Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation

Written on . Posted in Business, Housing, Licensing, Regulations, Residents, Your home

Landlords operating houses in multiple occupation are being warned that they need to be licensed. Failure to do so could result in a criminal record and a fine of up to £20,000. Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are premises in which tenants share parts of the accommodation (kitchens, bathrooms, toilets or simply the hallway or stairs) with people who are not part of the same household. The definition includes residential accommodation shared by staff who work in restaurants, public houses, takeaways and in agriculture.

In April 2006, the Government introduced compulsory licensing of larger, higher-risk Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) as part of the Housing Act 2004. These are those HMOs that consist of three storeys or more and contain at least five occupiers.

    Properties are required to have a licence if they have the following:

  • three or more floors, including habitable basements and attics
  • five or more occupants, including children
  • two or more households
  • shared amenities such as a bathroom, kitchen or toilet.

Until now, Epping Forest District Council has given private landlords a considerable period of grace so they could apply for an HMO licence. However, landlords who do not apply for a licence could be committing a criminal offence and face prosecution. Any rent paid on an unlicensed property might be recoverable through legal action.

Any tenant who believes that they are living in an HMO that requires licensing should also contact the Council – any information received will be treated in strict confidence. Upon application, a visit will be made to every licensable property to verify the details submitted in the application. Environmental Health Officers will inspect every licensed property to identify any hazards which pose a risk to the health and safety of the occupiers and take the relevant action to ensure that the property meets the criteria.

Any landlords who have not made a licensing application and believe they own a property which may be licensable should contact Epping Forest Council on 01992 564000 immediately and ask for the Private Sector Housing Team.

 

New Refuse and Recycling Contract Starts

Written on . Posted in Older people, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your council, Your home

Residents will see changes to the way Epping Forest District Council`s new refuse contractor SITA UK collects domestic recycling. SITA UK takes over the five-year £22 million contract with effect from 5 November and will use compartmentalised lorries to collect dry and garden recycling at the same time. The different lorries will mean fewer `vehicle passes` – the number of times the contractor needs to send lorries down each road. The system will be more efficient and help improve the carbon footprint by reducing the total number of miles travelled by recycling collection lorries each year.

The new contract starts as Epping Forest District Council releases the latest impressive recycling figures. During the three months April to June, residents recycled 43 per cent of domestic household waste. Unaudited figures for July to September suggest that figure has increased to 45 per cent. Prior to the introduction of wheelie bins and seasonal alternate weekly collections, recycling levels were around 20 per cent.

SITA will take direct responsibility for collection of domestic waste from wheelie bins and street cleansing as well as recycling except for glass collection which will be sub-contracted via SITA to Lucy and Martin.

The refuse and recycling contract was put out to tender earlier this year. It followed extensive consultation with residents that confirmed the Council decision to make alternate weekly collection seasonal with weekly residual waste collections during the summer months.  SITA was assessed against a range of other bidders. It is a well-established company that provides refuse and recycling collection services for many other councils.

Councillor Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council is keen to reassure residents who might think their recycling was being mixed up in the new lorries. She said: Residents should continue to separate their dry and garden recycling into the different types of sack, safe in the knowledge that the tremendous levels of recycling being achieved in Epping Forest will continue. It may look as though all the sacks are going into one lorry but they are kept separate within it. Having to send fewer lorries to each address will also be good for the environment.

Councillor Sartin continued: Excellent progress has been made by the refuse service over the last year. We can all be very proud of the terrific levels of recycling now being achieved. Part of the challenge SITA faces is to make further improvements such as the extension of recycling facilities to people living in flats. Our residents have been fantastic in adapting to the new recycling systems. People clearly want to recycle more and I would like to thank everyone for all the extra effort they have made. Epping Forest is a green and beautiful district. By reducing our reliance on landfill rubbish disposal we aim to keep it that way.

Elections Schedule For New District Youth Council

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

Young people with something to say are being asked to nominate themselves as co-opted members of a new Youth Council for the area. Elections are to be held in secondary schools across the District during December but five places are to be reserved on the new Youth Council for young people who go to work or education outside the District.

