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.

North Weald Airfield – Cabinet Committee

Written on . Posted in Business, North Weald Airfield, Our attractions, Planning, Your environment

There could be `considerable` commercial interest if Epping Forest District Council opted to develop aviation opportunities at North Weald Airfield. Councillors are recommending further investigation of options for `active` aviation growth at the Airfield to the next Cabinet meeting on 18 April. Full public consultation would precede any final decision.

The former Battle of Britain Airfield currently handles around 20,000 aircraft movements each year. Under new proposals that could increase by 18,000 extra movements a year.

Leader Di Collins and Deputy Leader Chris Whitbread would like a full consultation and engagement with local residents and tenants of the airfield

An executive summary of a report on potential aviation expansion at North Weald Airfield can be read here (pdf 262KB). The report outlines various options from doing little or nothing, through `organic growth` to `active development`, significantly developing aviation with a commercial partner.

Aviation development consultant Nick Kaberry presented the Halcrow report to members of the council`s North Weald Airfield Cabinet Committee at the Civic Offices in Epping on Tuesday (22 March).

Aviation operations at North Weald currently run at a loss to the council. This is offset by income from other airfield activities allowing the council to break even but the council wants aviation to pay for itself.

Losses will continue if the council does nothing. According to the Halcrow report, organic growth could reduce the losses but not eliminate them. Active growth is the only way to stop losses and generate a profit if the council wants flying to continue.

Active development would focus on business users including small executive jet and turboprop aircraft. Business passenger services can only operate from airfields licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Minimum investment for active development would include bringing 1,400m of the runway up to a CAA licensable standard. Runway and taxi pavements would need strengthening. Lighting and instrument approach capability would be necessary for take off and landing in poor weather. Combined with other improvements, the council would face substantial capital investment. This might be achieved directly or in partnership with a fixed based operating company.

Councillors want any future development proposals to go ahead only after full consultation and engagement with local residents and tenants of the airfield. Councillor Di Collins said: It is still early days. This is one option. There may be others. Residents over many years have made it clear that they want North Weald to remain an operational airfield. The airfield is steeped in heritage and history, and should make a valuable contribution to the local economy and employment.

“For that to continue we need to consolidate the airfield’s long term future with a business plan and strategy that stops the losses and turns airfield into a financial as well as a social and community asset.

“We are custodians of North Weald. We must be sensitive to the requirements of local people and ensure the airfield continues to support the community for future generations.

Consultation on trading around London 2012

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

The department for culture, media and sport has launched a consultation on the regulations on advertising activity and trading in open public places around Olympic and Paralympic events during the 2012 Games. They are interested in the views of all those affected by the regulations but in particular traders, advertisers, local businesses and residents.

The consultation sets out proposals on the management of advertising and trading in open spaces within a few hundred metres around the Olympic and Paralympic venues and road race routes. They will apply for a limited time when competition in the venue is taking place.

The measures we are proposing are in line with those used at all Olympics since Sydney 2000, said Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson. They aim to strike the right balance between preventing unauthorised advertising and trading that damage the rights of the sponsors, and enabling businesses to operate as usual.

It is a requirement of the International Olympic Committee host city contract that measures are in place to prevent ambush marketing and unauthorised trading at Games time.

The consultation runs from 7 March to 30 May 2011.

Business and Tourism Day Seminar

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Olympics, Out and about, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area

The Marriott Hotel in Waltham Abbey is hosting a Business and Tourism Day Seminar on Wednesday 16 March 2011 from 7:30am to 8pm.

This event will provide inspiration, ideas, and support to take advantage of the business opportunities, created around Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross by The Lee Valley White Water Centre, the finest white water centre in the world; and The London 2012 Olympic Games Canoe Slalom Events being held there. There are opportunities to bring investment, business and jobs into the area.

The London 2012 Games and its Legacy

    Seminar options include:

  • How to use the press to promote your business activities and events
  • How to use social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote your business or activities
  • An economic development study is being undertaken that will look at how the Lee Valley White Water Centre can be used to create a leisure destination. This is an opportunity to voice your opinions on what you feel will improve the area, as a leisure destination, and for your business
  • Why is branding important and how can businesses work together to maximises customer demand`. A brainstorming session on how to brand an area
  • How to win Olympic contracts through `Compete for`
  • Planners, machines or human beings. When do you need planning permission, how do you apply, what is the process and how do you increase your chances of your application being approved

Book your seminars online

Licensing and Night Time Economy Meeting

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

For those interested in finding out the facts that relate to licensing and the night time economy, Epping Forest District Council will be holding a Safer Cleaner Greener Scrutiny Meeting at St Mary’s Church in Loughton at 7.30pm on Tuesday 8 March 2011.

The meeting which takes place twice a year provides Council Members with the opportunity to scrutinize members of the Safer Communities Partnership on their work in the District.


Council Officers and Essex Police will be giving a short presentation on the processing, monitoring and enforcement of Licensing conditions and on the police powers and their recent operations in relation to Licensed establishments.

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting and can find out more by emailing or by telephoning 01992 564608.


Eric Pickles Big Society’ Vision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric Pickles MP thanked delegates including Epping Forest Youth Councillors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artability Project Choir gave a wonderful musical performance

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