Cabinet announcement on the future of policing

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Councillor Gary Waller, Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder at Epping Forest District Council made an announcement on the future of policing in the Epping Forest district at cabinet on 8 October 2015.

The future of policing

Councillor Gary Waller

I am sure that that members are already aware of the announcements which the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner made on Tuesday about the future of policing in Essex.

In short, there are 2 reasons why the shape of policing in our county is changing. First, crime is evolving, with more emphasis on the need to prevent and deal with crimes like sexual exploitation and domestic abuse, as well as telephone and online fraud, the extent of which is in my view greatly underestimated.

Second, there are unprecedented financial pressures on the police. The Essex force has already saved £40 million, but is still expected to save a further £60 million over the next 5 years.

We can not argue with these facts and those figures. We just have to ensure that adaptations are made to ensure that together the police and their community safety partners can work as effectively as possible to combat crime and disorder.

As far as this district is concerned, the most visible changes will be the closure of Epping police station and the loss of the public counter at Loughton police station. In reality, the impacts will not be as great as some people fear. For instance, Epping is no longer an operational hub, and the operational base will continue at Loughton. Community policing is not coming to an end. On the contrary, new community policing teams are being established to protect people from harm and to prevent crime.

Few people these days use police stations. Over 2 separate months, the records show that 744 people visited Loughton’s front counter, and only 381 at Epping – and only a handful were to report crime. Those numbers compare with 6,389 at Harlow.

Going forward, it’s essential that alternatives must be provided, so that those things that could only be done by visiting a police station – reporting a crime, for instance – can be done in other ways.

On Friday next week, I and officers concerned with community safety matters will be meeting with the divisional police commander. We want to explore, for instance, whether it might be possible to develop the idea of co-location – making a contact point available via the district council. We are fortunate to have one of the most effective community safety teams in the county, and that will undoubtedly be of benefit.

I want to place emphasis on innovative and low-tech means of communicating with the public, bearing in mind that those who do not have access to broadband are often the most vulnerable in our society.

The Police and Crime Commissioner has urged everyone to find solutions to the undoubted problems that change will bring. Everyone should be aware that the district council and the Community Safety Partnership are ready to participate in the engagement process in the most positive way possible.

Your police service, your voice

Your police service, your voice

The Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston is holding a public meeting on Wednesday 28 October at 6:30pm in Epping.

Your police service, your voice

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Epping, Media, Meetings, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your home

Your Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for holding the police service in Essex to account on your behalf. Nick Alston wants to hear about the policing, crime and community safety issues affecting you.

Make sure your voice is heard – come and speak with him.

PCC Epping Poster Oct15

  • Event – Epping Forest public meeting
  • Date – Wednesday 28 October 2015
  • Time – 6.30pm to 8.30pm
  • Venue – Council Chamber, Civic offices, Epping Forest District Council, High Street, Epping, CM16 4BZ

The Police and Crime Commissioner wants to talk with you

PCC surgeries – your chance to meet with the PCC on a one-to-one basis

PCC Epping Surgeries Oct15

PCC surgeries will directly precede the PCC’s district public meetings. They are a chance for members of the community, particularly those who may not be comfortable speaking in a public forum to raise issues, ideas and concerns with the PCC directly and in a private setting.

All surgeries must be booked in advance and are given by appointment only. The EPPING FOREST PCC surgery will take place on the 28 October 2015 from 4.30pm to 6pm in the Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Epping Forest District Council, High Street, Epping CM16 4BZ.

To book an appointment to attend a surgery near you please send an email to or use the online booking form at

Please put the word SURGERY REQUEST in the subject line of your email. Alternatively you can ring the PCC office to book an appointment on 01245 291 600.

Local Plan report to be considered

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Statement following the Co-operation for Sustainable Development Board meeting held on 22 September 2015.

Objectively Assessed Housing Need report

On 8 October 2015 the Epping Forest District Council cabinet will consider a report on Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAHN) within Epping Forest, Harlow, Uttlesford and East Herts. This joint report was produced by external consultants on behalf of the 4 authorities. The Epping Forest District Council cabinet report is due to be published on 1 October 2015.

Strategic Housing Market Assessment update

On 22 September 2015, the Co-operation for Sustainable Development Board (the Board) noted the updated Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) for the West Essex/East Herts area (covering East Herts, Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford districts) and an associated joint report on economic growth.

