Refuse Collections Resumed

Written on . Posted in Community, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

All waste and recycling collection services have resumed following the temporary suspension of the service yesterday.

The Council is aware of the roads that have been missed and is endeavouring to collect as much waste as possible. Where it is safe to do so, we will start to collect from areas that have waited the longest for a collection. However because of continuing icy conditions it may not be possible to collect from all of these areas.

Please continue to put out waste and recycling for collection in the normal way. We will collect all side waste (additional waste placed next to your container) during this bad weather period. If you would like any further information please contact 01992 564608.

Thank you for your continued understanding and co-operation.

Refuse Service Suspended After Injuries

Written on . Posted in Community, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Following accidents and injuries to several members of refuse collection teams, all waste and recycling collections have been suspended throughout the district. Our collection crews are facing severe difficulties in providing the service due to the very dangerous conditions which exist on many of the district`s roads and pavements.

During the suspension of normal operations we have diverted resources to the gritting of town centres and secondary shopping areas in support of the County Council who are responsible for gritting operations in the district.

We are monitoring the situation carefully and will recommence waste and refuse collections as soon as it is safe to do so. We will then prioritise collections so that those properties that have been waiting the longest for a collection are dealt with first.

The decision to suspend normal collection arrangements has not been taken lightly and the Council apologises for the continued disruption. However, despite the best efforts of the waste crews to provide collection services, conditions are such that a number of accidents have taken place which have caused significant injuries to waste operatives.

We will continue to provide updates on the situation here on the Council`s website. We are thankful for residents’ understanding and co-operation during this difficult period.

Councillor Mary Sartin, Environment Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: I would like to express my thanks and concern for the waste collection crews. They have done everything possible to keep collections going but conditions have become too dangerous. Refuse and recycling collections will recommence as soon as it is safe. In the meantime I would like to thank residents for their continuing patience and support.

Snow Disruption to Refuse and Recycling

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Older people, Recycling and waste, Residents, Travel, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Severe weather continues to cause disruption to the Council`s waste and recycling collection services. Today should have seen waste and recycling collections for Abridge, Chigwell and Waltham Abbey. However, despite the best efforts of our refuse and recycling contractors, it has not been possible to collect from a large number of roads.

For some residents this means storing large volumes of waste including the extra waste generated in the Christmas holiday period. Residents are requested to place all waste at the normal collection point. Due to the exceptional circumstances the Council will collect any side waste (this is waste placed next to your normal wheelie bin).

For as long as access is difficult and until the weather improves we will use all available resources to collect as much waste as we can. Once the weather improves and normal operations commence we will prioritise collections and collect from those properties that have been waiting the longest for a collection.

The Council apologises for this continued disruption to normal waste and recycling services. Residents have been very understanding and co-operative during this difficult period and this is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Council Apologises for Waste Collection Delays

Written on . Posted in Community, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Porfolio Holder for Environment Councillor Mary Sartin said: The Council is very sorry for the difficulties which have arisen during the period 22 December 2009 through Christmas and the New Year period.

All services were seriously affected by the snow, which fell immediately before the Christmas break, and the very icy conditions which then followed. A number of areas within the district were impassable to the refuse freighters and crews due to the very dangerous condition of the roads and the pavements. These difficulties were made worse by access to all of the tipping sites (landfill and recycling) being restricted resulting in freighters not being able to discharge all their loads on the day of collection and then having to queue with those from other Local Authorities before they could start their rounds the following day.

The last few days` very cold conditions have also affected the electronics and hydraulics on the refuse freighters and where this has caused wheelie bin lifts to fail, collections have been further delayed.

Weather-related disruption brought Epping High Street to a standstill

These weather-related disruptions, combined with the normal Christmas collection arrangements have caused considerable confusion and difficulties for residents and in some instances long delays between collections. However, since the food and garden waste service is a weekly one, all collections have now been caught up.

The dry recycling and residual waste service suffered greater disruption because of their fortnightly nature and it is the case that some residents have not had a collection for approaching four weeks. However, given that food waste is collected on a weekly basis, the main difficulty for most residents will have been the amount of dry recycling and other waste which need to be stored ahead of the delayed collection date. Where we have been aware of some residents` special needs, individual collections have been made to assist those individuals / families. However, it is hoped that all these missed collections will also have been caught up by the end of this week.

