New Cabinet announced

Written on . Posted in Democracy, Meetings, Your council

Epping Forest District Council has a new Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread. Councillor Syd Stavrou is the new Deputy Leader.

    The new 9 member cabinet is:

  1. Chris Whitbread– Leader
  2. Richard Bassett– Planning Portfolio
  3. Elizabeth Webster– Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio
  4. Syd Stavrou– Finance and Technology Portfolio
  5. William Breare-Hall– Environment Portfolio
  6. Gary Waller– Safer, Greener and Highways Portfolio
  7. David Stallan– Housing Portfolio
  8. Haluk Ulkun– Support Services Portfolio
  9. Anne Grigg – Asset Management and Economic Development Portfolio

9 new councillors were welcomed to the first meeting of Epping Forest District Council since the local elections on 3 May 2012. Neville Wright, Gavin Chambers, Tony Church, Tracey Thomas, Leon Girling, Heather Brady, Glynis Shiell and Helen Kane were each welcomed in turn by out-going chairman, Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens before he invited nominations for his successor. Harvey Mann was unable to attend.

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Councillor Chris Whitbread thanked Councillor Lesley Wagland on her leadership of the Council over the previous year. Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens echoed Councillor Whitbread’s comments, drawing particular attention to the patient and inclusive manner in which Councillor Wagland managed the formidable challenges the council faced. Councillor Jon Whitehouse also applauded Councillor Wagland for her ability to listen to all sides of the chamber.

In all, 23 councillors were returned following the local elections. One of the most notable not to return was former Leader Di Collins who retired in May after 20 years of service to the District Council.

Councillor Whitbread went on to pay tribute to a ‘good friend and former colleague’ Diana Collins, stepping down after a distinguished career including leadership of the Council and chairmanship of Overview and Scrutiny Committee. In addition to her many achievements on behalf of the district council, Chris Whitbread also thanked her for leading educational role at Epping Forest College. Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens and Councillor Richard Morgan added their praise.

Councillor David Stallan also took the opportunity to thank former councillors Rose Brookes, Rodney Barrett and Di Collins for having the best interests of residents of the District at heart. Councillor Jon Whitehouse remembered standing against Di Collins before serving with her on the Council, her work for health on the Primary Care Trust and the many thousands of pounds she raised on behalf of local and national charities.

Mrs Collins thanked councillors for their kind comments before receiving a presentation medal in recognition of her outstanding long service.

Councillor Richard Morgan is the new chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Brian Sandler will continue to chair meetings of the District Development Control Committee.

Last cabinet meeting before election

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Business, Epping, Housing, Local plan / planning our future, Meetings, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

St John’s Road development, housing improvements, dog control orders were among the items discussed by members of Epping Forest District Council’s cabinet met on Monday 23 April 2012.

St John’s Road development

Watch the report on the St John’s Road development

St John’s Road development consultation closed at 5pm. A petition was handed in before the meeting of the cabinet which will be looked at under petition rules. Councillors were anxious that as many people as possible responded to the formal consultation process in order to play a full part in the planning process.

Overview and scrutiny

Watch the report on overview and scrutiny

Further work on fire-safety in communal areas of flats is to be undertaken by the housing scrutiny standing panel. Among the items to be progressed in the new municipal year will be the scrutiny of the roll-out of high-speed broadband across the district.

Extra £770,000 for housing

Watch the report on housing improvements and service enhancements

The new self-financing strategy for the housing revenue account is beginning to show tangible benefits as councillors decide how to spend the additional £770,000 of improvements to the housing stock. Tenants and leaseholders consulted on the proposals have expressed support.

The 15 programmes of improvement proposed by the housing scrutiny panel and supported by the cabinet are:

  1. Mains-powered smoke detectors in every council property – £325,000 in 2012/13
  2. Free handyperson scheme for elderly and disabled tenants in sheltered and other council accommodation – £13,000 one-off for new van and £77,500 ongoing
  3. Increased disabled adaptations budget for one year – £75,000
  4. Conversion of communal toilets into disabled toilets in sheltered housing and community halls – £40,000
  5. Refurbishment of common room and communal kitchen at Jessopp Court, Waltham Abbey – £35,000
  6. Expansion and refurbishment of Princesfield Estate Play Area – £30,000
  7. Permanent part-time housing fraud officer – £8,000
  8. New senior housing officer (social housing fraud) – £28,500
  9. Key safes for sheltered housing schemes – £25,000
  10. New under-occupation officer £24,000
  11. Increase existing budget for estate improvements and enhancements by £20,000
  12. Expand Voluntary Action Epping Forest garden maintenance scheme for older and disabled tenants – £20,000 2012/13 and £20,000 2013/14
  13. Additional dog waste bins on housing estates – £7,500
  14. Grant to Epping Forest Recycling Scheme providing furniture to tenants in economic hardship moving into unfurnished homes – £10,000
  15. In-year housing improvements and enhancements fund £40,000

