Vacancy for Independent Remuneration Panel Member

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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

Cabinet Meeting Webcast

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The Epping Forest District Council Cabinet met on Monday 14 July 2008 to discuss a wide range of issues ranging from the East of England Plan to private sector grants. This meeting was webcast in the continuation of the Council’s commitment to informing the public of the democratic process.

Watch the webcast

View the Cabinet meeting 14 July 2008 webcast
Adoption of East of England Plan

Councils must co-operate with each other in the delivery of the East of England Plan. The Cabinet received a report by Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg (Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder) setting out proposals to work with Harlow, East Herts and other Councils in the delivery of new homes.

The region-wide East of England Plan requires the construction of major residential development on the northern side of Harlow in East Herts. Smaller expansion of Harlow along its western, southern and eastern boundaries with Epping Forest is also required. By co-ordinating and working constructively together, it is hoped to reduce the impact of the new homes on the local environment. Some impact on the Green Belt is inevitable and the report refers to a strategic review.

Councillor Mrs Grigg reminded members of the Cabinet that despite the additional housing, North Weald had been excluded from the East of England Plan. Harlow would grow by 16,000 homes. She remained concerned by the need to address infrastructure in support of new homes, a point emphasised by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Di Collins.

Members heard from Principal Planning Officer Ian White that further research on potential infrastructure requirements had been commissioned by Epping Forest District Council. He also assured members that transport, especially for young people, would be included in the research.

Watch the webcastView the Adoption of East of England Plan webcast
The Loughton Broadway Town Centre Enhancement Scheme

Phase Two of the £3.175 million Loughton Town Centre Enhancement Scheme has been given the go-ahead.

Apart from a break during the Christmas trading period to help local businesses, Members of Epping Forest District Council`s Cabinet want to see as much work as possible completed in the current year.

Having completed work in Burton Road, Vere Road and CCTV installations, Phase Two consists of the main enhancement work to the Broadway itself. Members also accepted an offer of £100,000 towards the scheme by Essex County Council and welcomed the re-inclusion of a landmark feature – to be designed through a competition for local schools. Councillor Mrs Grigg (Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder) explained how consultation with local traders had encouraged the Council to avoid construction work over Christmas. She also drew attention to the amendment of the scheme to provide free parking along The Broadway in support of local business.

Watch the webcast

View The Loughton Broadway Town Centre Enhancement Scheme webcast
Investments in Car Parks

Subject to hearing the views of the Housing Scrutiny Panel, the Cabinet welcomed proposals to divert an underspend of £300,000 for off-street car parking on congested housing estates.

Weekend Voting – Have Your Say

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Epping Forest District Council would like to know your thoughts on the Government’s consultation document proposing changing the normal day of election from Thursday to the weekend (a whole weekend would be needed to accommodate people with religious objections to voting on either Saturday or Sunday).

In a bid to get more people to vote, the Government have launched a consultation exercise to find out the practical considerations and the potential cost of holding elections at the weekend. A response to the Government’s questions will be considered by the Epping Forest District Council Constitutional Affairs Standing Scrutiny Panel at a meeting on 8 September 2008. In considering our response to the Government we would like to know what you think on this proposal.

 

Ian Willett, the Returning Officer at Epping Forest District Council said: “The Government are committed to making voting easier to enable residents to engage in the political process and vote at a time that suits them. There are a number of considerations to moving elections to the weekend such as whether the public would be more or less likely to vote and what the problems or advantages might be. They would like to know if there should be advanced voting at polling stations before the Election Day. Advanced voting could take place whether or not voting is held on weekends. The Government is also keen to find out what effect weekend polling would have on the costs, security and administration of polling stations.”

Mr Willett continued: “Please complete either the online questionnaire or a hard copy of the questionnaire by 15 August 2008. I would like your comments on any aspect of the consultation document to help Members of the Constitutional Affairs Standing Scrutiny Panel come to an informed response. I will of course forward all of your comments to the Ministry of Justice.”

