Dedicated Schools Police Liaison Officer not the answer

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Crime and the relationship between young people and the police focused the attention of youth councillors and delegates at the Epping Forest Youth Council Conference on Friday 3 November 2017.

Youth conference 2017

Hosted by Epping Forest District Council, the conference listened to presentations from Alex Burghart MP, Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Jane Gardner, Darren Horsman and Tom Mitchell, deputising for District Police Commander Lewis Basford.

The conference then debated the question:

“This house believes Essex Police should have a dedicated Police Liaison Officer serving the Epping Forest District.”

Watch the live debate

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Police Liaison Officer not the answer

Knife crime, gangs and how to tackle these issues featured heavily. Does a single dedicated liaison officer have the scope and resources to make a meaningful impact? Could they develop better understanding and give young people a clearer voice in offering solutions?

Following a full and wide-ranging debate conference rejected the motion by 62 percent to 38 percent. A dedicated Police School Liaison Officer does not seem to be the answer for the young people of Epping Forest.

Click on an image below to begin slideshow of the youth conference.

Say No to N2O

Conference also discussed the growing problem of Nitros Oxide use among young people. Earlier this year, members of the youth council collected hundreds of discarded N2O canisters across the district. Legally available for uses ranging from medicine to party balloons, in the wrong hands N2O is being seen increasingly as a dangerous recreational gateway drug.

Council Leader – Importance of young people

Winding up the youth conference, the Leader of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Chris Whitbread thanked and congratulated each of the delegates and their schools for supporting the event. He emphasised the importance of giving young people a voice. In a world dominated by older generations he approved the fresh ideas and knowledge brought to bear by involving young people in the decisions that affect the community.

Skills for work and mental health were voted top topics for future work.

First new council homes for Waltham Abbey

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Epping Forest District Council welcomed the first tenants into John Scott Court, Waltham Abbey this week.

50 guests gathered for the official opening ceremony, an event which marked the completion of Phase One of the Council’s House-building Programme to provide 23 new affordable rented homes in Waltham Abbey.

John Scott Court

Click on an image below to start slideshow

John Scott

The development is named after former District Health and Housing Officer and Joint Chief Executive John Scott as a tribute to decades of service to the Council and the local community.

Guests, including John Scott, MP Eleanor Laing and local councillors joined council officers, contractors and tenants to open the nine newly built homes at John Scott Court, all of which are being let to local residents in need of housing.

Energy efficient homes

The brand new energy-efficient homes, which are built to Lifetime Homes Standards, are built on a formerly under-used garage site.

Resident delighted with her new home

One new tenant, who was delighted to move into her new home said: “I moved in last week and am so happy in my new home. I am very impressed with the size of the rooms, my son has lots of space for his toys. I’ve shown lots of friends and neighbours around my flat and they all want to live here!”

Programme of over 300 homes

The new homes at John Scott Court are the latest completions in the district-wide programme of over 300 new affordable homes to be built during the next 10 years. They will shortly be followed by the completion of Phase 2 of the Programme in Burton Road, Loughton, which is on schedule to complete by March 2018.

Proud to work with residents

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Portfolio Holder for Housing attended the official opening and said: “We are committed to making the best use of our housing stock and are continuing to build new homes for people in housing need within our community. We are proud to be working with residents and partners, building more well-designed homes for affordable rent in our district”.

After the ceremony there was an opportunity to visit another new development of six houses and flats at Hockley court, Waltham Abbey.

Further information

Cabinet 7 September 2017

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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.

Police Helicopter

Police Helicopter

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.

Hillhouse Statement

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.”

Oakwood Hill

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.

Customer Services

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.

Flags at half-mast for Spanish attacks

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Flags outside the civic offices in Epping are flying at half-mast today in solidarity with Spain in the wake of last night’s tragic events.

Flags at half mast in Solidarity

We stand with Spain

Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “I am saddened to hear the news of the terrible events in Catalonia, we stand with Spain at this terrible time and send our thoughts to all affected.”

Council 27 July 2017

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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.

Gary Waller 1945-2017

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.

Ian Abbey, Stan Goodwin and Keith Wright

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.

