The Big Youth Debate – Young People Speak Out!

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Meetings, Residents, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

Host BBC radio and TV presenter Dave Monk

Around 150 young people packed into Woolston Hall, Chigwell on Wednesday 19 November 2008 evening for the Big Youth Debate.

Moderating the debate organised by Epping Forest Youth Council, was BBC radio and TV presenter Dave Monk. Eleanor Laing MP, Eric Pickles MP, Divisional Police Commander Tim Stokes and Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council were among the high-powered panel fielding questions from the audience.

Watch the webcast The Big Youth Debate webcast
(opens in a new window)

No punches were pulled as the district`s young people put their questions. Subjects ranged from crime and safety to transport and teenage pregnancy.

Young people question the Panel Members

Introducing the debate, Youth Councillors Holly Whitbread and Nat Rogers presented the first analysis of a district wide survey of opinions of young people. Lack of activities, inadequate public transport and personal safety were key issues coming through.

The lively debate was enjoyed by allAlex Martin with Chairman John Knapman

Epping Forest District Youth Council is less than a year old and the Big Debate was its most ambitious event so far. More than 1,000 young people also responded to the Big Debate survey earlier in the year. Members of the Youth Council have been given open door access to the many of the most influential people in the district. Also at the Big Debate was Aidan Thomas Chief Executive of the West Essex Primary Care Trust and Derek Macnab, Deputy Chief Executive of Epping Forest District Council.

A special hoodie was awarded to all who asked a question

An ipod was awarded to the person who in the view of Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor John Knapman asked the best question. To resounding applause he chose Alex Martin who sparked a major discussion with her question about under-age drinking..

Chairman Opens New Playground

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Chigwell, Community, Grants, Out and about, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

Ribbon cutting at the new Limes Farm Playground

Some of the district`s youngest residents put the latest play equipment to the test when they joined Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council at Limes Farm on Tuesday 18 November 2008.

Pictured right – from left to right are Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council with Lee, Mark, Rianna and Lily Jo open the new Limes Farm Playground

Proving he is no slouch when it comes to climbing frames, Councillor Knapman entered into the spirit of the occasion by testing some of the equipment for himself. Also celebrating the official opening of the new playground, funded with a grant of £58,000 from the National Lottery, was Chigwell Parish Council Chairperson, Councillor Christine Buttling.

The refurbished bridge forms the centre-piece of the new Limes Farm Playground

Chairman John Knapman with residents by the climbing wallThe new play equipment is part of the ongoing community investment by Epping Forest District Council and our partners at Limes Farm, said District Council Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder, Councillor Heather Harding. Everything except the play-bridge is brand new. There are new swings and swivels of different kinds, a climbing wall, slides and rocking horses. I hope local children will enjoy many happy days of play.

Pictured right – District Council Chairman, Councillor John Knapman shows he still has his playground skills with Limes Farm residents Lily Jo, Lee and Angel, District Council Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder, Heather Harding and Chigwell Parish Council Chairperson, Councillor Christine Buttling

Councillor Harding added: The project has been well received by local residents who were consulted on what equipment they thought the playground should have. This is exactly what the Big Lottery Funding is aimed at – enhancing the opportunities for local children to enjoy free play activities in an exciting and stimulating environment.

Limes Farm residents enjoying the new facilities

Epping Forest District Council was recently awarded a total of £243,000 from the Big Lottery Fund Children`s Play Programme to provide and improve play opportunities in the District. Following an audit of play facilities, three areas were selected to benefit from playground refurbishment schemes; Limes Farm in Chigwell, Nazeing and Abridge. The Limes Farm children`s playground was the first to be completed.

Lee, Mark, Rianna, Lily Jo and Angel were not put off by the rain as they played on the new equipment supervised by their mums and dads. Councillor Knapman said: The weather was pretty bad but no-one seemed to mind. It was a very enjoyable morning.

New Lease of Life for Empty Homes

Written on . Posted in Community, Housing, Housing repairs, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest District Council has made a commitment to work with owners and local residents to return private empty homes to use and last year launched an exciting project to offer Government grant funding for the renovation of homes that have been empty for more than six months.

The PLACE project (Private Lease Agreements Converting Empties) is being run in partnership with six other Local Authorities and Registered Social Landlords (RSL) across Essex and Hertfordshire and offers high-level grant funding for private homes that require renovation and have been empty for more than six months. In return, the property is leased by a local RSL for three years and rented out to those waiting to be allocated a property.

There are now four properties that are at approval stage for works to commence and a further nine that are considering the scheme. There are potentially 13 long-term empty properties across Essex and Hertfordshire that will be returned to use and assist with local housing solutions.

