Councillor Metcalfe Joins Refuse Collectors

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Cllr Metcalfe inspects wheeled bin refuse - click to enlarge imageCouncillor Stephen Metcalfe, Portfolio Holder for Customer Services, Media, Communications and ICT, spent Monday morning (26 June 2006) helping refuse collectors in Abridge.

He joined the team collecting wheelie bins, so that he could see for himself the issues both the crews and the public are facing. Councillor Metcalfe said: This experience was a real eye opener and an educational experience for me. The crews work incredibly hard to do their best for everyone.

Councillor Metcalfe went on to say, I have taken on this job so that I can work with the public to improve the system. However, the public needs to work with us as well. For example, people must recycle wherever possible to help us make the system work.

Cllr Metcalfe empties Abridges' wheeled bins - click to enlarge imageCouncillor Metcalfe said he recognised the problems with the introduction of alternate weekly collections. He continued: Having now experienced some of these problems first hand, I will be better informed of the issues when looking at how the system might be adapted. I am therefore hoping to strike a fairer balance between the needs of residents and the Council`s need to recycle more. We need to work in partnership so that everyone sees the system as fair and just.

Finally, Councillor Metcalfe was quick to express his gratitude towards the waste collection team. He concluded, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the crew for their support and assistance. They really made me feel like one of the team.

 

Councillors Ask School Governors To Think Again

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District Councillors supported the objections of many local residents by refusing the outline planning application for the relocation of Leverton, Infants and Nursery School at the meeting of Area Plans Subcommittee D on Wednesday 14 June.

While many councillors expressed sympathy for the desire to improve the school, they felt that the proposals to build in the Green Belt and partially fund the project with a housing development on the existing school site did not constitute the very exceptional circumstances required to set aside normal planning policies.

The existing buildings are of a relatively young age. The original school was granted planning permission in 1969. The most recent addition of the Nursery was approved in 1996.

Having taken into account an officer report, a presentation on behalf of the school governors, four speakers against the proposals and a large number of written objections from residents and Waltham Abbey Town Council, the application was refused.

 

Relief, Anger and Consternation – Mixed Emotions Greet Publication of EiP

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3,000 new houses could be built in Epping Forest District as part of the proposed expansion of Harlow. Epping Forest District Council would also need to accommodate an extra 3,500 dwellings not directly linked to Harlow if the Government accepts the recommendations of a panel set up to scrutinise the East of England Plan. The Panel rejects proposals for around 6,000 new dwellings at North Weald.

The recommendations are included in the report of the Panel set up to hold the Examination in Public (EiP) of the East of England Plan. The Panel has further reduced the total number of homes allocated to Epping Forest District from 11,000 to 6,500 by removing the allocation specifically identified for North Weald in the East of England Plan.

The Panel`s recommendations for the construction of 6,500 houses would mean significant development within the Green Belt.

The Panel has also recommended that proposals for the expansion of Harlow to the North in East Hertfordshire be dropped despite increasing the overall number of new dwellings designated for Harlow from 8,000 to 13,500 (including the 3,000 to be built in Epping Forest District).

The news has created a mixture of conflicting emotions within Epping Forest District Council.  The Council has achieved major successes in its ongoing battles to protect the District. From an original allocation of 18,600 new houses, the Council argued for major reductions. By the time the East of England Plan was published that figure had been reduced to 11,000. The EiP Panel recommendations have now brought the figure down to 6,500.

The new allocation of 6,500 is much closer to the level of development the Council believes the District needs to address a shortage of affordable housing as well as new homes for sale.

However, the Council is deeply concerned. Anger and consternation has been expressed at the proposed location of the new homes and the push to extend Harlow into the Epping Forest Green Belt in what looks like a redrawing of the Council boundaries. If the EiP proposals get the Government go-ahead, an arch of land to the South and West of Harlow including communities in Nazeing, Roydon, Broadley Common, Jacks Hatch and Epping Green could be affected. Expansion East of Harlow could also feature.

There is no question that the proposals represent a massive urban expansion into the Green Belt. Expansion to the South of Harlow also raises the possibility of a southern link road between the A414 and M11.

Epping Forest District Council is being told to work with Harlow District Council to make an early start. The EiP Panel says: The strategy for Harlow should be delivered through a partnership approach based on the Area Regeneration Partnership. Harlow District Council and Epping Forest District Council should prepare a joint LDD (Local Development Document) to establish the planning framework for new urban extensions and Green Belt reviews. The aim will be to bring forward development simultaneously at various locations so as to facilitate a significant increase in housing delivery at an early stage.

