Local Strategic Partnership Meeting

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Consultation, Countrycare, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Meetings, Our countryside, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The co-ordinating group of local service organisations, Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership Board welcomed its new Manager, John Houston on Thursday 26 February 2009. John will work for the whole group which includes local Councils, Essex County Council, West Essex PCT, Epping Forest College and Essex Police. Technically he is employed by Epping Forest District Council with funding support from the major statutory partners.

Agenda for Local Strategic Partnership Board meeting on 26 February 2009

Traveller and Gypsy Site Provision Consultation

Following introductions, the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) Chairperson, Councillor Diana Collins of Epping Forest District Council moved to the first main agenda item, public consultation on future provision of sites for travellers and gypsies. The District Council`s Director of Planning and Economic Development, John Preston gave an outline of the consultation, one of the biggest undertaken by the Council. He explained how the Council would need to analyse the large number of responses and take the process forward. He also informed the LSP of the Planning Inspector`s recommendation to reduce the number of extra pitches from 49 to 39.

John Houston noted the role of the LSP to support disadvantaged people and acknowledged local concerns about the process. He invited the LSP to go through a discussion paper prepared on behalf of its members, to be submitted to the District Council as part of the consultation process. The LSP noted that around 90 pitches already existed in the District. Members of the group considered a number of issues in their discussion, including housing provision, health and fear of crime issues. It was felt that it was important for the LSP to be clear in terms of treating everyone equally and fairly. The group acknowledged the strength of local feeling.

`Credit Crunch` Response

Business input is needed for a co-ordinated response to the Credit Crunch, members of the LSP Board agreed. A Task and Finish Panel of Members will meet to develop ways in which Government Agencies and business might work together to stimulate and support the local economy.

Project Funding

The Essex Partnership has now confirmed that the bids from Epping Forest have been successful and an allocation of £453,855 has been made to support the schemes the Board has endorsed. The LSP Board will be able to move forward on all the proposals.

Projects will include an information guide on Home Safety, a supported volunteering project including opportunities that are tailored to meet personal development needs and pathways to work. People with learning difficulties will benefit from access to the Arts.

Further projects will help the emotional health and wellbeing of children, support for parents and holiday and after-school drop-in sessions for teenagers. Funding will help support vulnerable parents and carers in isolated rural communities. Investment in local CCTV will help to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.

Smoking, Heart Disease, Obesity

Catherine O`Connell of West Essex Primary Care Trust outlined priorities for preventing early deaths in Epping Forest District. Issues of major concern include reducing smoking, combating heart disease and tackling childhood obesity which can lead to health problems in later life. Among other concerns for the area`s children was a lower than hoped for take up of the MMR vaccine. Instances of measles are increasing.

Local hospitals have made huge improvements in patient safety. MRSA infections in local hospitals are now lower than in many other areas.

Life expectancy of the population is improving overall and work is therefore focusing on narrowing the gap between those groups at the lower end of the life expectancy range and the top.

Catherine O`Connell was also proud of the PCT record in providing NHS dentists to any local resident who now needs one. Residents can be referred to their nearest available local dentist through just one phone call.

Housing Strategy

Epping Forest District Council`s Director of Housing, Alan Hall, presented a briefing on the latest developments of the Local Authority Draft Housing Strategy. Numbers and location of affordable housing, balancing urban and rural demand, meeting special needs and ensuring homes meet a high quality standard are enshrined in the latest draft.

More than 7,000 households are not in suitable housing while 1,300 families are assessed as in `housing need`. More families are listed on the Housing Register. Property prices are 11 times average earnings. Up to 2021 there is projected district-wide shortfall of 5,700 affordable homes. Building new affordable homes is closely associated with private sector development. The current slow-down in the commercial new-build market is therefore affecting the number of new-build affordable homes being developed.

Young people are moving out of the district due to high property prices and the population profile is of an increasingly ageing population.

Forty-five actions are listed in the draft plan to address housing issues. Among these actions are facilitating 200 affordable new homes by 2010. Ongoing work with local residents continues to prevent people becoming homeless. The Council will work with a Housing Association to provide a Mortgage Rescue Scheme. All Council homes are on course to achieve the ` Decent Homes ` standard by 2010.

Civic Awards 2009 Community Service Medals

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Community, Crime and safety, Loughton, Ongar, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

You can watch the awards presentation in full. Click the back button at the bottom of the page and click the link to watch the webcast.

Community Service medals are awarded to members of the Emergency Services who have made a special contribution or shown care and dedication well above and beyond the call of duty.

Police Community Support Officer Hayley Toye

Chairman John Knapman with PCSO Hayley ToyeEpping Forest District Council supports its local PCSOs, and works in partnership with them and Essex Police, and provides funding. As a result there has been real benefits from the introduction of PCSOs. No-one illustrates that better than the winner of the Epping Forest Police Community Service Medal for 2009.

