Free advice sessions for local businesses

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business, Your council

As part of its ongoing support to local businesses in West Essex, Epping Forest District Council has arranged a series of free advice sessions with HM Revenue and Customs.

The sessions cover a variety of topics from basic record keeping to capital allowances and from employer responsibilities to completing tax returns.

Held at Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ, you can register for the free sessions by contacting the HMRC Business Education and Support Team by telephone on 0845 603 2691.

Tuesday 10 January 2012 – 10:15am to 12:30pm – committee room 1
Newly self employed (the basics) – registration, how national insurance affects you, record keeping, overview of tax returns, payments, penalties and VAT
Wednesday 15 February 2012 – 10:15am to 12:30pm – committee room 2
Business expenses and Capital allowances for the self employed – expenditure, car, van and motoring expenses, capital allowances for vehicles and equipment
Thursday 22 March 2012 – 10am to 12:45pm – committee room 2
Becoming an employer (what you need to know) – becoming an employer, employer responsibilities, online filing, National Insurance, PAYE tax principles, starters and leavers – P45 and P46 procedure
Wednesday 18 April 2012 – 10:15am to 12:30pm – committee room 1
Self Employed tax return online – how to register for self assessment online, how to complete the self employed pages of an online tax return, payments and penalties.


Digital TV UK Roadshow

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Local business, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your home

Just to let you know that the Digital UK Roadshow is coming to the District on the following days:

31 January 2012 – Rear of Waitrose, Queens Road Buckhurst Hill from 09.00 to 17.00.

2 February 2012 – Brook Parade, High Road Chigwell from 09.00 to 17.00.

7 February 2012 – Market Square, Sun Street Waltham Abbey from 08.30 to 15.00.

8 February 2012 – The Pleasance Car Park, High Street, Chipping Ongar from 09.00 from 17.00.

9 February 2012 – Sainsburys, Old Station Road Loughton from 09.00 to 17.00.

10 February 2012 – The Piazza, High Street, Epping, time to be confirmed.
 By visiting the roadshow you will be able to:
Find out when switchover is happening and the options for going digital. Look for advisors in pink, who can help with your digital TV enquiries.
Learn how eligible people can get a TV converted by the Switchover Help Scheme. Look for advisors in purple, who are there to provide specific information about the Help Scheme for those aged 75 and over and disabled people.
See technical demonstrations (e.g. how to retune a box) and put questions to Digital UK’s specially trained advisers.
Meet Digit Al* – Digital UK’s iconic robot, star of BBC and commercial television.

The whole of the region, covering more than 12 million viewers, will have switched to digital in April 2012. The local roadshows are great for you to meet the teams from Digital UK and the Switchover Help Scheme and find out what you might need to do and learn what assistance is available.

What help is available?
Visit the Digital UK website for help with general questions about getting digital TV and preparing for the switchover. There is also an advice line on 08456 505050.

There is extra help for older and disabled viewers from the Switchover Help Scheme, call free on 0800 408 7654 or visit the Switchover Help Scheme website

Is your business ready for the Olympic Games?

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Olympics, Out and about, Supporting business

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has produced a planning information booklet for businesses called ‘Preparing your business for the Games.’

It provides advice and guidance on things to do before, during and after the Games, so that you can keep your business running during 2012 and make the most of the opportunities next summer.

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be the largest sports events in the world and offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase the UK at its best.

It is also a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes and sectors. You may already be planning how your business can take full advantage.

However, like any large event, the Games will bring with them certain challenges. If your business is located near to a Games venue or a travel hotspot, you need to start planning as soon as possible to reduce any adverse impact that the Games could have on your business.

Games time runs from the start of the Olympic Torch Relay on 19 May 2012 to 9 September 2012, when the Paralympic Games end. While the impact on businesses will be greatest during the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games themselves, there may also be some effect to your business at other times during this period.

Some of the questions you should ask yourself are:

What if you don’t have enough staff?
What if your technology fails?
What if transport is disrupted?
What if your supply chain is affected?
What if access to your workplace is restricted?
You will be better prepared to respond to these challenges if you have given these factors some early consideration and have business continuity plans in place.

Some businesses already have comprehensive business continuity plans and where this is the case you should ensure that you review your plans to factor in the differences you may experience during next summer and that any contingency measures take into account the additional pressures of the Games.

