Agenda and minutes

Stronger Communities Select Committee
Tuesday, 4th February, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions


No. Item



This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking.


The Chairman will read the following announcement:


“The Chairman would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties).


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 you wish to avoid this you should move to the upper public gallery.”


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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.


Substitute Members (Council Minute 39 - 23.07.02)

To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

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There were no substitute members reported at the meeting.


Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

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(a)             Pursuant to the Council’s Code of Member Conduct, Councillor J H Whitehouse declared a non-pecuniary interest  in agenda items 9 and 13 by virtue of being a Trustee of Epping Forest Reuse.



Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 01 October 2019.


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That the notes of previous meeting of the Stronger Communities Select Committee held on 1 October 2019 were agreed as a correct record.


Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 197 KB

(Chairman/Lead Officer) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee have agreed the Terms of Reference and work programme for this Select Committee. Members are invited at each meeting to review both documents.


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The Chairman asked if members had and questions or comments regarding the Terms of Reference and the Work Programme.


(a)        Terms of Reference


Councillor J H Whitehouse stated that at the last meeting she had asked for a list of the policy review and development and relevant projects that were already taking place so that Members knew what topics were encompassed by this Select Committee and could decide if there was anything that the Select Committee members would like to know more about.


The Customer Services Director, R Pavey advised that this was in hand and would come to the next meeting.


(b)       Work Programme


The Chairman advised that ‘A review on Sheltered Housing’ which was due to come to the next Stronger Communities Select Committee meeting had now been taken off of the work programme as the Stronger Place Select Committee had already covered this at their last meeting in December 2019.


Councillor Wixley advised that at the last meeting he had suggested that a Loughton based group called GROW Community Garden, who bring people together in a safe and supportive environment, could attend a meeting of the Select Committee to give a presentation of what they do. He had now been in contact with the leader of the project and she was very enthusiastic about presenting at the next meeting.




(1)       That a list of the policy review and development and relevant projects would come to the next meeting of the Stronger Communities Select Committee;


(2)       That GROW Community Garden give a presentation at the next meeting of the Stronger Community Select Committee; and


(3)       That the Select Committee noted the Terms of Reference and updates to the Work Programme.



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The Chairman advised the Select Committee that there would be a change of order on the agenda.


Agenda Item 10, Community Safety Partnership Annual Report and Strategic Assessment would move up the agenda to Agenda Item 8 as this report followed on from the presentation from the Essex Police District Commander.



To receive a presentation from the Essex Police District Commander, Lewis Basford on current policing and crime issues in the District.

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The Essex Police’s District Commander for Brentwood and Epping Forest, Chief Inspector Lewis Basford attended the Select Committee to update Member’s on the current policing and crime issues in the District.


The Chief Inspector advised that he would like to discuss some of the local trends that have happened over the last year and where progress had been made since his last update to the Select Committee. Some issues were still prevalent and went hand in hand with the Safety Community Partnership work and he would like to discuss some of the significant work that had been going on.


Looking at crime as a total in the Epping Forest district, there had been a 6% increase in crime over the last 12 months, that compared to an increase for the force of Essex as a whole of 16.8%, therefore there was a 10.8% difference between the force increase against the district increase. Just to put a bit of a health warning around that increase, a lot of that increase would be down to better crime recording. You will see from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) that the recent report on Essex Police’s crime recording standards only put Essex, as one of the two forces out of the 42 forces, that have been looked at so far as excellent as part of that review by the HMICFRS in terms of our crime recording, in essence what was coming through was being recorded correctly. There were very robust procedures in place to ensure every crime was correctly recorded.


In previous years and part of that evaluation there would be multiple crimes within one incident, where in the past we would have created one crime per phone call but now every crime involved in an incident was now reported therefore one call could include two or three crimes and this in turn saw an increase in crime statistics.


One of the most challenging elements that still continued to be around the district and was one of my biggest concerns, was the public perception of policing. Slight increases have been received in the last 12 months based on our data in terms about what the public think in Epping Forest around the policing in terms of do we understand what the public want to see around our priorities and what visibility do the public want to see around policing the district.


Although we have seen slight increases in the public perception, which was good news, but we were still not at the levels of other districts in Essex who have seen significantly greater signs of public satisfaction in policing and visibility.


One of the biggest problems to tackle was that for every one negative comment about crime in the district and from reports that we have seen, you have to back that up with five pieces of good work to contradict that one piece of negative work.


A lot of the work for the next 12 months will go  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.



To consider the attached report.

