Cabinet 20 April 2009

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A reduction in the number of gypsy and traveller pitches, recovery of money from the collapsed Icelandic Banks and changes to the recycling service were all on the cabinet agenda for Monday 20 April 2009.

Watch the webcastView webcast of cabinet meeting on 20 April 2009 (opens in a new window)

Gypsy and Traveller Consultation

Epping Forest District Council is telling the Government that not more than 20 additional gypsy and traveller pitches should be allocated to the District. Councillor Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder told the Cabinet that the Government had already reduced the number of pitches provisionally allocated to the District from 49 to 34. However, the Cabinet endorsed her recommendation that the Council should argue for further reductions.

Later in the meeting Councillor Anne Grigg gave further feedback to Cabinet on gypsy and traveller site consultation. Potential sites are to be categorised depending on apparent suitability. Cabinet also noted a sustainability appraisal by Essex County Council will be published for a six week public consultation.

The scale of the gypsy and traveller consultation work has created extra work for staff leading to delays in the Core Strategy of the Local Development Framework. Cabinet considered future staffing requirements. Members felt that the creation of a temporary Senior Planning Officer post within the Forward Planning section would better serve the needs of the Council rather than continue to employ a consultant.

Icelandic Bank

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Portfolio Holder with responsibility for Finance and Performance Management presented details on the Annual Report of the Executive for 2008/9. Director of Finance, Bob Palmer was invited to provide an update on recovery of money from the collapsed Heritable Bank. Mr Palmer said that the Administrators were indicating that councils would receive between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of money deposited with Heritable.

Grant Aid

Grant Aid ranging from a few hundred pounds to many thousands is made by Epping Forest District Council each year. The Cabinet approved changes to the way the council makes grants to community Groups. Councillor Syd Stavrou, Community Well-being Portfolio Holder outlined the adoption of a `score-card` system for assessing grants and restrictions on applications from groups outside the district. The Council will positively welcome applications from local groups that have never previously applied.

Bobbingworth Tip

Councillor Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder reported on remaining work to the former Bobbingworth Tip near Moreton. The former landfill site is due to open to the public as a wild flower meadow and park in the near future.

Flood Alleviation

Flood Alleviation works have been completed under budget. Councillor Richard Bassett, Civil Engineering and Maintenance Portfolio Holder reported on the return of £100,000 to the council`s coffers.

Climate Change

The Nottingham Declaration signed by Epping Forest District Council commits councils to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change. A key requirement is the production of a Climate Change Strategy. Cabinet supported the adoption of the draft strategy.

Disabled Adaptations

Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor David Stallan received Cabinet support for proposed re-allocation of £200,000 from the Major Repairs Reserve to clear a back-log of outstanding disabled adaptations. The recommendations will be referred to Full Council.

New Refuse and Recycling Service

The revised Domestic Refuse and Recycling service will start on 7 September 2009. Cabinet agreed proposals by Councillor Mary Sartin for the procurement process of wheeled bins, food waste containers and five new refuse collection vehicles.

Grounds Maintenance

Cabinet also agreed to make a recommendation to Full Council for arrangements to buy six new Ford Transit vehicles for the Grounds Maintenance Section.

News from the Cabinet

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News from the Cabinet meeting held on 9 March 2009.

Agenda and decisions for Cabinet meeting on 9 March 2009
View webcast of Cabinet meeting on 9 March 2009 (opens in a new window)

The Meadows – Legal Costs

Legal costs of £7,250 awarded against Epping Forest District Council reminded Councillors of the risk of swift action to prevent unauthorised traveller encampments. Members of the Council`s Cabinet agreed to make the payment after the Council sought an injunction to prevent travellers moving on to The Meadows, land south of Waltham Road, Nazeing last October.

