To receive reports and any announcements from the Leader and members of the Cabinet on matters falling within their areas of responsibility:
(a) Report of the Leader – Councillor C Whitbread;
(b) Report of the Commercial and Regulatory ServicesPortfolio Holder – Councillor A Patel (attached);
(c) Report of the Customer and Corporate Support ServicesPortfolio Holder – Councillor S Kane (attached);
(d) Report of the Environmental and Technical Services Portfolio Holder – Councillor N Avey (attached);
(e) Report of the Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder – Councillor J Philip (attached);
(f) Report of the Housing and Community ServicesPortfolio Holder – Councillor H Whitbread (attached); and
(g) Report of the Planning and Sustainability Portfolio Holder – Councillor N Bedford (attached).
The Council received written reports from Portfolio Holders. The Chairman invited the Leader of Council to provide an oral report and the opportunity for other members of the Cabinet to give updates on matters concerning their relevant portfolios.
(a) Leader of Council
The Leader advised that it had been a very busy few months since the last Council meeting and gave thanks to Cabinet Members and Officers who had been busy over the recent months setting out a positive agenda, on a whole range of issues, despite the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic.
Members would have recently seen a presentation on the five sites in Epping and the ambitious plans to build a new sports centre in Epping. The Council Housebuilding programme was ongoing and the Council were supporting the High Streets in the District by maintaining the 20p parking charges for 2.5 hours up until Christmas.
The second wave of Covid-19 was now upon us and the Council took the decision, on the advice of the Public Health department, along with Essex County Council and all District and Borough Councils across Essex and asked the Secretary of State to consider Essex moving into tier 2 earlier rather than being told at a later date when the Covid figures per 100,000 would be much higher.
When we look at the figures for Covid-19 this week in Epping Forest, we were one of the highest districts with figures of over 100 for every 100,000. Therefore, it was the correct decision to move into tier 2 although there was a conspiracy that we moved into tier 2 for extra funding from the Government. After it had been decided and we had requested to move into tier 2, at that time there were no indications that that any extra funding would be provided. When it was agreed that Essex would go into tier 2 a few days later Government announced that there would be an extra £3 of funding per person across Essex which totalled £4.4 million that money was for welfare and supporting businesses. Essex County Council were working out a package for every District and Borough Council in Essex.
Essex County Council had put additional funding into food banks and schemes where food for the vulnerable would be provided.
There would be a long road ahead of us and he was pleased that all Districts and Borough Council’s in Essex supported Essex County Council in their decision to ask the Secretary of State to move Essex into tier 2.
We were in difficult times and my thoughts go out to residents and businesses within the district and the disruption this Pandemic would cause to them but we must move forward to overcome this virus everyone should be encouraged to stick to the rules by wearing face masks, wash hands regularly and give other people space. It would not be an easy winter but together we would get through this Pandemic and look forward to the times when we could have less restrictions.
(b) Finance & Economic Development Portfolio Holder
Councillor J Philip advised that for those Members who hadn’t seen the press release that the Essex and Herts Digital Innovation Zone had beaten off the competition to become top in the Country in the Cross-Sector Digital Collaboration of the Year category. We were voted into third place and in the judging we came first. Councillor Alan Lion was chair of the DIZ and a lot of the work was done on the DIZ by the Councils officers. He added that he would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that was involved.
(c) Housing and Community Services Portfolio Holder
Councillor H Whitbread advised that she and the Leader of Council had met with officers regarding the Epping Forest Youth Council and the exciting project they put forward at the last Cabinet Meeting. The project they were bringing forward was called MiLife Covid-19 and centred around mental health and the impact Covid-19 has had on young people. She advised that she would happy to bring that project forward and support the Youth Council to deliver it.
This project would go live very soon and would go onto a rejuvenated MiLife website, the MiLife project was well known and recognised throughout the Epping Forest District, the County and indeed the whole Country. It was good to see this scheme extended and applied to the current conditions that we were living in.