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.”

Preparing your electricity for Storm Doris

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Community, Crime and safety, Emergencies, Local business, Media, Older people, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Our electricity network is built to be resilient but extreme weather such as Storm Doris can damage overhead power lines resulting in some customers losing their electricity supply.

UK Power Networks - delivering your electricity

UK Power Networks

Where this happens UK Power Networks work to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, and have organised for additional staff in their contact centre and more engineers on the ground to be available to help customers whose electricity supply might be affected by the predicted weather.

Regular updates

You will be able to find regular updates on their website www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk and social media @ukpowernetworks throughout this period.

Anyone experiencing a power cut should

Priority service register

UK Power Networks has a Priority Service Register for customers who may be more vulnerable and require extra assistance in a power cut. Find out more information at ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority.

We advise people to stay clear of power lines and report damaged power lines immediately by calling 105 – free to call from a landline or a mobile phone. If they see electricity lines that are down or causing significant risk to the public they should call 999.

Preparing for a power cut

Below is some additional advice on how you can prepare for a power cut

  • Keep our freephone number handy
  • See the website for some useful videos offering you advice during a power cut
  • Keep spare batteries for radios and torches – local radio stations often broadcast helpful information
  • Keep an old-fashioned corded phone which you can plug in, as cordless phones won’t work in the event of a power cut
  • Take care if using candles, tea-lights and other naked flames
  • Keep fridges and freezers closed, with a blanket over as they will stay cold for many hours
  • Switch off all your electrical equipment, except one light which will let you know when the power comes back on
  • Remember the street lights may also be off so take care if you go out
  • Look out for elderly neighbours and other vulnerable people; please consider taking them round a flask of hot water or hot food

New phone system rings in changes

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Emergencies, Energy efficiency, Epping, Housing, Housing repairs, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our performance, Performance, Residents, Supporting business, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

New phone connections saving Epping Forest District Council and its tax payers £12,000 a year are set to go live this weekend (17 February to 20 February).

Cllr Lion promoting EFDC's new phone connections

Out of hour’s services

Subject to go ahead, temporary emergency numbers will be used during the switch.

The council has planned the switch at the quietest time of the week to minimise service disruption.

During the switch the two emergency out of hours contact numbers (01992 564000 and 01992 564199 for housing) will temporarily change while the council works with BT.

To contact EFDC out of hours from 5pm on Friday 17 February to 9am on Monday 20 February please call:

  • Housing Repairs Emergency 0203 589 3012

  • Any other Emergency   0203 589 3013

Protecting services

Moving phone connections from an analogue to a digitally based internet system will:

  • Make an annual saving of £12,000
  • Makes it easier to move phone answering to other locations
  • Improve phone resilience
  • Protect vital services

There will be no difference in how residents contact the council via phone as all phone numbers will remain the same and there will be no increase any call charges.

Small changes making a big difference

Technology and Support Services Portfolio Holder Councillor Alan Lion said: “We are planning another 0% increase in Council Tax this year. This is the latest in a series of investments. From double glazing to LED lighting and solar panels it all adds up. Relatively small savings like our new connections to our phone system can play a large part in keeping Council Tax down at the end of the year.”

Step up your Spring Clean

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Energy efficiency, Environmental health, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

With Spring on its way many of us will be thinking about spring cleaning our house and getting rid of unwanted items.

Step Up your Spring Clean

You don’t have to throw it away

‘You don’t have to throw it away’ says Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Will Breare-Hall, ‘one person’s junk may be another person’s treasure. Why not try these ideas to avoid your unwanted belongings going to waste.’

Give it away

Ask your family and friends if they can make use of it.

Swap it

Freegle and Freecycle are great for swapping items with people who will want to collect your unwanted stuff.

Donate it

Most charity shops accept clothing and bric-a-brac type items. Reuse organisations such as Epping Forest ReUse will reuse good quality furniture and appliances.

Sell it

Websites like ebay and gumtree make it easy for you to sell your unwanted items.