The revised SHMA identifies the objectively assessed housing need for the SHMA area using the latest published population projections as the starting point. The new SHMA identifies a total objectively assessed housing need for the Housing Market Area as a whole of 46,100 net additional dwellings over the Local Plan period 2011-2033.

The figures are broken down by district

  • East Herts DC 16,400
  • Epping Forest DC 11,300
  • Harlow DC 5,900
  • Uttlesford DC 12,500

It also gives a breakdown of the OAHN for each district by tenure and dwelling size. The identification of the objectively assessed housing need is not the number of houses to be provided but forms the basis for each authority to develop its own housing requirements. Taking account of policy, supply factors and other constraints, all 4 authorities will be considering the SHMA and economic reports at a local level.

Not the final figures

Planning Policy Portfolio Holder, Councillor Richard Bassett, reiterated that “these figures should not be portrayed as the final figures for our housing requirement. Further work will need to be done to assess the constraints within the district e.g. Green Belt land, flood zones and of course Epping Forest itself. Having done this, it may prove necessary to negotiate with our partnering authorities to identify locations across the SHMA that have the greatest ability to accommodate growth.”

Discuss the distribution of proposed housing

In accordance with the legal obligations of the Duty to Cooperate the Board continues to discuss the distribution of proposed housing and jobs growth across the Strategic Housing Market Area/Functional Economic Market Area. This includes ensuring that Strategic Housing Market Area housing needs are met, taking account of availability, viability and deliverability, with the outcomes of any discussions being taken back to the individual authorities for decision making.

The Board will work towards the production of a memorandum of understanding to support the joint working and meeting the duty to cooperate.

This report will be used to inform policies for Epping Forest District Council’s draft Local Plan.


Councillors discuss Local Plan and elections

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Councillors received updates on a wide range of projects when Cabinet Portfolio Holders reported to the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 28 July 2015.

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Local Plan

Items included a comprehensive report on the Local Plan, progress on major schemes at Langston Road (Epping Forest Retail Park) and St John’s Epping, significant improvements following the troubled introduction of the new 4-day domestic waste collection contract and a summary of the council’s latest financial position following the Chancellor’s first budget since the General Election in May.

Individual Electoral Registration (IER)

Councillor John Philip reported on successful introduction of Individual Electoral Registration before the last General Election. Epping Forest District Council produced the best electoral register in the country according to statistics released by the Electoral Commission. Councillor Philip made the announcement as the canvass for the first update to the register begins.

More than half of all households have already responded to the update, although that means some 25,000 households are still to reply. Councillor Philip was pleased to say that the vast majority of replies have been received electronically saving time and money. He appealed to fellow councillors to encourage residents to complete the canvass by returning all outstanding forms electronically as soon as possible.

Council housing rent reductions

Housing Portfolio Holder David Stallan responded to concerns raised about the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement on council housing rent reductions. One per cent per cuts per year over the next 4 years could impact on the council’s ability to build more new homes.

Further concerns were raised regarding plans to make councils sell high value houses. Councillor Stallan said that further evaluation would help to assess the impact on the Epping Forest district.

St John’s Road development

Assets Portfolio Holder Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg said that consultation would take place as the St John’s Road development reached planning application stage.

Overview and Scrutiny

Councillors welcomed the annual report of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which highlighted the investigative role of the council in checking the work of its own cabinet and other organisations as diverse as the police, public transport, health, education and social services.

Mick Merrick

Council Chairman Councillor Liz Webster paid tribute to Mick Merrick, one of the council’s best known and popular members of staff who passed away earlier in the year. Flowers and condolences are to be sent to his family.


Cabinet accelerates council housebuilding

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The new council housebuilding programme is to be accelerated by Epping Forest District Council. Housing Portfolio Holder David Stallan reported progress on a host of new schemes at various stages of planning and development to the meeting of Cabinet on 23 July 2015.

New council housing is being planned and developed across the district including Nazeing, High Ongar, Chipping Ongar, Theydon Bois, Matching Green, Roydon, Buckhurst Hill and Loughton.

Cllr David Stallan at cabinet

Finance Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou continued the Housing theme with Councillor Stallan as they outlined measures to protect and retain housing related assets within the district.

Councillor Stavrou reported a 97.79 per cent Council Tax collection rate for 2014/15. Councillors then went on to approve the terms of consultation with residents for the Local Council Tax Support Scheme for 2016/17.