Business continuity planning for the Games should follow existing good practice and you should:

Consider which aspects of your business activities are critical and assess how the Games may disrupt them.
Determine a strategy for dealing with this disruption so that your business can continue to deliver key services and products. This should take into account resources such as people, premises, technology, supplies and stakeholders.
Write business continuity plans to implement this strategy.
Test and exercise plans and review these in the run-up to Games time.
Embed business continuity so that its importance is understood at all levels within the organisation.
To download the booklet visit the London 212 Games event planning page.

Epping parking review

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

Epping Forest District Council has asked Essex County Council to complete the implementation of works following the review of the Epping parking scheme; which was initially implemented in August 2007 after consultation with the local community.

View the plans online:

Essex County Council parking review

The changes below have therefore been made in light of comments received from residents and businesses since the original scheme was implemented in 2007, including the informal consultation of May 2010 and the formal consultation of December 2010 / January 2011.

These plans show what will be implemented on the specific roads within the area of the Epping Parking Review; these plans have been commented on by District and County Councillors and have the approval of Epping Forest District Council Portfolio Holder (Safer and Greener) and The Essex County Council Portfolio Holder for Highways and Transportation.

The following roads have been removed from the Epping parking review following objections from residents.

  • Ambleside / Greentrees
  • Amesbury Road
  • Bodley Close
  • Hartland Road
  • Ravensmere
  • Western Avenue

Essex Councils shortlisted for two national awards

Written on . Posted in Business, Residents, Working with the council, Your community

An innovative human resources company made up of all Essex councils has been shortlisted for two national awards.

Vine HR, a not-for-profit company set up by Heads of HR from all 15 Essex authorities, has been shortlisted for awards in the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) National Awards. They have been shortlisted in the SME HR Business Initiative of the Year category and the Personnel Today Award for Excellence in Public Sector HR.

Paul Warren who is the sponsor of HR Professional Strand on the CEO Board of Vine HR said: “The innovative approach of utilising the expertise of all Heads of HR across Essex to form an SME demonstrates that these ideas can work across the county. The Heads of HR, who are all directors of Vine HR, collaborate and save money by challenging suppliers to reduce their charges on joint procurement, and looking for areas where they can reduce unnecessary duplication. “As well as looking at aligning HR policies, Vine HR investigates ways to work with others, including organisations outside Local Government and sharing ideas.”

The Director of Corporate Support Services of Epping Forest District Council Colleen O’Boyle said: “I am delighted that Vine HR has been recognised in this way. The company has proved that by working collaboratively it is possible to provide an excellent service whilst at the same time achieving major savings for Essex council taxpayers.”

The company has been nominated for its innovative projects, including leadership and management development programmes, joint e-learning platform, recruitment contracts, joint training and apprenticeship schemes. Joint contracts with suppliers have enabled preferential rates, while joint services save on delivery costs. Already, Essex authorities have enjoyed savings of £1 million.

Several members of staff across the council have accessed Vine HR’s services for training and e-learning. For more information about the services on offer through Vine, please contact Belinda Gray or Anna Hayden on 01245 430733.

Business leaders join forces for new charter

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business

Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses were joined on 15 September by representatives of Epping Forest District Council at the Lee Valley White Water Centre where the London 2012 Olympic canoe slalom takes place less than a year from now.

The ‘state of the art’ white water centre formed a spectacular backdrop as leading members of the Epping Forest business community gathered together.

Business charterLocal business and civic leaders have pledged their support to a new charter for business.

Civic and Business Leaders at the signing of the Epping Forest District Business Charter at the Lee Valley White Water Centre near Waltham Abbey on Thursday 15 September.

Under the terms of the Business Charter pledge, the signatories committed to:

  1. prompt payment – aiming to pay all invoices within ten working days but 20 working days at the latest
  2. buy local – seeking quotes from at least one local business when tendering and looking to purchase goods locally where they are available
  3. consult – and listen through One, the Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership
    Business Champion support – ensuring support, communication and co-operation between the community, local business and public sector organisations

John Price, Chairman of Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce, introduced a high-powered panel of speakers at the signing; Councillor Lesley Wagland, Leader of Epping Forest District Council and Chairman of One LSP, Heather Thirtle, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Ian Wicks, Chairman of Essex FSB, Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development and Epping Forest District Council’s Business Champion and Vance Rowe, manager of Cyclone Commerce Ltd and Vice-Chairman of the West Essex Alliance.

Vance Rowe spoke passionately about his background as a ‘Kiwi’ and his commitment to west Essex. As one of the prime movers behind the successful bid for Enterprise Zone status in Harlow, he spoke forcefully of the opportunities this would open up for Epping Forest.