Housing Proposals Discussed at Council Meeting

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Housing repairs, Meetings, Private housing, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Watch the webcastCouncil meeting dated 26 June 2008

At the latest Council meeting on Thursday 26 June 2008, Councillor Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council reported back to Members on the latest discussions with associates in Harlow and East Herts regarding the East of England Plan. She confirmed that no housing would be allocated to North Weald under the Plan but then went on to say that no infrastructure was included for housing around the rest of Harlow either. Mrs Collins drew Members’ attention to the need to develop the Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF). She said that planning applications could be coming in, in a year for now and the Council needed the LDF in place to manage the local East of England Plan allocation of houses to the South, East and West of Harlow.

Councillor Collins described some of the experiences of Young Year 6 children attending ‘Crucial Crew 2008’ at Gilwell Park. She outlined how children were taught the importance of resisting peer pressure and refusing to do dangerous things.

Watch the webcastCouncillor Diana Collins report to Members

Councillor Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder gave a summary of recent actions. She noted that progress towards the completion of works on the pocket park at Bobbingworth was being delayed by the scarcity of sufficient quantities of good quality top soil.

Portfolio Holders new to their roles gave brief updates as they settled into the job. Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny gave a run down of recent work by his Committee.

Councillors received the latest Annual Statement of Accounts for Epping Forest District Council. The Council continues to benefit from a very sound financial position despite recent below inflation settlements from Central Government.

Scrutiny Recommends Webcasting Continuation

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Overview and Scrutiny is recommending the continuation of webcasting at Epping Forest District Council. Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee received a detailed report from Democratic Services Manager Simon Hill on Thursday 2 August 2007 setting out the success of the pilot scheme which has seen viewing figures increase to around 2,000 a month since the introduction of webcasting a year ago.

Click here to watch the webcast

Councillors heard that although a relatively small Council in comparison with many others, Epping Forest District Council now achieved some of the best viewing figures of any local authority in the Country. The integration of webcasting with other forms of communication such as The Forester and local press, as well as embedded links throughout the Council website have helped to encourage residents to access a range of content. In addition to Council meetings, staff have made a number of other projects available online including video of the Celebration of Faith, Civic Awards, school projects produced in partnership with the Council`s Leisure Service and an energy efficiency DVD provided by Environmental Services.

Simon Hill giving a detailed report on how webcasting works

The Council has also made webcasting available to the West Essex PCT for consultation on their new district-wide strategy and is working on more projects with local schools and Epping Forest College.

Mr Hill reported that other councils were watching the development of innovative webcasting projects at Epping Forest District Council as examples of best practice to follow.

The webcasting cameras and broadcasting equipment are leased to the Council by a company called Public-i. Public-i also provides the streaming facilities that allow the Council to place webcasts on the Internet. Funding of £17,000 for the pilot stage had been provided by Central Government but following evaluation, the Council must now decide whether to continue funding the equipment itself.

Simon Hill giving a detailed report on webcasting viewing figures

Councillors of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee strongly supported the continuation of the project. There was general agreement that the pilot had been extremely successful and was likely to grow in the future. The Committee agreed to recommend to Cabinet that expressions of interest be sought to test the value of the Public-i service and that the Council should continue to build on the success of the pilot.

Councillor Richard Morgan Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny thanked Simon Hill for the hard work and enthusiasm both he and other Council staff had shown in bringing the pilot project forward.

After the meeting Councillor Morgan said: We can`t under-estimate the potential value of webcasting. Local Government needs to re-establish its links with local people. We need to make ourselves accessible and accountable. People lead busy lives and we can`t expect them to turn up in their hundreds to every Council meeting. Webcasting has already proved able to overcome that barrier. We now have virtual audiences of hundreds of people at some of our meetings which can only be excellent news for local democracy.

London Underground Comes Under Spotlight at Scrutiny

Written on . Posted in Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Travel, Your area, Your council

Simon Williams of London Underground Limited proved to be a master of his brief when he gave a detailed account of the latest developments on the Central Line to Members of Epping Forest District Council`s Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 7 June 2007.

