Search for apprentices begins

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Jobs, Leader, Local business, Media, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

We’re looking for young people from the Epping Forest district to join our apprenticeship scheme.

Our scheme offers anyone between the ages of 16 to 18 a fantastic opportunity to earn while they learn and gain valuable qualifications and skills.

Apprenticeships

This group of apprentices is just the second group to be taken on in the new scheme. 9 apprentices were taken on in October 2013

  • all passed their qualifications
  • 3 achieved permanent employment and 3 will be taken on this summer
  • 2 moved on after we helped them find employment in other organisations
  • 1 of our apprentices (Louis Walton) won an award in the Epping Apprentice of the Year

How to apply

If you are interested and would like further information, please contact Sharon Chater or Wendy Grant at Essex ESU

Young people are the future

Leader of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “Apprenticeships can help develop the skills and knowledge needed in someone’s career. They can be especially beneficial for young people who have little or no experience of the workplace“

“I am very pleased that Epping Forest District Council is able to offer these apprenticeship posts. Young people are the future and I am delighted that this council is able to invest in them. We are a small council but provide a wide range of services, so there are a number of varied and interesting opportunities here. I would urge anyone who has finished school or college this summer and not sure of their next step to find out more about joining our apprenticeship scheme.”

The apprentices

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

Alfie Claxton recently secured a full time position in Council Tax said: “I am very pleased to be working in Council Tax as it is an environment that suits my style of working, when I joined this department in March I instantly felt like a member of the team. I am very proud to have achieved a job role with the council, I look forward to the challenges and workload ahead and will continue to work hard and develop my working career further.”

Louis Walton secured permanent in employment in Community Development in September 2014 said: “I am extremely pleased to have secured a permanent role within Community Services. The amount of experience and skills I have developed during my time on the Apprenticeship programme has and will continue to help me in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed my 6 month placement within Communities and I am looking forward to getting involved with the Epping Forest Youth Council as well as continuing my development with a Customer Service NVQ.”

Cheznee Marquis was appointed as Business Support Clerical Assistant at the end of 2014 said: “I knew that this was the department I wanted to work in after my placement there came to an end, I  really enjoyed my time there and the varied style of work, also the people are all so friendly.”

Find out more

 

Biffa improvement plan for waste and recycling

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Leader, Media, Meetings, Our countryside, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

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.

Chairman welcomes new Bishop

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Leader, Media, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

Chairman Liz Webster welcomed the newly elected Bishop of Barking to the Epping Forest district today on his ‘getting to know’ tour of his diocese.

The Right Reverend Peter Hill met senior members and officers from Epping Forest District Council at the civic offices in Epping as part of a 9-day diocesan tour.

Bishop of Barking visit

The Right Reverend Peter Hill was consecrated at St Pauls Cathedral in London last year He is visiting churches, schools and places of interest in the Barking Episcopal Area. This area covers Barking, Dagenham, Epping Forest, Harlow, Uttlesford, Havering, Newham and Waltham Forest. It has an estimated population of 1,481,000 and 180 churches.

Bishop of Barking visit

In the photo from left to right

  • Epping Forest and Ongar Area Dean Revd Joyce Smith
  • Bishop of Barking Right Reverend Peter Hill
  • Leader of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Chris Whitbread
  • Chairman of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Liz Webster
  • Rector of Waltham Abbey Church Revd Peter Smith
  • Epping Forest District Council Director of Communities Alan Hall

Privilege to meet

As he was leaving to visit the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey, Bishop Peter Hill said: “It has been a privilege to meet with the Chairman, Leader and Director of Communities at Epping Forest District Council, and hear about the significant community engagement that is being made with and for the district’s young people.”

 

Waste contractor taken to task

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Meetings, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

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.

Insurance

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.

 

Councillors allowances & expenses 2014/2015

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

Councillors are entitled to allowances and expenses to cover some of the costs of carrying out their public duties as they are not paid a salary. We are required to publish these amounts annually.

The amounts paid to Epping Forest District Council councillors in respect of basic and special responsibility allowances, travel and subsistence expenses, together with the special allowances paid to the chairman and vice-chairman are shown in the pdf below.

New chairman elected

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Elections, Leader, Media, Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council

At Annual Council on 28 May 2015 Councillor Liz Webster was elected as Chairman of Epping Forest District Council and Councillor Jeane Lea as Vice-Chairman for the 2015/2016 year.