 Dog control orders – consultation

Watch the report on dog control orders

Consultation on greater powers to regulate and control the activities of irresponsible dog owners is to be carried out by Epping Forest District Council. Under the proposals, dog-walkers could be restricted to walking no more than four dogs at a time, encourage the removal of dog faeces, and powers to instruct dog-walkers to put their dogs on leads at the request of an authorised officer.

Councillors are at pains to emphasise the consultation nature of the proposals to cabinet. The vast majority of dog owners are responsible and the Council has no intention to penalise them through changes to local dog control orders.

In addition to the general invitation to residents to comment, Town and Parish Councils which control large areas of land popular with dog-walkers are among those to be consulted directly.

Powers to enforce dog orders could be extended to include council officers, PCSOs and designated officers of the Corporation of London responsible for Epping Forest

Extraordinary District Development Control Meeting

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Community, Democracy, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Meetings, Out and about, Planning, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Extraordinary District Development Control Meeting – Council Depot site and Adjacent Land off Langston Road.

The Chairman of the District Development Control Committee has agreed to hold an extraordinary meeting of that Committee on Monday 27 February 2012 at 7.30pm.

The meeting will be held in the Council Chamber at the Civic Offices in Epping. It has been convened to consider Planning Application EPF/2580/10 – Council Depot site and Adjacent Land off Langston Road, Loughton IG10 3UE – Outline application for the redevelopment of site for 16.435 square metres (GIA) of predominately A1 retail floor space, (including up to 1000 square metres (GIA) of A3 Floorspace), landscaping, car parking, ground remodelling works, retaining wall structures and two accesses off Langston Road.

The Chairman has permitted variation in the normal arrangements for speakers given the importance of the site. He will allow the applicant a slightly longer time at the end of the meeting to address any issues. Anyone wishing to speak should contact Democratic Services no later than 4.00pm on the day before the meeting.

Members will also make a site visit prior to the meeting taking place.

The meeting will be webcast and so anyone interested in this application can watch it from the comfort of their own home if they do not wish to come to the Civic Offices.

District Development Control webcast

Car park charges and new housing on cabinet agenda

Written on . Posted in Business, Democracy, Local business, Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your area, Your community, Your council

Car park charge freeze re-affirmed, possible new council housing programme and museum deal were among the agenda items discussed by cabinet on Monday 5 December 2011.

Car park charges freeze re-affirmed
Watch the finance and performance management cabinet committee item

Council pay and display car park charges are to be frozen for another year. Members of the cabinet meeting on 5 December re-affirmed the views of cabinet committee in rejecting proposals by a consultant to use increased parking charges as a means of raising extra money for council services. Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder also confirmed plans to continue with free parking in Council car parks on Saturdays in the-run up to Christmas.

Responding to newspaper coverage of the report to the Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee, Councillor Lesley Wagland, Leader of Epping Forest District Council is to issue an open invitation to traders to view the debate with her. Councillor Wagland is to make the invitation through the editor of the local newspaper responsible for the original media coverage and in an open letter published here on the district council website.

New housing building programme moves forward
Watch the council house building programme item

20 new council houses a year could be built over 6 years. Members of the cabinet received a detailed report setting out proposals to engage a partner to assist in the development process.

Following changes in Government finance rules, Epping Forest District Council has begun a serious examination into the viability of commencing a new council house building programme. The council is looking at a range of funding options aimed at raising around £2.5 million per year. New houses would be built on sites already owned by the council. Future cash receipts from right to buy, other asset sales, section 106 contributions by developers, contributions from the HRA and grants from the Homes and Communities Agency could all help to fund the programme. Rent levels would be set according to the Government’s ‘affordable rents’ framework.

