Lambourne Pupils Impress at Civic Offices

Written on . Posted in Community, Meetings, Young people, Your community, Your council

If the recent visit to the Civic Offices by a class of year 6 children from Lambourne Primary School is anything to go by then the future of the Epping Forest district is a bright one. The pupils aged 10 and 11 came to the Civic Offices to learn about local government and to make a presentation to the Chairman of Council, Councillor Anne Grigg and other Councillors.

Showing no fear when it came to speaking to an audience, all of the children were confident in delivering their lines. They presented work that they have been doing on the subject of democracy and told the Chairman of the mock-elections that they have recently held at their school.

Pupils from Lambourne Primary School with Chairman of Council, Cllr Anne Grigg and other Councillors

Following the presentation the pupils had the chance to grill the councillors on topics of their choosing. Questions ranged from those about the Councillors individual achievements to more general matters relating to unemployment and housing in the district. One pupil even had the courage to ask whether there were too many councillors in the Epping Forest District!

The day finished with a viewing of the district from the top of the Civic Offices Tower and the presentation of a goody bag to each pupil from the Chairman of Council, Councillor Anne Grigg.

Addressing the pupils Councillor Grigg said: “On behalf of Epping Forest District Council, I’d like to thank you all for coming. I’ve really enjoyed listening to your excellent presentation which you’ve made today with real enthusiasm. You’ve shown that Epping Forest can be optimistic about its future.”

Councillor Brian Rolfe Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder added: “As a councillor for the Lambourne Ward I’d like to add how proud I am personally for what you’ve done today. A very well done to you all.”

Annual Council 2010

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

Epping Forest District Council has elected Councillor Anne Grigg as its new Chairman. The Council also welcomed twenty new and returning councillors to its first full meeting on 25 May following the local District Council Elections.

Outgoing Chairman, Councillor Penny Smith reflected on her year. Among the highlights  was the North Weald Community Weekend at which veterans from Norway joined local residents for three days of memories and celebrations. She expressed her appreciation for the support of the Council Chief Executive, Peter Haywood and his staff before thanking councillors for their support over the previous 12 months.

Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Council congratulated Councillor Smith and thanked her for all her efforts as Chairman over the previous year. Councillor Caroline Pond, Leader of Loughton Residents Association spoke of the calm, efficient and carefully planned manner in which Mrs Smith conducted the role. Councillor Jon Whitehouse, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group spoke of the enthusiasm and smile with which Mrs Smith fulfilled her role.

Mrs Smith reported that £4,000 from her charity fundraising would be donated to the Alzheimers Society.  

Councillor Anne Grigg receives the Chain of Office from Councillor Penny Smith as she is sworn in as the new Chairman of Epping Forest District Council

Councillor David Stallan nominated Councillor Anne Grigg as the new Chairman of Epping Forest District Council. Councillor Grigg was first elected to the Council in 1998. She has held many senior positions including portfolio holder for Planning and Economic Development. She has also served with distinction on North Weald Bassett Parish Council in positions ranging from clerk to chairman.

Councillor Di Collins seconded the nomination and Councillor Grigg was appointed to the unanimous approval of councillors. Councillor Grigg then paid warm tribute to Mrs Smith for her work on behalf of the Council.

To the approval of all members, Councillor Mrs Grigg invited Councillor Caroline Pond to nominate Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens for Vice-Chairman.

Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens accepts the nomination of fellow Councillors to become the new Vice-Chairman of Epping Forest District Council

Cancer Research UK will benefit as one of Councillor Griggs Chairman`s Charities. She will also support St Clare Hospice at Hastingwood, Chigwell Riding Trust for Special Needs at Chigwell and the Essex Air Ambulance as her good causes for the year.

Mrs Grigg will take part in the Race for Life at North Weald later in the year. She also asked councillors to sponsor the Council`s Director of Environment and Street Scene, John Gilbert who will be raising money on behalf of the Chairman`s Charity as he sails cross the Bay of Biscay to Spain next month.

Councillor Di Collins was re-elected as Council Leader and Chairman of a new Cabinet increased from eight to nine portfolios. Councillors Lesley Wagland and Penny Smith join the Cabinet for the first time as colleagues of Councillors Chris Whitbread, Brian Rolfe, Syd Stavrou, Richard Bassett, Mary Sartin, and David Stallan.

Councillor Richard Morgan was re-elected Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Brian Sandler will continue to Chair meetings of the District Development Control Committee.