Save a trip to a recycling centre

Councillor Will Breare-Hall ended with: ‘Whether you are decluttering or simply making room for this year’s Christmas presents, there are lots of things you can do with your old stuff to save you a trip to a recycling centre. Seize the opportunity to step up your Spring Clean!’

Community Transport saves Nazeing bus service

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chairman, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Epping, Health, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our countryside, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Volunteering opportunities, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

A vital bus route for Nazeing has been saved. Councillor Jeane Lea, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council went to see the C392 for herself after Epping Forest Community Transport stepped in to save the Nazeing-Hoddesdon service.

The 392 Little White Bus is connecting communities across Essex and Hertfordshire

Community Transport

Since January the C392 Little White Bus runs daily between Tylers Cross, Nazeing and Hoddesdon Rye Park via Broxbourne between about 7am and 7pm replacing an axed earlier commercial service.      

Community Transport trustee and District Councillor for Nazeing Richard Bassett was instrumental in organising the new service. He joined Councillor Lea and other commuters at Nazeing Crossroads to meet the 10.10 bus driven by volunteer Amy Carter.

Providing an essential service

Councillor Bassett said: ”We are seeing more and more the value of community transport in our district and in this case we would have seen no bus services in a village and surrounding area of 5000 people until Community Transport saved the day by putting together this service in record time.”

Councillor Bassett worked with Essex Passenger Transport and Nazeing and Roydon Parish Councils after both the 392 and 505 bus services were withdrawn. In addition to the C392, he helped to get the 86 service run by EOS diverted via Bumbles Green and St Leonards before resuming its route from Harlow down the Crooked Mile towards Waltham Abbey.

Cllr Bassett added that ”Thanks to some very speedy actions the C392 is running under the section 22 license which means all concessions are valid on the service.

Reducing fairs

We have reduced the single fare to £3 and the return to £5 with children getting a reduced fare of £2. I have received some early comments that people are very pleased with the service and the friendly drivers and the little white community bus.”

He also added ”I am very concerned that many rural services are finding they are having bus services reduced or cancelled. Community Transport is stepping up to provide services to dependant villages to prevent social exclusion and help with hospital and other appointments which otherwise people would struggle to attend.”

Local people working together

Councillor Lea was delighted to meet Councillor Bassett, the driver Amy Carter and fellow travellers. She said: ”I want to congratulate everyone involved in the project. Rural bus services are under pressure everywhere but the C392 shows just what can be done when local people organise and act together.”

More information

For Community Transport Timetables please visit:

For more information about Community Transport or to volunteer in the office or as a driver please call:

  • Community transport office on 01992 579556

Anti-litter campaign cleans up for third year

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Doing business with the council, Energy efficiency, Environmental health, Epping, Food safety, Health, Local business, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our countryside, Our performance, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

An anti-litter campaign across Essex, Kent and Suffolk #BinIt has resulted in a reduction of litter for the third year in a row, an amazing drop in litter of 43%.

Don't toss it - #BINIT

Littering is a criminal offence

The Love Essex campaign, run by the Cleaner Essex Group, is made up of local authorities and local business partners throughout Essex.

This year’s Don’t toss it – #BinIt campaign aims to remind people that:

  • Littering is a criminal offence
  • It comes with a fixed penalty notice from £75
  • And a maximum fine on conviction in court of £2,500

Spreading the message

The ‘Don’t toss it – #BinIt’ message has appeared throughout Essex on

  • Refuse vehicles
  • Bus shelters
  • Petrol pumps
  • 86 McDonald’s restaurants
  • 15 KFC restaurants
  • Spread to 2.4 million social media accounts

This has so far seen an average drop in litter of 43% and helped to reduce branded fast food litter by 63 per cent, in the areas monitored, and independently verified by Keep Britain Tidy.

Tackling litter

Councillor Will Breare-Hall, Environment Portfolio Holder said: “Litter is an issue that costs around £17 million across Essex. Not only does this take resources away from other much needed council services it also damages our environment.”

“It is important for people to remember that littering is a criminal offence that comes with a maximum fine of up to £2,500.”

“As a community we need to come together and tackle this important issue by behaving responsibly and reporting incidents so we can investigate further and take action.”

