High Winds Flip Light Aircraft

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Image of the flipped Cessna CE175 from the front

The recovery of a light aircraft was delayed by severe weather after high winds at North Weald Airfield flipped it onto its back early yesterday morning (11 January 2007). No-one was harmed in the incident as the Cessna CE175 was parked at the time.

Image of the flipped Cessna CE175 from the sideImage of the recovery of the flipped Cessna CE175

However it has probably been written off in the incident after sustaining damage to the fuselage, tailplane, propeller and both wings.

Council Issues Apology for Planning Errors

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An apology has been made by Epping Forest District Council for a series of mistakes that led to an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman into a planning application. Administrative errors combined with heavy workloads, staff vacancies, new procedures and a drive to reduce decision times may have contributed to the errors for which the Council was asked to pay £250 compensation.

The low level of compensation reflects the Ombudsman`s view that despite the mistakes, little direct harm was caused to the complainant.

The complaint focused on a planning application in 2005 for a new house in the Green Belt. The decision to grant permission was taken by Council officers under delegated authority and never referred to councillors. Due to a number of administrative errors, the subsequent permission was issued without important conditions including the demolition of the existing house and the removal of permitted development rights. The outcome was that the original house was retained and the new house was larger than the permission the Council had intended to grant.

Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg who became Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development after the permission was issued said: We have let down the residents of Epping Forest in this case and I am sorry for the harm this has caused. We have accepted the findings of the Ombudsman. Changes to our systems had already been put in place before his report and we will now take a hard look at his recommendations to see where further improvements can be made.

Councillor Mrs Grigg continued: With around 2,000 planning applications each year it is impossible for councillors to consider every case. We rely on our staff to deal with much of the workload under delegated authority. There was a series of errors but I am pleased to see the Ombudsman accepted our staff acted in good faith throughout.

The Planning Service is under tremendous pressure. Not only do we have a huge number of applications to handle but we are under constant Government pressure to speed up decision times. At the time of this case the service was also in the middle of a major internal reorganisation and experiencing serious staff shortages. Senior officers were also heavily involved in the defence of the district against the East of England Plan development proposals.”

However, whatever the circumstances, we made a series of mistakes and I would like to assure residents that lessons will be learned.

First Responders Receive Life-Saving Equipment

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Life saving medical equipment purchased with money raised from her Chairman`s charity fund was presented by Councillor Ann Haigh to Epping Forest First Responders at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 19 December 2006.

First Responders are St John`s Ambulance volunteers attached to the East of England Ambulance Service. The new equipment will help to extend their emergency cover for residents of Epping Forest District. Volunteers can be called out by the Ambulance Service at any time of the day or night to Category A emergencies. These include people suffering from chest pains, breathing problems, unconsciousness, diabetic emergencies and heart attacks.

Roger Salmon of First Responders, thanked Councillor Mrs Haigh for her support. He said: The team of 19 currently achieves 24 hour coverage at certain times but with this extra equipment and more volunteers we aim to provide full cover 365 days a year. Councillor Haighs fundraising has already raised just over £3,000 which covers the cost of a full set of equipment, a defibrillator, oxygen equipment / airways and the bags to carry them in. If we can increase our team to around 25 or 30 people, we should be able to guarantee full 24/7 coverage.

Caption L-R: Thea Ingham, Fiona Verhagen, Sandra Newman, Peter Marchant and Chair Kay Ericson with EFDC Chairman Ann Haigh receiving brand new equipment bought with money raised by the Chairman`s Charity.

New recruits must be over 18 but don`t need a medical background. First Responders receive fours days of first aid training before becoming active members. The training usually takes place over two weekends and is followed by an assessment. They are then assessed again after 6 months and once a year thereafter. A basic level of fitness is necessary to carry heavy equipment such as defibrillators and oxygen as well as climbing staircases to reach patients. Volunteers are Police checked and must hold a driving licence with access to a car.

