Flying the flag for Commonwealth Day

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Media, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

The Commonwealth flag flew outside the civic offices in Epping to mark Commonwealth Day on Monday 12 March 2018.

53 countries will come together on Monday 12 March 2018 to celebrate Commonwealth Day under the theme ‘Towards a Common Future’.

Commonwealth Day is held on the second Monday in March each year. It is an opportunity for individuals, communities and organisations to promote the Commonwealth’s shared values of peace, democracy and equality, and to celebrate the association’s rich diversity.

Find out more

Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre celebrates a milestone in the snow

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Media, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Sports centres and pools, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council

Waltham Abbey’s new leisure centre celebrated another build milestone with its Topping Out Ceremony marking the highest point of the building work being completed.

Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre topping out ceremony

Representatives from Epping Forest District Council, Places for People Leisure, Pellikaan Construction and Architects Pozzoni attended the ceremony on Wednesday 28 February 2018.

Community representatives and pupils from Hillhouse Primary School in Waltham Abbey were also given a tour of the build.

Coming to life

Councillor Helen Kane, Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder commented: “It’s fantastic to see the design for the new leisure centre coming to life before us. When completed the new modern and sustainable leisure centre will offer a broad range of activities and services to bring the whole community together.”

Places for People Leisure’s plans to improve the leisure offering and the health and wellbeing of the area are truly exciting. Works have already been completed at Ongar Sports Centre and improvements are underway at Loughton Leisure Centre, with a new state of the art gym just being opened at Epping Sports Centre. We are looking forward to working in partnership with them over the coming years for the benefit of the local community.”

Design, build, operate and maintain

Places for People Leisure were awarded the 20-year design, build, operate and maintain contract for Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre by Epping Forest District Council along with the management of the existing Ongar Leisure Centre, Loughton Leisure Centre and Epping Sports Centre.

The new leisure centre which is due to be completed later this year will include a 6 lane 25m pool along with a 15m learner pool. It will also feature a state of the art 80 station fitness suite, exercise and, café and community room, along with a group cycling studio with virtual classes led by Les Mills virtual master trainers.

Create active places and healthy people

Places for People Leisure are looking forward to the completion of construction work, as John Bates, Business Development Director explains: “We are extremely pleased with the progress made to date on the facility by our partner, Pellikaan Construction. The centre is now starting to take shape and we really looking forward to showcasing the new facility when it opens later this year. This will be a fantastic community venue that can be enjoyed by families and people of all ages and abilities.”

“Over the coming months we will continue to work with Epping Forest District Council to ensure that when the new centre opens it enhances the health and wellbeing of the local community in line with our social mission to create active places and healthy people.”

Help save the Willingale Treasure

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Loughton, Media, Museum, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community

Epping Forest District Museum is launching an appeal to save the Willingale Treasure and help us keep it in the district.

The Willingale Treasure

Sapphire Gold Medieval Ring

A medieval gold ring has been found in the parish of Willingale and we need you to help us keep it in the district, before the item goes on sale on the open market.

It is the first medieval gem set ring to be found in the district, and the first known finger-ring to be discovered in Willingale. The decoration is of an extremely high standard and, to the best of our knowledge, unique.

Please donate

Donate online at www.spacehive.com/willingaletreasure

or make a donation at Epping Forest District Museum, 39–41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL

Save the Willingale treasure

In total £11,500 is needed to save the ring ensuring it is on free public display for generations to come. The campaign has already received support from the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and SHARE Museums East and Epping Forest District Museum has committed funding from its reserves leaving £3,000 to be raised.

If the target is reached, the ring will go on public display in the museum’s newly renovated core gallery. If the funding is not raised, the ring may be sold and possibly leave the UK permanently.

Other treasures at the museum

Currently on display is a selection of items acquired by the museum through the national Portable Antiquities Scheme, which recently celebrated 20 years of recording treasure finds. On display are items found from all across the Epping Forest district.

The oldest are a bronze axe and small gold bead, which are some 3,500 years old, also displayed are medieval Noble coins of Edward III found near Abridge and a fine silver gilt medieval crucifix discovered near North Weald.

Update on council services

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Epping, Housing, Local business, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Updated plans for refuse and recycling collections

As the severe weather continues into Friday 2 March 2018, we are adapting operations to maintain waste collection services, making allowances for reduced resources and challenging conditions for our waste collection crews.

We are continuing to focus on fortnightly black wheelie bin, recycling sacks and blue box collections. Access to residential roads can vary in these conditions with properties located in rural areas or down narrow lanes are likely to experience more disruption than others.

