The Big Youth Debate – Young People Speak Out!

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Meetings, Residents, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

Host BBC radio and TV presenter Dave Monk

Around 150 young people packed into Woolston Hall, Chigwell on Wednesday 19 November 2008 evening for the Big Youth Debate.

Moderating the debate organised by Epping Forest Youth Council, was BBC radio and TV presenter Dave Monk. Eleanor Laing MP, Eric Pickles MP, Divisional Police Commander Tim Stokes and Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council were among the high-powered panel fielding questions from the audience.

Watch the webcast The Big Youth Debate webcast
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No punches were pulled as the district`s young people put their questions. Subjects ranged from crime and safety to transport and teenage pregnancy.

Young people question the Panel Members

Introducing the debate, Youth Councillors Holly Whitbread and Nat Rogers presented the first analysis of a district wide survey of opinions of young people. Lack of activities, inadequate public transport and personal safety were key issues coming through.

The lively debate was enjoyed by allAlex Martin with Chairman John Knapman

Epping Forest District Youth Council is less than a year old and the Big Debate was its most ambitious event so far. More than 1,000 young people also responded to the Big Debate survey earlier in the year. Members of the Youth Council have been given open door access to the many of the most influential people in the district. Also at the Big Debate was Aidan Thomas Chief Executive of the West Essex Primary Care Trust and Derek Macnab, Deputy Chief Executive of Epping Forest District Council.

A special hoodie was awarded to all who asked a question

An ipod was awarded to the person who in the view of Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor John Knapman asked the best question. To resounding applause he chose Alex Martin who sparked a major discussion with her question about under-age drinking..

Celebrating Success

Written on . Posted in Business, Chairman, Councillors, Meetings, Our performance, Performance, Your council

Chairman of Council, Councillor John Knapman recently presented Epping Forest District Council staff with certificates following their success in training and qualifications.

Chairman John Knapman and Council staff

Celebrating Success is an annual event organised by the Council at which staff who have attained professional accreditations, completed in-house training and development programmes and also achieved vocational qualifications receive their awards. Also invited are staff who have either completed, or are soon to complete, 25 years` service with the Council or its predecessor Authorities.

Councillor John Knapman said: As a Council we have invested heavily in staff training and development and have been an Investor in People since 2001. This year, in March, we were re-accredited against the Investors in People standard for the third time, achieving very high standards. The Council sees staff development as a key link to improving services to our residents and I was delighted to present certificates to those staff who have achieved success in their training over the last year.

Cabinet 10 November 2008

Written on . Posted in Chigwell, Community, Democracy, Local land charges, Meetings, Older people, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Limes Farm Community Hall, Epping Forest Youth Council, Travellers and Domestic Violence were all featured at the meeting of Cabinet on Monday 10 November 2008.

Watch the webcastCabinet meeting 10 November 2008 webcast
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Limes Farm Community Hall

Epping Forest District Council has ensured the short-term continuation of community services from Limes Farm Hall. Members of the Cabinet agreed to take over management and funding up to the end of March 2010 after Chigwell Parish Council signalled its intention to relinquish the hall next March.

Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder, Councillor Heather Harding, urged members to support the hall. In so doing, opportunities could be developed by the District Council with Essex County Council, West Essex Primary Care Trust and other partners to provide long-term facilities.

Epping Forest Youth Council

Councillor Harding asked members to note the success of the Youth Council since its formation less than a year ago. The Youth Council requested funding to ensure the continuation of its development and operation.

Members of the Cabinet were very supportive of the Youth Council and noted funding already provided by Epping Forest District Council and other agencies. Before agreeing to provide regular long-term funding, the cabinet asked for a report by the Youth Council to be presented to Overview and Scrutiny, setting out achievements and plans in greater detail.

Main River Management

Members of the Cabinet noted that the Council would no longer provide contracted services for the management of main river watercourses and flood alleviation schemes on behalf of the Environment Agency.

Despite a high quality bid, the Council had not matched the lower cost of the successful builder for the Environment Agency contract.

Local Land Charges

Councillor Mitch Cohen, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Support and ICT Services reported on the reduction in income from Local Land Charge searches, a service carried out on behalf of people preparing to buy a new home. The reduction reflected the general downturn in the housing market.

Car Park Investment

Bakers Lane Car Park in Epping will benefit from investment of £120,000. Among the proposed improvements supported by Cabinet were new lighting, CCTV, drainage, resurfacing and lining.

Travellers

In response to a question by a member of the public, Councillor Anne Grigg confirmed that alternative suggestions for potential traveller and gipsy sites to those in the consultation document would be considered.