Roger Salmon said: We are looking for volunteers across the district. Once people are trained there are no rules on the minimum number of hours people can offer. We only ask that they are available when they say they are available. We have a very skilled rota manager, Peter Marchant who works miracles in producing the cover timetables.

Anyone who would like to know more about becoming a First Responder can call Roger Salmon on 020 8502 2049.

Council Response to East of England Plan Announcement

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Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council issued the following statement in response to the publication of the Government East of England Plan recommendations.

Click here to view Councillor Mrs Collins announcement to Members at the meeting of Full Council that was webcast on 19 December 2006

Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP published recommendations with far reaching implications for the people of Epping Forest District earlier today. If finally adopted by the Government after a period of consultation concluding on 9 March, the recommendations will direct the shape of development in Epping Forest for decades to come.

Since the first draft of the East of England Plan was produced by the East of England Regional Assembly, we have been fighting to protect our district. We are not against development in principle and have argued in favour of more house building. There is a serious shortage not only of general housing in our district but also a particular shortage of affordable housing. However, the proposals as first put forward in the East of England plan and even as subsequently amended would have meant the destruction of some of our most valuable green belt areas. The impact on our rural communities around Harlow might still be a possibility.

We have fought our corner and worked with other councils. Local Parishes such as North Weald who felt the threat of over-development in particular made impassioned pleas to protect our district. The process has taken years but we have gradually chipped away at the original plan through a process of argument and persuasion.

The process reached a critical stage with the publication of the Examination in Public inquiry findings. The most significant achievement to come out of the EiP was an acceptance of our argument that North Weald was the wrong place for large scale development and I am delighted to say that the Secretary of State has today agreed with that view.

Ruth Kelly says: Compared to Harlow North, North Weald would be more distant, less easily integrated with the existing town, likely to be dependent on disproportionately high cost public transport links to Harlow and would encourage more traffic on the M25.

While Epping Forest District Council whole-heartedly endorsed the EiP recommendations not to develop North Weald, we strongly disagreed with another major recommendation “ not to develop Harlow North and to extend Harlow boundaries considerably into the south, east and western green belt boundaries of Epping Forest.

Ruth Kelly appears to have totally rejected the opposition to Harlow North, arguing that it is by far the most appropriate site for large scale expansion of Harlow. She seems to agree with Epping Forest District Council`s argument that development in the North of Harlow offers better prospects for new jobs, housing and a general regeneration of the fortunes of Harlow, making best use of the existing infrastructure with significant improvements to access arrangements.

The overall housing allocation proposal for Harlow is 16,000. Ruth Kelly suggests that Harlow North should take at least 10,000 new homes.

However, the announcement today is not entirely good news. Epping Forest District Council`s strongest objection to the EiP recommendations was the proposed developments to the south, east and west of Harlow as part of Harlow itself and as part of our housing allocation. While some of that housing may now be more likely to appear at Harlow North, the Government keeps references to developments within the green belt areas of Epping Forest. She has also increased our housing allocation from 2,300 to 3,500.

Whilst this news is disappointing, it is tempered by further indications from Ruth Kelly that within the general allocation, she intends to give Epping Forest District and our neighbouring councils more control over the precise location of these new houses. We are encouraged to work with Harlow, East Herts, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils to develop proposals most sympathetic to us all rather than imposing an unelected Development Corporation over us.

The suggestion seems to be a jointly controlled Local Development Company under the control of the various councils working in partnership with the Government Office. If this is confirmed it will allow us to make the important decisions protecting the interests of our district and is a major victory for local democracy.

The devil is always in the detail and the recommendations published by the Government today run to several hundred pages. Our planning officers will be studying the full text over the next few weeks and we will take this one last opportunity to argue our case before the consultation closes on 9 March.

I would also recommend that councillors and residents study the detail of these recommendations which are available from the Go East Website. It is vital that having achieved so much we keep up the pressure until the final consultation deadline by showing Government the strength of our convictions to the very end.

The focus on today`s announcements is rightly on the number and location of new housing but there are other important elements too. The recommendations include reference to end the landfill disposal of untreated refuse completely by 2021. The importance of reducing and recycling our waste will only grow as the number of new households increases across the area.