While the Council gets down to examining the EiP report in fine detail, Councillors believe now more than ever that it is vital that final decisions on the location of new housing are made by local people through the Planning Authority and not imposed by outsiders or a Government-appointed Development Corporation.

Councillors also want `cast-iron` guarantees that infrastructure will be provided. The East of England Regional Assembly withdrew the endorsement of its own plan last year after doubts emerged over Government promises to fund infrastructure. As the current water shortage and drought restrictions continue, those doubts remain. From the current concerns about water supply, through to the provision for schools, health centres and hospitals, public transport, leisure and work opportunities, the Council wants those cast-iron guarantees of infrastructure in place before a single new house is built.

The EiP Panel itself also identifies infrastructure as a major issue and says that if water supply problems can`t be solved then development should be delayed or altered.

The EiP Panel recommendations have now been submitted to the Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP, Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government where the final decisions will be taken. The Government is expected to publish its decisions in November after a further twelve-week consultation period during which Epping Forest District Council will continue to campaign on behalf of our residents and our District.

Roding Valley Meadow Local Nature Reserve Twentieth Anniversary

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Countrycare, the countryside management section of Epping Forest District Council will be joining forces with Essex Wildlife Trust on Saturday 24 June to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Roding Valley Meadow Local Nature Reserve.

The event will be marked by a day of fun for all the family. Visitors should meet at 11.00am in the main car park off Roding Lane, Chigwell from where they will be guided to the events area in the Twenty Two Acre field.  During the day there will be a guided walk around the reserve, pond dipping, a minibeast safari and face painting with a nature theme.

Summer Spectacular and Disability Awareness

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Summer Spectacular is a disability awareness event being organised by Epping Forest District Council Sports Development and Chigwell Disabled Group. The event, which is to promote and encourage disabled and non-disabled sport within the wider community, will take place on Saturday 24 June at the Metropolitan Police Club, Chigwell.

The whole-day event will begin with a Sports Conference aimed at agencies working within the fields of sport and the arts supporting disabled people. Later there will be an Activity Fest at which local businesses and sports clubs will be promoting the activities they support with taster sessions for visitors. Sports will include athletics, cricket, football, badminton, tennis and boccia, together with the Epping Forest District Council Arts Team. Information stalls will also be on site from Chigwell Riding Trust for Special Needs, Epping Forest District Council Swimming Pools and Leisure Centres, Voluntary Action Epping Forest, Accuro, Lifewalks and Redbridge Sport and Leisure Centre.

The event will end with a cabaret show where everyone involved during the day can come together, relax and celebrate disability awareness.

Planning Councillors ask School Governors to think Again

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District Councillors supported the objections of many local residents by refusing the outline planning application for the relocation of Leverton, Infants and Nursery School at the meeting of Area Plans Subcommittee D on Wednesday 14 June.

While many councillors expressed sympathy for the desire to improve the school, they felt that the proposals to build in the Green Belt and partially fund the project with a housing development on the existing school site did not constitute the very exceptional circumstances required to set aside normal planning policies.

The existing buildings are of a relatively young age. The original school was granted planning permission in 1969. The most recent addition of the Nursery was approved in 1996.

Having taken into account an officer report, a presentation on behalf of the school governors, four speakers against the proposals and a large number of written objections from residents and Waltham Abbey Town Council, the application was refused.

Council Supports England

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Chairman of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Mrs Ann Haigh and Councillor John Knapman Portfolio Holder for Finance, Performance Management and Corporate Support Services showed their support for England in the World Cup by raising the Flag of St George at the Civic Offices in Epping. The flag will fly outside the offices for as long as England remain in the competition.

Councillor John Knapman and EFDC Chairman Councillor Mrs Ann Haigh with Office Superintendent Steve Anstiss raising the St George flag in support of the England football team - click to enlarge

Councillor Mrs Haigh said: “Epping Forest District Council is 100 per cent behind the England team in the World Cup and I wish them every success. We thought it would be fitting to fly the flag to show our support.

Councillor Knapman added: Being an avid football fan myself I am delighted that the Council is proudly flying the flag. I hope everyone enjoys the games and I am really hoping the flag stays here for the whole month!”

Councillors Quiz College Chiefs

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At the first meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee following the recent elections, members of Epping Forest District Council welcomed Principal David Butler of Loughton College and Roger Neville the College Corporation Board Chairman to speak about the future of Epping Forest College.

