Epping Forest College Reports Progress

Written on . Posted in Community, Local business, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community

Jeannie Wright, Principal of Epping Forest College spoke to councillors of Overview and Scrutiny Committee at Epping Forest District Council on 11 April. Ms Wright has now been at the college in Loughton for just over two years. Following extensive redevelopment, it has some of the most modern facilities.

Epping Forest College

Student numbers and achievements are both up at the college which offers a range of higher education opportunities and apprenticeships. The majority of students study to level two and level three (A-level equivalent) with many then progressing to university. Business Administration and Law forms the single biggest area of education but Ms Wright said the college offers almost everything except Agriculture. 

Most of the students live within six miles of the college. The college is also home to many local community groups and organisations. Adult education continues to form an important part of college life.

Last month OFSTED said the atmosphere is relaxed but industrious, staff morale is high and attainment is improving. As the reputation of the college improves, the intake of new students increases. The college is also in a stronger financial position as debts have been reduced. Jeannie Wright appealed to councillors to help the college build further links in the local community. 


While young people will remain the main focus, Jeannie Wright also emphasised the importance of providing opportunities in adult education to help local people meet the challenges of a changing economy.

In response to questions, Ms Wright asked councillors to encourage residents to come into the college and use facilities such as the new library.

West Essex Employer and Business Survey 2011

Written on . Posted in Business, Consultation, Local business, Supporting business, Your area, Your council

Epping Forest District Council is encouraging businesses to respond to the West Essex Employer and Business Survey, which Harlow Council is conducting on behalf of the West Essex District Councils – Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford.

An Epping Forest District Council spokesperson said:  The survey is really important, as it helps us target effort at the problems that are most important to business and gives us the evidence we need to lobby for investment from Government, Europe and others. We need at least 1,000 businesses to respond, so please complete the survey. It shouldn`t take you more than ten minutes and will make a real difference to businesses in West Essex.

  • Complete the survey online

For more information or if you would prefer a hardcopy of the survey, please contact James Spencer by emailing james.spencer@harlow.gov.uk or by phone on 01279 446450.

Consultation on trading around London 2012

Written on . Posted in Business, Licensing, Local business, Olympics, Supporting business

The department for culture, media and sport has launched a consultation on the regulations on advertising activity and trading in open public places around Olympic and Paralympic events during the 2012 Games. They are interested in the views of all those affected by the regulations but in particular traders, advertisers, local businesses and residents.

The consultation sets out proposals on the management of advertising and trading in open spaces within a few hundred metres around the Olympic and Paralympic venues and road race routes. They will apply for a limited time when competition in the venue is taking place.

The measures we are proposing are in line with those used at all Olympics since Sydney 2000, said Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson. They aim to strike the right balance between preventing unauthorised advertising and trading that damage the rights of the sponsors, and enabling businesses to operate as usual.

It is a requirement of the International Olympic Committee host city contract that measures are in place to prevent ambush marketing and unauthorised trading at Games time.

The consultation runs from 7 March to 30 May 2011.

Business and Tourism Day Seminar

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Olympics, Out and about, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area

The Marriott Hotel in Waltham Abbey is hosting a Business and Tourism Day Seminar on Wednesday 16 March 2011 from 7:30am to 8pm.

This event will provide inspiration, ideas, and support to take advantage of the business opportunities, created around Waltham Abbey and Waltham Cross by The Lee Valley White Water Centre, the finest white water centre in the world; and The London 2012 Olympic Games Canoe Slalom Events being held there. There are opportunities to bring investment, business and jobs into the area.

The London 2012 Games and its Legacy

    Seminar options include:

  • How to use the press to promote your business activities and events
  • How to use social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote your business or activities
  • An economic development study is being undertaken that will look at how the Lee Valley White Water Centre can be used to create a leisure destination. This is an opportunity to voice your opinions on what you feel will improve the area, as a leisure destination, and for your business
  • Why is branding important and how can businesses work together to maximises customer demand`. A brainstorming session on how to brand an area
  • How to win Olympic contracts through `Compete for`
  • Planners, machines or human beings. When do you need planning permission, how do you apply, what is the process and how do you increase your chances of your application being approved

Book your seminars online

Draft Corporate Plan 2011 – 2015 Consultation

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Our countryside, Our performance, Planning, Supporting business, Your council, Your environment

The Corporate Plan (formerly known as the Council Plan) is the Council`s key strategic planning document. The Corporate Plan sets out service priorities over a four-year period, and translates the vision for the district set out by the Community Strategy recently published by the Local Strategic Partnership, One Epping Forest, into the Council’s strategic direction, priorities and the most important outcomes that it wants to achieve.