The Government also gives commitments to matching any developments with water efficiencies. In it`s first response to the Government, the East of England Regional Assembly calls for Government guarantees on infrastructure and investment to support new and enlarged communities. We live in the driest region of the country. The Government is making great demands of local people and in return we should expect a reciprocal commitment to providing the investment in water, sewage, energy, transport and all the other essential infrastructure requirements.

Planning Officers will be bringing much more detailed reports to councillors in due course. However, on balance I think today we can be proud of the work we have achieved in shaping the East of England Plan and the future of our district.

Gambling Act 2005 Statement of Principles

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Licensing of premises for gambling came under the control of local Councils following the Royal Assent on 7 April of The Gambling Act 2005.

    Epping Forest District Council now has responsibility for: 

  • Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime
  • Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

The Licensing Authority will not be involved in licensing remote gambling or the individuals who operate gambling establishments, as this falls to the Gambling Commission via Operator Licences.

Click here to download the Gambling Act 2005 – Statement of Principles in pdf format

Christmas Carol Service

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Image of St John the Baptist Church Carol Service

The Annual Civic Carol Service hosted by Councillor Mrs Ann Haigh, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, was held at St John the Baptist Church in Buckhurst Hill on Friday 8 December 2006.

Councillors and staff were joined by family and guests of the Chairman for the traditional Christmas Service led by Reverend Corinne Brixton. Readings were given by Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, Councillor Malcolm Woollard, Mrs Kay Ericson of Essex Ambulance First Responders, Mrs Pat Steele of Action in Mental Health, Mrs Sheila Jackman MBE, Chairman of Ongar and District Healthcare League of Friends, and Workplace Chaplain Reverend Mike Gibbs.

The pupils of St John’s Church of England VC Primary School also sung for the appreciation of the congregation.

Image of Pupils of St John's Church of England VC Primary School singing at the Christmas Carol Service

More than £530 was raised in donation to the Church and Councillor Mrs Haigh’s Chairman’s Charities, Action in Mental Health and Essex Ambulance First Responders.

Council Accepts Ombudsman Verdict in 25 Year old Case

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A mistake twenty five years ago has been accepted by Epping Forest District Council as maladministration. The Council agreed a report by the Local Government Ombudsman that it did not carry out proper procedures in responding to a request from Essex County Council for information about the history of a local waste transfer business. A letter issued by the council in 1980 indicated that the site had an established use whereas at that time there was insufficient evidence to support the view. As a result two complainants have suffered noise, nuisance and a possible fall in the value of their properties. The Council has apologised for the error.

Essex County Council was equally criticised by the Ombudsman for taking the District Council information at face value when issuing a licence to the business. The Ombudsman has recommended that each complainant be paid £1,000, that the feasibility of relocating the transfer station continues to be pursued and if this proves not possible, to pay compensation to the complainants for any loss in value of their properties.

Councillor Mrs Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council commented on the findings of the Ombudsman. She said: This case is unique. The Ombudsman had never before been asked to go over a complaint with its origins in the early 1960s. Many of the people involved moved on long ago and we were heavily dependant on file records. While we accept and have apologised for the errors made in 1980, I am also pleased to see that the Ombudsman approved of our subsequent approach when we began to re-investigate this case in 1999, since when the Council has behaved entirely correctly.

Under the terms of the Ombudsman investigation, Epping Forest District Council is not allowed to reveal the real names and location of the business at the centre of the complaint. In his conclusion, Local Government Ombudsman Tony Redmond says: I find no maladministration in the manner in which the authorities dealt with the subsequent complaints about the site “ the District took the matter seriously and has tried to resolve a particularly intractable problem.

A full copy of the Ombudsman`s report can be found on the Local Government Ombudsman website.

Click here to view the full report from the LGO

Copies of the Ombudsman`s report can also be obtained at the Council`s information desks at Civic Offices in Epping, Town Hall, Highbridge Street in Waltham Abbey and the Library at Traps Hill in Loughton from 6 December for four weeks.

