Plug pulled on website over weekend

Written on . Posted in Business, Emergencies, Media, Residents, Your council

Over the weekend of 26 and 27 May 2012 a limited service will be provided on our website. Residents will still be able to carry out some transactions via a redirect to a temporary holding page. This limited service is due to essential electrical works at the civic offices in Epping involving a shutdown of the power supply to the website servers.

Our Facebook, Twitter and other social network accounts will be unaffected and emails sent over the weekend will still reach us in the usual way.

Anyone visiting us from Google and other search engines or typing the address directly into a browser will find the following services still available:

  • News and information about the council on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and You Tube
  • Online bill payments – Pay your council tax, business rates, council house and garage rents, parking fines and sundry payments
  • Planning applications – Submit a planning application online and find out about the planning process
  • HomeOption – Apply for council and housing association properties
  • Jobs – View and apply for jobs online
  • Licensing – Apply for business licensing such as taxi, entertainment and alcohol sales applications
  • Webcasts – Watch archived council meetings
  • Essex County Council – Essex County Council services including highways, education, libraries, social services
  • Directgov – the official UK Government website

The website has around 2,500 visitors over a weekend, visiting around 6,000 to 7,000 pages. The redirect will take visitors to a temporary webpage where among other things, residents will still be able to pay bills, view Housing Option, watch webcasts of council meetings, view recruitment information and submit job applications. There will also be useful links such as highways at Essex County Council.

A spokesman for Epping Forest District Council apologised in advance for the inconvenience. He said: “These electrical works are essential for the civic offices. A complete shutdown of electrical services is necessary. We are sorry for any inconvenience to residents caused by the temporary website service. The civic offices will be open to the public for business as usual on Monday morning but it is possible the website may take a few more hours to revert to normal.”

The temporary redirect is being hosted by Uttlesford District Council. The spokesman added: “We would also like to thank Uttlesford. As neighbouring authorities, our two councils often work together. Mutual aid is a key part of our emergency planning. The temporary webpage is the latest in a number of other formal and informal links benefiting residents of both areas.”

A new type of shared ownership home for Jessica and Aidan

Written on . Posted in Housing, Media, Private housing, Residents, Your home

An innovative scheme called ‘Open Market Shared Ownership’ was launched last year by Epping Forest District Council, in partnership with Broxbourne Housing Association (BHA) and the first successful applicants have just received the keys to their new home in Upshire Road, Waltham Abbey.

BHA purchased the property under the scheme, which was chosen by the applicants Jessica Beadle and Aidan Langley themselves and entered into a shared ownership arrangement with them. This has given Jessica and Aidan a 50% share in the home they chose and they pay a subsidised, affordable rent on the remaining 50% share of the property. Overall, the monthly cost of them part-owning their own home is almost a third less than if they had to obtain a mortgage to buy the whole property.

The scheme aims to give more local residents the opportunity to get a foot on the home ownership ladder – by offering an alternative to other types of shared ownership (sometimes referred to as ‘part buy, part rent’), at a lower cost. Under the scheme applicants have been able to select any 1 or 2 bedroom property available for sale on the open market in Essex, Hertfordshire, or Epping Forest’s neighbouring London boroughs. They can choose a property with a value up to £210,000.

“Shared ownership schemes are not new,” says Councillor Maggie McEwen, Housing Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council. “The difference with this scheme is that local people can buy a home of their choice on the open market, instead of purchasing a shared ownership home on a specific new development. The scheme is open to our Council tenants and applicants on our Housing Register who live in the district.”

To qualify for the scheme, applicants only need to have a total household income of between £25,000 and £60,000 per annum. Once they have purchased their 50% share in the property, the residents pay a rent to BHA for the remaining share owned by BHA – which is only around £190 per month. Another benefit is that less deposit is required to secure the required mortgage.