The Council has suspended its normal rules on the putting out of side waste and will take away all waste put out for collection until the backlog has been cleared. Residents are reminded that dry recycling (including glass) can be put out in any container (except a black plastic sack) and the crews will collect it. Christmas trees will also be collected as part of the food and garden service, provided that they are not taller than, or have been cut down into pieces of, not more than four feet (1.2 metres). Residents are requested to continue to separate their recycling as this is particularly important at this time of year due to the volumes of glass, plastic and paper packaging in the waste stream.

Councillor Sartin concluded: The past few weeks have seen an unfortunate combination of snow, ice and the normal changes to collection frequencies over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. The Council`s Waste Officers and Sita`s collection crews have done their very best to maintain services under very difficult, and sometimes very dangerous, circumstances.”

As is normal following difficulties such as these, the Council and its contractors Sita, will review the circumstances and the actions taken, to determine whether anything else could have been done to minimise the disruption and what, if anything, needs to be put into place to deal with similar circumstances in the future.

High Satisfaction and Low Rents for Council Tenants

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Community, Housing, Older people, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

An independent regulator says tenants of Epping Forest District Council have the lowest average rent and highest satisfaction levels in the district compared to the tenants of the six main housing associations that operate within the District. District Council tenants currently pay, on average, £74.86 per week and have an overall satisfaction rating of 84 per cent. The best performing housing association in the District charges, on average, £81.50 and has a tenant satisfaction level of 79.7 per cent. The figures can be found on the recently launched website of the Tenant Services Authority (TSA).

The TSA is the new regulator for housing associations and, from April 2010, local authority landlords. Its website enables tenants and landlords to compare rent levels and tenant satisfaction within any local authority area, simply by inserting their postcode.

Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council welcomed the latest findings. He said: We aim to do the best we can for our tenants. Although we work closely with housing associations in the District, which with our help have grown significantly, the Council is still the major provider of affordable housing in Epping Forest. We work very hard to provide the best quality housing service at the lowest possible rent. I would like to thank all those staff in Housing and associated areas of the Council for the great job they do.

In 2007, the Council`s Housing Directorate received the Cabinet Office`s Charter Mark for Customer Service Excellence in the Public Sector for a second time – for a further three years. In 2008, the Housing Directorate was also awarded the international ISO 9001 Quality Assurance Standard for the quality of its housing service for the third time.

Taking a Stand Against Domestic Violence

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your home

With the festive season fast approaching, not everybody’s Christmas is festive. For victims of domestic abuse it can be stressful, frightening and even abusive.

Local officers and agencies were out-and-about staffing stalls during Domestic Violence Awareness Week, 23 to 27 November 2009 to remind people that help is available. Various agencies such as police, Womens Aid and Essex Probation Service offered free, confidential advice and support at stands across the Epping Forest, Harlow and Brentwood areas.

Beth Knight from VAEF and PCSO Shelley Cole on a stall at Epping

Picture caption – Beth Knight from VAEF and PCSO Shelley Cole on a stall at Epping (picture used with kind permission from Essex Police).

Domestic Abuse Liaision officer, Sgt Shirley Cole said: “Raised tensions leading to violence and abuse can occur within families spending long periods of time in close proximity during this time of year, in particular over the festive period. Essex Police will take positive action against all offenders. We will be working over this period and will arrest and remove anyone committing any offences. We will also be there to provide support for families and any victims of abuse.

Domestic abuse is a crime more common than people realise and even if you are not experiencing it yourself, the chances are, someone you know is.

Domestic violence is any threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship, or between family members. It can affect anybody, regardless of their gender or sexuality. The violence can be psychological, physical, sexual or emotional.

If you, or someone you know is experiencing any abuse, contact the Domestic Abuse and Hate Crime Unit on 01279 625493 or Harlow police station on 0300 333 4444.

Victim support helpline: 0845 4565 995 between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.

Housing Strategy 2009

Written on . Posted in Community, Housing, Our performance, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your home

More affordable housing in the district continues to be a priority, according to Epping Forest District Council`s 2009-2012 Housing Strategy which has just been published, following an extensive consultation exercise.