New Chairman Cllr Liz Webster at the back with Vice-Chairman Cllr Jeane Lea

To view photos in a slideshow, click on a picture below and click start slideshow.

New Chairman

Councillor Liz Webster was nominated by Councillor Syd Stavrou as the new Chairman of Council. Liz Webster brings a highly distinguished record of service with Epping Forest District Council, Waltham Abbey Town Council, Essex County Council, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and other organisations.

Seconded by Councillor John Knapman, councillors voted unanimously to appoint Councillor Webster as the new Chairman. In his final words before relinquishing the chain of office, Councillor Boyce also thanked his wife Jan for her support during his year.

Councillor Webster’s first act as chairman was to announce that the Royal British Legion will be her charity for the next municipal year. She expressed her deep gratitude to fellow councillors as the first Waltham Abbey Councillor to hold the role since her late-husband Don Spinks in 1992.

Without a partner to accompany her on a regular basis to events, Councillor Webster invited ward councillors to be her companions as she visits places, people and events over the next year.

Vice-Chairman

Councillor Jeane Lea is the new Vice-Chairman of Council. Described as another formidable Waltham Abbey lady by Councillor Syd Stavrou, Councillor Lea’s nomination was seconded by Councillor Ann Mitchell.

New Councillors welcomed

Newly elected councillors Nigel Avey, Nigel Bedford, Lynn Hughes and Sam Kane were welcomed to the first meeting of Epping Forest District Council since the local elections in May. Outgoing chairman Councillor Tony Boyce entered the chamber for his last meeting as chairman to the strains of Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’.

Councillor Boyce thanked fellow councillors for their support over the previous year. In particular he drew attention to the support of Assistant Director Simon Hill and former chairman Mary Sartin for their guidance during a very successful municipal year.

Councillor Boyce announced with pride the purchase of a mini-bus with £9,000, part of a grand total of £24,000 raised for his charities during the year. Reminiscing about his favourite events Councillor Boyce reminded fellow councillors of the arrival of the Tour de France and the holiday atmosphere it generated across the district.

He also made special mention of the Chairman’s Officer Pat Seager who was not afraid to offer honest advice and humour.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Council led the tributes to Councillor Boyce, bringing a smile to the council chamber during a ‘brilliant and wonderful year’. Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens echoed those sentiments, drawing attention to the energy and dedication with which Councillor Boyce served the district. Chief Executive Glen Chipp thanked Councillor Boyce on behalf of staff.

Leader and Cabinet

Councillor Chris Whitbread was reappointed to the role of Council Leader and announced his Cabinet

Other key appointments included the reappointment of Councillor Brian Sandler as chairman of District Development Management Committee and Councillor Richard Morgan as chairman of Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Former Councillor Peter Gode retired from the Council in May and received a long service medal for his 12 years of service to the people of the Shelley ward in Ongar.

 

Housing schemes move forward at Cabinet

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Crime and safety, Housing, Leader, Meetings, Your council, Your home

Cabinet 9 March 2015

Housing moves forward

More council housing is in the pipeline. Twelve feasibility studies covering sites in Loughton, Stanford Rivers, North Weald, Epping and Coopersale are to be taken forward to the next stage following Cabinet approval at Epping Forest District Council on Monday 9 March. The recommendations put forward by Housing Portfolio Holder David Stallan were originally discussed in detail at the Housebuilding Cabinet Committee in December.

Cabinet also supported revisions to the Council’s Tenancy Policy and Housing Allocations Scheme following extensive reviews by the Housing Scrutiny Panel. Councillors added a recommendation to review the Tenancy Policy again after two years. Presenting the report on behalf of the Panel, Councillor Stephen Murray stressed the high level of consultation with the Tenants and Leaseholders Federation.

On a busy night for Councillor Murray, he then took councillors through his Panel’s report on proposed enhancements and improvements to the Council’s housing service in 2015/16 including further funding of the CAB and services delivered at Limes Farm, Chigwell.

Corporate Plan – Vision

Council Leader Chris Whitbread introduced ‘a positive vision and aspiration’ for the district over the next five years in the new Epping Forest District Council Corporate Plan. Having been supported previously at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Plan will be recommended to the meeting of all councillors at Full Council for approval and adoption.

