Council takes back management of car parks

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From 1 April 2017 Epping Forest District Council will take over the management of their 18 car parks, saving at least £58,600 each year for local taxpayers.

Car park

The District Council will now be responsible for processing season tickets, penalty charge notices (PCNs) and other associated functions run until now by the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP).

New company to enforce

The Council has engaged a specialist company, NSL, to carry out day-to-day enforcement activities, as well as cash collection from the pay-and-display machines in the car parks.
Since 2011 Epping Forest District Council has partnered Essex County Council in NEPP, together with Harlow, Uttlesford, Braintree, Colchester and Tendring councils.

NEPP manage on-street parking

Until now NEPP has managed both on-street and off-street parking services in Epping Forest district for a number of years, and will continue to operate on-street parking enforcement and services in the district.

Efficiency improvements

The transfer of off-street management follows an analysis by the District Council which found that a number of efficiency improvements could be made, benefiting local taxpayers.

Councillor Gary Waller, Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, commented: ”I am delighted that these new arrangements for our car parks are now being put in place. By taking functions back in-house and engaging the services of NSL, we can make very worthwhile savings, and I believe we shall provide a better service to the public as well.”

”Not only will the parking charges remain at the current level but we shall continue to operate car parks that have received the prestigious ParkMark award, demonstrating that they continue to attain the very highest standards in terms of safety and security.”

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.

Register for new online self-service

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Council tax, Epping, Loughton, Media, Ongar, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

You can now manage your Council Tax and Business Rates accounts online.

Self serve online
 

Self-service is quick and easy 

By registering today you can:

  • Instantly view your account
  • Check payments and other transactions
  • Pay your bill
  • Sign up for Direct Debit

You can also sign-up to receive electronic bills in the future instead of receiving them by post and be able to view all notices that have been previously sent to you.

Manage your finances at a time that suits you

The service is secure, quick and easy to use allowing you to manage your account 24/7 at a time that suits you and your business needs.

Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Mohindra said: “We are constantly looking at ways to improve our services and want to make dealing with the council more flexible and convenient for you. By registering online residents can now manage both Council Tax and Business Rates any time of the day 7 days a week. Don’t delay, manage your finances at a time that suits you and register today.”

 

Charter to inspire climate change action

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Doing business with the council, Energy efficiency, Environmental health, Epping, Health, Leader, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our performance, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

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

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Epping, Health, Loughton, Media, Olympics, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

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.

Chairman’s quiz reaches new heights

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chairman, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Epping, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

17 teams raised a record £1,032 for local life-saving charity the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance at the Chairman`s annual charity quiz on Friday 24 February 2017.

Chairman charity quiz 2017

 

Click to enlarge photo and click on photo to see more photos

Fun filled evening

Chairman Jeane Lea hosted the quiz at Waltham Abbey Town Hall. Teams came dressed as cowboys, indians, angels and Jeane’s Jeanies. A team made up of councillors from Waltham Abbey won the best dressed team award dressed as cowboys and indians.

`Scrambled Egg Heads’ were the quiz winners. The team from Buckhurst Hill was led by Councillor Steven Neville. This was the second win on a row for the Scrambled Egg Heads.

Digging deep for the Air Ambulance

Chairman Jeane Lea said: “Wow what an evening! Everyone who took part really had to dig deep for some of the answers but a good time was certainly had by all.”

“I’m delighted with the amount raised for my charity. So thank you to everyone who took part.

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

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Crime and safety, Environmental health, Epping, Licensing, Local business, Loughton, Media, Ongar, Out and about, Residents, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your environment

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.”