Draft Corporate Plan 2011 – 2015 Consultation

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Our countryside, Our performance, Planning, Supporting business, Your council, Your environment

The Corporate Plan (formerly known as the Council Plan) is the Council`s key strategic planning document. The Corporate Plan sets out service priorities over a four-year period, and translates the vision for the district set out by the Community Strategy recently published by the Local Strategic Partnership, One Epping Forest, into the Council’s strategic direction, priorities and the most important outcomes that it wants to achieve.

The Corporate Plan helps prioritise resources to provide quality services and value for money, but does not cover everything that the authority does, focusing instead on those issues that matter most to local people, national priorities set by the government and local challenges arising from the social, economic and environmental context of the district.

The Corporate Plan complements the Community Strategy and reflects those issues and priorities where the Council can have maximum impact. The Corporate Plan includes specific actions to address priorities that are financed, resourced and have a timescale for completion. The Corporate Plan is closely linked to the Council`s medium-term financial strategy, and sets out how the Council will deliver its vision and priorities over the next four years, to ensure improved outcomes for local people. The Corporate Plan includes a section reflecting the Council`s key objectives for 2011/12, which will be updated each year.

The Council is interested to know what you think of the Corporate Plan. Comments on the content and the aims and objectives for 2011/12 and the four-year period, can be made using either the online feedback form, or by submitting written comments to performance@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or Performance Improvement Unit, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, Epping, Essex, CM16 4BZ.

Responses received will be used to inform the content of the final version of the Corporate Plan, which will be published in April 2011.

Copies of the Draft Corporate Plan can be obtained from the Performance Improvement Unit by emailing performance@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Licensing and Night Time Economy Meeting

Written on . Posted in Business, Democracy, Licensing, Local business, Meetings, Supporting business, Your council

For those interested in finding out the facts that relate to licensing and the night time economy, Epping Forest District Council will be holding a Safer Cleaner Greener Scrutiny Meeting at St Mary’s Church in Loughton at 7.30pm on Tuesday 8 March 2011.

The meeting which takes place twice a year provides Council Members with the opportunity to scrutinize members of the Safer Communities Partnership on their work in the District.

 

Council Officers and Essex Police will be giving a short presentation on the processing, monitoring and enforcement of Licensing conditions and on the police powers and their recent operations in relation to Licensed establishments.

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting and can find out more by emailing safercommunities@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or by telephoning 01992 564608.

 

Eric Pickles Big Society’ Vision

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Loughton, Supporting business, Your area

The `Big Society` formed the central theme when Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government gave the keynote speech to delegates at the annual stakeholder conference of the local strategic partnership One Epping Forest.

Mr Pickles set the scene at the event, hosted by Epping Forest College in Loughton. He used the opportunity to give delegates from local voluntary groups a flavour of his thinking on the future provision of services. When the `Localism` bill currently going through Parliament becomes law, Mr Pickles envisages a right for local people and community groups to buy and run buildings nominated on a register of community facilities. Any redundant building could be on the list such as old school buildings, pubs or even churches.

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP and Councillor Di Collins, Chairman of One Epping Forest

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP and Councillor Di Collins, Chairman of One Epping Forest

To help local groups fund projects, Mr Pickles hinted that he will soon be making a major announcement on the `Big Society Bank` making use of the cash in dormant bank accounts. He also suggested the banks themselves might contribute in some way.

Drawing on his experience of Bradford where levels of deprivation were obvious to see, making bids for funding more straightforward, Mr Pickles recognised the problem of areas such as Epping Forest District where great affluence can mask pockets of deprivation.

Volunteering is at the heart of Mr Pickles’ attempts to improve local communities. He said: Part of my job is to remove some of the sillier, petty restrictions that can sap the energy of volunteers.” With tongue in cheek he said: It is harder to close a street for a party than to invade a small third world country. You don`t need a full traffic management plan to close a side street for a party to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

Responding to questions, Mr Pickles acknowledged a degree of cynicism from some people. Asked if the `Big Society` was `Society on the cheap `, he suggested ways in which the organisers of the Loughton Festival and other groups could get help with funding and insurance and emphasised his desire to do away with red tape. He said: This is about people like you getting on with things that are important to you without getting bogged down in regulation.

