Council Tax is set for 2018/19

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At a meeting of Council on 22 February 2018, Epping Forest District Councillors made the decision to increase Council Tax for the first time since 2010, following the inclusion of law and order initiatives to improve anti-social issues in the district.

Tax levels may be set higher still as Essex County Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue and some Town and Parish Council’s have confirmed increases their Council Tax share too.

An average Band D property will pay an extra £3.69 a year for their District Council Tax contribution.

 

Council Tax

Epping Forest District Councillors agreed the 2.48% increase in the District Council’s portion of Council Tax to absorb the cost of 3 extra police officers employed to work closely with the Community Safety Team. The decision was taken as residents call for more visible policing to deter and deal with cases of anti-social behaviour in local towns and villages.

Finance Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gagan Mohindra said: “This budget is a significant departure from our policy in recent years as it proposes the first increase in Council Tax since 2010/11. This change is necessary to provide additional funds to combat the scourge of anti-social behaviour. Earlier we discussed the problems being faced by our residents on a daily basis and it is vital that we act to address these. We hope that over the 3 year trial period we are providing funding for, the police will be in a better place than they are now and that it will be possible to withdraw our support.”

“This is the first time for eight years that we are increasing the Council Tax but it is for a specific reason and for a limited time period, to provide the public with additional services they have said they want.”

Derek Macnab – Chief Executive

Following the announcement that Epping Forest District Council’s Chief Executive Glen Chipp, is leaving to become Chief Executive of Horsham District Council, Council agreed the recommendation to appointment Derek Macnab as acting Chief Executive and Head of Paid Services with immediate effect.

Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread, thanked Glen Chipp for his service to Epping Forest District Council and its residents before welcoming the appointment of Derek Macnab.

He said: “Derek Macnab’s brief is to maintain the momentum of our modernisation and organisational development of the Council. No doubt he will bring his own personal style and approach to the process, but the drivers for change remain. We are a strong, well-managed Council moving towards a position of financial independence as central government funding ends.”

A minute for reflection

A minute’s silence was observed by Council in memory of Councillor Brian Surtees and former Council Leader Di Collins, who both passed away earlier this month.

A heartfelt speech was first given by Council Leader Chris Whitbread, offering sincere condolences to the friends and family of both former Councillors. An abundance of tributes from Councillors from all parties followed, praising and sharing kind words in memory of both Councillor Brian Surtees and Di Collins.

Elections 2018

Simon Hill has been appointed as Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer for Epping Forest District Council in advance of this year’s elections, on 3 May 2018.

Mr Hill was also appointed Monitoring Officer for the Council, a role which is responsible for the governance of Council officers and elected Councillors.

Law and Order Budget set to bring first District Council Tax rise for 8 years

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Local business, Media, Meetings, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest District Council is to vote on its first Council Tax increase in 8 years as councillors decide on whether to pay for various law and order initiatives. This includes 3 extra police officers employed by Essex Police who would be dedicated to the district.

Should the Cabinet recommendation agreed on 1 February 2018 receive Full Council approval, residents will be asked to pay an extra £3.69 a year on average for a Band D property.

Final decisions on the budget and setting of Council Tax will be taken at Full Council on 22 February 2018.

Cabinet 1 February 2018

Cllr Mohindra at cabinet

More resources to tackle law and order issues

Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra is recommending the budget. He said: “Without these initiatives, we would have been putting another zero percent Council Tax increase forward. However, our residents are telling us they want more resources to tackle law and order issues, especially around anti-social behaviour. Essex Police is also putting extra resources in but we are fortunate we can add more. These officers will be based at the Civic Offices and work closely with our own Community Safety Team. They will be dedicated to our district and spend the vast majority of their time with us.”

Councillor Mohindra says this is a strong budget despite challenging financial times. Speaking ahead of the Council meeting to set the District Council budget and Council Tax, he explained how significant savings and increased income are being reinvested into services.

First increase since 2010

He said: “Our residents have seen their overall Council Tax bill increasing over the years and think Epping Forest District Council’s precept of the Council Tax has gone up too. This has not been the case – this is actually our first increase since 2010. The historic increases have been made by Essex County Council, Essex Police and local town and parish councils.”

