Heartfelt tributes at Full Council

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Doing business with the council, Elections, Loughton, Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Heartfelt tributes were made by Councillors for the late District Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens at a meeting of council on 26 April 2016. Ken was a highly respected District Councillor with a distinguished career. He passed away on 8 April 2016 after a long illness.

Warm thoughts of remembrance were also shared for Roger Pratt, who served as Epping Forest District Council’s Standards Committee Independent Person since 2012. Roger passed away on 15 March 2016 and will be sorely missed.

Councillor resignation

Councillor Sharon Weston resigned from her post as District Councillor for Loughton Forest ward on 23 March 2016. A by-election to fill the vacancy will take place at the same time as other elections on 5 May 2016.

New constitution

The council has adopted a new constitution with immediate effect. The constitution sets out the principles, rules and protocols for the way in which the council conducts business. It also sets out the processes by which decisions are made and states who is responsible for these decisions.

Councillors reassured

Full council was reassured that the two UAV’s, purchased by the council in February 2016, are to be used responsibly and in accordance with the Human Rights Act, Data Protection Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. A council policy, operational manual and approved Civil Aviation Authority training need to be drafted and organised before the UAV’s can be used.

 

Youth councillors shine at O&S

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Councillors, Democracy, Equalities, Media, Meetings, Our performance, Residents, Volunteering opportunities, Working with the council, Young people, Your community, Your council, Your home

Presentations from Epping Forest Youth Councillors and Essex County Council were given to the Overview and Scrutiny panel on 19 April 2016.

Democracy live

Successful year for Epping Forest Youth Council

Epping Forest youth councillors confidently and eloquently updated the panel on their achievements over the past year.

Youth conference

The youth council’s highest profile event this year was their youth conference. This involved 90 young people from local secondary schools and was attended by guest speaker Eleanor Laing MP. Their aim was to promote Local Democracy Week, raise the profile of the youth council and involve other young people in the debate about the current issues.

Promoting mental health awareness

The young councillors explained their plans to develop mental health workshops for young people at schools within the district, promoting mental health awareness amongst young people and addressing the lack of support services for young people across the country.

The Epping Forest Youth Council have been involved in many other projects this year, including promoting youth volunteering and assisting with 14 consultations including a national consultation on the living wage for young people, racism and emotional wellbeing and mental health.

They have been representatives on various strategy groups and have organised Youth Volunteering days in partnership with the City of London. The Youth Council informed councillors that they got external funding of £6,750, enabling them to deliver high quality projects.

Highly Commended

Councillors were deeply impressed by the quality of their presentation and highly commended their many excellent achievements throughout the year.

Redesign of Children’s Centre Services

Essex County Council plans to redevelop and improve Children’s Centre services across the County, following their public consultation which ended on 10 April 2016.

Coordinated approach to support services

Chris Martin, (Integrated Commissioning Director) and Gill Holland (Lead on Children’s Centre Performance in West Essex) explained to Councillors that the changes made will improve the accessibility of children’s services across the County. They will do this by making services flexible, increasing the age range, targeting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged and by providing a more coordinated approach to support services.

Accessible ‘Family Hubs’ for each district

One ‘Family Hub’ will be introduced into each authority area across Essex. The hubs will provide children’s support services and will be open for 50 hours per week. Their opening hours will be staggered, to enhance accessibility for families that are unable to visit during normal working hours.

 

Loughton bar licence suspended

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Community, Crime and safety, Democracy, Licensing, Local business, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council

After an assault during the early hours on 10 April 2016, Nu Bar in Loughton High Road has had its licence temporarily suspended by councillors.

Temporary suspension of licence

A council spokesperson said: Following the incident, Essex Police submitted an application for a review of Nu Bar’s alcohol licence to the District Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee. Their application called for either the temporary suspension of the licence or the enforcement of stringent conditions in the interim period between now and a full hearing.

Councillors rejected the appeal by Greene King to lift the temporary suspension. They said that the suspension is appropriate and proportionate given the evidence submitted. The suspension will continue until the full hearing on 3 May 2016.

