Essex Book Festival

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

The annual Essex Book Festival is once again returning in March and is celebrating 11 years with a number of fantastic literary events across the county. This is an excellent opportunity for people to meet some of the biggest names in the literary world and for new writers to meet their public. This year there are more events taking place in the Epping Forest district than ever before.

Essex Book Festival 2010

Mike Gayle, best-selling novelist and ex-agony uncle. Loughton Library, Traps Hill, Loughton IG10 1HD on 11 March at 8.00pm, tickets £6.50 or £4.50 concessions.

George Alagiah, BBC foreign correspondent and presenter of BBC Six O`clock news. St Mary`s Church, 201 High Road, Loughton IG10 1BB on 19 March at 7.30pm, tickets £10 or £8 concessions.

Bee Rowlatt and May Witwit talking about Jane Austen in Baghdad. Debden Library, Epping Forest College, Borders Lane, Loughton IG10 3SA on 8 March at 7.30pm, tickets £4 or £3 concessions.

Francesca Kay, author of award-winning book An Equal Stillness. In partnership with Epping Library`s Book Talk Group, Epping Library, St John`s Road, Epping, CM16 5DN on 17 March at 2.30pm, tickets £4 or £3 concessions.

Best-selling Sadie Jones (The Outcast, Small Wars) and her sister Melissa (The Secret Heart of Emily Hudson) in partnership with Ongar Library Book Talk Group, Budworth Hall, High Street, Chipping Ongar, CM5 9LG on 29 March at 7.30pm, tickets £6.50/£4.50 concessions.

For more information on booking these and other Essex Book Festival events, pick up a Festival programme available in libraries and book by post using the booking form. You can also book by telephone on 01206 573948 or book online at the Essex Book Festival website.

Schneider Trophy Returned to North Weald

Written on . Posted in Community, Local business, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community

Seventy-eight years after a Supermarine designed by RJ Mitchell of Spitfire fame won the Schneider Trophy outright with a new air speed record of 379 miles per hour, Neil Cooper of the Sky Hawks Team brought the modern day trophy back to North Weald Airfield.

Neil Cooper won the trophy in his Bulldog G-JWCM with team mates Roger Hayes and Craig Beavers coming second and third. Eighteen aircraft took part in the 2009 race at Bembridge on the Isle of Wright. It was a particularly sweet victory for Neil who was leading with one lap to go last year when the race was called off due to low cloud.

The Sky Hawks Team with the Schneider trophy outside the Squadron at North Weald Airfield

The three winning aircraft flew a flypast formation over their home airfield at the Spirit of North Weald Community Day in September. A replica of the trophy was on display. The real trophy can be seen at the Science Museum in London.

North Weald hosted the first air race weekend of the 2009 season in April. With one of the most successful teams based at the airfield it has become a centre of excellence for air racing in the UK.

The Scottish Aviation Bulldog was designed as a basic training aircraft for the RAF and other air forces and was built at Prestwick in Scotland.

International Year Of Biodiversity

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The United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB).

Countrycare, Epping Forest District Council`s countryside management service, has become a partner – one of 170 organisations across the UK signed up so far to try and halt the loss of biodiversity.

Biodiversity is the term to describe the variety of life forms living on the earth and the habitats they live in. The aim of the IYB is to highlight the importance of biodiversity on our wellbeing and to try to halt the loss of it, which is currently up to 100 times faster than the natural rate of extinction.

The IYB was officially launched on 25 November 2009 at the Natural History Museum in London. This was the first in a series of activities and events arranged for 2010 around the UK. Throughout next year Countrycare will focus most of their work on promoting this cause.

Celebrating the success stories is also a priority. The international day of Biological Diversity is on 22 May 2010.

Love Where You Live Competition

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Love Where You Live Environmental Photo Competition

A new photographic competition to help boost recycling activity in the UK is offering £10,000 worth of prizes for the best pictures of wildlife and people looking after their local environment.

The `Love where you live` photo competition is sponsored by not-for-profit recycling organisation Alupro who provide a new tree for every tonne of aluminium recycled. This competition celebrates the quarter of a million trees they have grown in the UK and Africa since the start of this scheme.

Full details can be found on the Love Where You Live website

Epping Forest District Council is signed up to the scheme, so all the aluminium cans residents recycle locally help towards providing and growing fruit trees in Malawi where not only do the trees protect the local environment but also provide a source of income and work for local communities.