District Bursary Scheme for Sports and the Arts

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Help is at hand for talented young sportsmen and women and artists who come from the Epping Forest area.

Epping Forest District Council`s Leisure Bursary scheme provides a cash award of up to £1,500 in arts and sport categories. It must be used for specialist equipment or clothing, competition expenses, additional tuition or coaching, travel and accommodation or for arts research or developmental projects. Applicants should be aged between 13 and 25 years and living (or return to live during University or College holidays) in the Epping Forest District.

Sports applicants must be competing at National level, or at Regional Level with clear potential to attain National standards or be part of a National team. Artists can be from any artistic background and must be able to demonstrate a very high level of ability and / or achievement in their chosen art form.

The closing date for this year`s applications 26 January 2007. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on 7 February 2007 by a panel of judges and awards will be presented by Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor Ann Haigh at the Civic Reception in March. More information and an application form can be obtained from James Carstairs – Sports Development Officer on 01992 564567 or Chris Burr – Administration Assistant on 01992 564551.

Tree Warden Networks Celebrated at House of Commons

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Epping Forest District Council`s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development Councillor Anne Grigg and Landscape Officer and Arboriculturist Chris Neilan, together with Roydon Tree Warden Alan Burgess met at the House of Commons recently. The meeting, during National Tree Week, was to receive awards for a decade of commitment to protecting local trees and woods through The Tree Council`s Tree Warden Scheme.

Volunteer Tree Wardens, their local network co-ordinators (many of whom are Council officers), officials and politicians met Communities and Local Government minister Baroness Andrews at a special reception on 29 November 2006, hosted by Brian Donohoe MP, Vice President of The Tree Council. Councillor Mrs Grigg accepted an award on behalf of Epping Forest District Council for ten years` commitment to the Tree Warden Scheme.

Tree Council Chairman Sue Roe with National Grid Director of Communications Isobel Hoseason with recipient Councillor Anne Grigg, Epping Forest District Council (centre)

Councillor Mrs Grigg said: I was delighted to accept this award on behalf of the Council and all our tree wardens. They all work so hard for the benefit of everyone who lives or works in the district and it is a fantastic achievement. I look forward to the next ten years.

Countrycare the Council`s countryside management service is currently recruiting new tree wardens for an ancient tree hunt which is a continuation of its `50 Favourite Trees` initiative. For more information contact Countrycare on 01992 788203.

Councillor Sandler Presents Cheque To St Clare Hospice

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A cheque for £9,500 was presented by Councillor Brian Sandler to Richard Cowie, Chief Executive of St Clare Hospice on Monday 30 October 2006. The money was raised by Councillor Sandler during his year as Chairman of Epping Forest District Council. St Clare was one of two local charities supported by Councillor Sandler who recently presented a separate cheque to Chigwell Riding Trust for Special Needs.

Councillor Sandler said: I am extremely proud to have been associated with St Clare. The help, guidance and care given by the staff and volunteers is exemplary. I visited St Clare several times during my year of office. Speaking with some of the day patients it was always apparent how happy and comfortable they are made to feel by St Clare.

Councillor Brian Sandler presents cheque to St Clare Hospice Chief Executive Richard Cowie

Councillor Sandler continued: One of the biggest problems for St Clare is the lack of bed spaces and the money raised during my year of office will therefore go towards the cost of building an extension. I wish all at The St Clare Hospice much success and every good wish for the future.

In recent weeks Councillor Sandler has presented cheques totalling £20,874 to his chosen charities. However, a little over £1,000 in pledges still remains to be collected from his various fundraising activities. Councillor Sandler appealed for people who promised donations to send them to him. He said: I am very proud of the money people helped me raise during my year as Chairman. We have already been able to present some substantial cheques but it would be fantastic to collect the full amount pledged. St Clare and Chigwell Riding Trust for Special Needs are terrific causes. Every penny helps to make a difference.