Recycle your real Christmas tree

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Recycling your real Christmas tree in January this year really couldn’t be easier!

  • Remove the tree from the pot or stand

  • Remove all decorations and remove any artificial snow

  • If the tree is bigger than 6ft tall, saw in half

  • Place the tree by your green wheelie bin on your food and garden waste collection day

Collected throughout January

Councillor Will Breare-Hall, Environment Portfolio Holder said: ”We have made recycling your Christmas tree as easy as we possibly can. It’s simple, just leave your tree to be collected with your food and garden waste bins, following the four step instructions. If you are unsure of the date of your food and garden waste collection, check using our online tool, all you need is your postcode. Trees will be collected throughout January 2017.

Great for the environment

He added: ”Our food and garden waste is composted to produce a high quality soil improver which is used on farms to enhance the soil, helping farmers produce high quality veggies. It’s great for the environment and benefits us too!”

Harlow and Gilston Garden Town

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The economic and social future of West Essex and East Hertfordshire has received a major boost with the award of a government grant towards a garden town proposal.

EFDC, East Herts and Harolow logos

Epping Forest, East Herts and Harlow District Councils have received a joint £0.5million award in the form of a Government grant to support transformational strategic proposals for Harlow and the surrounding area.

Garden Town Grant

The ”Garden Town grant” has been awarded through the government’s Locally led Garden Towns funding to help to build a joint Strategic Team as well as funding research, and specialist support for Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.   Using garden city principles this will enable support to be provided to local communities to ensure that they are involved in the development of masterplans for the sites.   

The three neighbouring partners and Uttlesford District Council have identified a potential need for around 15,000 new homes in and around Harlow over the next 20 years or so. The bid by the three neighbouring councils was supported by a range of other organisations and individuals based in the London Stansted Cambridge Corridor (LSCC) including:

  • Uttlesford District Council
  • Essex County Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • South East Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • London Stansted Cambridge Consortium

Garden towns were pioneered in Letchworth and Welwyn with Harlow as a New Town designed along Garden Town principles by Sir Frederick Gibberd. The draft local plans being developed by Harlow, East Herts and Epping Forest District councils reflect the importance of Harlow as an economic and social hub of the area. New housing and employment emulating the best aspects of the original garden cities lie at the heart of the proposals.

Local Plans

Epping Forest District and East Herts Council have just completed public consultations on Local Plans identifying strategic housing allocations. The Local Plans will look ahead as far as 2033, while the Garden Town development could look as far forward as 2050. Work is continuing on developing Harlow’s local plan ready for public consultation this year.

As well as housing and employment, the funding will help to address key issues and challenges such as access to the M11, the A414 corridor, River Stort crossing improvements, water use and treatment, and healthcare.  It will also help to secure high design quality and ensure strategic development contributes effectively to the provision of infrastructure.  

Supporting local communities

Councillor John Philip, Planning Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: ”The regeneration of Harlow is key to the success of our region. The whole area will benefit from the coordinated strategic provision of new homes, employment and social infrastructure in and around Harlow.   It makes sense and I am therefore delighted to see the DCLG putting its weight and money behind the proposals. This funding will enable us to support local communities, parish and town councils to be involved in shaping the future of this area.

East Herts Council leader Linda Haysey said: ”This funding will enable us to take the first steps in scoping out how the garden town could look – exploring sustainable transport, homes for a range of sizes, needs and affordability, health provision and all the other elements that go towards a successful community. It will also allow us make sure we’re fully engaged with residents who might be directly affected by the proposals.

”The garden town is an ambitious project that will benefit the wider region and so I’m delighted there will be access to the new Housing Infrastructure Fund and that we’re now in a position to take the next steps.”

Huge opportunity

Councillor Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “Harlow Council has clear ambitions to regenerate Harlow and believes growth, particularly to the north of Harlow, would contribute to the development of the town in its role as the sub-regional centre.  This initiative is a huge opportunity for Harlow and the surrounding areas to provide much needed housing and infrastructure improvements which will all contribute to the regeneration of Harlow.