“The District Council part of our Council Tax bill for a Band D property is going up from £148.77 to £152.46 a year. A 2.48% increase which represents incredible value considering the law and order costs we are taking on and a raft of other investments.”

Assets and investment

“Use of our assets and income from investments has helped us manage much better than most other councils. As the budget setting approaches, my council colleagues and I still have to make some tough choices. Refuse and recycling costs are going up as inflation and cuts in the price for recycled materials have hit income. Reductions in the central government Revenue Support Grant are bigger than previously expected. It is worth noting the grant will end completely by 2019/20.”

“It is not all doom and gloom – the successful completion of the Epping Forest Shopping Park is projected to add income of £2.5million, money the Council plans to spend on maintaining our local services. The recent re-letting of the Council’s Leisure Centre Management contract to Places for People is saving almost £1million a year as well as helping to fund the construction of a brand new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey plus major improvements to our centres in Loughton, Epping and Ongar.”

Commercial business

“Income from commercial activities is up, making a contribution of almost £3million to council services. North Weald airfield is preparing for the arrival of the National Police Air Service. The Herts and Essex Air-Ambulance is already a long-standing tenant. The addition of police aircraft will make the airfield a major emergency services aviation hub. Distribution companies and aircraft maintenance services are thriving alongside the continued success of the airfield’s Saturday market and other regular events.”

“The Broadway Landmark development in Debden is adding to the Council’s portfolio of shops. Income from our industrial estates is also up. The new Pay and Display management contract is now bedded in, providing further savings while additional parking spaces are adding to income.”

Smarter ways of working

“Smarter ways of working are also set to achieve savings. Long term reduction in the need for office space is being achieved through better use of technology. Major new IT investment is expected to be off-set by the benefits of flexible working and a possible reduction in staffing levels through the Council’s People Strategy.”

“Innovative cultural and sports services include the contract to manage Lowewood Museum on behalf of Broxbourne Borough Council, earning Epping Forest almost £20,000 a year while almost £90,000 in external funding has been added to the Sports Development Programme.”

Council house building

“The first phase of the new council house building programme has been completed with 23 new homes in Waltham Abbey. Further developments including new flats and houses in Loughton, Epping and Coopersale are on track for completion this year. Income from council houses is set to fall again as a further 1% reduction in line with Central Government policy brings the average rent down to £95.34 per week.”

Myth-busting

Councillor Mohindra said: “I would like to do some myth-busting. Some people have got the wrong idea about pay and display car parks identified for housing in the Local Plan. Our Pay and Display car parks are a direct source of income to the Council. Any redevelopment proposal must include full re-provision of parking spaces.”

“Similarly, we also own the Broadway shop units in Debden and have increased our investment with the new Gateway shops. As landlord of Epping Forest Shopping Park we have ensured its new shops bring more customers, money, employment and wealth into our District. The Broadway has a healthy outlook with a waiting list of new prospective tenants as soon as vacancies arise.”

Councillor Mohindra added: “At a time when public sector organisations are generally cutting services we are bucking the trend by investing in new and better services from health, culture and wellbeing to employment, housing and law and order. This could only have been achieved with years of financial prudence and planning.”

Other items at Cabinet

The Council’s sheltered housing schemes reserved for older residents are to be reviewed. Initial scoping reports will be produced to see how some capacity in the sheltered housing stock can be replaced or converted into general needs housing available to people of all ages on the Council’s housing waiting list.

The preliminary nature of the scoping study was repeatedly emphasised with much more investigation required before any decisions on whether and how any redevelopment might take place. The needs of tenants are a top priority and would be handled with the greatest sensitivity. Approval of the proposals followed acceptance of the annual review of the Housing Allocation Scheme. Councillors also approved the Council’s Pay Policy for 2018/19, Transformation updates, Treasury Management Statements and calendar of meetings for 2018/19.

Access a range of services over Christmas

Written on . Posted in Abandoned vehicles, Animal welfare, Arts, Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Council tax, Crime and safety, Environmental health, Epping, Food safety, Health, Housing, Housing repairs, Local business, Loughton, Museum, Noise, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Parking, Playschemes, Recycling and waste, Residents, Sports, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Our building may be closed from 5pm on Friday 22 December 2017 until 9am Tuesday 2 January 2018, but we are still providing a wide range of services by phone and online throughout the Christmas break.