Staff from Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council are visiting schools as part of the publicity to raise awareness about the forthcoming Youth Council elections. However, with large numbers of young people travelling outside the District to school or college, Council staff will also be available to speak to any individuals interested in standing for the five additional places, to offer advice and support with the self nomination process.

Each local school is holding elections to send two students between the ages of 13 and 17 to the Youth Council of 25 members. Epping Forest District Council has produced nomination form packs in which each candidate is asked to list three main reasons why they should be elected. Elections will take place during the week commencing 10 December 2007 with the first meeting in January when the further five independent Youth Councillors will be co-opted to the Youth Council.

Youth Councillors will be asked to serve for a two year period and full details of the amount of time commitment required is highlighted in the nomination packs.

Epping Forest District Council is working closely with local schools and youth organisations to develop the Youth Council but stresses that the Youth Councillors will set their agenda for themselves.

Councillor Mrs Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council said: Young people have a right to be heard. The new District-wide Youth Council will be the place where they can come together. We will listen and learn from the Youth Council. It will provide the District`s young people with access to the most senior Councillors, giving them the opportunity to tell us what they want as well as allowing us to consult on our own policies.

Councillor Mitch Cohen, Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder added: To remain healthy and vibrant, local democracy needs the involvement of young people. The Youth Council will operate in the real world. We will give it all the support we can but that will mean understanding the restrictions of budgets and the competing demands of other people, young and older alike. However, Epping Forest District Council is committed to making this process work. As well as access to Councillors, we will provide staff, facilities and training. Meetings of the Youth Council will be webcast like our own Council meetings so that other young people can see how their representatives are doing. It will also be a great learning experience and hopefully lots of fun too.

Chairman Opens New Homes for Disabled People

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Democracy, Housing, Private housing, Residents, Your community, Your council

Published on 19 October 2007

Epping Forest District Council Chairman Councillor Caroline Pond opened a new housing development for young disabled people on 16 October 2007 at Mason Close in Waltham Abbey. The new development is a partnership between Epping Forest District Council, who donated the land, Ability Housing Association, who specialise in providing accessible homes for disabled people and promoting independent living, and the Housing Corporation, who helped to fund the development.

Click on the Ability Housing Association logo above to visit their website.

Cllr Caroline Pond cuts the ribbon watched by guests and residents

The development consists of five new high quality bungalows specifically designed to meet the needs of wheelchair users. The high specification bungalows have level access throughout with turning space for a wheelchair in every room. The kitchens and bathrooms have been designed to ensure that the new tenants can live independently with a minimum of care and support enabling the five disabled people to enjoy their independence. The land provided free by the council was a former unsightly wooded area.

Cllr Caroline Pond plants a tree watched by Cllr David Stallan and resident Francis McGrathAbility Housing Association Chief Executive David Williams said: We`ve experienced a few difficulties along the way and it`s not been an easy site to develop, but the goodwill and determination of our staff and officers at the Council has seen us through. The end result justifies all the effort.

Epping Forest District Council Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor David Stallan said: Not only does this attractive housing development provide much-needed homes for local disabled people, but it has also improved the local environment by turning an unsightly wooded area, that was frequently used for fly-tipping, into a pleasant little community. The Council has been pleased to support the scheme in a practical way by providing the land to Ability free of charge, which increased the likelihood of the scheme receiving the much-needed financial support from the Housing Corporation.

New Beverage Carton Recycling Scheme

Written on . Posted in Community, Older people, Recycling and waste, Residents, Uncategorized, Young people, Your community, Your home

Epping Forest District Council, in conjunction with Tetra Pak Ltd and the carton industry body ACE UK (Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment), is launching a new beverage carton recycling scheme. Special wheeled bins are now sited at five recycling sites to give residents the opportunity to recycle even more of their household rubbish.

Each year, UK beverage carton manufacturers produce approximately 55,000 tonnes of paper-based cartons for milk, juice, sauces and other liquid foods / drinks. This equates to around 2.3kg of cartons per household which could be recycled instead of thrown in the rubbish bin. In response, Epping Forest District Council is working with the carton industry to establish carton collection points at key Recycling Centres for residents to take their empty cartons to be recycled.

