Overview and Scrutiny 6 June 2017

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Princess Alexandra Hospital is in special measures after its services were rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission. Senior staff from Princess Alexandra met with Epping Forest District councillors at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 6 June for an improvement plan update.

View the webcast here

  • Lance McCarthy – Chief Executive
  • Stephanie Lawton – Chief Operations Manager
  • Nancy Fontaine – Chief Nurse

Waiting times

A&E waiting times and delays in bed allocation were raised by Councillor Stephen Murray.  Stephanie Lawton apologised for the long waiting times but confirmed that patients remain safe. She said that some improvements had been made to flow and discharge of patients with support from community teams. Building works have been commissioned to extend admission facilities. Together with other plans these improvements should improve admission times. Nancy Fontaine added that where elderly patients are being admitted there is some discretion in allowing family members extra access to provide support.

Recruitment and retention

Responding to a question by councillor Aniket Patel, Nancy Fontaine outlined a number of new ward management and leadership training programmes. Councillor Yolanda Knight praised hospital staff following a ‘faultless’ recent visit. However, she also knew from experience that the quality of service varies greatly across different areas of the hospital. She raised the issue of staff morale, staff retention and the training provided to staff in dealing with difficult members of the public.

Nancy Fontaine was pleased to report that some members of staff have been with the Trust for many years. In some instances, three generations from a family are working in different areas of the hospital while many staff trained at Harlow coming back as more senior staff in later years. However, Lance McCarthy did acknowledge that recruitment was affected by the special measures issue.

Safeguarding for children

Councillor Steven Neville sought reassurance on safeguarding for children. Nancy Fontaine responded with a discussion around a culture of failing to follow policy and training. Safeguarding is now more embedded into hospital standards. She said that policies were now tough but it is probably never possible to ’do enough’.

Responding to a question by Councillor Holly Whitbread, Nancy Lawton described methods of recruitment including links with local colleges and interviews by Skype. Councillor Roger Baldwin asked about the financial deficit and plans to reduce reliance on agency workers.  Nancy Fontaine responded that there is a very clear direction to reduce reliance on temporary staff. Lance McCarthy was able to provide figures illustrating the drop in agency expenditure from more than £20m a few years ago to somewhere nearer £13m more recently.

Emergency Planning

Responding to Councillor Nigel Bedford, Lance McCarthy said that the hospital managed the recent cyber attack on the NHS thanks to internal IT protecting services and installing the relevant patches very quickly. Stephanie Lawton outlined the processes and partner agencies working together to coordinate patient discharge in a timely way. She said this was not ‘cracked yet’ but improvements were being made.

Nancy Fontaine and Lance McCarthy outlined in more depth the health and social care solutions used to address issues of patient isolation raised by Councillor Aniket Patel. Stephanie Lawton also confirmed the regular update, review and training for emergency planning situations such as the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

Lance McCarthy acknowledged the Trust has a long way to go in moving out of special measures but felt the hospital was in a much more positive position. He is also looking at the long term redevelopment or relocation of Princess Alexandra to a better site.

Caring Hospital

Committee Chairman Councillor Mary Sartin thanked Lance McCarthy, Stephanie Lawton and Nancy Fontaine for answering so many questions and offered best wishes for the future. She said that whatever the issues, the CQC report made clear that Princess Alexandra Hospital was a ‘caring’ hospital.

Corporate Plan

In other business Council Leader Chris Whitbread reminded committee members of some of the key achievements of previous years including the freeze on Council Tax for a seventh year and the development of new assets such as the Epping Forest Shopping Park. He said that the delivery of keys to residents for the first newly built council houses had taken place.  Focusing on community services he also applauded the work of the Council in attracting external funding. Local Plan development continues. The Council has listened and consulted with residents.

Councillor Whitbread continued with a description of the transformational changes being implemented across the Council leading to modern working, better use of technology and the facilitation of future service improvements. He also reminded fellow councillors of the benefits of the new leisure contract with a projected income of £20m over the next 20 years.

Other items covered by Overview and Scrutiny included:

  • Select Committees Terms of Reference
  • Select Committee membership
  • Task and Finish Panels
  • Annual Report of Overview and Scrutiny

Switch engines off for National Clean Air Day

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Epping Forest District Council’s Environmental Health officers will visit selected schools in the district to promote the first National Clean Air Day on 15 June 2017, hoping to encourage parents to switch off car engines whilst they wait for their children.

One million people tackling air pollution together

Click on an image below to begin slideshow

Potential health impact

Recently much attention has been given to the quality of the UKs air, especially within urban areas and the potential health impacts that may result from breathing in polluted air.

Small changes

National Clean Air Day provides a excellent platform to raise awareness of the impacts of poor air quality and to promote small changes to lifestyle that will reduce exposure to pollution.

Focus on idle vehicles

The focus of this years campaign is around idling vehicles, especially in and around schools.  Parents are being asked to turn their engines off when delivering and picking up their children from school.

Children are vulnerable

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pollution, and it is hoped that parents will also consider the impacts of idling engines on the residents that live close to their child’s school.

Sustainable travel

Schools are being provided with information to increase the numbers of children that travel to school by sustainable methods, such as on foot, cycling, electric vehicles, or public transport.

40,000 deaths per year

Polluted air is thought to contribute to 40,000 deaths every year in the UK, and is responsible for the worsening of respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and asthma.

