Allotment cleared to create wildlife habitat

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Countrycare, Loughton, Our countryside, Your area

On a very cold Saturday morning, 11 February 2012, the overgrown former allotment site in Willingale Road Loughton, was given some well needed attention. Some of the bramble was cleared to create a habitat for wildlife, promote wildflowers and release the trees from entanglement.

The work was led by the Epping Forest District Council’s Countryside Manager Abigail Oldham and Assistant Kevin Mason, along with members of Loughton Town Council, Paul Hoy and Councillor Stephen Pewsey, a number of local volunteers and recruits from the Harlow community payback group.

Three areas of bramble were worked on creating a more open aspect to the site. A large cooking apple tree was freed from bramble and is now a feature in the centre of the site. Several other trees which were being smothered were haloed.

The bramble was cut using hand tools and mechanical means then burnt on a small fire which was very welcome on a particularly cold day.

The volunteers and staff were pleased to be joined at lunchtime by Chairman of the Council Ken Angold-Stephens who gave encouragement to those involved in the clearance work said: “There is much more to be done on the site but a lot of clearance was completed on the day and we definitely made a difference”.


Langston Road retail park plans approved

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Commercial properties, Community, Local business, Loughton, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your environment

Proposals for a multi-million pound fashion-led retail park in Loughton have taken a significant step forward.
Councillors have approved an outline planning application for a retail park at Langston Road in Loughton. The application came before councillors at a special meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s District Development Control Committee on Monday 27 February 2012. As a departure from the Council’s Local Plan, the decision to approve the application must be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit.

The proposal for the 16,000 square metre retail park submitted by Polofind, proposed the redevelopment of its own land and an adjacent depot belonging to Epping Forest District Council. The application included proposals for extensive alterations to cater for future traffic growth through Chigwell Lane and Rectory Lane, including the junction of Langston Road.

Attached to the report for members were proposals for extensive Section 106 conditions. Central to the conditions should be that any retail park should not adversely affect The Broadway shopping centre. In addition to the highway improvements for cars, other Section 106 requirements included improvements for pedestrians and street lighting. Limitations on the types of retail to protect The Broadway include restrictions on food retail and the exclusion of a pharmacy and post office counter. Compensatory tree planting would balance the loss of three mature trees to be removed as part of the highway works.

Retail employment for up to 200 people would follow construction. 

The case for the development was put by Polofind following objections voiced by Loughton Town Council and a local resident. Councillors debated the scheme in depth, seeking clarification on issues including on-site parking for customers and staff as well as the impact on the Oakwood Hill side of Chigwell Lane. Councillors challenged issues around pedestrian and public transport access, seeking better access for shoppers by bus.

A sum of £40,000 would be supplied by the developers towards the cost of the forthcoming Debden Parking Review.

After more than two and half hours of debate, the committee voted by eleven to three in favour of the application.
View details of the Langston Road retail park planning application EPF/2580/10.


Restore Community Centre opening in Debden

Written on . Posted in Community, Loughton, Out and about, Volunteering opportunities, Young people, Your area, Your community

A place to drop in, enjoy a friendly welcome and a listening ear, the Restore Community Centre is opening for consultation at 68 The Broadway, Loughton, IG10 3SY on Friday 17 February 2012.

Restore Graphic

The Restore Community Centre will be open on Debden Broadway from 8.30am to 5.30pm. It will provide a focal point for the community delivering a wide range of services including IT training, money management, an art group, a toddler club, drug and alcohol advice and a job club.

The Centre is run by volunteers, who can guide residents to the relevant services for help and guidance. Facilities at the Restore Community Centre include meeting rooms which can be used for mediation and dispute resolution and other support organisations can use the centre as a neutral venue for meetings.

Come along and see it for yourself, tell us what you want to see on the Broadway.

  • Restore Community Centre opening day flyer (pdf 3.7 MB)
  • Restore Community Centre – Consultation

If you have any questions call Judy Lovell, from Restore Community Church, on 07833 226713.

West Essex Primary Prize Awards

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Loughton, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

On Wednesday 6 July the West Essex Partnership (WEP) marked the hard work and achievements of children at primary schools across the Epping Forest district.

