Agenda and minutes

Stronger Communities Select Committee
Tuesday, 1st October, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

Contact: J. Leither (01992 564243)  Email:


No. Item


Webcasting Introduction

This meeting is to be webcast. Members are reminded of the need to activate their microphones before speaking.


The Chairman will read the following announcement:


“This meeting will be webcast live to the Internet and will be archived for later viewing. Copies of recordings may be made available on request.


By entering the chamber’s lower seating area you consenting to becoming part of the webcast.


If you wish to avoid being filmed you should move to the public gallery or speak to the webcasting officer”.

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The Chairman reminded everyone present that the meeting would be broadcast live to the internet and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.



Substitute Members (Council Minute 39 - 23.07.02)

To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.

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The following substitutions were reported:


            That Councillor R Brookes substituted for Councillor A Beales; and


            That Councillor H Kane substituted for Councillor S Rackham.



Declarations of Interest

To declare interests in any item on the agenda.

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There were no declarations of interest made pursuant to the Council’s Code of Member Conduct.



Notes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 151 KB

To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 2 July 2019.


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That the notes of previous meeting of the Stronger Communities Select Committee held on 2 July 2019 were agreed as a correct record.



Terms of Reference & Work Programme pdf icon PDF 197 KB

(Chairman/Lead Officer) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee has agreed the terms of reference and work programme for the select committee. Members are invited at each meeting to review both documents. 


Additional documents:


The Chairman, Councillor Y Knight advised that the Terms of Reference and work programme for the Select Committee had been agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


(a)             Terms of Reference


The Select Committee noted the Terms of Reference as there had been no changes.


Councillor J H Whitehouse referred to the Terms of Reference Items (1) and (8) as below:


(1)        To engage in policy review and development, with a focus on improvement and how this can be best achieved; and


(8)        To monitor and review relevant projects and associated closure and benefits reports.


She asked if there was a list of the policy review and development and relevant projects that were already taking place so that Members knew what topics were encompassed by this Select Committee and could decide if there was anything that the Select Committee members would like to know more about.


The Customer Services Director, R Pavey stated that a list could be generated and advised that there were policies relevant to this Select Committees work programme, which centred around the design of services around the Customer and was an opportunity for this Committee to suggest topics that they would like to scrutinise.


(b)             Work Programme


The 2019/20 work programme would be updated following each meeting to reflect the ongoing progress. The items on the current work programme had been assigned deadline dates for when the Committee would consider these items throughout the year and it would evolve to include suggestions from the Select Committee.


The Chairman, Councillor Y Knight referred to the work programme and stated that it was up to this Select Committee to put forward ideas and highlighted item 12, Health and Wellbeing Strategy – To consider outcomes for the district. Would anyone have any ideas of what this Select Committee could put forward.


Members agreed new items to be considered by the Select Committee:


·        A review on Sheltered Housing;

·        A presentation from a Loughton based group called GROW Community Garden which help people who are socially isolated; and

·        A Group/Organisation that could give a presentation of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and the people who it affected.


The Chairman suggested that an event / open day be organised inviting the Mental Health Services that we have in the district to present their services and for all councillors to be invited to attend to bring awareness of the services that were available in the district.


Councillor A Patel, Portfolio Holder (Commercial and Regulatory Services) stated that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were reviewing Mental Health services in West Essex and that they were receiving a presentation from the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust at their meeting on the 17 March 2020.




(1)   That the Select Committee noted the Terms of Reference; and


(2)   That the new topics listed below be added to the Work Programme;


·        A review on Sheltered Housing;

·        A presentation from a Loughton based group called GROW Community Garden which help people who are socially isolated; and

·        A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.



To receive a presentation with regard to the Switch Digital Inclusion Project.

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The Customer Services Director, R Pavey gave a presentation to update the Select Committee on the Switch Digital Inclusion Project he advised that this would be in two parts, Switch Project and Digital Buddies.


At the last meeting of the Stronger Communities SC the Customer Services Director gave a presentation on the Switch Digital Inclusion Project and advised that the Council were working with Citizens Online, a registered charity whose aim was to ensure the benefits of the internet and digital technology was available to everyone. Citizens Online have now presented an 80 page document to the Council with recommendations for action within the district which they would like the Council to undertake.