Self serve online

Contact us

Non emergency

You can report missed bin collections, noise complaints, fly tipping, fraud, abandoned vehicles online

Emergency

If you need to report an emergency, please contact us on the below details.

  • Call 01992 564199 for housing related emergencies (loss of power, blockages, uncontainable leaks, if you are locked out of your home)
  • Call 01992 564000 for all other emergency enquiries

Your call will connect to the Mears support desk which will be manned 24/7 until the offices reopen on Tuesday 2 January 2018.

Social media

We will be able to assist you through the council’s social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook from 9am until 9pm every day throughout the Christmas period.

Pay for it

You are able to pay your council tax, rent, business rates and leasehold charges via the online payment portal and by phone 24/7.

  • Pay online
  • Pay by phone 01992 564600
  • The Debden Broadway cash office will close at 4:30pm on Friday 22 December 2017 and reopen 9am on Tuesday 2 January 2018
  • The payment kiosks in the civic offices, Epping will close at 4:40pm on Friday 22 December 2017 and reopen at 9am on Tuesday 2 January 2018
  • The payment kiosk in Waltham Abbey library is subject to Waltham Abbey library opening hours

Benefit payments revised dates

2 scheduled Benefit payments will be made earlier than usual over the Christmas period.

  • Payments due on 25 December 2017 will be made on Friday 22 December 2017
  • Payments due on 1 January 2018 will be made on Wednesday 27 December 2017

Please remember that the period until the next payment will be slightly longer because it will revert to the original schedule.

Apply for it

Apply for planning permission, building regulations, council housing, licensing, jobs applications and more online. Applications made throughout this time will be processed when the offices reopen on Tuesday 2 January 2018.

Waste and recycling

Revised collections

  • Collections due Tuesday 26 December 2017 will be collected on Wednesday 27 December 2017
  • Collections due Wednesday 27 December 2017 will be collected on Thursday 28 December 2017
  • Collections due Thursday 28 December 2017 will be collected on Friday 29 December 2017
  • Collections due Friday 29 December 2017 will be collected on Saturday 30 December 2017

Your usual collection dates will resume on Tuesday 2 January 2018.

Recycling REAL Christmas trees

Leave your real Christmas trees with your food and garden waste throughout January 2018.

Remove the pot, all decorations and if over 6ft, cut in half to ensure safe collection. We are unable to recycle your fake Christmas trees, so please leave us real trees only!

Special collections

Our special collections service will close at 5pm on Friday 22 December 2017 and will resume at 9am on 2 January 2018.

Lost or found dogs

If you have lost or found a dog within the area, please contact us on the below number. Calls are monitored and handled by the Waltham Forest dog team.

  • Call 07815 512833

Car parks

Free weekend parking in December! All of our car parks are free on weekends throughout December and bank holidays.

Epping Forest District Museum

Epping Forest District Museum is closed from 4pm on Friday 22 December 2017 and reopens 10am on Tuesday 2 January 2018.

Do you know a cheat in your street?

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“If you know or suspect someone is committing fraud you should report them straight away” urges Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra.

Fraud affects everyone. Money stolen by housing tenancy fraud, council tax fraud or business rates fraud is depriving our public services of the vital resources they need.”

Know a cheat in your street?

Report someone you think is committing fraud

Don’t let them get away with it. You can report it anonymously. You don’t have to give your name or contact details unless you want to.

Fraudsters are cheating us all

Housing tenancy fraud – someone who has committed a social housing fraud by

  • illegally sub-letting
  • not living in the property and leaving it empty
  • making a fraudulent Right to Buy application
  • taking (or making) a payment for a mutual exchange
  • living in a property after the tenant has died, where they had no right to succeed
  • giving false or misleading information to get the tenancy

Council Tax fraud – someone who gets a Council Tax discount by falsely

  • stating the property is empty
  • claiming they live alone
  • claiming they are a student
  • claiming Council Tax Support falsely by doing undeclared work or having capital/property in excess of the limit

Business rates fraud – a person or business liable for Business Rates who falsely

  • claims an exemption or relief they are not entitled to

Not a victimless crime

Cllr Mohindra said: “Fraud is not a victimless crime. Don’t think that reporting benefit fraud is wrong or underhand. If a fraudster commits fraud in the Epping Forest district we will use the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to seize and confiscate their assets.”

