Last night Cabinet agreed a £6m contract for the refurbishment of the Civic Offices in Epping which will kickstart the rejuvenation of Epping Town Centre.
Work starts next month and will pave the way for new housing on the site of the adjacent 1960s Conder office block and rear car park, bringing investment in jobs, the local economy, housing and public services to the town.
Council Leader Chris Whitbread welcomed the decision, saying it offers an excellent opportunity to support the town, its businesses and the local community in the post Covid recovery.
This refurbishment, our accommodation strategy and St John’s road project are all part of our vision for the future and together with our High Street recovery plan will help us move forward in the post Covid recovery.
The recommendation was agreed without dissent.
Recovery of town centres was high on the agenda with Cllr Aniket Patel, Cabinet Member for Commercial and Regulatory Services tasked with setting up a group to drive the post Covid recovery Cabinet advisory group which will have cross party representation from across the district.
This was echoed by Cllr Chris Whitbread who added:
Putting Local People First has always been at the heart of everything we do and that is now more important than ever before. There has been a seismic shift in the way our High Streets will operate in the future and my main concern is our own people and how it will affect them.
It is really important we make the very best judgement calls across the district.
Financial impact of COVID-19
The Cabinet also considered a financial report on the impact of COVID-19 on the district.
The loss of income is over £900,000 a month with business rates, council tax, leisure income and car parking the areas of greatest risk. Allowing for a general recovery from July the predicted annual loss of income is estimated at £6m.
Essential maintenance contract agreed
Another contract of £471,673.18 for external maintenance and repairs of council-owned properties was agreed. It is a 1 year contract, renewable annually for up to a maximum of 4 further years.
Praise for council employees
The leader and members again praised the work of council staff in supporting the community across a whole range of activities from putting together and delivering food parcels to vulnerable residents to distributing business grants.
Epping Forest District Council has the best record in Essex by distributing 97% of the allocated £28m grant funding to local businesses.
Cllr Chris Whitbread said:
It is the dedication of our officers – over 400 or whom are working from home – who made this happen. They have all done a wonderful job.
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