The site, an overgrown field was subject to clearance, leading local residents and the Council to suspect that the work was in preparation for use by travellers. Council Officers faced a dilemma of taking swift action based on incomplete information or potentially waiting too long for more information and being unable to prevent a potential incursion.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: We are disappointed with the Judge`s decision to award costs against us. I think there was significant cause for us to be concerned. Residents would not have thanked us, had we waited until it was too late to take effective action. Despite the financial risk, faced with the same circumstances in the future, I think most of our residents would want us to act decisively again.

Relaxation of Shared Ownership Rules

The economic downturn has led to a reduction in demand for new shared ownership housing. Members of the Cabinet agreed proposals to relax the requirement for shared ownership elements to new social housing schemes, providing greater flexibility to housing associations for the development of social rented housing or the use of a ` Rent Now – Buy Later ` scheme where tenants pay an intermediate rent of around 80 per cent of market rent until they can afford to buy a share of the property. Cabinet Members agreed to keep the policy under six monthly review.

Home Ownership Grants

The Council`s own pilot home ownership grants scheme has been very successful and is to be extended. Five families have so far used or are taking up the offer of £34,000 grants to move out of a Council house in order to buy private property. Council properties vacated through the scheme can be re-let to other families or individuals on the Council`s Housing Register in need of affordable rented housing. The Cabinet agreed the provision of five additional grants for 2009/10.

Councillors Visit The Broadway

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Councillors Diana Collins and Anne Grigg lend a hand

The Leader of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Diana Collins and the Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder Councillor Anne Grigg visited The Broadway in Loughton on Wednesday 28 January 2009. They met with representatives of local traders and reassured them that every effort is being made to reduce the impact on local businesses whilst work to regenerate the area is being carried out.

This is following concerns expressed earlier by local traders and residents at a Town Centre Partnership meeting that steps should be taken to minimise disruption to businesses and residents. A number of steps have been taken to keep the Broadway accessible for traders and shoppers.

Access is being maintained to all the shops on The Broadway, only the eastbound carriageway has been shut for now. Crossing over points have been provided so shoppers can get from one side of The Broadway to the other, Vere Road Car Park has been re-designated for short-stay and permit holders only and free parking has been retained for The Broadway.

Councillors and local traders view work at the Broadway

Councillor Diana Collins said: I understand the concerns of local traders but every effort is being made to minimise the impact of this scheme to local traders and shoppers. Unfortunately large engineering projects can cause disruption but at the end we will have a much improved and enhanced town centre.

Provisional Site Allocation Reduced

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Go East, the regional office of the Government says the provisional allocation of additional gypsy and traveller site pitches for Epping Forest district has been reduced by ten from 49 to 39. The announcement is contained in the Examination in Public (EiP) Report into the Review of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation in the East of England published on 18 December 2008. The EiP report now forms the basis of recommendations to the Government which will hold further consultation before issuing its final allocations next year.

Councillors and Planning Officers have consistently argued for a reduction in the number of pitches allocated to Epping Forest district. While Councillors feel the allocation remains unfairly high for Epping Forest in comparison to other districts, the reduction is a vindication of their stance. The Council will continue to press for further reductions.

The reduction for Epping Forest district is in marked contrast to most other parts of the region. Overall, the EiP has increased the regional allocation of extra traveller and gypsy pitches by a further 50 from 1,187 to 1,237.

The Government announcement comes as residents continue to respond to local consultation on the future provision of traveller and gypsy sites in the district.

Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: The announcement is a move in the right direction but I don`t think it goes far enough. Local residents are very concerned about the high number of extra traveller and gypsy pitches the district is being asked to accommodate. Epping Forest district already has more gypsy and traveller accommodation than most other areas. Even with the potential reduction from 49 to 39 extra pitches, we are still being asked to take substantially more than many other areas. We will continue to argue for further reductions.

The Secretary of State will consider the Review of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation in the East of England and the recommendations of the EiP before issuing any proposed changes in the Spring. There will then be a further period of consultation. Go East says that the Secretary of State will publish the finalised policy in the Summer of 2009.