The Corporate Plan helps prioritise resources to provide quality services and value for money, but does not cover everything that the authority does, focusing instead on those issues that matter most to local people, national priorities set by the government and local challenges arising from the social, economic and environmental context of the district.

The Corporate Plan complements the Community Strategy and reflects those issues and priorities where the Council can have maximum impact. The Corporate Plan includes specific actions to address priorities that are financed, resourced and have a timescale for completion. The Corporate Plan is closely linked to the Council`s medium-term financial strategy, and sets out how the Council will deliver its vision and priorities over the next four years, to ensure improved outcomes for local people. The Corporate Plan includes a section reflecting the Council`s key objectives for 2011/12, which will be updated each year.

The Council is interested to know what you think of the Corporate Plan. Comments on the content and the aims and objectives for 2011/12 and the four-year period, can be made using either the online feedback form, or by submitting written comments to performance@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or Performance Improvement Unit, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, Epping, Essex, CM16 4BZ.

Responses received will be used to inform the content of the final version of the Corporate Plan, which will be published in April 2011.

Copies of the Draft Corporate Plan can be obtained from the Performance Improvement Unit by emailing performance@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Licensing and Night Time Economy Meeting

Written on . Posted in Business, Democracy, Licensing, Local business, Meetings, Supporting business, Your council

For those interested in finding out the facts that relate to licensing and the night time economy, Epping Forest District Council will be holding a Safer Cleaner Greener Scrutiny Meeting at St Mary’s Church in Loughton at 7.30pm on Tuesday 8 March 2011.

The meeting which takes place twice a year provides Council Members with the opportunity to scrutinize members of the Safer Communities Partnership on their work in the District.


Council Officers and Essex Police will be giving a short presentation on the processing, monitoring and enforcement of Licensing conditions and on the police powers and their recent operations in relation to Licensed establishments.

Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting and can find out more by emailing safercommunities@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or by telephoning 01992 564608.


Eric Pickles Big Society’ Vision

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Loughton, Supporting business, Your area

The `Big Society` formed the central theme when Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government gave the keynote speech to delegates at the annual stakeholder conference of the local strategic partnership One Epping Forest.

Mr Pickles set the scene at the event, hosted by Epping Forest College in Loughton. He used the opportunity to give delegates from local voluntary groups a flavour of his thinking on the future provision of services. When the `Localism` bill currently going through Parliament becomes law, Mr Pickles envisages a right for local people and community groups to buy and run buildings nominated on a register of community facilities. Any redundant building could be on the list such as old school buildings, pubs or even churches.

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP and Councillor Di Collins, Chairman of One Epping Forest

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP and Councillor Di Collins, Chairman of One Epping Forest

To help local groups fund projects, Mr Pickles hinted that he will soon be making a major announcement on the `Big Society Bank` making use of the cash in dormant bank accounts. He also suggested the banks themselves might contribute in some way.

Drawing on his experience of Bradford where levels of deprivation were obvious to see, making bids for funding more straightforward, Mr Pickles recognised the problem of areas such as Epping Forest District where great affluence can mask pockets of deprivation.

Volunteering is at the heart of Mr Pickles’ attempts to improve local communities. He said: Part of my job is to remove some of the sillier, petty restrictions that can sap the energy of volunteers.” With tongue in cheek he said: It is harder to close a street for a party than to invade a small third world country. You don`t need a full traffic management plan to close a side street for a party to celebrate the Royal Wedding.

Responding to questions, Mr Pickles acknowledged a degree of cynicism from some people. Asked if the `Big Society` was `Society on the cheap `, he suggested ways in which the organisers of the Loughton Festival and other groups could get help with funding and insurance and emphasised his desire to do away with red tape. He said: This is about people like you getting on with things that are important to you without getting bogged down in regulation.