Building Maintenance

Cabinet asked staff to do more work on prioritising planned maintenance work to council buildings and facilities.

Reduced Energy Cost and Carbon Footprint

Investment in new computer technology should lead to savings on fuel bills and reduction of the Council`s carbon footprint. With energy prices at high levels, the payback period for `virtualisation` of the Council`s computer storage solutions should be complete in four to five years.

Domestic Violence

Councillors supported the adoption of a policy to help members of staff suffering from or dealing with the effects of domestic violence.

Tree Maintenance and Sports Hall

Cabinet supported a bid for £64,000 which if successful will allow the Council to catch up on a backlog of tree maintenance. Members also agreed to £6,000 to fund a feasibility study on the provision of a new sports hall at Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool.

Capital Strategy

Cabinet agreed to recommend the draft Capital Strategy 2008 to 2013 to Full Council.

Report of Overview and Scrutiny

To see a transcript of report to Cabinet of Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny click on the link below.

Stakeholders Rise to the Challenge

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

 

Local MPs, the Leader of Epping Forest District Council, the Chief Executive of the West Essex Primary Care Trust and the Western Division Chief Superintendent of Essex Police are just some of the high-profile people who have accepted the invitation of the Epping Forest Youth Council to attend an evening of debate with young people from across the Epping Forest District.

Local MPs Eleanor Laing, Eric Pickles and Bill Rammell have all agreed to take a place on the panel that will face questioning by their young local constituents from various school councils, youth groups and other backgrounds.

On the panel will also be the Leader of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Diana Collins and Deputy Chief Executive Derek Macnab, as well as Essex County Council Cabinet member Councillor Ray Gooding, Children, Young People and Families Officer Lonica Vanclay and Transport Officer, Nick Roberts. In addition, the panel will include West Essex Primary Care Trust Chief Executive Aidan Thomas, Police Chief Superintendent Timothy Stokes and renowned Musician/Actor and Youth Charity Worker Shovell, of `M-People` fame.

The panel consists of individuals who are qualified to answer questions on all of the themed topics of a recent young people`s survey, conducted by Epping Forest Youth Council.

Youth Councillor Reece Williams said: We are really encouraged by how forthcoming the panel members have been in attending the Big Youth Debate. This really sends out a positive message that authorities such as the Police, the Health Service and our local Councils want to work with young people, which is really good. We, as young people, have to make sure that we make the most of this opportunity.

Councillor Diana Collins, who has been a big supporter of the Epping Forest Youth Council said: The Youth Council have done very well to consult with over 850 of their peers. I am looking forward with interest to hearing their conclusions regarding local crime and safety, environmental and transport issues.

There are still a few places available for young people aged 11 to 19 to attend the Big Youth Debate event, which takes place at Woolston Manor Golf Club, Chigwell on Wednesday 19 November 2008 from 6:30pm. Anyone interested should contact the Council`s Young Persons` Officer Nick Robinson on 01992 564365.

Council 25 September 2008

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

A report and link to webcast of the full Council meeting held in the Council chamber at the Civic Offices on Thursday 25 September 2008.

To view this webcast click on the link below and then click on the index points tab to go direct to the agenda item.

Watch the webcastCouncil meeting 25 September 2008 webcast
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Members of the Epping Forest District Council stood in silent tribute to former Councillor Roger Buddock who recently passed away. Councillor Stephen Murray, a fellow Loughton ward Councillor remembered Roger Buddock fondly as a man who still held a high reputation locally for the good work he carried out for his residents during two periods on the District Council between 1980 and 1988 and again from 1991 to 1995. Councillor Murray also thanked the current Vice Chairman of Council, Councillor Mrs Penny Smith for attending the funeral.

Councillor Knapman reported his thanks to everyone who contributed £6,000 to his charities at a recent golf day.

Portfolio Report – Local Education

Councillor Diana Collins, Leader of Council reported on a series of information gathering visits to local secondary schools and Epping Forest College where she met the new Principal. Further visits have been arranged for Councillor Collins, accompanied by the leader of Essex County Council, the local education Authority.

Community Wellbeing

Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou was pleased to report a fall in crime across the District. She then drew attention to the ‘Not in my Neighbourhood’ initiative, safety testing of electric blankets and work with the Essex Fire and Rescue Service. Councillor Stavrou concluded by recommending Members to attend the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at which representatives of West Essex Primary Care Trust would be answering questions.

Questions

Members of the Cabinet were quizzed by other Councillors in a series of questions without notice. Civil Engineering and Maintenance Portfolio Holder, Richard Bassett was particularly busy answering questions ranging from recent gridlock in Chigwell to parking restrictions in Loughton.

