#OurDay the people behind your local services

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Tuesday 15 November 2016 is #OurDay. #OurDay is a yearly tweetathon for local government to show what it does in a typical day.

Here are just a few of the people behind your valued Epping Forest District Council services.

Karen & her lifewalkers set off from Clayton Hill on a mild autumn morning

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Shopping Park in Loughton underway

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chairman, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Epping, Jobs, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Work has started on the construction of the Epping Forest Shopping Park at Langston Road,  Loughton.

Howard Parkes with (L-R) Councillor Jeane Lea, M and H Project Manager Alex McCalley, Councillor Anne Grigg and Derek Macnab

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Site tour

Councillor Jeane Lea, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council and Councillor Anne Grigg, Cabinet Portfolio Holder responsible for the council-owned scheme met McLaughlin and Harvey construction project manager Alex McCalley and members of the workforce during a tour of the site on Monday 26 September 2016.

Accompanied by the Council’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Neighbourhoods Derek Macnab, Councillors Lea and Grigg inspected well-advanced demolition work as the former council depot buildings come down. The adjoining site bought by the council previously is already clear with excavations already evident where surface water storage tanks are to be installed.

Assisted by Alex McCalley of McLaughlin and Harvey, Councillor Lea posed for traditional ground-breaking photographs.

Biggest names in retail

Once completed, Loughton Shopping Park will potentially host some of the biggest names in retail including Next, Aldi, TK Maxx, Pets at Home and Hobbycraft.

New jobs

Around 200 permanent new jobs will be created while rental income from the park will help Epping Forest District Council provide public services to local residents and maintain one of the lowest Council Taxes in Essex. Associated highway improvements on Chigwell Lane will also ease congestion on one of Essex’s busiest roads. There will be on-site shopper car parking for up to 350 cars as well as excellent public transport links a short walk away at Debden Underground Station. With a footprint of 94,000 square feet (or almost 150,000 square feet taking account of mezzanine floors) there will be plenty of retail space with something for everyone including children with Smyths Toys expecting to be a big draw for families.

Boost to the local economy

Councillor Grigg said: ”I was delighted to see the progress. McLaughlin and Harvey has made a cracking start. The site is clean and the demolition work is being carried out with meticulous attention to safety. Now the barriers between the old council depot and the adjoining site have been removed you start to get a real perspective on the size and scale of the shopping park. It will be a fantastic asset and a tremendous boost to the local economy.”

Minimal disruption

During the tour, Alex McCalley explained some of the ways in which McLaughlin and Harvey will minimise disturbance to neighbours. He said: “Years ago we would have had hundreds of lorries coming on and off site as we transported the thousands of tonnes of hardcore rubble. These days we are much more environmentally friendly. Nearly all the rubble will be recycled into the foundations of the new retail park. We are using better methods of pile driving, drilling our way down to the London Clay rather than the old method of banging away with the pile-driver. We are also making contact with our neighbours, keeping people informed and setting up those vital lines of communication that let everyone work together.”

First shoppers next summer

Councillor Jeane Lea was also very impressed: she said: ”McLaughlin and Harvey are one of the most experienced retail park developers. They have worked with some of the biggest companies to deliver large schemes. I would like to thank Alex and his team for such an informative tour and  look forward to being invited back to review progress.”

Construction is expected to take around 40 weeks meaning the first shoppers through the doors next summer.

First look of our draft Local Plan

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Councillors, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Housing, Licensing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Older people, Ongar, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Residents and councillors have their first chance to view an advance version of the draft Local Plan before Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet meeting on 6 October 2016.

Website launch infographic

The plan, available to view on the Cabinet agenda from 27 September, is subject to change at Cabinet and the meeting of Full Council on 18 October 2016. Only once agreed with any further amendments at Full Council will the draft be ready for public consultation from Monday 31 October 2016.

First chance to see

Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip said: “This is everyone’s first chance to see what the Plan for consultation will look like but it is important to remember that things could still change between now and the end of October. It won’t be finalised until all councillors have had their final say at Full Council.”

“However, by getting this early draft out a month before the official consultation starts, we are ensuring everyone has as much time as possible to consider the issues before the deadline for responses on 12 December 2016. We don’t want your views yet – not until the draft plan is finalised, but we are looking for as much feedback as we can possibly get once the consultation starts on 31 October 2016.”