For example, a property bought for £180,000 would usually require a deposit of £18,000. However, under the scheme, only £9,000 is required. Also, instead of having to pay a mortgage of around £1,100 each month, applicants only have to pay around £800 each month for the combined mortgage and rent – a saving of around £300 each month! Further shares can be purchased in stages and eventually the resident can own their home outright.

Councillor Maggie McEwen said: “When we speak to applicants, their first question is usually ‘Where’s the catch?’ – but there isn’t one! The costs to applicants are much lower because the council provides an interest-free loan to BHA.”

Broxbourne Housing Association (BHA) is a not-for-profit organisation that manages 4,000 properties in the neighbouring Borough of Broxbourne, following a housing stock transfer from Broxbourne Borough Council. BHA manage the Open Market Shared Ownership (OMSO) Scheme.

“Broxbourne Housing Association is delighted to be working with Epping Forest District Council on this exciting new initiative. We have a strong track record of providing affordable home ownership services and look forward to a successful partnership providing much-needed affordable homes,” says John Giesen, Chief Executive of Broxbourne Housing Association.

More money is being made available for the Scheme by the council, to help even more local people wanting to have a home of their own at a lower cost and housing applicants registered on the council’s Housing Waiting List and council tenants are being invited to apply for the scheme. If you are interested, contact Cheryl Adams at BHA on 01992 453700.

Staff raise money for genes charity

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Media, Your council

Epping Forest District Council staff raised £298.65 by having a dress-down day supporting the annual Jeans for Genes campaign. Staff were allowed to wear their jeans to work in return for a minimum of £1 donation.

Jeans for genes 2011
Jeans for Genes is organised by four national charities and raises funds for research into serious genetic disorders affecting thousands of children such as cystic fibrosis, haemophilia and sickle cell. Funds also provide laboratory equipment and facilities, as well as valuable advice and support for families.

Visit the Jeans for Genes website

Jeans for Genes provides funding for the care and support of children with genetic disorders. We also help to fund research into genetics and the development of effective treatments and cures.

Genetic disorders are caused by an alteration in DNA. This may mean that either a gene or several genes are missing, repeated or in the wrong order. Altered genes can affect a child’s senses, movement, ability to learn or appearance.

In the UK, one baby in every 33 is born with a genetic disorder or birth defect, that’s one born every 30 minutes whose life could be affected. There are over 4,000 recognised genetic disorders, some of which have no current treatment

Refuse Policy featured on Channel 4 News

Written on . Posted in Community, Media, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Epping Forest District Council’s refuse and recycling policy was featured on Channel 4 News on Saturday 11 June 2011.


View report on the Channel 4 website 

Epping Forest District combines a mix of weekly domestic recycling collections of kitchen and garden waste with collection every other week for dry recycling such as paper, tin cans, plastic and glass. Residual waste is also collected every other week. Since the introduction of the current system, the council and its residents have achieved recycling rates of around 60 per cent, significantly higher than the national average rates of 40 per cent (source Channel 4).

Norma Green OBE, Citizen of the Year 2011

Written on . Posted in Civic events, Community, Media, Residents, Your community, Your council

Norma Green OBE of Waltham Abbey is the new Epping Forest District Citizen of the Year.

All over the district, unsung heroes and heroines work selflessly to improve the quality of life of people who live, work or study in the Epping Forest district. At Gilwell Park on Friday 11 March 2011, Epping Forest District Council recognised and thanked them at the civic awards reception 2011.

Chairman Anne Grigg with all the civic awards 2011 winners

Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor Anne Grigg proudly presented awards for outstanding service to the community, for bravery, for providing services beyond the call of duty, and to those who had have brought credit to the district through sporting and artistic achievements.

Chairman Anne Grigg said: “What a wonderful evening! I would like to add my personal congratulations to Norma and all of the other awards winners. As chairman, I am delighted that once again the Council is recognising people within our district who have worked selflessly to make life better for our community. I am particularly proud to have the honour of being chairman of council this year and to publicly recognise all these fantastic people.

