Celebrating Success

Written on . Posted in Business, Chairman, Councillors, Meetings, Our performance, Performance, Your council

Chairman of Council, Councillor John Knapman recently presented Epping Forest District Council staff with certificates following their success in training and qualifications.

Chairman John Knapman and Council staff

Celebrating Success is an annual event organised by the Council at which staff who have attained professional accreditations, completed in-house training and development programmes and also achieved vocational qualifications receive their awards. Also invited are staff who have either completed, or are soon to complete, 25 years` service with the Council or its predecessor Authorities.

Councillor John Knapman said: As a Council we have invested heavily in staff training and development and have been an Investor in People since 2001. This year, in March, we were re-accredited against the Investors in People standard for the third time, achieving very high standards. The Council sees staff development as a key link to improving services to our residents and I was delighted to present certificates to those staff who have achieved success in their training over the last year.

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.

Bursary Scheme for Sports and the Arts

Written on . Posted in Arts, Community, Grants, Our activities, Out and about, Young people, Your area, Your council

Sports and Arts Activities

Epping Forest District Council is encouraging applications from talented young people in the district to apply for Leisure Bursary Awards. The Scheme provides two £1,500 awards each year – one for the Arts and one for Sport. Applicants must be aged 13 to 25 and be able to demonstrate an outstanding talent for their activity. The Awards are intended to help pay for additional opportunities to further develop this talent.

Last year the Bursary for Arts was awarded jointly to Somalia Seaton and Nichola Miles. Somalia received funding to support her theatre production at the National Student Drama Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her work received great reviews and Somalia gained a wealth of experience. Nichola was a winner of a competition to design marketing material for St Clare Hospice and the Bursary Award helped to fund much-needed equipment for her to enable her to complete her course at Harlow College. She has since gained a place at Hertford University where she is studying Graphic Design and Illustration.

Jim Lewis was the 2008 Sports Bursary Winner. Jim is part of the British Cycling Talent Team and races at international level. The award enabled Jim to purchase a bespoke bike which will help him towards his ultimate goal of representing GB at the 2012 Olympics.

Full details and application forms are available from Lynne Hague, on 01992 564551. Closing date for applications is 30 January 2009 and interviews will be held mid-February.

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.


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.

Councillors Visit Composting Centre

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Countrycare, Our countryside, Your council, Your environment

The London Waste EcoPark in North London

The London EcoPark in Edmonton, north London opened its doors to Epping Forest District Councillors on a fact-finding tour of its garden and kitchen waste recycling facilities.

The London EcoPark composts around 30,000 tonnes of garden and kitchen waste each year from homes in north London. The compost end-product then goes back to gardens, allotments, parks, farming and horticulture.

Ben Donaldson manages the organic composting operation at the London EcoPark. During a busy morning, he took Councillors around the facility and explained the process of turning garden and kitchen waste into high-quality compost using a system known as In Vessel Composting (IVC).

Ben Donaldson shows Councillors the GORE-TEX® tunnelsOnce sifted for contamination, the raw kitchen and garden waste is loaded into the huge tunnels

Pictured above – Ben Donaldson shows Councillors the GORE-TEX® tunnels. Once sifted for contamination, the raw kitchen and garden waste is loaded into the huge tunnels where bacteria and fungi break it down

Food and kitchen waste destined for the Centre is collected by north London Councils. After being checked for contamination by non-compostable waste (eg bottles, plastics and `black sack` rubbish), the material is mixed and loaded into long tunnels with GORE-TEX® roofs and doors. The GORE-TEX® material enables the waste inside to `breathe` but keeps most of the smells in. The tunnels create the perfect environment for heat loving bacteria to multiply, breaking down the waste. As the bacteria work through a natural process, temperatures of 60 degrees centigrade are reached.

The atmosphere inside the storage buildings is warm and humid

Pictured above – the atmosphere inside the storage buildings is warm and humid thanks to the moisture and heat given off by the compost as it degrades

As the heat-loving bacteria use up the food supply, the bacteria die off, being replaced by fungi which continue to break down the material. When the fungi have completed their work, the compost is transferred from the long tunnels into a huge sealed building where it continues to give off moisture and heat. Earth moving machines are used to scoop the material into a giant shredder which shreds and screens the compost into a 0-10 millimetre or 0-20 millimetre particle product ready for farms, gardens and allotments.

The process is completely natural and is providing a valuable resource from material that once went to landfill. Meat products including bones are included, enriching the quality of the final compost. The heat sterilisation process removes any potentially harmful bacteria such as salmonella and all the compost is rigorously tested to ensure that all dangerous bacteria have been eliminated. The process of transforming the waste into high quality compost takes just twelve weeks.

Earth moving machines feed tonnes of raw material into large shredding machines

Pictured above – earth moving machines feed tonnes of raw material into large shredding machines, reducing the compost down to fine grades

Councillor Mary Sartin, Environmental Protection Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council was very impressed. She said: It was an extremely useful and informative visit. No amount of reports or briefings can quite substitute for seeing for yourself. Composting is a very old idea but the application of modern technology on an industrial scale is very new. The facilities at the London EcoPark are clearly one of the ways forward.

