Increased recycling, council housing fire safety in communal areas, accord to support local businesses and cutting carbon emissions were all on the agenda at the meeting of Full Council on 3 November 2009.
Councillor Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council, presented a short summary of the latest increase in recycling. Figures for the first three weeks of the new domestic recycling services have exceeded expectations with residents boosting monthly levels to around 60 per cent. Should this trend continue, recycling levels for the year could reach 47 per cent with subsequent years potentially reaching 50 per cent.
Equally encouraging has been the 28 per cent reduction in the amount of rubbish sent to landfill. In the written report to Council, Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Mary Sartin thanked residents for embracing the new recycling services so wholeheartedly.
Fire Precautions – Communal Areas of Council Flats
A petition by tenants of Torrington Drive, Loughton is to be considered by Members of the Housing Scrutiny Panel. Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council, told the meeting of Full Council on 3 November that he would decide what response to make after receiving the Panel`s views.
Torrington Drive tenants submitted the petition in response to letters issued by the Council in relation to Health and Safety in communal areas of flats. The Council has asked tenants to ensure they do not leave personal items in communal areas which could obstruct their escape in an emergency. Although the District Council carries out regular routine inspections, the latest request comes soon after a Ministerial report into the Camberwell fire in London earlier this year in which six tenants died.
Councillor Stallan said: The health and safety of our tenants is our top priority. None of us would do anything to compromise the safety of our tenants. However, I have received feedback from several Councillors and tenants who want us to look at the policy in detail and therefore informed the Council of my intention to ask the Housing Panel to look at the issue. The Panel should be able to report back to me with recommendations in the next month or two. In the meantime, we have an obligation to ensure we do all we can to keep escape routes clear and will continue to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of our tenants.
Small Business Accord
The Chairman of the Essex Federation of Small Businesses has signed an accord with Epping Forest District Council to support local commerce. Council Chairman Councillor Penny Smith and Business Champion Councillor Chris Whitbread signed the accord on behalf of the Council.
Councillors then went on to support motions asking the Government to review its actions in raising the National Non-Domestic Business Rate locally. They called upon the Government to reduce the multiplier to the greatest possible extent and at least 20 per cent, increase transitional relief so that no business sees its bill increase by more than 2.5 per cent between the current and the new financial years and doubling the limit that restricts entitlement to small business rate relief.
Councillors also supported the case of Buckhurst Hill businesses which had been particularly affected by the latest business rate increases. Members voted to invite the District Valuation Officer to explain his actions to Overview and Scrutiny.
10:10 – Cutting the Council`s Carbon Emissions
Councillors agreed steps to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2010. The Council supported the 10:10 campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to encourage other individuals, businesses and organisations to do likewise.