Working together

Cherry Lewis-Taylor, McDonald’s franchisee added: “I believe that working together and campaigning against littering at our restaurant locations helps remind people to dispose of their litter responsibly.”

“Between McDonald’s and KFC’s participating restaurants and drive-thru’s, we have reached millions of customers. Adding this to the number of people who saw the other campaign material, including social media, it is likely that the Don’t toss it … #Binit message will have been seen at least 6 million times.”

Do the right thing

Huw James, Director of Kefco, the KFC Franchisee in Essex commented: “I am proud that we at KFC can work with councils and other business partners to actively promote that people should do the right thing and bin their litter. As a business, we are committed to looking at ways we can help reduce the amount of litter that ends up on our streets.”

Report it

If there are large amounts of litter in your street or fly-tipped rubbish near where you live, let us know

Please give as much detail as possible so we can investigate what further action can be taken.

Overview and Scrutiny December 2016

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Doing business with the council, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Meetings, Noise, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our performance, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The spotlight was on Transport for London (TFL) and the NHS at the latest meeting of Overview and Scrutiny.

Central Line staffing levels, the possibility of extending tube services from Epping to Ongar and an ‘inadequate’ care rating for Princess Alexandra Hospital, were all subjects for discussion on Monday 19 December 2016.

Following the closure of many of Epping Forest District’s underground station ticket offices earlier this year, Epping Forest District Councillors expressed their concerns about the lack of visible staff presence at off peak times at stations within the Epping Forest district.

Improvements to be made

In response, Chris Taggart (General Manager of the Central Line) and Mark Hart (Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Bakerloo, Victoria and Central lines) explained that TFL intend to improve staff visibility at stations by ensuring staff work in well lit, focal points, to make it easier for customers to find them later in the evening. The changes are already underway, since a recent Travel Watch survey raised similar concerns.

Late night trains

TFL have no current plans to extend the late night train service to Epping, at the very end of the Central Line. The late night trains terminate at Loughton, this being the most appropriate location as the night fleet is small and at Loughton, they are able to turn quickly and easily.

TFL plan to review the late night service in 2017 but say that it has been successful so far and they have had very few issues since starting the new timetable.

Any possibility for an end-to-end service would be subject to further assessments.

Quashed rumours

Rumours that the Central Line may be extended from Epping to North Weald and Ongar were set straight on Monday evening. TFL do not own the North Weald to Ongar part of the railway and so have no jurisdiction over any decision to extend the line. Epping Ongar Railway (EoR) owns this part of the track and any decisions made would be subject to a feasibility study.

Councillors also discussed various issues surrounding high temperatures, quality of ride, frequency of maintenance works, frequency of trains round the ‘loop’ since a recent timetable change and Wi-Fi access.

Princess Alexandra Hospital ‘inadequate’ rating

A line of questioning was agreed by Epping Forest District Councillors before the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny on 30 January 2017.

At which, Councillors will meet the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust and will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the recent report of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which left the Princess Alexandra Hospital with a quality care rating of ‘inadequate’.

Refuge grateful for generous donations

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Local business, Media, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

A local refuge supporting women, men and children affected by domestic violence thanked council staff and members of a Chigwell church for their Christmas gift donations.

Safer Communities manager Caroline Wiggins and Safer Places Joanne Majauskis

Safer Places

The congregation of St Winifred’s Church in Chigwell together with staff at Epping Forest District Council collected hundreds of Christmas gifts for children at the Safer Places refuge in Harlow.

Safer Places is an independent charity which provides a comprehensive range of services to adults and children affected by all forms of domestic abuse.

Thank you

Joanne Majauskis, Head of Programmes and Practice at Safer Places said: “Living in a refuge is never easy, and Christmas can be particularly difficult. It’s a sad fact that levels of domestic violence tend to rise around the festive period, often leading to more families seeking refuge.”

“I’m very grateful that the congregation of both St Winifred’s Church and staff at Epping Forest District Council have again shown us their support by donating presents for our children.”

Joanne ended with: “Thank you all for your generosity. Hopefully your kindness will make this difficult time easier for those women and children in Essex who are fleeing domestic violence.”