Credit Union

Councillor Mrs Janet Whitehouse placed a motion before Members, calling on the Council to support a local Credit Union. Credit Unions help people on low incomes to access loans at low interest rates and one supported by many voluntary and religious organisations. All Members supported the motives and after some debate and technical amendments the motion was carried unanimously.

    Other major items debated by Full Council included:

  • Adoption of the Essex Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy
  • Adoption of the Development and Design Brief for Loughton Broadway
  • Supplementary estimates for the completion of the Bobbingworth Tip project
  • Future options for North Weald Airfield
  • Re-approval of the Statutory Statement of Accounts for 2007 to 2008
  • Nominations for the Governing Body of Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust

Cabinet 6 October 2008

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

Local residents filled the public gallery as the Cabinet met to discuss draft proposals to consult on Traveller and Gypsy site provision.

In a report, councillors heard that the Council had been directed to identify land for 49 pitches up to 2011. More pitches are required thereafter.

To view this webcast click on the link below and then click on the index points tab to go direct to the agenda item.

Watch the webcastCabinet meeting 6 October 2008 webcast
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Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development, Councillor Ann Grigg made it clear that the Council had no choice. She explained that 27 potential sites had been identified using criteria such as schools, health and employment. None of these sites was agreed or set in stone. The consultation process would allow local people to express their views before the Council made recommendations to the Government. She added that any proposals would be assessed in a formal Examination in Public (EiP).

The Council`s Planning Consultant Andrew Lainton acknowledged how sensitive and controversial the process could be. He outlined the steps in consultation including public exhibitions, work with town and parish councils as well as dealing directly with landowners and concerned residents.

Mr Lainton emphasised that objections needed to be based on evidence. The inspectors at the EiP would be looking for reasons why one site might be better or worse than another.

Councillor Richard Bassett said that it was very important for people to have their say. He felt they must have good guidance. Andrew Lainton replied that guidance notes would form part of the consultation document.

Councillor David Stallan asked for reassurances that exhibitions would be given maximum publicity. Councillor Grigg said she would try to reach every single person in the district.

Councillor Mrs Grigg said that this was not a definitive list and hoped people would come forward with their own suggestions.

Responding to further questions, Mrs Grigg said that failure to carry out consultation would lead to the Government sending an Inspector to impose a solution.

Councillor Richard Bassett raised the issue of the number of pitches, and the influence of large concentrations in small areas. The debate then broadened out with some councillors expressing feelings about the way in which the Government was directing the process.

At the conclusion of the report to Cabinet, Councillor Mrs Grigg answered public questions. She explained that where two large potential sites lay side-by-side at Crooked Mile both could not go ahead.

Rumours of an imminent compulsory purchase were also dismissed by John Preston, the Director of Planning and Economic Development.

    Other items debated by Cabinet included:

  • reports of the Finance and Performance Cabinet Committee
  • funding for the Local Development Framework
  • playing fields at Ongar Leisure Centre
  • waste management
  • the Capital Programme
  • cost awards following a recent planning appeal
  • fire cover at North Weald Airfield

Golf Day Boost for Local Charities

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Councillors, Democracy, Doing business with the council, Leader, Meetings, Your council

On Monday 22 September 2008 Theydon Bois Golf Club again played host to the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council Councillor John Knapman and teams from local businesses at the Council`s Charity Business Golf Day. Two local charities will receive a cash boost thanks to this annual fundraising event sponsored by Higgins Group PLC in Loughton, which raised £6,000.

Winning Team Stace with Councillor John Knapman

This year the Chairman`s is raising money for St Clare Hospice, Hastingwood which cares for people and their families who are affected by life-threatening incurable diseases and Vitalise Jubilee Lodge, Chigwell which offers a variety of accessible residential respite breaks and other services designed for disabled people and their carers.

Individual Winner Matthew Knight with Councillor John KnapmanWinning Team Captain, Mike Hutchins from Stace, receiving the John Gilliham Shield

Councillor Knapman said: I thank Higgins Group and Theydon Bois Golf Club for their support again this year and the continued support from local clubs, societies and businesses. During the years that this event has been running over £70,000 has been raised for many local causes. The Business Golf day plays a fantastic part in the Chairman`s charity events calendar helping to provide comfort to local people through local charities in a hugely positive way.

The overall winner of the individual competition was Matthew Knight and for the second year in succession, the winning team was from Stace, based in Epping. The Business Golf Day continues to provide a valuable contribution to the Chairman`s Charity each year and I am delighted that so many local businesses have been able to support the Chairman`s Charity again this year, said Councillor Knapman.

