Technical issues with payment services

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Updated information 26 May 2017 – 1pm

The automated telephone payment service is now working again and all services are now working as normal.

Thank you for your patience and sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Updated information 26 May 2017 – 10am

Great news! Card payment services are now available online and on-site.

We are still experiencing issues with our automated telephone payment service, so this is unavailable at present.

Our systems are being monitored closely by our supplier and we will continue to provide updates on our website as soon as they become available.

Thank you again for your continued patience, we are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Original message 25 May 2017 – 2pm

We are currently experiencing technical issues with our payment services.

Self serve online

We are unable to accept card payments

  • over the phone, including through our automated payment line
  • at our kiosks in Epping, Loughton Broadway, Limes centre Chigwell or Waltham Abbey Library
  • the online payment system

They’re working on it

Our supplier is working hard to resolve the issue as soon as possible and we will update the website as soon as service resumes.

Cash or cheque

If you need to make a payment, we are only able to accept cash or cheque payments at Civic offices in Epping High Street and at the Loughton Broadway office.

Thank you

Thank you for your patience at this time, we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Want to move to a smaller council home?

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Grants, Housing, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

If you want to move to a smaller council home, our downsizing scheme is designed to help tenants move to a home with fewer bedrooms.

Do you want to move to a smaller council home?

Downsizing scheme

If you are an under-occupier living in a council home that has more bedrooms than you need, or you want help moving to a home that’s easier to maintain, our downsizing scheme can help.

This scheme has all sorts of incentives to help you

  • Removal costs and practical help to move
  • Cash incentives for each bedroom you give up
  • Help with decoration costs

Who is eligible

  • Council tenants
  • Housing association tenants (downsizing incentive payment does not apply)
  • You must be living in a property with 1 or more bedrooms and want to move into either general needs or sheltered accommodation
  • Tenants with rent arrears will be considered but the arrears will be deducted from your incentive payment

What are the benefits

  • Downsizers will be prioritised for a move to an area of your choice
  • You will get £1,000 for each bedroom you give up (up to £4,000)
  • You will get help with removal costs (£500)
  • Your heating and gas charges may be greatly reduced if you move into a smaller home
  • Your rent could be lower
  • Practical help with changing your doctor, contacting utility companies, and more

How to apply

Contact our Rehousing Support Officer. Terms and conditions will apply.

Find out more

Council takes back management of car parks

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

From 1 April 2017 Epping Forest District Council will take over the management of their 18 car parks, saving at least £58,600 each year for local taxpayers.

Car park

The District Council will now be responsible for processing season tickets, penalty charge notices (PCNs) and other associated functions run until now by the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP).

New company to enforce

The Council has engaged a specialist company, NSL, to carry out day-to-day enforcement activities, as well as cash collection from the pay-and-display machines in the car parks.
Since 2011 Epping Forest District Council has partnered Essex County Council in NEPP, together with Harlow, Uttlesford, Braintree, Colchester and Tendring councils.

NEPP manage on-street parking

Until now NEPP has managed both on-street and off-street parking services in Epping Forest district for a number of years, and will continue to operate on-street parking enforcement and services in the district.

Efficiency improvements

The transfer of off-street management follows an analysis by the District Council which found that a number of efficiency improvements could be made, benefiting local taxpayers.

Councillor Gary Waller, Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, commented: ”I am delighted that these new arrangements for our car parks are now being put in place. By taking functions back in-house and engaging the services of NSL, we can make very worthwhile savings, and I believe we shall provide a better service to the public as well.”

”Not only will the parking charges remain at the current level but we shall continue to operate car parks that have received the prestigious ParkMark award, demonstrating that they continue to attain the very highest standards in terms of safety and security.”

Cabinet 9 March 2017

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Epping, Housing, Leader, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Parking, Planning, Residents, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your money

The Local Plan, better use of council assets, housing for homeless people, pay and display car parks and the investment of additional fees in the planning service dominated debate at Cabinet on 9 March.

Draft Local Plan consultation

Preliminary findings from the draft Local Plan consultation were presented by Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor John Philip to the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 9 March.

