Have your say on Essex County Council’s budget priorities
Residents and businesses have the opportunity to tell Essex County Council about their priorities for spending in the next financial year through an online budget consultation.
The insights gained from the survey will be used to help inform thinking as the Council develops its spending plans for 2020/21.
Every year ECC spends around £2 billion on essential services for the people of Essex such as social care, highways and education. However for every £1 the County Council received five years ago from government to fund these services, only 37p is received today. More and more people that live in the county are accessing and using ECC services, but costs are also increasing.
Leader of the Council, Cllr David Finch, said: “Our effectiveness as a Council was confirmed last week when for the second year running, Essex was named in the top ten most productive councils by the consultants Impower.
“But year on year, the money we receive from Government has been reducing, meaning that we have to make very important and sometimes difficult decisions on where we spend it, and where we could make savings. We are also affected by factors such as inflation and the National Living Wage in the same way all large employers are.
“That is why we are consulting with residents and local businessesin Essex, to find out what their priorities are. We have already had to make over £370m of savings over the past five years, so it really is important to gather the views and ideas from residents and businesses before the planning process begins.”
The consultation can be accessed here: https://consultations.essex.gov.uk/rci/budget-consultation-2020/
Community Information Day
A Community Information Day is being held at the Braintree Museum on Thursday 28th November. The aim of the event is to showcase and promote many of the services available in Braintree District for older people, including those living with dementia and their carers and those at risk of loneliness and social isolation.
The event is free to enter and more details of the venue and timings can be found here.
Braintree's Energy Switch
This scheme is designed to help residents get a better deal on their gas and electricity bills. See here for full details.
Local Plan Update
Braintree District’s Local Plan was submitted to the Planning Inspector in October 2017 and public hearings were held in January and May 2018 to consider Section 1 of the Plan.
This Strategic Section 1 Plan is also shared with two other North Essex Authorities, Colchester Borough and Tendring District Councils, and examines policies for local developments in North Essex, including proposals for three new Garden Communities.
In June 2018 the Planning Inspector agreed that 716 homes needed to be built in Braintree District each year until 2033. However, he considered that the Section 1 Plan, as submitted, was not sound and needed significantly more work, particularly in relation to the Garden Communities, which the three NEAs felt were the best solution to protecting existing towns and villages against urban sprawl.
The NEAs agreed to act in concert to carry out the further work required on the evidence base and a sustainability appraisal and then submit their revised strategic proposals for the Inspector’s examination.
In December 2018 a pause in the planning process was announced to enable this work to take place.
During the early part of this year the NEAs undertook another sustainability appraisal, produced more documents for the evidence base and made suggestions for additional Local Plan amendments.
After consideration by BDC these changes were put forward for public consultation before being resubmitted to the Planning Inspector.
The consultation period closed on the 30th September.
Online information on the amendments and changes can be found at www.braintree.gov.uk/NEAtechS1. The same information, together with copies of the consultation documents, was available in local libraries.
After this public consultation a report for the NEAs will be produced, detailing the Inspector’s conclusions and recommendations and including any further modifications required for the Local Plan. Another public consultation will then be needed before the Inspector’s report is completed.
Section 2 of the Local Plan, which only contains site specific policies/allocations for Braintree District, remains with the Planning Inspectorate – it will only be considered once Section 1 has progressed.
Extended GP Surgery Hours
It is now possible to get an evening or weekend appointment with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional at one of six NHS Extended Access Hubs across Essex, including the Elizabeth Courtauld Surgery in Halstead. Further information about where the Extended Access Hubs are located, their opening times and how to book an appointment can be found here.
Braintree District Council's Corporate Strategy Consultation
What do you think Braintree District Council's priorities should be during the next four years?
It is now consulting on its Corporate Strategy for 2020-2024 and residents have a chance to say what they think its focus should be over the next four years.
It’s important that BDC meets the needs of the district and addresses some of the challenges that communities and businesses are facing; everyone taking part in this consultation will be part of making that happen.
The survey can be found at www.braintree.gov.uk/cs2020-24
Concessionary Bus Pass Consultation - Park and Ride Services
Essex County Council was consulting on the use of older persons' bus passes on County Council run Park and Ride services in Essex.