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The Service Manager Community Resilience, Caroline Wiggins, introduced the work of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) over the last year. The annual report outlined the highlights and gave a flavour of what the Community Safety Team had accomplished during the year. It demonstrated the Council’s commitment to the CSP and the work of Essex Police, whose area encompassed both Epping Forest and Brentwood.


The Service Manager stated that both reports were on the Agenda and she would be happy to take any questions.


Councillor D Wixley stated that anti-social behaviour was a big problem in the district and asked if anything could be done to combat the nitrous oxide silver canisters from being littered all over the district, in some areas the problem was more prevalent than in others.


The Service Manager advised that they would be looking into the nitrous oxide debris but needed residents to inform them if they see anyone disposing of the cannisters in the public places. She stressed that it was a littering offence and any intelligence would be fed through to the Customer Service Centre.


The Chairman asked if there were plans to drug test for nitrogen oxide users and were there any drug testing kits available.


The Chief Inspector advised that nitrous oxide would be difficult to test for as it was a quick hit and was not an offence to supply or take, the only offence would be for littering when the cannisters were disposed of in a public place.


Councillor D Wixley stated that on page 79/80 of the agenda the population statistics did not make sense. Page 79 said there were 123,900 people living in the district and page 80 said there were 76,386, he asked for clarification on the exact number of people living in the district.


The Service Manager advised that the figures were collated by an analyst and that she would have to go back to the analyst for some clarification and would report back through the Members’ Bulletin.




That the Annual Report of the Community Safety Partnership be noted.



To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:


The Senior Community Engagement Officer, Patrick Arnold gave a presentation to the Select Committee, Annual review of work undertaken by the Community, Culture and Wellbeing Team in developing the Epping Forest Community Champions project.


The Community Champions programme formed part of the Council’s Corporate Plan to further enhance partnership working with the voluntary sector in order to help build community capacity and resilience across the district, enabling communities to support themselves.


Aims and Objectives


The vision of the programme was:

·        To build on the skills and knowledge of local people to create happy, friendly and healthy communities.


The aim of the programme aim was:

·        To bring together like minded people from across the district to share ideas and experiences from their communities to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.

·        To recruit Community Champions from across the district.


What do Champions do?


·        Make contact with people living in the community. This could be through friends and family or through attending meetings of local groups and clubs;

·        Listen to people to find out their needs, this could include topics such as Loneliness and Social isolation, physical activity, mental health and emotional wellbeing;

·        Outreach to the community to promote uptake of services within the local area;

·        Gentlyencourage people to take up healthier lifestyles;

·        Signpost people to services and make referrals e.g. exercise classes, employment services, local events, transport links etc.; and

·        Undertake campaigns/projects to promote health awareness and collect findings on specific health issues affecting the area.




The Epping Forest Community Champions programme aimed to build on the skills and knowledge of local people to create happy, friendly and healthy communities.


People who were:

·        Passionate about the area they lived in;

·        Able to build strong community connections;

·        Happy to support fun days and community events;

·        Willing to share information about local services in the area;

·        Able to promote useful health improvement information within their community.


The aim of the Culture and Wellbeing Team was to recruit 18 Champions, one from each area of the Epping Forest District.


Our Achievements


To date 17 Champions had been recruited from:

·        Buckhurst Hill;

·        Chigwell;

·        Epping;

·        Loughton

·        Nazeing;

·        Ongar;

·        Theydon Bois; and

·        Waltham Abbey.


Community Champions had connected with over 1000 people in the community since the beginning of the project. they had promoted and played a key role in the delivery of the district’s Stay Well This Winter and Senior Safety Day Events.


Community Champions had attended EFDC workshops and partner focus groups, a number had attended the EFDC Digital Buddies training and would support future digital inclusion projects. They have promoted the Essex County ‘United in Kind’ social media campaign and assisted with the development of the Social Isolation and loneliness awareness sessions.


Champions have also attended local clubs and meetings to deliver presentations to raise awareness of CHW activities and signpost people to services in the district.


Training and Support




·        The Community Champions have attended the relevant EFDC courses in Safeguarding and Dementia Friends.

·        They have attended External/Partner training such  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.



To receive a presentation on Customer Services Satisfaction.

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The Customer Services Manager, Susan Lewis gave a presentation on the Customer Service Strategy Q3. She advised the Select Committee that the report provided an update on the Quarter 3 satisfaction performance and feedback on ‘what our customers were telling us’.


Current Performance


Customer Satisfaction


Customers were asked to do a short customer satisfaction survey, the measure was based on the Gov Metric customer satisfaction survey, this was for phone calls, emails, letters and the website. There were no details for Q1 as the measure was changed from annually to quarterly. Q2 showed a 75% satisfaction rate which had increased in Q3 to 83%.