Councillor Philip outlined some clear themes coming through for more work on infrastructure and employment sites including the wider area of East Herts and Harlow. New potential sites and changes to previously identified sites are also being reviewed and will be fed into the revisions of the draft plan. A new transport assessment is also being done in conjunction with Essex County Council.

Councillor Philip emphasised that publication of the next draft depended on full analysis and assessment of the additional work programmed in over the next year or so. Councillors noted the initial findings of the consultation, agreed progression of the Local Plan to the next stage and approved the publication of the Council’s updated Local Development Scheme online.

Better use of council buildings

The interests of residents and customers must remain at the heart of council services. Council Leader Chris Whitbread received Cabinet support for proposals to reduce the need for office space at the Civic Offices in Epping.

Reports show flexible working by staff including home and remote working, and use of other council buildings could allow the Council to move out of the older part of the Civic Offices known as the Conder Building. Councillor Whitbread described the proposals as part of the wider transformation programme to improve services.

Pay and Display set to save £58,000

Final preparations have been agreed for the transfer of the council’s off-street parking management from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to NSL.

Portfolio Holder Gary Waller reminded fellow councillors of the improvements the change of contract will bring to residents and the Council. The Council will save £58,600 under the new arrangements even though Councillor Waller said that NSL did not submit the cheapest bid. They did submit the best quality bid. Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) rates remain the same.

Housing for Homeless People

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou received approval to progress plans for a small pilot scheme of three ‘Pods’ to accommodate people at Norway House in North Weald. The pods containing individual living accommodation and shared kitchens are manufactured by a North Weald based company. Subject to planning approval, the Council plans to help homeless people who would otherwise find themselves in Bed and Breakfast.

Increased planning application fees

Cabinet accepted an offer by the Department of Communities and Local Government to increase planning fees. Governance Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett confirmed that any extra income would be reinvested in planning services.

Register for new online self-service

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Council tax, Epping, Loughton, Media, Ongar, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

You can now manage your Council Tax and Business Rates accounts online.

Self serve online
 

Self-service is quick and easy 

By registering today you can:

  • Instantly view your account
  • Check payments and other transactions
  • Pay your bill
  • Sign up for Direct Debit

You can also sign-up to receive electronic bills in the future instead of receiving them by post and be able to view all notices that have been previously sent to you.

Manage your finances at a time that suits you

The service is secure, quick and easy to use allowing you to manage your account 24/7 at a time that suits you and your business needs.

Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Mohindra said: “We are constantly looking at ways to improve our services and want to make dealing with the council more flexible and convenient for you. By registering online residents can now manage both Council Tax and Business Rates any time of the day 7 days a week. Don’t delay, manage your finances at a time that suits you and register today.”

 

Charter to inspire climate change action

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Doing business with the council, Energy efficiency, Environmental health, Epping, Health, Leader, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our performance, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Reducing emissions and tackling climate change are the key aims of a new Environmental Charter signed by Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread and Chief Executive Glen Chipp.

Leader of Council Councillor Chris & Chief Executive signing the Environmental Charter

 

Climate Local

The Environmental Charter is part of Climate Local. Climate Local is a Local Government Association (LGA) initiative which asks councils for a commitment to help drive and inspire climate change action in the UK.

We have

  • Installed solar panel’s at the civic offices
  • Increased the recycling of our waste – through providing more bins and training staff
  • Insulated all council-owned properties to a high standard

We will

  • Help local people and businesses to be smarter about their energy use
  • As service providers aim to deliver services that are resource efficient and less carbon intensive
  • Ensure council owned buildings and operations are resource efficient and prepared for the impacts of a changing climate

Responsibility to our environment

Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “As a council we have a responsibility to our environment, by endorsing this Charter we are taking steps in the right direct towards making change.”

“Not only do we hope to reduce our carbon footprint but hope to inspire residents to make small changes resulting in a big difference.”

More info

Overview and Scrutiny 28 February 2017

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The newly-appointed principal of Epping Forest College, Saboohi Famili came before councillors at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 28 February to discuss the damning recent OFSTED report.

Principal sets out college improvement plans

Ms Famili joined the college a matter of weeks before the inspection and is addressing the wide range of short-comings identified in the report. She was joined in Overview and Scrutiny by Councillor Gagan Mohindra in his capacity as the newly-appointed chairman of governors.