Mr Rowe believed the Enterprise Zone focused on Harlow’s health and medical technology industries would need a whole range of support services potentially supplied from within Epping Forest. He also argued strongly for the importance of infrastructure ranging from upgraded broadband and transportation to teaching the right skills in schools and universities. In an appeal to the district’s young people he emphasised the wealth of opportunities available.

A key message within the Business Charter is mutual support between local businesses and the public sector. Especially in the current economic climate the importance of prompt payment emphasised by Iain Wickes of the Federation of Small Businesses resonated with attendees at the signing of the Business Charter.

Calling on local businesses to seize the opportunity, he felt there was never a bad time to start a new business. Using local suppliers when the price is right helped the local economy and was good for the environment too, he said.

Heather Thirtle reminded local business people of the track record of the Chamber of Commerce which was founded 62 years ago. Speaking at the White Water Centre, she reminded attendees of the potential for tourism offered by Epping Forest district. She called on members of the Chamber to go forward as ambassadors in the promotion of the district.

Councillor Gagan Mohindra set out his role as the link between business and the public sector. He reminded everyone that the council itself operates major contracts in partnership with the private sector, offering Sita as the council’s waste contractor and SLM, which runs the council’s leisure centres as prime examples.

He offered himself as the contact for local business. His role was to be an advocate for local business within the council and to help local business understand the policies and actions of the council.

Opening and concluding the speeches, Councillor Lesley Wagland repeated that according to the latest analysis, 86 per cent of retail spending by local residents was spent online or outside Epping Forest district. She called on the local business and retail community to go forward with the same constructive passion and drive shown by Vance Rowe and the other members of the panel. She believed that Government support for local areas would increasingly be taken away from traditional funding and replaced with incentives to support local drive and initiative. Epping Forest district needed to be ‘vital and vibrant in its own right’.

Councillor Wagland encouraged local people to heed the ‘Shop Local’ call. Epping Forest district is “A great place to work and live –people want our businesses to be successful and we are successful,” she concluded.

Green light for Harlow Enterprise Zone bid

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business, Your money

The economy has been given a major boost after the government gave the green light for an Enterprise Zone to be created in Harlow.

Essex County Council has welcomed the announcement by the Government that the Enterprise West Essex @ Harlow site is to become one of the 11 new zones across the country.

The announcement is expected to be marked with a visit by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to the Enterprise West Essex site.

The Enterprise Zone (EZ) will create a new 126-acre area to support high tech and medical technology companies which could create up to 5,000 new jobs.

Companies setting up in an EZ area will benefit from a simplified planning process, superfast broadband access and in some cases relief from business-rates which could amount to a saving of £275,000 over a five-year period.

The Harlow bid was one of two bids submitted to the government by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), a strategic body focusing on cross-border economic growth in the region.

Essex County Council Leader, Councillor Peter Martin, said: “The government’s backing for an enterprise zone in Harlow is fantastic news. The thousands of jobs this will create both directly and indirectly will be a major boost not just to the economies of Harlow and Essex, but the country as a whole. Essex is a vital cog in the country’s economic motor, and this kind of initiative will ensure that we are in a position to continue to help drive the country forward.”

Councillor Andrew Johnson, leader of Harlow Council, said: “This Government backing is a great boost for Harlow during these difficult times and shows Harlow is most definitely open for business. Harlow already has a great name in technology and is superbly placed between London and Cambridge, with all the road, rail and air links any company could want. We want to attract and retain businesses in Harlow and support them in their growth whilst providing jobs for local people that match their aspiration. The Enterprise Zone status gives us that opportunity.”

What local people told us

Written on . Posted in Business, Consultation, Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment

We asked local people to explain what they thought was important in the district, and what the priorities should be for the future of the area, i.e. their Community Vision. The key results are to be included as part of the evidence base in the forthcoming preparation of the Core Planning Strategy.

The priorities for the District over the next 20 years are:

  • To protect and enhance green spaces whilst encouraging the growth of local jobs and business.
  • The most important planning issues facing local areas are:
  • Better protection for green spaces, reducing traffic congestion and providing more local job opportunities.

The favoured approaches to the location of new houses and jobs are:

To locate growth close to public transport links and around/within existing towns whilst considering a combination of options throughout the District where appropriate.

Question 1 – What do you think the priorities are for the District over the next 20 years?

The most popular option was ‘Protecting and enhancing green spaces’ which almost a third of respondents chose, followed closely by ‘Encouraging the growth of local jobs and businesses’. ’Providing facilities for the community’ was the third most popular option.

‘Providing housing to meet local need’, and ‘Reducing the impacts of climate change’, were seen as less important by people who responded to the consultation. A small proportion of people wrote their own individual option under the ‘Other’ choice.