Hayley Toye is a dedicated Officer serving the neighbourhood of Debden. Well known by local Councillors, residents and young people, she has made a particularly strong impact on anti-social behaviour. Her strength lies in talking with people and listening to them.

Building relationships and trust, Hayley has tackled problems as diverse as graffiti, racial abuse, shoplifting and inconsiderate parking. She uses her initiative to find new ways of communicating with local young people, one particular notable example being her Halloween disco.

Essex Ambulance Service Paramedic Brian Clark

Chairman John Knapman with Louise SamouelleBased at Ongar Ambulance Station, Brian Clark has been saving lives since 1980.

He is described as a `lovely, caring gentleman ` and he can be unaware of his impact on the people around him. Attending a minor emergency, Brian was surprised when the patient recognised him as the man who had saved his life years earlier. He has a reputation for remaining calm and level headed in pressurised and extreme situations.

Brian plays a big part in the social calendar of his station and the same friendly approach has endeared him to many of the new recruits he has mentored and trained over the years.

Brian is unable to receive his Community Service Medal in person but representing him at the awards presentation is Brian’s manager from the Essex Ambulance Service, Louise Samouelle.

Civic Awards 2009 Young Citizen of the Year

Written on . Posted in Civic events, Community, Crime and safety, Residents, Young people, Your community, Your council, Your home

You can watch the awards presentation in full. Click the back button at the bottom of the page and click the link to watch the webcast.

The Young Citizen of the Year Award

The Epping Forest District Young Citizen of the Year for 2009 is Darnell Margurite.

Young Citizen of the Year Darnell Margurite and Chairman John Knapman

The Young Citizen of the Year Award was awarded to a young man who has made a tremendous difference to his local community.

In the past Limes Farm has had a bedevilled reputation for social issues and crime but more recently the Estate has enjoyed a much better atmosphere, lower levels of crime and less anti-social behaviour. The Young Citizen of the Year for 2009 has played a key role in the transformation.

He has given young people on the Estate something to do. Only 19 years old himself, he has worked with a close friend, Ben Wooley, to set up a football project for 8 to 13 year olds. It has not been easy. He has faced and overcome some very challenging behaviour, honing his own skills as a football coach and winning the respect of the Estate.

His efforts have not gone unrecognised elsewhere. Watching his voluntary work on Limes Farm, he came to the notice of Tottenham Hotspur, which has offered him a coaching role within their Football Foundation. His enthusiasm, dedication and hard work have marked him out as a true role model.

Crime Reduction at Limes Farm

Written on . Posted in Chigwell, Community, Crime and safety, Democracy, Residents, Working with the council, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Residents at Limes Farm in Chigwell have been invited to express their views on the dramatic reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour on the estate over the past year.

Organised by the Safer Communities Partnership a Special Action Group has been working with local residents at Limes Farm for the past 16 months and has seen a 31% reduction in crime and a 39% reduction in anti-social behaviour.

From 16 to 20 February 2009 questionnaires were distributed. Residents were invited to the community police office on the estate for a cup of tea to have a chat and fill in a questionnaire about their experiences of actions taken so far.

Some of their comments included:

I am pleased to see more Officers patrolling

There has been less crime

People feel safer on the estate and there is a good community atmosphere

Loughton Inspector Simon Werrett from Essex Police said: “All the hard work has paid off, not only by The Safer Communities Partnership and Police but by local residents working together to really make a difference in improving the quality of life on the estate. They truly believed in making the change and they have succeeded.”

Councillor Syd Stavrou Epping Forest District Council Community Wellbeing Portfolio Holder said: I think these results speak for themselves. There has been a lot of hard work put into this group by many different organisations and individuals. This has shown the value of a co-ordinated problem solving response. Lessons have been learned and the Special Action Group process will become `best practice` for other areas requiring attention in Epping Forest district.

Council Tax 2009 / 2010

Written on . Posted in Community, Council tax, Housing, Residents, Your community, Your home, Your money

Epping Forest District Council has set another low increase on its Council Tax precept.

Residents living in an average Band D property will see the amount they pay to the District Council go up by £3.60 for next year, less than seven pence a week. The increase of just 2.5 per cent will consolidate the Council`s position as second cheapest in Essex and our aim is to become the cheapest over the period covered by the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

The new rate was confirmed at the meeting of the District Council on 17 February 2009. It comes at a time of falling income from investments, fees and charges and a very low increase of only £46,000 overall in the Council`s grant settlement from the Government. However, being debt-free with some substantial investments still earning high rates of interest fixed before the recent Bank of England cuts, Epping Forest remains in a much better financial position than many other Councils.