”This welcomed announcement comes at the same time Harlow begins to celebrate its 70th birthday and this is about looking to the future and the next 70 years to help secure Harlow’s future.  If we are going to provide the full range of housing that local people need, in particular affordable housing, as well as create jobs and skills opportunities to meet the inward investment we are achieving, then we all need to work together on proposals to achieve sustainable growth. The Government funding enables all three Councils to move proposals forward to carry out detailed work and I look forward to continuing working with East Herts and Epping Forest Councils on this ambitious project.”

Overview and Scrutiny December 2016

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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’.

Job centres help domestic abuse victims

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Job centres across Essex are part of the J9 initiative, providing safe and discreet contact points for victims of domestic abuse to access support and advice across the County.

J9 at Loughton Jobcentre

J9 trained staff at Loughton Jobcentre with Community Safety Manager, Caroline Wiggins and Safer Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gary Waller 

Trained to help

The council have trained Jobcentre staff to look out for the signs of domestic abuse and to help victims access the support they need when approached by those in need of help. They have a range of leaflets and information about local and national organisations and hold information packs for people to access when the Jobcentre is open to the public.

Pink heart logo

The pink heart logo signals that the location is a place where any domestic abuse issues can be discussed with staff in a safe environment.

Loughton Jobcentre

Mike King, Operations Manager for Harlow and Loughton Jobcentre said: ‘’We are really pleased at Loughton Jobcentre to get the help we need from Epping District Council to turn us into a safe place where people can come and disclose domestic abuse get the support they need, from our J9 trained team. We offer lots of help and advice for those looking for work and the J9 project pulls it all together’’.

Increased awareness

Epping Forest District Council’s Safer Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gary Waller said: ”Our Community Safety team have worked hard to get as many organisations on the J9 training as possible and to their credit, they have now reached over 400 trained personnel across Essex, which is outstanding.”

He continued: ”Working in partnership with our Jobcentres has not only helped increase awareness for the J9 initiative, but has also increased opportunities for victims to obtain help and support. The important thing is that people feel they are not alone and we that there are places they can go to look for advice and help’’.

J9, In memory of Janine Mundy

J9 was named in memory of Janine Mundy, a victim of domestic abuse that was killed by her husband. The initiative aims to provide a wide variety of places for victims to report domestic abuse and access information in a safe place.

New development to revitalise Waltham Abbey

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An approved new development at Hillhouse in Ninefields will revitalise heart of Waltham Abbey.

Plans for a new leisure centre, health centre and independent living scheme for older people in the heart of Waltham Abbey, in Hillhouse, have been given the go ahead at a meeting on 30 November 2016.

Hillhouse masterplan

The plans gained outline planning permission for a new development at Hillhouse on the Ninefields Estate, were brought forward through a partnership between

  • Epping Forest District Council
  • Essex County Council
  • NHS England

New community facilities

Councillor Helen Kane Epping Forest District Council’s portfolio holder for leisure and community services said: ”I am very pleased that planning approval has now been given for Waltham Abbey to receive these 3 fantastic new community facilities on the Ninefields Estate.”

“I know that some local residents were concerned about the reduction in recreation land, but the 3 development partners have worked hard to minimise the effects and to ensure that a significant amount of usable recreation land will still continue to be provided at Hillhouse, including a mini soccer grass pitch. A commitment has also been given by all 3 partners to fund the provision of alternative sports facilities in Waltham Abbey.”

”The district council will now be concentrating on working with its new leisure management contractor, when appointed early in the new year, to build a first-class modern swimming pool and leisure centre to replace the existing Waltham Abbey swimming pool in Roundhills, which is reaching the end of its life.”

”It is planned that detailed planning permission for the new facility will be submitted in Spring 2017, with construction commencing later in the year and completed around October 2018.”