Black wheelie bins, recycling sacks and blue boxes

  • Please leave your waste out on the boundary of your property until 5pm on Friday 2 March
  • If your waste is not collected by 5pm, please bring it in over the weekend
  • On Monday 5 March extra crews have been laid on to try and catch up any missed areas, so please make sure your bins are out again by 7am
  • If your bins have not been collected by 5pm on Monday, please take them back in and out in time for your next scheduled collection

Please accept our apologies for this disruption. We will endeavour to collect any waste that has been missed.

Food and garden waste

We will continue to focus our resources on the fortnightly collections throughout Friday 2 March as above. Therefore

  • We are not collecting any green lidded bins for food and garden waste
  • If you were expecting a collection this week, please take it back and put it out again on your next normal collection day.

Our customer service team is continuing to operate with fewer staff  due to the adverse weather so you may experience longer hold times on the phone than usual, so please only call if it is urgent.

Minimising disruption to residents

Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Will Breare-Hall said: “I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Biffa’s tremendously dedicated and hardworking staff. Despite the terrible weather we’ve experienced over the past few days they’ve been out on our streets, battling the elements, doing their best to ensure our waste and recycling is still collected.”

“I want them to know that their commitment to delivering the service and minimising disruption to our residents is greatly appreciated. I’d also like to thank our residents for the understanding and patience they have shown as we contend with these very difficult conditions.”

Contacting the Council

Not urgent?

If your enquiry is not urgent, please contact us by email or use our online reporting tool to contact us to help us reduce waiting times. Someone will be in touch with you as soon as they can.

If your enquiry is urgent and you need to speak to someone, please call us on the telephone numbers below.

If it’s urgent

  • General and refuse – 01992 564000
  • Benefits – 01992 562059
  • Council Tax – 01992 564188
  • Council housing – 01992 564716
  • Housing repairs – 01992 564199

Please keep checking the website and our social media channels for updates and further information.

Check for updates

Decisions from Plans South 21 February 2018

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Democracy, Media, Meetings, Our activities, Our performance, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Planning application decisions from the Area Planning Sub-Committee South meeting Wednesday 21 February 2018.

Decisions

  • EPF/2662/17 – Chigwell Library, Victory Hall, Chigwell Parish Offices, Chigwell Members Club, Hainault Road, Chigwell IG7 6QX
    Deferred to DMC
  • EPF/1893/17 – 60 Traps Hill, Loughton, IG10 1TD
    Permission refused
  • EPF/3438/17 – 160 Manor Road, Chigwell, IG7 5PX
    Permission granted
  • EPF/3397/17 – 2 Glenside, Chigwell, IG7 5RE
    Permission granted
  • EPF/2954/17 – 17 Tomswood Road, Chigwell, IG7 5QP
    Permission granted
  • EPF/3059/17 – Sir Winston Churchill (Now Landmark House), The Broadway, Loughton, IG10 3SP
    Permission granted
  • EPF/3005/17 – 7 Briar Close, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 5EF
    Permission granted
  • EPF/3336/17 – 6 The Rise, Roding View, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 6AG
    Permission granted
  • EPF/2863/17 – 20 Tomswood Road, Chigwell, IG7 5QS
    Permission refused
  • EPF/3314/17 – 13 Pyrles Green, Loughton, IG10 2NP
    Permission granted
  • EPF/3036/17 – 1 Woodbury Hill, Loughton, IG10 1JB
    Permission refused

Planning application search

Pair found guilty of damaging protected oak trees

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Crime and safety, Democracy, Environmental health, Media, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Private housing, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Your area, Your council, Your environment, Your money

Mr Mark William Wright of Abridge and Mr Danny James Swift of Romford Essex were each found guilty of causing, or permitting works to 2 oak trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

Damaged Oak trees Abridge

Unauthorized works

In June 2017 tree and landscape officers were notified of work that had been carried out to the branches of 2 oak trees on land adjacent to Tudor Oak 9a London Road Abridge Essex.

Officers were aware in March 2017 permission had been granted for limited work to be carried out to the trees, but upon inspection in June they found branches on both oaks had been far more excessively cut than authorized.

This ultimately caused serious damage to both trees and increases the risk of decay. No consent would have been given for the extent of the work carried out.

Further investigation  

Further investigation revealed that permitted work had been carried out to the trees in May 2017 by council contractors, who had spoken to Mr Wright at that time and informed him that the trees were the subject of a Tree Preservation Order.

When interviewed under caution both confirmed Mr Wright had employed Mr Swift to carry out the unauthorized work and that neither had checked with the council as to whether the trees were protected.

Damaged Oak trees Abridge

Over £3000 worth of fines

8 February 2018 at Chelmsford Magistrates both Mr Mark William Wright of Tudor Oak 9a London Road Abridge Essex and Mr Danny James Swift of Highfield Road Collier Row Romford Essex were each found guilty of causing or permitting works to 2 oak trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order without the authorisation of Epping Forest District Council.