In a very detailed and wide ranging presentation available to view online via the Council webcast facility, Mr Williams covered the upgrade and refurbishment of local Central Line stations and services including the extension of station opening times and staffing hours. He reported that since January, many of the local stations had become part of the travel zone 4 meaning lower prices for many travellers.

As more travellers switch to alternatives such as Oyster Cards, the provision of traditional ticket offices was being reduced but Mr Williams emphasised that all stations would be staffed while open. He outlined many of the improvements to stations such as Epping, Chigwell, Loughton, Theydon Bois, Roding Valley and Epping. Work was continuing at Loughton and Debden.

Refurbishment at Grange Hill is scheduled to take place in 2008.

Mr Williams described many enhancements and investments to the track and infrastructure of the Central Line in the period leading up to the London Olympics of 2012. He acknowledged that some of the network investment works would also cause periods of short-term disruption to some rail users.

However, while many improvements had been made or were planned, Mr Williams also had to answer a number of concerns. Delays and uncertainties about the upgrade of Buckhurst Hill Station which is not likely to receive significant attention before 2011 prompted Councillor Mrs Ann Haigh to enquire what might be done in terms of staff visibility, ticket facilities and access arrangements. Councillor Stallan appealed on behalf of rail user at Epping for the retention of the station kiosk in any future changes to the station, while several councillors asked questions about parking provision for commuters.

Original plans for the extension of the existing car park capacity had been shelved but a feasibility study was underway intot he scope for use of the builders yard at Epping Station.

Councillor Lesley Wagland emphasised the need not only to staff stations such as Chigwell where service hours were recently extended, but to ensure a higher level of staff visibility to reassure late night travellers.

Crime prevention in the form of CCTV cameras for stations and car parks featured in the improvements outlined by Mr Williams along with staffing of stations during open hours.

Councillor David Bateman and Councillor Doug Kelly put a number of strategic questions to Mr Williams. They asked what consideration was being given to the potential for extension of the Central Line, either out to Ongar on the existing privately owned track bed or for more ambitious projects such as extending the line to Stansted.

Mr Williams said that on the current population increase projections for the East of England Plan, LUL did not believe a business case could be made for repurchase of the Epping Ongar Line. Extension to Stansted would be prohibitive for a number of reasons including journey time.

Generating significant additional passenger numbers from within the district or further a field would also have implications on the Central Line capacity in central London. Mr Williams said that at peak times Central Line trains were running at approximate two minute intervals and while there might be some further scope to increase capacity this was limited. Councillor Mrs Wagland came back on these points as a commuter who frequently struggled in overcrowded trains.

Many of the decisions relating to congestion lay within the strategic remit of the Mayor of London. Mr Williams said that beyond improvements to the Central Line itself, Cross Rail and other solutions such as enhancements to the bus network were part of the Mayor`s thinking.

Allowing for a degree of investment to the rail network essential to the success of the Olympics in 2012, Councillor Heather Harding sought information on the impact of the recently publicised Metronet funding problems. Mr Williams was unable to provide a full response but speculated on the balance between the public purse and private enterprise in meeting some of the funding gap.

Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens, chairing Overview and Scrutiny in the absence of Councillor Richard Morgan drew the questions session to a close with thanks to Mr Williams for his very detailed presentation and responses.

Councillor Angold-Stephens said: Simon Williams certainly did his homework. Even though he had advanced notice there were many supplementary questions. While there are a number of welcome improvements to London Underground, there are also still issues of real concern to us. However, Mr Williams had a very good grasp of the subject and I think Members appreciated the manner in which he was able to reply.


Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report

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Epping Forest District Council has issued its Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report for the year May 2006 to April 2007. This full colour report shows information about how the Overview and Scrutiny Committee goes about its work, how the Standing Panel`s and the Task and Finish Panel`s work was organised, as well as giving a more detailed description of the work they undertook.

The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Richard Morgan commented: This is the second year of the Council`s new scrutiny system, breaking down the topics being scrutinised into Standing and Task and Finish Panel`s and the main Overview and Scrutiny Committee, enabling a larger workload to be tackled and scrutinised. This has proved to be a very successful way of working through the large amount of topics that a Council`s Scrutiny structure is asked to consider over an average year. I would like to thank the many Councillors who have worked hard on behalf of residents to help shape the effectiveness of the Council in such a positive way.