Councillor Sartin added: Recycling has increased to more than 40 per cent in Epping Forest District over the last few years. We are very good at dealing with non-organic waste such as paper, glass, plastic and metal and of course organic garden waste. Getting food waste away from landfill and into recycling is the next big challenge. Residents are helping us to develop our ideas through the recent consultation and the fact-finding tour of the London EcoPark helped to answer more questions. I will keep residents up to date as our plans develop.

Silence Observed at Council Offices

Written on . Posted in Civic events, Your council

Staff and Councillors stood beneath the Union Flag outside the Civic Offices of Epping Forest District Council to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War and remember all those who have since fallen in conflicts across the world. Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Council led the tribute with guest of honour, Kevin Toole, President of the Epping and District Branch of the Royal British Legion. Other members of staff and Councillors stood at their desks.

Staff and Councillors mark the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War

The ceremony was marked by the lowering of the Union and Council flags to half mast. Traffic in Epping High Street also stopped as motorists joined in the silent tribute.

Councillor Knapman said: I was honoured to participate and I was very proud to stand with Kevin Toole of the Royal British Legion. It is very hard for most of us to imagine the terrible suffering and loss of those men, women and their families so long ago. Yet even today, our armed forces still protect us and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf in the far-flung corners of the world.

Councillor Knapman was also pleased to see the reaction of motorists. He said: I did not expect to see the traffic stop. I think there is a new recognition of the importance of Remembrance and the observance of the two minutes by motorists added to the poignancy of the occasion.

To find out more about the Epping Branch of the Royal British Legion and the stories of local people who have fought and fallen in the defence of our Country, go to Royal British Legion website.

Remembrance Services in the Epping Forest District

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Your council

Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council and Councillor Ben Murphy, Mayor of Epping attending the Garden of Remembrance Service today at Epping War Memorial Friday 7 November 2008.

John Knapman attending the Garden of Remembrance Service at Epping War Memorial

The Chairman of Council, Councillor John Knapman will be attending both Chigwell and Epping Remembrance Services on Sunday 9 November 2008. Past Chairman and other serving Councillors will be representing the Council at various services throughout the district. For times and services please see below.

Remembrance Services

Friday 7 November 2008

  • 10.45am Dedication of the Garden of Remembrance at the War Memorial Epping – Chairman Councillor J Knapman
  • 11.30am Service of Remembrance at Epping Cemetery (by the Commonwealth War Graves) – Chairman Councillor J Knapman


Sunday 9 November 2008

  • Ongar
    10am – St Mary`s Church, High Ongar – Past Chairman D Kelly
    2.30pm – Community Remembrance Service – Past Chairman D Kelly
  • Chigwell
    10.40am – St Mary`s Church, Chigwell – Chairman Councillor J Knapman
  • North Weald
    10.55am – St Andrew`s Church, North Weald – Past Chairman Councillor R Morgan
    12.15pm – Airfield Memorial, North Weald – Past Chairman Councillor R Morgan
  • Loughton
    12.15am – Kings Green, Loughton – Past Chairman Councillor C Pond
  • Waltham Abbey
    9am – Upshire Church – Councillor L Webster
    10am – Waltham Abbey War Memorial – Councillor  L Webster
    10.45am – Waltham Abbey Church Service – Councillor L Webster
  • Epping
    2.10pm – Epping War Memorial – Chairman Councillor J Knapman
    3pm – St John`s Church, Epping – Chairman Councillor J Knapman
  • Nazeing
    10.45am – All Saints Church, Nazeing – Vice-Chairman Councillor P Smith
  • Buckhurst Hill
    9.50am – St John`s Church, Buckhurst Hill – Past Chairman Councillor A Haigh
  • Theydon Bois
    10.30am – St Mary`s Church, Theydon Bois – Councillor R Frankel
  • Roydon
    10.30am – St Peter`s Church, Roydon – Councillor Mrs M Sartin
  • Chigwell Row
    10.15am – All Saints Church, Chigwell Row – Past Chairman Councillor B Sandler
  • Abridge
    10.30am – Holy Trinity, Abridge – Councillor B Rolfe

Celebrating 300 Years of Guruship

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Democracy, Your area, Your council

On Sunday 2 November 2008 Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council attended the Council of Gurdwaras South East celebrations of the 300th year of Guru Gaddi Divas (Gruship) of Guru Granth Sahib. The event which was held at the Guru Gobins Sing Khalsa College, Chigwell started on 31 October 2008 with the commencement of continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib for 48 hours until Sunday 2 November 2008.

Chairman John Knapman joins visitors to the 300th Year of Guruship of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

The Ceremony was attended by the Members of Parliament Mr Lee Scott and Mr Mike Gapes, Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors from neighbouring boroughs, the Sikh Scholars including Inderjit Singh, OBE and many other dignitaries.

Speeches were delivered by many personalities to mark the occasion. Judge Mota Singh could not attend and his message was read by Epping Forest District Councillor Kewal Singh Chana. Awards were presented to various personalities in appreciation of their services to the local communities over many years. Mr Amarjit Singh Toor, the Principal of the College, also presented certificates of achievement to students of the college. On this occasion a Punjabi Poetry session was held and attended by many poets from London, Middlesex and the Midlands including radio and TV presenters Mr Chamanlal Chaman and Sathi Ludhianvi.