To receive matters of report from the Leader and members of the Executive.
The Leader said he was sure members would wish to join him in passing on condolences to the family and friends of the Council’s former housing officer Mary Rowe, and of Alan Johnson, who had been the neighbourhood watch co-ordinator for very many years, both of whom had sadly passed away in recent weeks.
He referred to a booklet produced by the Essex Police Rural Crime Strategy publicising the role of Essex Police in combating rural crime, copies of which were available at the meeting.
With the Chief Executive he had attended the Essex leaders and chief executives meeting to receive an update from Dr Andrew Sentence in his role as advisor to the Essex Economic Commission on the theme of “Enterprising Essex, Meeting the Challenge”. Dr Sentence had reported that the skills base for promoting business growth in Essex was not good and this had a negative impact on GDP. Pro-rata to the size of its economy, Essex had below the expected level of medium size businesses in the county. He highlighted the challenges this presented and the factors needed to boost skill levels and economic growth. These included improved further education provision to help promote the skills needed, the availability of work space and improved connectivity. A further challenge involved the Essex coastal communities.
The Government had launched a consultation under the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 on the principles of establishing locally led development corporations. If enacted, there would be a power available to establish development corporations. The consultation ended on 2 January 2018.
He drew attention to the availability of planning delivery grants to assist with the delivery of garden communities. The three themes were joint working, design quality and innovations. Expressions of interest were invited by 11 January and he intended the Council would be submitting bids.
As the executive member for housing, Councillor Redfern outlined the main achievements of the housing development programme both for last year (149 affordable units) and the coming year (increasing the total to170 affordable units). New or replacement affordable houses had been, or were being, built at a number of locations in the district including:
· Rural exception sites at Newport and Little Hallingbury
· Reynolds Court – 1st phase and 2nd phase
· Hatherley remodelling first phase early 2018, 2nd phase to follow
· Walden Place – examining options
· Sheds Lane garage replacements under construction, one unit adapted for a severely disabled child
· Newton Grove, Great Dunmow starting next year
· Frambury Lane, Newport
· The Moors, Little Dunmow replacement units at the planning stage
· Walden Road, Radwinter
She also reported that a further refugee family had been allocated Council accommodation and would be taking up occupation before Christmas.
Councillor Ranger reported on his attendance at a health issues conference at Genome on 21 November entitled “prevention is better than cure”. This had reported on digital progress and the co-ordination of actions across the services. The reported obesity rates for over 65s were truly alarming.
He reported that the communities team at Uttlesford was an internal consultee on planning applications for over 25 dwellings. Consultation already took place on environmental issues and it seemed proper that this process should be extended to incorporate community and social concerns.
The Health and Wellbeing Board had now published its delivery plan for 2017/18 listing and tracking projects across the district. This would help to advance the Council’s five core principles of health and wellbeing.
A review of funding streams for voluntary organisations was under way. Finally, he reminded members of the urgent need to ensure their ward member allowances were allocated for use.
On behalf of Councillor Ryles who was not present, Councillor S Barker read a position statement relating to the superfast Essex broadband rollout in Uttlesford. Essex County Council had signed a contract with Gigaclear to rollout ultrafast fibre broadband to 4,600 homes and businesses in the district by December 2019 as one of three lots procured under phase 3 of the programme. The technology provided by Gigaclear meant that fibre would run directly to each property to provide faster speeds as part of an entirely new underground fibre network. This would provide protection from the elements with no wires or masts above ground. Information would be shared with parishes and local communities and would be added to the website.