The Committee has taken on numerous topics this year members have been asked to look at many different subjects, including: Housing, Car Parking, Leisure, Nature Reserves, Finance and Budgets, the Constitution, Environmental and Planning items, Crime and Disorder, Older Persons, Disable Persons, Town Centres and the Local Strategic Partnership, Epping Forest College, the Essex Police Merger with Bedford and Hertfordshire and the draft Council Plan for 2006-10.

Joint Chief Executive, John Scott commented: The resource of Overview and Scrutiny for this Council is proving itself to be very valuable in enabling decisions, strategies and policies to be examined in detail before they are implemented. This annual report provides our residents with an excellent flavour of the kind of work covered over the last year.


Scrutiny Committee Grill Highways on District Roads

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Councillors returned repeatedly to the problem of potholes, the general condition of roads across Epping Forest area and resources allocated locally to roads maintenance, when representatives of Essex County Council Highways Office appeared before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Epping Forest District Council.

Area Highways Manager Davina Millership from the Highways Area Office based in Harlow was accompanied by fellow Highway officers Spencer Brooks and Trevor Baker. Ms Millership gave an initial presentation setting out the structure within which strategic plans, budgets and programmes were established centrally by Essex County Council in Chelmsford before responsibility was devolved to local Area Office level for implementation.

She explained that this involved a number of responsibilities including resurfacing and repairs to footways, paths and roads, junction improvements, road safety and street lighting.

District Councillors had many questions, submitted in advance to allow Ms Millership to research and prepare answers. In broad categories, Ms Millership responded to subjects covering highway maintenance and repair, on street parking and cross- overs, potholes, footpaths, street-lighting and damage caused by heavy vehicles to rural roads.

Further questions related to contact with the Area Office, liaison with District Councillors, phone enquires and resource allocations of both staff and money to the Area Office. In more general terms, Councillors sought information on Essex County views regarding traffic congestion, road safety and the performance of the Area Highways Office itself.

District Councillors voiced a number of concerns. There was some disquiet about the apparent need to carry out repeat repairs as potholes reappeared in the same locations. Councillors also asked for reassurances about speed of response and prioritisation when potentially dangerous potholes were reported. There was concern about staffing levels at the Area Office despite a major recruitment drive for new Highway staff.

Ms Millership also agreed to pass on a request for Essex County Council to reconsider the criteria by which money was allocated to roads maintenance based on road miles in an area. As an alternative means of assessment, District Councillors suggested that measurement of traffic volumes with consequently higher levels of wear and tear on busy roads might be considered.

Councillor Mrs Janet Whitehouse, chairing the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny, thanked Ms Millership and her colleagues for their attendance.

To view the full meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee or see the Highways presentation followed by questions and answers – click here to view the webcast.


Council Begins Webcasting

Written on . Posted in Democracy, Meetings, Your council

Public access to local government has taken a major step forward as Epping Forest District Council begins live webcasts of its meetings. Residents can now watch Council debates as they happen from the comfort of their own homes or log on later to watch just those items they are interested in. Following a successful trial at Plans Sub-Committee D on Wednesday (6 September) staff are preparing for the first webcast of a major meeting when Full Council meets on 26 September.

Equipment costs for the first year of webcasting in Epping Forest are being met by a central government grant. Councillors will be asked to decided after a review of the service later this year whether they want to continue.

Councillor Peter McMillan, Chairman of Plans Sub D Committee was the first person to be broadcast over the internet by the Council. The Council hopes to webcast as many meetings as possible over the next twelve months to establish whether a case exists for permanent funding.

Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council has put her support firmly behind the initiative. She said: People often say that they are out of touch with local government. People lead busy lives and attending evening meetings isn`t usually high on the list of priorities when they settle down to rest at the end of a hard day. We can seem to be remote. Webcasting should open up the work of the Council for everyone.