(1)        Switch Project


What’s the story in Epping Forest


·        Older population than UK average;

·        Thriving, well connected third sector and community spirit;

·        Good level of willingness to be Digital Champions

EFDC staff – 46% and Partner Organisations – 75%;

·        Organisations are at different stages of transformation;

·        Group to support those claiming Universal Credit; and

·        Better joint working with libraries.




  • Establish a Digital Inclusion Network.
  • Launch a Digital Buddies programme,

1 Digital Buddy for every 100 people and there were 21,000 people therefore 210 Digital Buddies were needed.


The Digital Champions Network


·        Membership of resource network including e-Learning;

·        CPD / Mozilla accreditation;

·        Online Community Forum; and

·        Session Plans and worksheets.


Triage and Signposting


Skills and support


(a)   Assess the current skill level and rate of the customer’s ability, can they:

·        Start up and shut down a computer;

·        Use a keyboard and mouse;

·        Use a tablet;

·        Connect to the internet on a smartphone.


(b)   If they are capable of basic skills then either help them there and then or signpost to a Digital Champion drop in session.




Establish whether they have a device that can be connected to the internet and if not:


·        Signpost to a location where there is equipment they can use for example a library.


If they have a device but no internet connection:


·        Signpost to locations with free wifi.


Strategic Leadership


(a)   Support and promote the work of the DI network;

(b)   Embed DI into all procurement frameworks;

(c)   Digital Leadership and Lifelong learning for staff and residents;

(d)   Embed DI into HR process.


Centralise all information about digital skills into one place.


Geographic Recommendations


It was recommended that the areas most needing the support were Waltham Abbey and the South West Corridor. These were the areas with the higher levels of older residents on pension credit. It was noted that 4 out of every 5 residents on pension credit lived alone and suffered with isolation and loneliness.


Councillor R Brookes asked approximately how many people in the EF District were claiming housing benefit.


The Customer Services Director advised that there were approximately 8,000 people claiming housing benefit in the District.


Councillor J Lea stated that there were a lot of older people who did not have computers or internet and asked how would they get the help needed.


The Customers Services  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.



To receive a presentation with regard to the development of the Council’s Customer Service Strategy.


Additional documents:


The Customer Services Manager, Susan Lewis gave a presentation on the Customer Service Strategy. She advised the Select Committee that the Customers were at the heart of everything.


The Council were keen to know what the customer wanted, and early indications showed this to be honest and open, transparent, helpful and trust in what we do.


A recent poll showed that the highest rated organisation in public services for their customer experience was the Post Office, Debenhams and First Direct topped the poll for their customer experience (as reported by the Institute of Customer Service).


The secret to their success was they all have the following in common:

·        An organisation that is simple to deal with;

·        Helpful staff; and

·        Easy to use website.


Here at Epping Forest, if our customers are saying ….


·        You know me and understand my needs;

  • I can access your services how and when I want;
  • You not only respond to my needs but offer me advice and support on other services;
  • When you get it wrong you put it right and you act upon my feedback;
  • Your staff really put themselves in my shoes, they show they care with everything they say and do;
  • You don’t stand still you adapt to my changing needs; and
  • Most importantly I trust you – you are open, honest and transparent at all times.


…Then we will know we are delivering a great customer experience.


Our Customers are anyone that the Council provides a service to:


·        Residents;

·        Members;

·        Colleagues; and

·        Businesses.


Key facts from the Digital Inclusion report:


·        District population 124,659

·        Number households: 54,000

·        Working age in receipt of benefits: 8,700

·        State pension in receipt of benefits: 25,795.


Key facts from the Essex County Profile report:


·        Higher than average waste recycling levels

·        Increasing number of people with dementia

·        Highest rise in house prices

·        Fourth longest average travel time by public transport or walking to key services

·        Below average percentage of residents satisfied with roads and local transport

·        Ageing population impacting availability of health care, housing and care homes.