The West Essex Primary Prize Awards was hosted for the second year at Epping Forest College in Loughton. Almost 60 local children who had been singled out by their schools for particular praise over the last year were rewarded with book token prizes supplied by WEP.

The Partnership is made up of the three Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) from Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford. WEP established the prize as a way of supporting attainment in local schools and to recognise and celebrate the achievements of children of primary school age.

[flickr set = ‘72157627345992428’]

The prizes include certificates and £10 book tokens for pupils selected by their teachers as the most improved over the last year in areas such as literacy, numeracy, science/ICT, sport and music. Schools were also able to award a special prize in any subject or category they wished.

Almost 40 schools participated in the second year of the scheme across west Essex. The chairman and vice-chairman of Epping Forest District Council Councillors Ken Angold-Stephens and Brian Rolfe have also been attending special assemblies in participating schools to hand out some of these award certificates.

The second year of the Prize scheme would not have been possible without the generous support of Essex County Council and Epping Forest College.

Chief Superintendent Simon Williams acting chairman of One Epping Forest (LSP) and member of the WEP Board commented: “It has been a great pleasure to be involved in the Primary Prize. It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all the great work that is going on in primary schools across the district. Members of the Partnership who have attended school assemblies have seen at first hand all the hard work, endeavour and talent that exist in our primary schools. The children who have won a prize this year range from foundation to year six and the prizes are a simple way of recognising their achievements and coming together as a community to say very well done.”

Essex County Councillor Valerie Metcalf commented: “Essex County Council has a special responsibility for giving our children a great start in life and enabling them to be the very best they can be in schools that are fun and safe places to be but which set the highest standards for achievement. The County Council is very happy to support the unique Primary Prize scheme which operates in west Essex and would like to thank all the schools for their participation. Most importantly of all, I would like to thank the children for their great performance over the last year and their parents for giving them the support they need.”

The event was attended by Chief Superintendent Simon Williams, the vice-chairman of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Brian Rolfe, who presented the prizes, Councillor Valerie Metcalfe representing Essex County Council and Derek Macnab Deputy Chief Executive of Epping Forest District Council.

District Councillor Brian Rolfe said: “I was absolutely delighted to attend this ceremony and add my personal congratulations to all the children at the schools. Every single one of them has worked particularly hard this year and deserves to be acknowledged for all that effort.”

Loughton Film Society Show Made in Dagenham

Written on . Posted in Community, Loughton, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community

Following the successful screening of the The King’s Speech in May, Loughton Film Society is screening Made in Dagenham on Saturday 25 June 2011 at the Auditorium in Epping Forest College, Borders Lane, Loughton, IG10 3SA.

Loughton film society

Made in Dagenham (certificate 15) starts at 3pm and doors open 2:30pm. Tickets are £5.50 for non-members or £5 for members. Telephone the ticket line on 0845 475 0890 for tickets.

Loughton Film Society will also be screening True Grit (certificate 15) on Saturday 9 July 2011, doors open 2:30pm and the programme starts 3pm.

For more information go to the Loughton Film Society website

Council Receives its First ePetition

Written on . Posted in Community, Loughton, Young people, Your area, Your community

Epping Forest District Council has received its first ePetition since launching the scheme in December 2010. The ePetition about Epping Forest College can be signed by anyone that lives, works, or studies in the District. It runs from 10 May 2011 to 10 August 2011.

An ePetition is a petition which collects signatures online. It enables residents to request the council take action on a matter that affects them locally.

If an ePetition gets over 20 signatures it will be referred to the appropriate portfolio holder, whereas ePetitions with fewer than 20 signatures will be managed by officers. If over 1,200 signatures are received, the sponsors can request a senior officer to speak about the Council`s actions to the overview and scrutiny committee, and if over 2,400 signatures are received (2% of the district population) full council will debate the issue.

Disability Aware?

Written on . Posted in Equalities, Loughton, Your area, Your council

Disability aware poster

Disability Aware is a fun and informative day designed to show the opportunities available for disabled people to take part in community projects, learning and education in the Epping Forest area.

This disability awareness raising event on Wednesday 18 May 2011 aims to promote local services and the support available to disabled people by showcasing the work of the district’s disabled people.

