A new Police helicopter base, anti- social behaviour in Waltham abbey and the Oakwood hill depot were among items discussed at Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet meeting Thursday 7 September 2017.
North Weald set to become new Police helicopter base
North Weald Airfield is set to become a new base for the National Police Air Service. Three helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft will be based at the council-owned airfield.
Asset Management Portfolio Holder Anne Grigg put forward recommendations for a 25 year lease with the helicopter service. The proposals would include a new hanger and buildings to support a range of police helicopter activities.
The Police will be joining a range of other aviation tenants including the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance which has operated very successfully from North Weald for several years. Receiving reassurances about flight lines and noise levels from members of the National Police Air Service at the meeting, councillors welcomed the report and the aspiration for continued development of aviation at North Weald.
Councillor Sam Kane was welcomed to his first Cabinet meeting as Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder by Council Leader Chris Whitbread. Councillor Kane has stepped into the role previous held by Councillor Gary Waller who recently passed away.
Councillor Kane’s first act was to deliver a strong statement regarding anti-social behaviour in Waltham Abbey.
Councillor Sam Kane’s Statement:
“Fellow Councillors will know that Epping Forest District Council is working in partnership with local residents and other organisations to improve the quality of life for everyone in and around Hillhouse on the Ninefields housing estate in Waltham Abbey.
Work has started in just the last few weeks on a brand new leisure centre. Health, housing and social facilities are coming together in a major multi-million pound investment.
The vast majority of residents in this area are the most decent and law-abiding citizens you could ever wish to meet. We also know there is an element of anti-social behaviour, a group of people who seem intent on making the lives of everyone else miserable. We are working with all our partners including Essex Police to tackle this behaviour but events in the last day or so have taken a new and very ugly twist.
Fishing line has been tied at knee height between posts and fences with the deliberate intention of tripping and hurting people. This mindless and stupid act has resulted in injury to a small child. Pictures of the serious cuts to his face have been circulated on social media.
I know this will come as a shock to you and I know every councillor would wish to send our sympathy to this innocent young child and his family.
Local residents and all right-minded people will be incensed by this latest incident. Through this meeting I want to let our residents know that we stand with them. The anti-social behaviour of the last few weeks must now stop.
A temporary dispersal order has been put in place from tonight. You will appreciate that many other things are going on behind the scenes that I cannot discuss in public.
Council staff have been working incredibly hard. Plans of action drawn up with Essex Police even before this latest event are being put into effect now. We believe we know who the perpetrators are. It saddens me to say that they are very young. We have been working with our local schools and have passed the identities of the perpetrators to Essex Police.
Enough is enough. Anti-social behaviour is a blight on our communities which must end. As the action plan goes into effect, I expect to see the situation improve significantly. I also know that you can never eliminate all crime, but with the support of my council colleagues I want to send out a clear message. We stand with all the decent and law-abiding residents of Waltham Abbey.
We will not let the few ruin the lives of the many.”
New council office and depot facilities accommodating Grounds Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance and the MoT centre opened recently at Oakwood Hill in Loughton. Latest proposals for the transfer of the Council’s Housing Repairs service to Oakwood Hill were scrutinised at Cabinet.
Proposals for additional staff car parking received particular attention. A petition opposing the use of green space opposite the new facility was delivered by Councillor Chris Roberts.
Councillors agreed the recommendations in the Cabinet report with the proviso that alternatives to the proposals of additional parking would also be investigated. Full public consultation would also take place as part of any planning application process if the proposals for parking set out in the report went forward.
Council Leader Chris Whitbread updated fellow councillors on a range of projects geared towards improving customer service including a new public customer service reception, plans for which are due to come before Cabinet by the end of the year.
In a sombre council meeting on 27 July 2017 tributes were paid to current Councillor Gary Waller and 3 former councillors who passed away recently.
Council remembers Gary Waller
Council Chairman David Stallan and Council Leader Chris Whitbread led emotional tributes to Councillor Gary Waller who passed away just a few days earlier.
Gary Waller was one of the most active and senior members of Epping Forest District Council, holding one of the most responsible cabinet roles as Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder. So sudden was his passing that his reports still featured on the council agenda.
A former MP with a wealth of experience, good humour, and friends across the council, councillors offered their heartfelt condolences to all he knew and loved.
In a sombre council meeting, councillors also fondly remembered former councillors Ian Abbey, Stan Goodwin and Keith Wright who all passed away in recent weeks. Councillor Stallan thanked all those who spoke so movingly in memory of ‘4 great councillors’.
Good progress reported to councillors
Council Leader Chris Whitbread and fellow members of the cabinet reported on a range of recent successes.
Epping Forest Shopping Park
Tourism website and conference
Fly tipping prosecutions
Progress on a new leisure centre for Waltham Abbey following the letting of a new leisure centre management contract with Places for People
MiLife mental health and awareness programme for school children
Grant aid to 11 local organisations totalling £29,667
Updating information on the draft Local Plan
Council CCTV cameras helping the police
Council housing safety
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor Syd Stavrou also provided councillors with extensive information and reassurance on the safety of local council housing.
There are no high-rise council properties in Epping Forest and very few with any form of cladding (checks suggest this cladding is safe). All council properties are low enough to be reached by Essex Fire and Rescue vehicle platforms. Councillors were invited to attend future meetings to satisfy themselves of the fire safety measures and procedures in place.
Annual reports of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Audit and Governance Committee were also noted along with the council’s anti-fraud and corruption policy.