Robust steps taken 

Essex Police Superintendent Trevor Roe said: We are happy to support the night time economy in the Epping Forest district but when public safety, crime and disorder become an issue, robust steps will be taken to enforce the law around licensing by the licensing officers and the new community policing team based at Loughton.

 

Council pioneers drone use

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Countryside and wildlife, Democracy, Drainage, Media, Meetings, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Stories in both the national and local media published over the last week have reported us buying 2 aerial camera systems also known as drones.

This is true but some of the stories have contained inaccuracies which we would like to put right.

DJI Phantom 3 aerial camera system

To view photos in a slideshow, click on a picture below and click start slideshow.

Cabinet agreed purchase

At a meeting of Epping Forest District Councils cabinet on 11 January 2016 it was agreed to purchase 2 drones for £5,000. This includes Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved training for staff. Watch the decision at cabinet.

This money came out of our ‘invest to save scheme’.

The drones purchased are DJI Phantom 3 and will be operated by our GIS team once trained. (GIS = Geographic Information System).

Saving money

We have been buying commercial photographs and videos for site surveys for over 50 years. This has included the hire of drones. Purchasing drones has many benefits that will save the council money and time. These include

  • Real-time surveys for planning purposes saving us having to purchase aerial photography for new planning developments and landscaping enforcement
  • Surveying roofs and guttering on council owned estates saving money and time on scaffolding and surveys
  • Identifying illegal waste transfer sites and previously unidentified unauthorised caravan encampments
  • Find out more on the cabinet report dated 11 January 2016

Generate  income

We are hoping the drones could generate the council income. We will be exploring the opportunities of shared use with other local authorities and public bodies. This will help to ensure we remain a low council tax authority (we have frozen our portion of council tax for the last 6 years).

A valuable tool

We would like to reassure residents that the drones will not be used for snooping on our residents but used as a valuable tool in the fight against environmental and planning abuses. We will not be looking into peoples back gardens.

Innovative use of new technology

This innovative use of new technology helps to save the taxpayer money and helps us to look after the environment in the Epping Forest district, in which we are proud to live, work and enjoy.

 

Cabinet 3 March 2016

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Media, Meetings, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Clean for the Queen, Council housing, reopening of the Epping Forest District Museum and customer services were among items discussed at Epping Forest Districts Councils  Cabinet meeting 3 March 2016.

Clean for the Queen call at Cabinet

Councillors at Cabinet were invited to join Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Will Breare-Hall in Loughton to take part in Clean for the Queen. Councillor Breare-Hall extended his invitation to all members of the council to join him outside Epping Forest College on Friday morning. Council Leader Chris Whitbread was among those with weatherproof jackets and rubber gloves to take up the challenge.

Clean for The Queen

Historic completion of first new Council Houses in decades

Following a series of planning application approvals the previous evening, Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor David Stallan brought Cabinet up to date with latest progress of the Council Housebuilding Cabinet Committee. Plans for more than 300 new homes are being developed. This is the first major expansion of the Council’s housing stock in decades including the £9million award of tender for the construction of 51 new homes in Burton Road Loughton.

Councillor Alan Lion congratulated Councillor Stallan and his team on the redevelopments at Marden Close and Faversham Hall in Chigwell Row, the first of the much-needed new homes to become available. Council Leader Chris Whitbread echoed the sentiment of other cabinet members including John Philip. Councillor Whitbread also emphasised the changes to the allocations policy designed to give local residents priority.

Lottery Funded Museum

With the reopening of Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey just a few weeks away, Councillor Whitbread also commended Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Councillor Helen Kane, and her team for the National Lottery funded expansion and refurbishment.

Improving customer services

Two important reports on the evolution of services were introduced by Councillor Whitbread. The Transformation Programme sets a course for review aimed at improvements to customer services and best value for money.

Work has already been carried out by staff to identify a variety of ways to improve customer contact including a single reception, corporate contact team and better use of technology.  Councillors also approved proposals for appointing staff to new customer service and IT roles directly supporting transformation.

