Councillors voted themselves no ‘rise’ at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 20 December. Councillors are unpaid but receive an allowance to cover their costs – the basic allowance of £4,300 per councillor per year will remain unchanged in 2019/20.
Council Chairman Richard Bassett welcomed fellow councillors to the last meeting before Christmas. Earlier in the month, Councillor Bassett took part in an event to highlight the plight of homeless people sleeping rough. He said that one night sleeping rough had given him a completely different perspective. He thanked everyone who donated money to support his efforts on behalf of local homeless people.
Housing Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou then reported on the many steps taken by the Council to support homeless people and rough sleepers. Anyone concerned about rough sleepers can contact the Council’s Homelessness Support Team.
Councillor Bassett also made special mention of the inspiring special needs children and their parent he had met in Waltham Abbey
Environment Portfolio Holder Nigel Avey welcomed the recent government announcements on reuse and recycling. He emphasised the strategy for reducing plastic and the diversion of food waste – the main producer of methane gas – away from landfill. Councillor Avey repeated the widely publicised advice on how and when to recycle Christmas Trees in the New Year and also responded to concerns about the difficulty of recycling black plastic commonly used in food packaging.
In other environmental news, Special Project Portfolio Holder Alan Lion is to work on the delivery of charging points for electric cars across the District.
Leader highlights councils progress
Council Leaders Chris Whitbread reminded fellow councillors of the progress made by the Council over the last 12 months including additional police resources, the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre and the Council’s plans for the developments of St John’s Road and the new offices in North Weald.
He was also very pleased to confirm the news that Essex County Council has agreed to allow street lights to be turned on again throughout the night.
Sam Kane – Portfolio Holder for community safety reported on recent incidents in Loughton and cautioned against misleading and inaccurate social media reports.
Council Leader Chris Whitbread joined independent Councillor Stephen Murray in applauding the local foodbank and all those people who support it. He put on public record his hope that the Foodbank would approach the Council for funding.
Councillor John Philip confirmed arrangements for the public examination of the Local Plan to make sure as many people as possible can see the proceedings in person and via webcast.
Council approved £140,000 to complete alterations prior to letting commercial units on the ground floor of the new Landmark Building in Loughton Broadway. The new units are expected to generate rental income of £250,000 a year to support Council services.
In other matters, councillors approved the latest version of the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy, Licensing Act Policy and the appointment of various officers under the Council’s schedule of delegation.
Councillors put their thanks to Service Director Simon Hill on record. Mr Hill takes up a new appointment with Harlow District Council in January following 27 years of service to Epping Forest District Council. Councillor Bassett concluded by wishing fellow councillors a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.