Around 5,000 households in Epping Forest District have failed to respond to this year’s annual canvass of electors – a process that checks who is on the Electoral Register. A second reminder form has now been sent to these properties – the deadline to respond is 31 October. Remember you still need to respond even if there are no changes to your details.
More than half of those who HAVE responded did so by using an automated service – online/phone/text. To keep costs down we need most of the remaining households to use a similar method because last year we spent £20,000 on sending out reminders.
Failure to respond could ultimately result in deletion from the Electoral Register, which could seriously affect the person’s credit rating and ability to get a mortgage, bank loan or even a mobile phone contract!
Here’s what to do…
Using the 2 part security code on your household enquiry form:
Amend the information online easily and quickly or
Call the Electoral Services helpline on 01992 564411 or
Amend the form and return it in the prepaid envelope – making sure to give a contact phone number or email address in case of queries.
Has your name been added to the Household Enquiry Form?
If so, you are not registered to vote just yet. There is a second stage to the registration process. The Council has been sending out registration forms by post and emails/phone messages giving information about how to register to vote to all new people added to the Household Enquiry Forms. Please don’t ignore them. Registration is not complete until this second part has been done.
It’s a simple process and can be done online at www.gov.uk/registertovote or by calling the elections helpline (01992 564411). The deadline to complete the registration process is 17 October (otherwise more reminders will need to be sent out).
There is an increasing demand for housing in the district, where development on Green Belt is generally prohibited, so it is particularly important that as many empty properties as possible are brought back into use.
Properties are left empty for a variety of reasons and they can be the source of much misery to neighbours. It is estimated that a home next door to an empty property can be devalued by 10% or more, and there is the additional worry of nuisance, vermin, arson, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
For the owner, an empty property is a wasted resource in terms of potential rental income and can be costly in terms of disrepair, higher insurance costs, increased council tax premiums of 150%, property mortgage fraud, emergency repairs and break-ins.
We are committed to reducing the number of empty properties across the district and can offer financial help in certain circumstances. A stumbling block can be that the empty property is in disrepair and cannot be lived in, let, or easily sold in its condition.
We can therefore offer the following schemes.
Empty homes repayable assistance
offers up to £10,000 if there is an empty property in poor condition that you intend to live in yourself, or let to a tenant. The money is repaid when you eventually sell the property.
offers up to £25,000 if you have a property that you would like to have renovated in order that you can sell or rent it. This is an interest free loan and is paid back within 2 years in the case of a loan to sell, or 5 years in the case of the loan to let.
Whilst we always prefer to work with owners in a constructive way, it has certain enforcement powers to ensure that an empty property is brought back to use, particularly if it has been empty a long time and is problematic to the local community. As a council we are fully committed to bringing empty properties back into use and are looking to help owners in every way we can. However where all other measures have failed, we are prepared to take enforcement action.
Please let us know if you are aware of an empty property. Provide us with the address and any other information you may have and we will do our best to contact the owner, to try to bring the property back to use. All calls are treated in confidence.
For further information contact the Empty Property Officer
Epping Forest Youth Councillors have signed up as Dementia Friends after attending an awareness session with Engagement Officer, Karen Murray.
Dementia Friends learn about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turn that understanding into action, helping people in all kinds of everyday situations.
“Anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend by attending a face-to-face Dementia Friends Information Session or watching an online video,” said Cllr Helen Kane, portfolio holder for Leisure and Community Services. “It’s all about learning more about dementia and spreading the word, such as telling friends about Dementia Friends or visiting someone who is living with dementia”.
Epping Forest District Council has been holding dementia awareness sessions in libraries throughout the summer. The next one is Thursday 18 October, 2pm at Epping Library.
Each session lasts around one hour and attendees will learn about dementia and how they can help to create dementia friendly communities.
A Loughton resident incurred fines of more than £1,500 for not checking he was giving his waste to a reputable company.