It was also consulting on making a reduced charge for people using the disability-based bus pass before 9am on these services.
The consultation period concluded on 31st July.
Please note: neither of these proposals will affect the use of bus passes on normal local bus services.
Victim Support is looking for volunteers
Victim Support is a charity supporting victims of crime - last year it helped over 3,000 people in Essex and is currently looking to recruit new volunteers to help deliver its service. More details about what's required and who to contact can be found here.
Parish/District Council Elections – May 2019
There were only five nominations for the available Parish Council seats, so the the persons whose names appear here are duly elected without a contest.
There were three candidates for the single District Council position: the election result can be found here.
Braintree Council's Community Transport Scheme
Community Transport has been in operation for 20 years and is a service dedicated to providing subsidised transport to non-profit making groups and individuals within Braintree District. It can provide ad hoc, one-off or regular transport using minibuses or cars:
Minibus Scheme for Group Hire
Five fully accessible 12-seater minibuses are available, either with a driver or on a self-drive basis. Annual membership is £25, with a mileage rate of £1.50/mile (the minimum fare is £35). So a local trip of under 20 miles would cost just £35.
Groups can use the service for visits to places of interest (seaside/stately homes), ad hoc/weekly shopping trips, pub lunch outings etc.
Multiple buses may be hired and can be used for trips anywhere in the UK.
Social Car Scheme for Individual Hire
Cars are available with a driver Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5.00pm. Annual membership is £20, and trips cost £3.50 up to5 miles one way or £7.00 return. The service can be used for access to the local community and services, shopping, keeping health-related doctor or hospital appointments, social outings or visits to friends and family.
Passengers can be taken to and from anywhere within Braintree District – the exceptions are for hospital visits in Chelmsford and Colchester, where a drop-off service only is available.
Dial-A-Ride Scheme for Individual Wheelchair Users
For people who use mobility aids, need to travel in their wheelchair, or cannot get into a car, a specially-equipped minibus with a tail lift and low access steps is available, under similar terms to the Social Car Scheme.
E-mail any questions you may have about the scheme to: email@example.com or telephone: 01376 557 883.
Further details are available at: www.braintree.gov.uk/communitytransport
Braintree, Halstead & Witham Citizens Advice
From 14th January there have been changes to the way in which to contact Citizens Advice - the new arrangements are detailed here.
DaRT F315 Bus Service - Timetable Changes
Following further customer feedback, there are some more timetable changes to the F315 bus service between Halstead and Sudbury.
Full details of the revised service and the Winter 2018/19 timetable can be found here.
Proposal for a Parish Room in the grounds of the Round Church
The Parochial Church Council of St John the Baptist, Little Maplestead, is proposing to build a small Parish Room in the grounds of the Round Church. The Church is currently the only building in the village which can be used by the community and, although the Parish is very lucky to have such a wonderful Church, its facilities are very limited.
The main purpose of the proposed Parish Room will be to support the Church’s mission, but it will always be secondary and subservient to the main building, both in appearance and purpose. It is intended to provide a flexible open space that will also be available to the whole community for other Parish events.
The proposed location of the Parish Room is in the northwest corner of the churchyard, as shown in the diagram (left).
As can be seen from the model photograph (right), the eastern elevation will be glazed to afford a vernacular view of the Church.
The model, and all the draft plans, were put on display in the Church a few days before the Wednesday 19th December Carol Service and remained there for people to see and comment on. A comments box for people to give their views anonymously, in a sealed envelope should they prefer, was available; alternatively, comments can be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Parochial Church Council invited all residents of Little Maplestead, and Church supporters, to a meeting in the Round Church on Sunday 13th January 2019 at 10.00am to hear more about, and discuss their views on, this proposal.
There was a short presentation and members of the PCC were available to answer parishioners’ questions. Refreshments were provided.
Essex Library Services Strategy (2019-2024)
Cllr Susan Barker, Cabinet Member for Customer and Corporate Services at Essex County Council, launched a survey to enable Essex residents to help make decisions about the future of Essex Library Services.
ECC recognises that library services play a unique and valued role in society but, in the last five years, library use in Essex has slumped: book loans have almost halved and fewer than one in five residents use libraries. The current service therefore needs to change to fit the way people live now and in the future.
