Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping
Contact: Jackie Leither (Directorate of Governance) Tel: 01992 564756 Email: email@example.com
(1) This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking.
(2) The Chairman will read the following announcement:
"I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the Internet and will be capable of repeated viewing and copies of the recording could be made available for those that request it.
If you are seated in the lower public seating area it is likely that the recording cameras will capture your image and this will result in the possibility that your image will become part of the broadcast.
This may infringe your human and data protection rights and if any member of the public wishes to avoid this they should move to the upper public gallery".
The Chairman reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.
To confirm the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on 10 July 2014 (previously circulated) and matters arising.
That the minutes of the last meeting held on 10 July 2014 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
INVITE TO ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL PORTFOLIO HOLDER FOR HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE AND SMALL SCHEMES DELIVERY
The Chairman welcomed County Councillor E Johnson, Essex County Council Portfolio Holder for Highways Maintenance and Small Schemes Delivery and Mike Thompson from Essex Highways.
County Councillor Johnson thanked the Chairman for inviting him to the meeting to speak about the lack of signage of road closures and works in the district. He advised the meeting that he was not aware that there was a lack of signage and would advise members of the normal procedures:
(1) County Members should be notified on any road closures in their area, one week in advance of it being advertised in the press;
(2) after being advertised in the press the Districts should then be notified;
(3) as a legal requirement notices should be posted on the site of the road closure; and
(4) the standard yellow and black signs with advance notice of the closure should be erected.
Occasionally roads are closed for emergency works which cannot be planned, County Council try to give five days notice but due to the urgency this may not always be possible.
The statistics for the Epping Forest District were that the revenue maintenance works which were reactionary, of the 313 schemes completed, 19 required road closures which equated to 6%. The capital works there were 78 schemes completed, 42 required road closures which equated to 54%, these schemes were primarily surface dressing or surface works.
The Chairman thanked County Councillor Johnson for his presentation and asked members if they had any questions.
(a) Ongar Town Councillor B Surtees stated that there seemed to be a very erratic approach to giving notice on the yellow signs, some are big some are small, some are put up early some are late, sometimes the signage is not coherent. The road signs don’t seem to be taken down after the works have been done. An example being I drove down a minor road and half an hour later drove back and there were road works but there had been no signage to say these were going to happen. This was and example which residents would report to me..
Mike Thompson advised that he would take on board the points and take this information away and review a process for the installation and removal of the signs and will feed that back accordingly.
(b) Fyfield Parish Councillor N Bridge advised that a resident, registered disabled, complained when she found that her driveway had been blocked by an Essex Highways van repairing the pathway outside of her property. No notification of these works had been received by the resident and she was therefore stuck in the house all day.
County Councillor Johnson advised that if planned works were going ahead then the residents who would be affected should have been informed of the planned works, unless it was an emergency and not planned.
Mike Thompson advised that it was standard practice to letter drop in advance of planned maintenance work. If the maintenance work affected the road then every resident in ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
To receive an update on the iPlan User Group.
The Committee received a report regarding the Parish Councils iPlan User Group from the Planning Business Service Manager. He advised that there were three key areas in the report to note:
(1) That the electronic distribution of plans commenced officially for all Parish and Town councils from the 1 November 2014.
(2) That the fourteen Parish/Town Councils who applied for grant funding for equipment to facilitate the projection of planning and associated documentation at their meetings. All of the Parish and Town Councils that applied for funding were successful and were supplied with what they requested.
(3) That the Parish and Town Councils were requested to send feedback to the District Council so that it could be monitored and corrective action could be taken if there were any issues.
If any of the Parish or Town Councils would like to familiarise themselves with planning, iPlan or an electronic presentation of plans they should contact the Planning Business Service Manager at the District Council to make arrangements.
Loughton Town Councillor Chris Pond asked:
(a) Would it be possible to have an update on the progress on the access to older plans, to digitise a number of older plans and present them on the iPlan system; and
(b) The idea of giving parish councillors and clerks access to the information at work system had not materialised.