The council expects to see around 100 affordable homes developed in partnerships with housing associations this year. A number of developers have also approached the council with a view to further affordable housing provision in the future. Assuming ‘trigger points’ are reached, developers stand to provide £1.1 million in section 106 funding to the council in the near future. Further funding of up to £800,000 could become available through section 106 arrangements if pending planning applications are approved.

One-off payment to replace annual housing subsidy and protecting tenants and leaseholders
Watch the HRA 30 year financial plan item

Under the current national housing subsidy rules, Epping Forest District Council makes an annual payment of around £11 million to the Government each year. Changes to the subsidy system will see an end to these annual payments in exchange for a one-off subsidy payment to the Government of £186 million.

Members of the council’s cabinet considered the impact of the changes when looking at the housing revenue account plan over the next 30 years. Councillor Margaret McEwen took councillors through the options for short and longer repayment options on the loans necessary to meet the Government bill.

While paying the debt off over a shorter time might appeal to the instincts of some councillors, Councillor McEwen suggested a longer pay back time might be more advantageous to council tenants. For example, extending the payback could allow a lower rent increase (6 per cent instead of 7.9 per cent) from next April, higher standards of maintenance (to the ‘modern homes’ standard) for existing properties and support for the new house building programme.

Under the plan, an additional £1.1 million could be made available towards the costs of maintaining and improving the council’s housing stock. Decisions on how to spend the extra money are to be taken in consultation with the tenants’ and Leaseholders’ Federation and housing scrutiny panel.

Councillor John Knapman, Environment Portfolio Holder congratulated Councillor McEwen in her determination to maintain the council’s housing stock to higher standards.

Investment cuts costs and improves energy efficiency
Watch the planned preventative maintenance programme item

Over £77,000 has been saved on annual gas and electricity costs at the civic offices in Epping over the last 2 years. Cabinet members received the good news as part of the report on planned maintenance on council property over the next 5 years.

The reduction of 552,751 kilowatt hours of gas and electricity represents a 43 per cent reduction in consumption at the council’s main office building. Investment in a combination of better energy management of lighting, heating, comfort cooling (air-conditioning) and improved insulation has lifted the energy efficiency rating from E to D.

Biological Records In Essex (BRIE)
Watch the BRIE item

A new biodiversity records service is to be supported with a £4,000 contribution per annum for 6 years by Epping Forest District Council. Cabinet supported proposals to join other councils in a service level agreement with Essex Wildlife Trust to provide comprehensive data on species and habitat. Information will assist councils in deciding planning applications and protecting the local environment.

PCSO funding ends
Watch the funding of PCSOs item

The direct funding of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) for Epping Forest District is to end. The Cabinet decision follows changes in Government funding for Essex Police and consequential restructuring of the police service. Essex Police is no longer able to match fund the district council in the provision of PCSOs exclusive to Epping Forest. Continued PCSO funding by the council would have been fed into Essex-wide services rather than local deployments. The decision will generate a saving of £62,750 on Council budgets.

Museum deal
Watch the Lowewood Museum item

Lowewood Museum in Broxbourne is to be managed by Epping Forest District Council. Cabinet approved the proposals following an approach by Broxbourne Borough Council. Staff from the council’s museum in Sun Street, Waltham Abbey will manage Lowewood in Hoddesdon. The deal is expected to reduce costs and save money for both councils.

Youth Council, Olympic tickets and Council Tax at scrutiny

Written on . Posted in Council tax, Meetings, Olympics, Out and about, Residents, Your council

A funding bid by the Epping Forest Youth Council, Olympic Games ticket allocation and Council Tax reform were all discussed at overview and scrutiny on Tuesday 29 November 2011.

Youth Council fund bid
A bid for continued funding has been made by Epping Forest District Youth Council as it prepares for elections in 2012.

Members of the Youth Council made a strong and professional presentation to members of Epping Forest District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Youth Council is seeking £12,000 from the District Council to continue its work. In support of the bid, Youth Councillors showed how funding allocated in the current year has been used for a range of highly successful projects.

Epping Forest Youth Council has also raised more than £9,000 independently. Approximately £700 is expected soon from the Jack Petchy Foundation.

In addition to the variety of projects working directly with other young people, the Youth Council also provides a forum with which Epping Forest District Council can consult. The District uses the Youth Council as a sounding board and partner in the development of projects and policies affecting the District’s young people.
Councillor Richard Bassett, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny asked members of the Youth Council how they felt they were perceived among young people. In response the committee learned more of the work conducted by the Youth Council in local schools and youth groups where its profile and effectiveness has been raised.