Eric Pickles MP thanked delegates including Epping Forest Youth Councillors

Mr Pickles also felt there was a role for business in the `Big Society`. He said he wanted business to identify barriers so he could help to remove them. No business exists by itself, they are all part of the wider community.

Challenged on the `unsettling` effect of the `Big Society` and what it might look like in three or four years, Mr Pickles said it would look like people with imagination who could thrive.

In response to a question about the future for town and parish councils, Mr Pickles envisaged more planning powers at a local level in much the same way as councils in Germany and France operate.

Finally, Mr Pickles offered his personal thanks to all the volunteers and delegates. He said: Our communities would not be what they are without your help. You make our communities better for what you do and I would like to thank you.

John Houston of One Epping Forest listed some of the key priorities of the partnership and what may take precedence in the future. Delegates then listened to a series of presentations from the chairmen of the various theme groups of the local strategic partnership, expanding on Mr Houston`s comments.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Chairman of EFDCCouncillor Anne Grigg spoke about some of the planning issues facing the District. The Metropolitan Green Belt area of Epping Forest District Council is the fifth largest in England. The need to protect the green and open character of the District needs to be balanced with the requirements to accommodate many people on the housing waiting lists and tackle the congestion caused by living so close to London.

Dr Pam Hall of the Healthier Communities theme group reminded delegates of the ageing nature of the population and the need to adapt services to their changing need.

Superintendent Simon Williams spoke on behalf of the Safer Communities Partnership. While Epping Forest District has one of the lowest levels of crime in comparison to other areas, fear of crime is amongst the highest. He outlined plans for the future around promoting respect as a starting point for everyone, people playing a more active role in their communities and creating better links between partner organisations.

Julie Chandler of Epping Forest District Council spoke about the Children`s Partnership, including protection of the most vulnerable children and the increasing problem of child obesity. She described how positive and innovative projects taking place in the District were making a difference, such as the trampolining programmes to help children develop confidence and improve attainment levels at school.

Jacqui Foile of Voluntary Action Epping Forest placed the importance of the voluntary sector into context. In a snapshot of the District she said that approximately 34,000 local people benefited directly from the work of volunteers. Sixty per cent of the groups providing voluntary services have no paid staff at all and she estimated 2,300 volunteers made contributions to the life of the community each week.

After a short break, delegates reconvened into a number of workshops following which each group fed back to the conference and a panel of local experts moderated by the Acting Chief Executive of Epping Forest District Council Derek Macnab. Among the chief concerns coming back from the floor of the conference was the economy and the need to support local business whether through low car park charges, tourism, changes to the law on Business Rates or promoting the small shops and businesses that help to give the district its unique character.

Artability Project Choir gave a wonderful musical performance

Bringing the day to a close, people with learning difficulties of the Arability Project Choir, which has received funding through One Epping Forest, gave a wonderful musical performance. Including a solo by Ricky Conrad, the group received a standing ovation and reminded everyone why they were all there.

Cabinet – Parking Charges Frozen

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your area

“Costs of parking in local car parks will not rise next year” Councillor Chris Whitbread Finance Portfolio Holder reported to the Cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 6 December. Councillor Whitbread confirmed free Saturday parking in some council-owned car parks would also remain. He also reported £381,000 of savings identified so far in council budgets for the next Financial Year when presenting the main points from the most recent Finance and Performance Cabinet Committee.

The cheapest parking tariff of 10 pence for half an hour will remain in place making pay and display charges in Epping Forest among the lowest in the region.

Councillor Whitbread indicated that he was continuing to search for further budget savings.

Reviewing Cabinet objectives, Councillor Whitbread and Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Council congratulated staff of the Housing Benefits Service on the recent improvements in performance.

Councillor Brian Rolfe Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder presented proposals for a further £100,000 of savings by reducing the number of Forester magazines produced by the Council each year and cutting three vacant posts in the PR and Arts sections of the Council.

