The latest meeting of Epping Forest District Council began in sombre terms as councillors paid tribute to former councillors, Penny Smith, Ken Avey and Joan Davis who all recently passed away.
Council Chairman, Councillor Tony Boyce invited Councillor Stephen Murray to offer his reflections about Joan. He described her as the Good Samaritan in action and the first non-conservative chairman of the Council. He recalled the aplomb with which she rose to the challenge of the chairmanship. Coming from a London political family, Stephen Murray said it was our good fortune that she chose to raise her own family and make her life in our district. In conversations with local people, Councillor Murray reported how the word ‘passionate’ so often described Joan in their reminiscences.
Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of the Council echoed the words of tribute by Councillor Murray. He then went on to speak in moving terms of sitting Councillors Penny Smith and Ken Avey. Recalling, some of his most recent conversations with Ken, he brought a smile to the face of fellow councillors as he described Ken’s campaign for parking. Councillor Whitbread said that Epping Forest was a better place for Joan, Penny and Ken.
Councillor Penny Smith represented the neighbouring ward to Councillor Mary Sartin. Councillor Sartin described Penny as her mentor and friend. Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens speaking as a fellow resident of Loughton, recalled with warmth the dedication with which Joan worked on behalf of the community of Debden. He felt her passing represented the end of an era.
Councillor Antony Watts brought another smile to a subdued council chamber by recalling the mischievous way in which he would ‘press Joan’s buttons’ with his references to her beloved ‘Debden – or Loughton’, and their common interest in Queens Park Rangers.
Further smiles were to be seen as Councillor Will Breare-Hall reminisced about his early experiences of Ken Avey. Councillors Jon Whitehouse, Maggie McEwen, Peter Gode and Gary Waller added to the tributes before Council Chief Executive Glen Chipp offered his condolences and reminiscences on behalf of the council’s staff.
Councillor Boyce thanked everyone for the heartfelt tributes which had united councillors across the political groups of the chamber.
Council meeting Monday 28 July 2014
Questions to members
Questions to members of the cabinet included the issues of new sixth forms for the district, highways, the recent flash flooding, leisure, business rates, housing and the ongoing involvement of Parish and Town Councils in the preparation of the Local Plan.
Individual Electoral Registration (IER)
Major changes to the way in which residents register to vote are progressing well. Governance Portfolio Holder Councillor John Philip provided an update on Individual Elector Registration. He was very pleased to announce that the process of registering voters was going extremely well. 96 percent of residents are due to receive confirmation letters after successful ‘data matching’. Less than 4,000 matches will require further investigation, an extremely good success rate at this stage in the new process.
The General Election in 2015 is expected to be the first major test of the new registration process.
St John’s Road, Epping
Council agreed a budget of £35,000 to meet the cost of legal fees associated with the ongoing St John’s Road negotiations.
The freehold of the area is currently divided between Essex County Council (the former Epping Junior School – 2.59 acres), Epping Forest District Council (the Housing Depot – 0.59 acres) and Epping Town Council (Epping Hall – 0.54 acres). The councils agreed a joint Development Brief to co-ordinate development and ensure the maximum economic and community benefit for Epping.
Following twelve bids from residential developers, 2 bids from Care Home operators, and three mixed use bids the councils agreed to an exclusive fixed negotiating period of 4 weeks with Frontier Estates.
The Frontier Estate proposal is for a food store of approximately 12,900 square feet, a public car park with an estimated 173 spaces, a small cinema, restaurants, ancillary commercial uses and residential development. Part of the Centrepoint building would be refurbished at the developer’s cost and the freehold granted to Epping Town Council. The main access to the food store would be from Epping High Street, whilst there would be access for servicing from St John’s Road.
Straw bale award
The pioneering partnership that used straw bales as the main construction material in new affordable houses at High Ongar received another award at Full Council. Kevin Hartnett and Ulrike Maccariello of Hastoe housing association received the Local Authority Building Control East Anglia Building Excellence Award from Cabinet Portfolio Holders John Philip, David Stallan with Stephanie Newton of the Council’s Building Control section.
The High Ongar development now goes through to the national finals to be announced in November.