The special status of Copped Hall was noted when Portfolio Holder Councillor Gary Waller reported on the latest Character Appraisal for the Copped Hall Conservation Area. Councillor Waller referred to the rich history of Copped Hall as far back as the 13th century and its connections with William Shakespeare and the first performance of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. Cabinet approved the Appraisal and amendments to the Conservation Area boundary.

Safeguarding local people

Councillor Waller described the Council’s Safeguarding Strategy and Action Plan as a comprehensive piece of work produced with meticulous care and attention. Councillors and Staff of all councils are required to meet duties of care under Section 11 Children Act and Care Act 2014. Many different people may be considered vulnerable and both councillors and staff receive training in recognising and reporting their concerns.

Cabinet went on to confirm the adoption of the Prevent Policy and Action Plan as part of the Safeguarding agenda directed particularly against radicalisation and extremism. Epping Forest District Council has invested in ‘first-class’ individuals to support safeguarding. Cabinet approved a request by Councillor Waller to include a bid for future staff funding in the next budget.


Continuing the theme of protecting local residents, Cabinet agreed a report proposing to review CCTV funding. Councillors heard that around 480 CCTV cameras at around 40 separate sites are currently monitored and maintained by the Council.

Cameras installed several years ago are reaching the age at which replacement will become necessary. Pressure for the installation of additional cameras continues. Cabinet authorised the Director of Communities to prepare a fully costed CCTV Strategy and Funding Plan for future consideration.

Local Plan

Cabinet approved the latest steps for introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Progress forms an important part of the development of Local Plan policies on which the Council will consider planning applications. Money paid by developers to CIL as part of planning permissions would help to meet the costs of providing smaller infrastructure items to meet local need.

Waste and recycling service improving

Cabinet welcomed recent improvements to the waste and recycling service since the problematic introduction of the four-day collection weeks in May. Portfolio Holder John Philip repeated the Council’s apology to residents. He said that people had suffered difficulties and not all problems had been resolved although the situation was much improved.

Cabinet approved a report that individual compensation to a small number of complainants was not suitable. Further reviews of progress would follow and once the service was working properly it would be more appropriate to look at the issue district-wide.

Broadway and Langston Road developments

Portfolio Holder Councillor Ann Grigg received Cabinet approval to allow Higgins Homes PLC to take responsibility for the construction of a new land-mark building on the site of the Winston Churchill pub in Loughton Broadway.

Cabinet went on to note progress on the Epping Forest Retail Park at Langston Road following the purchase of the T11 site adjoining the Council-owned depot, and a licence to enable temporary car parking on T11 pending development.

Discussions are at an advanced stage with a number of potential retail tenants while plans are progressing for highway improvement works.


Councillors oppose Waste Plan proposals

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Overview and Scrutiny councillors say suggestions that Hastingwood, North Weald and Langston Road, Loughton could be used for different types of waste disposal should be rejected.

Epping Forest District Council was responding to consultation by Essex County Council on the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Replacement Waste Plan at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 21 July. The 6-week consultation finishes on 30 July 2015.

Draft Waste Plan

The draft Waste Plan outlines county-wide proposals for the disposal of waste  up to 2032. Covering the whole of Essex, it looks strategically at the disposal of all types of waste ranging from sewage to household rubbish to mineral excavations and building works. The overall strategy aims to minimise waste and to dispose of the remainder in the most sustainable way.

Epping Forest District councillors are particularly unhappy with suggestions by Essex County Council that land beside Hastingwood roundabout could be used for open-air disposal of inert construction, demolition and excavation (CD&E) waste. The proposed site is in the Green Belt. Councillors also fear it would increase traffic congestion around Junction 7 of the M11. They are also telling Essex County Council colleagues that any form of waste management facility would be entirely incompatible with the development of the new Retail Park at Langston Road.

Further concerns were expressed about the traffic impact on Roydon of any development at the Pinnacles/Roydonbury estate in Harlow.

Essex County Council is also inviting comments from members of the public – Share your views on the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Replacement Waste Local Plan

Members of the glasshouse industry based in Nazeing and Roydon are being encouraged by the district council to offer views on the innovative use of energy generation from the disposal of organic waste.