Councillor Stephen Metcalfe, Portfolio Holder responsible for Webcasting added: Anyone with a computer connected to the internet should be able to view meetings as they happen. You can also tell us what you think of the meetings using the feedback button. Meetings will be archived and remain available for viewing at any time over the following six months. If you don`t want to sit through a whole meeting, the system lets you download the specific item you are interested in. If people show an interest in the work of the Council, webcasting could revolutionise our relationship with the public.

Three small and unobtrusive cameras have been set up within the Council Chamber in Epping. A single member of staff can direct the cameras from a computer. The sounds and images are sent over the internet to a private company that converts them for streaming to home computers. Home viewers can access meetings by going the Epping Forest District Council Website www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk and follow the link to `webcasts`.

Councillor Mrs Collins concluded: One of my top priorities is to make Epping Forest District Council much more open and accountable to our residents. I am especially keen to ensure we listen to our residents and give people every opportunity to get involved. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to find out what really goes on. Webcasting will help us to bring local Democracy right into people`s homes.

New Cabinet Meets

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

The first meeting the new Cabinet took place at Epping Forest District Council on Monday 5 June 2006. Chaired by Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, no fewer than six of the nine Cabinet Members were taking their seats for the first time following the change of political control at the local elections.

Among the items on the first Cabinet was the report by Civil Engineering and Maintenance Portfolio Holder, Councillor Andy Green seeking support for retendering the parking enforcement contract.

After the meeting Councillor Green said: “Although there is a technical provision to extend the current parking enforcement contract beyond its five year term, I am confident we can achieve our aims of reviewing parking enforcement, introducing free Saturday parking in Council pay and display car parks and retendering the contract before it expires in October next year.”

Councillor Green added: “Retendering on our original schedule also gives the new Council Administration the chance to look at Vinci Park Services UK and compare them with the competition to ensure we are getting the best possible service for our residents.”

Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder, Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg received support for more local consultation before a final decision is taken on whether to demolish Council garage blocks in Vere Road as part of the proposed Broadway Town Centre Enhancement Scheme. Councillor Mrs Syd Stavrou, Community Well-being Portfolio Holder provided feedback on the Essex Resilience Forum where councils are learning the lessons of the Buncefield Oil Depot Fire in Hertfordshire. She also reported on the highly successful Crucial Crew event for young people held in May.

Parents should find the viewing gallery above the teaching pool at Loughton Leisure Centre Leisure more comfortable after the Cabinet supported proposals by Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder, Councillor Chris Whitbread for a transfer of £10,000 within the budget to pay for air-conditioning.

The Cabinet agreed that the Council should co-operate in principle with a national initiative to develop a Single Non Emergency Number as part of the Essex SNEN Partnership. The aim of the phone number (101) will be to relieve pressure on the main 999 emergency number, freeing up the blue-light services for serious emergencies.

Commenting on the Cabinet, Councillor Mrs Collins said: With our first meeting coming so soon after the Elections and Annual Council, I was pleased to see so many varied reports coming through. Epping Forest District Council is a very large organisation but we are already seeing the new Administration making its mark.

– Scrutiny Chairman promises vigorous monitoring

Speaking at Cabinet, Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny invited all members of the Cabinet to the next meeting of his committee in July. He also put Cabinet on notice of his intention to invite individual portfolio holders to future meetings where they would be quizzed on their performance.

He later said: The role of Scrutiny in monitoring the actions and decisions of the Cabinet has never been more important. I was very grateful to Councillor Mrs Collins for supporting my intention to interview portfolio holders. Scrutiny has a vital role in examining the work of the Cabinet and holding it up to public accountability.

Epping Forest District Council Cabinet:

Leader`s Portfolio “ Mrs Di Collins
Customer Services, Media, Communications and ICT “ Stephen Metcalfe
Community Wellbeing “ Ms Syd Stavrou
Finance, Performance Management and Corporate Support Services “ John Knapman
Civil Engineering and Maintenance “ Andy Green
Housing “ David Stallan
Leisure and Young People “ Chris Whitbread
Planning and Economic Development  – Mrs Anne Grigg
Environmental Protection “ Mrs Mary Sartin