Apprenticeships are highlighted in the agenda of the latest meeting of Epping Forest District Council. Public sector organisations are set national targets for the employment of apprentices.
However, Epping Forest District Council goes well beyond the target of 2.3% which would equate to 15 apprentices. The Council currently has 23 apprentices studying for qualifications up to degree level.
Council Leader, Chris Whitbread says:
The Coronavirus Pandemic is hitting the jobs of younger people hardest in the economy. Apprenticeships is one of the ways we are fighting back.
Our apprenticeships are opening up opportunities in Housing, IT, Management, HR, Finance, Communications, the Museum and a wealth of other areas. It’s not all office based either. We currently have two Multi trade construction and electrical apprentices.
As well as providing a vocational route into long term careers and supporting the development of some of our finest young people, the skills they are bringing to the Council and Qualis are supporting the delivery of services for all our residents across the district. It is a terrific scheme which I would encourage other local employers to adopt and young people to use.
Farewell to Tony Boyce
There would have been no greater advocate of support for the district’s young people than former Council Chairman Tony Boyce who passed away in August. Councillors are set to hold a minutes silence in memory of one of the Council’s most distinguished former members.
Supporting people at home
Other reports on the latest report to Council include an update on Disabled Facilities Grants and loans to local residents. £855,956 from the Better Care Fund has been committed to the payments. The report summarises the Financial Year so far.
- 39 DFGs approved with a total value of £251, 671. 00
- 22 DFGs completed and paid with a total expenditure of £95,033.00
- 3 Decent Homes approvals with a total value of £19,943.00
- 1 Decent Homes Payment for completed works amounting to £5,560.00
- A further 115 grants, at various stage of application.
A safer district
In other Portfolio reports, good news is reported on the development of the new Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust hanger and performance of the Saturday Market at North Weald Airfield. General aviation is extremely busy and movements are at pre-pandemic levels.
Burglary, personal robbery and shoplifting have significantly dropped over the past year thanks in part to the excellent Community Safety Hub, a partnership between Epping Forest District Council and Essex Police.
A new trial at certain blocks of flats for collecting textiles, batteries and small electrical
items begins shortly. Replacement and refurbishment of recycling banks is due in October and November. The new banks will take the same materials that are also collected by the clear recycling sacks and glass.
A healthier district
The £1.3 million refurbishment of the roof, pool plant and electrical systems at Ongar Leisure Centre is under way with planned reopening after the Christmas break. Any underspends will be used to improve the poolside seating area for parents and families.
A stronger district
The Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ), an initiative to improve the digital infrastructure of the district led by Epping Forest District Council is also helping to provide resilience and recovery from the impact of Coronavirus and has been recognised with further awards.
The DIZ is making a specific contribution to improving local health and GP connectivity, enabling local doctors and patients to make better use of online consultations. Faster, better digital connectivity will provide a wealth of other practical benefits. The local economy will be boosted as more people work from home, also relieving some of the congestion on local roads, reducing pollution and reducing the green-house gases leading to climate change.
As Covid hits less-affluent families disproportionately hard, the Diz is also developing initiatives with the voluntary sector to support families and individuals facing digital exclusion. Proposals include new and reusable ICT equipment including laptops and mobile devices plus the provision of connectivity and mobile data.
The Cost of Coronavirus
The cost of the Coronavirus has hit all public sector budgets and councillors are set to receive further details over the next few months of the impact on Epping Forest District Council. However the situation in comparison with many other councils remains strong thanks to previous budget planning and the long term development of income through Qualis, the Council’s new group of development and investment companies.
Healthy balances at the start of the pandemic are helping the Council to maintain services and investments such as the refurbishment of Ongar Leisure Centre and the development of the new centre for Epping. Careful planning to accommodate the shortfall in areas such as Pay and Display parking, where the two and half hour tariff of 20p will be maintained to support local high street businesses up to Christmas has also been taken into account.
While the future impact of the Coronavirus remains unknown, it is difficult to predict the future financial situation with absolute certainty, but the Council remains strongly placed to support the district, its economy and its residents.
Qualis On Track
Qualis is a key part of the Council’s long term strategy for success. Councillors are set to receive the recommendations for the appointment of the permanent members of the new Qualis Board and further performance reports outlining the latest progress.
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