Protect and enhance green spaces 32.4%, Encouraging local jobs and businesses 25.4%, Community facilities 17.2%, Local housing 11%, Climate change 10.3%, Other 3.7%.

Question 2 – What planning issues do you think most need to be addressed in your local area?

Opinion was split on this question. Again the most popular option was ‘Better protection for green spaces’. Of the other options available, ‘Reduced traffic congestion’, ‘More local job opportunities’, ‘Right balance of shops and restaurants’, and ‘Improved community facilities’ were preferred.

The options for ‘Better access to public transport’, ‘More affordable housing’ and ‘Provision of a greater variety of housing types’ were chosen less frequently in the response. A small proportion of people gave their own individual suggestions of planning issues which needed to be addressed, under the ‘Other’ choice.


Protect green spaces 20.6%, Reduce congestion 13.9%, Local job opportunities 13.2%, Balance of shops and restaurants 12.3%, Community facilities 11.7%, Public transport 10.6%, Affordable housing 6.9%, Housing variety 6.7%, Other 4.1%.

Question 3 – Where do you think new houses and jobs should be located?

We asked local people where they thought new housing and jobs should go in the district. The most popular options were ‘Close to public transport links’ and ‘Around or within existing towns’. Slightly less popular choices were ‘A combination of all the options spread throughout the district’, ‘Near the edge of Harlow’, and ‘Close to the motorway network’.

The remaining three options were unpopular. A small proportion of people wrote their own individual option under the ‘Other’ choice.

Close to public transport links 23.6%, Around or within existing towns 21.1%, Combination of all the options across district 14.8%, Near the edge of Harlow 12.9%, Near motorway 9.4%, Spread throughout existing rural settlements 6.8%, Concentrated in one existing settlement 4.6%, Other 4.4%, New settlements in the countryside 2.4%

If you would like to find out more detail about what local people told us:

Council Leader to meet Essex FSB

Written on . Posted in Business, Democracy, Leader, Local business, Supporting business, Your council

Councillor Lesley WaglandThe new Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Lesley Wagland, is to meet with the Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) on Friday 22 July 2011 for a special two-way briefing.

Essex FSB representative for Epping Forest, Tina Dulieu, said: Essex FSB has a good working relationship with Epping Forest District Council and we wish to see that positive partnership continue with the new Council Leader.

We are delighted that Councillor Wagland has been able to find time in her busy schedule for a meeting with Essex FSB representatives and we have a number of issues where we think by working together we can bring benefits for local businesses.

Among the topics of mutual interest on the agenda, will be initiatives for high speed, reliable broadband to be available across the district and also what encouragement can be given to local communities to make better use of the shopping centres that are at the heart of the communities which make up Epping Forest, including Chigwell, Debden, Epping, Loughton, Ongar and Theydon Bois, and to retailers to provide the service local people want.

We are looking forward to what we are sure will be the start of a good working relationship for the benefit of the Epping Forest economy.

Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Lesley Wagland, said: More than 95 per cent of businesses in Epping Forest District are SMEs providing many hundreds of jobs and generating considerable wealth for the local economy.

“As the UK’s largest business organisation the FSB is a strong voice for such businesses and Essex FSB has a very good reputation for the positive way it works with local councils for the benefit of local businesses.”

“I have sought an early meeting with Essex FSB representatives to discuss the needs of our small businesses as I am sure that by working together we have a much stronger voice which can bring improvements for our area.”

Essex Region of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) website

The FSB represents more than 200,000 business people across the United Kingdom and is the largest single organisation representing business interests in the country.

The South West Essex Branch of the FSB represents the interest of small businesses in the following postcode areas – CM13 to CM16, SS17, RM1 to RM20, and IG1 to IG11 – which includes Brentwood, Epping Forest, Havering, Redbridge and Thurrock Councils

West Essex Employer and Business Survey 2011

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

Epping Forest District Council is encouraging businesses to respond to the West Essex Employer and Business Survey, which Harlow Council is conducting on behalf of the West Essex District Councils – Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford.

An Epping Forest District Council spokesperson said:  The survey is really important, as it helps us target effort at the problems that are most important to business and gives us the evidence we need to lobby for investment from Government, Europe and others. We need at least 1,000 businesses to respond, so please complete the survey. It shouldn`t take you more than ten minutes and will make a real difference to businesses in West Essex.

  • Complete the survey online

For more information or if you would prefer a hardcopy of the survey, please contact James Spencer by emailing or by phone on 01279 446450.