A new senior leadership team is in place. Ms Famili confirmed that recruitment of the next level of high-quality leadership and management was already underway. Action plans monitored and assessed on a monthly basis are being introduced. The Board of Governors led by Councillor Mohindra are undertaking regular scrutiny. Ms Famili also confirmed OFSTED will be making frequent repeat inspections to ensure changes are implemented. Councillor Mohindra confirmed that the board of governors would be ‘robust’.

OFSTED carried out its inspection during November 2016. Councillor Stephen Murray suggested the problems were deeply ingrained and asked Ms Famili how she felt these issues had come about. Ms Famili described a previous culture of ‘blame and fear’. This resulted in a tendency to hide problems. Ms Famili said the new culture could be characterised as ‘Proud to share and not afraid to ask’. By bringing issues into the open and recognising the problems she believed the cultural was changing.

Councillors applauded the accessible approach being adopted Ms Famili.

Highways, rail and health scrutiny

Councillors also noted the latest responses of Transport for London, Essex County Council Highways and Princess Alexandra Hospital to previous scrutiny enquiries.

TFL reported on the evolving organisational structure and engagement with non-Greater London councils. It supplied further information on the provision of Oyster cards and improvements to the line between Epping and Loughton.

Councillors noted difficulties in resolving issues with highways and disappointment with the County Council’s reluctance to attend a meeting of Overview and Scrutiny. In the absence of the County Portfolio Holder, councillors supported the formation of a delegation to attend County Hall in order to put the district’s concerns in person.

Councillor Ricky Gadsby updated fellow councillors regarding the concerns of the Care Quality Commission on the performance of Princess Alexandra Hospital. Councillors noted the commitment of the Chairman and Chief Executive of Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust to attend Overview and Scrutiny on 6 June 2017.

Full Council 21 February 2017

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Media, Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your money

A council meeting dominated by budgets and finances took time out to remember one of its finest public servants and wish another a speedy recovery from illness.

Ron Barnes OBE

Council Chairman Jeane Lea invited councillors and staff to join her in a minute’s silence as Epping Forest District Council remembered former chairman Ron Barnes OBE. Tributes were led by Council Leader Chris Whitbread who remembered Ron as a most decent man as well as an excellent councillor.

Councillor Liz Webster said he was admired by all while Councillor Richard Morgan recalled Ron as a great friend to everyone and offered the council’s condolences to his wife Felicity. Councillor Caroline Pond spoke of the opening of Barnes Court in Cripsey Avenue, named after Ron Barnes and the anecdotes of his many friends.

Councillor Brian Surtees reminded colleagues of his strength of character and his ability to endure, as a young man on the Atlantic convoys but also towards the end of his life as illness took hold.

Ron Barnes represented the people of Ongar through the Shelley ward from 1979 to 2003.

Councillor Tony Boyce

Councillors were delighted to learn of the continuing recovery of Councillor Tony Boyce who was taken ill in October. Councillors agreed unanimously to grant an extension to his leave of absence until August 2017.

Epping Forest Youth Council

Among the announcements by Councillor Jeane Lea was a recommendation of fellow councillors to follow the example of the district’s youth council currently supporting the MiLife mental health initiative.

Budget 2017/18

Epping Forest District councillors confirmed Cabinet recommendations not to increase the council’s share of Council Tax. Setting another low budget, councillors extended the freeze on Council Tax for a 7th year.

Councillors then noted the Council Tax precepts for Essex County Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue and local town and parish councils for 2017/18. Residents will pay the new rates from April.

Good outcomes

Safer Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder Gary Waller reported with satisfaction on excellent progress in tackling anti-social behaviour in Epping. He reported on the joint work with Essex Police using CCTV images of young people to persuade their parents to take action.

He was also happy to report plans for electric vehicle charging points at the new Epping Forest Shopping Park.

Councillor Chris Whitbread was also happy to report progress following the purchase of former St John’s Road school site in Epping as well as good news on the council’s latest treasury management financial strategy reports.

Council Tax set for 2017/18

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Local business, Media, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Despite a freeze at Epping Forest District Council, most residents will pay more Council Tax from April.

Some town and parish councils are also freezing or lowering their Council Tax but Essex County Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue and many local town and parish councils are putting their share of Council Tax up.

