Measures to support the recovery of local businesses as the Country moves out of lockdown were discussed at the latest Cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council.
Cabinet also noted the latest Local Plan updates and approved additional public transport funding for the Demand Responsive Transport bus scheme (DaRT87).
View the meeting
Demand responsive transport
Cabinet agreed a further £85,000 to support the development of a Demand Responsive (DaRT) bus service in place of the cancelled 87 route bus service. In response to questions Councillor Nigel Avey, Portfolio Holder responsible the pilot project welcomed support for the service and highlighted plans to advertise the service more widely and accessibly, especially to older residents.
Councillors encouraged residents to give the new service a try as the district emerges from lockdown and opportunities for sustainable travel improve.
‘Click It Local’ in Epping Forest. Councillor John Philip, Cabinet Portfolio holder responsible for economic development was pleased to report the launch of Click It Local as a new online platform to promote local businesses and especially those small businesses in need of digital online promotion. Councillor Philip appealed to councillors and residents to find Click It Local online and support local businesses in post-Covid recovery.
Councillor John Philip also reported progress on the development of a new database for the Council to reach and support local businesses with information, help and potential procurement of council contracts. The benefits of signing up for businesses of all shapes and sizes was promoted by Council Leader Chris Whitbread who said that he wanted to see everyone from the sole trader to the largest companies in the District sign up. ‘For our part’ he said, ‘we will make sure we keep businesses posted of news and opportunities as we set out on the road to recovery.’
Councillor Sam Kane Portfolio Holder responsible for Customer Services announced the latest extension of grants for local businesses impacted by Covid.
Businesses already awarded grants under the ‘Additional Restrictions Grant Policy’ are receiving a further payment for the same amount. The scheme is also being extended to support
- £500 for taxi drivers licensed by EFDC
- £1,000 for driving instructors with Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) registration
- Support for kennels and catteries.
Cabinet approved up to £500,000 to fund key business support programmes.
Back to work
The long-term impact of Covid on jobs in Epping Forest is yet to become fully apparent.
Councillor Sam Kane was delighted to announce the imminent launch of DevelopMe on EFDC website to help people develop their careers as another part of the District’s Covid recovery.
Summarising the range of council initiatives to support economic recovery, Council Leader Chris Whitbread said that the Council was getting behind residents and businesses to play their part in the Bounce Back and to get the best out of the post Covid economy when the district starts to unlock from 12 April.
Local Plan Update and Sustainability Guidance
Councillors noted progress on strategic masterplans, concept frameworks and planning performance agreements (PPAs) within the District, including major projects and planning applications. Virtual meetings and workshops are taking place with site promoters and developers in accordance with project plans agreed within PPAs. Community engagement arrangements are being adjusted to take account of the disruption caused by Covid 19.
Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor Nigel Bedford also received Cabinet support for the new Epping Forest District and Harlow and Gilston Garden Town sustainability guidance. Key documents in supporting the emerging Local Plan, the guidance provides key elements in the Council’s climate change strategy.
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