The Manager advised that officers had been trying to arrange this but had found it too complicated and had deferred it concentrating on trying to improve the quality of information that they were providing on iPlan, which was readily accessible to everyone.
The issue around the conversion of 71,000 historical planning micro fiche jackets which contained over 4,000,000 images had commenced recently.
Councillor Pond stated that he was disappointed to hear that the information to access at work was not imminent and asked of an indication as to when this would be available.
The Manager advised that there had been little interest from the Parish and Town Councils to use the information at work system and the Clerk to Loughton Town Council had expressed how difficult it had been trying to access the system via the virtual private network. The Council’s IT department were now trying to find a solution.
To discuss the following matters raised by Local Council’s:
(1) Northern Access Gateway (NGAP)
The Branch has asked for this issue to be raised at the meeting to ensure EFDC stiffened its response to the proposals by the London Borough of Enfield which would impact on the traffic levels particularly in Waltham Abbey and Loughton.
The Forward Planning Manager Ian White will be attending to the meeting to give an update. (See attached Appendix).
(2) ECC Cabinet Member for Libraries, Communities and Planning
The Branch requested that Councillor Roger Hirst be invited to give a presentation on ECC customer services and forward planning. It was reported that whilst there were no plans for the closure of libraries in the County some may be relocated within their communities.
Councillor Hirst has been contacted but was unable to attend this meeting, he has however confirmed he will be able to attend the next meeting on the 26 March 2015.
The Branch would like to thank Essex County Council for the recent road surfacing improvements in the District. They were however concerned with the lack of sufficient notice and signage of road closures for works and asked that County Councillor Eddie Johnson be invited to the meeting to discuss this.
County Councillor Johnson has been contacted and confirmed his attendance to the meeting on the 20 November.
(4) Local Council Tax Support Grant
The Branch would like an update on the likely amounts to expect in 2015/16 and the position in future years.
The Director of Resources has prepared a report and will present it at the meeting. (See Appendix attached).
(1) Northern Gateway Access Package (NGAP)
The Forward Planning Manager presented a report to the Committee regarding NGAP. There had been a Public Inquiry in 2001 into NGAR (Northern Gateway Access Road) and the planning inspectors’ report, published in July 2002 was strongly opposed to the scheme. The District Council objected at the time and participated in the Public Inquiry being joined by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, The Conservators of Epping Forest, Essex County Council as the Highways Authority and The Highways Agency. It was hoped that this project had been abandoned but it had resurfaced as part of the NGAP, included in the North East Enfield Area Action Plan Proposed Submission Stage, and the Council had maintained its objection to NGAR. The Area Action Plan will be considered at Examination in Public, probably in February 2015, and the Council would be represented at the EiP.
NGAR would primarily affect the Loughton and Waltham Abbey areas due to the traffic implications, but it was unclear if either of those councils had objected to the Proposed Submission stage of the Area Action Plan. It would be helpful if Loughton Town Council, Waltham Abbey Town Council and Epping Forest District Council could arrange a meeting to present a consistent case at the enquiry.
Councillor Pond advised that last time Essex County Council were very supportive of the district’s objections and thought there was every indication that this would occur again. Councillor Pond asked if there could be a joint submission from Loughton Town Council, Waltham Abbey Town Council, Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council.
The Forward Planning Manager replied that he would follow it up with Essex County Council.
(2) ECC Cabinet Member for Libraries, Communities and Planning
The Committee had invited County Councillor Roger Hirst, Portfolio Holder for Libraries, Communities and Planning, to attend the meeting to discuss the libraries being relocated within the District. However County Councillor Hirst sent his apologies and advised that he would attend the next committee meeting on 26 March 2015.
The Committee had agreed to hear this item earlier on in the Agenda as County Councillor Johnson had another appointment.
(4) Local Council Tax Support Grant
The Director of Resources presented a report to the Committee regarding local support for Council Tax.