Unlike many Councils, we are well prepared against the economic down-turn and that will help us through the next three to five years, said Councillor Chris Whitbread, Finance Portfolio Holder. We have managed our budgets carefully, putting money away in case of a `rainy day`. That day has arrived and we are well placed to weather the storm.

Councillor Whitbread continued: Our residents are our first priority. As well as keeping our Council Tax precept down, we will do whatever else we can to help our community through the rough economic times to come. Local businesses should benefit from the freeze on increases to car parking charges. The Council will try to source as much of our spending as locally as we can and we will pay our bills quickly. We continue to fund organisations such as the Citizens` Advice Bureau, new projects such as the proposed Furniture Exchange scheme to be based in Waltham Abbey and a range of Housing- related schemes to help people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

He added: The budget also allows for improvements to a number of services, including year-round weekly collection of kitchen refuse for recycling.

As the collection authority, Epping Forest District Council also agreed the overall Council Tax at its meeting on 17 February 2009, including rates set by Essex County Council, the emergency services and Town and Parish Councils. Band D residents will pay an extra £19.89 to Essex County Council, £6.03 more to Essex Police and £2.34 to the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. Combining the elements collected by Epping Forest District Council on behalf of all precepting authorities, the total for an average Band D Council Taxpayer would be £1,460.29, an overall increase of 2.4 per cent.
    Broken down into its constituent parts, the bill for an average Band D Council Taxpayer in Epping Forest district will be:

  • £1,066.50 to Essex County Council
  • £128.25 to Essex Police
  • £64.62 to Essex Fire Authority
  • £146.61 to Epping Forest District Council

An additional payment (depending on where you live) to the Town or Parish Council will range from £13.33 in Stapleford Abbotts to £91.79 in Waltham Abbey.

Cabinet 5 February 2009

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A Council Tax increase of 2.5 per cent is being recommended by Cabinet for adoption at the next full meeting of Epping Forest District Council. Members of the Cabinet also agreed a further extension of the ongoing public consultation on future provision of sites for Gypsies and Travellers.

Watch the webcastView webcast of Cabinet meeting on 5 February 2009 (opens in a new window)

Budget

Against a very difficult national economic backdrop, Epping Forest District Council is set to achieve a low Council Tax precept increase of 2.5 per cent. For a family in an average Band D property, it means an increase of just £3.60 in the District Council precept for the entire year, or less than seven pence per week. It is likely to be one of the lowest Council Tax precepts set in Essex.

This comes despite reductions in income from investments, a very low financial settlement increase from Central Government of just £46,000, no increase in car parking charges and lower income from fees and charges. Drawing on reserves and finding compensatory savings of £300,000 per year, the Cabinet is charting a medium term strategy designed to bring the budget back into balance whilst assisting local businesses and residents through the forecast economic turndown.

Councillors re-iterated recent commitments to make faster payments for services provided by local businesses, an increase in rental loans to homeless people and introduction of a mortgage rescue scheme in partnership with the Citizens` Advice Bureau and Moat Housing Association.

The District Council will re-allocate money from the defunct Lighthouse Furniture Project in Epping Forest to Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF). If successful in bidding for the tenancy of 15 Market Square, Waltham Abbey, VAEF will use District Council funding to support a new Furniture Exchange Scheme designed to help people on lower incomes who need good second-hand furniture and are unable to afford normal High Street prices. Long-term, the project aims to become self-financing.

Major investment in the domestic waste and recycling service is included within the budget. Councillors previously agreed to implement the favoured option of residents in recent public consultation. Enhancements to the service will see extension of recycling to include kitchen waste, collected weekly with garden refuse in a new wheelie bin.

Traveller and Gypsy Consultation

Rescheduled training, originally planned for late 2008 but actually received in January prompted Members to agree a further extension to the consultation period on traveller and gypsy site provision. The extension to 20 February will give local residents an additional two weeks in which to submit their views.

Customer Transformation

In a far-reaching report, Members of the Cabinet considered proposals for changing the way Epping Forest District Council serves its residents. Councillor Brian Rolfe Chairman of the Customer Transformation Task and Finish Panel outlined improvements the Council could make in how it deals with the public. The report looks directly at face to face contact, contact by phone and through other channels such as The Forester magazine and website.

Recognising current financial constraints, Councillor Mitchell Cohen proposed a temporary increase in resources to the Council website, engaging a second member of staff to support the website for a fixed three-year term.

Councillor Diana Collins Leader of the Council congratulated Councillor Rolfe on the Panel report and supported the principles. She asked Councillor Rolfe for a further report providing guidance to Cabinet on the priorities of the Panel.