Consultation website

A special consultation website has been created to support the Local Plan consultation process. It has been designed to make consultation feedback as simple and straightforward as possible.

Epping Forest District Council is also preparing a leaflet for district-wide delivery to households and businesses in the next few weeks to encourage feedback, as well as holding exhibitions, placing adverts in the local press, handing information cards out at railway stations and sending frequent reminders out on social media.

Local town and parish councils are helping the district council with articles in local magazines, posters on noticeboards and more social media.

Everyone’s Local Plan

John Philip said: “This is everyone’s Local Plan. It is the plan for our future, the future of our children and the future of our grandchildren. It will guide development across the district including where to build new homes and employment for a growing population right up to 2033.”

“It will also seek to protect all the most important things we love and cherish about our district including natural spaces and the Green Belt. Please get involved. Follow the process and give us your feedback.”

Local Plan infographics

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#BinIt or get a £75 fine

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Local business, Media, Older people, Our countryside, Out and about, Prosecutions, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

People who throw litter from their vehicles or drop litter on the streets can expect a £75 fine.

Love Essex group

Don’t toss it – #BinIt

Epping Forest District Council has joined up with other councils and businesses across Essex as part of the Love Essex Don’t toss it – #BinIt campaign launched on Monday 15 August 2016 to highlight the problem of littering.

According to Keep Britain Tidy almost a third of motorists admit to throwing rubbish out of their vehicle window.* The ‘Don’t toss it – #BinIt’ campaign warns litter offenders, both drivers and pedestrians, that their anti-social behaviour comes with a fine of at least £75.

It costs £17 million a year

“It costs £17 million a year to keep Essex clean and tidy,” says Councillor Will Breare-Hall (Environment Portfolio Holder), “That’s £17 million which could be spent on other initiatives in our communities. People know what they should be doing with their litter – and it is not throwing it on the ground. Litter offenders are still in the minority, but the price of their actions is paid by everyone.”

Councillor Breare-Hall added: “Adults need to set a better example. Every year, we talk to school children across the district at Crucial Crew about littering. It is very clear that the children know that littering is anti-social and they do not like to see it, yet we still see litter alongside many roads across the district dropped by adults. Your litter is your responsibility. There are hundreds of bins for your rubbish across the district but if you can’t find one, take it home.”

Enforcement officers from the council have issued over 100 fixed penalty notices for littering offences, with fines amounting to over £5,000. Officers regularly carry out littering patrols and will also report offenders when they are out across the district completing other work.

There is no excuse

Councillor Will Breare-Hall added: “The message could not be clearer, residents across the district don’t like litter, there is no excuse and you will get fined if we catch you littering.”

Posters

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Council condemns racism, xenophobia & hate

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

In the wake of the EU referendum leave verdict, a motion condemning racism, xenophobia and hate crime received unanimous backing by Epping Forest District councillors at a meeting of Council on 26 July 2016.

Hate is unacceptable

Councillor Steven Neville put forward the motion that stated: ”As a council, we are proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society. Racism, xenophobia and hate crimes have no place in our country. Our council condemns racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally. We will not allow hate against others to become acceptable.”

”We will continue to ensure that local bodies and programmes have the support and resources they need to fight and prevent racism and xenophobia. We reassure all people living in this area that they are valued members of our community.”

”The council welcomes the fact that all reports of hate crime are properly followed up and that Essex police are working closely with the council’s Community Safety team to provide a proper response to all such reports in order to deter further incidents.”

Hate crime reports up

Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gary Waller proposed the following amendment, which was agreed by council: ”The council notes that the number of hate crime reports in the Epping Forest District rose during the week following the referendum on 23 June 2016, though such incidents are rare compared with some Essex local authority areas. It is noted furthermore that the figure has subsequently fallen back, although any occurrence is unacceptable.”

Inappropriate poster in Loughton

The adoption of the motion coincided with the discovery of an inappropriate poster, crudely fixed to a road sign on Willingale Road in Loughton.

The sign, which said ”Now British people can come first. You are a ****** if you remove this” was brought to the council’s attention by a concerned resident. The notice was removed by council officers on the same day.

Come forward

Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gary Waller added: ”Offensive graffiti, hate crimes, xenophobia and racism will not to be tolerated by this council. If you or anyone you know has been the victim of any of these crimes, the sooner you come forward, the sooner are able to act alongside our partners in the community safety partnership.”