Former Councillor Mrs Ann Haigh is applauded by councillors as the Chairman presents a medal in recognition of 14 years service to the Community as a member for Buckhurst Hill

Tributes were also made to former councillors who did not return to the Council Chamber after the elections. Particular warmth was reserved for Ann Haigh a former chairman of the Council who lost her seat after 14 years representing the residents of Buckhurst Hill. Mrs Haigh was applauded by all side of the Chamber as the Chairman presented a medal in recognition of her service.

Full details of the all the Cabinet and Committee appointments will be made available on the Council`s website at www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Cabinet Spotlight on Child Protection

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Leader, Meetings, Residents, Young people, Your community, Your council

The Cabinet meeting that took place on 8 March 2010 saw child protection proposals come under the spotlight as well as discussion on recycling and health.

Watch the webcastView the webcast of the Cabinet Meeting 8 March 2010

District Council seeks reassurance on Child Protection

Councillor Brian Rolfe, Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder introduced Mr Roger Bullen of Essex County Council to present a report on the Essex Children`s Trust Memorandum of Agreement.

Councillor Mitch Cohen questioned Mr Bullen closely on the purposes of the Memorandum. He explored the levels of independence Epping Forest District Council would retain to control its own policies and procedures in relation to children`s services.
Mr Bullen sought to reassure Councillors that the Memorandum would underpin the statutory obligations of the Essex Children`s Trust, rather than form an overarching influence.

Councillor Lesley Wagland, the Council`s elected representative on the West Essex Children`s Trust Board also expressed concerns. She drew comparison with Epping Forest District Council`s own policies and procedures particularly in relation to Safeguarding, which have been independently identified as `Best Practice`. Councillor Wagland felt that from a legal perspective, the Memorandum of Agreement as written was not specific enough in terms of expectations or requirements, leaving room for different interpretations by the various partners.

Councillor Ann Haigh, Chairman of the previous Children and Young People`s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) echoed many of Councillor Wagland`s concerns and emphasised the need to place the safeguarding of children first. Councillor Haigh also drew attention to the needs of smaller areas within the context of the overall requirements of West Essex. Councillor Haigh felt the Memorandum was premature and supported Councillor Wagland`s call not to support the document as currently worded.

Councillor Chris Whitbread suggested the document should not be signed at this time. Rather he felt that the good practice identified by independent audit at Epping Forest District Council should be examined more closely by Overview and Scrutiny to see how it might be taken forward. In the meantime, the District Council would assure Essex County Council that it would meet its legislative requirements and continue to work in partnership, while seeking assurances from Essex County Council towards enhancements of children`s services across the County.

Free recycling for schools, halls and places of worship

Free recycling services are to be extended to schools, village halls and religious services at places of worship. Epping Forest District Council`s Cabinet agreed to support the extension of free recycling across the district, mirroring similar services already available on household recycling collections from residents. Councillor Mary Sartin, Environment Portfolio Holder recommended the report to Cabinet.

Commercial businesses continue to be liable for charges for the collection of `trade waste`.

Health Service Consultation

Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens reported to members on the latest North East London health service consultation. He outlined a number of concerns expressed at Overview and Scrutiny Committee including funding and mental health services. Members were also unhappy at the uneven spread of consultation across the southern area of the district.

Watch the webcast

View the Overview and Scrutiny presentation and debate

Council Tax 2010/11 Confirmed

Written on . Posted in Community, Council tax, Democracy, Meetings, Older people, Residents, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest District Councillors agreed the 1.5 per cent increase in Council Tax on Tuesday 16 February. The increase represents a four pence per week increase on a Band D property, one of the lowest increases ever set by the District Council.

Broken down into its constituent parts, the total bill for an average Band D Council Taxpayer in Epping Forest district will be:

  • £1,086.75 to Essex County Council
  • £132.12 to Essex Police
  • £ 66.42 to Essex Fire Authority
  • £148.77 to Epping Forest District Council

Parish and Town Council precepts will vary from £13.15 for residents of Stapleford Abbotts to £94.46 in Waltham Abbey.

District Council services range from planning control to environmental health, refuse collection and recycling. The Council provides public leisure centres and swimming pools, around 6,500 Council houses, shops and industrial units for small and medium businesses. Investment in capital schemes such as the Broadway Town Centre Enhancement boosts the district`s infrastructure.

During the recession the District Council is supporting residents and businesses. It has frozen car park charges, assisted small businesses with rent rebates during Town Centre Enhancement works and made small grants available to people in danger of losing their homes through rent arrears and repossessions.

Much of the funding for the Citizens` Advice Bureau and other voluntary organisations that have supported people through the recession comes from Epping Forest District Council. It has worked in partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses and other employment organisations to boost local jobs.

Epping Forest District Council also collects the Council Tax precepts for the Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Essex County Council and 24 local Town and Parish Councils. Each organisation sets its own budgets and notifies Epping Forest District Council how much Council Tax to collect on its behalf.