Councillor Di Collins asked how the Youth Council communicated beyond the areas of local schools. By working with other local youth clubs and organisations, the Youth Council has been able to extend both its range and effectiveness.

Councillors applauded both the presentation of the Youth Council and the value for money it offers to the wider community. One of the strongest points emerging from the subsequent question and answer session was the ‘bridge’ built between young people represented by the Youth Council and the older generations represented the District.

Overview and Scrutiny agreed unanimously to support the Youth Council bid for funding in the new budget round.

Olympic Games ticket allocations
Members of Overview and Scrutiny Committee have upheld the Cabinet decision on the allocation of tickets for the Olympic Games to local residents.

As a ‘host’ Council supporting the Olympic Canoe Slalom competition at the Lee Valley White Water Centre during London 2012, Epping Forest District Council took up an opportunity to buy a limited number of tickets. Fifty-four tickets were subsequently allocated by LOCOG at a cost to the Council of approximately £3,000. A bid has also been made for a small number of tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games.

Competition day tickets are for the White Water Centre. Overview and Scrutiny confirmed the Cabinet decision to allocate the tickets as follows:

Olympic Games opening ceremony:

2 tickets for the Citizen of the Year
Olympic Games closing ceremony:

2 tickets for the Young Citizen of the Year
£35 tickets for the canoe slalom:

2 tickets for the Citizen of the Year runner up
2 tickets for the Young Citizen of the Year runner up
5 tickets to a district resident in the care of St Clare Hospice and their family
5 tickets to a district resident young person and their family participating at Chigwell Riding Trust for Special Needs
5 tickets to a district resident child and family at Oakview School in Loughton
3 pairs of tickets to residents of Epping Forest district nominated by members of the public
£20 tickets for the canoe slalom:

11 tickets (two adult, nine children) for the King Harold School in Waltham Abbey
7 pairs of tickets to residents of Epping Forest district nominated by Members of the public
Public nominations are to be sought for individuals who have made a major contribution to the local community or have overcome exceptional personal challenges, the main stipulation being that the nominee must be a resident of the district. Neither they nor the nominator can be an Epping Forest District Council employee or a district councillor. A panel composing of the Chairman of Council, Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder and the Council’s ‘Olympic Champion’ will decide on the successful nominations.

Council Tax reform
Councils are being consulted by the Government on proposals to change elements of Council Tax.

The Government proposes that reforms to the Council Tax system from 2013 / 2014 will:

Give billing authorities power to levy up to full Council Tax on second homes
Replace existing Class A and C exemptions for vacant homes with discounts of up to 100%, the amount of which it would be for billing authorities to determine
Abolish the Class L exemption, and make mortgagees in possession of empty dwellings liable to Council Tax in respect of them
Allow billing authorities to levy an ‘empty homes premium’ over and above full Council Tax liability in respect of dwellings which have been left empty for two years or more
Set a default assumption that payment of Council Tax be by instalments over 12 months rather than 10 as is currently the case
Allow authorities to publish online the ‘information to be supplied with demand notices’
Changes to eliminate potential tax complications from arrangements involving third party suppliers where solar panels are placed on the roof of dwellings without coming into the control of the resident
To see the Epping Forest District Council response (go to page 47 of the agenda)

 

 

Speed meeting for Youth Councillors

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Democracy, Local business, Meetings, Out and about, Supporting business, Young people, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest Youth Councillors accepted Harlow Youth Councillors’ invitation to visit the Harlow Civic Centre and to get to know each other by holding a speed meeting evening. Epping Youth Councillors ran through the rules for the evening, the main one being to have fun!

 Youth Councillor Daisy Morecroft said: “It was a great way to get to know each other as we only had five minutes per pair to talk about anything and everything. It was surprising to find Epping and Harlow had similar issues, such as poor transport, safety and the lack of activities for young people in the evening.”

To make it more exciting they scored each other on their listening skills, friendliness and how aware they were of young people’s issues. Ellis Spicer from Epping Forest Youth Council and Suliman Ahmad from Harlow Youth Council scored the highest points and each received a box of chocolates.

“It was a lovely evening and great opportunity to exchange ideas for projects and to meet people in the district. I enjoyed the whole evening,” said Daisy Morecroft.