Eric Pickles MP thanked delegates including Epping Forest Youth Councillors

Mr Pickles also felt there was a role for business in the `Big Society`. He said he wanted business to identify barriers so he could help to remove them. No business exists by itself, they are all part of the wider community.

Challenged on the `unsettling` effect of the `Big Society` and what it might look like in three or four years, Mr Pickles said it would look like people with imagination who could thrive.

In response to a question about the future for town and parish councils, Mr Pickles envisaged more planning powers at a local level in much the same way as councils in Germany and France operate.

Finally, Mr Pickles offered his personal thanks to all the volunteers and delegates. He said: Our communities would not be what they are without your help. You make our communities better for what you do and I would like to thank you.

John Houston of One Epping Forest listed some of the key priorities of the partnership and what may take precedence in the future. Delegates then listened to a series of presentations from the chairmen of the various theme groups of the local strategic partnership, expanding on Mr Houston`s comments.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Chairman of EFDCCouncillor Anne Grigg spoke about some of the planning issues facing the District. The Metropolitan Green Belt area of Epping Forest District Council is the fifth largest in England. The need to protect the green and open character of the District needs to be balanced with the requirements to accommodate many people on the housing waiting lists and tackle the congestion caused by living so close to London.

Dr Pam Hall of the Healthier Communities theme group reminded delegates of the ageing nature of the population and the need to adapt services to their changing need.

Superintendent Simon Williams spoke on behalf of the Safer Communities Partnership. While Epping Forest District has one of the lowest levels of crime in comparison to other areas, fear of crime is amongst the highest. He outlined plans for the future around promoting respect as a starting point for everyone, people playing a more active role in their communities and creating better links between partner organisations.

Julie Chandler of Epping Forest District Council spoke about the Children`s Partnership, including protection of the most vulnerable children and the increasing problem of child obesity. She described how positive and innovative projects taking place in the District were making a difference, such as the trampolining programmes to help children develop confidence and improve attainment levels at school.

Jacqui Foile of Voluntary Action Epping Forest placed the importance of the voluntary sector into context. In a snapshot of the District she said that approximately 34,000 local people benefited directly from the work of volunteers. Sixty per cent of the groups providing voluntary services have no paid staff at all and she estimated 2,300 volunteers made contributions to the life of the community each week.

After a short break, delegates reconvened into a number of workshops following which each group fed back to the conference and a panel of local experts moderated by the Acting Chief Executive of Epping Forest District Council Derek Macnab. Among the chief concerns coming back from the floor of the conference was the economy and the need to support local business whether through low car park charges, tourism, changes to the law on Business Rates or promoting the small shops and businesses that help to give the district its unique character.

Artability Project Choir gave a wonderful musical performance

Bringing the day to a close, people with learning difficulties of the Arability Project Choir, which has received funding through One Epping Forest, gave a wonderful musical performance. Including a solo by Ricky Conrad, the group received a standing ovation and reminded everyone why they were all there.

Cabinet – Parking Charges Frozen

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your area

“Costs of parking in local car parks will not rise next year” Councillor Chris Whitbread Finance Portfolio Holder reported to the Cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 6 December. Councillor Whitbread confirmed free Saturday parking in some council-owned car parks would also remain. He also reported £381,000 of savings identified so far in council budgets for the next Financial Year when presenting the main points from the most recent Finance and Performance Cabinet Committee.

The cheapest parking tariff of 10 pence for half an hour will remain in place making pay and display charges in Epping Forest among the lowest in the region.

Councillor Whitbread indicated that he was continuing to search for further budget savings.

Reviewing Cabinet objectives, Councillor Whitbread and Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Council congratulated staff of the Housing Benefits Service on the recent improvements in performance.

Councillor Brian Rolfe Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder presented proposals for a further £100,000 of savings by reducing the number of Forester magazines produced by the Council each year and cutting three vacant posts in the PR and Arts sections of the Council.

Leader or Mayor

Councillor Collins invited members of the Cabinet to comment on the merits of retaining the council`s current constitutional arrangements of Leader and Cabinet or hold a referendum for residents to vote for or against a switch to the Elected Mayor system.