It is free and takes place from 10am to 4pm at St Mary`s Church, 201 High Street, Loughton (opposite the Police Station).

In conjunction with local disabled groups and individuals, and part of the Loughton Festival, Disability Aware? is being co-ordinated by the Epping Forest District Council Disability Equality Involvement Group.

This group meets six times a year to help the Council with its work to achieve a fairer and more understanding environment for disabled people to live and work in. To find out more about the work of the group contact Barbara Copson by telephone on 01992 564042 or by email to

Sissons speaks out at Book Festival

Written on . Posted in Loughton, Media, Out and about, Your area

Peter Sissons at the Essex Book FestivalVeteran journalist Peter Sissons broke into his TV schedule to talk about his early life and 45 years in the media at St Mary’s Church, Loughton on Tuesday 15 March 2011.

Mr Sissons was taking part in the Essex Book Festival between appearances on Loose Women and the Alan Titchmarsh Show. Promising to air his views on the British media, current affairs and the World at large, Mr Sissons pulled no punches. After the event organised by Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council he signed copies and his new book ‘When One Door Closes’ and chatted with members of the audience.

Peter Sissons believes there is an ‘inner cadre’ of ‘superb’ BBC reporters such as John Simpson and Jeremy Bowen. However, describing himself as ‘a candid friend of the BBC’ he now feels free to voice his concerns and criticisms. He abhors sloppy journalism, political correctness and poor leadership. During the Six Day War in 1967, he usually had two days to stop a piece being broadcast if he felt he had made a mistake. In the modern world where immediate live coverage gives no time for checking and reflection, he worries about the new forms of social media and 24 hour coverage. Peter still believes there is no excuse for not checking a story or not getting it right. He believes there has never been a time when we need good journalists more. The values of ‘accuracy, balance and impartiality’ instilled in him by Sir Geoffrey Cox at ITN should be the aims of a new generation of reporters.

On a lighter note, Peter Sissons was reminded during questions and answers at the end of his talk by one of his former colleagues in the audience of some of the fan mail he used to receive. He had a certain following which included one lady who would send him knitted hats, scarves and other clothing on an almost weekly basis during his newsreading years. He also remembered the requests for ‘secret signs’ he was asked to give out on air such as scratching his nose if he fancied another particular lady.

Drawing on material in his book, Peter Sissons described his early childhood as one of four sons growing up in Liverpool during the 1960s. It was a special time. Other children at Dovedale Primary, Peter’s first school were Jimmy Tarbuck and John Lennon (both a year older) and George Harrison (a year younger). Having passed the Eleven Plus, Peter found himself at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys at the same time as Paul McCartney. Other boys to pass through the institute gates included Derek Hatton and the former MP for Epping Forest, Steve Norris.

Peter Sissons with Epping Forest District Council chairman Anne Grigg

The importance of education was instilled in Peter Sissons by his mother. From his poor background but excellent education he entered Oxford and took his first tentative steps into journalism, interviewing a very young Bob Wilson who does not remember the event, and Ron Atkinson who does.

From graduation at Oxford to the end of his career with the BBC 45 years later, Peter took no more courses, bar one only called ‘Safeguarding Trust’ reduced from two hours to ten minutes for his benefit by the BBC.

From Oxford, it seemed that a career in journalism might follow but initially he was rejected by among others the Liverpool Echo. However, introduction to his great mentor, Sir Geoffrey Cox at ITN was to set him on the course to TV stardom. Peter Sissons working class background, described by Cox as ‘Liverpool Rough’ contrasted with the public school dominated newsrooms of ITV and the BBC at the time.

Peter had began to make a name for himself. In 1968 he was asked to step in to read the Ten O’Clock news after Reginald Bosenquet was taken ill. He had already covered the Six Day War in the Middle East. Then a life threatening gunshot wound sustained in Biafra cut short a promising career as a War Correspondent. Peter still has fragments of the bullet that nearly killed him and the WW I British Army surgical dressing thrust into his leg by the Nigerian Army Major who staunched the flow of blood and saved his life.

After a prolonged stay in hospital, Peter was no longer fit for duty in war zones but found a new role as ITNs Industrial Editor. He believes this period between 1970 and 1978 made his name. Night after night, he appeared on British TV screens to report the latest industrial unrest.

