The new shopping park at Langston Road in Loughton is owned by Epping Forest District Council. It’s a short walk from Debden tube station with over 300 parking bays including 10 charging points for electric vehicles. There’s cycle racks for 34 bikes as well.
A fantastic range of well-known and popular retailers
“I’m delighted to see our new shopping park open,” said Councillor Anne Grigg, Economic Development portfolio holder at Epping Forest District Council. “We’ve got a fantastic range of well-known and popular retailers, and for many it’s their first store to open in the Epping Forest district.”
“Analysis showed us 75% of local residents travelled out of the district to shop. Now the Epping Forest Shopping Park can plug that gap and residents can now shop locally at the stores they want.”
New jobs for the local area
Councillor Grigg ended with: “The retail park not only provides new jobs for the local area, it’s rental income will be put back into local services, contributing to keeping Epping Forest District Council a low Council Tax council.”
District councillors approved publication of the submission version of the Local Plan at a special meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 14 December. The decision paves the way for the start of Regulation 19, a six week period during which residents and other interested parties can comment on the legal soundness of the plan before submission to the government at the end of March.
Development within Epping Forest District up to 2033
The Local Plan contains policies for development within Epping Forest District up to 2033. It includes the designation of areas for housing, employment and the Metropolitan Green Belt.
Publication of the submission version of the Local Plan was accelerated after the Secretary of State Sajid Javid warned councils to expect government intervention and significant additional housing allocations where Local Plans are not in place. Epping Forest District could see the number of new homes almost doubled if it did not submit its plan for inspection by a government-appointed inspector by the end of March 2018.
Invitation of submissions
Councillors agreed the Plan and the invitation of submissions on legality, soundness and the duty to co-operate with neighbouring councils for a six week period commencing 18 December.
The Plan and a special form designed to assist residents make submissions will be available to complete from 12pm Monday on the Epping Forest District Council website. A printable pdf version of the form will also be available to download. Reference copies of the Local Plan and associated documents will also be available to view at the following locations:
Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping
Epping Forest District Council, 25 Hemnall Street, Epping
Epping Forest District Council Loughton Broadway Housing Office
Epping Forest District Council Limes Centre Chigwell
Epping Sports Centre
Loughton Leisure Centre
Ongar Leisure Centre
Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool
Buckhurst Hill Library
Chipping Ongar Library
North Weald Library
Waltham Abbey Library
Final representations must be received no later than 5pm on Monday 29 January 2018.
Savings, efficiencies and income generation are bridging the gap as reductions in government funding of approximately £700,000 over the next 4 years are being addressed in the Medium Term Financial Strategy. Reports to the Cabinet meeting held on 7 December 2017 included cabinet committee minutes noting the phasing out of the Revenue Support Grant.
Other items on the agenda included consultation on the Local Council Tax Support scheme, additional resources for homelessness prevention and investment in Loughton Leisure Centre. The Council’s staffing structure, the Capital Review, Local Plan, additional police, support for Epping Forest District Youth Council and a ‘Behavioural Insights’ project to help residents interact with the Council also featured on a packed agenda.
No extra crèche money but investment in changing facilities confirmed
Councillors agreed not to subsidise crèche facilities at Loughton Leisure Centre. Facilities at Loughton supporting the crèche are to be redeveloped as part of wider improvements to the Leisure Centre. However, councillors were able to support improvements to changing facilities at a cost of £324,000. Epping Forest District Council is better placed than many other councils to invest in leisure facilities.
Recognising the discretionary nature of the service and the competing demands for funding, councillors regretted being unable to support the crèche. However, in addition to other improvements to Loughton, the Council is building a new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey.
Councillors backed amendments to the Local Council Tax Support scheme. Following consultation earlier in the year the scheme is being adapted to take account of Universal Credit and working practices of the Department of Work and Pensions. Councillors also welcomed government recognition of the growing demand with grant funding of an additional post within the homelessness prevention team.
Staff structures and service improvements
Councillors also approved provisional budget allocations to support long term staff realignment and service delivery. The Common Operating Model set out within the Council’s People Strategy is aiming to streamline and refocus management processes and staff. Councillors approved provisional funding for next year to meet redundancy and pension costs with commensurate salary budget savings leading to break even in a year or so and ongoing savings thereafter.
The Corporate Plan set out plans for the provision of future services based on the needs of local residents. Approval for regular satisfaction level surveys and research into ‘behavioural’ insights are set to track and accelerate improvements to services.