Essex County Council is also being told that more time should have been made available for consultation. Council Leader Chris Whitbread led criticism of the consultation timeframe. Overview and Scrutiny councillors heard how district council staff had little advance warning or time to digest very large quantities of information and bring reports to councillors within the tight deadlines.

Bank your time

Time Banking Co-ordinator Marc Balkham presented a report to Overview and Scrutiny councillors on an initiative to encourage volunteering across Epping Forest District and Harlow. People who join Time Bank support and share their time and skills with each other. Each person offers his or her skills and receives the expertise of others in return.

The range of potential activities is huge. It is fun and it is free. Anyone can register online but Voluntary Action Epping Forest can also help people register by more traditional methods. Marc Balkam described the service as a database similar to a newsagents window. People post up the skills or activities they offer and the types of services they need. Mini Time Banks are groups who come together for a common purpose within the scheme.

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow.

Time banks are not restricted to individuals. Sue Ryder and Epping Forest Arts are organisation members. Information is available on Facebook and at

Contact Marc Balkham 01992 564282 Chris Overend 01992 564247

First chance to see Action Plan

Key Actions in Epping Forest District Council’s Corporate Plan were presented to Overview and Scrutiny Committee by Council Leader Chris Whitbread. Councillor Whitbread explained how the plan would evolve in conjunction with the development of the budget for 2015/16 over coming months and encouraged all councillors to take part in the discussions.


Recycling latest at Full Council

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Improvements to the waste and recycling service were reported to Full Council on 23 June 2015 by Epping Forest District Council’s Environment Portfolio Holder, Will Breare-Hall.

New dustcart


Councillor Breare-Hall gave an update on progress following a high-level meeting with Biffa’s managing director, Roger Edwards. He also outlined £13,000 of additional costs picked up by the council as it took action to tackle some of the worst problems over the past few weeks. Councillors heard that the total cost could ultimately rise to £30,000.

Councillor Breare-Hall reported on the first week of the action plan prepared by Biffa. He said there were encouraging signs it was having the desired effect.

Key actions taken by Biffa

  • Workloads of 5 black-bin crews and 5 recycling crews reduced
  • 2 additional crews created for each of those collections
  • Some workload removed for 7 food and garden crews and 3 additional crews created
  • Additional crews to have at least 1 permanent member of staff with them to provide local knowledge
  • Increased service efficiency through adjustments to the existing routes, together with the temporary creation of new routes
  • New missed collection reports issued back to the crew that missed them, helping to ensure crews learn their new routes effectively
  • 8 additional vehicles brought in – 2 more than is required – to accommodate any unforeseen problems

Keep residents informed

Councillor Breare-Hall said that the service was moving toward a position where the right resources were in the right place at the right time. This meant Biffa now had the ability to implement a coherent strategic approach to the efficient and effective delivery of the service.

The number of missed collections reported to the council had fallen significantly, and stood at 75 on the day of the report. The improvement was born out by fewer phone calls to the Customer Contact Centre at around 260 a day, down from a peak of over 550. Councillor Breare-Hall took the opportunity to highlight and praise the dedication and commitment of the council’s staff. He said they had worked incredibly hard over the last 7 weeks on behalf of residents, adding “I’d like to publicly thank them for everything they have done, and endured. I’m personally extremely grateful to them.”

Welcoming the improvements, Councillor Breare-Hall counselled against complacency. He said it was too early to say all the problems are behind us. It would take some weeks to be confident the service has fully stabilised and is operating at a level councillors and residents are happy with. He promised to continue meeting with Biffa’s senior management and to keep residents informed.


Biffa improvement plan for waste and recycling

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Waste and recycling contractor Biffa have provided an improvement plan to the Leader of Epping Forest District Council at a high level meeting. Biffa has promised a ‘belt and braces’ approach to ensuring local kerbside waste and recycling collections are back on track as soon as possible.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Chief Executive Glen Chipp and Neighbourhoods Director Derek Macnab held talks with Biffa’s Managing Director Roger Edwards and Commercial Director Pete Dickson. The council wanted the highest-level assurances that Biffa are going to put right the problems that have beset waste and recycling since early May.

New dustcart

While the introduction of new vehicles and technology and the transfer to a 4 day collection service has been smooth for many residents, the difficulties faced by a significant minority is unacceptable to the council.

Following the talks, Biffa are pushing additional resources into the areas where the collection routes have not measured up so far. Biffa has promised that more vehicles and extra refuse collectors will remain in the district until all the teething problems with routes, vehicles and software have been overcome.