Following its launch in 1982, Peter became part of the new Channel 4 ITN news team. Initially, the programme proved a “total disaster” as ratings plummeted. However, after staying with the format, he was part of the team that turned it into a BAFTA winning formula.

While at the height of his popularity at ITN, the opportunity arose he had always wanted, the chance to present the BBC’s Question Time. However, after four years and 150 editions, he was very disillusioned and in 1994 began a ten year reign as one of the BBC’s top anchormen with Michael Buerk on the Nine O’Clock News.

Throughout his career with the Corporation, Peter struggled to come to terms with the BBC way of doing things. He covered some memorable events. Princess Diana died on his shift. He reported on 9/11 and temporarily became ‘the most hated man in Britain’ after reporting the death of the Queen Mother, wearing a burgundy rather than a black tie. BBC policy, checked with his producer moments before going on air was only the death of the Queen herself qualified for black.

After ten years reading the Nine O’Clock and Ten O’clock News, a further review at the BBC prompted Peter to switch to News 24, from which he eventually retired.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council was in the audience at St Mary’s in Loughton. She said: “Peter Sissons provided a controversial but fascinating account of his years in TV journalism and at the BBC. Having been forbidden to express opinions when he joined ITN in 1964, he is making up for lost time now. It was a privilege to hear him speak.”

Mrs Grigg added: “I would also like to thank the organisers of the Essex Book Festival at Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council on achieving another literary coup following last year’s talk by George Alagiah.”

Eric Pickles Big Society’ Vision

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Loughton, Supporting business, Your area

The `Big Society` formed the central theme when Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government gave the keynote speech to delegates at the annual stakeholder conference of the local strategic partnership One Epping Forest.

Mr Pickles set the scene at the event, hosted by Epping Forest College in Loughton. He used the opportunity to give delegates from local voluntary groups a flavour of his thinking on the future provision of services. When the `Localism` bill currently going through Parliament becomes law, Mr Pickles envisages a right for local people and community groups to buy and run buildings nominated on a register of community facilities. Any redundant building could be on the list such as old school buildings, pubs or even churches.

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP and Councillor Di Collins, Chairman of One Epping Forest

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP and Councillor Di Collins, Chairman of One Epping Forest

To help local groups fund projects, Mr Pickles hinted that he will soon be making a major announcement on the `Big Society Bank` making use of the cash in dormant bank accounts. He also suggested the banks themselves might contribute in some way.

Drawing on his experience of Bradford where levels of deprivation were obvious to see, making bids for funding more straightforward, Mr Pickles recognised the problem of areas such as Epping Forest District where great affluence can mask pockets of deprivation.

Volunteering is at the heart of Mr Pickles’ attempts to improve local communities. He said: Part of my job is to remove some of the sillier, petty restrictions that can sap the energy of volunteers.” With tongue in cheek he said: It is harder to close a street for a party than to invade a small third world country. You don`t need a full traffic management plan to close a side street for a party to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

Responding to questions, Mr Pickles acknowledged a degree of cynicism from some people. Asked if the `Big Society` was `Society on the cheap `, he suggested ways in which the organisers of the Loughton Festival and other groups could get help with funding and insurance and emphasised his desire to do away with red tape. He said: This is about people like you getting on with things that are important to you without getting bogged down in regulation.

Eric Pickles MP thanked delegates including Epping Forest Youth Councillors

Mr Pickles also felt there was a role for business in the `Big Society`. He said he wanted business to identify barriers so he could help to remove them. No business exists by itself, they are all part of the wider community.

Challenged on the `unsettling` effect of the `Big Society` and what it might look like in three or four years, Mr Pickles said it would look like people with imagination who could thrive.

In response to a question about the future for town and parish councils, Mr Pickles envisaged more planning powers at a local level in much the same way as councils in Germany and France operate.

Finally, Mr Pickles offered his personal thanks to all the volunteers and delegates. He said: Our communities would not be what they are without your help. You make our communities better for what you do and I would like to thank you.