Empty homes can be a burden on owners and a cause of concern for local residents, so this project offers a unique and exciting opportunity to turn these wasted properties into much-needed homes. If you own an empty home and would like to find out more about the scheme, or if you would like to report an empty home in your area, please contact Harlow Council on 01279 446396.

Clarification of Compulsory Purchase

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Epping, Gypsy and traveller, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

 

Our record shows that although we have compulsory purchase powers, they are used as a last resort, whether connected to traveller and gypsy sites or any other matter, says Councillor Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council. Councillor Grigg made her comment in response to concerns raised in a national newspaper and added: Against that background I cannot see Epping Forest District Council wanting to use compulsory purchase powers in this instance.

Residents have voiced concerns through the traveller and gypsy consultation process and the matter has been debated in the House of Commons. The Council has clarified that although it is among a number of agencies with the power to make a compulsory purchase of land, Councillors regard this as very much a last resort.

Information on the consultation can be found at:

  • Development Plan Provision for Gypsies and Travellers in Epping Forest District

Consultation on options for potentially new or extended traveller sites began on 4 November 2008 and has been extended by three days to Friday 23 January 2009. It is being driven by the need to respond to the Government directive. The Council has been told to find 49 more pitches within the district by 2011 and a further 57 pitches by 2023. The consultation document is a starting point. No decisions have been taken. The Council stresses these are potential sites. Nothing is set in stone.

Council staff are holding a series of public exhibitions around the district where people can ask questions and discuss the options. Councillor Mrs Grigg said: The exhibitions are being generally well received. We are asked why the Council is doing this. Our answer is that we are responding to a Government directive. We have to plan for 49 new pitches. It is vital that local residents know what is happening and respond directly to the District Council. Some people may send their views to their Parish, Town or even the County Council. That is OK but we need your views direct to help the District Council frame its response to the Government later.

Councillors do not think the allocation process for Epping Forest District is fair. They are concerned by the methodology used to calculate need and think the number should be reduced. The consultation document is helping the Council inform local residents about potential sites although other options may be suggested through the process. The most important element from the Council’s perspective is to gather as much evidence and opinion from local people as possible to place before the Government-appointed panel of inspectors next year.

The Council is anxious to make sure everyone knows what is happening. As well as placing information online, every household can read more in the Forester magazine currently being delivered across the district. The Council is also working with the media, particularly local newspapers, to inform residents. People living closest to the potential sites have been contacted directly. Residents can also see the debates at Cabinet and Council meetings via webcasts on the Council website.

The Council cannot dictate the recommendations of the inspectors through the Examination in Public, or the final decision of the Secretary of State but by raising as much public awareness as possible, it is doing all it can to gather the evidence it needs to influence the outcome for the benefit of the entire local community.

Councillors are urging local residents to support the Council and get the facts. Councillor Anne Grigg said: “This is a very sensitive matter and people are extremely worried. The Epping Forest District Council website contains a very significant amount of information designed to assist people in responding to this consultation and this will be updated.

We need people to keep a close eye on the website, read the consultation document and supporting information and return completed questionnaires. That is the best way to give the Council the evidence we need to back our arguments when the Government takes its decisions in 2010.”

View the consultation document and supporting information click on link above or call Forward Planning on 01992 564517.

Cabinet 10 November 2008

Written on . Posted in Chigwell, Community, Democracy, Local land charges, Meetings, Older people, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Limes Farm Community Hall, Epping Forest Youth Council, Travellers and Domestic Violence were all featured at the meeting of Cabinet on Monday 10 November 2008.

Watch the webcastCabinet meeting 10 November 2008 webcast
(opens in a new window)

 

Limes Farm Community Hall

Epping Forest District Council has ensured the short-term continuation of community services from Limes Farm Hall. Members of the Cabinet agreed to take over management and funding up to the end of March 2010 after Chigwell Parish Council signalled its intention to relinquish the hall next March.

Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder, Councillor Heather Harding, urged members to support the hall. In so doing, opportunities could be developed by the District Council with Essex County Council, West Essex Primary Care Trust and other partners to provide long-term facilities.

Epping Forest Youth Council

Councillor Harding asked members to note the success of the Youth Council since its formation less than a year ago. The Youth Council requested funding to ensure the continuation of its development and operation.

Members of the Cabinet were very supportive of the Youth Council and noted funding already provided by Epping Forest District Council and other agencies. Before agreeing to provide regular long-term funding, the cabinet asked for a report by the Youth Council to be presented to Overview and Scrutiny, setting out achievements and plans in greater detail.

Main River Management

Members of the Cabinet noted that the Council would no longer provide contracted services for the management of main river watercourses and flood alleviation schemes on behalf of the Environment Agency.

Despite a high quality bid, the Council had not matched the lower cost of the successful builder for the Environment Agency contract.