Safeguarding

Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder Gary Waller updated councillors on safeguarding at Epping Forest District Council. Reminding councillors of high-profile cases in other areas, and the importance of training for staff and councillors, he welcomed the Council’s investment in safeguarding and revisions to the Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

Nominating parking schemes to Essex County Council NEPP

Councillor Waller was also given authority to nominate minor parking and waiting restriction schemes for consideration to the North Essex Parking Partnership. Councillors welcomed the steps to increase the speed at which schemes are taken forward. The NEPP manages on-street parking regulation and enforcement under Essex County Council highways authority.

Council tax frozen for fifth year

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Consultation, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Media, Meetings, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Epping Forest District Council set a nil-increase Council Tax precept for the fifth year in succession on 17 February 2015. The average band D charge for a property will remain at £148.77 a year. Council Leader Councillor Chris Whitbread commended the new budget and Council Tax for approval. The new budget comes into effect in April.

Council Tax breakdown of the average band D bill for 2015/2016

Zero increase in Council Tax

The zero increase in Council Tax has been achieved despite central government funding reduction of approximately 60% over the last 5 years. The books have been balanced and significant projects are going forward. The first new council houses to be built in decades are due to be completed this year. The new waste management and recycling contract commenced just before Christmas will provide an enhanced service and several hundred thousands of pounds savings to the budget each year. The council is moving forward with investment plans for a retail park at Langston Road to generate jobs for local people as well as income for council services.

Thanks in large part to a £1million bid for lottery funding, the council continues to invest in cultural services with the redevelopment of the Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey. The council is working hard to ensure it can meet the aspirations of local residents following consultation on the future of St John’s Road in Epping.

Resources will continue to be channelled into the production of a new Local Plan for Epping Forest. The plan is nearing the next public consultation stage with emphasis on balancing the need for jobs, housing and other development with protection and conservation of the local environment. The council will also continue to work hard on behalf of those residents in greatest need, maintaining resources to prevent homelessness before it occurs, providing benefits to people, and generating growth in the local economy for jobs.

Reduction in government funding

Finance Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou reminded councillors of the long process leading to the completion of the budget. A 14.2% reduction in central government funding was welcomed by councillor Stavrou insofar as the cut was slightly less than expected, leading the council to a slightly better overall position of approximately £75,000. Councillor Stavrou also listed better than expected returns on Business Rates and the New Homes Bonus. Councillor Stavrou said that it was a sign of the strength of the Housing Revenue Account that the council could build new homes with a rent increase of only 2.2% next year. The council’s total gross revenue expenditure for 2015/16 will be £123 million.

Despite the strength of the council budgets, Councillor Stavrou said that the Council retained a responsibility to avoid complacency and continue to search for savings. To that end she also noted a small invest to save budget specifically to support new ideas for efficiency and future savings.

Epping Forest District Council has been a low-tax council for many years. Council Stavrou said that this was how she intended it to remain.

Councillors across the council chamber broadly supported the new budget. Councillor Chris Pond spoke for the Loughton Residents Association, identifying differences on points of detail while supporting the main features of the new budget. Councillor Jon Whitehouse, speaking for the Liberal Democrat Group was also in agreement with the broad principles of the budget while looking for detailed changes to items on car-parking tariffs and voluntary sector funding. An amendment to reflect his suggestions was defeated.

A good budget for local people

Council Leader Chris Whitbread strongly recommended the District Council budget. Speaking after the meeting, Council Leader Chris Whitbread said: “This is a good budget for local people, for the 5th year we have been able to freeze the council tax whilst finding savings and protecting the services we all care about.”

Safeguarding

Earlier in the meeting, councillors were wished a happy New Year by Council Chairman Tony Boyce as they gathered for the first meeting of the Full Council since Christmas. Moving swiftly from the tongue-in-cheek greeting, Councillor Boyce read the contents of a letter from Crisis at Christmas thanking him and the council for supporting its work over the festive season.

Councillor Gary Waller followed up the chairman’s comments with a statement about the importance of safeguarding at Christmas and throughout the year. He urged councillors to take advantage of the latest training available to help them where they might become aware of domestic abuse or other safeguarding issues through their official duties.

No increase in Council Tax

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Housing, Leader, Local business, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Older people, Ongar, Out and about, Parking, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Another freeze in Council Tax is being recommended by the Epping Forest District Council Cabinet on 2 February 2015.

The council has not increased its Council Tax charge of £148.77 for an average Band D property for 5 years. The zero increase in Council Tax has been achieved despite central government funding reduction of approximately 60% over the last 5 years.