Working together for the community

Councillor John Spence CBE Essex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for housing added: “Land owned by the public sector is ultimately owned by taxpayers, and it is absolutely imperative that agencies where possible work together to the betterment of our community.”

”This development will not only provide well designed supported accommodation letting older people live independently for longer whilst reducing costs for the state, but will also give residents new and improved sporting and health facilities, something for all ages.”

Benefit local patients and residents

Welcoming the provision of new Health Facilities Alison Cowie Head of Commissioning at NHS England (Essex) said: ”There is a long established need to find sustainable premises for the relocation of the Maynard Court Surgery.”

”The approval of the outline planning application provides an exciting opportunity for us to work with the practice, local authority partners and the community to take the next steps to develop and deliver a new facility for the benefit of local patients and residents.”

Improving residents health and wellbeing

Tracy Manzi from West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: ”We support the proposed relocation of Maynard Court Surgery. The approval of an outline planning application for the development at Hillhouse, on the Ninefields Estate will allow us to work with the practice to deliver an increased number and type of services.”

“This new facility will enable the practice to develop and provides opportunities to work closely with our community partners, improving the health and wellbeing of local residents.”

“The next steps are for the 3 partners to progress details of the three separate elements of development for detailed planning permission during 2017.”

 

Cabinet 1 December 2016

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The draft Local Plan, changes to the district’s off-street parking and the Council Tax Support Scheme were all subjects for discussion at Cabinet on 1 December 2016.

Changes to draft Local Plan will be public

Responding to a public question at Cabinet on 1 December, Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip gave assurances that all changes to the draft Local Plan would be made public. Councillor Philips said that the council had factored in comments from previous consultation as well as new evidence in formulating the draft Local Plan. He expected further changes to the draft Plan following analysis of the latest consultation. Separately Councillor Philip provided a financial update on the production of the Local Plan.

Partnership savings

Governance Portfolio Holder Councillor Richard Bassett received Cabinet approval to extend the shared Internal Audit arrangements between Epping Forest District Council, Harlow and Broxbourne. Thanks to the partnership, savings of more than £58,000 a year for 2016/17 and 2017/18 have been achieved.

Amendments to Council Tax Support Scheme

Review and amendment to the Local Council Tax Support Scheme and capital budget were presented by Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra. Major capital projects within the £124 million budget include Loughton Shopping Park, St John’s Road and improvements to council housing and new-build housing projects. Many of the Council’s capital projects are aimed towards long term revenue generation, helping Epping Forest District Council become financially self-supporting.

Councillor Mohindra also assured Cabinet colleagues of his determination to achieve value for money with a £100,000 fund to support joint working with other organisations.

Update on Biffa collection costs

Councillor Gary Waller presented a report on domestic waste collection and recycling on behalf of Environment Portfolio Holder Will Breare-Hall. Collection costs have gone up since the introduction of the new Biffa contract. Provision of more recycling sacks combined with cross-contamination reducing income and additional collections due to the building of new houses has led to an increase of £343,000 in the contract.

Changes to off-street parking ahead

“Car parks are essential to our town centres” said Council Leader Chris Whitbread as he welcomed changes to off-street Pay and Display parking. Councillor Waller reported a saving of £58,600 a year from 2017/18 after moving off-street Pay and Display parking enforcement, cash collection and machine maintenance from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to NSL Ltd.

Later on the agenda, Councillor Waller received Cabinet approval to manage Waltham Abbey car parks owned by the Lee Valley Regional Park. He also received approval to demolish and replace garages in Vere Road with 20 new parking spaces. A further 11 spaces are to be created behind shops 49 and 41 in The Broadway.

Planning wait times improved

Residents can expect to see planning decision times improved by up to five days. Councillor Richard Bassett secured Cabinet approval for a new officer and further computerisation to speed up the planning application and validation process.

