On Monday 12 March 2012 Cabinet met and discussed the Olympic Torch, Leader Lodge and the house building programme among many other items.
Council prepares for Olympic Torch
Money has been set aside to ensure the passage of the Olympic Torch relay passes safe and sound through Waltham Abbey.
Detailed announcements are due later but the district council already knows the Olympic Flame will draw crowds as it comes through Waltham Abbey on its way to the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Cabinet agreed to recommend the council set aside up to £15,000 predominantly to ensure the safety of spectators and participants although councillors hope not to have to spend all the money allocated. Councillors also hope to see other organisations contribute. Councillor Ricki Gadsby, Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder described it as a modest amount of money for a significant and beneficial event.
Keeping council flats safe
A number of concessions to council tenants who make communal areas of flats more homely were confirmed. Councillors debated further relaxation of the rules to set aside recommendations of the Fire Authority and include carpets in the exceptions list. Council tenant Barry Johnson, a former fireman called on councillors to support calls for carpets to be retained. Debate surrounded how far the council should follow the advice of the Fire Authority, balanced against perception of the actual risk to tenants.
Councillor Maggie McEwen, Housing Portfolio Holder emphasised her sympathy for tenants who wished to retain carpets in communal areas while drawing a distinction between the rights of private householders to decide their own levels of safety and the council which had a responsibility as landlord for the safety of others.
Exceptions recommended in the report to cabinet included pictures on walls provided the frames contain no glass, rubber-backed mats, flame-retardant curtains and non-flammable items such as pot-plants provided they do not block escape routes.
Following a long and intense debate, councillors also agreed to vary the recommendations of the report so that where all the tenants and leaseholders of a block agreed to meet certain conditions recommended by the Fire Authority, concessions would be made to retain communal carpets.
Cabinet also resolved that the Housing Scrutiny Panel consider an enhanced programme to install smoke-detectors in all council-owned residential properties.
Leader Lodge in North Weald
Leader Lodge, originally associated with the war-time airfield at North Weald is to be put up for sale. Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet agreed to seek tenders based on keeping the current building as well as any plans to demolish as councillors seek to meet the aspirations of local residents consulted through the recent ‘Planning for Real’ exercise.
House building programme
Another step has been taken towards restarting council house building in Epping Forest. Members of the district council Cabinet approved recommendations leading to recruitment process of a development agent. When appointed, the agent will co-ordinate all professional building services including, financial, architectural, quantity surveying, construction and project management. The agent will undertake detailed development appraisals on each site identified by the council. Once planning permissions have been secured, the agent will also undertake the tendering processes to appoint building contractors.
Separately, cabinet agreed to use capital receipts of £125,000 from the development of the council-owned site at Millfield High Ongar to fund future council house building.
Information and cash payments
Epping Forest District Council is set to employ Essex County Council to provide information services via local libraries. District council information services currently provided in Loughton Library, Waltham Abbey Town Hall and Buckhurst Hill Parish Council will be provided by library staff. Staff at Chipping Ongar library will also take on formal district council information service provision.
Plans are also being developed for Waltham Abbey cash desk situated in Waltham Abbey Town Hall to be replaced by a kiosk in Waltham Abbey Library.