    Information on all the winners:

  • Citizen of the Year 2011Citizen of the Year award 2011
  • Young Citizen of the Year award 2011
  • Certificate of Appreciation
  • Community Service Medal
  • Epping Forest District Sports Award 2011
  • Epping Forest District Arts Award 2011

Citizen of the Year 2011

Written on . Posted in Civic events, Community, Media, Residents, Your community, Your council

The Epping Forest District Citizen of the Year 2011 is one of the most prominent citizens of our district but as she approaches her 81st Birthday, no-one could deny she definitely remains young at heart.

Previously a member of Waltham Abbey Town Council and Epping Forest District Council, retirement from local politics has not diminished her energy or enthusiasm for her local community. She remains at the heart of the action, whether in the provision of activities and facilities for young people, supporting local businesses, building friendships with foreign people or promoting her home town of Waltham Abbey.

She appears tireless and always full of enthusiasm, positive, persuasive and formidable when in full flow. She is also a deeply caring person. Few people in Waltham Abbey can have failed to benefit from her work over the decades. Her list of achievements is too great to cover in detail.

Chairman Anne Grigg with Citizen of the Year 2011 Norma Green OBE

Currently well-known for her roles as chairman of Waltham Abbey Town Centre Partnership, chairman of Waltham Abbey Town Twinning Association and Governor of High Beech Primary School, young people and the wellbeing of her town have defined much of her work. The Member of Parliament for Epping Forest, Eleanor Laing recent described her as the driving force of the Town Centre Partnership. Her campaigning on behalf of the Abbey`s young people is legendary with the Way 2000 charity ensuring real benefits in the form of activities and places to go for the town`s nine to nineteen year olds.

Our Citizen loves Waltham Abbey and its people. She is frustrated by any denigration of her town and works constantly towards positive and constructive engagement between the media and the community. Always open to new ideas, she has used the internet to develop Waltham Abbey`s online promotion. As the local community and its politicians try to ensure the exciting developments at the Lee Valley White Water Centre last well beyond the Olympic Games of 2012, this grand lady has already ensured a lasting legacy for generations to come. Epping Forest District Citizen of the Year 2011, from Waltham Abbey Norma Green OBE.

Young Citizen of the Year 2011

Written on . Posted in Civic events, Community, Media, Residents, Your community, Your council

The Young Citizen of the Year is Ryan Keen from Oakwood Hill in Loughton. In many ways he appears an unexceptional 18 year old. He works, goes to college and balances those responsibilities with his social life.

Chairman Anne Grigg and Young Citizen of the Year 2011 Ryan Keen

However, to the people around him, he is anything but unexceptional. This kind and selfless young man has given an extraordinary amount of time and commitment to keeping the Loughton Youth Project running for the benefit of others. In his nomination, Nick Robinson of the project describes his caring disposition, and ability to bring young people of different ages and backgrounds together.

Nick says this young man is an exceptional `ordinary` teenager, without whom there would be no Loughton Youth Project. Without his commitment to volunteer five days a week and undertake youth leadership training while the project faces staff redundancies, Loughton Youth Project could not continue to operate full-time.

Sissons speaks out at Book Festival

Written on . Posted in Loughton, Media, Out and about, Your area

Peter Sissons at the Essex Book FestivalVeteran journalist Peter Sissons broke into his TV schedule to talk about his early life and 45 years in the media at St Mary’s Church, Loughton on Tuesday 15 March 2011.

Mr Sissons was taking part in the Essex Book Festival between appearances on Loose Women and the Alan Titchmarsh Show. Promising to air his views on the British media, current affairs and the World at large, Mr Sissons pulled no punches. After the event organised by Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council he signed copies and his new book ‘When One Door Closes’ and chatted with members of the audience.