Report from the Cabinet

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

Free swimming, the development of the second runway for Stansted and consultation with local residents of the Broadway featured in a packed Cabinet agenda on Monday 1 September 2008.

Watch the webcast

Watch a webcast of the 1 September 2008 Cabinet meeting

Free Swimming

Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Councillor Heather Harding invited John Gilbert, Head of Environment and Street Scene to outline proposals for free swimming to people over 60 and under 16 years of age. Councils were being asked to apply for Government grants. Not all the information was available. The Government had quantified support for those over 60s but not under 16 at this stage. Discussions with the Council`s Leisure Management Contractor are ongoing.

Loughton Pool

Councillor Chris Whitbread was concerned about what would happen after the initial two years of Government funding. Would the Government continue to fund the scheme or would costs fall to the Council?

The Cabinet agreed in principle to participate subject to further discussion with SLM and information from Government.

Value for Money Review

Members of the Cabinet agreed the recommendations of the Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee. Councillor Chris Whitbread, Portfolio Holder for the report agreed that the Council provided Value for Money but drew out the Committee`s concerns regarding some of the information used by the Audit Commission.

Aircraft in flight over EppingSecond Stansted Runway Application

Members of the Cabinet gave Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder Councillor Ann Grigg the go ahead to make formal objections to Stansted Airport`s application for a second runway. There was support for a detailed report which included objections ranging from disruption for local people through to environmental concerns over global warming. The application has been called in by the Government and will be reviewed at a Public Inquiry.

Responding to a question, Planning Officer Ian White said that the possibility of Stansted being sold by BAA did not necessarily remove the prospect of a second runway.

Councillor Jon Whitehouse supported opposition to the runway saying that he was pleased the Council was standing up to be counted.

Loughton Leisure Centre

Councillor Heather Harding obtained consent for £46,000 to deal with hot water heating problems at Loughton Leisure Centre.

Housing

Members of the Cabinet noted progress on the Springfield Improvement scheme in Waltham Abbey. Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor David Stallan also recommended the acceptance of tenders for the upgrade of communal TV aerial systems for Council schemes in further preparation for the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting.

Careline control centre

Following a review of Careline, Cabinet also agreed recommendations by Councillor Stallan to retain and enhance the service. Councillor Mrs Diana Collins and Councillor Jon Whitehouse praised the service.

Councillor Whitehouse enquired if further expansion of Careline in the future could lead to even more enhancements to associated housing services in the future.

Prudential Indicators – Investments

Councillor Chris Whitbread was pleased to report the very good performance of the Council`s investments and the continued debt-free status.

Essex Waste Management Strategy

The long-term aims of achieving 60% recycling across Essex were supported by Cabinet as members endorsed the Essex Joint Municipal Waste Mangement Strategy. Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder, Councillor Mary Sartin also reported delays on completion of remedial work to Bobbingworth Tip. The former landfill site will ultimately become a pocket park but a shortage of topsoil caused by the current reduction in other construction work across the area has delayed completion. Councillor Sartin received support for a recommendation to Council for an extra £112,000 allowing completion of the scheme to an enhanced level.

Green Biodegradable Sacks

Demand for green sacks could lead to an overspend on budgets this year. Councillor Mrs Sartin outlined predicted usage showing a potential extra cost of £163,000. However, much of that cost could be offset by income from recycling credits with the final shortfall possibly being as little as £21,000. Members discussed the forthcoming consultation with residents which could lead to reduced reliance on sacks.

Ongar Lorry Park

Members of the Cabinet agreed to terminate the lease for the Borough Lorry Park site in Ongar hoping this would clear the way for Essex County Council to make proposals for the long term, possibly in partnership with Ongar Town Council.

Loughton Broadway Development Brief

Cabinet authorised Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder Councillor Ann Grigg to make amendments to the Loughton Broadway Development Brief following the successful conclusion of the recent public consultation. Twelve amendment headings including references to the Gateway development, petrol station, links to Langston Road, parking, housing and cycling will be incorporated for presentation to Full Council on 25 September 2008.

 

Council Answers Refuse and Recycling Audit Report

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Leader, Meetings, Recycling and waste, Your council

Senior Councillors have given a robust response to a refuse and recycling report by the Audit Commission. Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council and Councillor Mrs Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio holder say that despite a one star `Fair` rating, Epping Forest District Council and its residents now have one of the best recycling rates in Essex. We don`t tick the Audit Commission boxes but we do deliver services our residents want. said Councillor Mrs Collins.

Councillor Collins continued: The Audit Commission looks at Council performance against a set of rigid criteria. It is a blunt instrument and I think they have struggled with our particular local circumstances.