The competition encourages amateur photographers to take pictures which will inspire visitors to a special exhibition in April 2010 to look with fresh eyes at their surroundings as we face up to climate change and to recognise the special role trees play in protecting our environment.

The £10,000 prize pot covers six UK regions, including prizes for schools and under 18s, with a top award of £3,750. There are two prize categories: `local landscape and wildlife` and `people having an impact on where we live`.

This is a great way to encourage people to look around them and see just how important it is to look after the environment, says Councillor Mary Sartin, Epping Forest District Council Portfolio Holder for the Environment. Councillor Sartin added: With some fantastic prizes to be won it`s well worth getting your camera out and having a go.

The competition is open to amateur photographers only. Closing date for entries is 28 February 2010.

Waltham Abbey Celebrated in Essex Tourism Awards

Written on . Posted in Community, Local business, Media, Our activities, Out and about, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council

Waltham Abbey celebrated success at a presentation of the first ever Essex Tourism Awards.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills and Waltham Abbey Town Partnership proudly received Finalist Certificates in the Best Small Essex Attraction and the Best Tourism Experience categories in recognition of their contribution to tourism in the County.

Norma Green receives a Best Tourism Experience award on behalf of the Waltham Abbey Town PartnershipAlso, after five years as a dedicated volunteer at the Royal Gunpowder Mills, Len Stuart received a Highly Commended Certificate for Outstanding Customer Service. The awards sponsored by Essex County Council, highlight the very best of Essex Tourism and aim to raise the profile of the industry.

Supported by Epping Forest District Council, Waltham Abbey Town Partnership champions Waltham Abbey as a visitor destination with a wealth of opportunities for a great day out.

Working with local businesses, the community and tourism providers the Partnership helps to promote the town and its surroundings and to raise its profile within Essex and further afield.

These awards have provided another opportunity to showcase what Waltham Abbey has to offer – with Epping Forest District Museum, the Abbey Church, country parks managed by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, Copped Hall and Royal Gunpowder Mills to name a few.

Free Seminar to Help Beat the Recession

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Local business, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community

Epping Forest District Council is joining forces with Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) and the District`s Town Centre Partnerships to run a free seminar to help local firms beat the recession.

South West Essex FSB Chairman, David Miles, said: As the latest initiative from Epping Forest District Council to help businesses in the District during the recession this special seminar is being held on Thursday 22 October 2009 at Theydon Bois Village Hall.”

He continued: “Essex FSB is pleased to be working with Epping Forest District Council to organise one of our very popular Beat the Recession and Boost Your Sales seminars with marketing expert Steve Clarke of Eureka Sales Solutions. These events regularly attract between 80 and 120 guests for a fast moving, hard hitting seminar which gives practical steps that firms of any size and any sector can take to improve their sales despite the recession.”

Booking

Booking is essential for catering purposes.

Epping Forest District Business Champion and Deputy Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread, said: Businesses are facing tough times at the moment and Epping Forest District Council is keen to work with partners to provide as much help and support as possible. We are pleased to be working with Essex FSB, as the largest business membership organisation in the country, and other partners and local business networks to run this seminar which will also include speakers from Business Link explaining the free advice and support services they are offering businesses as well as the latest news from Epping Forest District Council, Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership and our local Town Centre Partnerships.”

Councillor Whitbread continued: “This promises to be an exciting event and we hope as many Epping Forest businesses as possible will book in and come along and then take advantage of the tips they will hear to help them boost their sales!

Steve Clarke of Eureka Sales Solutions said: Having built and then sold my previous Harlow based company allowing me to retire at the age of 45 I suddenly found that I needed a challenge that used my expertise which is why I am working with Essex FSB to help small businesses in the county beat the recession even if their customers are spending less. Teaming up with Epping Forest District Council and its business partners is an exciting opportunity for me to reach a new audience with this practical marketing message.”