Peter Sissons believes there is an ‘inner cadre’ of ‘superb’ BBC reporters such as John Simpson and Jeremy Bowen. However, describing himself as ‘a candid friend of the BBC’ he now feels free to voice his concerns and criticisms. He abhors sloppy journalism, political correctness and poor leadership. During the Six Day War in 1967, he usually had two days to stop a piece being broadcast if he felt he had made a mistake. In the modern world where immediate live coverage gives no time for checking and reflection, he worries about the new forms of social media and 24 hour coverage. Peter still believes there is no excuse for not checking a story or not getting it right. He believes there has never been a time when we need good journalists more. The values of ‘accuracy, balance and impartiality’ instilled in him by Sir Geoffrey Cox at ITN should be the aims of a new generation of reporters.

On a lighter note, Peter Sissons was reminded during questions and answers at the end of his talk by one of his former colleagues in the audience of some of the fan mail he used to receive. He had a certain following which included one lady who would send him knitted hats, scarves and other clothing on an almost weekly basis during his newsreading years. He also remembered the requests for ‘secret signs’ he was asked to give out on air such as scratching his nose if he fancied another particular lady.

Drawing on material in his book, Peter Sissons described his early childhood as one of four sons growing up in Liverpool during the 1960s. It was a special time. Other children at Dovedale Primary, Peter’s first school were Jimmy Tarbuck and John Lennon (both a year older) and George Harrison (a year younger). Having passed the Eleven Plus, Peter found himself at the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys at the same time as Paul McCartney. Other boys to pass through the institute gates included Derek Hatton and the former MP for Epping Forest, Steve Norris.

Peter Sissons with Epping Forest District Council chairman Anne Grigg

The importance of education was instilled in Peter Sissons by his mother. From his poor background but excellent education he entered Oxford and took his first tentative steps into journalism, interviewing a very young Bob Wilson who does not remember the event, and Ron Atkinson who does.

From graduation at Oxford to the end of his career with the BBC 45 years later, Peter took no more courses, bar one only called ‘Safeguarding Trust’ reduced from two hours to ten minutes for his benefit by the BBC.

From Oxford, it seemed that a career in journalism might follow but initially he was rejected by among others the Liverpool Echo. However, introduction to his great mentor, Sir Geoffrey Cox at ITN was to set him on the course to TV stardom. Peter Sissons working class background, described by Cox as ‘Liverpool Rough’ contrasted with the public school dominated newsrooms of ITV and the BBC at the time.

Peter had began to make a name for himself. In 1968 he was asked to step in to read the Ten O’Clock news after Reginald Bosenquet was taken ill. He had already covered the Six Day War in the Middle East. Then a life threatening gunshot wound sustained in Biafra cut short a promising career as a War Correspondent. Peter still has fragments of the bullet that nearly killed him and the WW I British Army surgical dressing thrust into his leg by the Nigerian Army Major who staunched the flow of blood and saved his life.

After a prolonged stay in hospital, Peter was no longer fit for duty in war zones but found a new role as ITNs Industrial Editor. He believes this period between 1970 and 1978 made his name. Night after night, he appeared on British TV screens to report the latest industrial unrest.

Following its launch in 1982, Peter became part of the new Channel 4 ITN news team. Initially, the programme proved a “total disaster” as ratings plummeted. However, after staying with the format, he was part of the team that turned it into a BAFTA winning formula.

While at the height of his popularity at ITN, the opportunity arose he had always wanted, the chance to present the BBC’s Question Time. However, after four years and 150 editions, he was very disillusioned and in 1994 began a ten year reign as one of the BBC’s top anchormen with Michael Buerk on the Nine O’Clock News.

Throughout his career with the Corporation, Peter struggled to come to terms with the BBC way of doing things. He covered some memorable events. Princess Diana died on his shift. He reported on 9/11 and temporarily became ‘the most hated man in Britain’ after reporting the death of the Queen Mother, wearing a burgundy rather than a black tie. BBC policy, checked with his producer moments before going on air was only the death of the Queen herself qualified for black.

