Unsung hero gets award

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Housing repairs, Media, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Volunteering opportunities, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Congratulations to Christopher Bullock from Epping Green on receiving a highly commended award in the unsung hero category in the Pride of Essex Awards 2015.

Pride of Essex 2015 "Unsung Hero" Highly Commended and award winners - Chris Bullock centre

Chris is the Handyman Project Coordinator for Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF), a service funded by Epping Forest District Council (EFDC).

He is a handyman who does jobs for tenants of EFDC properties who are over 60 and or disabled who often have no one else who can help them. Chris does basic jobs like replacing tap washers, flat pack assembly, fitting curtain rails and putting up shelving, plus a lot more!

Extremely courteous and invaluable

Chris was nominated for the award by Mr and Mrs Burton. They moved to the Epping Forest district in 2013 and asked EFDC if anyone could help with basic jobs as both are registered disabled. They were referred to the Handyman Service and introduced to Chris.

The couple now regard Chris as a personal friend  and describe Chris as “Extremely courteous and invaluable.” Mrs Burton added: “We cannot thank him enough for all he does, we wanted him and his work recognised, which is why we’re nominating him for an award.”

Humbled by the nomination

At the Pride of Essex Awards Chris said: “I am genuinely humbled by the nomination. I was really taken back by the incredible efforts nominees had gone to in order to help others, many in the face of their own adversities.”

“The Burtons are just one example of many whose situation compels me to go even further, often working into the evenings in my own time, just to improve their lives. I was the only person nominated who provided a hands on practical support service which highlights how rare the work we do really is.”

“This Award should be shared by all who support the Handyman Service at EFDC and VAEF, as really I’m just the front man. Without this team I wouldn’t have known of their struggles and been able to help them, so thank you from me.”

Volunteer with VAEF

If you would like to find out more about volunteering please contact Voluntary Action Epping Forest

 

Waste and recycling contract reviewed

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Democracy, Media, Meetings, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

The Neighbourhoods and Communities Select Committee met on Thursday 17 December to review the changes made to the district’s waste and recycling service in May of this year.

New dustcarts

Introducing the main item, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Neighbourhoods Derek Macnab confirmed that, despite extensive local publicity, few public questions had been received, with only two members of the public in the Council Chamber. Major improvements to the service were believed to account for this.

Highlighting issues 

Waste and Recycling Consultant Len Attrill offered the first evidence to members of the committee for review, taking councillors through the thinking behind the use of Competitive Dialogue and the selection of the most economically advantageous contract during procurement.

Senior managers Roger Edwards, Peter Dickson, Les Smith and Simon Crook for the Council’s contractor Biffa Municipal attended the committee to explain what went wrong during the implementation of new arrangements during the summer months. The Council’s cabinet portfolio holder Councillor Will Breare-Hall was also available to answer questions.

Councillors cross-examined the witnesses in depth, asking about issues as diverse as the HR policies of Biffa during the contract handover, the advantages of the four day collection week, the move to a new depot, the size of the new vehicles, the composition of the rounds and the software problems. Councillor Will Breare-Hall said that with hindsight more lead-in time should have been allowed for the introduction of the change to the four day week. He would also have introduced other changes more gradually rather than all in one go.

Waste Manager David Marsh identified the lack of understanding and local knowledge transferred from old crews to new crews. Roger Edwards said that although it could be difficult to transfer knowledge, with hindsight more could be done in the future to achieve it.

Contact Centre Manager Julie Barnard said that the main problem for her staff was the number of missed collections and the repeated failure to collect missed collections once reported. Major improvements in communications between Biffa and the Council since the introduction of the new service have been achieved.

Committee Chairman, Councillor Mary Sartin focused on comments about the failure of assisted collections for residents with special requirements. Simon Crook for Biffa said that a lot of work had since been done to improve this process on behalf of the district’s more vulnerable residents.

Biffa manager Les Smith promised to look personally into problems around contamination of recycling identified by members of the public present at the meeting. Derek Macnab also summarised a list of written questions submitted by members of the public relating to the manner in which Biffa returned emptied bins to households, side-waste and waste separation.

Looking to the future

In summing up, Assistant Director Kim Durrani said that the Council had been in a difficult place but was in a much better position now. Looking to the future he said that the Council was striving with Biffa to improve recycling targets. Simon Crook for Biffa said that he was confident the service was now moving quickly towards the levels everyone would expect. Les Smith of Biffa assured Councillor Heather Brady that Biffa was well prepared for the next few weeks – Christmas – the busiest period of the year.