Car park ‘fury’ traders’ invitation

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Out and about, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your community

An open invitation has been issued to ‘Furious’ traders featured in a local newspaper to watch a recording of the car park debate with the Leader of Epping Forest District Council. Councillor Lesley Wagland has asked the Epping Forest Guardian to forward the invitation to Loughton traders interviewed by the newspaper about council car park charges.

“I want the traders to see and hear what we actually said before reaching their own conclusions,” said Councillor Wagland.

The unusual step has been taken by concerned councillors trying to build support for high streets and local traders. Councillor Wagland said: “We have no intention of putting up car parking charges whatever the headlines might say. I think anyone at the Cabinet Committee meeting would have understood that. We looked at an independently-produced set of suggestions including car parking, solar panels and advertising to see if any were worth pursuing. In the current economic climate, councillors soon made their opposition to raising parking charges crystal clear.

“Councillors do not live in a bubble. Whatever our political parties, we all live and work in our community and care deeply about it. I would like the traders of Loughton and across the district to see that by sitting and watching the actual debate with me. If they remain ‘furious’ afterwards, I will gladly listen to their concerns.”

Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee held on Monday 21 November was open to the public and press. It was held three days before the newspaper was published. The meeting was webcast live and uploaded to the council website for subsequent viewing by residents, business people and reporters. The report, funded by the Improvement East Efficiency Challenge Fund (not the Council), contains a detailed financial analysis prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers looking at ways to save money and increase income – something all councils are doing as they deal with cuts in Central Government funding. The full report is also available online.

Watch the webcast on revenue income optimisation

Epping Forest District Council is currently working closely with the Federation of Small Businesses, Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and other business organisations to support the local economy. The One Shops Local website is a campaign to encourage local residents to use local shops and services.

 

6 December 2011

Dominic Yeatman
Assistant Editor – Epping Forest Guardian
8 Simon Campion Court
Epping
Essex
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Dear Mr Yeatman,
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I was dismayed by the reports in your newspaper that traders in Loughton are furious at council plans for car parking charges. However, rather than argue the details of the proposals as presented in your article and editorial comment on 24 November, I would like to present the full webcast of the meeting to the traders at a personal meeting. Having enjoyed the benefits of reading the full report prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers and watched the unedited webcast of the debate, I will then offer each trader the opportunity to explain their concerns personally to me.
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I would therefore be grateful if you would forward the invitation as set out below without delay:
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To
Suvhash Shah – Tony’s Hardware, The Broadway, Loughton
Neil Tohen – Tuscany Restaurant – High Road, Loughton (NB I understand this may actually be Mr Cohen)
Nataleah Brandy – Hob Hairdressers – High Road, Loughton
Nigel Skinner – (Former Taxi Service Operator) – Waltham Abbey
Becky Elliott – Loughton High Road
Jo Alexandrou – Loughton High Road
Amy Leggett – Loughton High Road
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Dear Loughton Traders,
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I was dismayed to read the impression attributed to yourselves in the Epping Forest Guardian (24 November) of Epping Forest District Council’s apparent interest in increasing Pay and Display Council Car Park Charges. ‘Fury’ is a powerful emotion. Given the somewhat different impression of the Council’s position shared between myself and other councillors, I believe a misunderstanding may have arisen.
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Epping Forest District Council in common with other councils is looking at ways to reduce costs and increase income to balance the cuts in public sector funding announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. An opportunity to examine some possibilities arose thanks to funding from the Improvement East Efficiency Challenge Fund. Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) was engaged to give us a dispassionate view. Epping Forest District Council is already well-managed financially. PWC looked at a range of options but eventually agreed that only three were potentially viable – increased car parking charges, advertising sales and solar panels.
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It was not for PWC to take a political decision regarding the viability of each proposal. That was a matter for councillors elected to represent the interests of the community. That is what we did, recommending the dismissal of the notion to increase charges three days before the publication of the newspaper.
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I am a passionate advocate of the local business community. I want to see a thriving local economy with busy high streets and high quality services provided at affordable prices to our residents. I believe in competition but I also believe the Council has a key role to play in providing the right environment in which the local economy can flourish.
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However, I understand that in these cynical times, it can be hard to take the words of a politician at face value. I therefore want to offer you the opportunity to study the evidence for yourselves. I would like to invite you to meet with me at the Civic Offices in Epping. I would like to provide you with copies of all the reports and I would like to watch a recording of the full debate held at Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee with you. Having watched the unedited debate, I then want to give you the opportunity to tell me if you are still furious as reported and discuss what you would do in my place, had you been elected Leader of Epping Forest District Council.
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Since your views were reported in the pages of the local newspaper and in fairness to the Epping Forest Guardian, I am issuing this invitation via the assistant editor, Dominic Yeatman. I have asked him to forward the invitation without delay.  I am also extending the invitation to him to attend our meeting where he may be able to explain the angle taken by his newspaper in presenting the story as written. I would be particularly interested to explore ways in which the Guardian might work with the Council, business community and partners such as the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and the Essex Federation of Small Businesses to encourage local residents back into our high streets.
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Please reply to me at your earliest convenience via Mr Yeatman so that we can all find a mutually satisfactory date.
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Yours sincerely
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Councillor Lesley Wagland
Leader – Epping Forest District Council

Epping parking review

Written on . Posted in Business, Epping, Out and about, Parking, Residents, Your area, Your environment

Epping Forest District Council has asked Essex County Council to complete the implementation of works following the review of the Epping parking scheme; which was initially implemented in August 2007 after consultation with the local community.

