New Safer Communities Team

Written on . Posted in Crime and safety, Doing business with the council, Your council, Your home

Epping Forest District Council`s Safer Communities Team has grown. The role of this team is to work in partnership with other agencies such as Essex Police and Essex Fire and Rescue Service to reduce crime and disorder.

A total of six officers make up the team. Caroline Wiggins Safer Communities Manager said: Epping Forest District Council has acknowledged the need for closer multi-agency working and we are now in a position where we can lead on key crime and disorder initiatives.

The original team consisted of Caroline Wiggins, Paul Gardener, who co-ordinates operations to tackle crime and disorder and Daniel Bond, who deals with the district`s graffiti removal. It has now expanded to include three new members of staff. Adrian Petty, the CCTV Operations Officer, will manage the District`s existing CCTV as well as oversee all new installations. He said: This is an exciting time to join the Council and I hope to provide a common sense and proportionate CCTV response for the District.

Two anti-social behaviour investigators, Paul Southgate and Katie Sparks, have also been recruited, who both have Local Authority and Police backgrounds. They will work closely with Essex Police, Harlow Youth Offending Service and the Council`s Neighbourhood Officers.

Councillor Syd Stavrou Community Wellbeing Portfolio Holder said: We recognised this team plays a key role in co-ordinating and delivering partnership activities aimed at tackling crime and disorder. We wanted to ensure the Safer Communities Team had the necessary staff to do this and support the Council`s Safer, Cleaner, Greener agenda.

Council Confirms Funds Held by Icelandic Bank

Written on . Posted in Business, Your council

Epping Forest District Council is one of a large number of councils with deposits in the Heritable Bank, a subsidiary of the Icelandic Landsbanki Group. The Council has £2.5 million in the bank which is registered and regulated in the United Kingdom.

As a debt-free Council, Epping Forest District has a large amount of savings and investments used to support the cost of services and keep Council Tax down. While the news from Iceland is not good, the amount of money involved is small in comparison to the Council`s overall investments which have been spread across a wide number of banks to limit the impact of problems in such circumstances.

Heritable is regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FSA determined that Heritable no longer meets its threshold conditions, and is likely to be unable to continue to meet its obligations to depositors. Heritable’s retail deposit business has been transferred to ING Direct.

The remainder of Heritable’s business has been put into Administration and Ernst and Young have been appointed as the Administrators. The Council is one of a number of unsecured creditors and the amount of the deposits that will ultimately be returned is unclear. The Local Government Association is currently lobbying to achieve the same level of protection for Local Authorities as has been given to ordinary savers.

The Council has a Treasury Management Policy, formulated in line with Government guidance, which restricts the amounts that are deposited with various financial institutions based on their credit ratings. At the time the deposits were made with the Heritable Bank the bank had a good credit rating.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Finance and Performance Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: Thankfully, we have not put all our eggs in one basket. We are currently in an extraordinary economic environment where instability in financial markets has generated unpredictable events. However, Epping Forest District Council has very prudent investment policies. It is too early to say what the exact effects of Heritable Bank being placed in to Administration will be. These will ultimately be determined by the success or failure of the LGA campaign and what dividend is available to creditors at the end of the Administration but the Council remains financially strong and well managed .

The Council`s investments will be the subject of discussion at a special meeting of the Cabinet at 6pm on Monday 20 October 2008 which will be webcast and viewable online.

Allo Allo, Who’s at Lunch then?

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Media, Your council

Guests at the civic luncheon at Gaynes Park Barns

The Chairman of Council, Councillor John Knapman hosted a Civic Lunch on 2 October 2008 at Gaynes Park Barns in Coopersale with a special guest speaker, local actress Vikki Michelle from Loughton.

Mayors and Chairmen from Essex and Boroughs surrounding the Epping Forest District attended the lunch which was a chance for `the chain gang` to get together and discuss areas of mutual interest in a relaxed an informal manner.

Chairman John Knapman and guests at the civic luncheon

Pictured above from left to right are Chairman John Knapman, Suzie Michelle, Lord Petre Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Vikki Michelle, Ann Michelle, Chairman of Essex County Council Elizabeth Hart and Debra Knapman.

Following lunch Ms Michelle gave a wonderful insight to her life as an actress and recounted stories of working with the great comic icons such as Ken Dodd, Les Dawson and Dick Emery. She also recalled how fate plays a large part in her been given her most famous part of Yvette Carte-Blanche in the long running comedy series `Allo Allo` after she had stared in `The Kenny Everett Show` as a robotic French maid which made a big impression on one of the writers of `Allo Allo`.