Working with Essex Police, councillors welcomed proposals for local funding to boost the number of police officers or uniformed presence patrolling the district. £25,000 is to be allocated for employment of Parkguard staff over the next 3 months with aspirations for more permanent recruitment of police officers to follow.
Councillors also approved a project funding budget of £8,000 for Epping Forest District Youth Council.
Strong financial performance continues to be reflected in the Council’s Capital Programme Review despite challenging circumstances. The Council is continuing to deliver commercial projects with community benefits such as Epping Forest Shopping Park and its associated highway improvement works, the new leisure centre for Waltham Abbey and the ongoing new council-house building programme.
Local Plan resourcing
Demand on the Council’s planning services is expected to increase as the new Local Plan moves forward. Councillors approved funding for the establishment of a new Strategic Sites Implementation Team with a bid for £278,000 per year over 2 years to assist the implementation of the Local Plan.
Epping Forest District Local Plan Submission Version 2017
Councillors will be asked to approve formal publication of the ‘Epping Forest District Local Plan Submission Version 2017’. If agreed, residents will be invited to make representations on the legality and soundness of the Plan during a six week period between 18 December and 29 January. Representations will then be submitted with the Local Plan for examination by a government-appointed planning inspector.
Consideration of the Local Plan has been brought forward following Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid’s announcement that councils failing to submit a Local Plan for examination before 31 March 2018 could see housing allocations significantly increased. If Epping Forest District’s Plan is not submitted in time, the 11,400 new housing requirement allocated for the District could increase to 20,000 over the Local Plan period up to 2033.
Subject to Council approval, the Plan and all supporting documents will be published to its website from 18 December with a special form for residents, developers and any other interested stakeholders to complete.
The Council hopes people will use the online form specially created for the purpose.
The next stage in the process
Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip said: “We held extensive consultation on the Local Plan last year. The next stage in the process restricts representations to legal compliance and soundness of the Plan. The online form is designed to help everyone follow the guidelines and submit comments in the right format for the planning inspector who will ultimately hold the public examination and approve or reject the Plan. Using the form will give you the best chance of ensuring the inspector takes your views into account.”
However, Councillor Philip added: “We know online forms are not for everyone. We will also provide a printable version if you prefer paper as well as accepting email submissions on behalf of the inspector.”
Watch the meeting online
The ‘Submission Version 2017’ of the Local Plan has been published online as part of the Council agenda.
Due to the nature and complexity of the Plan, the meeting is scheduled to start earlier than usual at 6pm. Limited public viewing is available in the Council chamber and the Council will also provide access via breakout TV screens in the atrium of the Civic offices.
The meeting will also be webcast and residents will be able to watch live and recorded online from the comfort of their own homes.
Councillor Philip added: “Publication over the Christmas period is not ideal but the government consultation leaves little choice if we are to hit the 31 March deadline. However, by sharing the Plan through the Council agenda as early as possible, we can effectively give people an extra two weeks to think about any comments and submissions before the formal representations period starts.”
The Council is also writing to everyone who previously expressed interest in the Local Plan.
There are signs of improvement in services provided by Whipps Cross Hospital. Part of the Barts Health NHS Trust, the hospital has been in special measures following poor Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections. A presentation to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Epping Forest District Council following the latest CQC inspections in May suggest the hospital has improved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘overall requires improvement’. However, as one first-hand account of patient care at the end of the presentation demonstrated, there is still some way to go.
Dr Heather Noble – Medical Director, Whipps Cross Hospital
Alan Gurney – Managing Director, Whipps Cross Hospital
Signs of improvement at hospital trust
Alan Gurney, Managing Director said that any further CQC inspections today would see more improvements. However, he added that the condition of operating theatres was still a cause for concern. Investment in theatre refurbishments is scheduled for next year.
The CQC has seen an increase in the quality of the working environment and culture of the hospital. Bullying was previously identified as a major issue with high turnover of staff and heavy reliance on agency support. Significant improvements have been made in these areas. The hospital is also old. Many of its buildings pre-date the creation of the NHS. Investment is needed in new buildings.
Dr Heather Noble assured Councillor Steven Neville that issues around radiation exposure to staff had been resolved. Councillor David Stallan received assurances that Alan Gurney had no plans to relocate Whipps Cross, although the hospital is on a large site and could potentially operate from a smaller footprint.