Leader or Mayor

Councillor Collins invited members of the Cabinet to comment on the merits of retaining the council`s current constitutional arrangements of Leader and Cabinet or hold a referendum for residents to vote for or against a switch to the Elected Mayor system.

Ian Willett, Returning Officer responsible for referenda and elections reminded councillors that the recent consultation was to comply with current legal requirements. Only 108 people responded to the consultation and were almost evenly split, 52 in favour of the current system and 56 in favour of a Mayor. Several members of the Cabinet felt that without pressing public pressure for change, the costs of holding a referendum in the current economic climate were not appropriate.

Cabinet agreed to recommend retention of the current system to Full Council for consideration on 14 December 2010.

However, while the Cabinet is recommending no referendum on Elected Mayors, all councils will be holding a referendum on voting reform on the day of the local elections on 5 May 2011. The referendum stems from the Coalition Government commitment to hold a vote on retaining or changing the current Parliamentary system for MPs of `First Past the Post` to a form of Proportional Representation. Members of the Cabinet agreed to recommend setting aside £160,000 for next year`s budgets in expectation that final costs would be reimbursed by the Government.

Straw Housing

Councillor David Stallan Cabinet member responsible for Housing pre-empted colleagues by making all the jokes about the three little pigs. He then went on to describe how Epping Forest District Council is set to participate in a radical new form of eco-friendly housing made from straw.

The highly sustainable design would provide four family-sized houses on land owned by the Council but developed by Hastoe Housing Association at Millfield in High Ongar. In exchange for enabling the scheme with land, the Council would gain nomination rights for tenants from its Housing Waiting list.

Straw bale construction of the type envisaged utilises new cutting-edge technology. The materials are very environmentally friendly. Councillors are keen that the raw material is from sustainable local sources.

The houses should have exceptionally high insulation levels, reducing heating costs by up to 85 per cent and related carbon emissions by up to 60 per cent. Researchers at the University of Bath have shown straw houses can withstand hurricane-force winds of 120 mph and are at least as fire-resistant as houses built of conventional materials. 

Home Ownership Scheme Suspended

Difficulties in obtaining mortgages have prevented council tenants taking up grants of up to £34,000 to buy homes of their own. Councillors spoke in favour of the principle of the scheme designed to free-up council housing for people on the housing waiting list by enabling existing tenants to buy their own homes in the private sector. However, of the five grants agreed last year, four applicants were subsequently unable to get a mortgage.

Councillors agreed a temporary suspension of the scheme to be reviewed annually when demand and mortgage availability may have improved.

Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford District Council`s are proposing to work together in areas of mutual interest. Epping Forest District Council will receive a report from the Cabinet recommending a joint West Essex Councils` Group Memorandum of Understanding. Councillor Di Collins Leader of Epping Forest District Council emphasised the continuing independence of each council with the benefits of making services available to each other as appropriate.

Retail Park Plans in Broadway Display

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your environment

Local residents and businesses can find out more about a proposed new retail park when initial plans go on display in Debden Broadway this month.

Langston Road Retail Park will hopefully soon become a welcome addition to Debden’s retail line-up; offering more choice for local shoppers and the wider catchments. Part of the site in Langston Road is currently occupied by a Council depot servicing refuse freighters and maintenance teams who would be relocated to other sites. No existing jobs would be lost as a result of this proposal. Combined with the adjoining land belonging to property developer Polofind, the enlarged site would form a retail development bringing jobs and shoppers.

Should the Council gain planning consent, Langston Road Retail Park is envisaged to become a home of fashion retailers complementing other high street businesses in the Broadway.

Computer generated impression of the proposed Langston Road retail park

Epping Forest District Council will launch a public information exercise at 23 The Broadway, Debden with displays of the proposed project, visuals and information.

23 The Broadway Debden will be open on:

Tuesday 23 November 2010 from 10am to 1pm

Wednesday 24 November 2010 from 1pm to 5pm

Thursday 25 November 2010 from 5pm to 8pm

Saturday 27 November 2010 from 10am to 1pm

Consultants and Council officers will be in attendance to answer questions and discuss the proposed development.