Number of Calls Received


The total number of calls received for Q1 – 31,167, Q2 – 31,674 and Q3 – 26,216.

Q3 was slightly down due to the closure at Christmas of the Council.


First Point Resolution


The first point resolution was the percentage of calls which the Contact Centre agents could resolve at that first point of contact, so that the customer was not then passed on to another officer at the Council. The Councils’ target was 45% although presently we were underachieving this percentage, each quarter we could see an increase, Q1 – 37.31%, Q2 – 34.71% and Q3 – 40.17%. When this was broken down to monthly statistics, October 35.22%, November 41.15% and December 44.13% you could see month by month the percentages where increasing and in December were almost at the 45% target.


We have seen the transition of planning and parking coming over to the Contact Centre and the Contact Centre staff were being trained and have the knowledge to resolve the customer planning calls, unless they are technical. As more services transfer over to us that number will increase.


Call Causation Codes


We want to get better at understanding the reasons why our customers are calling us, in November 2019 call causation codes were implemented enabling us to identify why customers were calling, out of 16,861 calls received in November and December a causation code was only recorded for 5,000 calls. Officers have to manually enter that code and we have been carrying out some analysis as to why causation codes were not being recorded. We have been experiencing some system issues whereby a new phone system was installed and there were teething problems and there was also a high level of absence in the Contact Centre at the moment. We intend on doing better in the next quarter.


Why are Customers calling the Council


The service areas that received the highest number of calls in Q3 were:




A total of 1395 calls (not yet transitioned to the contact centre)

Housing Repairs 686 calls – transferred for an appointment

Housing Management 449 calls – transferred to the team.




A total of 934 calls (transitioned to contact centre)

Application enquiries 400 calls dealt with the contact centre; the rest were technical.




A total of 1030 calls (transitioned to contact centre)

Bin delivery requests equate for the highest volume  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.


Epping Forest District Council Cultural Strategy (2020-2025) pdf icon PDF 312 KB

To consider the attached report.

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The Museum Culture and Heritage Specialist, Tony O’Conner advised that he would be presenting a report on the Epping Forest District Council Cultural Strategy (2020-2025). He introduced his colleague Carly Hammond, Museum and Culture Heritage Specialist who shared the same role.


The driver for the creation of a cultural strategy for the district came about from recommendations from the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), it was the government organisation which recommended the establishment of these types of strategies for local authority areas and it was supported by some of the major funders including Arts Council England who had laid out a lot of the support information in terms of what should consist of a cultural strategy.


The Peer Review in 2018 identified the production of a Cultural Strategy, which had been developed for the Epping Forest District to identify programmes of work which support the role culture played in the Council’s corporate objectives of Stronger Communities, Stronger Place and Stronger Council as well as those of key external partners.


The Cultural Strategy fulfilled a role in supporting place making economic wellbeing health agendas across the Councils wider agenda, there was an extensive cultural offer across the district. Much of it was operated within the voluntary and other parts of the third sector, but one aspect which was really missing was the joining of all of those cultural offers together and really celebrating and promoting within the district and beyond.


In developing this strategy, consultation was undertaken with a representative range of cultural organisations and partners across the district, this included an online survey undertaken by residents and visitors to the district and face to face interviews with community, culture and wellbeing partners.


The key findings of this survey were:


·         The core age group of respondents were from the BeWell target market (working age adult market set out within EFDC’s Health & Wellbeing Strategy);

·          82% of respondents had visited a museum or art gallery in the last six months;

·          Over half had also visited the library;

·          Most people undertook cultural activities with family, friends or alone;

·          Over 91% of respondents wanted to find out more about heritage based activities;

·          99% of those respondents thought that culture was important; and

·          98% thought culture played an important part in individual and community wellbeing.


Developing the Strategy drew upon all of those elements of consultation and advice from various bodies and the Strategy document, attached to the agenda, had six key outcome areas in order to focus on.


(a)         To ensure that Epping Forest District Council continued to celebrate and provide a sustainable strong cultural offer for current and future residents and visitors.


Action: To achieve the creation of a cultural hub in Waltham Abbey. In the Peer Review the Museum was recognised as more than just a Museum and the coming together of the cultural and health and wellbeing teams to make use of the venue in Waltham abbey had really enhanced the community value of that. The proximity of that building  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.