Severe Weather Update – 3 February

Written on . Posted in Emergencies, Meetings, Recycling and waste, Your council, Your home

Most Epping Forest District Council services are returning to normal after the heavy snow that brought many roads to a standstill on Monday. However, the severe weather is continuing to affect some services.

Refuse and recycling collections are suspended for a second day due to ice on many residential roads. Some disposal sites are also closed. Special collections have also been cancelled and residents will be notified of new arrangements.

A revised domestic refuse and recycling schedule will be published later today.

Today`s scheduled evening meetings of the Epping Forest District Youth Council and District Development Control Committee are cancelled. Revised dates are:

Youth Council Tuesday 10 February at 7.30pm.

District Development Control Committee a new meeting date will be published in due course

A number of daytime meetings may also be disrupted. Anyone visiting the Council today is advised to phone first and check that your meeting is going ahead.

Sports and Leisure Centres operated for the Council by SLM (Sports and Leisure Management Limited) are open although residents are again advised to phone first and check before attending special classes or activities. `All Angels` and `All Saints` Urban Street Dance classes at St Michael and All Angel’s Church Hall, Roding Road, Loughton, IG10 3EJ “ scheduled for 5:30pm and 6:30pm have been cancelled.

Aviation is suspended at North Weald Airfield. Motoring activities have also been suspended due to the icy conditions. However, other commercial activities are unaffected and the Airfield is open to tenants and those delivering to their premises.

Council Offices are open.

Severe Weather Limited Disruption to Services

Written on . Posted in Emergencies, Recycling and waste, Your council, Your home

Domestic Refuse and recycling arrangements remain disrupted due to the icy weather and hazardous road conditions.

John Gilbert, Director of Environment and Street Scene said: The situation is being kept under review and collections will start as soon as it is safe to do so. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Please keep an eye on the Council website where we will post the latest information as soon as it becomes available.

Meanwhile, all of the district street cleansing crews are assisting Essex County Council by being reassigned to gritting and clearing pavements in the main town centres and other locations.

Essex County Council has also warned residents that Recycling Centres for Household Waste may also need to be closed at short notice. A county council statement says: Recycling Centres may be closed (or have to close) at short notice if it is felt that it is unsafe to operate the centre (ie. surfaces too slippery to allow safe access to public and contractors). Before making a visit to a recycling centre residents should call the Waste and Recycling Helpline on 0845 603 7625 for an update on the situation or save their visit for another day.

Safer Communities Team Provide Halloween Treat

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

Epping Forest District Council`s Safer Communities Team joined forces with the Police for Hallowe`en to tackle complaints of nuisance. Safer Communities Officers Paul Gardener, Katie Sparks and Paul Southgate together with Tony Ellis the Police Crime Reduction Officer for the district responded to calls from the public to provide help, advice and re-assurance.

Safer Communities Officer Paul Southgate (top right) with Trick or Treaters and their parentsYoungsters with their blinky lights

The evening started with Officers speaking to groups of young people Trick or Treating to remind them not to call at addresses displaying `No Trick or Treat` posters and to encourage them to act responsibly. As an added road safety measure, officers handed out red flashing lights to make them more visible in the dark. During the course of the evening a number of addresses were attended across the whole district and Officers were able to give advice and re-assurance to residents who had reported youth nuisance.

Tony Ellis Epping Forest District Police Crime Reduction Officer said: Traditionally, Hallowe`en produces a high demand for the increased number of Police Officers on patrol. However, many of the calls we receive relate to instances of nuisance rather than an actual crime. The reason I and Safer Communities staff from Epping Forest District Council patrolled together was to relieve the pressure on Police units by attending minor incidents leaving them to deal with the more serious ones.”

Paul Gardener said: We provided support to the Police allowing Officers to deal with the more urgent calls. The co-ordination between organisations worked very well and this is a service we hope to provide each Hallowe`en.

Recycling Consultation Reminder

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

Epping Forest District Council is reminding all residents that the chance to have their say about how they recycle is approaching its deadline. The closing date for completing the waste and recycling service questionnaire is 24 October 2008.

The survey is included in the autumn edition of the Forester and can be completed online.

You could win £100 cash prize or a home composter if you include your home address details when completing the questionnaire. Questionnaires should be returned to Environment and Street Scene, Epping Forest District Council, Freepost CL3360, Epping, CM16 4YA (no need for a stamp).

Collection of wheelie bin residual waste

However, the Council has been made aware of Royal Mail distribution difficulties with this issue and so some properties may not have received a copy. If this is the case, they are available from the Council`s Information Desks or by calling 01992 564140.

The questionnaire invites everyone to express their views on the Council`s current waste and recycling service and outlines three proposed options for change. Changing the service is necessary to enable the District to recycle more and reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill. The Council will take all comments and ideas into consideration when developing the new service.