    Even though cartons still cannot be recycled via the doorstep collection service in the Epping Forest District, the new project means that used cartons can now be recycled through special collection bins at:

  • The Old Station Car Park, Queens Road, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 5BZ
  • Cottis Lane Car Park, Epping, CM16 5DQ
  • Sainsbury`s Car Park, Old Station Road, Loughton, IG10 4PE
  • Short Stay Car Park, High St, Ongar, CM5 9AR
  • Tesco Car Park, Sewardstone Road, Waltham Abbey, END 1EQ

Once collected they will be taken away to be baled and transported to a recycling mill. They can be recycled into a number of different products, ranging from plasterboard liner to high-strength paper bags and envelopes.

Cllr Mary Sartin launches the new beverage carton recycling scheme

Councillor Mrs Mary Sartin Portfolio Holder for Environmental Protection, said: Our residents have always responded well to the different recycling schemes we have implemented but we have still got some tough targets to meet, both as a district and as a nation. We are delighted that Tetra Pak and the carton industry are supporting us to help increase the number of cartons recycled in our county and if the initial six-month trial is successful, we`d like to see the project rolled out further.

Richard Hands Environment Manager at Tetra Pak Ltd and Chairman of ACE UK added: Whilst cartons have been successfully recycled in large volumes for many years throughout Europe, the UK has a long way to go. It`s therefore fantastic news that Epping Forest District Council is taking a lead by adding cartons to the list of materials collected for recycling and we very much hope that the initiative is successful. We and our industry partners are committed to increasing the level of carton recycling in the UK with the aim of reaching a national network of carton collection by the end of 2008. Our work with Epping Forest District Council takes us and households in the area one step closer to achieving that.

Since April last year, the UK carton industry has made £1.5million available to help local authorities interested in starting up carton collection schemes in their area. There are already approximately 100 district areas collecting cartons, which will result in a national network of coverage during the next 18 months. The carton industry continues to work with new paper mills to trial carton recycling to ensure the industry can cater for this increase in carton recycling, as more areas come on board.

For more information on beverage carton recycling, visit www.tetrapakrecycling.co.uk


Crime Reduction Partners Join Forces for Training Day

Written on . Posted in Crime and safety, Residents, Your home

Council staff, Housing Association representatives, Police and Police Community Support Officers recently attended a series of one-day courses designed to raise awareness and improve co-ordination between different agencies working to reduce crime.

Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction Co-ordinator Paul Gardener of Epping Forest District Council organised the training days with Tony Ellis and PC Andy Mitson of Essex Police.

Paul Gardener said: The traditional view of crime as a problem for the Police alone no longer holds true. We are now working in a much more organised and co-ordinated way. Housing professionals and PCSOs have a particularly important role in helping to identify and remove the causes of crime and anti-social behaviour. The most important thing is to make sure each partner understands what the others can do to help. For example, that might mean sharing information, providing community support such as activities for young people, or designing out crime by improving street lighting, removing walls or planting shrubs. It can really be as simple as that.

Delegates on the course were taken through a run down of the National Intelligence Model which guides the work of organisations in combating crime. Discussions took place on the use and benefits of Anti-social Behaviour Orders and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, a less well known but often more effective method of encouraging people back into a law abiding way of life.

Paul Gardener explained the role of `Tasking` where problems are identified and a specific set of measures or steps are implemented to reduce or remove crime. PCSOs in particular were offered an insight into Home Security Surveys that will allow them to advise elderly and vulnerable people how to improve personal security in their own homes. Delegates also discussed the way in which organisations such as the Council and Police are currently working together including Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership initiatives.

Councillor Ms Syd Stavrou, Community Wellbeing Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: These courses are a major step towards developing links and helping each organisation understand how its actions impact upon the work of others. Real examples of the work between Epping Forest District Council and Essex Police were used to illustrate how we can achieve more. There is no doubt that working together we can reduce crime and make tangible improvements to people`s daily lives.