Cabinet Decisions 15 December

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In a step that Councillors hope will help local retailers, the Cabinet of Epping Forest District Council has agreed that there will be no increase in pay and display car park prices next year. Instead, any increased spending on car parks will be met from a further £60,000 of savings identified within the Council`s current budget. The Cabinet also reaffirmed its intention not to increase the District`s Council Tax precept by more than 2.5 per cent.

Watch the webcastwebcast of cabinet meeting on 15 December 2008
(opens in a new window)

Epping Forest District Council already provides some of the lowest pay and display car parking fees in Essex and the surrounding area, with the cheapest ticket costing 10 pence. Some free parking is also available in each of the district`s principle towns on Saturdays. All of the district`s pay and display car parks are also free on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Civil Engineering and Maintenance Portfolio Holder confirmed that the freeze on charges would not mean any cuts in other services. He said: Council staff have managed to find savings in the budget and we will still continue with our improvement plans. Bakers Lane Car Park in Epping will benefit from investment of £120,000 including new lighting, CCTV, drainage, resurfacing and lining. Everyone knows that the Country is facing difficult economic times in the New Year. I hope that these measures will go some way towards helping our businesses by encouraging people to shop locally.

In another move to address the problems of people finding themselves victims of the economic downturn, the Cabinet recommended a bid to the Full Council of £20,000 for a scheme to help people afford rental payments in the private sector. Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor David Stallan hopes the extra money will go to the Rental Loan Scheme from next April and will help to deal with any potential increase in people forced to register with the Council as homeless after home-repossessions.

In other matters discussed by the Cabinet held on 15 December, Councillor Mary Sartin gained approval for the Council to take on powers to remove untaxed cars from the district`s roads. National statistics suggest that 80 per cent of untaxed cars also lack insurance and many are also found to be unroadworthy. The presence of such vehicles is also linked to criminal activity and it is hoped that their removal will lead to a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour.

Council Pays Tribute to Local Hero

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Tributes to Georgie Sparks at the Epping memorial

Councillors from Epping Forest District Council stood in silence at the beginning of the Council meeting on Tuesday 16 December 2008 in tribute to Royal Marine Georgie Sparks who was killed in action in Afghanistan.

 

Tributes at the Epping memeorial

Personal tributes were paid by Chairman of Council John Knapman and Council Leader Diana Collins. The Council offered its condolences to his family and friends including his sister Katie.

Watch the webcastwebcast of Council meeting on Tuesday 16 December 2008 (opens in a new window)

The following article first appeared on the website www.everythingeppingforest.co.uk (opens in a new window)

Epping came to a standstill on Saturday morning as the town remembered Royal Marine Georgie Sparks who was killed in action in Afghanistan. Hundreds of people packed into St John’s Church to pay tribute to the serviceman, on what would have been his 20th birthday.

A guard of honour stood outside as Royal Marine colleagues carried his coffin, draped in a Union flag, into the church. Georgie died along with Marine Tony Evans after both were on foot patrol with J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines. They were north-west of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, when they moved on to the roof of a compound. There was an attack by insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and both were badly wounded.

Colleagues and war veterans joined members of Georgie’s family and local dignitaries – including Epping mayor Ben Murphy and Epping Forest District Council chairman John Knapman for his funeral service which included tributes from Georgie’s sister, Katie. She described how proud she was to have a brother like Georgie – who was known as Sparky to his friends – and also paid tribute to the four Marines who just hours earlier had also been killed in Afghanistan.

Mr Murphy told the everythingeppingforest website: “Today was obviously a highly emotional day for our town, the Royal Marine Corps, and for a family who have had to say goodbye to their brave son on his 20th birthday, just a week before Christmas.” He added: “Family, friends and comrades paid tribute to a remarkable, dedicated young man who valued his family enormously. This young man chose coming home to see his family every weekend he could over going out on the town with his fellow Marines.”