Computer generated impression of the proposed Langston Road retail park

Potential Benefits of Langston Road Retail Park:

¢ 10,000 sq m of ground floor retail space, with additional mezzanine space.

¢ Fashion led retail, home to high street names.

¢ Encouraging the retention of local shopping.

¢ Targeting 80+% of expenditure that currently goes outside the area to return and experience shopping on their doorstep.

¢ Give the local and wider community the retail it wants.

¢ Make Debden a more vibrant Centre.

¢ Bring in additional shoppers who will therefore spend more money in Debden.

¢ Enhance perception of the area and encourage additional retail interest in the locality.

¢ Encourage local shopping as part of a green sustainable attitude.

¢ Accessible by sustainable modes of transport; being within easy reach of Debden Station and the bus services which serve Chigwell Lane and The Broadway.

¢ Backing of Epping Forest District Council who will ensure that the retail is what the locals require, supporting the investment that the Council has already undertaken.

¢ Epping Forest District Council is an environmentally aware and business oriented district looking after its residents and traders.

¢ Will provide part and full time employment, both during the construction period and in the long-term once the Retail Park is open.

¢ Epping Forest District Council is looking at ways in which to support The Broadway and encourage the synergy between them.

¢ The majority of trips to and from the Retail Park will be made outside of the current weekday peak hours on the local highway network, underground and bus services; this will enable the Retail Park to complement the existing developments in Debden by attracting visitors to the area at times when the transport networks are less busy.

¢ A major highway improvement scheme for the A1168 Chigwell Lane is being developed to support the development in conjunction with Essex County Council. The scheme will be implemented as part of the development to ensure that trips to the Retail Park can be safely accommodated at all times, and will deliver benefits to all travellers using the route by smoothing traffic flow and improving the pedestrian environment.

¢ The proposed scheme will comprise 2 two storey terraced blocks with provision for first floor mezzanine.

¢ The building elevations are to be finished with a mixture of recyclable building materials.

To ensure this opportunity is given the greatest support the Council is looking at ways to encourage a better relationship between the site and The Broadway. Epping Forest would remain the Landlord to The Broadway and would not do anything to undermine it. The developers are considering a programme of enhancement which would include signage; an improved link walkway between Debden Station and The Broadway to encourage access; and a potential marketing programme to assist in creating awareness of The Broadway. This would be part of the continuing programme of enhancement and investment in the immediate area for the benefit of local people and traders.

The Council are very aware of the local residents’ concerns regarding highways issues affecting the area, and to this end they have been in a dialogue with Essex County Council to undertake traffic improvements. The intention is that a highways improvement scheme will be developed which not only addresses the demand created by the retail park, but which also seeks to tackle where possible the root causes of the traffic issues which are currently observed. When implemented, the results would improve access and traffic flow through the area, lessening the impacts of traffic congestion and delays which are felt locally. Epping Forest District Council is optimistic that the scheme can be delivered; if these improvements do not go ahead now, the opportunity for financial assistance will be lost; and there will not be an allocated time in the near future for them to re-commence.

Councillor Lesley Wagland, Legal and Estates Portfolio Holder, said: The Council are very supportive of the potential benefits of the scheme. Reflecting current interest, it is hoped it will bring in new fashion retailers to the area; encouraging those who shop in other destinations to return and shop locally. Langston Road Retail Park would, alongside The Broadway, combine to offer a greater shopping choice for Debden. Collectively it would become a thriving centre and its ability to compete with areas outside the district would improve. It could mean up to £70 million a year to the area from shopping that would otherwise go outside the district. In addition to the new shopping, it would create the opportunity for over 200 new local jobs for Debden.

Celebrating Enterprise in West Essex

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business

Epping Forest district and West Essex are pleased to be supporting a programme of events promoting enterprise and support for local business this November in connection with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Do you want to explore if starting a business is the right option for you? Have you thought about taking on an apprentice to help grow your business but are unsure how to go about it?