Earlier in the year residents were asked for their views on their library service. As a result, a set of proposals has been developed, which are set out in a five-year plan draft strategy document.
This draft strategy outlines a service that:
• Keeps books and reading at the heart of the library service offer
• Embraces digital technology and e-library services
• Has a smaller number of libraries that better meet community needs
• Works in partnership with communities to run library services.
Essex County Council need to run a library service that is viable and relevant to people’s lives. The strategy proposals therefore include some significant changes to the current service, which is why ECC are seeking residents’ views.
More information about the proposals can be found at: www.essex.gov.uk/libraries-consultation.
During the consultation period ECC also held information drop-ins at local libraries, providing a further opportunity for residents to ask questions, complete the consultation survey and find out more.
The consultation closed at midnight on Wednesday 20th February 2019.
All the consultation responses will be analysed and the findings published on the consultation website. These will also be available on request for those without internet access. Any proposed changes resulting from the consultation will be considered when the strategy plan is finalised in summer 2019.
Essex Fire & Rescue Plan
Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex launched a survey asking the people of Essex for their views on the priorities to be included in the county’s first ever Fire and Rescue Plan, which is needed to:
- ensure that people stay safe
- reduce the number who are killed or seriously injured
- minimise the damage to property and businesses.
The plan is being developed with input from groups and individuals who work in, alongside and with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. The aim of the survey was to make sure that the priorities being proposed reflect what the people of Essex expect from this service.
The Plan will run from 2019 to 2024 and will be the basis on which the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service will be held to account for its performance. The document will mirror the Police and Crime Plan, which sets the priorities for policing in Essex.
The survey closed at midnight on Tuesday January 15th 2019.
Community Policing Team Changes
A consequence of the formation of Braintree’s Community Policing Team (CPT) in 2015 was a reduction in the number of community officers and a withdrawal of ‘beat officers’ from some local areas.
This means that local residents tend not to know who their local officers are – and the Community Policing Team is, in many cases, a faceless entity.
Since taking charge in February 2018, Inspector Colin Cox’s priorities have been to change how the local police interact with the public, encouraging greater community engagement and increasing the number of Police Officers on the Community Policing Team.
CPT numbers remain small but, in order to give residents the best possible service, Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have now been allocated specific local areas of responsibility.
This has been done to help officers develop a culture of ownership and pride in their area, so improving their relationship with residents. This change to their way of working will also enable officers quickly to identify, and get an early understanding of, local issues and direct people towards the most suitable agency for the best help.
The local Community Officers with responsibility for the Halstead area, which includes The Maplesteads, are:
PC 3655 Craig Wheeler : e-mail Craig.Wheeler@essex.pnn.police.uk
PC 2613 Andy Pilgrim : e-mail Andy.Pilgrim@essex.pnn.police.uk
PC 2457 Paul Norman : e-mail Paul.Norman@essex.pnn.police.uk
PCSO 70714 John Thorne : e-mail John.Thorne@essex.pnn.police.uk
PCSO 70955 Joanne Cooper : e-mail Joanne.Cooper@essex.pnn.police.uk
These officers will be the initial points of contact for any community concerns.
The CPT’s e-mail address – BraintreeandUttlesfordCPT@essex.pnn.police.uk – is monitored daily and residents with any questions or concerns can also use it to contact Inspector Cox or members of his team.
And remember: only call 999 for emergencies; for any non-urgent enquiries call 101
Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust Planned Merger
Plans are being discussed to merge Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust (MEHT), which includes Broomfield, Braintree Community hospital and St Peter’s in Maldon, with the hospital trusts in Basildon and Southend.
As these plans continue to be firmed up, there is a need to prepare to elect Governors from the Mid-Essex region for what will become the new merged trust; these people will help to ensure that the needs and interests of those living in the area currently covered by MEHT are given due weight.
Governors will be elected by and from those who are registered as members of the MEHT, so the imperative is to maximise membership numbers as quickly as possible. Details about becoming a member of the Trust can be found here and anyone who is interested should also be able to apply to join from the same page – if there are problems, a request can be e-mailed to email@example.com.