Harlow Youth Council provided the wonderful fruit smoothie cocktails on the night and Epping Youth Council provided the cakes and biscuits.

New homes, old homes and old bangers

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Meetings, Your council

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Cabinet reviews success at Springfields, affordable housing and MoTs at Langston Road.

Return of council housing?

Many years since the last council-owned housing was built, members of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet explored some of the financial issues affecting any potential new council house building programme. Councillor Chris Whitbread asked if a slower payback, leading to greater numbers of new affordable homes could be considered by the Council, should it receive satisfactory assurances about long-term government financing conditions.

Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Finance Portfolio Holder sought to reassure councillors at Cabinet on Monday 18 July that any decisions taken now were to move the potential process forward in principle. Councillors agreed on the need for more information as they strived to find ways of helping to meet some of the outstanding demand for affordable housing for local residents.

Councillors of the Housing Scrutiny Panel have been asked to look in more detail at the feasibility of undertaking a new house building programme and report back to Cabinet.

Cabinet agreed to recommend a bid of £50,000 to Full Council for consultancy, treasury management advice and costs leading to obtaining a necessary credit rating.

Springfields – Improvements in under budget

Accounts for the major improvement scheme for the Council-owned flats at Springfields in Waltham Abbey, completed in August 2009 have been settled. Cabinet received reports on the final accounts showing the project came in £40,000 under the original budget at £3,660,000. Councillor Maggie McEwen, Housing Portfolio Holder agreed residents were very pleased with the outcome despite many challenging difficulties that emerged during the works. Councillors Richard Bassett and Stephen Murray congratulated both current Portfolio Holder Maggie McEwen and former Portfolio Holder David Stallan on the outcome.

MoT investment

A popular council-owned MoT facility in Loughton is helping to keep Council Tax down. Councillor John Wyatt, Support Services Portfolio Holder told Cabinet that members of the public seemed to like obtaining MoTs through the Council. Although primarily for servicing and testing its own fleet of vehicles, the Council’s vehicle maintenance workshops at Langston Road in Loughton also offer MoTs to the public. Last year Fleet Operations, which runs the centre returned an £85,000 surplus thanks largely to the MoT work. Cabinet approved the purchase of a new vehicle lift and ancillary equipment costing £24,000 to increase capacity, the income from which helps to fund other services and reduce Council Tax.

Underground boss quizzed by councillors

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Democracy, Meetings, Residents, Your council

More passengers than ever before use the Central Line, Peter Tollington, Central Line General Manager for London Underground told Epping Forest councillors at the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny on Tuesday 12 July 2011. More passengers are crammed onto trains each year. Mr Tollington said that the old concept of the ‘rush hour’ no longer existed, being more like three hours at a time. Cable theft is proving one of the chief causes of disruption to the line.

Overall the underground network is increasing capacity by 30 percent. Stations including Tottenham Court Road and Stratford are undergoing major upgrades as is the fleet of trains. Seat and window replacements are part of the Central Line carriage improvements.

As the gateway to the Olympic Games at Stratford, London Underground expects to see a third ‘rush hour’ around mid-night at the redeveloped station next year.

Cross Rail is expected to relieve some pressure as projected demand for the Central Line continues to increase.

In response to a question from Councillor David Stallan, Peter Tollington said the ultimate aim was to replace the existing Central Line trains with new walk through models similar to those being introduced to the Metropolitan Line. Unfortunately Mr Tollington believed these were many years off.

Heavy engineering work needs to be done and some disruption is unavoidable. Mr Tollington said a balance needed to be struck between weekend and weekday working. Councillor Lesley Wagland asked if weekend closure was made in liaison with other public transport and major event organisers to minimise disruption. Mr Tollington said the current works in Loughton took about a year to plan but that it was not always possible to co-ordinate with others so far in advance. For example, he noted the late notification of football fixture lists of home and way games for large clubs such as West Ham United.

Councillors called for more trains on weekends and especially Sundays. Responding to remarks by Councillor Rose Brookes, Mr Tollington was very aware of the growth in weekend demand and was looking particularly at the potential impact of the opening of the Westfield Centre.

Councillors were critical of the provision of information following works at Mile End. Mr Tollington said he had challenged his engineers to come up with better solutions.

