Savings, efficiencies and income generation are bridging the gap as reductions in government funding of approximately £700,000 over the next 4 years are being addressed in the Medium Term Financial Strategy. Reports to the Cabinet meeting held on 7 December 2017 included cabinet committee minutes noting the phasing out of the Revenue Support Grant.
Other items on the agenda included consultation on the Local Council Tax Support scheme, additional resources for homelessness prevention and investment in Loughton Leisure Centre. The Council’s staffing structure, the Capital Review, Local Plan, additional police, support for Epping Forest District Youth Council and a ‘Behavioural Insights’ project to help residents interact with the Council also featured on a packed agenda.
No extra crèche money but investment in changing facilities confirmed
Councillors agreed not to subsidise crèche facilities at Loughton Leisure Centre. Facilities at Loughton supporting the crèche are to be redeveloped as part of wider improvements to the Leisure Centre. However, councillors were able to support improvements to changing facilities at a cost of £324,000. Epping Forest District Council is better placed than many other councils to invest in leisure facilities.
Recognising the discretionary nature of the service and the competing demands for funding, councillors regretted being unable to support the crèche. However, in addition to other improvements to Loughton, the Council is building a new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey.
Councillors backed amendments to the Local Council Tax Support scheme. Following consultation earlier in the year the scheme is being adapted to take account of Universal Credit and working practices of the Department of Work and Pensions. Councillors also welcomed government recognition of the growing demand with grant funding of an additional post within the homelessness prevention team.
Staff structures and service improvements
Councillors also approved provisional budget allocations to support long term staff realignment and service delivery. The Common Operating Model set out within the Council’s People Strategy is aiming to streamline and refocus management processes and staff. Councillors approved provisional funding for next year to meet redundancy and pension costs with commensurate salary budget savings leading to break even in a year or so and ongoing savings thereafter.
The Corporate Plan set out plans for the provision of future services based on the needs of local residents. Approval for regular satisfaction level surveys and research into ‘behavioural’ insights are set to track and accelerate improvements to services.
Working with Essex Police, councillors welcomed proposals for local funding to boost the number of police officers or uniformed presence patrolling the district. £25,000 is to be allocated for employment of Parkguard staff over the next 3 months with aspirations for more permanent recruitment of police officers to follow.
Councillors also approved a project funding budget of £8,000 for Epping Forest District Youth Council.
Strong financial performance continues to be reflected in the Council’s Capital Programme Review despite challenging circumstances. The Council is continuing to deliver commercial projects with community benefits such as Epping Forest Shopping Park and its associated highway improvement works, the new leisure centre for Waltham Abbey and the ongoing new council-house building programme.
Local Plan resourcing
Demand on the Council’s planning services is expected to increase as the new Local Plan moves forward. Councillors approved funding for the establishment of a new Strategic Sites Implementation Team with a bid for £278,000 per year over 2 years to assist the implementation of the Local Plan.
Need a housing repair, energy efficiency works or disabled adaptations? Got an empty home? Financial assistance for home-owners and private tenants is available.
Am I eligible?
Under the Housing Assistance Policy there are several types of financial assistance available to home owner and private sector tenants.
What type of assistance is available?
Mandatory Disabled Facilities Grants are available to provide adaptations for disabled home owners and private tenants. Subject to qualifying criteria the mandatory grant will be for the full cost of the work up to a maximum of £30,000.
The Council also gives 3 main types of discretionary assistance; Decent Homes Repayable Assistance, Empty Homes Repayable Assistance and Small Works Repayable Assistance.
Decent Homes Repayable Assistance is financial assistance available to owner occupiers and long leaseholders to bring private homes up to the ‘Decent Homes Standard’. Subject to qualifying criteria the Assistance will be for the full cost of the work up to a maximum of £10,000.
Small Works Repayable Assistance is financial assistance available to owner occupiers and long leaseholders to remove hazards or repair defects that are likely to damage the fabric of a property. Subject to qualifying criteria the Assistance will be for the full cost of the work up to a maximum of £3,000.
Empty Homes Repayable Assistance is financial assistance available to persons intending to bring empty properties back into use and live in them as their home. Assistance is to a maximum of £10,000.
More financial options now available
Leader of the Council Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “Needing adaptations or repairs to your home can really put a strain on your finances, we want to give people a fair opportunity to carry out the works they need.”
“Under our new Housing Assistance Policy there are now more financial options available to home owners and private sector tenants.
So don’t put it off, get in touch today to see if you are eligible.”
For more details on eligibility criteria and how to apply please contact
Epping Forest District Museum and Lowewood Museum will be offering a 10% discount in gift shops and Lowewood Museum’s refreshment area to National Lottery players.
Our museums are joining 350 National Lottery funded visitor attractions across the UK in saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket.
Where: Epping Forest District Museum, 39 – 41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL
When: Monday 11 – Saturday 16 December 2017
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday – 10am to 4pm
Saturday – 10am to 5pm
Heritage Lottery Fund
Epping Forest District Museum has received £1,782,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money paid for the recent redevelopment as well as a range of projects, enabling community engagement and collections acquisition.
Lowewood Museum has received £156,000 for exhibition and engagement projects including the restoration of the Pulham kiln site in Broxbourne.
Providing opportunities for communities
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “December is a wonderful time to experience the UK’s rich, diverse and exciting heritage, which has been transformed by more than £7bn National Lottery funding since 1994. This is a small gesture of thanks and a way of giving something back to the people who buy tickets.”
Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor Helen Kane said: “Thanks to National Lottery players we’ve been able to provide a fantastic new museum offer in the Epping Forest District and the opportunities for our community to explore the heritage has been massively enriched.”
Terms and Conditions
One National Lottery ticket provides 10% off in the museum gift shop and refreshment area at Lowewood Museum.
All National Lottery games qualify for the offer, including tickets from any National Lottery draw based game or National Lottery Scratch card. Proof of ticket can be paper or digital.
The offer is valid on the days the museum is open between Monday 11 and Saturday 16 December. Epping Forest District Museum is open 10am to 4pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays.
Epping Forest District Local Plan Submission Version 2017
Councillors will be asked to approve formal publication of the ‘Epping Forest District Local Plan Submission Version 2017’. If agreed, residents will be invited to make representations on the legality and soundness of the Plan during a six week period between 18 December and 29 January. Representations will then be submitted with the Local Plan for examination by a government-appointed planning inspector.
Consideration of the Local Plan has been brought forward following Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid’s announcement that councils failing to submit a Local Plan for examination before 31 March 2018 could see housing allocations significantly increased. If Epping Forest District’s Plan is not submitted in time, the 11,400 new housing requirement allocated for the District could increase to 20,000 over the Local Plan period up to 2033.
Subject to Council approval, the Plan and all supporting documents will be published to its website from 18 December with a special form for residents, developers and any other interested stakeholders to complete.
The Council hopes people will use the online form specially created for the purpose.
The next stage in the process
Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip said: “We held extensive consultation on the Local Plan last year. The next stage in the process restricts representations to legal compliance and soundness of the Plan. The online form is designed to help everyone follow the guidelines and submit comments in the right format for the planning inspector who will ultimately hold the public examination and approve or reject the Plan. Using the form will give you the best chance of ensuring the inspector takes your views into account.”
However, Councillor Philip added: “We know online forms are not for everyone. We will also provide a printable version if you prefer paper as well as accepting email submissions on behalf of the inspector.”
Watch the meeting online
The ‘Submission Version 2017’ of the Local Plan has been published online as part of the Council agenda.
Due to the nature and complexity of the Plan, the meeting is scheduled to start earlier than usual at 6pm. Limited public viewing is available in the Council chamber and the Council will also provide access via breakout TV screens in the atrium of the Civic offices.
The meeting will also be webcast and residents will be able to watch live and recorded online from the comfort of their own homes.
Councillor Philip added: “Publication over the Christmas period is not ideal but the government consultation leaves little choice if we are to hit the 31 March deadline. However, by sharing the Plan through the Council agenda as early as possible, we can effectively give people an extra two weeks to think about any comments and submissions before the formal representations period starts.”
The Council is also writing to everyone who previously expressed interest in the Local Plan.
On Thursday 23 November Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) received the Silver Green Apple Environment Award acknowledging the steps that have been taken towards making the council more energy efficient.
Steps taken towards saving energy and reducing carbon emissions
The Green Apple Award launched by The Green Organisation in 1994 recognises environmental best practice around the globe.
The Green Organisation acknowledged the council’s efforts, after an application was submitted by Environmental Co-ordinator Liz Ainslie with the support of EFDC’s Chief Executive Glen Chip.
The application highlighted since 2010 a number of steps have been taken encouraging energy saving including:
The Installation of double glazing throughout all offices
LED across the councils estate
Solar panels on the Civic Offices and at the Limes Centre
Roof insulation to the main Civic Building
Improvement to the heating systems
400+ desktop printers replaced with 26 multi-function devices
Together these measures have saved EFDC nearly 1100 tonnes of CO2e since baseline year calculations in 2008/09.
The installation of solar panels has earned £6597 in ‘feed-in’ tariffs since 2016 and should pay for themselves in approximately 10 years.
The panels will then go on to generate income for the Council, in addition to what is being saved in electricity costs. This will not only help to reduce the carbon footprint but will also help keep council tax rates down.
Through these efforts the Green Apple Organisation awarded EFDC the Silver Green Apple Award.
Leading by example
Chairman of Council David Stallan who received the award on behalf of the Council said: “They say from tiny acorns great Oaks do grow, and they do! Some enormous changes have been introduced to save energy and reduce our carbon emissions.”
“But we can’t be complacent, there is always more to be done and we all need to be more environmentally aware. It is up to us as a council to set an example to our residents and I am very proud that we have been presented with the Silver award”.
Safer, greener and transport portfolio holder Councillor Sam Kane echoed Councillor Stallan’s words and added: “The work our officers have put in to making our working environment greener has not gone unnoticed and we will continue to strive to be an example to our residents. Being conscientious, looking after our planet and our surrounding environment is so important, and I look forward to seeing this good work continue and grow”
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) Roger Hirst hosted a public meeting at the civic offices on Monday 20 December hearing resident’s views on crime in the district.
Watch the webcast
Working with you to keep our community safe
The public meeting gave residents a chance to hear from the police first-hand about budgets, current successes and where improvement is needed.
Safer, Greener and Transport portfolio holder Councillor Sam Kane said “It was so encouraging to see residents engaging with the Commissioner. The Epping Forest District has a strong sense of community which is demonstrated by the way we tackle these issues together, working with the police not against them.
“Our safer community’s team work closely with the Police and other agencies helping find actions to address your concerns. I look forward to seeing our working relationship grow, working with the Police, the Commissioner and our residents to keep our community safe”