All local residents, since they have a direct stake in these planned changes, are eligible to sign up as members. There is no cost and no obligation in doing so, but only MEHT members will be able to vote when the election for Governors takes place.
Nick Alston, Chairman of MEHT, is keen to encourage all residents not only to sign up as members but also, when the time comes – in the early autumn – to consider standing as a Governor of the new merged Trust. More information about a Governor’s role can be found here.
Data Protection – Making Sure Your Information is Safe
With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into law in May 2018, Little Maplestead Parish Council – as a publically-accountable body which has access to, and makes use of, your personal data – must now seek positive consents for how it uses new data in order to keep in touch.
If you have previously consented to receive information about the Council's activities, regular Meeting Agendas, Minutes and, exceptionally, any urgent community information, the Council is permitted to continue to send you such information because there is a ‘legitimate interest’ in you continuing to receive it. You may, of course, opt out of receiving any information by advising the Clerk of your change of consent.
Each Parishioner who has not already consented to receiving information from the Council will need to complete, sign and return a new Data Protection Consent Form, which can be downloaded here, in order to provide the necessary consents required by the GDPR. Completed forms can either be returned to the Clerk electronically or in hard copy form, or you can e-mail your acceptance of the consent terms to the Clerk.
Full details of how the Council must in future protect and be responsible for any personal data it holds, as well as your improved rights with regard to how they are used, is contained in the Council’s Privacy Notice, which can be read here.
Changes to Essex Library Services
As a result of the Public Consultation carried out by Essex County Council at the end of 2017, Library Services across the County have now been rationalised.
This unfortunately means that, as of the 2nd April 2018, the Mobile Library no longer serves Little Maplestead; the average number of customers during its fortnightly visits was latterly fewer than one...
Further details of the Library Service changes can be found here.
Essex Energy Switch
Essex County Council is continuing its backing for a collective energy switching scheme for residents and small businesses who want to economise by cutting their gas and electricity bills.
Essex Energy Switch is a completely free, easy, safe and secure way to cut your energy bills without the frustration of having to spend time comparing prices and tariffs on various energy comparison websites.
Visit www.essex.gov.uk/energyswitch to find out more information about Essex Energy Switch, how it works and how you can benefit.
Illegal Pedlar Activity
Essex Police and Neighbourhood Watch are warning residents about reports of illegal door-to-door salesmen targetting towns across the county. More information about these pedlars is contained here. Anyone suspecting that this activity is happing in their locality is being encouraged to report it to the police by calling 101.
Community Governance Review
Braintree District Council was required to review the overall governance of all Town and Parish Councils within the District.
The review focused on:
- The appropriateness of present Town/Parish boundaries
- The numbers of Town/Parish Councillors
- Town/Parish Council names and any warding agreements
The consultation has now closed, but you can find out more about the review and view comments at www.braintree.gov.uk/cgr.
Braintree's 'Tell Me More' Initiative
Residents and businesses in Braintree District can now sign up and subscribe to a new e-mail update service on various topics of their choice, ranging from refuse recycling and street cleaning to planning news, health and well-being tips, events, job vacancies or emergency alerts.
There will also be an e-mail newsletter especially for businesses in the district.
Stansted Airport Development Consultation
In advance of submitting a planning application to raise its current passenger numbers cap, Stansted Airport carried out a series of eight Community Consultation Exhibitions between 6th – 19th July 2017. Feedback from these will inform its proposals for future increases in runway use and the effect of this on the wider region.
An initial study of how the future development of Stansted would affect the wider region was laid out in Stansted’s 2015 Sustainable Development Plan, the final version of which can be viewed at www.stanstedairport.com.
Local Plan Consultation
The latest Draft of the Local Plan Document for North Essex was issued on 16th June 2017. The Public Consultation has now closed, with comments and feedback informing the next stage of the process.
The two-part document can be viewed by clicking on the links below:
- Section 1 – Strategic Plan for North Essex, including the proposed Garden Communities
- Section 2 – Policies, maps and sites for development, housing, employment and regeneration within Braintree District
More information, together with downloadable versions of the Local Plan and its appendices, is at: https://www.braintree.gov.uk/publicationdraftlp