Epping High Street was closed to traffic as shoppers stood in silence. Several men removed their hats as a mark of respect as Georgie’s coffin, flanked by Royal Marines, made its way to the church. Mr Murphy said: “Today, Epping was shown the hard reality this country faces from fighting in a war against terrorism and injustice on behalf of those who are unable to defend themselves. We are all so proud of this young man who wasn’t afraid to stand up and be counted and who sadly lost his life doing so. May he rest in peace eternal.”

Georgie and colleague Tony Evans both received immediate medical attention after they were injured and were moved to a secure location before being put on a helicopter to be transferred back to Camp Bastion. However both died during the flight.

Georgie joined the Royal Marines in June 2006 and passed out from training in July 2007, joining 42 Commando a few days later. During his time at 42 Commando he qualified as a sniper. His parents, Wayne and Toni, and sister, Katie, said: “We have lost our best friend as well as our son. We are so very proud of Georgie – he always wanted to be a Royal Marine. Georgie loved the outdoors – fishing, shooting, paintballing – and was very close to his family.

We miss him so much.” Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stickland Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said: “Marine Georgie Sparks was a quiet, understated professional. He lost his life fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with his comrades, covering their actions with his expert sniper skills.”

EFYC Funding

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At the meeting on 10 November 2008, the Cabinet received a report on funding for the Epping Forest Youth Council (EFYC) for 2009 to 2010. The Cabinet requested the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to receive a presentation from the Youth Council giving an update on developing the Youth Council Programme.

Epping Forest Youth Councillors Claire Gilbert, Holly Whitbread, Alex Martin and Gabrielle Compton attended Overview and Scrutiny on 11 December 2008. Claire Gilbert gave an excellent overview of what the Youth Councillors have been doing this year from a running a district-wide piece of young persons` consultation to organising the recent Big Youth Debate at Woolston Manor.

Epping Forest Youth Councillor Claire Gilbert said: We were able to categorise our main priorities, as 17 individual young people working in sub-groups and have developed four of our five priority areas: Activities, Transport, Environment and Safety issues. In the second year of their term of office, they see firm action through these working groups replacing monthly training needs as the driving force of the Epping Forest Youth Council.

Youth Councillors have been formally contacted through the Council`s website by a number of young people and organisations wishing to use the Youth Council as a consultation sounding board and seek Members` support and involvement. This has included different departments from within the Council – Planning Services, the Safer Communities Partnership, Environmental Services and Community and Cultural Services, as well as external organisations including West Essex PCT, Epping Forest College and the Children and Young People`s Strategic Partnership.

Youth Councillors visited the Langston Road depot

During the summer Youth Councillors toured the district visiting a number of sites including: the proposed new site of the Loughton Youth Project next to Loughton Library, Loughton Police Station, Langston Road depot site and Ongar Sports Centre. The tour gave the Members a far greater geographic perspective of the district and enabled them to meet and discuss issues with a local Acting Police Inspector, a senior Connexions worker, a Recycling Officer and a Sports Centre Manager.

Epping Forest Youth Councillor Claire Gilbert said: We also see more face-to-face work in the community as a vital component of our second year success. Some of our Members have worked very hard to raise the expectations of their School Council and hold them to task in promoting young people`s initiatives. In this second year, we want to build on the good work of local schools` partnerships by holding Youth Councillor drop-in surgeries at lunchtimes and after school and getting more young people engaged in local issues and the opportunities that are out there.

Their last training session was organised by Community Development Officer Gill Wallis which gave them an introduction to the Chairmen of the four Young People`s Action Groups: Essex Road Safety, Essex Drugs and Alcohol Service, Essex Youth Offending Team and West Essex PCT. They feel that as an elected group, not only must they voice the views of young people to these sorts of service providers but also have a role to play in voicing the services that are being provided back to young people – especially those provided by Epping Forest District Council.