In 2013/14 the Council Tax Benefit was replaced by Local Support for Council Tax. Each district area had to devise their own scheme for providing assistance to people struggling to pay the council tax, there were certain parameters with that, particularly protections that the Council were required to give to people of pensionable age.
The District Council were given 90% of the amount of council tax benefit that was paid the previous year. This would implement a scheme of local support for council tax, which had led to a reduction in terms of overall support available. Within that scheme, for the first year in 2013/14, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) advised that ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
STREET LIGHTING IN THE EPPING FOREST DISTRICT
Councillor John Knapman would like to ascertain what the views were of fellow members to the changes in the street lighting times for the Epping Forest District and whether a representation needed to be made to the Highways Portfolio Holder regarding this policy.
The Chairman, on behalf of Councillor Knapman, asked what the views were of fellow members to the changes in the street lighting times for the Epping Forest District and whether a representation needed to be made to the Highways Portfolio Holder regarding this policy.
Councillor G Waller, Portfolio Holder for Safer, Greener and Transport advised that the street lights in the vicinity of the underground stations, which there were 8 in the District, should be kept on for longer during the hours of darkness. County Councillor Bass had agreed for the lights to be switched off at 1am and switched back on at 5am.
Councillor Waller stated that there was a perception of danger, greater crime and accidents in the dark. The Councillor advised that he was the Chairman of the Epping Forest District Community Safety Partnership and on Tuesday he had attended a meeting where a report had been presented regarding the level of crime in the district. The report highlighted that there had been a small reduction in the level of crime in the District during the night when the lights were switched off and he stated that crime did not increase where there was darkness. This had been confirmed in other districts where the part night street lighting has been in force for several years.
Councillor Metcalfe advised that she would ask Councillor Bass what the policy would be on night street lighting when the trains ran all night. She stated that it could be possible for Parish and Town councils to fund street lighting via the District Council if they wished to pay for the lights themselves. It would be quite a small amount per Parish or Town. She advised that this process would take some time but under “Localism”, councils should decide for themselves as to what was best for residents.
Cllr Pond reported that at a recent meeting of Loughton Town Council they formerly resolved to ask County Councillor Bass to keep the lights on all night on Fridays and Saturdays when the night trains started to operate in Autumn 2015. This would only affect Buckhurst Hill and Loughton where the service would terminate.
He advised that Loughton Town Council would be writing to Buckhurst Hill Parish Council to ask them to join with Loughton in a formal request to Councillor Bass.
INVITE TO THE POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER
(Director of Neighbourhoods) At the Overview & Scrutiny meeting on the 16 September 2014, the Portfolio Holder for Safer, Greener and Transport requested that Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex be invited to a future meeting of the Local Council’s Liaison Committee. Mr Alston advised that he would not be able to attend the meeting on 20 November 2014 but has confirmed that he will be able to attend the meeting on 26 March 2015.
The meeting is asked if they wish to have a separate meeting with just the PCC invited as the next meeting would also have ECC Cabinet Member for Libraries, Communities and Planning attending or would the meeting like to have these two presentations in one meeting with no other business.
The Chairman advised that Nick Alston, The Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex would be attending the next meeting on the 26 March 2015. He advised that the general public should be asked if they wished to raise questions they should do so before the meeting, through the Town and Parish Councils.
Councillor Waller stated that Mr Alston had asked how he could alter his public engagement programme in the coming year to communicate with the largest possible number of residents in the District. The Community Safety Partnership suggested that the Local Council’s Liaison Committee would be the best medium to do this. Councillor Waller therefore urged the Town and Parish Councils to get the message out to the public to get their questions in for Mr Alston before the next meeting.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
No other business was raised.
Dates of Future Meetings
The next scheduled meeting of the Committee is on Thursday 26 March 2015 at 7.30pm in the Council Chamber.
The next scheduled meeting of the committee is on Thursday 26 March 2015 at 7.30pm in the Council Chamber.