  • Download the Council Tax Precepts 2010/11 (pdf 44KB)
  • Download the Council Tax Precepts 2009/10 (pdf 257KB)

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Finance Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: We are a low-tax Council. We are debt-free and we have put money aside for a rainy day. With the country struggling to pull out of recession no one wants to see big increases in tax. Unlike many Councils, we have the cash we need to see us through the recession. We don`t need to make heavy cuts in services or big tax increases. Epping Forest District Council is playing its part in supporting local people at home and work. Other Councils will look on our position with envy.

Cabinet Meeting 1 February 2010

Written on . Posted in Democracy, Elections, Meetings, Your council

Monday night’s Cabinet meeting included an update on the Council’s letter to the Rt Hon John Healey, MP concerning the Gypsy and Traveller Direction, a briefing from the representatives of the Youth Council and discussion on compensation for residents in the vicinity of the O2 mast erected in Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey.

Letters to the Minister
Councillor Diana Collins confirmed to members of Epping Forest District Council`s Cabinet that the letter to the Rt Hon John Healey, MP demanding the lifting of the Gypsy and Traveller Direction had been sent, before hearing that the Council was also calling on Mr Healey to look again at the financial rules governing Council house building.

Housing Boost
Families struggling to get a first foot on the housing ladder received a boost at Cabinet on 1 February after £168,000 was re-allocated to provide six £28,000 Home Ownership Grants. A further £182,000 has been allocated to help a Housing Association to purchase homes for affordable rent from the open market. However, the Council`s aspiration to re-start its own building programme has run into problems due to the Government`s rules on public spending. Epping Forest District Council is to appeal to Mr Healey, Minister for Local Government for more flexibility.

Youth Council
Youth Councillors Connor Latimer and Harrison Jardine invited members of the Cabinet to attend the next Youth Council. The Youth Councillors briefed the Cabinet on the forthcoming Youth Council conference in March. Harrison Jardine also provided feedback on recent training days. Further training is aimed at catching the interest of the local media, building local democracy, raising the profile of the Youth Council and consulting local young people on measures for change.

The forthcoming Youth Conference will focus on key areas, publicity, a debate on lowering the voting age and five discussion groups. Issues will range from the environment to cyber-bullying.

Under Budget Broadway CCTV Upgrade
Councillors received notification of the final completion of the Broadway Town Centre Enhancement at a cost of £3,631,000 including a saving of £595,000 thanks to a smooth and rapid conclusion to the project. Councillors will now be asked to consider potential uses for the savings, including enhancements to CCTV.

Fixed Penalty Notices between £50 and £500
Fixed Penalty Notices with discounts for early payment were agreed by Councillors. Where Government guidance exists, the Council adopted the lowest penalty levels possible on a range of environmental misdemeanours ranging from abandoned cars, nuisance parking and litter through to keeping dogs under control and noise complaints. The new Fixed Penalty Notices will be widely publicised prior to implementation across the district.

O2 Mast Waltham Abbey
Planning Officers are to investigate the possibility of an alternative site for the O2 mobile telephone mast in Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey. Councillors were set to consider compensation to local residents but the report was deferred after O2 indicated alternative sites in Waltham Abbey might allow them to remove the mast in Honey Lane.

The mast was originally erected after the Council failed to consider the planning notification within the statutory deadline. Councillors and staff took the opportunity to apologise to residents again. Residents who complained have previously received £250 `goodwill` payments from the Council in recognition of the mistake.

Voluntary support through the recession
Epping Forest District Council is to encourage local residents and its own employees to volunteer. The District Council supports the CAB to the tune of £120,000 per year and has recently helped its expansion to meet the additional demands placed on the CAB by people asking for help during the recession. Members of the Cabinet also endorsed the recent work of the Council to support the voluntary work of Essex Credit Unions through The Forester and other publicity.

Recovery of Icelandic Bank Money
Councillors received some good news concerning the potential loss of investments following the collapse of Icelandic banks. The Council`s Finance Director, Bob Palmer was able to report the latest predictions from Ernst and Young, administrator for Heritable Bank now predicts the recovery of between 79 pence and 85 pence in the pound. Mr Palmer was also able to report a VAT refund likely to cover any remaining loss from Heritable Bank.

Council Tax
Cabinet endorsed the 1.5 per cent Council Tax increase recommendation to Council on 16 February. Councillor Chris Whitbread described the budget as affordable and manageable. The proposed budget would see the District Council precept on a Band D property increase by just four pence per week.