Council Tax agreed

Councillors at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 21 February agreed the new Council Tax for 2017/18.

Epping Forest District is the local collection authority. Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “I am delighted we have managed to freeze our own share of the Council Tax for the seventh year running. Looking forward it is our ambition to remain a low-tax council giving our residents best possible value for money. I am sorry that bills have gone up overall. I have sympathy for the Police and Crime Commissioner and those councils which have to increase their budgets. I congratulate those town and parish councils like us that have also been able to freeze or even lower their part of the bill.”

“Epping Forest District Council has set another remarkably good budget. Local government finance is incredibly confusing but I hope residents will understand the difference between the Council Tax we collect and the Council Tax we keep.”

Good news budget and 0% increase

Councillor Whitbread covered the main items of the budget including capital investment of up to £125 million over the next 5 years. He said: “We are investing in capital to generate revenue. There is good news everywhere in this budget, good judgement, protection for front line services and good news for our residents.”

The budget found favour with cross party support throughout the Council Chamber.

Rent reductions

Rent paid by thousands of Epping Forest District Council tenants is also set to reduce by one percent in line with national guidelines. The average rent now stands at £96.17 per week.

Invest to Save

Details of the district council budget were set before Cabinet previously – Cabinet 2 February 2017.

Councillor Whitbread said: “We are working better and we are working smarter. Year on year we have become a tighter ship, investing in people, processes and policies to produce the most efficient council we can – a council fit for the future, delivering frontline services our residents need at prices we can afford.”

Cabinet 2 February 2017

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Epping, Housing, Housing repairs, Leader, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Older people, Ongar, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The budget, Careline, Epping Forest District Council’s 24 hour emergency monitoring service for older people and investment in the Council’s housing stock were among items discussed at Cabinet 2 February 2017.

Council Tax freeze recommended

Cabinet recommended another nil-percent increase on Epping Forest District Council’s share of the Council Tax when the budget goes to Full Council on 21 February.

Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread complimented Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra and his staff on the freeze for the seventh successive year.

Councillor Whitbread also updated Cabinet on the progress of the Council’s transformation programme which continues to look at more efficient ways of working and using the Civic Offices to its full potential.

Careline monitoring

Councillors have taken steps to protect the future provision of Carline, the Council’s 24 hour emergency monitoring service for elderly and vulnerable people living within the district.

Cabinet received a report presented by Communities Select Committee Chairman Councillor Yolanda Knight setting out proposals for the long term enhancement and protection of the service in partnership with an external provider, instead of providing the monitoring service by the Council itself.

Councillor Knight reassured councillors that the Careline service itself will still be provided by the Council, it was only the monitoring service that would be provided by a new provider, on behalf of the Council.

She said that the Council’s own Monitoring Control Centre has provided an excellent and reliable service since June 1984 and has always meet every requirement set by the TSA (Telecare Service Association). However, as the ageing population of the district continues to grow, demands upon Careline have increased leading to difficulty maintaining staff cover to the levels expected by the Council and now required by the TSA.

In line with the British Standard, moving the Careline monitoring services to another provider will increase the number of operators monitoring the network. It will also:

  • Ensure no gaps in service
  • Enhance capacity
  • Allow other Careline services to be offered
  • Enable more alarms to be fitted across the district
  • Bring safety, security and peace of mind to more residents across the district
  • Reduce the overall cost of the Careline Service

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou, and Councillors Anne Grigg and Will Breare-Hall all spoke in support of the proposal, emphasising the importance of arranging a smooth transfer. They also complimented the service on the high standard that has been provided over the years, while looking forward to the continued expansion of its vital work under new arrangements.

£3.6m investment in repairs to empty Council Homes

Cabinet approved the letting of two major housing maintenance contracts worth £3.6 million over three years.

As existing tenants transfer into vacant Council properties, there is a need to repair, and the opportunity to improve and upgrade the properties, before they are re-let to new tenants.

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou reported that following inviting tenders from six companies, Cabinet was being asked to appoint Graceland’s CMS LTD and Mears PLC. Cabinet approved the recommendations and were pleased to appoint both contactors as both have previously carried out work to empty properties for the Council to a high standard.