Essex Police is looking for members to join a new Epping Forest and Brentwood Independent Advisory Group (IAG). It is an opportunity for somebody to act as a ‘critical friend’ to play an important part in ensuring Essex Police consults with, and understand the views of, the Epping Forest community.
“If you know your community well and can think strategically, why not share your expertise and experience to help Essex Police make policing decisions in the Epping Forest district,” asks Councillor Sam Kane, Epping Forest District Council’s safer, greener and transport portfolio holder.
“The IAG will play an important part in ensuring Essex Police consults with our community, reviewing police work practices to help Essex Police better understand how its processes and policies affect our different communities.” said Councillor Sam Kane.
“The first meeting of the Epping Forest and Brentwood IAG is at Zinc Arts in Ongar on Tuesday 16 January 2018, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. If you’re motivated, enthusiastic, able to communicate in a calm, constructive manner, and want to ensure the views of your community are heard, come along and tell Essex Police how their services are being perceived by our communities.”
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.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) Roger Hirst hosted a public meeting at the civic offices on Monday 20 December hearing resident’s views on crime in the district.
Watch the webcast
Working with you to keep our community safe
The public meeting gave residents a chance to hear from the police first-hand about budgets, current successes and where improvement is needed.
Safer, Greener and Transport portfolio holder Councillor Sam Kane said “It was so encouraging to see residents engaging with the Commissioner. The Epping Forest District has a strong sense of community which is demonstrated by the way we tackle these issues together, working with the police not against them.
“Our safer community’s team work closely with the Police and other agencies helping find actions to address your concerns. I look forward to seeing our working relationship grow, working with the Police, the Commissioner and our residents to keep our community safe”