Having attended court although leaving before the hearing, the Magistrates accepted that Mr Wright had intended to plead guilty and he was fined £440 for each tree and ordered that he pay a contribution towards the Council’s prosecution costs of £600.

Mr Swift was fined £660 for each tree and ordered to pay a contribution towards the Council’s prosecution costs of £600.

More information

For any inquiries regarding tree protection orders (TPOs) and conservation areas please contact

Decisions from Plans West 14 February 2018

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Media, Meetings, Our activities, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Planning application decisions from the Area Planning Sub-Committee West meeting Wednesday 14 February 2018.

Decisions

  • EPF/2615/17 – Land to rear of 176 Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 3BA
    Permission refused
  • EPF/3197/17 – 69 Farm Hill Road, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1NG
    Permission refused
  • EPF/3253/17 – Pine Lodge Riding Centre, Lippitts Hill, Loughton, Essex IG10 4AL
    Permission granted

Planning application search

Councillor Brian Surtees dies

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Media, Ongar, Your area, Your council

Councillor Brian Surtees, district councillor for the Chipping Ongar, Greensted and Marden Ash ward, has died.

The district council flag in Epping has been lowered today as a mark of respect.

Councillor Brian Surtees

A great shock

“Brian’s death came as a great shock” said Councillor Jon Whitehouse, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Epping Forest District Council.

“He was someone who believed in service and in helping others. He demonstrated that commitment in his professional life, in his ministry for the Church of England and in his service on Ongar Town Council and the district council.”

“I will miss him greatly and my thoughts are with his family and close friends.”

Always friendly and thoughtful

Epping Forest District Council Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “Brian was a hard-working councillor, always friendly and thoughtful. I was saddened to hear of his death, he will be missed by all who knew him.”

“I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”

Political history

Brian had been a Liberal Democrat Councillor on Epping Forest District Council from 2014 to 2018.

He served on many of the council’s committees during this time, including

  • Licensing Committee as Chairman
  • Adjudication Sub-Committee – Epping Forest Standards Committee
  • Area Plans East Sub-Committee
  • Communities Select Committee
  • Complaints Panel
  • Governance Select Committee
  • Grant Aid Review Task and Finish Scrutiny Panel
  • Joint Consultative Committee
  • Neighbourhood Select Committee
  • Overview and Scrutiny Committee
  • Planning Service Scrutiny Panel
  • Portfolio Holder Advisory Group on Superfast Broadband
  • Safer, Cleaner, Greener Scrutiny Panel
  • Standards Committee
  • Transformation Task and Finish Panel
  • Youth Engagement Review Task and Finish Panel

Law and Order Budget set to bring first District Council Tax rise for 8 years

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Local business, Media, Meetings, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest District Council is to vote on its first Council Tax increase in 8 years as councillors decide on whether to pay for various law and order initiatives. This includes 3 extra police officers employed by Essex Police who would be dedicated to the district.

Should the Cabinet recommendation agreed on 1 February 2018 receive Full Council approval, residents will be asked to pay an extra £3.69 a year on average for a Band D property.

Final decisions on the budget and setting of Council Tax will be taken at Full Council on 22 February 2018.

Cabinet 1 February 2018

Cllr Mohindra at cabinet

More resources to tackle law and order issues

Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra is recommending the budget. He said: “Without these initiatives, we would have been putting another zero percent Council Tax increase forward. However, our residents are telling us they want more resources to tackle law and order issues, especially around anti-social behaviour. Essex Police is also putting extra resources in but we are fortunate we can add more. These officers will be based at the Civic Offices and work closely with our own Community Safety Team. They will be dedicated to our district and spend the vast majority of their time with us.”

Councillor Mohindra says this is a strong budget despite challenging financial times. Speaking ahead of the Council meeting to set the District Council budget and Council Tax, he explained how significant savings and increased income are being reinvested into services.

First increase since 2010

He said: “Our residents have seen their overall Council Tax bill increasing over the years and think Epping Forest District Council’s precept of the Council Tax has gone up too. This has not been the case – this is actually our first increase since 2010. The historic increases have been made by Essex County Council, Essex Police and local town and parish councils.”

“The District Council part of our Council Tax bill for a Band D property is going up from £148.77 to £152.46 a year. A 2.48% increase which represents incredible value considering the law and order costs we are taking on and a raft of other investments.”

Assets and investment

“Use of our assets and income from investments has helped us manage much better than most other councils. As the budget setting approaches, my council colleagues and I still have to make some tough choices. Refuse and recycling costs are going up as inflation and cuts in the price for recycled materials have hit income. Reductions in the central government Revenue Support Grant are bigger than previously expected. It is worth noting the grant will end completely by 2019/20.”