Town and Village Centres Fund

The Town and Village Centres Opportunities Fund has been renamed the Epping Forest District Economic Opportunities Fund. The rebranding reflects widening the availability criteria beyond town and village centres.

Applications open for Creativity Awards

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Applications are open for Epping Forest District Council’s Creativity Awards 2017. The award aims to help further young people aged 13 – 25 with grants ranging from £50 to £1000.

Creativity Awards 2017

If you are an individual or part of a group with an interest in the arts, culture and heritage, we would like to support you in further developing your skills with The Creativity Award 2017.

To be eligible you must be aged 13 – 25 and either live, volunteer or are part of a group in the district. The award is open to:

  • Individuals
  • Groups (a minimum of 3 people)
  • Heritage projects
  • Young people who are involved in ‘EFDC’s museums Young people’s programmes’

Groups can already be established such as art clubs, theatre groups, choirs or orchestras or have formed especially to apply for this funding.

Make an application

To be considered for an award applicants are required to:

  • Show their commitment to their area of interest and explain how the award will help them develop their talent
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are actively pursuing their area of interest, e.g.  Through volunteering, education, exhibition, performance

Apply for the Creativity award 2017:

  • Make an application online

Helping to achieve goals

Councillor Helen Kane, Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder said ‘The creativity award is a great opportunity for talented people in the district to further develop their craft.

The award through grants can range from £50 – £1000 and aims to help people with a range of issues they may face, whether it is fees for courses or buying specialist equipment.

If you think this award could help you or your group, make an application today, don’t delay’

For more information:

Applications close midnight Wednesday 30 November 2016. Awards will be presented to the winner at the civic awards ceremony Friday 17 March 2017.

Cabinet 3 November 2016

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Energy consumption at the Council offices in Epping has been cut dramatically. That and other items including Council Tax discounts, on-street car parking, and the creation of three new small pay and display car parks were among the items discussed at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 3 November.

Watch our council meetings online

Solar Energy

The installation of new windows and solar panels has led to significant reductions in energy consumption at the Council’s headquarters in Epping. The report by Technology and Support Services Portfolio Holder Councillor Alan Lion noted the generation of 35,760 KWh in the first seven months of panel operation. Electricity consumption was reduced by 13.4% in 2015 compared to 2014.

Incentive to reduce empty housing

Councillors agreed reductions in the Council Tax discount available for empty homes. Finance Portfolio Holder Gagan Mohindra presented the report. He said that the changes would make a relatively small difference to the amount of tax collected. However, the Council hopes that the reductions will incentivise local landlords to speed up the re-letting or sale of empty houses for occupation.

County Council Parking Enforcement

Councillor Gary Waller, Portfolio Holder responsible for working with Essex County Council and the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) assured fellow councillors that he would pass on their dissatisfaction with on-street parking enforcement across the district.

Essex County Council is set to extend the current NEPP contract for a further four years. Supported by fellow Councillors Chris Whitbread and Chris Pond, Councillor Waller said that his criticisms were aimed at the operation of NEPP rather individual members of staff working within the district.

New Pay and Display

Later on the agenda, Councillor Waller received Cabinet approval for three small new pay and display car parks in Debden. Two short stay car parks accommodating a total of 40 spaces are to be created at the northern and southern ends of Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate. Fifteen new long stay spaces are to be created behind Loughton Broadway in Burton Road.

Green light for draft Local Plan consultation

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Epping Forest District’s Full Council met on Tuesday 18 October 2016 and approved the draft Local Plan for public consultation.

Next stop for the Epping Forest1

Consultation with residents

The Council will now run a consultation on the draft Local Plan for six weeks from 31 October to 12 December 2016 to gain feedback from the Epping Forest district community.

A dedicated website (www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/planningourfuture) has been available since 15 September, and acts as a one stop shop for information on the draft Local Plan and the consultation process. A questionnaire will also be available on the website for people to feedback to the Planning Policy team.

