemes:
The Empty Homes Repayable Assistance offers up to £10,000 if there is an empty property that you intend to live in yourself, but is in poor condition. The money is repaid when you eventually sell the property.
The PLACE Loan offers up to £25,000 if you have a property that you would like to have renovated in order that you can sell or rent it out. This is an interest free loan and is paid back within two years in the case of a loan to sell, or five years in the case of the loan to let.
We always prefer to work with owners in a constructive way. We have certain enforcement powers that we may use to ensure an empty property is brought back to use, particularly if it has been empty a long time and is problematic to the local community.
Help for empty home owners
Councillor Syd Stavrou, Housing Portfolio Holder, said: “As a council we are fully committed to bringing empty properties back into use and are looking to help owners in every way we can. However where all other measures have failed, we are prepared to take enforcement action as a last resort.”
She added: ”If you are aware of an empty property or own one yourselves, please let us know. We will need the address and any other information you think might be helpful. We will do our best to contact the owner and work with them to bring the property back to use, and all calls are treated in confidence.”
Have your say about the way Epping Forest District Council prioritises housing applications and allocates affordable housing. We want your views on the draft revised Housing Allocations Scheme before 2 January 2018.
The current scheme was last reviewed in 2015. It is a document which sets out clear policies on how the council prioritises applications and allocates affordable housing to people on the housing register. The housing register is a list of homeseekers who are waiting to be offered a council or housing association property.
We are required by law to have a Housing Allocations Scheme for:
deciding priorities and the procedure to be followed in selecting homeseekers for council accommodation
nominating homeseekers for housing association accommodation
Alongside members of the public, we are also consulting with
The council’s Tenant and Leaseholders Panel
Town and Parish Councils
Partner agencies with an interest in the scheme
Every private register provider of social housing with which it has nomination arrangements
Have your say
Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor Syd Stavrou said: ”We are consulting with a variety of associated bodies and partner agencies, as well as our residents. We want to hear your views, so please make sure you complete the consultation.”
”If you would like to comment on the draft revised Housing Allocations Scheme 2018, please fill out the online form. Responses are needed by 2 January 2018. The Council’s Cabinet will consider the results of the consultation and when it has been approved, the new scheme and policy will come into force on 1 July 2018.”
The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation has been extended, due to a problem with a link that was published on social media. You are now able to make comments until midnight on Wednesday 25 October 2017.
We’re asking for your views on the future of our Local Council Tax Reduction scheme (LCTS) to see whether any changes should be made. It’s important we get the views of our residents as it could affect the amount of Council Tax you pay, or the services you receive.
“The Government gives us a grant to pay Local Council Tax Support which is reducing each year” explains Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra, “if we spend more than the grant, we have to decide how we pay for the excess.”
“This year, in addition to looking at how the scheme is funded, we are deciding whether changes should be made to reduce the number of different Council Tax bills that people get when they receive Universal Credit, and whether Bereavement Support Payments should be disregarded. There are also changes to the way that we treat decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).”
Councillor Mohindra said: “We’ve looked carefully at the LCTS scheme and are aiming to providing a fair level of support to those residents on a low income as well as identifying potential changes which would generate savings for the council.
We will of course continue to fully fund support for those who suffer exceptional hardship, and none of the changes would make a drastic change to the amount of council tax individuals would pay.”
Let us know what you think
“Let us know what you think on this important issue” Councillor Mohindra asked residents. “ It takes just 10 minutes to complete the online questionnaire which runs until midnight on Wednesday 25 October 2017.
Any recommendations from this consultation will be considered by Full Council later in the year, with a view to bringing in changes from April 2018.”
Make a detailed reply or comments
If you want to make a detailed reply or comments, email email@example.com and enter ‘consultation’ in the subject heading. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can get a paper copy from the Benefits Division at the Civic Offices.
Applications open Monday 2 October 2017 for the 2018 Creativity Awards. The awards are open to every young person in the district, aged between 13 and 25, with a single award of up to £1000 up for grabs.
Develop your skills
If you are an individual or group and have a real talent or interest in the arts, culture and heritage; we would like to support you in developing your skills with our Creativity Award.
Individuals or groups
The awards are open to individuals and groups (minimum 3 people) who are looking for support for their creative activity. A group can already be established (i.e. art clubs, theatre groups, choirs or orchestras) or have formed especially to apply for this funding. The awards are open to heritage projects and all young people’s programmes through our museum service.
Applicants are required to show their commitment to their area of interest and explain how the award will help them develop their talent. You must be able to demonstrate that you are actively pursuing your interest through volunteering, education, exhibition or performance.
Epping Forest District Council is launching a new pilot recycling scheme 1,600 households in 100 blocks of flats across the district, ‘Recycling Rewards’.
Rewards for recycling
The scheme will reward residents for recycling their waste correctly. Cutting down on bin contamination, increasing recycling rates in flats where we know it is more difficult to recycle and educating people on the different materials that can be recycled and how.
Improve recycling rates
Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Will Breare-Hall said: ‘’We know recycling rates in flats are below where they should be. This scheme is a wonderful opportunity for residents in the blocks of flats involved, to improve their recycling rates and get rewarded for doing so.’’
‘’We hope that these incentives will encourage the people taking part to recycle as much as they can, so that we can increase recycling and improve the quality of recycling collected. We’re also delighted that we can support some fantastic local charities with this scheme too.”
Supporting local charities
Four local charities and community projects including; Epping Forest Community Transport, Chigwell Riding Trust, Epping Forest Foodbank and Safer Places will be supported by Recycling Rewards, donating £1,750 this year.
Recycling advice and help
The scheme will be delivered on behalf of the council by specialist recycling reward scheme provider, Local Green Points. Specially trained door knocking teams will be visiting over 1,600 properties across 100 participating blocks of flats in the district over the coming weeks, offering recycling advice and helping residents sign up to the scheme.
Collect ‘Green Points’
Once registered, residents will collect ‘Green Points’ for recycling, taking waste to recycling centres and reporting fly tipping. The scheme offers monthly voucher prizes for the highest green point earners and donations to your favourite local charities. The scheme will also offer a discount card, which will entitle the resident to discounts and special offers in local businesses.
Local businesses, get involved
If you are a local business and you are interested in taking part, please contact Local Green Points on 0207 326 5055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
If you are a resident in a block of flats, Local Green Points will be sending a welcome pack and knocking on your door soon, if your block is involved in the pilot scheme.