She continued: New refuse and recycling arrangements were introduced three years ago. With hindsight, the timing could not have been worse as the system of alternate weekly collection proved extremely unpopular. It was a remarkably hot summer and many residents complained that the alternate weekly collection resulted in bad smells, maggots and flies.

Separately, our contractor was experiencing financial problems and struggling to remain in business. When he finally went into administration we acted extremely quickly and decisively. We put a temporary contractor in place without any interruption to services while adapting our service with a return to summer weekly collections.

Extensive consultation confirmed the public support for the changes we had made. As we went from interim arrangements to a new contractor, we honoured our commitments to maintain weekly summer collections.

Councillor Mrs Diana Collins and Councillor Mrs Mary Sartin with SITA refuse collectors

Pictured above – Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council and Councillor Mrs Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder join SITA refuse collectors Jamie Lee and Dave Harwood on a refuse collection round in Epping

There was an inevitable increase in costs as we drafted in a temporary contractor but our new long term contract is much more cost effective. The Audit Commission says that excluding a return to the original Alternate Weekly collection arrangements undermined value for money. We argue that we had a duty to listen to our residents who clearly did not want to return to the original system.

Our ability to exceed very high recycling targets in the new contract without passing extra costs to residents in Council Tax also seemed to cause the Audit Commission difficulty. They thought our rejection of Alternate Weekly Collection compromised value for money but in other discussions have also asked why we did not increase Council Tax by more. We have a strong financial position thanks to prudent management. It gives us the scope to invest in services based on the choices made by people locally rather than fitting a `one-size-fits-all` national model.

The Audit Commission also doubts the Council`s capacity for further improvements to refuse and recycling, saying the prospects are `uncertain`. However, Councillor Mary Sartin points to the major improvements already implemented over the past three years, high recycling rates and plans to consult residents about the next steps.

She said: We are about to consult everyone on how we move forward again. Every household in the District will receive a survey questionnaire during September, delivered as an insert within the Forester magazine. It will explain how the Council aims to increase recycling even further and cut the overall amount of waste going to landfill.

Mrs Sartin continued: Residents have three main options to consider. Each has its unique merits but the main improvement offered by all three will be to transfer kitchen food waste from landfill disposal to recycling while collecting it every week, summer and winter. We need as much public feedback as possible. Whatever option we adopt, it will only work properly if it has widespread public support. This is your chance to tell us what you want. Your comments will help us choose the final scheme and it is therefore vital that we get as many people to respond as possible.

Whichever option we choose, this will be another huge step forward. It really doesn`t fit in with the Audit Commission doubts about improvements. I believe our actions speak for themselves.

As well as The Forester survey which should be returned using the Freepost address, the survey will be available online on the homepage of the Epping Forest District Council website at www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk. Closing date for responses is 24 October 2008.

Vacancy for Independent Remuneration Panel Member

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

Appointment of Member to the Independent Remuneration Panels for Members’ Allowances.

The Epping Forest District Council is seeking applicants for a vacancy on its Independent Remuneration Panels. The Panels, which consist of three members, undertakes research and makes recommendations to the Council about the allowances to be paid to elected Councillors of the Authority. There is one Panel for the District Council and another for Parish Councils. It is intended that the membership of both Panels should be the same.

    The Panel is established under the Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003, to report with recommendations on:

  • the amount of basic allowance which should be payable to District Councillor Members
  • the roles and responsibilities for which a special responsibility allowance should be payable and as to the amount of each such allowance for District Councillors
  • basic allowances for Parish Council members
  • other miscellaneous expenses, such as travel allowances (including cars, cycles and public transport), dependent carer’s allowance and a co-optees allowance.

This is an opportunity for conscientious persons to influence the way in which elected Members are reimbursed for their public service. Knowledge or experience of finance or local government would be helpful and political impartiality is essential.

Serving District and Parish Council members are excluded from membership of these Panels.

Applications must be received by 31 August 2008.

Information and Application Details

Information for Applicants (pdf 85 KB)
Person Specification (pdf 70 KB)
Application Form (pdf 78 KB)
Members’ Allowance Scheme 2007/2008 (pdf 230 KB)
Travelling / Subsistence Allowances Rates (pdf 83 KB)
Model Parish Council Remuneration Scheme (pdf 91 KB)
Notice re Parish Council Remuneration Scheme (pdf 66 KB)
District and Parish Remuneration Panels Annual Report 2005/2006 (pdf 20 KB)
    Application forms and further details can be obtained from:-

  • Mr I Willett
    Assistant to the Chief Executive
    Civic Offices
    High Street
    Epping
    Essex
    CM16 4BZ
  • Telephone 01992 564243
  • Email IWILLETT@eppingforestdc.gov.uk