“It is not all doom and gloom – the successful completion of the Epping Forest Shopping Park is projected to add income of £2.5million, money the Council plans to spend on maintaining our local services. The recent re-letting of the Council’s Leisure Centre Management contract to Places for People is saving almost £1million a year as well as helping to fund the construction of a brand new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey plus major improvements to our centres in Loughton, Epping and Ongar.”

Commercial business

“Income from commercial activities is up, making a contribution of almost £3million to council services. North Weald airfield is preparing for the arrival of the National Police Air Service. The Herts and Essex Air-Ambulance is already a long-standing tenant. The addition of police aircraft will make the airfield a major emergency services aviation hub. Distribution companies and aircraft maintenance services are thriving alongside the continued success of the airfield’s Saturday market and other regular events.”

“The Broadway Landmark development in Debden is adding to the Council’s portfolio of shops. Income from our industrial estates is also up. The new Pay and Display management contract is now bedded in, providing further savings while additional parking spaces are adding to income.”

Smarter ways of working

“Smarter ways of working are also set to achieve savings. Long term reduction in the need for office space is being achieved through better use of technology. Major new IT investment is expected to be off-set by the benefits of flexible working and a possible reduction in staffing levels through the Council’s People Strategy.”

“Innovative cultural and sports services include the contract to manage Lowewood Museum on behalf of Broxbourne Borough Council, earning Epping Forest almost £20,000 a year while almost £90,000 in external funding has been added to the Sports Development Programme.”

Council house building

“The first phase of the new council house building programme has been completed with 23 new homes in Waltham Abbey. Further developments including new flats and houses in Loughton, Epping and Coopersale are on track for completion this year. Income from council houses is set to fall again as a further 1% reduction in line with Central Government policy brings the average rent down to £95.34 per week.”

Myth-busting

Councillor Mohindra said: “I would like to do some myth-busting. Some people have got the wrong idea about pay and display car parks identified for housing in the Local Plan. Our Pay and Display car parks are a direct source of income to the Council. Any redevelopment proposal must include full re-provision of parking spaces.”

“Similarly, we also own the Broadway shop units in Debden and have increased our investment with the new Gateway shops. As landlord of Epping Forest Shopping Park we have ensured its new shops bring more customers, money, employment and wealth into our District. The Broadway has a healthy outlook with a waiting list of new prospective tenants as soon as vacancies arise.”

Councillor Mohindra added: “At a time when public sector organisations are generally cutting services we are bucking the trend by investing in new and better services from health, culture and wellbeing to employment, housing and law and order. This could only have been achieved with years of financial prudence and planning.”

Other items at Cabinet

The Council’s sheltered housing schemes reserved for older residents are to be reviewed. Initial scoping reports will be produced to see how some capacity in the sheltered housing stock can be replaced or converted into general needs housing available to people of all ages on the Council’s housing waiting list.

The preliminary nature of the scoping study was repeatedly emphasised with much more investigation required before any decisions on whether and how any redevelopment might take place. The needs of tenants are a top priority and would be handled with the greatest sensitivity. Approval of the proposals followed acceptance of the annual review of the Housing Allocation Scheme. Councillors also approved the Council’s Pay Policy for 2018/19, Transformation updates, Treasury Management Statements and calendar of meetings for 2018/19.

Essex wide Livewell campaign launched

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Democracy, Environmental health, Epping, Equalities, Food safety, Health, Loughton, Media, Museum, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Livewell, a countywide website to get Essex healthy has been launched.

Livewell campaign image

Working collaboratively to promote health

The Livewell campaign sees all local authorities, including Epping Forest District Council and health partners, work collaboratively to promote positive health and wellbeing by providing public health advice, activities and events tailored to the needs of local residents.

The Council’s local museum, arts, sports, social and Forest Countrycare events will be available on the site.

Check out how to Livewell

The website aims is to encourage Essex residents to be more active and to make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and their families. It focuses on more effectively tackling county-wide issues affecting the 12 local authority areas together.

Take the #21 Challenge

To celebrate the website launch, residents are being encouraged to take part in a number of #21 challenges – a nod to the fact that it takes 21 days to break or create a new habit.

The first part of the campaign is #21situps21days, Residents can find out more information on:

Post-Christmas is a good time to think about improving lifestyle choices, lose weight and live a happier, healthier and longer life. The 21 day theme of the project, the number of days it is thought we need to break a bad habit or establish a new one also has the support of Public Health England. Anyone can try and it is fine to start with an easy goal. An occasional day off is also fine but the message is ‘don’t stop, just let that go and do as best you can towards the 21 days’.