One of the greenest councils in England

Councillor Chris Whitbread issued a statement to residents on behalf of Epping Forest District Council.

He said: “Epping Forest District Council is one of the greenest councils in England. Residents regularly place the district in the top-10 for recycling in the country. Biffa is also one of the largest refuse and recycling contractors with a proud track record of delivering services to around 40 councils. The level of service provided to our residents over the past few weeks has been totally unacceptable and must improve.”

Apologise on behalf of Biffa

Roger Edwards said: “I would like to apologise on behalf of Biffa to any resident that experienced a poor level of service. Residents will now start to see a rapid improvement back to the levels of high quality they expect and deserve. Nothing less will be acceptable.”

An immediate improvement

Councillor Chris Whitbread added: “We made it clear to Biffa that we expected to see an immediate improvement. The initial signs are that their plan is having the desired impact, but Councillor Breare-Hall and myself will continue to meet with Roger Edwards and Pete Dickson until the service is fully stabilised.

Waste contractor taken to task

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The changes to waste and recycling leading to significant problems with kerbside collections must improve according to Cabinet Portfolio Holder Councillor Will Breare-Hall. In a statement to Cabinet on 11 June 2015, Councillor Breare-Hall outlined a list of different problems and steps being taken to get the service improved.

Cllr Will Breare-Hall at cabinet

Waste and recycling statement

Councillor Lesley Wagland pressed Councillor Breare-Hall on the underlying problems of the contract. Council Leader Councillor Chris Whitbread apologised to residents for the disruption and assured councillors that the issues would be resolved.

Cabinet 11 June 2015

Health, planning and housing at cabinet

Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny Committee briefed Cabinet on the presentation by Barts Health NHS Trust and the serious failings at Whipps Cross Hospital.

Among other items, Planning Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett brought a report to Cabinet on the designation of North Weald Bassett Neighbourhood Plan. He also asked Cabinet to agree the updated Local Development Scheme and consider future spending on the Local Plan. Council Leader Chris Whitbread stressed the importance of getting the process right and ensuring the final Local Plan is sound.

Housing Portfolio Holder David Stallan reported on housing-related support charges to council tenants and private users of the Careline service. Councillor Stallan sought Cabinet approval to ask the Housing Select Committee to look at the merits of de-designating some council properties reserved for older people so that they can be let to younger tenants.

Subject to the support of residents, Cabinet also approved a proposal by Councillor Stallan to bring forward construction of the proposed Torrington Drive off-street parking scheme. Each of 64 households in the affected area of Torrington Drive would be offered a permit at a cost of £43 per year.

Cabinet went on to approve the final set of Standard Licensing Conditions for Holiday Caravan and Camping Sites in Epping Forest District proposed by Councillor Stallan.

Making way for Epping Forest Shopping Park

Cabinet accepted the £2.4 million tender from T J Evers Ltd to design and build a new Grounds Maintenance and Fleet Operations depot for the Council at Oakwood Hill. Asset Management Portfolio Holder Anne Grigg recommended approval of the tender. The new depot is needed to accommodate services vacating Langston Road depot prior to its redevelopment as Loughton’s new Epping Forest Shopping Park.


Epping Forest District Council has saved £125,000 on the renewal of its insurance policies with Zurich Municipal.


Waste and recycling statement by Councillor Will Breare-Hall

I’m grateful for this opportunity to update the Cabinet, Members and residents on the latest situation with the waste, recycling and street cleansing services, delivered by our contractor, Biffa.

I’d like to begin by making it clear that I consider Biffa’s failure to deliver a universally acceptable service, of the standard we require and our residents expect, to be extremely serious. I share the very real anger and frustration of all those who Biffa have let down, and especially those who have suffered repeated missed collections. I want to reiterate my sincere apologies to all those affected, and assure them that I and the council’s officers are doing all in our power to compel Biffa to urgently resolve these problems. My statement this evening is not, therefore, a defence of this situation. Rather, it is an account of what has happened and what is being done to correct it.

I’d like to briefly remind the Cabinet of the procurement exercise that led to the appointment of Biffa.