Mr Vadims Tjoluskins of Hillyfields pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Magistrates Court last month to failing in his household waste duty of care, by giving his waste to somebody else to dispose of without carrying out the necessary checks to ensure that they were authorised by the Environment Agency to carry such waste.
Mr Tjoluskins admitted he handed over some large cardboard boxes which were later found fly tipped amongst a larger pile of waste in Oakley Court, Loughton at a bin store provided for local residents.
Magistrates fined Mr Tjoluskins £600 and ordered him to pay the Council’s prosecution costs of £900, together with a victim surcharge £60 and said that had he not pleaded guilty the fine would have been £900.
Fly tipping prosecution
“We take fly tipping, and residents’ responsibility to ensure they are disposing of their waste legitimately and responsibly very seriously,” said Cllr Nigel Avey, Portfolio Holder for Environment.
“Our message is simple: Before handing your waste to somebody else, always check, consider and record in order to protect yourself, and reduce fly-tipping by rogue traders. It is a crime not to care.”
Advice on how residents can protect themselves from rogue traders who fly-tip for profit is available on the Council’s Website. Click here for more information Crime Not to Care.
Motorists and dog walkers are being warned that the deer mating season, also known as the rutting or breeding season, has begun.
During the rutting season male deer can become highly aggressive as they attempt to fight off rivals to attract female deer. This makes them less aware of dangers around them, such as cars and bikes on the roads.
Take extra care
“At this time of year its especially important for motorists to take extra care when driving through the forest and rural parts of the district” said Councillor Sam Kane, Portfolio Holder for Safer, Greener and Transport.
Accidents involving deer increase during rutting season, which lasts until late November. Deer are particularly active at dawn and dusk, which unfortunately coincides with commuting hours and the busiest times of day on our roads.
Deer are particularly active at dawn and dusk. Unfortunately this coincides with commuting hours which are often the busiest times of the day on our roads.
Wild animals can behave unpredictably
“Deer are pack animals and often move in groups, if you see one, others are likely to follow. They can appear without warning and present a greater risk than other wildlife because of their large size.”
Cllr Kane has advice for dog walkers: “Keep your dogs on a lead. Deers are wild animals and can behave unpredictably if they feel threatened, so don’t get too close.”
Be deer aware
“Please read the safety advice and be more ‘deer aware’ during this time of year” says Cllr Sam Kane, “Whether you’re driving in our district or walking in our beautiful forest, I want everyone to complete their journey safely and without incident.”
Thousands of families on low incomes will be able to benefit from a new Government savings account launching this month. The Help to Save scheme rewards savers with an extra 50p for every £1 saved, so that over four years maximum savings of £2,400 would earn an overall bonus of £1,200.
More than 285,000 people on low incomes living in the East of England can potentially benefit from this scheme.
Save up to £50 a month
Help to Save is available to working people on Tax Credits and Universal Credit. Account holders can save between £1 and £50 a month over a four year period. After two years, savers get a 50% tax-free bonus on savings and another 50% tax-free bonus after four years if they continue to save.
The bonus does not count as income for tax credits, Universal Credit or any other income related benefit, e.g. Housing Benefit.
Easy, flexible and secure
“Help to Save is easy to use, flexible and secure,” said Cllr Gagan Mohindra, Portfolio Holder for Finance. “It will help those on low incomes build up a ‘rainy day’ fund, and encourage savings behaviours and habits. How much is saved and when is up to the account holder, and they don’t need to pay in every month to get a bonus.
“On maximum savings of £2,400 over 4 years, the overall bonus would be £1,200.”
Who can apply?
To be eligible for Help to Save, customers must be a UK resident and:
be receiving Working Tax Credit
have a nil award of Working Tax Credit but receiving Child Tax Credit
be in receipt of Universal Credit with minimum individual or household earnings equivalent to 16 hours, times the National Living Wage in their last income assessment period (that’s £542.88 during the financial year 2018-19).