    To date, Epping Forest Youth Council have been successful in securing external funding to the sum of £11,132. This has been made up as follows:

  • £5,500 from the West Essex Area Forum
  • £2,200 from the Epping Forest Children and Young People`s Strategic Partnership
  • £1,832 from the Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital Fund
  • £1,000 from the Grange Farm Trust
  • £300 from the Loughton Youth Project
  • £300 from the Jack Petchey Foundation

Epping Forest Youth Councillor Claire Gilbert said: Without funding from Epping Forest District Council of a similar sum of approximately £12,000 to support our training, meeting, transport and general revenue costs we would not have been able to run this year. On behalf of all our Members I would like to thank Epping Forest District Council for this support and formally request that the same level of support, in the sum of £12,000 be made available for the Youth Council in the next financial year.

Epping Forest Youth Council has successfully developed over the last nine months as a valuable resource to Epping Forest District Council. The 17 Youth Councillors, who are aged between 13 and 17 years, have undertaken a wide range of training and development to support them in their roles and have each taken specific responsibility for a portfolio or area of business.

Stakeholders Rise to the Challenge

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Local MPs, the Leader of Epping Forest District Council, the Chief Executive of the West Essex Primary Care Trust and the Western Division Chief Superintendent of Essex Police are just some of the high-profile people who have accepted the invitation of the Epping Forest Youth Council to attend an evening of debate with young people from across the Epping Forest District.

Local MPs Eleanor Laing, Eric Pickles and Bill Rammell have all agreed to take a place on the panel that will face questioning by their young local constituents from various school councils, youth groups and other backgrounds.

On the panel will also be the Leader of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Diana Collins and Deputy Chief Executive Derek Macnab, as well as Essex County Council Cabinet member Councillor Ray Gooding, Children, Young People and Families Officer Lonica Vanclay and Transport Officer, Nick Roberts. In addition, the panel will include West Essex Primary Care Trust Chief Executive Aidan Thomas, Police Chief Superintendent Timothy Stokes and renowned Musician/Actor and Youth Charity Worker Shovell, of `M-People` fame.

The panel consists of individuals who are qualified to answer questions on all of the themed topics of a recent young people`s survey, conducted by Epping Forest Youth Council.

Youth Councillor Reece Williams said: We are really encouraged by how forthcoming the panel members have been in attending the Big Youth Debate. This really sends out a positive message that authorities such as the Police, the Health Service and our local Councils want to work with young people, which is really good. We, as young people, have to make sure that we make the most of this opportunity.

Councillor Diana Collins, who has been a big supporter of the Epping Forest Youth Council said: The Youth Council have done very well to consult with over 850 of their peers. I am looking forward with interest to hearing their conclusions regarding local crime and safety, environmental and transport issues.

There are still a few places available for young people aged 11 to 19 to attend the Big Youth Debate event, which takes place at Woolston Manor Golf Club, Chigwell on Wednesday 19 November 2008 from 6:30pm. Anyone interested should contact the Council`s Young Persons` Officer Nick Robinson on 01992 564365.

Council 25 September 2008

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A report and link to webcast of the full Council meeting held in the Council chamber at the Civic Offices on Thursday 25 September 2008.

To view this webcast click on the link below and then click on the index points tab to go direct to the agenda item.

Watch the webcastCouncil meeting 25 September 2008 webcast
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Members of the Epping Forest District Council stood in silent tribute to former Councillor Roger Buddock who recently passed away. Councillor Stephen Murray, a fellow Loughton ward Councillor remembered Roger Buddock fondly as a man who still held a high reputation locally for the good work he carried out for his residents during two periods on the District Council between 1980 and 1988 and again from 1991 to 1995. Councillor Murray also thanked the current Vice Chairman of Council, Councillor Mrs Penny Smith for attending the funeral.

Councillor Knapman reported his thanks to everyone who contributed £6,000 to his charities at a recent golf day.