Visit an exhibition in your area

The Council is organising public exhibitions in Epping, Chigwell, Waltham Abbey, Loughton, Ongar and North Weald in early November, with a number of static information points available throughout the consultation period across the district so people can find out more. More information about these events will be published on the website and through a district wide newsletter.

The draft Local Plan sets out the proposed strategy to meet the economic and housing growth in the district up until 2033, identifying potential sites for development and regeneration and sets out proposed draft development management policies. It also outlines the necessary infrastructure to support the development.

Influence how the district grows

Councillor John Philip, Epping Forest District Council Planning Policy Portfolio Holder, explained: ”A Local Plan is your best opportunity to guide how the district grows and to protect ourselves from inappropriate development. Without a Local Plan we are vulnerable to developers taking the opportunity to submit applications for sites that we do not consider appropriate or sustainable.

“This Plan has been progressed with over 130 pieces of evidence and technical work, and has been shaped through thousands of pieces of feedback we received from residents through consultations in 2010/2011 and 2012.

“The draft Local Plan represents a balance between the requirement from Government to deliver the identified and evidenced need for economic and housing growth, and the need to protect the greenness of our district. We are trying to do this by ensuring it is delivered in as sensitive, sustainable and fair a way as possible across the whole district.

“With 92% of Epping Forest district designated as Metropolitan Green Belt, we have been clear all along we will do our best to follow what you told us and so it seeks to ensure that, as far as possible, the Green Belt is protected for future generations, whilst providing for our housing needs.”

Working with neighbouring councils

Epping Forest District Council has been working with neighbouring authorities in Harlow, East Hertfordshire and Uttlesford in order to achieve a cross border understanding of the level of growth needed up until 2033.

With a growing and ageing population, current evidence shows that Epping Forest district needs to deliver approximately 11,400 new homes over the draft Local Plan period. However, with around 2,500 new homes already built or in the pipeline with planning permission, the main aim of the Plan is focused on where the remaining 8,900 or so properties and infrastructure should go.

The draft Local Plan proposes the allocation of approximately 3,900 new homes on strategic sites within Epping Forest district on the edge of Harlow and the remaining number distributed across the district.

Get involved

Epping Forest District Council is urging as many people to get involved as possible in the next stage of the consultation for the draft Local Plan.

Councillor John Philip commented: ”This will be your Local Plan and the consultation is our opportunity as a community to ensure development in Epping Forest district takes place how and where we want it to.”

Find out more

You can find out more information at the consultation events across the district and by visiting the website www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/planningourfuture before providing your feedback. The council can only accept feedback on the draft Local Plan until 12 December 2016.”

Compass Club make proud finalists

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Epping Forest District Council primary school project, The Compass Club, were proud finalists at the recent NHS West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group run ‘Best of West Awards 2016’ in the Best Team/Project category.

Best of west awards 2016

Chief Officer at NHS West Essex CCG, Deborah Fielding said: “The Best of Awards celebrates the exceptional work being done in west Essex to keep people well. The finalists for these awards come from all sectors of the community, demonstrating the commitment and enthusiasm local people have to deliver the best health and care services.”

Confidence boost

The Compass Club is a 10 week project uses a mixture of theory and physical activity to boost confidence, social skills and behaviour management for children in Years 3 & 4 with Special Educational Needs.

Compass club in 12 schools across the district

The project is now in its second year and has worked with 148 children in 12 Primary Schools across the district. The project is currently free for schools and is funded by Local Delivery Group.

Extremely proud

Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor Helen Kane said: ”We are extremely proud to have been nominated for this award and to make the finals is excellent recognition for the programme and the hard work the team put in to delivering it.”

She continued: ”The Compass Club is a great way for many of the children and their families to find out more about the work our Inclusion Project does outside of school, opening up many opportunities for learning and development.”

Find out more

For schools or families who want to find out more about the councils disability provision or the Compass Club please contact Olivia Worsfold on oworsfold@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or 01992 564 220

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