The average cost of purchasing a house in Epping Forest is around £340,000 – 11 times the average full-time earnings of someone working in the district. The latest Housing Strategy sets out the need for properly-planned housing growth with adequate infrastructure. More broadly it states the Council`s vision that `Epping Forest will have safe, decent and attractive housing, meeting the needs of those who want to live in the district.`

The Housing Strategy covers many issues, such as reducing the number of empty homes and improving energy efficiency. It also sets out the Council`s key objectives relating to housing growth; affordable housing; accommodation for people with special needs; homelessness; and housing conditions.

A planned programme is set out in the Strategy indicating where housing is to be developed and how many properties will be built. Plans for the East of England include the provision of 3,500 new homes to be built in Epping Forest by 2021. Around 1,780 homes were built between April 2001 and April 2009, while a further 1,355 dwellings have outline or detailed planning permission. Epping Forest is also required to contribute towards the planned expansion of Harlow, although the number of homes to be provided is currently unknown. Within the growth programme is a provision for more affordable housing. While the Council`s own housing stock has reduced under the `Right to Buy`, partnerships with developers and housing associations are developing new accommodation for many families. This housing may be built for rent or to provide low-cost housing for first-time buyers, such as shared ownership.

People with special needs need suitable accommodation and appropriate support and this is another key aim. Estimates suggest that 10% of residents are aged 75 years or above and population forecasts suggest that the proportion of Epping Forest residents over 65 years of age will increase. The Strategy outlines a number of measures intended to provide support for older people, either in special housing schemes or in their own homes.

The Council aims to prevent homelessness and to house homeless people quickly in suitable permanent accommodation. In 2006 a Homelessness Prevention Team was established to provide advice and help clients look at all the options available to prevent the family from becoming homeless. This approach has proved successful with a 75% reduction in homelessness applications being processed in 2008/09 compared to 2005/06.

The last key objective is to make sure that all homes in the district are in a `decent` condition. The Government has set targets and the Council is on track to deal with all non-decent Council homes by 2010. The Decent Homes Standard is set out in national policy. A range of measures is in place to help vulnerable families who live in non-decent homes in the private sector. In March the Council held a conference in Waltham Abbey and invited partners across a wide range of housing interests to give their views on the draft Housing Strategy. The published Strategy includes these views and sets out an action plan for achieving the Council`s strategic housing aims.

Councillor David Stallan Housing Portfolio Holder said: “This is an important document for the Council and for the district. Nobody knows when they may need help with housing, whether it be housing advice for an elderly parent, low-cost housing for their children who want to get a foot on the home ownership ladder, or Council housing following their home being repossessed due to a business failure.”

He went on to say: “The Housing Strategy is our housing blueprint for the next three years and we will review our progress and success annually. I’d like to thank all those with an interest in housing who have made valuable contributions to working out the best way forward.”

Safer Communities Conference

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your home

Anti-social behaviour was voted the top priority by residents at the Safer Communities Conference held at Waltham Abbey in November. Road safety and drugs came second and third as people`s concerns.Safer Communities Conference 2009

The panelThe District`s top police officer Divisional Commander Alan Ray was one of a panel of experts and councillors to field residents questions at a special `question time` filmed for webcast on Epping Forest District Council`s website. Hosted by BBC Essex presenter Dave Monk, the panel answered questions from residents across the district.

In an audience dominated by young people, the panel was asked why the media often portrays them in such a bad light. Statistically, Epping Forest District has low levels of crime and anti-social behaviour compared against the national picture.

Alison Cowie of NHS West Essex discussed the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on health services. John Gilbert from Epping Forest District Council and County Councillor Anthony Jackson of the Essex Police Authority discussed road safety -another issue often associated with young people but actually more often a problem with older drivers.

Wells Security Officer with a drug sniffer dogEarlier in the day, Waltham Abbey Town Hall hosted a range of displays. Among those taking part were Lee Valley Regional Park and the Olympic Delivery Authority who showed off a scale model of the new White Water Canoe facilities being built just outside Waltham Abbey.