View the plans online:

Essex County Council parking review

The changes below have therefore been made in light of comments received from residents and businesses since the original scheme was implemented in 2007, including the informal consultation of May 2010 and the formal consultation of December 2010 / January 2011.

These plans show what will be implemented on the specific roads within the area of the Epping Parking Review; these plans have been commented on by District and County Councillors and have the approval of Epping Forest District Council Portfolio Holder (Safer and Greener) and The Essex County Council Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transportation.

The following roads have been removed from the Epping parking review following objections from residents.

  • Ambleside / Greentrees
  • Amesbury Road
  • Bodley Close
  • Hartland Road
  • Ravensmere
  • Western Avenue

Cabinet – Parking Charges Frozen

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your area

“Costs of parking in local car parks will not rise next year” Councillor Chris Whitbread Finance Portfolio Holder reported to the Cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 6 December. Councillor Whitbread confirmed free Saturday parking in some council-owned car parks would also remain. He also reported ¬£381,000 of savings identified so far in council budgets for the next Financial Year when presenting the main points from the most recent Finance and Performance Cabinet Committee.

The cheapest parking tariff of 10 pence for half an hour will remain in place making pay and display charges in Epping Forest among the lowest in the region.

Councillor Whitbread indicated that he was continuing to search for further budget savings.

Reviewing Cabinet objectives, Councillor Whitbread and Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Council congratulated staff of the Housing Benefits Service on the recent improvements in performance.

Councillor Brian Rolfe Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder presented proposals for a further £100,000 of savings by reducing the number of Forester magazines produced by the Council each year and cutting three vacant posts in the PR and Arts sections of the Council.

Leader or Mayor

Councillor Collins invited members of the Cabinet to comment on the merits of retaining the council`s current constitutional arrangements of Leader and Cabinet or hold a referendum for residents to vote for or against a switch to the Elected Mayor system.

Ian Willett, Returning Officer responsible for referenda and elections reminded councillors that the recent consultation was to comply with current legal requirements. Only 108 people responded to the consultation and were almost evenly split, 52 in favour of the current system and 56 in favour of a Mayor. Several members of the Cabinet felt that without pressing public pressure for change, the costs of holding a referendum in the current economic climate were not appropriate.

Cabinet agreed to recommend retention of the current system to Full Council for consideration on 14 December 2010.

However, while the Cabinet is recommending no referendum on Elected Mayors, all councils will be holding a referendum on voting reform on the day of the local elections on 5 May 2011. The referendum stems from the Coalition Government commitment to hold a vote on retaining or changing the current Parliamentary system for MPs of `First Past the Post` to a form of Proportional Representation. Members of the Cabinet agreed to recommend setting aside £160,000 for next year`s budgets in expectation that final costs would be reimbursed by the Government.

Straw Housing

Councillor David Stallan Cabinet member responsible for Housing pre-empted colleagues by making all the jokes about the three little pigs. He then went on to describe how Epping Forest District Council is set to participate in a radical new form of eco-friendly housing made from straw.

The highly sustainable design would provide four family-sized houses on land owned by the Council but developed by Hastoe Housing Association at Millfield in High Ongar. In exchange for enabling the scheme with land, the Council would gain nomination rights for tenants from its Housing Waiting list.

Straw bale construction of the type envisaged utilises new cutting-edge technology. The materials are very environmentally friendly. Councillors are keen that the raw material is from sustainable local sources.

The houses should have exceptionally high insulation levels, reducing heating costs by up to 85 per cent and related carbon emissions by up to 60 per cent. Researchers at the University of Bath have shown straw houses can withstand hurricane-force winds of 120 mph and are at least as fire-resistant as houses built of conventional materials. 

Home Ownership Scheme Suspended

Difficulties in obtaining mortgages have prevented council tenants taking up grants of up to £34,000 to buy homes of their own. Councillors spoke in favour of the principle of the scheme designed to free-up council housing for people on the housing waiting list by enabling existing tenants to buy their own homes in the private sector. However, of the five grants agreed last year, four applicants were subsequently unable to get a mortgage.

Councillors agreed a temporary suspension of the scheme to be reviewed annually when demand and mortgage availability may have improved.

Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford District Council`s are proposing to work together in areas of mutual interest. Epping Forest District Council will receive a report from the Cabinet recommending a joint West Essex Councils` Group Memorandum of Understanding. Councillor Di Collins Leader of Epping Forest District Council emphasised the continuing independence of each council with the benefits of making services available to each other as appropriate.

Loughton Broadway Area Parking Review

Written on . Posted in Community, Loughton, Older people, Parking, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Epping Forest District Council has asked Essex County Council to undertake a review of the parking in the Loughton Broadway Area.

