Agenda item

Public Questions (If Any)

To answer questions asked after notice in accordance with the provisions contained within Part 4 of the Council Rules of the Constitution on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties or which affects the District:

 

(a)        to the Leader of the Council;

 

(b)        to any Portfolio Holder; or

 

(c)        to the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

Questions, if any, will follow if not received in time to be incorporated into the agenda.

Minutes:

Draft Budget Reports and supporting Appendix with reference to Epping High Street

 

Question by G Foy to Councillor J Philip, Finance, Qualis Client and Economic Development Portfolio Holder

 

To consider if it was appropriate for the proposed request for another £100k to support the digging up of the recently laid Yellow Tarmac, costing £84k, and replacing it to make it a permanent change should be justified based on just 37 positive responses out of 58 responses received back to the survey in August 2021, at a time when social distancing was still a worry for many and that it would be 15 Bays that have been lost and not 9 as stated in the report.

 

Response given by Councillor J Philip, Finance, Qualis Client and Economic Development Portfolio Holder

 

The surface will only be replaced when it had reached the end of its life as it was a temporary surface. The £100k has been identified for a permanent replacement of the surface as and when it becomes necessary, the temporary surface was not anticipated to need replacing with a permanent surface for another 24 months hence the £100k in the 5 year forward plan and not for this year.

 

The consultation received 58 responses in total.

  • 64% Positive
  • 10% Neutral
  • 26% Negative

 

The consultation consisted of;

  • Social Media Communications;
  • Dedicated page on the Council website;
  • Hand delivered letter to all of the High Street businesses inviting them to comment;
  • Email to Epping Town Council to cascade to Town Councillors and Epping Market Stall Holders; and
  • Email to Ward Councillors.

 

The results show a clear majority in favour of retaining the scheme and it should be noted that usually in consultations such as this it was the people who were not happy that tend to respond.

 

Supplementary question by G Foy to Councillor J Philip, Finance, Qualis Client and Economic Development Portfolio Holder

 

It was easier to state 64% but to be clear it was less than 50% of the people sitting in this room, it was only 37 people that responded to say they wanted it to be permanent. I have asked questions of officers, who wont respond, would you be happy for the Council to spend another £100k and take away 15 parking spaces. I have spoken to many of the independent traders and retailers and none of them are happy with this proposal so its no good saying 64% when the numbers really were 37 out of 8,000 people who live in Epping and the surrounding area. This consultation took place a year ago when people were concerned with social distancing. Mr Foy asked the Councillors that were here tonight to consider whether or not there should be another consultation survey as a result of the pandemic now being over.

 

Response given by Councillor J Philip, Finance, Qualis Client and Economic Development Portfolio Holder

 

Councillor Philip stated that he was distressed to hear what Mr Foy was saying, he was clearly listening to places that are not reflecting the proper value of the Hight Street. Many of the businesses have been spoken to and are in favour of this scheme and I believe Mr Foy was putting far too much emphasis on what a few people post on social media and on the Everything Epping Forest website, which was certainly not a reliable place of opinion.

 

It was to replace a temporary surface, it was something that was well welcomed, if Mr Foy wants to go sown into numbers and talk about 37 in favour we then have to look at the 26% of those that were against it, so there were many fewer people against doing the replacement work than there were in favour. However, it was not simply down to looking at the results of a survey, one of the things we were elected to do was to represent our district. I have spoken to my fellow members from Epping Forest, I have spoken to people who actually live and work on the High Street and the vast majority of them are in favour of replacing this temporary surface with a permanent surface, therefore this was clearly something that the Council need to do. There was a temporary surface there and the Council would have to pay to replace it with a permanent surface or remove it. Given that the overwhelming impression was positive that was why it was in the budget as an item. When it came forward to the monies actually being spent decisions would be made in the normal way to spend that money.