After ten years reading the Nine O’Clock and Ten O’clock News, a further review at the BBC prompted Peter to switch to News 24, from which he eventually retired.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council was in the audience at St Mary’s in Loughton. She said: “Peter Sissons provided a controversial but fascinating account of his years in TV journalism and at the BBC. Having been forbidden to express opinions when he joined ITN in 1964, he is making up for lost time now. It was a privilege to hear him speak.”

Mrs Grigg added: “I would also like to thank the organisers of the Essex Book Festival at Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council on achieving another literary coup following last year’s talk by George Alagiah.”

Council Fraud Team Star on BBC1

Written on . Posted in Media, Prosecutions, Your council

The patient and tenacious work by Epping Forest District Council fraud investigators was featured in the BBC TV programme Saints and Scroungers, aired on Wednesday 26 January 2011.

A Council fraud investigator said This is disgusting, it’s pure greed on the biggest case of fraud Epping Forest District Council had ever uncovered.

BBC1s Saints and Scroungers

For Bob Palmer, Director of Finance and ICT, and the fraud investigators involved, being filmed by the BBC was not part of their normal working day but all were keen to take part and highlight the extraordinary level of fraud in this case.

The investigations began after an Off-duty fraud investigator was house hunting in Epping. He told colleagues he had viewed the property and talked with the agent, alarm bells started ringing when colleagues realised they had visited the Martins before and details given were different.

Following months of investigations and working closely with agencies including the Department for Work and Pensions and the Police, scroungers Mr and Mrs Martin pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Robert Martin received a two and a half year prison sentence for making false claims of £130,000 for housing benefit and council tax benefit While claiming income support. His wife Samantha Martin received a 12 month suspended sentence and 150 hours of community service.

Bob Palmer said: Well done to all the benefit fraud team who all acted with the greatest integrity and professionalism ensuring the conviction of these scroungers. It is not a victimless crime, this money should be spent on improving services for people in real need.

He continued: What we have to hope is that anybody out there who is currently committing a fraud sees what has happened, and that is a significant deterrent to them.

Residents Voice Safety Concerns at Debate

Written on . Posted in Consultation, Crime and safety, Media, Residents, Young people, Your community, Your home

Community Safety tree image

Gangs and knives, cutbacks, cross border crime, domestic violence, alcohol related anti-social behaviour, young drivers accident rates and community payback.

An audience of local people came along to the Community Safety Question Time Debate to pose challenging questions on these topics to a panel of local experts in an evening of lively debate.

The debate, filmed at Epping Forest college in Loughton, was presented by BBC Radio Essex’s Dave Monk and saw representatives from the Police, NHS, Fire, District and County Councils, and the probation service quizzed by members of the local community on issues that mattered to them.


Introduction by Dave Monk
Introduction by Dave Monk
  0:00:00 / 0:00:00


Watch the debate with direct links to all the questions below:

Watch the Community Safety Question Time Debate

    The expert panellists were:
  • Stuart McMillan, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Divisional Officer for Harlow and Epping Forest;
  • Neeve Bishop, Essex Probation Trust Offender Management Team;
  • Alan Ray, Essex Police District Commander for Epping Forest District;
  • Councillor Penny Smith, Epping Forest District Council Safer and Greener Portfolio Holder;
  • Caroline Skinner, NHS West Essex Senior Health Improvement Specialist;
  • Yvette Wetton, Essex County Council West Area Co-ordinator;
  • John Gilbert, Epping Forest District Council Director of Environment and Street Scene.

Displays showcasing the work of the Epping Forest Safer Communities Partnership were on display outside the auditorium. Audience members and college students were asked what the top 3 priorities for the partnership should be.

    The results were:

  1. Anti-social behaviour;
  2. Domestic violence;
  3. Drugs.

The debate was the finale to a two week programme of events called “Safe ‘n’ Sound in Epping Forest” providing help and advice on keeping you safe.