Need support?

If you need support

 

Christmas by candlelight carol service

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

Residents, councillors and council staff gathered at Waltham Abbey Church to celebrate Christmas by Candlelight on Thursday 15 December 2016.

Waltham Abbey Church by night

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a poster below and then click start slideshow

The congregation was treated to the Abbey at its most stunning as the lights dimmed and the candles were lit for the annual Civic Carol Service hosted jointly by Epping Forest District Council and Waltham Abbey Town Council. The service was led by Rev Peter Smith with wonderful musical arrangement from Jonathan Lilley and the church choir.

Readings from King James Bible

Town Mayor Helen Kane welcomed members of the congregation. Councillor Liz Webster and Clerk Kathryn Richmond gave readings taken from the King James Bible on behalf of the Town Council. Rev Canon Dr Joyce Smith also gave a reading as did District Council Vice-Chairman David Stallan and Deputy Chief Executive Derek Macnab on behalf of the district before the final words by Epping Forest District Council Chairman Councillor Jeane Lea.

Traditional Christmas carols

On a magically crisp clear December evening the congregation sang traditional Christmas carols. Mulled wine and mince pies were served later at Waltham Abbey Town Hall. The offertory collection will be shared between the Salvation Army, Waltham Abbey Church and Councillor Lea’s Chairman’s Charity, the Herts and Essex Air Ambulance.

Christmas message from Chairman Jeane Lea

 

St John’s sale opens way to redevelopment

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Epping, Leader, Local business, Media, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The £6.75 million sale of Essex County Council’s (ECC) land holdings in St John’s Road to Epping Forest District Council has signalled the start of a process that will see a major redevelopment in the town of Epping.

The sale means Epping Forest District Council and Frontier Estates can now deliver the development brief of new retail and leisure facilities Epping residents said they wanted.

Councillor Chris Whitbread with Councillor Anne Grigg at St John's Road

Sale stalled

The sale stalled after ECC received higher bids for part of its site, but an agreement to sell to Epping Forest District Council at a lower level means the scheme can now move forward.

Combination of retail and leisure

The amended development brief produced in 2012 incorporated many suggestions supported by local residents. The proposed combination of retail and leisure including a small cinema is a triumph of collaborative working and benefits for residents.

The scheme aims to benefit all residents of Epping and brings the derelict school site back into use. The brief allows for commercial development to boost the economy of Epping High Street, improve the town’s infrastructure, create a better mix of leisure and retail to meet local need and provide facilities of particular value to the town’s young people.

The plans include the retention of the Centre Point building as the new home of Epping Town Council. Epping Forest District Council’s Housing Depot will move potentially to North Weald.

Commercial development of the project is being undertaken by Frontier Estates in partnership with Epping Forest District Council and Epping Town Council.

Great news for Epping

Councillor Anne Grigg, Asset Management Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council is delighted that work can now progress.

Following the signing of the agreement to buy the land from Essex County Council, she said: “This is great news for Epping. An incredible amount of hard work has gone in from all sides to balance the interests of local residents and businesses with the financial reality.”

“We are incredibly fortunate that unlike most councils, Epping Forest District Council has the resources to balance the need for profit with the wider interests of the local community. Essex County Council has gone a long way to helping deliver the project and I am now looking forward to working in partnership with Epping Town Council and Frontier Estates to give Epping residents this exciting scheme.”

Work will now begin on preparing planning applications for outline planning permission and detailed planning permission. Meanwhile, Frontier Estates is seeking commercial partners.

Good value for money

Councillor David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council also welcomed the deal. He added: “As with any land development it is absolutely vital to balance the needs of the various parties, while ensuring council taxpayers get good value for money.”

“I am delighted we have been able to work closely with the district council to progress this deal which is really the first stage in kick starting what will be a fantastic redevelopment of this part of Epping.”

Better facilities for our town

Councillor Les Burrows, Chairman of Epping Town Council said: “Epping Town Council will be happy to join in the negotiations over the St John’s development proposals if it will mean better facilities for our town.”