Portfolio Report – Local Education

Councillor Diana Collins, Leader of Council reported on a series of information gathering visits to local secondary schools and Epping Forest College where she met the new Principal. Further visits have been arranged for Councillor Collins, accompanied by the leader of Essex County Council, the local education Authority.

Community Wellbeing

Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou was pleased to report a fall in crime across the District. She then drew attention to the ‘Not in my Neighbourhood’ initiative, safety testing of electric blankets and work with the Essex Fire and Rescue Service. Councillor Stavrou concluded by recommending Members to attend the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at which representatives of West Essex Primary Care Trust would be answering questions.

Questions

Members of the Cabinet were quizzed by other Councillors in a series of questions without notice. Civil Engineering and Maintenance Portfolio Holder, Richard Bassett was particularly busy answering questions ranging from recent gridlock in Chigwell to parking restrictions in Loughton.

Credit Union

Councillor Mrs Janet Whitehouse placed a motion before Members, calling on the Council to support a local Credit Union. Credit Unions help people on low incomes to access loans at low interest rates and one supported by many voluntary and religious organisations. All Members supported the motives and after some debate and technical amendments the motion was carried unanimously.

    Other major items debated by Full Council included:

  • Adoption of the Essex Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy
  • Adoption of the Development and Design Brief for Loughton Broadway
  • Supplementary estimates for the completion of the Bobbingworth Tip project
  • Future options for North Weald Airfield
  • Re-approval of the Statutory Statement of Accounts for 2007 to 2008
  • Nominations for the Governing Body of Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust

Cabinet 6 October 2008

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Local residents filled the public gallery as the Cabinet met to discuss draft proposals to consult on Traveller and Gypsy site provision.

In a report, councillors heard that the Council had been directed to identify land for 49 pitches up to 2011. More pitches are required thereafter.

To view this webcast click on the link below and then click on the index points tab to go direct to the agenda item.

Watch the webcastCabinet meeting 6 October 2008 webcast
(opens in a new window)

Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development, Councillor Ann Grigg made it clear that the Council had no choice. She explained that 27 potential sites had been identified using criteria such as schools, health and employment. None of these sites was agreed or set in stone. The consultation process would allow local people to express their views before the Council made recommendations to the Government. She added that any proposals would be assessed in a formal Examination in Public (EiP).

The Council`s Planning Consultant Andrew Lainton acknowledged how sensitive and controversial the process could be. He outlined the steps in consultation including public exhibitions, work with town and parish councils as well as dealing directly with landowners and concerned residents.

Mr Lainton emphasised that objections needed to be based on evidence. The inspectors at the EiP would be looking for reasons why one site might be better or worse than another.

Councillor Richard Bassett said that it was very important for people to have their say. He felt they must have good guidance. Andrew Lainton replied that guidance notes would form part of the consultation document.

Councillor David Stallan asked for reassurances that exhibitions would be given maximum publicity. Councillor Grigg said she would try to reach every single person in the district.

Councillor Mrs Grigg said that this was not a definitive list and hoped people would come forward with their own suggestions.

Responding to further questions, Mrs Grigg said that failure to carry out consultation would lead to the Government sending an Inspector to impose a solution.

Councillor Richard Bassett raised the issue of the number of pitches, and the influence of large concentrations in small areas. The debate then broadened out with some councillors expressing feelings about the way in which the Government was directing the process.

At the conclusion of the report to Cabinet, Councillor Mrs Grigg answered public questions. She explained that where two large potential sites lay side-by-side at Crooked Mile both could not go ahead.

Rumours of an imminent compulsory purchase were also dismissed by John Preston, the Director of Planning and Economic Development.

    Other items debated by Cabinet included:

  • reports of the Finance and Performance Cabinet Committee
  • funding for the Local Development Framework
  • playing fields at Ongar Leisure Centre
  • waste management
  • the Capital Programme
  • cost awards following a recent planning appeal
  • fire cover at North Weald Airfield