Essex Police set up a knife detector arch. A Team from Wells Security gave demonstrations with their drug sniffer dogs, Willow and Beamish. Children from Upshire Primary School, Holy Cross Infants School, Leverton Junior School and Hill House Church of England School with winning entries in the Fire Engine colouring competition received awards from Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor Penny Smith.

First prize went to Adam Freeman of Upshire Primary School who won a day at Waltham Abbey Fire Station for his whole class.

Essex County Council Trading Standards, Essex Fire and Rescue, the Essex Young People`s Drug and Alcohol Services, Waltham Abbey Town Council and many other organisations mounted displays.

Younger children were entertain with puppet shows while their parents learned more about the service available in the District, discuss issues and pick up information leaflets and guides.

For very young children, the children`s centre provided a dressing up zone for the emergency services and an opportunity to leave with a personalised calendar.

Adam Freeman receiving his prize from Penny SmithColouring Competition

4 Primary Schools in Waltham Abbey participated in a colouring competition.

Children were asked to colour in the fire engine and complete the picture.

Each school had one highly commended pupil. The winners were as follows:

1st: Adam Freeman of Upshire Primary School

2nd: Jason Baratta of Holy Cross Infants Primary School

3rd: Molly Blackman of Holy Cross Infants Primary School

High commended were Ruby Cairns of Upshire Primary School, Nelli Shafrane Bullen of Holy Cross Infants Primary School, Yasmin Bramble of Leverton Junior School and James Fitzpatrick of Hill House C.E School.

Safety Tests Uncover Faulty Blankets

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Older people, Residents, Your community, Your home

The free electric blanket testing service provided by Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council has been hailed as a success and worthwhile service. On 20 October 2009 residents were invited to bring their electric blankets along to Loughton library to be tested.

Eleven blankets were tested on the day, two of which failed. A faulty electric blanket can be the cause of a house fire and having it tested is a quick and easy way for people to ensure they are safe.

This free service is organised by Epping Forest District Council`s Safer Communities Team in partnership with Essex County Council`s Trading Standards. It takes place every year and always proves to be a beneficial service to local residents.

Also at Loughton Library on the day were staff from Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF), C.A.R.E. – Caring and Repairing in Epping Forest – the Council`s Sports Development Team and Essex Police. They provided support and advice to people on how to keep themselves safe and promote community wellbeing.

Residents Offered Free Security Advice

Written on . Posted in Crime and safety, Residents, Your home

An exciting new initiative offering free security advice has been launched by the Epping Forest District Safer Communities Partnership.

Residents considering making improvements to their security will be able to request a free survey from experienced officers by contacting the Councils Safer Communities Team.

The free independent security advice is being offered to all householders in the district by Essex Police together with Epping Forest District Council.

Contact Details

Community Safety and Transport Portfolio holder Syd Stavrou said: This is a practical initiative designed to help residents with their security. The advice is free and impartial from two officers who have over 60 years of policing experience between them. We hope that by introducing this as a service we will prevent residents falling victim to crime.

Chief Inspector Alan Ray District Police Commander for Epping Forest District said: This is a very good partnership initiative, fittingly launched during Not in my Neighbourhood week. These officers have been carrying out joint security surveys for some time when crimes have occurred and they have proved very reassuring with householders. This initiative will extend this service to a wider group of residents.

Meet the Team

Tony Ellis

Tony Ellis, Essex Police Crime Reduction OfficerEssex Police Crime Reduction Officer

Tony joined Essex Police in 1966 where he worked as an operational officer in Thurrock until being promoted to Sergeant and moving to Ongar in 1977.

Tony has spent most of his 30 years service stationed in the Epping Forest District he has a very good local knowledge of the area. He became a Crime Reduction Officer with Essex Police in 1998 and has worked in that role ever since.

Paul Gardener

Paul Gardener, Epping Forest District Council Safer Communities OfficerEpping Forest District Council Safer Communities Officer

Paul joined Essex Police in 1976 and was posted to Epping in 1978 after working at Basildon. He worked most of his career in the Epping Forest District.

Paul has been involved in local community policing and was trained at the Home Office Crime Prevention Centre. He served on a number of specialist departments before retiring from Essex Police in 2006 and joining the Epping Forest District Council Safer Communities Team.