Agenda item

Issues Raised by Local Councils

To discuss the following matters raised by the local councils:


(a)          Epping Forest District Council Local Plan – Progress report


(b)          Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy – To advise and clarify on ‘Clean Air Zone’;


(c)           Update on the Elections Planning Process for the Elections being held 6 May 2021; and


(d)           Epping Forest District Council training Schedule and prospectus for 2021/22.


Note: The Members Trainings Programme for 2021/22 has been arranged although officers had advised that the offer to Parish and Town Councils would be dependent on Covid Restrictions and how the training would be provided.



(a)          Epping Forest District Council Local Plan


The Service Director (Planning Services) Mr N Richardson advised that following the hearing sessions for the Independent Examination of the Local Plan, the Inspector had released her advice on 2 August 2019, which set out a number of changes to the Plan which were required to remedy issues of soundness in the form of Main Modifications (MMs). 


In accordance with the high level programme in the Council’s response to the Inspector, dated 24 April 2020, the Planning team had worked hard to ensure that the final tranche of Main Modifications (MMs) were submitted to the Inspector in September with a view to consultation on the MMs as soon as possible thereafter. 


However, the Inspector wrote to the Council on 2 October 2020 (ED115) to advise that due to other work commitments during October and November it was unlikely that she would be able to provide a full response immediately.  The Inspector provided an update on progress on 8 February 2021 (ED118) advising that the volume and complexity of the documentation meant that progress of finalising the MM schedule was taking some time and the current lockdown measures had unfortunately prolonged it. It was envisaged that the Local Plan would be adopted this year but firstly the MM’s would need to go out to consultation.


(b)          Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy


The Service Director (Planning Services) advised following a report to Cabinet on 20 July 2020 and Council on 8 February 2021, the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy (APMS), as adopted, would enable the Council to properly approve any planning application that could demonstrate no adverse effect on Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation.


At the meeting of Council on 8 February 2021 the Council agreed that the Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainability would form a cross party Portfolio Holder Advisory Group to support the delivery of the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy and provide oversight of the work of the Technical Stakeholder Group. This could include working with officers to consider where further initiatives had not been identified in the APMS and could be brought forward to advance Air Quality Improvements with the objective of removing the need to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ). Alongside the acceleration and enhancement of mitigation measures, the Portfolio Holder Advisory Group would provide democratic oversight of the development of any CAZ scheme prior to its consideration through the Council’s formal decision-making processes and public consultation, in the event that future air quality monitoring and modelling continued to demonstrate that even after the acceleration and enhancement mitigation measures, a CAZ was required.


The Committee enquired who had been appointed to the Portfolio Holder Group. The Service Director (Planning Services) advised that any queries could be raised with the appropriate Ward members and who could contact the relevant members on this Group.


(c)           Update on the Elections Planning Process for the Elections being held 6 May 2021


The Service Director (Strategy, Delivery & Performance), Ms Louise Wade advised that 63 Polling Stations were being used for these elections including Murray Hall, which was currently being used as a vaccination centre, although the NHS had confirmed that there would be no reduction in vaccinations for local people as a result of this. The Polling stations would be run under covid-19 restrictions with either a one-way or  one-in-one-out system and voters were free to bring their own pen or pencil to the Polling Station. Any queues at the Polling Stations would be marshalled by staff, and regularly cleaning within the Station would be carried out throughout the day.


Postal Votes were available for any elector and the Postal Vote application forms needed to be received by 5.00pm on 20 April 2021, with issuing being carried out from 21 April onwards. Details of how voters could apply for a Postal Vote would be detailed on Polling Cards or via the Electoral Commission website and communications had been released by the County Council and individual political parties.


The Count Centre being used this year was a hanger at North Weald Airfield  as follows:


  • Thursday 6-May-21 10.00pmFull verification of all ballot boxes.


  • Friday 7-May-21 9.30am                    County Council Divisions

District Council Wards

Town/Parish Council Wards


  • Saturday 8-May-21 9.30am                Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner

Any outstanding Town/Parish Council Wards


Admission to the Counts would be strictly controlled and the Returning Officer had determined that invitations would be limited to the Candidate, the Candidate’s Agent and one Count Agent per Candidate to enable social distancing to be maintained.


A Candidates/Agents briefing had been arranged for Monday 12 April 2021 at 6.00pm, via Zoom.


Finally, the District Council Election nomination paper for 6 May 2021 only required a Proposer and Seconder. 


(d)           Epping Forest District Council training Schedule and prospectus for 2021/22


The Democratic and Electoral Services Team Manager, Mr Gary Woodhall advised that the training schedule and prospectus for 2021/22 had been organised and officers were awaiting confirmation on whether they would be run virtually or face-to-face in line with the Government Roadmap for Covid-19.