Ian Willett, Returning Officer responsible for referenda and elections reminded councillors that the recent consultation was to comply with current legal requirements. Only 108 people responded to the consultation and were almost evenly split, 52 in favour of the current system and 56 in favour of a Mayor. Several members of the Cabinet felt that without pressing public pressure for change, the costs of holding a referendum in the current economic climate were not appropriate.

Cabinet agreed to recommend retention of the current system to Full Council for consideration on 14 December 2010.

However, while the Cabinet is recommending no referendum on Elected Mayors, all councils will be holding a referendum on voting reform on the day of the local elections on 5 May 2011. The referendum stems from the Coalition Government commitment to hold a vote on retaining or changing the current Parliamentary system for MPs of `First Past the Post` to a form of Proportional Representation. Members of the Cabinet agreed to recommend setting aside £160,000 for next year`s budgets in expectation that final costs would be reimbursed by the Government.

Straw Housing

Councillor David Stallan Cabinet member responsible for Housing pre-empted colleagues by making all the jokes about the three little pigs. He then went on to describe how Epping Forest District Council is set to participate in a radical new form of eco-friendly housing made from straw.

The highly sustainable design would provide four family-sized houses on land owned by the Council but developed by Hastoe Housing Association at Millfield in High Ongar. In exchange for enabling the scheme with land, the Council would gain nomination rights for tenants from its Housing Waiting list.

Straw bale construction of the type envisaged utilises new cutting-edge technology. The materials are very environmentally friendly. Councillors are keen that the raw material is from sustainable local sources.

The houses should have exceptionally high insulation levels, reducing heating costs by up to 85 per cent and related carbon emissions by up to 60 per cent. Researchers at the University of Bath have shown straw houses can withstand hurricane-force winds of 120 mph and are at least as fire-resistant as houses built of conventional materials. 

Home Ownership Scheme Suspended

Difficulties in obtaining mortgages have prevented council tenants taking up grants of up to £34,000 to buy homes of their own. Councillors spoke in favour of the principle of the scheme designed to free-up council housing for people on the housing waiting list by enabling existing tenants to buy their own homes in the private sector. However, of the five grants agreed last year, four applicants were subsequently unable to get a mortgage.

Councillors agreed a temporary suspension of the scheme to be reviewed annually when demand and mortgage availability may have improved.

Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford District Council`s are proposing to work together in areas of mutual interest. Epping Forest District Council will receive a report from the Cabinet recommending a joint West Essex Councils` Group Memorandum of Understanding. Councillor Di Collins Leader of Epping Forest District Council emphasised the continuing independence of each council with the benefits of making services available to each other as appropriate.

Retail Park Plans in Broadway Display

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your environment

Local residents and businesses can find out more about a proposed new retail park when initial plans go on display in Debden Broadway this month.

Langston Road Retail Park will hopefully soon become a welcome addition to Debden’s retail line-up; offering more choice for local shoppers and the wider catchments. Part of the site in Langston Road is currently occupied by a Council depot servicing refuse freighters and maintenance teams who would be relocated to other sites. No existing jobs would be lost as a result of this proposal. Combined with the adjoining land belonging to property developer Polofind, the enlarged site would form a retail development bringing jobs and shoppers.

Should the Council gain planning consent, Langston Road Retail Park is envisaged to become a home of fashion retailers complementing other high street businesses in the Broadway.

Computer generated impression of the proposed Langston Road retail park

Epping Forest District Council will launch a public information exercise at 23 The Broadway, Debden with displays of the proposed project, visuals and information.

23 The Broadway Debden will be open on:

Tuesday 23 November 2010 from 10am to 1pm

Wednesday 24 November 2010 from 1pm to 5pm

Thursday 25 November 2010 from 5pm to 8pm

Saturday 27 November 2010 from 10am to 1pm

Consultants and Council officers will be in attendance to answer questions and discuss the proposed development.

Computer generated impression of the proposed Langston Road retail park

Potential Benefits of Langston Road Retail Park:

¢ 10,000 sq m of ground floor retail space, with additional mezzanine space.

¢ Fashion led retail, home to high street names.

¢ Encouraging the retention of local shopping.

¢ Targeting 80+% of expenditure that currently goes outside the area to return and experience shopping on their doorstep.