The previous waste management contract expired in November last year. In March 2013 we began the procurement process by means of Competitive Dialogue, with initially eight bidders, which was reduced to 4 by the time we reached the final stage. In the early stages of the exercise the tender assessment criteria was based 60% on price and 40% on quality, but at the final stage this was changed to 50% for both price and quality, to reflect and emphasise this council’s focus on quality. The 50% awarded for quality was subdivided into 40% for a technical assessment by officers and 10% for a Member interview panel.

The procurement process was led by a project team that consisted of officers from this council and representatives from Essex County Council and the Council’s specialist consultants, WYG Limited. Key elements of the assessment process included considering company structure; company finances and insurances; the ability to deliver the services being tendered; health and safety; equalities, and business continuity.

At the Final Tender stage the council asked the 4 remaining contractors to bid on 2 service levels – a Monday to Friday service and a Tuesday to Friday service – and agreed that the lowest priced submission for each of these would be considered for assessment. The highest scoring tender bid was from Biffa and that was based on a 4 day collection service – something they deliver in authorities elsewhere in the country. Biffa’s bid was assessed by technical officers and the council’s expert consultants, WYG, who confirmed that the level of resources Biffa had allocated for the new service were sufficient and that there was no operational reason why a 4 day service would not be feasible.

The decision to award the 10 year contract to Biffa was made by Cabinet on 19 May 2014. There followed a mobilisation period to ensure a smooth transition from the previous contractor and this was completed on the 4 November last year, when Biffa assumed responsibility for the service.

In their tender bid, Biffa proposed that the 4 day service commence in March of this year but, mindful that such a major service change would require considerable preparation, I instructed that this be put back to at least May. Accordingly, the new service commenced on the 12 May. Biffa had, therefore, operated the service successfully for 6 months prior to the introduction of their new fleet, new technology, and the 4 day collection schedule.

Unfortunately, as is now widely recognised, a number of problems have beset the service from the 12 May, not all of which are directly linked to the introduction of the 4 day service.

These include

  • IT failures affecting the in-cab technology that contains the new collection rounds and the supply of live information back to Biffa management and the council
  • issues with the compactors on some of the new freighters not operating whilst the vehicles were in motion
  • problems with safety sensors on the bin lifts
  • faults with the on-board weighing equipment, that prevented the freighters from accepting the full pay load
  • the need for the work force to familiarise themselves with new rounds and adapt to longer working days

For many residents, the switch to a 4 day service also necessitated a change in the day, and time of day, of their collection. For some, notably those in Chigwell, Debden and Waltham Abbey, it also resulted in a change in the collection week of their recycling and black bin. A letter was sent to every household in the district detailing these changes, but a number of residents remained unclear as to the new arrangements and I accept that this communication could have, and should have, been clearer and measures put in place to mitigate the impact of the week change. I have instructed officers to issue a reminder to residents of their collection day, mindful that the numerous catch-up collections Biffa have had to undertake has caused many people additional confusion. Further publicity will be distributed once the collection service is stabilised.

Of course, not all the services that Biffa provides have been affected. The vast majority of collections are completed successfully, and street cleansing services have continued with little or no disruption, but a significant number of residents, located across the district, have endured some, sometimes severe, disruption and inconvenience. It is estimated that the number of missed collections over the initial 4 week period was around 15,000, out of a total of 432,000. To date, this has generated around 9,000 phone calls and 3,000 emails to the council’s customer contact centre.

As an outsourced service the ability of the council to directly influence its delivery is inevitably limited but, from the moment these problems were identified, the council’s officers and staff have been working tirelessly to help Biffa address them, and to minimise the impact on residents. They have worked long hours, and in many cases over weekends, in often difficult circumstances. I would like to thank each of them for all they continue to do on behalf of our residents. If effort alone were sufficient to solve the problems Biffa have encountered they would have been resolved a long time ago.

Biffa themselves have committed significant additional resources to dealing with the problems they have encountered, bringing in extra staff and vehicles and undertaking catch-up collections on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. However, the problems are not yet resolved, and collections are still being missed, so, together with the Leader, Chief Executive and the Director of Neighbourhoods, I continue to put pressure on Biffa at all levels of the company. Meetings are taking place with the Managing Director of Biffa Municipal, the Director Commercial, the Director Operations, the Regional Manager, the Business Manager, the Project Mobilisation Manager, the Process, Quality and Information Manager, and the Senior Business Manager, amongst others. The next of these is tomorrow morning, after which I will be able to update Members again.

