Parking reviews, town centre initiatives, dog control orders and more were among the items discussed at cabinet on Monday 3 December 2012.
£35,000 for Town Centre initiatives
Councillors at cabinet on 3 December approved £35,000 to develop a range of initiatives in support of the district’s town centres. Councillor Anne Grigg, Economic Development and Asset Management Portfolio Holder announced a town team taskforce will work with local town centre partnerships to allocate the money and develop the initiatives. It will also champion the needs of local high streets, co-ordinate and promote activities across the district, innovating and testing new ideas.
Although funded by the council and chaired by Councillor Anne Grigg in her business champion capacity, the taskforce will be made up mainly of local business leaders drawn from the 6 town centre partnerships, Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce, Epping Forest College and the Federation of Small Businesses.
Among the practical initiatives being considered for the taskforce to take forward are ‘High Street Hero’ awards, maximising national campaigns at local level, ‘bite-size’ training for small businesses and economic initiative grants. Linking tourism and high street promotion through the websites ‘Visit Epping Forest’ and ‘One Shops Local’ with promotional support by the council through platforms such as the Forester magazine and council website will help to support these initiatives.
Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council is also a local business person. He strongly welcomed the proposals put forward by Councillor Grigg. Reminding councillors that 3 December is the busiest day for online shopping, he said that each of the towns of Epping Forest has excellent shops and services as well as the opportunity to reach residents.
In a further measure of support to residents and high street shops, Councillor Gary Waller announced £25,000 towards significant extension and improvement to CCTV coverage in Loughton. In response to a question he also noted improvements to CCTV coverage in Epping. Councillor Syd Stavrou, Finance Portfolio Holder then went on to ask cabinet to confirm no increase in charges in the council’s town centre pay and display car parks.
Development agent chosen for council house building
Councillors have taken another major step towards starting a new council house building programme with approval to appoint East Thames Group as development agent. Cabinet approved a recommendation for the appointment of East Thames on an initial 4 year contract which could be extended to up to 7 years as the council starts to provide 20 new dwellings a year over a 6 year period.
The appointment follows a competitive tender in which the bid of £1,582,500 by East Thames Group came out as the most economically advantageous to the council.
East Thames will be responsible for feasibility, planning application, post-planning including project management and appointment of construction contractors plus other related services.
Dog control orders
Dog owners will be required to clear their dog’s faeces on public land following the adoption of dog control orders by the council. Cabinet also approved recommendations to restrict the total number of dogs that can be walked by a single person on public land to four and for authorised officers to require dogs to be put on a lead when requested.
£113,000 boost for homelessness prevention
The homelessness prevention service is to be boosted. In addition to allocating money for staffing its own service, members of the cabinet also approved funding towards the costs of debt advisers employed by the Citizens Advice Bureau and the council’s rental loan scheme assisting homeless people obtain private rented accommodation.
Prevention is a key part of the council’s strategy in dealing with homelessness. Between 2008 and 2012, 1,820 of the 2,233 homelessness cases (82%) dealt with by the council were prevented, enabling people to find or keep a roof over their heads.
Lessons learnt from the Epping Parking Review will be used to improve the outcomes of the Buckhurst Hill and Loughton Broadway reviews. In particular, subsequent reviews will target the needs of specific areas rather than wider area reviews. Councillor Gary Waller, Safer, Greener and Highways Portfolio Holder assured councillors that full consultation would be carried out as the reviews went forward.