District Councillor Melvin Caton


District Councillor Melvin Caton provides an update for May of how Uttlesford is playing its part to deal with the crisis in Ukraine and to manage the escalating Cost of Living Crisis. 

After the unexpected drama of Uttlesford’s Planning Department being designated because of poor performance in deciding major planning applications over the 2018-2020 period last month, the District Councillors report this month outlines the important local actions taken to mitigate decisions taken on the national and international stage.

Help with the Cost of living

Earlier in the winter Stansted councillors were successful in persuading the District Council to write to the Government to oppose the cutting of the £20 uplift in Universal Credit provided during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the government continued with the cut, but locally district councillors donated nearly £6000 from their personal councillors; allowances to the Uttlesford Foodbank and the Citizen’s Advice’s Energy Fund to support local families in need.

At the February budget meeting a proposal by Cllr Khan to provide a one off £100 grant to nearly 1000 working households in Uttlesford to help towards their Council Tax bills in 2022/23 financial year was passed unanimously by the council. With energy costs escalating the District Council has been successful in getting funding to support low income home owners in fuel poverty to improve the energy efficiency of their property.

The scheme will be able to support up to 116 properties. If you want more information about the Green Homes Grants phone 0808 196 8255 or put into your browser surveys.est.org.uk/s/GreenHomesGrantSchemeLAD.

Refugees from Ukraine

Like the rest of the country, residents in Uttlesford have been keen to support the refugees from the war in Ukraine and have been frustrated by the slow response at the national level. At the beginning of April 47 refugees from Ukraine were in Uttlesford, staying with 30 host families. The District Council are responsible for inspecting the homes and for carrying out any necessary Disclosure & Barring Service checks on host families.

Any arriving families with school-age children are having to apply to local schools through the same systems as if they had just moved into the district from another part of the UK, though our schools are understood to being extremely responsive and being advised to register with a local GP again in the same way as if they’d just moved here from elsewhere in the UK.

At the time of writing, a way of linking up incoming refugees and host families with wider support from local communities in their neighbourhoods, has not been established. The kind of voluntary support from local communities is something that they will be able to access as and when they choose by reaching out directly or through their host families.

Planning Matters

And finally some important information on a couple of planning matters. The first draft of the proposed Local Plan containing the proposed locations for development in Uttlesford up to 2040 is now likely to be published at end of May, rather than the beginning of the month.

Secondly, a New Director of Planning at Uttlesford DC, Dean Hermitage, has been appointed and will be in post by the end of June. Dean currently works for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in Whitehall. He has previously worked for Harringay and Southend-on-Sea Councils. Dean lives with his family in Chelmsford.