John Houston of One Epping Forest listed some of the key priorities of the partnership and what may take precedence in the future. Delegates then listened to a series of presentations from the chairmen of the various theme groups of the local strategic partnership, expanding on Mr Houston`s comments.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Chairman of EFDCCouncillor Anne Grigg spoke about some of the planning issues facing the District. The Metropolitan Green Belt area of Epping Forest District Council is the fifth largest in England. The need to protect the green and open character of the District needs to be balanced with the requirements to accommodate many people on the housing waiting lists and tackle the congestion caused by living so close to London.

Dr Pam Hall of the Healthier Communities theme group reminded delegates of the ageing nature of the population and the need to adapt services to their changing need.

Superintendent Simon Williams spoke on behalf of the Safer Communities Partnership. While Epping Forest District has one of the lowest levels of crime in comparison to other areas, fear of crime is amongst the highest. He outlined plans for the future around promoting respect as a starting point for everyone, people playing a more active role in their communities and creating better links between partner organisations.

Julie Chandler of Epping Forest District Council spoke about the Children`s Partnership, including protection of the most vulnerable children and the increasing problem of child obesity. She described how positive and innovative projects taking place in the District were making a difference, such as the trampolining programmes to help children develop confidence and improve attainment levels at school.

Jacqui Foile of Voluntary Action Epping Forest placed the importance of the voluntary sector into context. In a snapshot of the District she said that approximately 34,000 local people benefited directly from the work of volunteers. Sixty per cent of the groups providing voluntary services have no paid staff at all and she estimated 2,300 volunteers made contributions to the life of the community each week.

After a short break, delegates reconvened into a number of workshops following which each group fed back to the conference and a panel of local experts moderated by the Acting Chief Executive of Epping Forest District Council Derek Macnab. Among the chief concerns coming back from the floor of the conference was the economy and the need to support local business whether through low car park charges, tourism, changes to the law on Business Rates or promoting the small shops and businesses that help to give the district its unique character.

Artability Project Choir gave a wonderful musical performance

Bringing the day to a close, people with learning difficulties of the Arability Project Choir, which has received funding through One Epping Forest, gave a wonderful musical performance. Including a solo by Ricky Conrad, the group received a standing ovation and reminded everyone why they were all there.

Disability Awareness Raising Day

Written on . Posted in Equalities, Loughton, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community

The Disability Awareness Raising event due to take place on Friday 3 December 2010, has been postponed in view of the winter weather conditions across the district this week.

Postponement of Disability Awareness Raising Day


Disability Awareness Raising DayPublished on 29 November 2010

A Disability Awareness Raising Day on Friday 3 December 2010 will show Epping Forest District residents some of the many services available locally for people with disabilities.

The event, being held at St Mary’s Church in Loughton from 10am to 4pm, promises to be both fun and informative.

Epping Forest District Council will be on hand to offer information and advice on benefits, housing, leisure and employment opportunities as well as on hate crime.

Guide Dogs, the Essex Coalition of Disabled People and Anglia Ruskin Transcription Centre will also be there to offer advice.

Highlights include:

Seated exercise class demonstration at 1pm
Residents of Woodredon House, a residential care home for people with learning difficulties, demonstrate exercises based in a chair (so anyone can participate) and lasts for 30 minutes.

‘All Together Now’ singing group at 2pm
Artability aims to provide access to the arts for learning disabled adults resident in Epping Forest. Singers will perform for approximately 30 minutes covering Christmas carols and old time classics.

‘A Day in the Life of Oak View school’
Oak View school in Loughton is an all age special school for children who have severe and complex needs. The display will include photographs and work by the students who have a wide range of abilities to show what a typical day is like for students.

Essex Coalition of Disabled People
The ECDP is run by and for disabled people, working to enhance the everyday lives of disabled people in Essex. ECDP will be providing information about their organisation and the range of support services they can provide.

  • Place
    St Marys Church, 201 High Road, Loughton, IG10 1BB (opposite Loughton Police station)
  • Contact for more information
    Telephone 01992 564042

Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Anne Grigg will be opening the event at 10am, she said: “People with disabilities, or people with different abilities can do most things an able bodied person can, just differently. This Disability Awareness Raising Day event will highlight some of the many local support and advice services available. I hope that this will increase the use of these services by disabled people, their friends and their families to help maintain or improve the quality of life of all those affected.”