While Councillor Richard Bassett outlined the benefits transformation would bring to residents whether visiting the Council in person or accessing services online, Councillor Whitbread also noted the importance of continuing to streamline and improve efficiency as one of the key ways of keeping costs and Council Tax down.

Broadway Parking Review

Councillor Gary Waller, Safer Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder received Cabinet support for the start of the Loughton Broadway Parking Review. A targeted local approach will aim to take advantage of lessons learnt in earlier reviews. North Essex Parking Partnership are to be appointed for a scoping exercise leading to further reports on costs, timescales and the implementation strategy. £140,000 has already been identified with a further £40,000 allocation in the pipeline. Councillor Waller said that proper consultation would lead to a scheme beneficial the shoppers, traders and everyone living in Loughton Broadway.

Waltham Abbey Conservation Area

Councillors also approved the adoption and publication of the Character Appraisal and Management Plan for the Waltham Abbey Conservation Area.

Overview and Scrutiny 23 February 2016

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Media, Meetings, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Travellers, hospitals, wheelie bins, youth engagement and fire stations were among items discussed at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Epping Forest District Council 23 February 2016.

Watch our council meetings online

Basildon consults on traveller accommodation

Consultation by Basildon Borough Council on the accommodation of travellers outside its boundaries was discussed at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 23 February. Councillors acknowledged the duty to cooperate between councils but also noted the projected requirement for traveller accommodation in Epping Forest District and the constraints of the Green Belt.

Whipps Cross Hospital Update

Senior directors and managers from the Barts Health NHS Trust returned to Epping Forest District Council for an update on the improvements to health services centred on Whipps Cross Hospital. Fiona Smith (Managing Director), Dr Heather Noble (Medical Director) and Felicia Kwaku (Interim Director of Nursing) provided a joint presentation on the Trust’s response to being placed in special measures.

Councillors quizzed the managers on seven key work streams:

  • Safe and effective care
  • Compassionate care patient experience
  • End of life care
  • Workforce
  • Emergency pathway and patient flow
  • Outpatient and medical records
  • Leadership and organisational development

Youth Council Support

The Youth Engagement Task and Finish Panel report was presented back to members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a commentary on its progress in Cabinet by Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Councillors Helen Kane.

Refuse contract review

The Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Neighbourhoods reported back to Overview and Scrutiny on the review of the domestic refuse and recycling contract by the Neighbourhoods Select Committee in December. Derek Macnab outlined the problems during implementation and lessons learnt for future contracts.

Recommendations from the key findings will go forward for Cabinet consideration.

View the Neighbourhoods Select Committee review

Fire service consultation

Essex Fire and Rescue service is consulting residents and councils on three proposals to reduce the number of crews and appliances (fire engines) at fire stations across Essex including Epping Forest district. Responses to the consultation must be received by Essex Fire and Rescue by 5pm on 25 April.

To take part go to www.opinionresearch.co.uk/essex .

 

Council tax frozen for sixth year running

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Local business, Media, Meetings, Our activities, Our attractions, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your money

Epping Forest District Council bucks national and local trends by freezing its portion of council tax for the sixth year running.

The Council achieved this despite most other government services increasing Council Tax costs for Epping Forest district residents. The freeze was confirmed at the meeting of full council on 18 February 2016.

Frontline services protected

Leader of the Council Chris Whitbread said: ‘This is the sixth District Council Tax freeze that we have had and it doesn’t come easily. At a time when other Councils are making drastic savings and putting their Council Tax up, we have maintained a nil-increase for our residents whilst protecting our frontline services. We have successfully budgeted and made prudent investments and continue to make Epping Forest a better place to live and work – a place to be proud of.’

Supporting the economy and residents

Councillor Whitbread discussed the Council’s continued investments to the Town Centre Fund; which supports special events for our town centres. He explained that resources have been put into CCTV monitoring, tourism and into the renovation and reopening of Waltham Abbey District Museum, all of which support the District’s economy and benefit residents.

