Clean for the Queen, Council housing, reopening of the Epping Forest District Museum and customer services were among items discussed at Epping Forest Districts Councils Cabinet meeting 3 March 2016.
Clean for the Queen call at Cabinet
Councillors at Cabinet were invited to join Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Will Breare-Hall in Loughton to take part in Clean for the Queen. Councillor Breare-Hall extended his invitation to all members of the council to join him outside Epping Forest College on Friday morning. Council Leader Chris Whitbread was among those with weatherproof jackets and rubber gloves to take up the challenge.
Historic completion of first new Council Houses in decades
Following a series of planning application approvals the previous evening, Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor David Stallan brought Cabinet up to date with latest progress of the Council Housebuilding Cabinet Committee. Plans for more than 300 new homes are being developed. This is the first major expansion of the Council’s housing stock in decades including the £9million award of tender for the construction of 51 new homes in Burton Road Loughton.
Councillor Alan Lion congratulated Councillor Stallan and his team on the redevelopments at Marden Close and Faversham Hall in Chigwell Row, the first of the much-needed new homes to become available. Council Leader Chris Whitbread echoed the sentiment of other cabinet members including John Philip. Councillor Whitbread also emphasised the changes to the allocations policy designed to give local residents priority.
Lottery Funded Museum
With the reopening of Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey just a few weeks away, Councillor Whitbread also commended Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Councillor Helen Kane, and her team for the National Lottery funded expansion and refurbishment.
Improving customer services
Two important reports on the evolution of services were introduced by Councillor Whitbread. The Transformation Programme sets a course for review aimed at improvements to customer services and best value for money.
Work has already been carried out by staff to identify a variety of ways to improve customer contact including a single reception, corporate contact team and better use of technology. Councillors also approved proposals for appointing staff to new customer service and IT roles directly supporting transformation.
While Councillor Richard Bassett outlined the benefits transformation would bring to residents whether visiting the Council in person or accessing services online, Councillor Whitbread also noted the importance of continuing to streamline and improve efficiency as one of the key ways of keeping costs and Council Tax down.
Broadway Parking Review
Councillor Gary Waller, Safer Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder received Cabinet support for the start of the Loughton Broadway Parking Review. A targeted local approach will aim to take advantage of lessons learnt in earlier reviews. North Essex Parking Partnership are to be appointed for a scoping exercise leading to further reports on costs, timescales and the implementation strategy. £140,000 has already been identified with a further £40,000 allocation in the pipeline. Councillor Waller said that proper consultation would lead to a scheme beneficial the shoppers, traders and everyone living in Loughton Broadway.
Waltham Abbey Conservation Area
Councillors also approved the adoption and publication of the Character Appraisal and Management Plan for the Waltham Abbey Conservation Area.