Local Land Charges

Councillor Mitch Cohen, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Support and ICT Services reported on the reduction in income from Local Land Charge searches, a service carried out on behalf of people preparing to buy a new home. The reduction reflected the general downturn in the housing market.

Car Park Investment

Bakers Lane Car Park in Epping will benefit from investment of £120,000. Among the proposed improvements supported by Cabinet were new lighting, CCTV, drainage, resurfacing and lining.

Travellers

In response to a question by a member of the public, Councillor Anne Grigg confirmed that alternative suggestions for potential traveller and gipsy sites to those in the consultation document would be considered.

Building Maintenance

Cabinet asked staff to do more work on prioritising planned maintenance work to council buildings and facilities.

Reduced Energy Cost and Carbon Footprint

Investment in new computer technology should lead to savings on fuel bills and reduction of the Council`s carbon footprint. With energy prices at high levels, the payback period for `virtualisation` of the Council`s computer storage solutions should be complete in four to five years.

Domestic Violence

Councillors supported the adoption of a policy to help members of staff suffering from or dealing with the effects of domestic violence.

Tree Maintenance and Sports Hall

Cabinet supported a bid for £64,000 which if successful will allow the Council to catch up on a backlog of tree maintenance. Members also agreed to £6,000 to fund a feasibility study on the provision of a new sports hall at Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool.

Capital Strategy

Cabinet agreed to recommend the draft Capital Strategy 2008 to 2013 to Full Council.

Report of Overview and Scrutiny

To see a transcript of report to Cabinet of Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny click on the link below.

Trust Branches Out with Rare Freewoods Offer

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Our countryside, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your community, Your environment

Landowners across Essex are being offered a tree-mendous opportunity – the planting of a new native woodland, completely free of charge, with the Woodland Trust.

The Freewoods offer from the Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, takes its woodland creation programme in a new direction by seeking new partners and new locations for tree planting. The offer is expected to strike a chord with environmentally-aware landowners wishing to enhance their land for wildlife. By spring 2009 selected landowners could see their own mini-forests planted of oak, ash, birch and cherry thanks to the Woodland Trust.

Picture of a 10 year old young forest

Essex is one of three counties to pilot the Freewoods opportunity, with the Woodland Trust working alongside Essex County Council to help the authority’s aim to plant an additional 250,000 trees as part of its “Essex Works” tree planting programme.

Councillor Tracey Chapman, Essex County Council cabinet member for environment and waste said: “Our tree pledge aims to help produce a fine sustainable countryside that benefits both wildlife and people. By working with local landowners we are helping to improve and develop land that may otherwise be lost. I would encourage anyone who fits the criteria to apply. The benefits for our landscape and environment are long lasting.”

The other Freewoods pilot counties are Lancashire and Yorkshire, with some individual projects already approved elsewhere including tree planting in a new nature reserve and a new wood on land purchased to save it from development. The Freewoods offer includes site survey and advice on tree species with the Trust then planting and looking after the trees for two years. The minimum planting area per applicant is one hectare (2.5 acres).

“As a starting point all you need is the land and to share our commitment to increase native woodland cover,” said Trust project manager Peter Leeson. “The project is designed to have minimal paperwork and no bureaucracy. The pilot project has limited funds, however, and we will be choosing the best project sites from the applications we receive.”

Peter Leeson continued: “We are passionate about the need to increase native woodland cover, not only to help wildlife prosper but also to increase the quality of everyone’s lives. Of the UK’s total woodland, only one third is native broadleaf trees. An ideal new woodland area would be near ancient woodland or a site of ecological value on arable or improved grazing land. We will not plant trees on sites of high existing ecological value. We know from our work that creating new woodland can be a big decision for landowners – but we also know that more and more people want to plant or manage woods and to help wildlife and biodiversity.”

Research shows that reversing historically low woodland also offers green space for people for exercise and mental relaxation, improves water quality, reduces localised flooding, acts as a cooling influence locally and can play a role in mitigating the effects of climate change.

“Planting new native trees is vitally important to us,” Peter added. “Since the 1930’s England and Wales have lost half of their native woodland cover. England is now one of the least wooded countries in Europe, second from the bottom of the European woodland cover league.”

The Freewoods programme aims to plant trees by the end of March 2009 and has a limited budget. Interested parties should contact: Naomi Fox at the Woodland Trust by telephone on 01476 581111 or by email to naomifox@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity with 300,000 members and supporters.

    The Trust has four key aims:

  1. No further loss of ancient woodland
  2. Restoring and improving the biodiversity of woods
  3. Increasing new native woodland
  4. Increasing people’s understanding and enjoyment of woodland.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free. Further news can be found on the Woodland Trust website.