Do you need to polish up on your sales and marketing to boost your business? Are you looking for opportunities to network with other local businesses?

Celebrating Enterprise in West Essex

A range of events have been organised between 15 and 24 November 2010 which respond to the above questions and many more.

These include:

  • Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce`s first supper quiz on 20 November;
  • Drop-in sessions and workshops for those interested in starting up in business;
  • A drop-in shop to find out more about apprenticeships, whether you are an employer thinking about taking on an apprentice or an individual looking to begin an apprenticeship;
  • A number of free of charge Business Link workshops in Epping and Harlow for both established and start-up businesses.

Local Democracy Week Speed Meeting Evening

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Democracy, Local business, Meetings, Supporting business, Your community, Your council

As part of Local Democracy week members of Epping Forest Youth Council recently met with adult councillors to take part in a special speed meeting event. The event was held at the Civic Offices in Epping and allowed the youth councillors and adult councillors to get acquainted with each other and further understand some of the shared issues they face.

[youtube video=”6wcux-KqW7g”]

Youth Councillor, Haris Duherich said The speed meeting idea is similar to speed dating where you get a time limit to ask questions and find out as much as you can about the other person. It provides an opportunity for councillors and youth councillors to talk about themselves, about their work or school life and their interests. The evening allows adult councillors to work with young people and to learn about our issues.

A jar of sweets was awarded to the youth councillor and adult councillor who it was felt had communicated most effectively on the night. For the adults, the youth council voted Councillor David Johnson and for the youth council the winner was Youth Councillor Annie Armitage.

[flickr set=”72157625127142083″ title=”the Speed Meeting Event”]

The aim of Local Democracy Week is to bring politicians and young people closer. Hundreds of councils and thousands of schools up and down the country take part each year.

Awards for Human Resources Partnership

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Our performance, Supporting business, Your council

Thousands of local authority employees across Essex, including those working for Epping Forest District Council, will benefit from ViNE (Virtual Network Essex), the innovative partnership between the Human Resources departments of the 15 Councils that serve the county.

Designed by the Essex Strategic Human Resource Partnership, ViNE enables local authorities to deliver their staff training and development programmes more effectively and at a much lower cost. Savings of £100,000 can be achieved by making much greater use of e-learning rather than by employing costly external trainers, by sharing resources and by developing training programmes that each authority can then easily and quickly adapt to its own needs. Employees can also access the training programmes on line 24 hours a day so they can further their knowledge outside of working hours and at times that suit them.

Paula Maginnis and Julie Dixon receiving the award from Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg

The Essex Strategic HR Partnership recently won an award for its collaborative work from the national training organisation Learning Pool. This was presented by the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg, to Paula Maginnis, Assistant Director (HR) and Julie Dixon, Learning and Development Manager. The Partnership is also to receive a £500,000 award from Improvement East to enable ViNE to be extended across the East of England.

Quality Reaccreditation for Ongar

Ongar Town Council`s Vice Chairman, Councillor Diana Roberts accepted the congratulations of her district-level counterparts on Tuesday 28 September 2010. Councillor Anne Grigg, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council joined Canon John Brown, Chairman of the Essex County Accreditation Panel in presenting Councillor Roberts and Mr Mark Squires with the reaccreditation of Quality Status for the services provided by Ongar Town Council.

Mark Squires, Councillor Diana Roberts, Councillor Anne Grigg and Canon John Brown

Drawing out many of the achievements including the surgeries held by parish councillors, Canon John Brown also singled out the Town Clerk Mark Squires for his distinction in the Certificate in Local Council Administration.

Get Behind Essex – Pick Up Litter and Bin It!

Written on . Posted in Community, Local business, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Epping Forest District Council is getting behind Keep Britain Tidy`s campaign to clean up England`s streets and save the country three/four billion pounds a year.