Reports included

  • 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

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.

Cabinet 15 June 2017

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Cabinet meeting on 15 June 2017 discussed local plan, homelessness and shopping park.

View the webcast

Shopping Park 

Next (including a Costa Coffee), TK Max, Aldi, Hobbycraft, Pets at Home and Smyths Toys have been confirmed among the tenants of the new Epping Forest Shopping Park. Councillor Anne Grigg made the announcement at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 15 June. Construction of the retail units is nearing completion with the supporting highway improvements due to finish in August. The Council expects handover on 19 June with the start of shop fitting starting a week later. The park will also set high green transport standards in Essex with 10 electric charging points.

Local Plan Implementation

Proposed masterplans covering areas in Epping, Waltham Abbey, Loughton, North Weald, Ongar, Chigwell and sites around Harlow will be produced as Epping Forest District Council works towards the implementation of the new Local Plan. The need for strategic masterplans to ensure development and infrastructure requirements across groups of sites in the same area was outlined in a report presented by Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip.

Infrastructure 

Councillor Philip explained that it was necessary to show the government-appointed inspector that the Council is taking steps to ensure that growth can be delivered in a coordinated way with necessary infrastructure provided. He emphasised that this does not mean any sites will definitely be in or out of the final Local Plan or that planning approvals have been decided or approved. No definitive decisions have as yet been taken on which sites will be included in the final draft of the Local Plan.

Councillors should be involved early without being predisposed to deciding planning applications. None of the work proposed in the report committed councillors to approving individual sites or applications.

Homelessness

Cabinet approved proposals to allocate the Homelessness Support Grant. Councillors supported the recommendations by Housing Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou to allocate £60,000 to Genesis Housing Association to provide private sector accommodation, and £29,000 to the young parents scheme at Railway Meadow in Ongar. Further allocations will be made as additional reports come to Cabinet. 

Superfast Broadband 

Reports on the extension of superfast broadband and free wifi in town centres put forward by Technology Portfolio Holder Alan Lion were supported by Cabinet colleagues.

District shows support for London

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“It is with a heavy heart that the flags have been lowered to half-mast once again as the Epping Forest district shows its support for the innocent victims and survivors of the latest attack to strike London.”

“Our hearts and best wishes go out to all those innocently caught up in the events of the weekend.”

Flags at half-mast in Epping

We stand together

Newly appointed District Council Chairman David Stallan continued: “So much has happened. This weekend we have seen the best and the worst of human nature. We witnessed another cowardly attack by a few deluded individuals but we also saw the best as people came to each other’s aid with immense bravery and compassion.”

“That was followed by the concert on Sunday where the whole nation came together for Manchester and London in the best possible way. We stand together and we reject the messages of hate.”

We will not be defeated

Council Leader Councillor Chris Whitbread has also been quick to add his voice to messages of support. He said: “Only a few short days ago, I spoke of our debt and gratitude to the emergency services in Manchester.”

“It has become clear that without the bravery and professionalism in particular of our police, the events of Saturday in London could have been so much worse. At times like this we put aside our small arguments and remember we are a great country. We will not be defeated.”

Minute silence

Epping Forest District Council will take part in the 1 minute silence at 11am on Tuesday 6 June 2017.

Condolences following Manchester attack

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Residents of Epping Forest district are sending heartfelt condolences to the victims of the Manchester attack.

Council Chairman Jeane Lea has asked for flags to be flown at half-mast.

Flags at half-mast in Epping

Our hearts go out again to the innocent victims

Chairman Jeane Lea said: “Our hearts go out again to the innocent victims of yet another senseless and brutal attack. There can never be any justification for such terrible actions and I know that the heartfelt condolences and best wishes of every right thinking person will be with the victims, their families and the people of Manchester.”

Stand together in support of decency, freedom and democracy

A minute silence will be observed at the next meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Thursday 25 May 2017.

Chairman Jeane Lea said: “It is known as the Annual Council meeting. It will be the first meeting since the local elections in May and the last of my year as I hand over to a new Chairman. It is always a special meeting but I feel this year will hold greater significance as everyone stands in silence to remember the children of this crime in particular.”

“As a council and as a district, people of all the political groups across our council chamber stand together in support of decency, freedom and democracy.”

Shocked by this dreadful attack

Councillor Chris Whitbread Leader of Epping Forest District Council added: “Everyone is shocked by this dreadful attack in Manchester. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims. It is also important at this time to pay tribute to the men and women of our emergency services.”

Cabinet 6 April 2017

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Cabinet meeting on 6 April 2017 discussed new council house build, highway funding, tourism, shopping and Waltham Abbey Police Station.

New council house building reaffirmed at Cabinet

Councillors reaffirmed their commitment to build more new council houses at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 6 April. Approving the recommendations of the Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee, Councillors agreed to proceed with Phases 3 to 6 of the house building programme.

Highway match-funding

Epping Forest District Council will match-fund local Essex County Council highway schemes. Cabinet approved capital funding of £50,000 to secure additional funding for highways schemes approved through the Epping Forest Local Highway Panel.

Investing in tourism

Cabinet also approved a number of recommendations of the Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee. These included the provision of way-markers from Waltham Abbey town centre for the Royal Gunpowder Mills and the Lea Valley White Water Centre as the Council encourages tourism within the local economy.

Shopping park and retail units

Councillors received updates on the construction before discussing commercial contracts for the new Epping Forest Shopping Park in private. The new park is due to open next summer. Commercial details remain confidential as the Council finalises the anchor tenants. However, negotiations are proceeding well. Income from the shopping park of between £2.2m and £2.7m is expected to make a considerable contribution to the funding of Epping Forest District Council services in coming years.

Councillors also noted progress on new ground-floor shop units at the former Winston Churchill site in Loughton and the purchase of the former school site in St John’s Road Epping from Essex County Council.

Sun Street police station

In private session Councillors also discussed the former Sun Street police station in Waltham Abbey. Essex Police Estates has indicated bids for the vacant building situated next to the District Council-owned museum should be lodged with their agent by 12 April.

 

Cabinet 9 March 2017

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The Local Plan, better use of council assets, housing for homeless people, pay and display car parks and the investment of additional fees in the planning service dominated debate at Cabinet on 9 March.

Draft Local Plan consultation

Preliminary findings from the draft Local Plan consultation were presented by Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor John Philip to the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 9 March.

Councillor Philip outlined some clear themes coming through for more work on infrastructure and employment sites including the wider area of East Herts and Harlow. New potential sites and changes to previously identified sites are also being reviewed and will be fed into the revisions of the draft plan. A new transport assessment is also being done in conjunction with Essex County Council.

Councillor Philip emphasised that publication of the next draft depended on full analysis and assessment of the additional work programmed in over the next year or so. Councillors noted the initial findings of the consultation, agreed progression of the Local Plan to the next stage and approved the publication of the Council’s updated Local Development Scheme online.

Better use of council buildings

The interests of residents and customers must remain at the heart of council services. Council Leader Chris Whitbread received Cabinet support for proposals to reduce the need for office space at the Civic Offices in Epping.

Reports show flexible working by staff including home and remote working, and use of other council buildings could allow the Council to move out of the older part of the Civic Offices known as the Conder Building. Councillor Whitbread described the proposals as part of the wider transformation programme to improve services.

Pay and Display set to save £58,000

Final preparations have been agreed for the transfer of the council’s off-street parking management from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to NSL.

Portfolio Holder Gary Waller reminded fellow councillors of the improvements the change of contract will bring to residents and the Council. The Council will save £58,600 under the new arrangements even though Councillor Waller said that NSL did not submit the cheapest bid. They did submit the best quality bid. Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) rates remain the same.

Housing for Homeless People

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou received approval to progress plans for a small pilot scheme of three ‘Pods’ to accommodate people at Norway House in North Weald. The pods containing individual living accommodation and shared kitchens are manufactured by a North Weald based company. Subject to planning approval, the Council plans to help homeless people who would otherwise find themselves in Bed and Breakfast.

Increased planning application fees

Cabinet accepted an offer by the Department of Communities and Local Government to increase planning fees. Governance Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett confirmed that any extra income would be reinvested in planning services.