This is your chance to comment on the Council’s review and we want to hear your views on the proposed measures.

Consultation maps of the proposed measures can be viewed online at the Essex County Council website.

Your comments can be submitted online or in writing but no later than Friday 23 October 2009.

The results of this review will be considered firstly by the Epping Forest District Council`s Local Highways Panel and then by the Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, where the final decision will be made. It is proposed that any changes will be implemented from February 2009 onwards.

New ‘Slimmed-Down’ Cabinet Meets

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Parking, Recycling and waste, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

News and video from the first Cabinet meeting of the new Council year including the announcement of the new slimmed-down Cabinet, parking on Council estates and recycling among others.

New Cabinet

Business resumed for District Councillors at the Cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Monday 8 June 2009 following last week`s County and European Elections. It was the first meeting of the new slimmed-down Cabinet following its reduction from nine to eight members at the Annual Council meeting in May.

    The new Cabinet comprises:

  • Councillor Di Collins – Leader of the Council
  • Councillor Chris Whitbread – Finance and Economic Development
  • Councillor Richard Bassett – Performance Management
  • Councillor Mitch Cohen – Legal and Estates
  • Councillor Heather Harding – Leisure and Wellbeing
  • Councillor Mary Sartin – Environment
  • Councillor David Stallan – Housing
  • Councillor Syd Stavrou – Community Safety and Transport

Councillor Mitch Cohen briefed members on the impact of the recession on local businesses following a meeting with business tenants. Epping Forest District Council is taking steps to assist local businesses. Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny briefly outlined the latest work of his committee including public consultation on the format of the Forester and local calls for free Tube travel into London for residents of pensionable age.

Cabinet went on to discuss the issue of free Tube travel with members expressing concern about the potential cost to the Council. Councillor Richard Bassett, Performance Management Portfolio Holder listened to the views of councillors. While free travel proved not to be a viable option, Councillor Bassett noted that older residents could still travel very cheaply using the Oyster Card and gave a commitment to publicise it within the Forester.

Church Hill Car Park

A proposal by Councillor Mitch Cohen, Legal and Estates Portfolio Holder to market Church Hill Car Park, Loughton for retail development was agreed. Councillor Cohen received approval to market the site for freehold sale or long lease agreement and report back to Cabinet on the outcome. Affordable housing could be incorporated into a scheme.

Parking on Council Estates

Cabinet endorsed a flexible approach to tackling unauthorised parking on its housing estates. Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder received support for enforcement on an ad hoc basis in conjunction with local consultation and good management of parking areas. Where problems persisted and local residents complained, methods of controlling unauthorised parking could include the installation of jockey rails and shrubs.

Recycling

Extension of door step recycling collection services has led to a decline in use of local recycling points. Cabinet agreed to remove 26 local points saving £10,000 a year but to retain 21 District Recycling Centres. Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Mary Sartin indicated that some of the savings could be used to extend textile recycling.

In response to a question, Councillor Sartin confirmed that recycling services are being extended to households living in flats.

Epping Parking Review

Written on . Posted in Out and about, Parking, Residents, Travel, Your area, Your environment

Epping Forest District Council has, in partnership with Essex County Council been working on the Epping Parking Review. The works are programmed to commence in mid May and should be completed, (weather and access permitting) by the end of June 2007.

Copies of the proposals are also on display at the Civic Offices in Epping and at Epping Town Council in St Johns Road in Epping between 9.00am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Note: The Town Council offices are closed for lunch between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council are committed to undertaking a review of the parking scheme six months after implementation with a view to addressing any concerns raised by residents and businesses regarding the scheme.

Comments can be forwarded to either Essex County Council or Epping Forest District Council:

  • Essex County Council Highways and Transportation
    West Area Highways Office
    Warwick House
    Roydon Road
    Harlow
    Essex CM19 5DX
  • Telephone: 01279 642500
  • Email: highways.westarea@essexcc.gov.uk


Car Parking Tickets Promoting a Message

Written on . Posted in Business, Health, Licensing, Parking, Regulations, Supporting business, Your area

Over the next 3 months 400,000 car park tickets will be purchased in the Epping Forest District. Environmental Services have used the advertising on the reverse of the ticket to promote the change in smoking legislation for enclosed or substantially enclosed public places and workplaces, which includes work vehicles.

The change takes place on 1July 2007. The new law is intended to substantially reduce the exposure to second hand smoke. It is estimated that the new law will save thousands of lives over the next decade. A smoke free England will ensure a healthier environment, so everyone can socialise, relax, travel, shop and work free from secondhand smoke.

Over the next month businesses across the district will be receiving direct from Smoke Free England their free guidance and free notices that must be displayed.

    Leaflets are available, however, businesses and members of the public are encouraged to access information on line at:

  • Click here to go to the www.smokefreeengland.co.uk¬†website
  • Copies of leaflets can be picked at Council offices

For individuals wishing to make this their opportunity to quit smoking, help is on hand. The local NHS runs a variety of smoking cessation services including support groups and individual support. Smokers who have support when quitting are four times more likely to stay quitters and advice is available through the NHS Stop Smoking Team on 01279 827866.