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.