Former Chairman Remembered

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Your council

Jim Axon

Jim Axon, former councillor and Chairman of Epping Forest District Council from 1991 to 1992 passed away in December.

Christened Walter but known to all as Jim, he represented the residents of Theydon Bois on the District Council from 1979 until 1996. He also chaired Plans Sub-committee B.

Jim Axon was well known within Theydon Bois. In addition to representing the area on the Council he was a local farmer who spent many active years in the community.

The Memorial Service is to be held from 2pm at Theydon Garnon Church on Wednesday 6 January 2010. Jim leaves his wife June and their children.

Councillors will observe a minute`s silence in honour of his memory at the next meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 19 January 2010.

Capital Strategy Approved by Council

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

The capital strategy for 2009 to 2014, recycling enhancement, Epping Town Council quality status were on the agenda at the meeting of full Council on Tuesday 22 December 2009.

 

Watch webcast of Council meeting on 22 December 2009

Capital Strategy Approved

Meeting housing need has been made top priority of Epping Forest District Council. Councillors endorsed the new priority as part of the adoption of the new Capital Strategy for 2009 to 2014 at the meeting of the Council on 22 December 2009.

Former Chief Executive – Tony Hackman

Councillors held a minute`s silence at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council in memory of former Chief Executive, Tony Hackman. Councillor Richard Morgan, represented the Council at the service.

Enhancement to Recycling Service

In response to a question from Councillor Spencer, Councillor Mary Sartin, Environment Portfolio Holder announced that discussion were ongoing to make Kerb-side recycling caddies available on request in additional to green lid wheelie bins for any residents who wished to use a combination of both. Councillor Sartin also confirmed that the clear recycling sacks currently available will be superseded by a stronger version. Councillors were reminded that residents could also use their own plastic bags for recycling, paper, cans and plastic bottles.

Epping Town Council Quality Status

Councillor John Buchanan of the Association of Essex Councils and Councillor Penny Smith, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council made a presentation to Epping Town Council for re-accreditation of its Quality Parish Council status. Councillor Buchannan congratulated Councillor Janet Hedges, Mayor of Epping Town Council, on receiving the award, listing the tough criteria a town council must meet to receive Quality Status.

Councillor Janet Hedges receives the award from Councillor John Buchanan and Councillor Penny Smith

Picture caption – Councillor Janet Hedges (centre) receives the re-accreditation of Quality Council Status on behalf of Epping Town Council from Councillor John Buchanan of the Association of Essex Councils and Councillor Penny Smith, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council at the meeting of the District on 22 December 2009.

Chairman`s Announcements

Councillor Mrs Penny Smith, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council expressed her deep pride in the District. Following recent invitations to a range of community events she was very proud to see the huge amount of voluntary work carried out by many people within the community, including those sharing Christmas with people who would otherwise be alone.

The Chairman`s Charity for 2009/10 is the Alzheimer`s Society. Councillor Smith announces that her next fund-raising event would be a charity quiz to be held at Theydon Bois Village Hall on Friday 19 February 2010.

Council Olympic Champion

A local teacher and marathon runner has been selected by councillors as Epping Forest District Council`s Olympic Champion. Councillor Stephen Murray will lead the Council`s efforts to maximise the benefits of the London Olympic Games 2012 for residents and local business. His responsibilities will including the White Water Canoe Centre in the Lee Valley Park bordering Waltham Abbey.

No Gypsy and Traveller Discussion at Council Tonight

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Leader, Meetings, Your council

The Council is unable to consider the agenda item concerning the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document at the Council meeting tonight. This is following the postponement of last night’s Cabinet meeting, on Monday 21 December 2009, due to severe weather conditions.

Agreement has been given by the Leader of the Council to hold the rescheduled Cabinet meeting on Monday 4 January 2010. An extraordinary meeting of the Council will probably take place on Tuesday 19 January 2010, subject to the agreement of the Chairman of the Council.

Cabinet Rejects Minerals Development Document

Written on . Posted in Leader, Meetings, Your council

Minerals development, the Youth Council, Limes Farm Hall and others were all discussed at cabinet on Monday 16 November 2009.

Watch the webcast

Cabinet meeting on 16 November 2009

Minerals Development Document

District Councillors say plans to extract gravel from Shellow Cross in Willingale and Patch Park Farm in Abridge are unsuitable. Members of Epping Forest District Council`s Cabinet agreed at their meeting on 16 November to respond to the consultation by Essex County Council that sand and gravel extraction at the two sites was inappropriate.

Impact on the Green Belt, the local landscape and local road network made the sites unacceptable to Councillors. They also objected due to the potential risk of flooding on both sites and the presence of a high pressure gas main in close proximity to the Abridge site.