Lowest District Council Tax in Essex

Councillor Whitbread updated others on the plans for transformation, he said that he has ‘ambitious visions for this Council’s future’ and stated that the Council are going to maintain themselves as a ‘low Council tax authority’ and his ‘aspiration is to have the lowest District Council Tax in Essex one day.’

Council meeting postponed

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Council tax, Democracy, Media, Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

The date for the council meeting in which Council Tax rates for the Epping Forest district for 2016/2017 are confirmed, has been postponed to Thursday 18 February 2016 at 7.30pm.

Democracy live - watch our council meetings online

The original date of Tuesday 16 February 2016 has been changed because the precept for Fire Authority will not be available until 17 February 2016.

 

Overview and Scrutiny 5 January 2016

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Local business, Media, Meetings, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council

Restrictive covenants, Crossrail 2 and green belt planning issues were among the items discussed at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Epping Forest District Council on 5 January 2016.

Watch our council meetings online

College covenants lifted

A Cabinet decision to support Epping Forest College’s plans to redevelop land in Loughton was upheld by councillors following a call-in of the original decision. Portfolio Holder John Philip explained the reasons behind the request by the college to the council. It now opens the possibility of residential and leisure development on land previously restricted to educational use only.

In supporting the request, councillors heard that money received from residential development would be ploughed into the educational facilities in Borders Lane as well as a new leisure complex open to local residents and students.

Council consulted on Chelmsford Green Belt plans

District councillors received a report on Chelmsford City Council’s Local Plan consultation with neighbouring councils. Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted the latest stages in the Chelmsford plan including, the Green Belt, provision for Travellers and Gypsies and ideas for a western by-pass of Chelmsford.

Crossrail 2

Councillors received the latest update on Crossrail 2. The new railway may not cross the boundaries of Epping Forest District but it could still have a big impact on local residents. Decisions on the route of the new line beyond Broxbourne to Harlow or Hertford have yet to be made. Cheshunt and Broxbourne (close to Waltham Abbey and Nazeing) could locate marshalling or depot facilities.

The impact on road traffic flows close to the district boundary with Hertfordshire could be significant, especially around Roydon, where a level crossing is located. Councillors will continue to monitor and comment on the plans as they evolve.

 

Cabinet 11 January 2016

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Leader, Local business, Media, Meetings, Our attractions, Out and about, Parking, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest Shopping Park, North Essex Parking Partnership, trainee planning officers and aerial cameras were discussed at Cabinet on Monday 11 January 2016.

Watch our council meetings online

Epping Forest Shopping Park 

A £2 million highway works contract associated with improvements to the junction of Chigwell Lane and Langston Road, Loughton was approved by Cabinet at Epping Forest District Council on Monday 11 January 2016.

Councillors approved the tender of £2,070,029 from Walker Construction (UK) Ltd for road works relating to the development of the Epping Forest Shopping Park, due to open at Easter 2017.

Pay and display car parks

The management of Epping Forest District Council’s off-street Pay and Display car parks came under the spotlight at Cabinet. A report by RTA Associates suggested the council could get better value for money if it withdrew from its current management arrangement with the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP).

Councillors agreed the principle of giving the NEPP 12 months notice during which time councillors will be able to choose between another contractor and in-house operation by council staff. Portfolio Holder Councillor Gary Waller said that further reports would come to Cabinet. Savings could range from £31,000 up to £113,000 depending on detailed evaluation of the alternative options.

Planning

Cabinet approved budget provision of £90,000 over 2 years to cover the legal costs awarded against the council at planning appeals. Councillors also supported funding proposals for 2 new trainee Planning Officers and a trainee Contaminated Land Officer to be paid from planning income received during 2015/2016.

Aerial cameras

2 aerial cameras are to be bought by Epping Forest District Council from its special ‘Invest to Save’ budget. The cameras and associated training will enable the council to carry out its own photographic surveys. Uses as diverse as planning enforcement, housing repairs, and land drainage, surveys are expected to benefit from the equipment costing £3,500 plus £1,500 for training and software expenses.