Do you want to increase the levels of policing in Essex? Willing to pay more Council tax to do so? The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) want your views.
Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex is asking Essex residents to fill in an online survey to gauge whether or not residents would be happy to pay more, so more resources can be invested in policing across the county.
Essex Police’s Funding comes from two sources
Local Council Tax
Essex Police receives the lowest funding per resident of any police force in the country and has the sixth lowest council tax for policing.
The survey will be live from 01.00 am Monday 6 November to 00.00am on Sunday 19 November.
The PFCC want you to join in the conversation on social media by using the #yourviews.
Providing the best service possible
PFCC Mr Hirst said: “I want to provide the best service possible for the people of Essex and increasing investment will help me deliver this. I’m not expecting any increase in central Government funding for this year but I can raise the police precept. However, before I make that decision I want to know what the views of the public are so I can take them into account.”
He added: “At every public meeting I attend I hear that the residents want more police on the streets and whilst both Essex Police and I are doing everything we can to make that happen, we don’t have the money or resources to deliver it in the best way that we want to. The demand on the police service is rising. New crime types are emerging and existing crime is rising in its complexity, this is against a backdrop of an unprecedented shift in the national security environment. My question to the public is this – do they want to pay more for those extra resources?”
Crime and the relationship between young people and the police focused the attention of youth councillors and delegates at the Epping Forest Youth Council Conference on Friday 3 November 2017.
Hosted by Epping Forest District Council, the conference listened to presentations from Alex Burghart MP, Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Jane Gardner, Darren Horsman and Tom Mitchell, deputising for District Police Commander Lewis Basford.
The conference then debated the question:
“This house believes Essex Police should have a dedicated Police Liaison Officer serving the Epping Forest District.”
Watch the live debate
Police Liaison Officer not the answer
Knife crime, gangs and how to tackle these issues featured heavily. Does a single dedicated liaison officer have the scope and resources to make a meaningful impact? Could they develop better understanding and give young people a clearer voice in offering solutions?
Following a full and wide-ranging debate conference rejected the motion by 62 percent to 38 percent. A dedicated Police School Liaison Officer does not seem to be the answer for the young people of Epping Forest.
Click on an image below to begin slideshow of the youth conference.
Say No to N2O
Conference also discussed the growing problem of Nitros Oxide use among young people. Earlier this year, members of the youth council collected hundreds of discarded N2O canisters across the district. Legally available for uses ranging from medicine to party balloons, in the wrong hands N2O is being seen increasingly as a dangerous recreational gateway drug.
Council Leader – Importance of young people
Winding up the youth conference, the Leader of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Chris Whitbread thanked and congratulated each of the delegates and their schools for supporting the event. He emphasised the importance of giving young people a voice. In a world dominated by older generations he approved the fresh ideas and knowledge brought to bear by involving young people in the decisions that affect the community.
Skills for work and mental health were voted top topics for future work.
Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder Councillor Sam Kane said: “If you have a concern or wish to know more about the way our district is policed these meetings are a great opportunity to ask your questions.”
“The district has such a strong sense of community, and events like these are vital in ensuring we all feel safe and protected.”
“So come along and help the police understand the issues you’re facing, let’s work together to make our district a safer place to live.”
There are signs of improvement in services provided by Whipps Cross Hospital. Part of the Barts Health NHS Trust, the hospital has been in special measures following poor Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections. A presentation to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Epping Forest District Council following the latest CQC inspections in May suggest the hospital has improved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘overall requires improvement’. However, as one first-hand account of patient care at the end of the presentation demonstrated, there is still some way to go.
Dr Heather Noble – Medical Director, Whipps Cross Hospital
Alan Gurney – Managing Director, Whipps Cross Hospital
Signs of improvement at hospital trust
Alan Gurney, Managing Director said that any further CQC inspections today would see more improvements. However, he added that the condition of operating theatres was still a cause for concern. Investment in theatre refurbishments is scheduled for next year.
The CQC has seen an increase in the quality of the working environment and culture of the hospital. Bullying was previously identified as a major issue with high turnover of staff and heavy reliance on agency support. Significant improvements have been made in these areas. The hospital is also old. Many of its buildings pre-date the creation of the NHS. Investment is needed in new buildings.
Dr Heather Noble assured Councillor Steven Neville that issues around radiation exposure to staff had been resolved. Councillor David Stallan received assurances that Alan Gurney had no plans to relocate Whipps Cross, although the hospital is on a large site and could potentially operate from a smaller footprint.