Councillor Ken Avey asked Mr Tollington about the parking problems caused by commuters at Epping Station. He proposed additional parking using an existing railway cutting. He felt it would be a money spinner with quick pay back. Mr Tollington felt the proposal for extra parking was interesting but had concerns that Epping might struggle to cope with many more passengers. Councillor David Stallan said recent changes to traffic management outside Epping Station had not helped.

Mr Tollington said he was very open to suggestions on parking problems. He was very sympathetic but had not come equipped with solutions.

Councillor Lesley Wagland passed on comments from residents that Debden Station might have capacity for additional parking. Councillor Jon Whitehouse supported comments from Councillor David Stallan regarding earlier investigations into the use of the old coal yard at Epping for parking. Councillor Alan Lion asked if sidings at Grange Hill had ever been considered for potential parking schemes.

Towards 2012, Mr Tollington said he was looking forward to the Olympic Games. He outlined ways in which London Underground was preparing, increasing its resilience and managing transport tickets as part of the event ticket sales. Councillor Stallan asked if London Underground would look at travel arrangements for residents in areas such as Loughton travelling to the Lee Valley White Water Centre via central London. Mr Tollington felt such a route would be a long way round but was a question for the Olympic authorities.

Councillor Richard Bassett, chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee raised issues of low staffing levels late at night. Mr Tollington recognised the concerns and some of the technology such as CCTV to enhance station security when stations are unstaffed. Finally Councillor Bassett thanked Mr Tollington and his colleague Michael Grade for their presentation.

Cabinet 6 June 2011

Written on . Posted in Democracy, Meetings, Your council

The development of an all-weather pitch in Waltham Abbey, purchase of 7 refuse freighters and the councils treasury management strategy were just some of the items discussed at cabinet on Monday 6 June 2011.

New Cabinet Meets
The Cabinet of Epping Forest District Council met for the first time since the local elections and Annual Council meeting in May. Chaired by the new Leader of Council, Councillor Lesley Wagland, new portfolio holders got into their stride.

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New Refuse Freighters
Money has been allocated for seven new refuse freighters. Councillor John Knapman, Environment Portfolio Holder obtained the agreement of cabinet colleagues for an allocation of £1 million towards the potential purchase of the new vehicles in 2012/13.

Epping Forest District Council operates a domestic refuse and recycling contract with Sita UK Around 60 per cent of all domestic refuse is recycled. While the service is operated under a contract, the council has previously found that owning its own vehicles has benefits in terms of costs and flexibility.

Changes to Housing Subsidy
Epping Forest District Council may become one of a number of councils to exchange its current regular housing subsidy payments to the government for a one-off payment of £200 million.

Council rents are set following government guidance. It has long been the case that tenants in Epping Forest contribute towards the housing costs of tenants in other areas through the national housing subsidy scheme. Proposals were brought forward by the last government for councils in ‘negative subsidy’ such as Epping Forest District to exchange these annual payments for a single one-off payment. These plans are being taken forward by the new coalition government.

Should the necessary legislation go through Parliament successfully, the council will be required to borrow money to meet the payment. However, council finance officers believe the long term benefits of ending regular payments may outweigh the interim interest charges on a loan, potentially leaving tenants better off in the long term.

New Artificial Sports Pitch – Waltham Abbey
Young people are set to benefit from an important new sports facility.

Cabinet agreed the award of tender for the new artificial grass sports pitch at Townmead in Waltham Abbey. Councillors approved the bid by AMB Sports Ltd of £504,583 for the project. The pitch is to be built with District Council money on Town Council land and is to be run in partnership by Epping Forest District Council and Waltham Abbey Town Council.

Construction of the artificial pitch in one of the district’s most deprived areas is hoped to improve levels of health and fitness as well as reducing anti-social behaviour among younger age groups.

Site chosen for ICT Disaster Recovery
Parsonage Court, the council’s Careline base and sheltered housing scheme in Loughton has been selected as the site of Epping Forest District Council’s ICT disaster recover suite. Once completed, the council’s most important ICT systems will be secured against major accidents or failures.

The move is part of the council’s drive to improve its own resilience to technical failures as part of its Business Continuity plans. Should the main Civic Offices in Epping be lost due to accident such as fire or flood, key council computer systems including housing benefit which pays out many millions of pounds each year to local residents would continue to operate smoothly.

Council Tax – No Change
Cabinet expects no increase in Council Tax payments by residents. Referring to outcomes in the council’s key objectives, councillors noted a future 2.5 per cent increase in Council Tax income through central government grant.