Nationally, every year it costs in the region of £858 million to pick up litter that doesn`t make it into a bin. That`s £2.3 million a day, 365 days a year and some of that money could be used for services for the people of Epping Forest. Instead it is being used for discarded cigarette butts and fast food wrappers! Keep Britain Tidy`s latest campaign is calling on people to get behind its rallying cry to clean up England`s streets.

The charity`s message is that, in these days of tough spending choices, the fact that we have to spend £858 million on cleaning up litter is a national disgrace – and the solution lies in our own hands.

Get Behind Essex! Pick up litter and bin it

Keep Britain Tidy`s chief executive Phil Barton said: At a time when government is having to make very difficult choices about spending, it is ridiculous that councils have to devote a significant amount of their budgets to cleaning up their residents` litter. If everyone would just put their litter in a bin, instead of mindlessly dropping it on the floor, we could save millions of pounds a year – and that money could be used to fund vital services for the whole community.

It is time for the silent majority to stand up and say enough is enough, get behind Keep Britain Tidy and Epping Forest District Council and show those who think it is okay to throw their rubbish on the ground – at a cost to the country of £858 million a year – that there is a better way.

Backing Keep Britain Tidy`s rallying call, Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Mary Sartin said: Litter can refer to anything from a small crisp packet or sweet wrapper to large bags of rubbish or even an area where several items of rubbish have collected. Often people do not consider small items such as gum or even cigarette butts to be litter but these small pieces of rubbish make up much of the litter on our streets. All litter is unsightly and can make our local areas look untidy and uncared for. Food litter attracts rats and litter as a whole denigrates our local areas. With your help we can tackle the litter problem and make our streets and District cleaner I am backing the campaign to ask our residents and visitors to the area to stop littering. Together we can tackle litter.

The Council`s Environment & Neighbourhoods Officers will also be on the look out for any offenders who drop litter. It is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, with fines up to £2,500 to drop litter. The Officers will also deal with litter problems that can clearly be traced to certain types of businesses, such as food on the go establishments, mobile vendors or market stalls.

Hole in One for Chairman’s Charities

Written on . Posted in Local business, Our activities, Out and about, Sports, Supporting business, Your area

In a keenly fought competition golfers raised over £800 for charity at this years Chairman`s Charity Golf Day held at Chigwell Golf Club. The Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Anne Grigg invited 30 contestants including Councillors, Officers and Guests of the Chairman, on 15 June 2010 to raise money for the Chairman`s chosen charities: St Clare`s Hospice, Cancer Research UK, Chigwell Riding Trust and the Air Ambulance based at North Weald Airfield.Chairman Anne Grigg presenting the Don Spinks Shield to Annette Duncan

The winner of the competition and recipient of the Don Spinks Shield, and champion golfer for 2010 was Annette Duncan. The Chairman provided welcome refreshment at the halfway stage, proving popular with all the contestants, and presented the prizes in the Clubhouse after.

Chairman of Council, Councillor Anne Grigg said: “I would like to thank all who helped to make my Charity Golf Day such a success. It was a glorious summer afternoon and I had a fun and memorable day. We raised £818.68, a significant amount of money that will be shared between the 4 worthy charities that I have chosen to support during my year as Chairman.”

Scores and Competition Winners

Don Spinks Shield
39 points Annette Duncan from Sports and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM)
36 points James Carstairs, Epping Forest District Council Sports Development Officer
35 points Colin Stone, Epping Forest District Council Housing Officer

Robert O`Malley Cup for Ladies Golfers
33 points Kim Bames, General Manager at Epping Sports Centre
25 points Julie Chandler, Epping Forest District Council Assistant director for the Office of the Deputy Chief Executive

Robert O`Malley Cup winner Kim Bames and champion golfer 2010 Annette DuncanNearest the Pin Prize
James Warwick Epping Forest District Council Sports Development Manager

Longest Drive Competition
Nick Fanning Epping Forest District Council Auditor

Highest placed Guest of the Chairman
34 points Dave Wilson
29 points Chairman`s husband Ian Grigg

Other notable scores were ex-employees Trevor Johnson with 33 points and Bill Brooks with 32 points, whilst the defending Champion Dave Clifton scored 31 points.