Councillor Roger Baldwin asked about bed-blocking and capacity. Alan Gurney used the phrase ‘delayed discharge’ for which he had 11 cases at that moment. He assured councillors that he was working with partners to reduce discharge delays. No bed spaces had been closed this year and Mr Gurney considered it to be a lesser challenge than some other issues facing the hospital.
Councillors Mitchell and Sartin received further information in response to questions about bullying. Councillor Chambers explored the depth of hospital planning for the winter. Alan Gurney confirmed additional investment in building work and weekend cover arrangements to enhance winter cover. There is also additional ‘step-down’ coverage and coordination with partners in the ambulance service and care homes. The staff flu vaccination campaign is part of steps to prepare staff for the winter season.
Councillor David Wixley followed up on the issues of bullying and culture. Councillor Nigel Bedford focused on staff retention and reusing the defunct nursing home for other purposes. Alan Gurney provided assurance that recruitment and retention improvements are ongoing. He also felt that the site had plenty of capacity for development including accommodation for staff.
Responding to Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Dr Noble said that the Council could provide support by communicating the message about the need for redevelopment of outdated buildings.
Developing staffs careers
Dr Noble emphasised that managers as such ‘were not bad’ after Alan Gurney described how Whipps Cross was focusing on continual recruitment of nurses and a requirement for more doctors.
Dr Noble said that further work was needed in developing career and employment links with local schools and colleges. Responding to Councillor Holly Whitbread, she described good examples of work in Newham which could be adopted for Whipps Cross.
Mortuary facilities are old and in need of replacement but Dr Noble assured Councillor Bedford that the dignity of the deceased and care for the bereaved was a high priority.
Responding to Councillor Baldwin, Alan Gurney said that it would be wrong to say the use of Private Finance Initiative funding (PFI) was not an option but he added that there was no appetite for it.
Dementia care is also a priority. Responding to Councillor Aniket Patel, Dr Noble outlined some of the programmes including Dementia Friends and creating clinical areas more dementia ‘friendly’. Alan Gurney added that with the focus on older patients, dementia care was critical.
Councillor Mary Sartin, chairman of Overview and Scrutiny thanked Mr Gurney and Dr Noble, concluding questions with reference to the caring and compassionate approach of staff recognised in the latest CQC report.
Learning from the past
Mr Gurney and Dr Noble were invited to stay at the end of their presentation questions for a statement by a local resident. Janis Crowder gave an emotional account of her mother’s poor experience as a patient of Whipps Cross last year. Accepting improvements have since been made, Ms Crowder felt it was important to explain to hospital managers the difficulties and inadequacies of her mother’s care.
Transport for London managers have agreed to attend the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee to discuss various public transport issues in January. Essex County Council is also to be invited to attend the Neighbourhoods Select Committee to discuss County bus services.
Epping Forest College 27 February 2018
Committee councillors also noted the scheduled attendance of the Principal of Epping Forest College at the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny on 27 February 2018.
Only buy fireworks marked with the British Standard Kitemark BS7114
Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
Keep fireworks in a closed box and always follow the instructions carefully when using them
Light them at arm’s length using a taper and stand well back
Never go back to them once they are lit. Even if a firework hasn’t gone off, it could still explode
Never throw fireworks and never put them in your pocket
Respect your neighbours, don’t let off fireworks late at night and remember there are laws to follow
Take care with sparklers ,never give them to children under five. Even when they have gone out they are still hot so put sparklers in a bucket of water after use
Keep your pets indoors throughout the evening
Know the laws on fireworks and don’t set any off after 11pm. On 5 November, displays can continue until 12am and on certain occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, fireworks can be set off until 1am.
If you are planning to have a bonfire make sure to:
Build your bonfire clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences and hedges
Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire
Never burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries
Don’t leave bonfires unattended
An adult should supervise it until it has burnt out
If it has to be left, damp it down with plenty of water
Always keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe nearby in case of fire
Stay safe and look out for other
“Bonfire night is always a busy time for our emergency services so wherever you are, remember to stay safe and look out for others” said Safer, greener and transport portfolio holder Councillor Sam Kane.
“Organised events are always the safest way to enjoy fireworks and North Weald Airfield is holding another fantastic event on Friday 3 November. There are many other organised events across the district, but if you do choose to have your celebrations at home, please follow the safety tips so that you and your family remember the night for all the right reasons.”