Roding Valley Lake – Update

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area

Doubts have emerged about the cause of death of substantial numbers of fish at Roding Valley Lake on Friday. Initially it was believed that a sewage pipe running under the lake was the probable cause. After extensive investigations over the weekend, Thames Water and the Environment Agency have been unable to confirm a leak. A new theory that the death of the fish may have been caused by a natural event is now being explored.

Tests of the water showed very low levels of oxygen in parts of the lake while other areas were almost normal. Initially, organic dye tests to find the exact location of any leaks have proved inconclusive. Further dye and water tests are being carried out.

Thames Water and Environment Agency officials have not ruled out the possibility of a sewage leak but are now suggesting that there may be a natural cause for the sharp and sudden drop in oxygen levels in parts of the lake. Among the theories being explored is the possibility that large amounts of algae may have been affected by recent weather conditions, leading to the oxygen imbalance.

Aeration of the lake has continued as the organisations battle to save as many fish as possible.

Councillor Mitch Cohen, Epping Forest District Council`s new Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder said: The events of the last 72 hours have been very distressing. The area is a beautiful setting regularly enjoyed by residents of all ages as well as being a haven for wildlife. Everyone who loves Roding Valley will be upset by the scenes.

Councillor Cohen continued: Sadly, the experts at the Environment Agency are telling us that this kind of thing can happen anywhere and suddenly but on a more optimistic note there is no reason to believe the lake will not completely recover. We will continue to post information updates on the Council website as and when we hear anything new.

Weather Update: Flash Flooding Hits District

Written on . Posted in Business, Emergencies, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area

Severe weather warnings are still in force and more rain is expected. Over the last few days (the 14 June 2007 in particular) the District has been vulnerable to flash flooding like many other parts of the Country.

The rain has been so heavy for short periods that it has overwhelmed some drainage systems. Flash flooding tends to be very localised and rapidly dissipates in most cases. Within the District, Ongar has been worst hit over the last few days.

All of Epping Forest District Council`s Flood Alleviation Schemes have worked well and areas such as North Weald that are normally prone to flooding have been largely unaffected.

However, despite the efforts of all the various agencies including Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Council Highways, Thames Water and the Emergency Services, a small number of homes have been flooded. Water came up so rapidly in these instances that there was little anyone could do to help.

More flooding is possible over the next few days. In partnership with other organisations, Epping Forest District Council will continue to do all we can. People who think they may be at risk of flooding should protect themselves.

Link to Environment Agency Flood Advice
    Sandbags are available from a number of different suppliers including:

  • SG Baker
    Grantham, Lincs – Telephone 01476 565501
  • Jewson Ltd
    Greensted Road, Ongar – Telephone 01277 362231
    Bridge House Wharfe, Lea Road, Waltham Abbey – Telephone 01992 714000
  • Travis Perkins Ltd
    140 High Street, Epping – Telephone 01992 572231
  • Rolathene Ltd (Bags only)
    Unit 41, Hillgrove Business Park, Nazeing – Telephone 01992 892525

A spokesperson for Epping Forest District Council said: “We are part of the emergency response and do have limited supplies of sandbags but flash flooding is one of the most difficult challenges. Water can rise so quickly that by the time a Council lorry arrives it can be too late. Anyone living in an area vulnerable to flash flooding would be well advised to make sure they have their own supplies or have taken other precautions to protect their property.”

London Underground Comes Under Spotlight at Scrutiny

Written on . Posted in Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Travel, Your area, Your council

Simon Williams of London Underground Limited proved to be a master of his brief when he gave a detailed account of the latest developments on the Central Line to Members of Epping Forest District Council`s Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 7 June 2007.

In a very detailed and wide ranging presentation available to view online via the Council webcast facility, Mr Williams covered the upgrade and refurbishment of local Central Line stations and services including the extension of station opening times and staffing hours. He reported that since January, many of the local stations had become part of the travel zone 4 meaning lower prices for many travellers.