The way Customers contact the Council




Most Common Reason


(to the

Customer Contact Centre)


29,981 calls (Q1 2019)


37.31% resolved by contact centre

57.49% internally transferred

00.29% 3rd party referral

00.17% customer to follow up

01.00% referred to County




Council Tax




Highways & Recycling Centre


(to Council Tax)


95.48% resolved

01.28% internal transfer

02.07% referred to County


Council Tax

‘Contact Us’

Web forms

2,745 (Q1 2019) vs 2,018 (Q1 2018)

Savings of £27,303.84 per annum in channel shift


Special collections, missed collections and fly tipping

Face to face

21,343 visitors in past year

1,778 in past month


Main reason was to collect recycling sacks




Waste & Planning



68,5000 engagements (clicks/likes) in past month

861 (on newsfeeds, visibility)


Various ie Local Plan


Key fact: Cost for interaction - £8.62 (face to face), £2.83 (phone), 15p (digital interaction).


Therefore, it would be more economical to educate our customers to contact us via our  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.



(Service Director (Customer Services)) To consider the attached report.

Additional documents:


The Customer Services Director, R Pavey presented a report to the Select Committee on what our customers are telling us.


The report updated Members on the feedback customers were providing on the services they received from the Council. The feedback included customer satisfaction performance, compliments and complaints. As the customer engagement process developed through a new customer service strategy the feedback will incorporate a more comprehensive view from residents, businesses and visitors.


Customer Satisfaction was currently measured via feedback provided through the Govmetric solution. Whilst this was useful in terms of feedback provided for a range of services via telephone, e-mail and web, it was not exhaustive in terms of every service through these channels, nor could it measure satisfaction of those who have not needed to contact us. Officers are working towards solutions that will provide the Council with a more holistic measure.


The feedback results from Govmetric for the period 1 June 2019 to 31 August 2019 were:





Not Satisfied

Number of respondents




Percentage of respondents












Number of respondents




Percentage of respondents












Number of respondents




Percentage of respondents












Number of respondents




Percentage of respondents





At the last meeting of the Select Committee more information was requested and the statistics show how customers were using our new website:


  • There were 309 published pages at 31 August 2019, this did not include news stories or search results. There was a 41% decrease from the 525 website pages at 31 August 2018. This demonstrated a leaner website with redundant pages having been removed.


  • During the 7 months from 1 February 2019 to 31 August 2019 there were 585,440 visits, an increase of 6.2% on the same 7-month period in 2018.


  • Over the same comparative period the number of page views decreased by 23.2%. this shows that in the main, and notwithstanding some issues identified in paragraph 3 above visitors are achieving their business in a more direct website journey.


Councillor J H Whitehouse asked for a more detailed report showing areas of complaints and would also like to see the new report quoting numbers and not percentages.


The Customer Services Director advised that the column before the percentages was the actual number of complaints which was then put into percentages in the nest column. He also added that comparing the number of contacts the Council had the complaints were very small.


Councillor Wixley queried pages 30 and 31 of the report and asked the Customer Services Director why in Stage 1, Street naming and numbering there were 0% but in the Stage 2 column the figure was 2.86% and how this had come about. He also asked about page 32 Loughton Fairmead, Car parking and that it stated not resolved 1, could he also have some explanation on what that was about as he was the ward Member for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Essex Police - Policing & Crime Issues

The local District Commander for Essex Police, Chief Inspector Lewis Basford, will be attending the next meeting of the Select Committee (4 February 2020), to report to members with regard to current policing and crime issues across the Epping Forest District.


The Committee is therefore asked to consider appropriate lines of questioning to be raised with Chief Inspector Basford at the meeting. The identification of specific lines of questioning to be raised withChief Inspector Basford will also be sought from members through the Council Bulletin.


Additional documents:


The Local District Commander for Essex Police, Chief Inspector Lewis Basford will be attending the next meeting of the Stronger Communities Select Committee on the 4 February 2019, to report to Members with regard to current policing and crime issues across the Epping Forest District.


Members are therefore invited to submit questions for Chief Inspector Lewis Basford for the attention of Jackie Leither at by the 31 October 2019, so they may be collated and submitted to Chief Inspector Basford before the meeting.


The Chairman would like to extend an invite to all Members who would like to attend.



Dates of Future Meetings

To note that future meetings of the Select Committee will be held at 7.00pm on:


4 February 2020; and

21 April 2020.


With the agreement of the Chairman of the Committee, the next meeting will now be held on 4 February 2020, rather than the original scheduled date of 21 January 2020.

Additional documents:


It was noted that future meetings of the Select Committee would be held at 7.00pm on:


  • 4 February 2020; and
  • 21 April 2020.


The Select Committee noted the change of date of the next meeting from 21 January 2020 to 4 February 2020.