Mr Butler explained many of the development plans for the new college which it is hoped will encourage more local students to attend. The range of courses will be expanded to meet the wishes expressed by local young people and include Construction, Motor Vehicle Maintenance, and Hair and Beauty. A new Library will serve the population of the area as well as college students. The new college will be an educational `anchor` at the end of the regenerated Broadway and industrial zone. Also included within the plans are transport improvements to and from the college.

After the presentation Mr Butler and Mr Neville were quizzed by councillors and answered questions about the funding of the new college and numbers of students now and in the future. The question of student behaviour was also raised. Mr Butler stressed that not only are they tough on discipline within the college but that they also work with the police and transport police in the wider area.

At the end of the meeting Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee thanked Mr Butler and Mr Neville for taking the time to visit. Councillor Morgan added: The opportunity to ask specific questions relating to the information provided in the presentation, as well as those raised by local councillors on wider issues, proved very helpful. We now have a broader view of the plans for the site and will be in a better position to monitor the project as it progresses.

Council Welcomes New Chairman

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Retiring Chairman Brian Sandler hands over the EFDC chain to new Chairman Ann Haigh - click to enlarge imageCouncillor Mrs Ann Haigh became the new Chairman of Epping Forest District Council at the Annual Council meeting on 18 May 2006. Mrs Haigh was joined at the top table by the new Vice-Chairman, Councillor Mrs Caroline Pond.

Mrs Haigh accepted the Chairman`s chain from retiring Chairman, Councillor Brian Sandler who returns to regular council business as Chairman of the District Development Committee after a very successful year of office.

Chairman Ann Haigh with retiring Chairman Brian Sandler - click to enlarge imageSpecial presentations were made by Councillor Mrs Haigh to former councillors Joan Davis who retired at the last election and Robert Glozier who lost his Theydon Bois seat. Councillor Jon Whitehouse paid tribute to former Councillor Michael Heavens who retired at the elections having held the most senior positions of Chairman, Leader and Housing portfolio holder.

Former councillor Stephen Barnes who like Councillor Heavens was a former Chairman of the Council, also left the Council after losing his Loughton Fairmead seat at the last elections.Chairman Ann Haigh with Vice-Chairman Caroline Pond - click to enlarge image

Councillors and staff stood for a minute in silence remembering Mark Stedford of the Finance Service who died at a tragically young age recently. Mark was an excellent member of staff who will be sadly missed by his friends and colleagues.

Councillor Mrs Haigh then asked members to welcome each of the new and the returning councillors elected on 4 May 2006.

ECCO Thanks Epping Residents

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Link to ECCO websiteSince its launch six months ago in Epping Forest District, the Text-BAC project has had a very successful response thanks to the support from Epping`s residents. The project, run by ECCO in partnership with Epping Forest District Council, Harlow District Council, St. Elizabeth`s Centre, Rainbow Services and LMB, collects textiles and bric-a-brac, such as books, small electrical items and videos / DVDs from residents kerbsides. They also collect certain types of furniture.

The project started four years ago, in the Harlow district and has expanded into Epping Forest District since October 2006.

So far the extended project has visited 40,000 households in Epping, Waltham Abbey, Chigwell, North Weald Bassett, Roydon, Nazeing, Theydon Bois, Loughton and Buckhurst Hill. A sealed bag is posted through each resident`s door, with a collection date marked on it. All items of textiles are then collected from the boundary of the resident`s property and are sorted into two categories: re-wearable and recyclable materials.

The project has so far diverted from Epping Forest district alone over 21 tonnes of textiles from landfill, a figure that helps reach the councils recycling targets set by central government.

Text-BAC is part funded by The Big Lottery Fund. Any additional funding raised from this work goes straight back into the project. Text-BAC provides supported work for disadvantaged people, including clients at St. Elizabeth`s and Voluntary Action Epping Forest – Volunteers plus – talk and sort workshops.

Project Manager, Sean Folan said, I am delighted at the excellent response we have had from the residents of Epping Forest. It shows that residents take recycling seriously and appreciate the convenience of kerbside recycling. Thank you Epping Forest.

He then urged local residents to be aware of rogue collectors operating in the area and to be sure that items that they donate are going to genuine collections, such as Text-BAC.

If you are unsure on the authenticity of a collection, please ring ECCO, Epping Forest District Council or the police.

For more info on Text-BAC please ring 01279 444 244.