Air pollution increases the risk of getting lung cancer, contributing to 1 in 13 cases, and exposure over a long period of time is linked to cardiovascular disease. Premature births, and low birth weights are linked to air pollution which also affects a baby’s lung development early in life too.

What can you do?

We are asking you to pledge to do one or all of the following on 15 June 2017

  • Leave your car at home – walk or cycle instead
  • Switch your engine off instead of idling
  • Walk your children to school
  • Share tips to cut air pollution with others

Further information

Essex Police Bank Holiday advice

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Residents and visitors to the county are advised they may see armed officers patrolling in places they may not usually.

Bank Holiday weekend

This Bank Holiday weekend is set to be hot and sunny and thousands of people will be out enjoying our countryside and coast.

Armed and specialist police

The move to have armed and specialist police officers patrolling ports, airports, railway stations as well as in places where people gather in crowds like seaside towns is as a response to the national threat level being raised to critical.

”Enjoy yourself, don’t change plans”

Chief Superintendent Ewen Wilson said: “My message to people this Bank Holiday is please enjoy yourselves this weekend and don’t change your plans.

Don’t be alarmed

“You may well see armed police officers and other specialist units this weekend. Please don’t be alarmed if you see them. It doesn’t mean they’re responding to a specific threat and there is no intelligence on any threat with an Essex link.

Say hello!

“Police officers with guns can look unusual, but please come and talk to us. Say hello, introduce yourself. We are asking officers to work long hours keeping Essex safe and a hello and a smile will top up our energy levels.”

Extra security checks

Anyone travelling or attending an event this weekend may need to allow some more time if there are extra security checks at those events.

Further information

Technical issues with payment services

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Updated information 26 May 2017 – 1pm

The automated telephone payment service is now working again and all services are now working as normal.

Thank you for your patience and sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Updated information 26 May 2017 – 10am

Great news! Card payment services are now available online and on-site.

We are still experiencing issues with our automated telephone payment service, so this is unavailable at present.

Our systems are being monitored closely by our supplier and we will continue to provide updates on our website as soon as they become available.

Thank you again for your continued patience, we are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Original message 25 May 2017 – 2pm

We are currently experiencing technical issues with our payment services.

Self serve online

We are unable to accept card payments

  • over the phone, including through our automated payment line
  • at our kiosks in Epping, Loughton Broadway, Limes centre Chigwell or Waltham Abbey Library
  • the online payment system

They’re working on it

Our supplier is working hard to resolve the issue as soon as possible and we will update the website as soon as service resumes.

Cash or cheque

If you need to make a payment, we are only able to accept cash or cheque payments at Civic offices in Epping High Street and at the Loughton Broadway office.

Thank you

Thank you for your patience at this time, we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Want to move to a smaller council home?

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If you want to move to a smaller council home, our downsizing scheme is designed to help tenants move to a home with fewer bedrooms.

Do you want to move to a smaller council home?

Downsizing scheme

If you are an under-occupier living in a council home that has more bedrooms than you need, or you want help moving to a home that’s easier to maintain, our downsizing scheme can help.

This scheme has all sorts of incentives to help you

  • Removal costs and practical help to move
  • Cash incentives for each bedroom you give up
  • Help with decoration costs

Who is eligible

  • Council tenants
  • Housing association tenants (downsizing incentive payment does not apply)
  • You must be living in a property with 1 or more bedrooms and want to move into either general needs or sheltered accommodation
  • Tenants with rent arrears will be considered but the arrears will be deducted from your incentive payment

What are the benefits

  • Downsizers will be prioritised for a move to an area of your choice
  • You will get £1,000 for each bedroom you give up (up to £4,000)
  • You will get help with removal costs (£500)
  • Your heating and gas charges may be greatly reduced if you move into a smaller home
  • Your rent could be lower
  • Practical help with changing your doctor, contacting utility companies, and more

How to apply

Contact our Rehousing Support Officer. Terms and conditions will apply.

Find out more

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

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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

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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

Celebration of grant aid success

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Councillors, Grants, Local business, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your money

Saying thank you to our local community and voluntary groups for their hard work was the focus of our first grant aid celebration event on Friday 3 March 2017 in Epping.

Grant aid celebration

Click to enlarge photo and then click to see more photos

Grant aid celebration

The groups all received grant aid to spend on equipment for community projects that benefited residents. The money was used for a wide range of items ranging from tents to specialist beds and from uniforms to bee keeping equipment.

Presentations by the Chigwell Disabled Group, Ongar & Villages Voluntary Care and Lambourne End Centre showed how the money they received in grant aid helped their groups to operate or buy specialised equipment.

Keep up the great work

Chairman Jeane Lea said: “On behalf of the people of the Epping Forest district I’d like to say a big thank you to all the groups for their hard work and dedication. Without their wonderful contributions our district would be a much poorer place to live. keep up the great work!”

Help you to help your community

Councillor Helen Kane, Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder said: “This year we have £83,450 grant aid to spend. You can apply for grant aid up to £5,000 if your group needs help to buy a new, or replace an old item of equipment. Get in touch and let us help you to help your community.”

“We want to support, enhance and develop the contribution that local community and voluntary groups make to improve the wellbeing of people in the Epping Forest district.”

Want to know more?