    In 90 minutes flat, people coming on the seminar will learn:

  • How to attract new enquiries like a magnet
  • How simple changes to your website could triple your sales
  • Six ways to grow your business whatever market you’re in
  • How to benefit from automated systems
  • The seven major marketing blunders business owners make … and how to avoid them!
    Previous attendees at these events have said:

  • “The presentation was informative, interesting and easy to understand 9/10
    Lee Martin, Lee Martin Print and Promotion
  • Your experience shone through, very professional 10/10
    Paul Brown, Margaret`s Frozen Luxuries Ltd
  • “Interesting and exciting, opened my mind to many direct marketing possibilities 10/10
    J Ripsher, Harpers

This is a partnership event involving Business Link East, Epping Forest District Council, Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership, Epping Town Centre Partnership, Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses), Eureka Sales Solutions Limited and Waltham Abbey Town Partnership.

The FSB represents more than 215,000 business people across the United Kingdom and is the largest single organisation representing business interests in the country.

The South West Essex Branch of the FSB represents the interest of small businesses in the following postcode areas – CM13 to CM16, SS17, RM1 to RM20, and IG1 to IG11 – which includes Brentwood, Epping Forest, Havering, Redbridge and Thurrock Councils.

Land Banking Scheme

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your environment

These commonly advertise small plots of agricultural land for sale, on the internet, by phone or through the use of leaflets and brochures or newspaper articles. These parcels of land are advertised as potential investment opportunities. The premise is that planning permission for a new housing development can be sought and if approved, the value of the land should increase at which point it could be sold on to a developer for a substantial profit, or the purchasers could build their own homes. The sales information often gives the impression that planning permission is shortly to be granted, or the use of the land is to be changed via the Development Plan process.

There are examples all over the UK of such schemes, where unsuspecting buyers have purchased plots of land believing that the value will increase significantly. There is no example to date where planning permission has been granted for all or part of an area of land that has been divided into plots in this way. Purchasers are left with a piece of land with agricultural land value, and very little prospect of being able to sell it on or develop it.

Investigations into these types of schemes have been carried out by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Trading Standards and several national newspapers. Some that have claimed to be able to seek planning permission for a collective of plot owners have been closed down. Such collective investment schemes need to be authorised by the FSA to be legal.

Emerging Property Partnership (EPP) is currently advertising plots of land for sale on land within the Blunts Farm area in Theydon Bois.

    However, the planning policy position has not changed:

  • The land is entirely within the Green Belt, and therefore the normal restrictions on development apply
  • The areas of land are isolated from the existing built area of Theydon Bois, and the services it provides
  • No means of access has been shown to the parcels of land. Policy CP3 would require this is addressed before any planning application could be made
  • The land has been submitted to the District Council under the Call for Sites exercise, but this does not mean that there is any certainty that this land will be allocated for development purposes
  • The allocation of 3,500 new homes claimed by the vendors refers to the requirement in the East of England Plan for the whole District over the period 2001 to 2021

EPP does not offer to seek planning permission for plot owners, nor does it give any guarantee that planning permission will be forthcoming. However, Planning Officers have received a number of calls about the land available, and feel it is important that people should be advised of the true planning policy situation.

Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Meeting

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Democracy, Epping, Local business, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Deputy Leader of Epping Forest District Council and newly appointed ` Business Champion ` addressed a packed business breakfast meeting hosted by Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday 21 July 2009 at the Bell Hotel in Epping.

The portfolio holder for Economic Development said I want to build a strong relationship with the Chamber of Commerce. We want to hear what you have to say and how we can help. Partnership may be a buzzword but we are keen to encourage you to partner us and work together.

Mr Whitbread knows all about being a local businessman, particularly in this poor economic climate, as he heads up Millers estate agents in Epping based in the High Road since 1974. Reference was made to the Council`s ambitious vision for the future of Debden Broadway and the consultation underway in partnership with Essex County Council in Epping.

He also set out some of what the Council is already doing to help in these difficult times. We have taken on board concerns about parking from local traders and we believe our decision to provide free Saturday parking in some of our car parks has been beneficial. This year we froze parking charges. We want to encourage residents to support their local shops. The Council has also acted by reducing payment terms on invoices and wants to use local suppliers wherever possible.`

We see the Epping Forest Chamber as an important partner and we look forward to working positively together in the future. On my part I will do all I can to make it easier to contact us and get information.

Sam Gooday, of chartered accountants Blitz Gooday, also gave a talk packed with topical tax tips providing details about recent tax developments and planning opportunities particularly relevant for small businesses.