The District Council response will contribute towards the consultation carried out by Essex County Council in the Minerals Development Document.

Youth Council

Councillor Richard Morgan asked the Cabinet to support recommendations by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to support a bid for further funding of the Epping Forest Youth Council. Councillor Morgan also drew attention to the high levels of resident satisfaction of living in the district as outlined in the Place Survey conducted earlier in the year.

Limes Farm Hall

Cabinet approved a recommendation to seek planning permission and invitations to tender for improvements and an extension to Limes Farm Hall. Should the project go forward, the Council intends to provide extra space at the hall in Chigwell to accommodate Housing and Benefits services, as well as staff employed in Safer Communities work by the District Council and Essex Police. A children`s centre and health clinic are also proposed, as well as dedicated youth space.

Big Lottery funding is being sought in support of the project, along with joint funding by a range of partners led by the District Council. In the meantime, Councillors agreed to make a funding bid of £27,000 in next year`s budget to keep the hall going until development could proceed.

Cutting Energy Costs

Money spent to improve the energy efficiency of the District Council offices in Epping will help to cut fuel costs. With interest rates at record low levels, Councillors heard that investing in energy efficiency could prove better value for money than putting money in the bank. The Civic Offices in Epping currently have a poor energy rating. Measures such as double glazing and better heating systems should cut the Council`s carbon footprint and save money.

Bringing Empty Homes Back Into Use

People on the Council`s Housing Register may be able to benefit from an initiative to bring empty properties back into use. Six hundred private properties in the district have been empty for a year or more. Cabinet agreed to add a funding bid for a Technical Officer to encourage people to bring those properties back into use.

The new post would be part of a review of the Council`s Private Sector Housing Team also aimed at improving the inspection rate for licensed park home sites and would be for an initial period of three years.

Record Recycling and Fire Safety Discussed at Council

Written on . Posted in Crime and safety, Democracy, Meetings, Recycling and waste, Your council, Your home

Increased recycling, council housing fire safety in communal areas, accord to support local businesses and cutting carbon emissions were all on the agenda at the meeting of Full Council on 3 November 2009.

Record Recycling

Councillor Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council, presented a short summary of the latest increase in recycling. Figures for the first three weeks of the new domestic recycling services have exceeded expectations with residents boosting monthly levels to around 60 per cent. Should this trend continue, recycling levels for the year could reach 47 per cent with subsequent years potentially reaching 50 per cent.

Equally encouraging has been the 28 per cent reduction in the amount of rubbish sent to landfill. In the written report to Council, Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Mary Sartin thanked residents for embracing the new recycling services so wholeheartedly.

Fire Precautions – Communal Areas of Council Flats

A petition by tenants of Torrington Drive, Loughton is to be considered by Members of the Housing Scrutiny Panel. Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council, told the meeting of Full Council on 3 November that he would decide what response to make after receiving the Panel`s views.

Torrington Drive tenants submitted the petition in response to letters issued by the Council in relation to Health and Safety in communal areas of flats. The Council has asked tenants to ensure they do not leave personal items in communal areas which could obstruct their escape in an emergency. Although the District Council carries out regular routine inspections, the latest request comes soon after a Ministerial report into the Camberwell fire in London earlier this year in which six tenants died.

Councillor Stallan said: The health and safety of our tenants is our top priority. None of us would do anything to compromise the safety of our tenants. However, I have received feedback from several Councillors and tenants who want us to look at the policy in detail and therefore informed the Council of my intention to ask the Housing Panel to look at the issue. The Panel should be able to report back to me with recommendations in the next month or two. In the meantime, we have an obligation to ensure we do all we can to keep escape routes clear and will continue to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of our tenants.

Small Business Accord

The Chairman of the Essex Federation of Small Businesses has signed an accord with Epping Forest District Council to support local commerce. Council Chairman Councillor Penny Smith and Business Champion Councillor Chris Whitbread signed the accord on behalf of the Council.

Councillors then went on to support motions asking the Government to review its actions in raising the National Non-Domestic Business Rate locally. They called upon the Government to reduce the multiplier to the greatest possible extent and at least 20 per cent, increase transitional relief so that no business sees its bill increase by more than 2.5 per cent between the current and the new financial years and doubling the limit that restricts entitlement to small business rate relief.

Councillors also supported the case of Buckhurst Hill businesses which had been particularly affected by the latest business rate increases. Members voted to invite the District Valuation Officer to explain his actions to Overview and Scrutiny.

10:10 – Cutting the Council`s Carbon Emissions

Councillors agreed steps to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2010. The Council supported the 10:10 campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to encourage other individuals, businesses and organisations to do likewise.