As more travellers switch to alternatives such as Oyster Cards, the provision of traditional ticket offices was being reduced but Mr Williams emphasised that all stations would be staffed while open. He outlined many of the improvements to stations such as Epping, Chigwell, Loughton, Theydon Bois, Roding Valley and Epping. Work was continuing at Loughton and Debden.

Refurbishment at Grange Hill is scheduled to take place in 2008.

Mr Williams described many enhancements and investments to the track and infrastructure of the Central Line in the period leading up to the London Olympics of 2012. He acknowledged that some of the network investment works would also cause periods of short-term disruption to some rail users.

However, while many improvements had been made or were planned, Mr Williams also had to answer a number of concerns. Delays and uncertainties about the upgrade of Buckhurst Hill Station which is not likely to receive significant attention before 2011 prompted Councillor Mrs Ann Haigh to enquire what might be done in terms of staff visibility, ticket facilities and access arrangements. Councillor Stallan appealed on behalf of rail user at Epping for the retention of the station kiosk in any future changes to the station, while several councillors asked questions about parking provision for commuters.

Original plans for the extension of the existing car park capacity had been shelved but a feasibility study was underway intot he scope for use of the builders yard at Epping Station.

Councillor Lesley Wagland emphasised the need not only to staff stations such as Chigwell where service hours were recently extended, but to ensure a higher level of staff visibility to reassure late night travellers.

Crime prevention in the form of CCTV cameras for stations and car parks featured in the improvements outlined by Mr Williams along with staffing of stations during open hours.

Councillor David Bateman and Councillor Doug Kelly put a number of strategic questions to Mr Williams. They asked what consideration was being given to the potential for extension of the Central Line, either out to Ongar on the existing privately owned track bed or for more ambitious projects such as extending the line to Stansted.

Mr Williams said that on the current population increase projections for the East of England Plan, LUL did not believe a business case could be made for repurchase of the Epping Ongar Line. Extension to Stansted would be prohibitive for a number of reasons including journey time.

Generating significant additional passenger numbers from within the district or further a field would also have implications on the Central Line capacity in central London. Mr Williams said that at peak times Central Line trains were running at approximate two minute intervals and while there might be some further scope to increase capacity this was limited. Councillor Mrs Wagland came back on these points as a commuter who frequently struggled in overcrowded trains.

Many of the decisions relating to congestion lay within the strategic remit of the Mayor of London. Mr Williams said that beyond improvements to the Central Line itself, Cross Rail and other solutions such as enhancements to the bus network were part of the Mayor`s thinking.

Allowing for a degree of investment to the rail network essential to the success of the Olympics in 2012, Councillor Heather Harding sought information on the impact of the recently publicised Metronet funding problems. Mr Williams was unable to provide a full response but speculated on the balance between the public purse and private enterprise in meeting some of the funding gap.

Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens, chairing Overview and Scrutiny in the absence of Councillor Richard Morgan drew the questions session to a close with thanks to Mr Williams for his very detailed presentation and responses.

Councillor Angold-Stephens said: Simon Williams certainly did his homework. Even though he had advanced notice there were many supplementary questions. While there are a number of welcome improvements to London Underground, there are also still issues of real concern to us. However, Mr Williams had a very good grasp of the subject and I think Members appreciated the manner in which he was able to reply.


Epping Parking Review

Written on . Posted in Out and about, Parking, Residents, Travel, Your area, Your environment

Epping Forest District Council has, in partnership with Essex County Council been working on the Epping Parking Review. The works are programmed to commence in mid May and should be completed, (weather and access permitting) by the end of June 2007.

Copies of the proposals are also on display at the Civic Offices in Epping and at Epping Town Council in St Johns Road in Epping between 9.00am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Note: The Town Council offices are closed for lunch between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council are committed to undertaking a review of the parking scheme six months after implementation with a view to addressing any concerns raised by residents and businesses regarding the scheme.

Comments can be forwarded to either Essex County Council or Epping Forest District Council:

  • Essex County Council Highways and Transportation
    West Area Highways Office
    Warwick House
    Roydon Road
    Harlow
    Essex CM19 5DX
  • Telephone: 01279 642500
  • Email: highways.westarea@essexcc.gov.uk