At the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on Tuesday of this week I asked that they undertake a thorough review of the implementation of the 4 day collection service, which I’m grateful to them for agreeing to do. It’s very important that the causes of the problems we’ve faced are both identified and understood, and that lessons are learnt for the future. In the meantime, I can assure the Cabinet that my priority, and that of all those involved, is to bring a swift resolution to this situation.


Whipps Cross director faces council scrutiny

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Failings at Whipps Cross University Hospital came under the spotlight as councillors cross-examined Lyn Hill-Tout, Interim Managing Director for the Barts Health NHS Trust at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9 June 2015.

Whipps Cross Hospital

Watch the webcast

Watch the webcast – click on the slides tab to view the presentation.

Ms Hill-Tout has been in the job for only 8 weeks. She was brought in as interim Director following the damning findings of a Quality Care Commission (CQC) investigation into services at Whipps Cross. She previously managed the recovery of Mid-Staffs NHS Trust.

Whipps Cross needs to change but it is staying, it does have a future and must be fit for the future said Ms Hill-Tout. Insufficient staff, high levels of agency staffing, low morale, bullying and harassment, high bed occupancy and longer than average stays in hospital and long waiting times were among the serious failings identified by the CQC at Whipps Cross.

Further concerns were identified around safeguarding, record keeping and maintenance of medical equipment. Out-patient care and medical notes are among the biggest challenges to be overcome. The CQC report summary was provided in the agenda of Overview and Scrutiny – read the CQC report on it’s inadequate judgement of the quality of care at Whipps Cross University Hospital.

Special measures

Barts Health was placed into special measures designed to implement rapid improvement. Lyn Hill-Tout told councillors that although many hospital staff felt bruised by the report there was also a sense of relief that the issues and problems had been aired and could be addressed. Similar problems were found at two other Barts Health NHS sites in London.

A new management team has been brought in to provide leadership and sustainable improvements as Whipps Cross. Lyn Hill-Tout referred to working with staff, patients and trade unions. Addressing staff issues as well as CQC findings form part of Ms Hill-Tout’s plans going forward. Recruitment and retention of staff has been a key issue. Ms Hill-Tout said that not only does the Hospital need more staff, it needs quality staff with the right skills. Reliance on agency staff needs to be reduced and good staff need to be retained once recruited.

Patients care passionately about Whipps Cross

Patients care passionately about Whipps Cross. By no means all patient feedback is negative, with examples of good care levels as well as poor offered by patients during consultation. Ms Hill-Tout pulled no punches in identifying the problems at Whipps Cross and across Barts Health NHS Trust but did paint a picture of gradual improvement. Ms Hill-Tout was candid in response to a question by O&S Committee Chairman Councillor Richard Morgan on the financial plans for the Trust. She expressed doubts, going on to reply to Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens that with a turnover of £1.25 billion the Trust is too large. She would not have set it up in this way in the first place.

Councillors questions

Councillor Stephen Murray probed the issues of harassment and bullying. Ms Hill-Tout said that they needed to get permanent staff in who understand the culture it needs to adopt. Councillor David Wixley asked how imposing fines on the hospital when it is already facing financial deficits could help. Ms Hill-Tout explained that the money withheld in fines was put back into Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Councillor Leon Girling outlined fears and concerns expressed by hospital staff on social media. He raised the issues of harassment and bullying, IT system failures and remote and frequent changes of management as issues identified by staff. Ms Hill-Tout said that IT, along with staffing was probably the biggest issue to be addressed. She went on to describe a whole raft of work around paediatric care in response to questions put by Councillor Steven Neville.

Councillor David Wixley raised issues about Accident and Emergency. With A&E services closing elsewhere he asked how Whipps Cross would cope. Lyn Hill-Tout said that Whipps Cross could not take on extra cases until its own services had improved. Barts is recruiting 500 additional nurses. Councillor Aniket Patel wanted to know how the Trust would ensure high standards were maintained. Induction, appraisal and hospital matrons are among a number of methods used to improve the support especially for nurses recruited overseas.

Ms Hill-Tout reassured councillors that a senior consultant was on site 7 days a week. In response to Councillor Gagan Mohindra she acknowledged that work needed to be done to develop greater levels of weekend working for doctors and the support services they need such as x-ray diagnostics.

Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of O&S thanked Lyn Hill-Tout for a comprehensive presentation.