If customers have a joint Universal Credit or tax credits award, both partners can open an account.
As the colder months close in, Epping Forest District Council is working with West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and Livewell Essex, to help residents prepare for winter by providing a series of free health and wellbeing events across the district in November 2018.
Healthy throughout winter
Come and speak to local pharmacists, community nurses and specialist healthcare advisors and learn more about how to keep yourself healthy throughout the winter months.
FREE goodie bags and more
There is so much more on offer too, including FREE goodie bags, entertainment and lunch – you are guaranteed to have an informative and enjoyable day!
Booking is essential, so please call 01992 564225 to confirm your place.
Join us in…
St Giles C of E, St Giles Church Hall, Nazeing, Essex, EN9 2JL
Thursday 8 November 2018
10am – 2.30pm
Jubilee Park Pavillion, Love Lane, Ongar, Essex, CM5 9BL
Thursday 15 November 2018
10am – 2.30pm
Epping Hall, St Johns Road, Epping, Essex, CM16 5JU
Thursday 22 November 2018
10am – 2.30pm
Fyfield Village Hall, Houchin Drive, Fyfield, Essex, CM5 0RG
Wednesday 28 November 2018
10am – 2.30pm
Transport is available through the VAEF, please call 01992 564225 to enquire.
The Burton Road fire, proposals for the St Johns Road development, the Epping Forest Shopping Park and the Epping Forest District Local Plan submission were amongst the topics of discussion at Full Council on 25 September 2018.
Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread set the record straight in response to questions asked by Councillor Steven Neville relating to the fire at Burton Road on 17 August 2018.
Councillor Whitbread said: “Having read the comparisons with the Grenfell disaster on the front page of the local paper recently, we are concerned that sensational headlines will cause a great deal of unnecessary anxiety for potential tenants. Links with the Grenfell Tower do a disservice to the people involved in that disaster as well as families currently waiting for a new home on our waiting list.
He urged: “Burton Road is a completely different building and it is not yet finished. The fire was caused by a construction related accident, not the materials used. Unlike Grenfell, Burton Road only has four floors. The interior was practically untouched by the fire. Even if it had been possible for such a fire to start once the building was finished and occupied, all the evidence suggests people would have been able to escape unharmed. The building stood up remarkably well to the blaze.”
Options for a new leisure centre at the St Johns Road development site in Epping are being explored. Proposals are being discussed with the District Council’s current leisure provider Places for People and Epping Town Council.
The new leisure centre could form part of the larger St Johns development and could potentially include the first cinema in the town for decades, new shops, public open space and housing.
Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip announced that Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan, a set of policies to manage development within the district up to 2033, has been submitted for approval to the Planning Inspectorate.
The Local Plan’s submission was delayed following a Judicial Review brought by CK Properties in March 2018.
Council was given an update on the new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey by Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Communities, Councillor Helen Kane. She informed Council that the new health and wellbeing hub is now in the final stages of construction and is on target to achieve its scheduled opening on 17 November 2018.
In a bid to combat fly-tipping and increase awareness throughout the district, the Cleaner Essex Group will be ‘recycling’ the Crime not to Care campaign this year to highlight issues caused by fly tipping and how residents can help.
The campaign, due to launch in October, will ask residents and businesses to ‘Check, Challenge and Record’ when handing their waste over for disposal – ensuring waste is kept out of the hands of the rogue traders that fly-tip for profit.
New brands at Shopping Park
Home Bargains and Boots Plc are the last two brands to join the group retailers at the Epping Forest Shopping Park in Loughton.
Home Bargains opened its doors on 1 September 2018 and the lease on the final retail unit has now been agreed with Boots Plc, with completion imminent pending approval of the shop fit out.
Funding granted for inclusion project
Councillors noted a report which referred to the grant of extra funding from Action for Children, for the Epping Forest Inclusion Project. The project provides an important resource, offering a wide range of sport and leisure activities for children and young people with disabilities and their families.