¢ Give the local and wider community the retail it wants.

¢ Make Debden a more vibrant Centre.

¢ Bring in additional shoppers who will therefore spend more money in Debden.

¢ Enhance perception of the area and encourage additional retail interest in the locality.

¢ Encourage local shopping as part of a green sustainable attitude.

¢ Accessible by sustainable modes of transport; being within easy reach of Debden Station and the bus services which serve Chigwell Lane and The Broadway.

¢ Backing of Epping Forest District Council who will ensure that the retail is what the locals require, supporting the investment that the Council has already undertaken.

¢ Epping Forest District Council is an environmentally aware and business oriented district looking after its residents and traders.

¢ Will provide part and full time employment, both during the construction period and in the long-term once the Retail Park is open.

¢ Epping Forest District Council is looking at ways in which to support The Broadway and encourage the synergy between them.

¢ The majority of trips to and from the Retail Park will be made outside of the current weekday peak hours on the local highway network, underground and bus services; this will enable the Retail Park to complement the existing developments in Debden by attracting visitors to the area at times when the transport networks are less busy.

¢ A major highway improvement scheme for the A1168 Chigwell Lane is being developed to support the development in conjunction with Essex County Council. The scheme will be implemented as part of the development to ensure that trips to the Retail Park can be safely accommodated at all times, and will deliver benefits to all travellers using the route by smoothing traffic flow and improving the pedestrian environment.

¢ The proposed scheme will comprise 2 two storey terraced blocks with provision for first floor mezzanine.

¢ The building elevations are to be finished with a mixture of recyclable building materials.

To ensure this opportunity is given the greatest support the Council is looking at ways to encourage a better relationship between the site and The Broadway. Epping Forest would remain the Landlord to The Broadway and would not do anything to undermine it. The developers are considering a programme of enhancement which would include signage; an improved link walkway between Debden Station and The Broadway to encourage access; and a potential marketing programme to assist in creating awareness of The Broadway. This would be part of the continuing programme of enhancement and investment in the immediate area for the benefit of local people and traders.

The Council are very aware of the local residents’ concerns regarding highways issues affecting the area, and to this end they have been in a dialogue with Essex County Council to undertake traffic improvements. The intention is that a highways improvement scheme will be developed which not only addresses the demand created by the retail park, but which also seeks to tackle where possible the root causes of the traffic issues which are currently observed. When implemented, the results would improve access and traffic flow through the area, lessening the impacts of traffic congestion and delays which are felt locally. Epping Forest District Council is optimistic that the scheme can be delivered; if these improvements do not go ahead now, the opportunity for financial assistance will be lost; and there will not be an allocated time in the near future for them to re-commence.

Councillor Lesley Wagland, Legal and Estates Portfolio Holder, said: The Council are very supportive of the potential benefits of the scheme. Reflecting current interest, it is hoped it will bring in new fashion retailers to the area; encouraging those who shop in other destinations to return and shop locally. Langston Road Retail Park would, alongside The Broadway, combine to offer a greater shopping choice for Debden. Collectively it would become a thriving centre and its ability to compete with areas outside the district would improve. It could mean up to £70 million a year to the area from shopping that would otherwise go outside the district. In addition to the new shopping, it would create the opportunity for over 200 new local jobs for Debden.

Celebrating Enterprise in West Essex

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business

Epping Forest district and West Essex are pleased to be supporting a programme of events promoting enterprise and support for local business this November in connection with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Do you want to explore if starting a business is the right option for you? Have you thought about taking on an apprentice to help grow your business but are unsure how to go about it?

Do you need to polish up on your sales and marketing to boost your business? Are you looking for opportunities to network with other local businesses?

Celebrating Enterprise in West Essex

A range of events have been organised between 15 and 24 November 2010 which respond to the above questions and many more.

These include:

  • Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce`s first supper quiz on 20 November;
  • Drop-in sessions and workshops for those interested in starting up in business;
  • A drop-in shop to find out more about apprenticeships, whether you are an employer thinking about taking on an apprentice or an individual looking to begin an apprenticeship;
  • A number of free of charge Business Link workshops in Epping and Harlow for both established and start-up businesses.