Iggy Quazi, Chair of the Epping Forest Chamber said It was good to see the interest in this meeting. Contrary to the present economic climate, there is a positive vibrancy in small businesses in the district and this Chamber aims to play a key role in helping to facilitate vital communication and engage with SMEs to achieve joint goals.

The next event is a 60th Anniversary dinner being held at the Piano Lounge on Wednesday 23 September 2009.

Olympic Airfield Plans

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Local business, North Weald Airfield, Olympics, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Supporting business, Your community, Your council

Local business could benefit from thousands of visitors to London 2012 travelling to the Olympic Games via North Weald Airfield according to its owner, Epping Forest District Council. The 380-acre site close to the M11 and public transport could provide camping facilities and a transport hub for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Among the options are Park and Ride to local rail services, temporary upgrade of the Airfield status to allow passenger flights and an approach from the Caravan Club of Great Britain for its members to stay at North Weald during the Games.

Councillor Chris Whitbread Deputy Council Leader, Chairman of North Weald Airfield Strategy Cabinet Committee and the Council`s new Business Champion is very excited by the possibilities. He said: London 2012 is a great business and cultural opportunity for Epping Forest district. The Airfield is a well-located site with a good track record of hosting and holding events.

One of the major selling points to the International Olympic Committee was to make London 2012 the Public Transport Games. Epping Forest district has eight Central Line Underground Stations. However, people will need to get to the stations and the Council is concerned about parking congestion if no extra local parking facilities are available. A well-planned Park and Ride scheme would benefit everyone by smoothing the journey for visitors and reducing parking at the stations.

Councillor Whitbread continued: North Weald also offers a potentially fast air route to the Games. Aviation tenants are asking the Council to look at temporarily licensing the Airfield for passenger flights to take some of the pressure off other Airfields.

Businesses in London have not been slow to see the opportunities. Epping Forest district is also ideally placed for the main events in Stratford and the White Water Canoeing on the River Lee at Waltham Abbey. Most London hotels are already fully booked for the duration of the Games. The Caravan Club of Great Britain holds a national rally each year and would like to hold their 2012 event close to the Olympic venues and North Weald Airfield could be the perfect place.

Councillor David Stallan voiced some concerns about the temporary nature of any Park and Ride. Councillor Whitbread assured him should a Park and Ride scheme go ahead, it would be temporary and not permanent. Councillor Di Collins Leader of the Council said she could see the benefit of Park and Ride with camping and caravanning. Councillor Jon Whitehouse was concerned to ensure very careful traffic planning would be necessary but supported the ideas in principle.

Councillor Anne Grigg Vice-Chairman of the Council felt that temporary licensing of the Airfield for passenger flights would give residents and the Council a good idea of the impact of more sustained aviation expansion. Like Councillor Stallan, her fellow North Weald Member, she had some concerns about the local impact of Park and Ride.

Councillor Chris Whitbread emphasised that agreement in principle was subject to much further investigation and consultation with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). He added: There is much detail to be discussed. Any plans would have to dovetail with the wider Olympic transport plans. We would need the go-ahead of the ODA. However, this is a potentially fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of North Weald and the district. It would earn income for Council services and create great opportunities for local business.

New Data Security Transfer System

Written on . Posted in Business, Doing business with the council, Supporting business, Your council

Epping Forest District Council has become the first Council in Essex to introduce a new and more secure way of transferring data. The GCSx Connection (Government Connect Secure Extranet) is a secure private wide area network (WAN), which enables secure interactions between connected Local Authorities and organisations.

GCSx is connected to the Government Secure Intranet (GSI), which also enables secure interactions between Local Authorities, Central Government departments and national bodies. It provides a range of connectivity options to enable access to the GSI network and its hosted services without using the Internet or any other public networks.

The main benefits of GCSx are that it provides an accredited, managed network to connect all English, Welsh and Scottish Local Authorities, Central Government, the Police National Network (PNN), the NHS and the criminal justice communities, into a trusted secure community. A secure email service is provided and it enables secure data sharing.

This system is currently used by Benefits staff to communicate restricted data securely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). However, it is envisaged that the network will have wider benefits for other departments once it matures.

To obtain connectivity to the GCSx Epping Forest District Council has had to adhere to strict ICT security best practice and guidelines. Although it is not totally impossible for data not to be lost, the Council has done all that can be asked of it to secure data with the technology currently available.