To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:


The Service Director (Customer Services), R Pavey updated the Select Committee regarding the Digital Inclusion Project. At the last meeting the recommendations were laid out in the report and this report was a quarterly update on those recommendations.


Digital Buddies Programme


The Digital Buddies programme had been rolled out internally and currently 61 Digital Buddies had signed up to the programme. That helps the Council’s frontline staff to support customers coming into the Council offices and on the phone. There have been a series of bespoke training sessions to enable the Digital Buddies to gain confidence in the digital world.


Digital Inclusion Network


The Digital Inclusion Network was an external network with organisations across the district, to collaborate and coordinate activities, to increase digital inclusion which would maximise our community reach by using those partners in their delivery. We would be the community hub for this project in terms of being an essential resource for signposting and calendars for signpost training, We have signed up for bespoke training and that would be available to those organisations to use.


The list or organisations that had already signed up were:


Voluntary Action Epping Forest

Essex Libraries

Carers first

The Salvation Army

Citizens Online


Superfast Essex

The First Stop project

Epping Reuse

Citizen Advice Bureau


Other organisations who have expressed an interest in the network were:


Alzheimer’s Society

Age UK


Leonard Cheshire


United in Kind


Upskill Digital


The main geographic area that had been identified from the Citizens Online report was Waltham Abbey. The risk of digital inclusion in this area was aligned with the barriers of age and affordability with Pension Credit and UC take-up used as proxies. Allied with work undertaken relating to assessing the impacts of UC a multi-agency centre (MAC) has been established in Waltham Abbey at the Epping Forest District Museum with the intention of this MAC running every two weeks. As part of the services available which are tailored to helping the most vulnerable, there was a dedicated resource at the MAC to assist with Digital Inclusion. The success of this inclusion work and the MAC more generally will be monitored to see if bespoke roll-outs can be done in other areas of the district.


There were no questions from Members.




That the updated report on the Digital Inclusion Project be noted by the Select Committee.



To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:


The Service Director (Customer Services), R Pavey presented a report to the Select Committee regarding the Universal Credit Impact and the establishment of a new Waltham Abbey Multi-Agency Centre based at the Epping Forest District Museum.


This was an exciting opportunity for the Council to look at a different delivery model and how the Council engaged with our communities at a local level and not the traditional way, but seeing how we can engage with partners to look at the customer journey from end to end, we are only one part of that journey, the welfare reform and how people in need to access services was not solely with Epping Forest District Council it was also with a number of other different agencies.


The Universal Credit (UC) Impact Working Group had identified a number of impacts that the Council has sought to mitigate against, within that group there was the DWP, Epping Forest Foodbank, Peabody and Citizens Advice amongst others.


The DWP in Loughton have operated a monthly Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) involving a number of partners to support claimants. The UC Impact Working Group decided that the Loughton model be built on and developed for Waltham Abbey.


The key difference with the Waltham Abbey MAC was that it was to be run by EFDC with the ultimate aim of focussing the services offered to be based on the needs of the residents of Waltham Abbey and its locality with an increased focus on the district’s own services.


There was also the opportunity at this MAC to further support one of the key recommendations of the Citizens Online report which focussed on Waltham Abbey as a geographic area with a potentially higher risk of digital exclusion.


The Council have looked for a location within Waltham Abbey to do this and I can confirm that the Waltham Abbey Museum came out as a preferred venue for this new service. The Museum was in Sun Street, which is central to Waltham Abbey. The Museum was closed on Thursdays and this was a good opportunity to utilise the premises. The first MAC will be on Thursday 13 February 2020 from 1 to 3pm and will open on alternate Thursdays at the same time.


There would be a range of services provided by Epping Forest District Council such as:


  • Benefits;
  • Debt Recovery;
  • Housing and Homelessness;
  • Digital Inclusion and Assistance; and
  • Active Living.


Associated organisations would provide advice:


  • Citizens Advice – UC applications and general advice;
  • DWP – UC applications and benefits;
  • Changing Pathways – Community Safety;
  • Peabody – Care and Support Services;
  • Epping Forest Foodbank – Available to issue vouchers and direct to the Foodbank, Waltham Abbey;
  • MIND – Mental Health Charity; and
  • Provide – Essex Lifestyle Service.


It had been arranged that the Foodbank in Waltham Abbey would open at times to coincide with the MAC, therefore any residents directed to them with a food voucher provided by the MAC would be able to gain access to much needed provisions.


Officers will report back  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.



To note that the next meeting of the Select Committee will be held at 7.00pm on the 21 April 2020.

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It was noted that the next meeting of the Select Committee would be held on
21 April 2020 at 7.00pm.