Report it

He continued: ”If you have been the victim of any such crimes or see any offensive graffiti, we would encourage you to tell us by reporting it online, contacting the Community Safety Team or Essex Police on 101. If you  feel you are in immediate danger, always contact the Police on 999.’’

Untaxed vehicles crackdown

Written on . Posted in Abandoned vehicles, Business, Community, Crime and safety, Doing business with the council, Local business, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Our performance, Out and about, Parking, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Working with the council, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

In a national drive to crack down on untaxed vehicles on public roads, Epping Forest District Council will be working in partnership with the DVLA from 1 August 2016.

Untaxed vehicles

Clamped or seized

With the assistance of the DVLA, Council officers will be able to check the road tax record of any vehicle. If the vehicle is not taxed, it will be either clamped or seized and taken to a DVLA contractors depot.

The owner could have to pay as much as £160 (plus storage costs) and will have to prove the vehicle has valid road tax before the vehicle can be reclaimed.

Delighted to be working in partnership

Epping Forest District Council’s Environment Portfolio holder, Councillor Will Breare-Hall said: ‘’I am delighted that the council is working in partnership with the DVLA. Untaxed vehicles are often difficult to trace, but with our help, the DVLA will broaden their ability to find the offenders and reduce the number of untaxed vehicles within our district.”

He continued: ‘’Untaxed vehicles contribute to congestion, take up valuable parking spaces and use resources paid for by others. Their drivers are more likely to commit traffic offences such as speeding, illegally parking and driving without insurance, which presents risks for other drivers. Untaxed vehicles are often abandoned and eventually become vandalised. Working alongside the DVLA will help to improve road conditions for our residents and other road users.’’

Post your scam mail in our SCAMnesty bins

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Crime and safety, Media, Older people, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

SCAMnesty bins have been put in locations across Essex as part of the drop in and drop them in it campaign by Essex County Council Trading Standards and Essex Police.

We’re asking residents to post any mail into the SCAMnesty bins which they believe is a scam or trick to get their money.

Post a scam to Essex Trading Standards in one of their SCAMnesty bins

SCAMnesty bins

There are 6 SCAMnesty bins in the Epping Forest district

  1. Buckhurst Hill library
  2. Epping Forest District Council Civic offices in Epping
  3. Limes Centre in Chigwell
  4. Loughton library
  5. Chipping Ongar library
  6. Waltham Abbey library

We are working to help stop people falling prey to scams by following a 3-step rule – get advice, report it, and tell others about it.

Help tackle the issue of scam mail

Caroline Wiggins, Community Safety Manager said: “Trading Standards and Essex police are seeking your help to tackle the issue of junk or scam mail. Even though scam letters look convincing, they are made up of false promises. They request bank details and other information which can be used by fraudsters. We strongly advise people not to reply to any letters asking for money.”

“We want people to post their scam or junk mail in any of the 6 SCAMnesty bins located in the district. We want residents to fill these bins with any mail they think is a scam. They can also print off emails and screenshots of texts which they think are scams into the bins.”

“All material put in the bins will be treated confidentially. Trading Standards will collate it and use it to co-ordinate further work both nationally and internationally, and check out any scams which are found to be based in Essex.”

“Residents can keep a step ahead of the scamsters by signing up to Essex Community Messaging which can keep you informed about the latest known scams in Essex.”

ActionFraud

Report and get advice about fraud or internet crime to ActionFraud – the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre. Specialist advisers are available from Monday to Friday between 9am to 6pm.

 

Survey asks for landlords feedback

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Epping, Housing, Licensing, Loughton, Media, Ongar, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

We are asking for feedback from private landlords in the Epping Forest district on how we communicate with them and what their main areas of interest and concern are.

If you are a landlord in the Epping Forest district please complete our survey, it should only take 5 minutes.

Private landlords survey - help us to help you

Help landlords carry out their duties

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Housing Portfolio Holder said: “We are keen to learn more about the views of private landlords in the Epping Forest district. We want to find out how best to communicate with them, find out what concerns they may have, and keep them updated on their responsibilities as they arise.”

“We have lots of information to share with landlords to help them carry out their duties and legal obligations. I hope that by better engagement with landlords we will improve relationships and create a positive and co-operative working approach.”

Want to know more

All information given will be kept confidential and only be used to help us improve our services.