Debra Knapman, Chairman John Knapman and Vikki MichelleCouncillor Knapman said: “I would like to thank Vikki for coming along today and giving us a fantastic insight into her life and to pay tribute to her personally for giving so much of her time to working with local charities. Without her support many charities would not be able to supply the much needed support and care they offer to our community.”

Pictured left from left to right are Debra Knapman, Chairman John Knapman and Vikki Michelle.

Have Your Say on the NHS Constitution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council 25 September 2008

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Your council

A report and link to webcast of the full Council meeting held in the Council chamber at the Civic Offices on Thursday 25 September 2008.

To view this webcast click on the link below and then click on the index points tab to go direct to the agenda item.

Watch the webcastCouncil meeting 25 September 2008 webcast
(opens in a new window)

Members of the Epping Forest District Council stood in silent tribute to former Councillor Roger Buddock who recently passed away. Councillor Stephen Murray, a fellow Loughton ward Councillor remembered Roger Buddock fondly as a man who still held a high reputation locally for the good work he carried out for his residents during two periods on the District Council between 1980 and 1988 and again from 1991 to 1995. Councillor Murray also thanked the current Vice Chairman of Council, Councillor Mrs Penny Smith for attending the funeral.

Councillor Knapman reported his thanks to everyone who contributed £6,000 to his charities at a recent golf day.

Portfolio Report – Local Education

Councillor Diana Collins, Leader of Council reported on a series of information gathering visits to local secondary schools and Epping Forest College where she met the new Principal. Further visits have been arranged for Councillor Collins, accompanied by the leader of Essex County Council, the local education Authority.

Community Wellbeing

Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou was pleased to report a fall in crime across the District. She then drew attention to the ‘Not in my Neighbourhood’ initiative, safety testing of electric blankets and work with the Essex Fire and Rescue Service. Councillor Stavrou concluded by recommending Members to attend the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at which representatives of West Essex Primary Care Trust would be answering questions.


Members of the Cabinet were quizzed by other Councillors in a series of questions without notice. Civil Engineering and Maintenance Portfolio Holder, Richard Bassett was particularly busy answering questions ranging from recent gridlock in Chigwell to parking restrictions in Loughton.

Credit Union

Councillor Mrs Janet Whitehouse placed a motion before Members, calling on the Council to support a local Credit Union. Credit Unions help people on low incomes to access loans at low interest rates and one supported by many voluntary and religious organisations. All Members supported the motives and after some debate and technical amendments the motion was carried unanimously.

    Other major items debated by Full Council included:

  • Adoption of the Essex Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy
  • Adoption of the Development and Design Brief for Loughton Broadway
  • Supplementary estimates for the completion of the Bobbingworth Tip project
  • Future options for North Weald Airfield
  • Re-approval of the Statutory Statement of Accounts for 2007 to 2008
  • Nominations for the Governing Body of Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust

Cabinet 6 October 2008

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Your council

Local residents filled the public gallery as the Cabinet met to discuss draft proposals to consult on Traveller and Gypsy site provision.

In a report, councillors heard that the Council had been directed to identify land for 49 pitches up to 2011. More pitches are required thereafter.

To view this webcast click on the link below and then click on the index points tab to go direct to the agenda item.

Watch the webcastCabinet meeting 6 October 2008 webcast
(opens in a new window)

Portfolio Holder for Planning and Economic Development, Councillor Ann Grigg made it clear that the Council had no choice. She explained that 27 potential sites had been identified using criteria such as schools, health and employment. None of these sites was agreed or set in stone. The consultation process would allow local people to express their views before the Council made recommendations to the Government. She added that any proposals would be assessed in a formal Examination in Public (EiP).

The Council`s Planning Consultant Andrew Lainton acknowledged how sensitive and controversial the process could be. He outlined the steps in consultation including public exhibitions, work with town and parish councils as well as dealing directly with landowners and concerned residents.

Mr Lainton emphasised that objections needed to be based on evidence. The inspectors at the EiP would be looking for reasons why one site might be better or worse than another.

Councillor Richard Bassett said that it was very important for people to have their say. He felt they must have good guidance. Andrew Lainton replied that guidance notes would form part of the consultation document.

Councillor David Stallan asked for reassurances that exhibitions would be given maximum publicity. Councillor Grigg said she would try to reach every single person in the district.

Councillor Mrs Grigg said that this was not a definitive list and hoped people would come forward with their own suggestions.

Responding to further questions, Mrs Grigg said that failure to carry out consultation would lead to the Government sending an Inspector to impose a solution.

