Councillors discussed many issues at the cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 5 November 2015.
Breaches of standing orders
Councillor Chris Whitbread set out details of breaches to standing orders in response to a public question by Mr Blanks. Responding to a supplementary question by Mr Blanks, Councillor Whitbread confirmed that the breaches of standing orders relating to cumulative orders placed with contract suppliers had been identified by council officers.
Councillor Whitbread undertook to provide further details in due course. Returning to the item later on the agenda, cabinet actions now require assistant directors to avoid similar occurrences in the future. Standing Orders are also to be reviewed.
Gracelands, a local company has been awarded a new 5-year contract to provide gas and heating services to council housing tenants. Gracelands came in the with the lowest bid of just under £400,000 per year. Previous work by Gracelands has provided some of the highest levels of tenant satisfaction for Epping Forest District Council.
Councillors supported the introduction of civil penalties for people giving false information when making Council Tax and Housing Benefit claims. The penalties of £70 for Council Tax and £50 for Housing Benefit cheats can also be applied to people who deliberately withhold information when their circumstances change. Anyone providing false information would also have to pay back any overpayment of Benefits.
The cleaning and refurbishment of 60 local bus shelters has been awarded to Clear Channel for a further 4 years. The contract was awarded at no cost to the council. Maintenance costs to Clear Channel will be met from revenue raised through advertising.
Payment kiosks are to replace the staffed Epping cashier office. Residents increasingly make payments to the council by direct debit, phone and online with a consequent decline in cash payments. The council successfully implemented a payment kiosk alternative in Waltham Abbey several years ago with significant ongoing savings. Implementation of a similar plan in Epping is expected to save more than £20,000 a year.
Epping Forest College redevelopment
Councillors agreed to release restrictive covenants on land owned by Epping Forest College. Redevelopment of the land for housing will provide a proportion of new affordable housing within Loughton. Profits from the development will be used by the College to develop new educational facilities.
Epping Forest Shopping Park
The Epping Forest Shopping Park project remains on schedule. Asset Management Portfolio Holder Councillor Ann Grigg updated cabinet with latest progress on retail tenants, highway works and relocation of council services to Oakwood Hill.