Woodland Trust website (opens in a new window)

Recycling Consultation Reminder

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

Epping Forest District Council is reminding all residents that the chance to have their say about how they recycle is approaching its deadline. The closing date for completing the waste and recycling service questionnaire is 24 October 2008.

The survey is included in the autumn edition of the Forester and can be completed online.

You could win £100 cash prize or a home composter if you include your home address details when completing the questionnaire. Questionnaires should be returned to Environment and Street Scene, Epping Forest District Council, Freepost CL3360, Epping, CM16 4YA (no need for a stamp).

Collection of wheelie bin residual waste

However, the Council has been made aware of Royal Mail distribution difficulties with this issue and so some properties may not have received a copy. If this is the case, they are available from the Council`s Information Desks or by calling 01992 564140.

The questionnaire invites everyone to express their views on the Council`s current waste and recycling service and outlines three proposed options for change. Changing the service is necessary to enable the District to recycle more and reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill. The Council will take all comments and ideas into consideration when developing the new service.

Black History Month

Written on . Posted in Community, Museum, Older people, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community

James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw an African Prince

As part of Black History Month, the Epping Forest District Museum website is showing a film it commissoned for last year`s commemoration of the the Abolition of Slavery. The film is a narrative of the most remarkable particulars in the life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw an African prince, written by himself.

James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw was captured into slavery when he was a child. Many years later, when he was living in England, he recorded his life story. His memories of Africa, New York, London, Colchester and Norwich were published in 1774. The book is believed to be the first slave narrative to be published in Britain.

Watch the webcastWebcast of James Akawsaw Gronniosaw – an African Prince (opens in a new window)

This film shows extracts from the book and is part of the touring exhibition `The Longest Journey: from Slavery to Abolition`, by Epping Forest District Museum, which looks at Essex links with the slave trade and its abolition.

Have Your Say on the NHS Constitution

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Consultation, Older people, Residents, Supporting business, Your community, Your council

Don`t miss out on the chance to have your say on plans for the NHS Constitution – but hurry, time is running out. The NHS Constitution will record in one place what the NHS in England does, what it stands for and should live up to. It will also state how decisions affecting the NHS should be made.

The NHS Constitution is the first of its kind in the world and comes as a result of discussions with staff, patients and the public as part of the Darzi review. It declares the Government`s commitment to the NHS being a service for all, funded by taxes and based on clinical need and not an individual`s ability to pay.

It recognises the future of the NHS is too important to be left to chance. The Government will be obliged by law to renew the NHS Constitution every ten years. Any changes made will be as a result of a full and transparent debate.

The Constitution means local people will have important rights around access to drugs and treatments, health services, information, quality of care and environment, dignity and respect, complaint and redress.

West Essex PCT Chairman Alan Tobias OBE said: The NHS Constitution explains your rights as patients to make choices about your healthcare. It also sets out principles on how all parts of the NHS should act and make decisions. It describes what we can all do to make better use of the NHS. This is your opportunity to make comments about how we provide health services in the future.

Created 60 years ago the NHS has changed radically and for the better. Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson said: The content of the Constitution was not dreamt up by me or civil servants in Whitehall. It is something that has arisen out of discussions with thousands of NHS staff, patients and the public across the country. The NHS belongs to the people. I would urge everyone to take part in this consultation to ensure that the NHS is fit for the future.

More information on the consultation together with contact details can be found on the Department of Health website and you can also record your views on the NHS East of England`s blog.

The consultation on the draft NHS Constitution, run by the Department of Health, ends on 17 October 2008.

Alternate Weekly Collection Resumes

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

Epping Forest District Council is reminding residents that residual waste (that which cannot be recycled) will be collected every other week as from the week commencing Monday 6 October 2008 on the alternate week to the recycling collection, which will continue as before. Throughout the summer months residual waste has been collected every week. However, it will now revert to alternate weekly collections until May next year. Details of collection dates can be found in the most recent edition of the Council`s waste and recycling collection calendar.

Collection of wheelie bin residual waste

Portfolio Holder for Environmental Protection Councillor Mary Sartin said: The Council responded positively to feedback from residents who wanted a weekly collection when the weather is at its warmest because of problems associated with flies, smells and maggots. However, during the cooler months the majority of residents felt they could cope with a collection every other week.

Councillor Sartin went on to say: I really appreciate the efforts of our residents and I would encourage all of them to continue with and improve upon their excellent record of recycling almost 42% of their household rubbish. In particular I would urge them to make full use of the kerbside recycling facilities the Council provides.

Councillor Sartin concluded: I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all residents to complete our public consultation on the waste and recycling service which can be found on the homepage of the Council’s website (click on the ‘« back’ button below to return to the homepage) or in the centre of the current edition of The Forester. We really need everyone`s views in order to improve and develop the service. Working together we can recycle more and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and help protect our environment.