We need your help

“We constantly look for fraud but no matter how hard we try, we cannot do it alone – we need your help” said Councillor Mohindra.

“Please tell us if you suspect someone is committing fraud by filling in our online form or by calling our fraud investigation team on 01992 564444.”

Technical issues with payment services

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

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.

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.”

 

Council Tax set for 2017/18

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Local business, Media, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Despite a freeze at Epping Forest District Council, most residents will pay more Council Tax from April.

Some town and parish councils are also freezing or lowering their Council Tax but Essex County Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue and many local town and parish councils are putting their share of Council Tax up.

Council Tax agreed

Councillors at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 21 February agreed the new Council Tax for 2017/18.

Epping Forest District is the local collection authority. Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “I am delighted we have managed to freeze our own share of the Council Tax for the seventh year running. Looking forward it is our ambition to remain a low-tax council giving our residents best possible value for money. I am sorry that bills have gone up overall. I have sympathy for the Police and Crime Commissioner and those councils which have to increase their budgets. I congratulate those town and parish councils like us that have also been able to freeze or even lower their part of the bill.”

“Epping Forest District Council has set another remarkably good budget. Local government finance is incredibly confusing but I hope residents will understand the difference between the Council Tax we collect and the Council Tax we keep.”

Good news budget and 0% increase

Councillor Whitbread covered the main items of the budget including capital investment of up to £125 million over the next 5 years. He said: “We are investing in capital to generate revenue. There is good news everywhere in this budget, good judgement, protection for front line services and good news for our residents.”

The budget found favour with cross party support throughout the Council Chamber.

Rent reductions

Rent paid by thousands of Epping Forest District Council tenants is also set to reduce by one percent in line with national guidelines. The average rent now stands at £96.17 per week.

Invest to Save

Details of the district council budget were set before Cabinet previously – Cabinet 2 February 2017.

Councillor Whitbread said: “We are working better and we are working smarter. Year on year we have become a tighter ship, investing in people, processes and policies to produce the most efficient council we can – a council fit for the future, delivering frontline services our residents need at prices we can afford.”

Grant aid scheme for community groups

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Grants, Health, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Sports, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

You can apply for a grant of up to £5000 from Epping Forest District Council, if your organisation is providing community work, cultural or sporting activities.

Grant Aid Scheme

Applications welcome

Epping Forest District Council Community Services team are welcoming grant applications of up to £5000 to support organisations involved in providing community work, cultural or sport activities.

An amount of money is set aside each year and priority is given to those groups delivering Council objectives and targets.

Valuable contributions

Councillor Helen Kane, Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder said:  ”Epping Forest District Council makes grants to voluntary and community organisations. They range from sports and social clubs to charities and support organisations. At its core, each is making a valuable contribution to the social and physical wellbeing of our residents.”

”Some are major national charities making a very significant contribution across the district whilst others contribute in smaller ways to enrich the tapestry of community activities that make our district such an enjoyable place to live. In tough economic times, the Council’s contribution can make all the difference.”

Shopping Park in Loughton underway

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chairman, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Epping, Jobs, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Work has started on the construction of the Epping Forest Shopping Park at Langston Road,  Loughton.

Howard Parkes with (L-R) Councillor Jeane Lea, M and H Project Manager Alex McCalley, Councillor Anne Grigg and Derek Macnab

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow

Site tour

Councillor Jeane Lea, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council and Councillor Anne Grigg, Cabinet Portfolio Holder responsible for the council-owned scheme met McLaughlin and Harvey construction project manager Alex McCalley and members of the workforce during a tour of the site on Monday 26 September 2016.

Accompanied by the Council’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Neighbourhoods Derek Macnab, Councillors Lea and Grigg inspected well-advanced demolition work as the former council depot buildings come down. The adjoining site bought by the council previously is already clear with excavations already evident where surface water storage tanks are to be installed.