Councillor Roger Baldwin asked about bed-blocking and capacity. Alan Gurney used the phrase ‘delayed discharge’ for which he had 11 cases at that moment. He assured councillors that he was working with partners to reduce discharge delays. No bed spaces had been closed this year and Mr Gurney considered it to be a lesser challenge than some other issues facing the hospital.
Councillors Mitchell and Sartin received further information in response to questions about bullying. Councillor Chambers explored the depth of hospital planning for the winter. Alan Gurney confirmed additional investment in building work and weekend cover arrangements to enhance winter cover. There is also additional ‘step-down’ coverage and coordination with partners in the ambulance service and care homes. The staff flu vaccination campaign is part of steps to prepare staff for the winter season.
Councillor David Wixley followed up on the issues of bullying and culture. Councillor Nigel Bedford focused on staff retention and reusing the defunct nursing home for other purposes. Alan Gurney provided assurance that recruitment and retention improvements are ongoing. He also felt that the site had plenty of capacity for development including accommodation for staff.
Responding to Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Dr Noble said that the Council could provide support by communicating the message about the need for redevelopment of outdated buildings.
Developing staffs careers
Dr Noble emphasised that managers as such ‘were not bad’ after Alan Gurney described how Whipps Cross was focusing on continual recruitment of nurses and a requirement for more doctors.
Dr Noble said that further work was needed in developing career and employment links with local schools and colleges. Responding to Councillor Holly Whitbread, she described good examples of work in Newham which could be adopted for Whipps Cross.
Mortuary facilities are old and in need of replacement but Dr Noble assured Councillor Bedford that the dignity of the deceased and care for the bereaved was a high priority.
Responding to Councillor Baldwin, Alan Gurney said that it would be wrong to say the use of Private Finance Initiative funding (PFI) was not an option but he added that there was no appetite for it.
Dementia care is also a priority. Responding to Councillor Aniket Patel, Dr Noble outlined some of the programmes including Dementia Friends and creating clinical areas more dementia ‘friendly’. Alan Gurney added that with the focus on older patients, dementia care was critical.
Councillor Mary Sartin, chairman of Overview and Scrutiny thanked Mr Gurney and Dr Noble, concluding questions with reference to the caring and compassionate approach of staff recognised in the latest CQC report.
Learning from the past
Mr Gurney and Dr Noble were invited to stay at the end of their presentation questions for a statement by a local resident. Janis Crowder gave an emotional account of her mother’s poor experience as a patient of Whipps Cross last year. Accepting improvements have since been made, Ms Crowder felt it was important to explain to hospital managers the difficulties and inadequacies of her mother’s care.
Transport for London managers have agreed to attend the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee to discuss various public transport issues in January. Essex County Council is also to be invited to attend the Neighbourhoods Select Committee to discuss County bus services.
Epping Forest College 27 February 2018
Committee councillors also noted the scheduled attendance of the Principal of Epping Forest College at the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny on 27 February 2018.
The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation has been extended, due to a problem with a link that was published on social media. You are now able to make comments until midnight on Wednesday 25 October 2017.
We’re asking for your views on the future of our Local Council Tax Reduction scheme (LCTS) to see whether any changes should be made. It’s important we get the views of our residents as it could affect the amount of Council Tax you pay, or the services you receive.
“The Government gives us a grant to pay Local Council Tax Support which is reducing each year” explains Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra, “if we spend more than the grant, we have to decide how we pay for the excess.”
“This year, in addition to looking at how the scheme is funded, we are deciding whether changes should be made to reduce the number of different Council Tax bills that people get when they receive Universal Credit, and whether Bereavement Support Payments should be disregarded. There are also changes to the way that we treat decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).”
Councillor Mohindra said: “We’ve looked carefully at the LCTS scheme and are aiming to providing a fair level of support to those residents on a low income as well as identifying potential changes which would generate savings for the council.
We will of course continue to fully fund support for those who suffer exceptional hardship, and none of the changes would make a drastic change to the amount of council tax individuals would pay.”
Let us know what you think
“Let us know what you think on this important issue” Councillor Mohindra asked residents. “ It takes just 10 minutes to complete the online questionnaire which runs until midnight on Wednesday 25 October 2017.
Any recommendations from this consultation will be considered by Full Council later in the year, with a view to bringing in changes from April 2018.”
Make a detailed reply or comments
If you want to make a detailed reply or comments, email email@example.com and enter ‘consultation’ in the subject heading. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can get a paper copy from the Benefits Division at the Civic Offices.