Councillor Richard Bassett raised the issue of the number of pitches, and the influence of large concentrations in small areas. The debate then broadened out with some councillors expressing feelings about the way in which the Government was directing the process.

At the conclusion of the report to Cabinet, Councillor Mrs Grigg answered public questions. She explained that where two large potential sites lay side-by-side at Crooked Mile both could not go ahead.

Rumours of an imminent compulsory purchase were also dismissed by John Preston, the Director of Planning and Economic Development.

    Other items debated by Cabinet included:

  • reports of the Finance and Performance Cabinet Committee
  • funding for the Local Development Framework
  • playing fields at Ongar Leisure Centre
  • waste management
  • the Capital Programme
  • cost awards following a recent planning appeal
  • fire cover at North Weald Airfield

Golf Day Boost for Local Charities

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Councillors, Democracy, Doing business with the council, Leader, Meetings, Your council

On Monday 22 September 2008 Theydon Bois Golf Club again played host to the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council Councillor John Knapman and teams from local businesses at the Council`s Charity Business Golf Day. Two local charities will receive a cash boost thanks to this annual fundraising event sponsored by Higgins Group PLC in Loughton, which raised £6,000.

Winning Team Stace with Councillor John Knapman

This year the Chairman`s is raising money for St Clare Hospice, Hastingwood which cares for people and their families who are affected by life-threatening incurable diseases and Vitalise Jubilee Lodge, Chigwell which offers a variety of accessible residential respite breaks and other services designed for disabled people and their carers.

Individual Winner Matthew Knight with Councillor John KnapmanWinning Team Captain, Mike Hutchins from Stace, receiving the John Gilliham Shield

Councillor Knapman said: I thank Higgins Group and Theydon Bois Golf Club for their support again this year and the continued support from local clubs, societies and businesses. During the years that this event has been running over £70,000 has been raised for many local causes. The Business Golf day plays a fantastic part in the Chairman`s charity events calendar helping to provide comfort to local people through local charities in a hugely positive way.

The overall winner of the individual competition was Matthew Knight and for the second year in succession, the winning team was from Stace, based in Epping. The Business Golf Day continues to provide a valuable contribution to the Chairman`s Charity each year and I am delighted that so many local businesses have been able to support the Chairman`s Charity again this year, said Councillor Knapman.

Traveller and Gypsy Consultation Starts 4 November

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Gypsy and traveller, Your council, Your environment

The Government has given Epping Forest District Council a directive to provide an extra 49 gypsy and traveller pitches by 2012 and more after this date. Their idea is that in providing enough suitable pitches in environmentally-sustainable locations, travellers and gypsies will no longer make unauthorised encampments.

The official consultation does not begin until 4 November 2008 and will run through to 20 January 2009. Members of the Cabinet will see a first draft of the consultation document at their meeting on Monday 6 October 2008. Amendments to the draft will then be incorporated before the document is considered by the Full Council on 28 October 2008. The Council has written to all landowners of sites identified in the draft document, inviting them to look at the information and offering them the opportunity to attend a special briefing to discuss any questions they may have.

To view this webcast click on the link below and then click on the index points tab to go direct to the agenda item.

Watch the webcastCabinet meeting 6 October 2008 webcast
(opens in a new window)

The report with the accompanying draft consultation document can be viewed via the Homepage of the Council`s website. The Council anticipates a great deal of public interest and will make the final document widely available electronically or in print form.

Agenda for Cabinet meeting on Monday 6 October 2008

All local authorities are required to carry out this exercise and this Council always intended to include the accommodation needs of the travelling community in its wider consultation arising from the more general targets for housing and employment provision set out in the East of England Plan. Despite this the Government issued a Directive requiring the Council to deal separately with the gypsy and traveller issues by publishing a stand-alone plan for this by September 2009. The consultation between November and January will cover options for what the final submitted plan should contain. The consultation document identifies 27 sites across the District. Each is listed and discussed individually, with aerial photographs to show how it sits in the surrounding landscape.

The final version of the document will include a detailed questionnaire designed to help the Council understand the public views on the key options. The District has no choice but to provide these pitches but it does have a choice as to where it proposes they go.

This exercise is being jointly organised by the Council`s Planning and Housing Directorates. Councillor Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder, said: At this stage the location of potential sites is primarily a planning issue but clearly the accommodation needs of the travelling community forms a part of the Council`s overall housing responsibilities. We are required to make provision for travellers and gypsies. Mistrust and misunderstanding between the travelling and settled communities can lead to friction. This process, which includes comprehensive public consultation, should help to identify a balanced solution. Hopefully if our District plans for good sites we will run less risk of unauthorised encampments and the problems these create. It should also lead to fewer unsuitable sites being granted over our heads on appeal. This puts Epping Forest back in control of events.

Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor David Stallan agrees. He said: We have legal duties of care towards everyone living within the District. As well as consulting the settled community, it is also important to talk to the local travelling and gypsy communities. Council staff will be working directly with everyone involved to make sure we get the best outcome possible.

The Government call for the provision of additional traveller and gypsy sites in the District coincides with work to deliver general Government housing targets set out in the East of England Plan. As referred to earlier, Epping Forest District Council had hoped to combine the traveller and gypsy consultation with its general consultation with residents on the up and coming Local Development Framework delivering the East of England Plan.

In so doing it hoped to incorporate some of the required traveller and gypsy provision within larger projects for private and affordable housing developments. However, the Government has insisted that the traveller and gypsy consultation should be carried out separately.

Councillor Grigg said: It seems to many of us that the best way to provide new traveller and gypsy pitches could be as part of larger new developments in much the same way as we have successfully integrated affordable housing as a requirement of all planning applications over a certain size. That might have been done as part of the Local Development Framework but the Government wants us to look at traveller and gypsy provision as a separate issue.

Councillor Grigg added: Whilst there is an under-provision of sites nationally, the Council feels that this District has been allocated too many extra pitches in comparison with some other areas. However, the Government still wants us to plan for more sites even though the final number we need to plan for has not yet been decided at a regional level. As a result we must now comply with their Directive. Even so, I must stress that no decisions have been taken and not all the sites identified would be needed. This is at a very early stage, nothing is cast in stone. We want to make sure everyone can have their say through a properly structured debate. We will obviously talk directly with the owners of the sites and people in the travelling and gypsy communities but we also welcome the views of others which will be taken into consideration.

The Council will be including an update in the Christmas edition of The Forester. The final document and consultation forms will be available on the Council website and people will be able to request printed copies. One or more public exhibitions will be held where residents can view the options and ask questions. District Council representatives will work directly with people in the traveller and gypsy communities. Town and Parish Councils will be encouraged to help provide feedback. The consultation is due to finish on 20 January 2009 with the outcome published later in that year.

To view the draft consultation document, visit the Council online at . Responses can be made from 4 November. The Council will also publish a dedicated phone number for enquiries following publication of the finalised consultation document and survey form on 4 November 2008.

Council Staff GENErate Funds for Charity

Written on . Posted in Media, Your council

Jeans for Genes - changing the world for children with genetic disorders

Staff at Epping Forest District Council swapped their everyday work clothes for jeans on Jeans for Genes Day 2008 today.

Staff donated £1 for the privilege to wear their jeans to work, with a lucky few being pictured outside the civic offices in Epping with cowboy hats. Council staff GENErated £211.32 for the charity.

Council staff in jeans for jeans for genes day 2008Jeans for genes day 2008 at the civic offices in Epping

Jeans for Genes aims to change the world for children living with genetic disorders. The money they raise each year funds care and support for children and their families, as well as research into the causes and cures of these conditions.

Genetic disorders affect 1 in 33 children born in the UK – the equivalent of around one in every class of schoolchildren. Many of these have no current treatment and more than half of all childhood deaths in the UK are linked to a genetic condition.

The theme for Jeans for Genes Day this year is `GENErations` and the charity is celebrating the way genes can filter down through families, influencing a child`s appearance, personality, career choices and even sense of humour.

Safer Communities Partnership 3 Year Plan

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Older people, Our performance, Performance, Residents, Working with the council, Your community, Your council, Your home


The Epping Forest District Safer Communities Partnership is a statutory collaboration of organisations and groups working together to reduce crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in the District.

It is made up of Epping Forest District Council, Essex Police, Essex County Council, West Essex Primary Care Trust, and Essex Fire & Rescue Service (Responsible Authorities), but includes many other local bodies such as Probation, Victim Support, the Youth Offending Team, Registered Social Landlords, Neighbourhood Watch and residents groups.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires the responsible authorities within each District in England and Wales to form a Safer Communities Partnership (SCP), also referred to as Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) or Community safety Partnership (CSP).

Each SCP is required to conduct an annual strategic assessment of crime, disorder, anti-social behaviour and issues which affect the quality of life of residents. The assessment identifies the key problems the district has by examining a wide range of data sets held by many organisations. Analysis of the data provides a comprehensive picture of issues affecting the District. Priorities for action are agreed, directed by the results of the strategic assessment. Those priorities are formulated into a 3 year partnership plan which sets targets to reduce crime, disorder and improve community safety.