Assisted by Alex McCalley of McLaughlin and Harvey, Councillor Lea posed for traditional ground-breaking photographs.

Biggest names in retail

Once completed, Loughton Shopping Park will potentially host some of the biggest names in retail including Next, Aldi, TK Maxx, Pets at Home and Hobbycraft.

New jobs

Around 200 permanent new jobs will be created while rental income from the park will help Epping Forest District Council provide public services to local residents and maintain one of the lowest Council Taxes in Essex. Associated highway improvements on Chigwell Lane will also ease congestion on one of Essex’s busiest roads. There will be on-site shopper car parking for up to 350 cars as well as excellent public transport links a short walk away at Debden Underground Station. With a footprint of 94,000 square feet (or almost 150,000 square feet taking account of mezzanine floors) there will be plenty of retail space with something for everyone including children with Smyths Toys expecting to be a big draw for families.

Boost to the local economy

Councillor Grigg said: ”I was delighted to see the progress. McLaughlin and Harvey has made a cracking start. The site is clean and the demolition work is being carried out with meticulous attention to safety. Now the barriers between the old council depot and the adjoining site have been removed you start to get a real perspective on the size and scale of the shopping park. It will be a fantastic asset and a tremendous boost to the local economy.”

Minimal disruption

During the tour, Alex McCalley explained some of the ways in which McLaughlin and Harvey will minimise disturbance to neighbours. He said: “Years ago we would have had hundreds of lorries coming on and off site as we transported the thousands of tonnes of hardcore rubble. These days we are much more environmentally friendly. Nearly all the rubble will be recycled into the foundations of the new retail park. We are using better methods of pile driving, drilling our way down to the London Clay rather than the old method of banging away with the pile-driver. We are also making contact with our neighbours, keeping people informed and setting up those vital lines of communication that let everyone work together.”

First shoppers next summer

Councillor Jeane Lea was also very impressed: she said: ”McLaughlin and Harvey are one of the most experienced retail park developers. They have worked with some of the biggest companies to deliver large schemes. I would like to thank Alex and his team for such an informative tour and  look forward to being invited back to review progress.”

Construction is expected to take around 40 weeks meaning the first shoppers through the doors next summer.

First look of our draft Local Plan

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Councillors, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Housing, Licensing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Older people, Ongar, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Residents and councillors have their first chance to view an advance version of the draft Local Plan before Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet meeting on 6 October 2016.

Website launch infographic

The plan, available to view on the Cabinet agenda from 27 September, is subject to change at Cabinet and the meeting of Full Council on 18 October 2016. Only once agreed with any further amendments at Full Council will the draft be ready for public consultation from Monday 31 October 2016.

First chance to see

Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip said: “This is everyone’s first chance to see what the Plan for consultation will look like but it is important to remember that things could still change between now and the end of October. It won’t be finalised until all councillors have had their final say at Full Council.”

“However, by getting this early draft out a month before the official consultation starts, we are ensuring everyone has as much time as possible to consider the issues before the deadline for responses on 12 December 2016. We don’t want your views yet – not until the draft plan is finalised, but we are looking for as much feedback as we can possibly get once the consultation starts on 31 October 2016.”

Consultation website

A special consultation website has been created to support the Local Plan consultation process. It has been designed to make consultation feedback as simple and straightforward as possible.

Epping Forest District Council is also preparing a leaflet for district-wide delivery to households and businesses in the next few weeks to encourage feedback, as well as holding exhibitions, placing adverts in the local press, handing information cards out at railway stations and sending frequent reminders out on social media.

Local town and parish councils are helping the district council with articles in local magazines, posters on noticeboards and more social media.

Everyone’s Local Plan

John Philip said: “This is everyone’s Local Plan. It is the plan for our future, the future of our children and the future of our grandchildren. It will guide development across the district including where to build new homes and employment for a growing population right up to 2033.”

“It will also seek to protect all the most important things we love and cherish about our district including natural spaces and the Green Belt. Please get involved. Follow the process and give us your feedback.”

Local Plan infographics

View the infographics in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow