Elected Mayor or Council Leader

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Leader, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

Less than 100 people have responded to Epping Forest District Council`s invitation to all its residents to say by Tuesday 16 November 2010 whether they would like an elected Mayor or a Leader to be in charge in the future.

The Council is currently run by a Leader and a Cabinet. The Leader is appointed by councillors and can serve for up to 4 years. The Leader then appoints nine councillors to form the Cabinet and decides what special responsibility, called a portfolio, each of the nine will have. For example, for housing, the environment or finance. The Leader can also sack members of the Cabinet or change their portfolio.

Epping Forest District Council Civic Offices

A Mayor would be elected by residents, rather than by councillors, and would also serve for up to four years. Anyone can stand for election as Mayor. The Mayor would appoint a Deputy Mayor and also from two to nine councillors to form a Cabinet. The Mayor also has special responsibility for drafting the Council`s budget. Like a Leader, the Mayor can also sack Cabinet members.

Residents are invited to tell the Council which system of leadership they would prefer by either writing to Mr Ian Willett, Assistant to the Chief Executive at Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ or by email to iwillett@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or by completing the online form below.

The consultation is now closed.

Leader or Mayor – Which Would you Prefer?

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Leader, Residents, Your community, Your council

Would you prefer a Leader or Mayor to run Epping Forest District Council? Councillors would like to know your views before choosing one of two options later this year but you only have until Tuesday 16 November 2010 to reply.

Under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 all councils with a Leader and Cabinet have to consult on executive arrangements. Although the new Coalition Government has said it intends to repeal this law at some point, Councils still need to comply with the current Act and carry out this consultation. The Government acknowledges that under new legislation the Council may need to reconsider the system again some time soon.

Epping Forest District Council Civic Offices

Ian Willett, Assistant to the Chief Executive and Returning Officer at Epping Forest District Council said: “The main difference in the options is how the head of the council is elected. Under the current system of Leader and Cabinet, the Leader is appointed by councillors. A Mayor would be directly elected by residents of the District. Other councillors are able to remove the Leader from office whereas a Mayor could only be removed by residents at elections every four years, unless they resign or become disqualified.”

Mr Willett continued: “It’s important that residents get a say before councillors make their decision. The online consultation is a quick and easy way for residents to tell us their views. Paper questionnaires are also available as we want to encourage as many residents as possible to take part.”

The options available are:

Option 1 – Leader and Cabinet

The Leader is elected by the councillors of Epping Forest District Council. They serve up to four years unless they cease to be a councillor or are removed as Leader by a resolution of the Council. The Leader appoints up to nine councillors to the Cabinet. He or she decides which areas of responsibility (portfolios) each member of the Cabinet will hold. The Leader can sack members of the Cabinet or change their portfolios at any time. The Leader can delegate some or all of their powers to the Cabinet, Committees, individual councillors or council officers.

Option 2 – Elected Mayor and Cabinet

Residents vote to decide who should be elected as Mayor to run the Council. The Mayor is elected for four years unless they resign or become disqualified. Candidates don’t need to be councillors but if a serving district councillor is elected as Mayor their seat on the Council automatically becomes vacant. The Mayor holds a range of powers (except for those reserved to the Council by its Constitution). She or he can appoint between two and nine councillors to a Cabinet and decides what, if any, executive powers they will exercise.

The Mayor can sack any member of the Cabinet at any time and appoint a replacement. The Mayor appoints one member of the Cabinet as Deputy Mayor. That person exercise the powers of the Mayor in his or her absence or if he or she no longer holds office. The Mayor drafts the council budget which can only be overturned by a two thirds majority of the Council.

Petition to Hold a Referendum

While the law requires councils to consider which system of government to use, it also gives residents the right to petition for a referendum to change from Leader and Cabinet to Mayor. This can occur at any time. By coincidence the council is aware of steps to raise just such a petition. This process runs separately but if a petition of 4,800 names is received, then the council will hold a referendum in which every voter registered in Epping Forest District has the right to vote for their preferred style of local government.

Responses to the council’s own consultation do not qualify as signatures to any petition. Those members of the public who favour the Elected Mayor can use this consultation to express a view but they can still also sign the petition if it is presented to them.

A referendum is not an election. It would give residents the chance to say which system of local government they want. If they voted in favour of the Mayoral system, the Council would then hold a subsequent election where everyone could vote for their preferred candidate.

The consultation is now closed.

Celebration of 50 Years Service

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Your council

Shirley HawkinsFriends and colleagues joined Shirley Hawkins to celebrate 50 years of public service on Wednesday 18 August 2010. Usually someone who prefers to stay in the background, Shirley was guest of honour in the Members Room at Epping Forest District Council to hear tributes from Council Leader Councillor Di Collins, acting Chief Executive Derek Macnab and former Chief Executive John Scott. Council Chairman, Councillor Ann Grigg presented Shirley with a bouquet.

Shirley has worked for Epping Forest District Council and its predecessor Epping Urban District Council since 1960 when she was just 16. She joined straight from school, taking on what was supposed to be a temporary post.

One of the best known, liked and respected members of staff, Shirley has worked for some of the most senior people at Epping Forest District. Coming through the ranks of the old Housing Department where she became PA to Buck Buxton, she agreed to work for John Scott when Buck retired. When John Scott moved from Housing to Corporate Management as Corporate Director, then Joint-Chief Executive, Shirley moved with him. When John retired she became PA to then Deputy Chief Executive Derek Macnab who became acting Chief Executive last month.

Friends and colleagues join Shirley Hawkins to celebrate her 50 years of public service

Shirley is also well know in Thornwood. Di Collins reminded guests of Shirley’s voluntary work for several local charities as well as supporting Thornwood and North Weald where her husband Cyril is chairman of the Parish Council.

Old friends and colleagues joined councillors and members of Shirley’s family for the presentation of a commemorative medal to mark her achievement. Much to the relief of Councillor Collins and Derek Macnab, Shirley has no plans to retire. Di Collins hoped to see similar celebrations for Shirley in 2020 and 2030.

Leader or Mayor – Which Would you Prefer?

Written on . Posted in Democracy, Leader, Residents, Your council

Would you prefer a Leader or Mayor to run Epping Forest District Council? Councillors would like to know your views before choosing one of two options later this year.

Under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 all councils with a Leader and Cabinet have to consult on executive arrangements. Although the new Coalition Government has said it intends to repeal this law at some point, Councils still need to comply with the current Act and carry out this consultation. The Government acknowledges that under new legislation the Council may need to reconsider the system again some time soon.

Epping Forest District Council Civic Offices

Ian Willett, Assistant to the Chief Executive and Returning Officer at Epping Forest District Council said: “The main difference in the options is how the head of the council is elected. Under the current system of Leader and Cabinet, the Leader is appointed by councillors. A Mayor would be directly elected by residents of the District. Other councillors are able to remove the Leader from office whereas a Mayor could only be removed by residents at elections every four years, unless they resign or become disqualified.”

Mr Willett continued: “It’s important that residents get a say before councillors make their decision. The online consultation is a quick and easy way for residents to tell us their views. Paper questionnaires are also available as we want to encourage as many residents as possible to take part.”

The options available are:

Option 1 – Leader and Cabinet

The Leader is elected by the councillors of Epping Forest District Council. They serve up to four years unless they cease to be a councillor or are removed as Leader by a resolution of the Council. The Leader appoints up to nine councillors to the Cabinet. He or she decides which areas of responsibility (portfolios) each member of the Cabinet will hold. The Leader can sack members of the Cabinet or change their portfolios at any time. The Leader can delegate some or all of their powers to the Cabinet, Committees, individual councillors or council officers.

Option 2 – Elected Mayor and Cabinet

Residents vote to decide who should be elected as Mayor to run the Council. The Mayor is elected for four years unless they resign or become disqualified. Candidates don’t need to be councillors but if a serving district councillor is elected as Mayor their seat on the Council automatically becomes vacant. The Mayor holds a range of powers (except for those reserved to the Council by its Constitution). She or he can appoint between two and nine councillors to a Cabinet and decides what, if any, executive powers they will exercise. The Mayor can sack any member of the Cabinet at any time and appoint a replacement. The Mayor appoints one member of the Cabinet as Deputy Mayor. That person exercise the powers of the Mayor in his or her absence or if he or she no longer holds office. The Mayor drafts the council budget which can only be overturned by a two thirds majority of the Council.

PETITION TO HOLD A REFERENDUM

While the law requires councils to consider which system of government to use, it also gives residents the right to petition for a referendum to change from Leader and Cabinet to Mayor. This can occur at any time. By coincidence the council is aware of steps to raise just such a petition. This process runs separately but if a petition of 4,800 names is received, then the council will hold a referendum in which every voter registered in Epping Forest District has the right to vote for their preferred style of local government.

Responses to the council’s own consultation do not qualify as signatures to any petition. Those members of the public who favour the Elected Mayor can use this consultation to express a view but they can still also sign the petition if it is presented to them.

A referendum is not an election. It would give residents the chance to say which system of local government they want. If they voted in favour of the Mayoral system, the Council would then hold a subsequent election where everyone could vote for their preferred candidate.

If you live or work in the district you can complete the consultation online or by downloading a paper copy below.

The consultation is now closed.

Deputy to Act Up

Written on . Posted in Democracy, Leader, Your council

Derek Macnab, Acting Chief Executive for Epping Forest District Council

Derek Macnab (49) has been appointed Acting Chief Executive for Epping Forest District Council. Mr Macnab has been the Council`s Deputy Chief Executive since August 2007. Councillors will review his working arrangements again in December. Mr Macnab replaces Peter Haywood who retired as Chief Executive in July.

Mr Macnab previously managed leisure services in a number of London Boroughs before joining Epping Forest District Council as Head of Leisure Services in 1998.
He has lived in the District for nearly 25 years and currently lives in Epping with his wife Donna and family.

Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council said: I would like to thank Derek Macnab for taking on this temporary role. This is one of the most demanding and responsible jobs you can take in local government. Derek steps into the role at a particularly challenging moment but councillors will look forward to working with him in steering the Council through these difficult financial times. Like all councils, we are facing major reductions in income and government funding. We are carrying out a spending review to see where further savings and efficiencies are possible.

Mr Macnab will manage an organisation that employs more than 600 people and has a turnover of over £60 million a year.

Cabinet Discuss Possibility of Retail Park in Loughton

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Loughton, Meetings, Your area, Your council

The possibility of a new retail park at Loughton, cessation of the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan, Parking Reviews, O2 Mast in Honey Lane, the Olympic White Water Canoe Centre and heating charges at Ninefields were among the many topics discussed at Cabinet on Monday 19 July 2010.

Watch the meeting:

Subsidised Heating costs for Ninefields Tenants

Tenants of Epping Forest District Council will have the increased costs of heating paid temporarily until new boilers are fitted in their homes. The Cabinet has agreed a budget of £57,000 for tenants living on the Ninefields estate in Waltham Abbey which will see their heating bills fall back from £22.19 per week to the 2009/10 level of £16.69.

The tenants involved are due to have replacement boilers fitted over the next two years. The new efficient boilers will allow individual energy usage costs to be apportioned to each tenant and should also cut the total amount of energy used by tenants. Long term costs to tenants and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will also mean significant financial and environmental benefits.

Lifting of Gypsy and Traveller Direction

Councillors took the opportunity to thank local residents who played their part in the lifting the Gypsy and Traveller Direction. Councillor Di Collins, Leader of the Council welcomed the news from Government that the Direction was removed. Subject to final Council approval on 27 July, the Cabinet agreed to notify residents and travellers immediately of the decision, to cease all further work on the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document, to update the council website and to reassure all affected residents that land identified within the consultation now returned to their pre-direction status (unless changed by normal planning applications in the meantime).

Parking Reviews

Councillor Syd Stavrou reported that Essex County Council was exploring cheaper ways of advertising the three parking reviews for Epping, Loughton and Buckhurst Hill. She asked for authorisation (with the Leader of Council and Finance Portfolio Holder) to recommence the schemes if affordable and acceptable advertising costs could be established by ECC. Councillor Stavrou also asked for flexibility to adapt or scale back the schemes should other savings still be necessary. Councillors heard that ECC hoped to be able to provide details in the next week to ten days.

Investment in Sports Equipment and Leisure Centre but new Sports Facility Postponed

In the current financial climate, councillors agreed to postpone proposals to develop additional sports facilities at Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool. Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Brian Rolfe put forward the proposal to delay with great reluctance but noted that sports facilities continued to be provided at the sports centre in Broomstick Hall Road. Cabinet also agreed a range of measures to fund capital investment in other council-owned sports facilities in exchange for reduced management costs from centre manager SLM Ltd.

Extending the management contract with SLM, the Council will invest almost £800,000 in improved health and fitness facilities for Loughton Leisure Centre with annual management cost savings of £100,000. £192,000 will be invested in new fitness equipment at Epping and Ongar in exchange for reduced managements costs of £53,000 per year. Finance Portfolio Holder Chris Whitbread noted the annual return for the council of 12 per cent on the deal, far better than any conventional investment the council could make at the current time.

White Water Canoe Centre Olympic Partnership

Epping Forest District Council hopes to join Broxbourne Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council in partnership to maximise the benefits of the Olympic White Water Canoe Centre under construction between Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross. Each Council would help to fund a new shared post. Epping Forest District Council would provide £10,000 per year while Broxbourne and Hertfordshire County Council will provide £20,000 each per annum to market and promote environmental improvements and the opportunities offered to local residents and businesses. The position would last for two years but is still subject to further detailed negotiation. Up to 70,000 people are expected to visit the centre each year, potentially providing major economic benefits to the adjoining towns. Lea Valley Regional Park owns the Centre and will reassume management from LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) after the 2012 Games.

Retail Park Negotiations for Loughton

A retail development to complement existing shop keepers in Loughton Broadway could come to Langston Road. Epping Forest District Council and Polofind Ltd, owners of neighbouring sites are exploring the possibility.

Councillor Lesley Wagland, Legal and Estates Portfolio Holder said that only 14 per cent of retail spend in this type of development is retained in the district. Most people go outside the district for their out of town retail park spending. This could be a real opportunity to encourage residents to spend more money locally, creating new jobs as well as supporting existing businesses.

In any such development, councillors were keen to see easy pedestrian access between the Broadway and a retail park as well as good links with the local underground station. Councillors also wished to ensure full consultation with residents and local businesses. The current layout of Chigwell Lane could prove a stumbling block. Progress on proposals is partly dependent on satisfactory highway improvements.

Councillor Wagland also assured Cabinet that controls are usually placed on out of town retail parks to ensure that they complement rather than compete with local town centres for trade. In response to a question, Councillor Wagland did not completely rule out the possibility of some form of cinema.

District Council Election Results

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Democracy, Elections, Leader, Your council

The results for the local District Council election. All the votes have been counted and the results can be seen below, the highest turnout is 74.1% in the Theydon Bois Ward.

    Results by Ward showing elected candidate, party and turnout:

  1. Buckhurst Hill East
    Councillor Peter Spencer, Liberal Democrat, turnout 65.8%
  2. Buckhurst Hill West
    Sylvia Watson, Conservative, turnout 72.4%
  3. Chigwell Village
    Councillor Lesley Wagland, Conservative, turnout 68.4%
  4. Chipping Ongar, Greensted and Marden Ash
    Councillor Derek Jacobs, Liberal Democrat and Blane Judd, Conservative, turnout 73% (two Councillors elected due to the resignation of Councillor Glyn Pritchard, Conservative).
  5. Epping Hemnall
    Councillor Janet Whitehouse, Liberal Democrat, turnout 71.6%
  6. Epping Lindsey and Thornwood Common
    William Breare-Hall, Conservative, turnout 71.4%
  7. Grange Hill
    Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Conservative, turnout 63.3%
  8. Loughton Alderton
    Lancelot Leonard, Loughton Residents Association, turnout 62.7%
  9. Loughton Broadway
    Jennifer Hart, Loughton Residents Association, turnout 57%
  10. Loughton Fairmead
    Tessa Cochrane, Loughton Residents Association, turnout 59.1%
  11. Loughton Forest
    Colin Finn, Loughton Residents Association, turnout 73%
  12. Loughton Roding
    Councillor Stephen Murray, Independent, turnout 68.8%
  13. Loughton St Johns
    Councillor John Markham, Loughton Residents Association, turnout 72.1%
  14. Loughton St Marys
    Richard Cohen, Loughton Residents Association, turnout 67.9%
  15. Lower Nazeing
    Yolanda Knight, Conservative, turnout 69%
  16. North Weald Bassett
    Councillor David Stallan, Conservative, turnout 67%
  17. Theydon Bois
    Susan Jones, Conservative, turnout 74.1%
  18. Waltham Abbey Honey Lane
    David Johnson, Conservative, turnout 59%
  19. Waltham Abbey Paternoster
    Councillor John Wyatt, Conservative, turnout 53.6%

UK Parliamentary Election Result

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Democracy, Elections, Leader, Your council

Eleanor Laing has been duly elected Member of Parliament for the Epping Forest constituency. Turnout was 66.95% which was up from 62.88% in 2005.

The full results are:

Katie Elizabeth CURTIS – The Labour Party – 6,641votes

Ann Mary HAIGH – Liberal Democrat – 10,017 votes

Eleanor Fulton LAING – The Conservative Party Candidate – 25,148 votes

Simon Benjamin PEPPER – The Green Party – 659 votes

Pat RICHARDSON – British National Party – 1,982 votes

Kim SAWYER – English Democrats Putting England First! – 285 votes

Andrew George SMITH – UK Independence Party (UK I P) – 1,852 votes

Cabinet Spotlight on Child Protection

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Leader, Meetings, Residents, Young people, Your community, Your council

The Cabinet meeting that took place on 8 March 2010 saw child protection proposals come under the spotlight as well as discussion on recycling and health.

Watch the webcastView the webcast of the Cabinet Meeting 8 March 2010

District Council seeks reassurance on Child Protection

Councillor Brian Rolfe, Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder introduced Mr Roger Bullen of Essex County Council to present a report on the Essex Children`s Trust Memorandum of Agreement.

Councillor Mitch Cohen questioned Mr Bullen closely on the purposes of the Memorandum. He explored the levels of independence Epping Forest District Council would retain to control its own policies and procedures in relation to children`s services.
Mr Bullen sought to reassure Councillors that the Memorandum would underpin the statutory obligations of the Essex Children`s Trust, rather than form an overarching influence.

Councillor Lesley Wagland, the Council`s elected representative on the West Essex Children`s Trust Board also expressed concerns. She drew comparison with Epping Forest District Council`s own policies and procedures particularly in relation to Safeguarding, which have been independently identified as `Best Practice`. Councillor Wagland felt that from a legal perspective, the Memorandum of Agreement as written was not specific enough in terms of expectations or requirements, leaving room for different interpretations by the various partners.

Councillor Ann Haigh, Chairman of the previous Children and Young People`s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) echoed many of Councillor Wagland`s concerns and emphasised the need to place the safeguarding of children first. Councillor Haigh also drew attention to the needs of smaller areas within the context of the overall requirements of West Essex. Councillor Haigh felt the Memorandum was premature and supported Councillor Wagland`s call not to support the document as currently worded.

Councillor Chris Whitbread suggested the document should not be signed at this time. Rather he felt that the good practice identified by independent audit at Epping Forest District Council should be examined more closely by Overview and Scrutiny to see how it might be taken forward. In the meantime, the District Council would assure Essex County Council that it would meet its legislative requirements and continue to work in partnership, while seeking assurances from Essex County Council towards enhancements of children`s services across the County.

Free recycling for schools, halls and places of worship

Free recycling services are to be extended to schools, village halls and religious services at places of worship. Epping Forest District Council`s Cabinet agreed to support the extension of free recycling across the district, mirroring similar services already available on household recycling collections from residents. Councillor Mary Sartin, Environment Portfolio Holder recommended the report to Cabinet.

Commercial businesses continue to be liable for charges for the collection of `trade waste`.

Health Service Consultation

Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens reported to members on the latest North East London health service consultation. He outlined a number of concerns expressed at Overview and Scrutiny Committee including funding and mental health services. Members were also unhappy at the uneven spread of consultation across the southern area of the district.

Watch the webcast

View the Overview and Scrutiny presentation and debate

Jim Axon Plain Old Country Boy Remembered

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Your council

Jim Axon

District Councillors and staff paid tribute and shared fond memories of former Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Jim Axon who passed away in December. Councillors and staff observed a minute`s silence at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 19 January 2010 before swapping anecdotes in affectionate recollection.

Councillor Antony Watts led the tributes. Jim Axon was an experienced Councillor when Councillor Watts was first elected in 1987. He was one of a group of Councillors, known collectively as `The Farmers`. Councillor Axon was indeed a farmer at that time and represented the Village of Theydon Bois. Councillor Watts said that he was a man of common sense and few words but forthright when he spoke and a man to turn to for advice. Although very much his own man, Jim Axon was strongly supported by his wife June.

As a Committee Officer, Ian Willett also remembered Jim Axon. He recalled to general mirth in the Council Chamber how Councillor Axon would appear at his office door with the words Ian, I`m just a plain old country boy but ¦ Everyone knew that he was anything but.

Councillors Stephen Murray, Richard Morgan and Roland Frankel made their own tributes. Councillor Murray described Jim Axon as an `independent thinker`, `fair-minded` and `someone who treated everyone with respect`. Councillor Morgan remembered how he spoke his mind. Councillor Frankel knew Jim Axon after he left the Council. He described how Jim Axon missed the Council and how the Council would miss him.

One of life`s characters, Ian Willett would joke with Jim Axon about the one pullover he allegedly wore for 20 years. Councillor Axon would reply that he had another at home `which he kept for best.`

Councillor Penny Smith the current Chairman of Epping Forest District Council thanked everyone for their tributes to a `genial and lovely man`.