 

‘Freeze not throw away’ for Food Safety Week

Written on . Posted in Business, Environmental health, Food safety, Local business, Media, Out and about, Regulations, Supporting business, Your area, Your council

We are supporting this year’s Food Safety Week which runs from 4-10 July 2016. It aims to help people better understand how to waste less food safely, by making more use of their freezers.

Infographic - food safety week 2016

New research

New research from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed that 68% of UK adults report that they have thrown food away in the past month.

Over two thirds (36%) of those who had thrown away food said they have discarded food as it was past its use by date. Other top reasons for throwing food away include buying too much and not eating it, which was reported by 30% of people; and not having the chance to eat food before it went off, which almost a quarter (23%) gave as an excuse for putting food in the bin.

This contributes to the 7 million tonnes of food that is wasted in the UK each year which, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, costs each household around £470 annually.

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Help tackle the problem

Epping Forest District Council is backing the FSA’s campaign to encourage residents in the Epping Forest district and across the UK to help tackle the problem of food waste by planning ahead and, if necessary, to freeze  food within its use by date if there is a chance you may end up throwing it away once the use-by date expires.

This waste is unnecessary

Kevin Hargin, head of Foodborne Disease Control at the FSA said: “Every year, we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes. Much of this waste is unnecessary, and a better understanding of how to freeze food safely could go a significant way towards tackling the problem.”

“Our research shows that many of the fears the public has about freezing food are unfounded and we need to ensure they know the facts. 31% of the people we spoke to said that more information about how to safely freeze food would help them to reduce their food waste – that’s why freezing is the focus of this year’s Food Safety Week.

The freezer is like a pause button

Councillor Will Breare-Hall, Environment Portfolio Holder at Epping Forest District Council said: “Lots of people believe food can only be frozen on the day of purchase, but the freezer is like a pause button and you can safely freeze most foods right up to the use by date. You can even cook defrosted meat into a new meal and freeze it to eat on another day.”

“With so much food being thrown away in the UK each year, we want our residents to think about how they can use their freezers to their full potential, rather than putting food in the bin.”

“While food is kept safe in the freezer, it’s the quality that deteriorates over time, so the FSA recommends eating it within 3 to 6 months and checking for any freezing instructions on the packaging. Once defrosted, the pause button is off, so defrost food as and when you need it and eat it within 24 hours of it being fully defrosted.”

Want to know more?

For more information on freezing food safely, visit www.food.gov.uk/useby or follow @foodgov #EatitCookitFreezeit on Twitter for tips and advice throughout Food Safety Week.

 

Gunpowder Mills application rejected

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Chairman, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Democracy, Media, Meetings, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council

The PGL submitted planning application for a children’s adventure holiday centre at the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Waltham Abbey was refused at the full meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Monday 6 June 2016.

Royal Gunpowder Mills - Proposed application drawings

Referred to Full Council

The decision followed an earlier meeting of Planning Development Management Committee at which the application was provisionally approved before being referred at the request of councillors to Full Council.

A separate Listed Building planning application for the conversion, alteration and extension of several buildings to provide classroom and guest accommodation was approved.

Important heritage in the district

The Royal Gunpowder Mills is one of the most important sites of special scientific interest and heritage in the district. Gunpowder production is thought to date back to the 16th Century.

The site contains many listed buildings as well as a natural habitat of exceptional quality. The Mills is run by an RGM operating company. The original intention was to open the Royal Gunpowder Mills up to the public with the aid of a trust fund set up by the Ministry of Defence and Lottery funding.

However, in recent years, the site has been unable to meet its running costs without drawing down capital funds, leading to concerns about the long term financial security of the Mills.

PGL application

PGL has a number of children’s adventure holiday centres around the UK. The planning application proposed to convert part of the site for children’s holidays while seeking to conserve other environmental and heritage related parts of the site.

However, after a long and considered debate, councillors felt any benefits of the proposals were outweighed by the demolition of historic buildings, intensive use and harm to the heritage and environmental value of the site.

Proposed application drawings

Moving forward

Setting out their reasons for refusal, councillors said that there was insufficient reason for the demolition of the cordite factory which would severely impact the Conservation Area. They wanted to see more attention given to the visitor centre and objected to the overall increase in the footprint of new buildings proposed for the site.

Councillors recommended that any future application footprint of new build should be substantially reduced, the cordite factory should be retained and that consideration should be given to the operating company.

In the second application, councillors agreed plans for conversion, alteration and extension to a number of listed buildings for guest accommodation and classrooms.