Read the agenda

Central government funding

Finance Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou also provided details of the significant income from investments. As central government funding continues to decline, councillors are looking long-term towards making Epping Forest District Council less dependent on grant.

Councillor Stavrou expressed delight that among the financial achievements was an investment budget of £33 million for new council housing, while stressing the duty to continue searching for savings on council budgets wherever possible.

Thanks to the robust and prudent management of the council’s finances, Councillor Stavrou received support to create a new ‘invest to save’ budget of £500,000. This will be used specifically to put money into projects designed to make long term savings. Epping Forest District Council remains a low-tax council.

Council Leader Chris Whitbread welcomed the budget report. He described it as a really good budget, protecting front line services while never forgetting that it is residents’ money. Every pound should be spent as carefully possible.

Council house building programme

Earlier in the meeting, Councillor David Stallan Housing portfolio holder updated Cabinet on the new council house building programme including progress at Faversham Hall and Marden Close, and ground-breaking for the first completely new properties in Waltham Abbey. Further consideration is being given to plans for the development of council housing at Burton Road in Loughton.

Councillor Whitbread invited Councillor Stallan and Assistant Director Paul Pledger to elaborate on the design standards being applied to new council housing. Councillor Whitbread went on to emphasise the importance of delivering high-quality homes in the shortest possible timeframe to meet the needs of local people.

Work continues to provide off-street parking on council housing estates. Councillor Stallan reported on the completion of 182 spaces at an average cost of £3,340 per bay. Councillors received an updated list of schemes to come including two new sites in Waltham Abbey.

The next 8 schemes subject to consultation with residents and planning applications are

  1. Roundhills (Red Cross site), Waltham Abbey
  2. Etheridge Green, Loughton
  3. Watermans Way, North Weald
  4. Alderwood Close, Abridge
  5. Tillingham Court, Waltham Abbey
  6. Sycamore House, Buckhurst Hill
  7. Roundhills (Site 4), Waltham Abbey
  8. Rochford Green, Loughton

Councillor Stallan stressed that schemes can only go forward with the support of local residents. Councillors are also to look carefully at the potential impact of new council house building projects on off-street parking schemes.

Car parking strategy

The revised pay and display car parking strategy was presented by Portfolio Holder Gary Waller. The strategy sees some modest increases in income from council-run car park tariffs. Parking charges will be kept lower in Waltham Abbey and Ongar which do not benefit from ready access to London Underground stations. The new structure seeks to protect local town centre businesses and shoppers while also investing in maintaining and improving the car parking services.

Weekend shoppers will continue to enjoy free parking for the first 2 hours of their stay where car parks were previously free, but will have to pay £1 after that. The half hour 10p weekday charge will increase to 20p. New ‘smart meters’ and additional CCTV are among the improvements to convenience and security.

Ongar Academy

There is good news for the district’s children. Cabinet provided support for the new Ongar Academy secondary school by agreeing the principle of selling 8.98 hectares of land next to Ongar Leisure Centre. The value of the site to be used by the new school is yet to be assessed.

 

Council Leader talks to the Guardian

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Council tax, Councillors, Housing, Leader, Local business, North Weald Airfield, Our attractions, Recycling and waste, Supporting business, Your council, Your home, Your money

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council has responded to a request from the Epping Forest Guardian for his reflections on the past year and some thoughts on the future.


Councillor Whitbread is also a local businessman based in Epping.

Councillor Whitbread says that looking back, 2014 was a generally good year for Epping Forest District Council. The Tour de France stands out as a fantastic event and showed what can be achieved by the community. He is optimistic about the local economy, saying that it has definitely picked up with busier high streets.

The Council continued to cut costs and improve services such as the new waste and recycling contract. Councillor Whitbread says it was with great pride that councillors started building new council houses for local families for the first time in many years.   However, the year was tinged with a note of sadness as the Council lost three dear friends and colleagues, Councillors Penny Smith and Ken Avey and former Councillor Joan Davis.

Looking ahead, Councillor Whitbread says the Council faces further challenging savings targets but he is confident and committed to protecting services that matter to residents as well as keeping the Council Tax low. He explains that Epping Forest District Council has always used its assets to fund services. It has industrial estates, shopping parades and North Weald Airfield.

Following the award of the new refuse and recycling collection contract, the Council is looking to turn Langston Road depot in Loughton into a brand new retail park. As the income from the park comes on stream in years to come, Councillor Whitbread says there is good reason to be confident for council services going forward.