Council in ‘Yes Minister’ Lampoon Admits ‘We slipped up’

Written on . Posted in Business, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Planning, Residents, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Embarrassed council managers have apologised, admitting `we made a mistake ` after the wrong covering letter was sent to residents as part of planning consultation on future development. The Daily Mail reported on `Sir Humphrey ` being alive and well at Epping Forest District Council after the letter was sent to local residents.

“I am sorry. We slipped up. The letter, full of technical planning jargon should not have been sent to local residents, said John Preston, Director of the Council`s Planning Service.”

He continued: We did try to write the attached guide in `Plain English` but we dropped our guard on the covering letter that went with it. We are very keen to engage local residents fully in the preparation of planning policies, which will continue to help to control development and protect the Green Belt. The planning system is increasingly complex and involves new processes and terms which remain unfamiliar or frankly quite baffling to the wider community.

The council will contact residents again shortly. John Preston said: It is very embarrassing but some people at least will see a funny side to it. Every profession has its `Sir Humphrey ` language and planners are no different but we understand that you have to alter your words according to your audience. This consultation could have far reaching consequences for the future of our district, setting policies on where to build new homes and businesses as well as protecting the countryside. It is the start of a quite lengthy process with more consultation to follow. Hopefully, the extra publicity provided by the Daily Mail will give the consultation a boost in responses.

Full details of the consultation and questionnaire are available from the Planning Area of the Council’s Website.


Text of the correct letter that was circulated as an e-mail to local residents is reproduced below:

“The Forward Planning team at Epping Forest District Council is in the initial stages of preparing a Core Strategy for the district. This is the key new planning policy document which will look ahead to 2031, and eventually replace the Local Plan.

“All new planning policy documents need to be subject to Sustainability Appraisal. This is an assessment of the likely economic, environmental and social effects of the new policies. The Sustainability Appraisal provides information to help judge whether the new policies are the most appropriate for the district, and whether changes should be made.

“In preparing the Sustainability Appraisal, its scope and level of detail need to be agreed before it is used to assess issues, options and policies.  It is a statutory requirement to hold a period of consultation on the scope of the Sustainability Appraisal, the purpose of which is to ensure that all the relevant issues and concerns have been included.

“The consultation period is from 17 May to 18 June 2010.  The consultation document, a short guide and the online response form is available from http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/Council_Services/planning/forward_planning/LDF.asp

“If you have any queries about this consultation, please contact the Forward Planning team on 01992 564517 or at LDFconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk .”

 

Yours faithfully


Snow and Refuse Collections Update

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

Due to the adverse snowy weather some services have been affected and refuse and recycling collections delayed. To view the latest updates click on the links listed below.

19 January 2010

Further Update on Refuse Collections

St Thomas Church Upshire 13 January 2010

15 January 2010

Update on Missed Collections

Helping Out in Severe Weather

Small Trucks Recycle the Parts Dustcarts Cannot Reach

Upshire Road 13 January 2010

8 January 2010

Refuse Collections Resumed

Snow Closes North Weald Market

Essex Takes Steps to Keep Roads Moving
(link to Essex County Council website)

Sunset over the River Roding 6 January 2010

7 January 2010

Refuse Service Suspended After Injuries

Keeping High Streets Clear as Freeze Deepens

Snow covered cars in Epping 6 January 2010

6 January 2010

Snow Disruption to Refuse and Recycling

Plans West Meeting Postponed

Support Your Neighbour

Snow falling on the Epping fountain 6 January 2010

5 January 2010

Council Apologises for Waste Collection Delays

Epping High Street in the snow 6 January 2010

24 December 2009

Essex Keeps Moving

Snow settling on Epping High Street 6 January 2010

Further Update on Refuse Collections

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

The information we have posted on our website was correct as far as we were aware.

As we are informed that collections have been missed we will investigate and take appropriate action.  We also have officers out in the district, who are checking for missed collections.

We are already aware that people in Mead Close, Wallers Hoppit and Shaftesbury in Loughton and Shaftesbury Road in Epping have not had a collection and we will be rectifying this as soon as we can.

Smaller trucks being used to collect recycling in areas with difficult access

We are investigating areas in Matching and Willingale that have not had a recycling collection.

    However, if any residents are aware of any other missed collections in the district we would be grateful if they could let us know by:

  • Telephone 01992 564608
  • Email to erefuse@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

We request residents to continue to put their waste out for collection at the normal place. We are most grateful that our residents continue to bear with us and would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused.

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.

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.”

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.