New phone system rings in changes

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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.”

Council Tax frozen for 7th year

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Good financial planning over many years is being credited with keeping Epping Forest District Council’s share of the Council Tax down for a record 7th year.

Chris Whitbread and Gagan Mohindra at Oakwood Hill Depot

Keeping Council Tax frozen

The average payment of a Band D property to the District Council is set to remain at £148.77 until at least April 2018. Rents for Council House tenants are also set to come down by 1% in line with national guidelines.

The District has not increased its share of Council Tax since 2010.

Protecting services

Finance Portfolio Holder Gagan Mohindra presented the 2017/18 budget to Cabinet on Thursday 2 February. Confirmation of the nil-increase is expected to follow at Full Council on 21 February 2017.

Epping Forest District Council has successfully managed to maintain low taxes and the protection of frontline services against a background of long term reductions in central government funding and public sector service cuts elsewhere.

Councillor Mohindra said: ”This hasn’t been achieved overnight. Even before the financial crisis of 2008, Epping Forest District Council was setting out our stall as an efficient low-tax council. As central government funding has reduced year on year, we set our sights on becoming financially independent.”

Remaining as efficient as possible

The Council has managed the process through a combination of reduced costs and increased income.

Councillor Mohindra said: ”Over the years we have cut our costs dramatically. Our Revenue budget not many years ago was over £18million. That has been reduced to a little over £13million for next year.”

”We have adapted and moved with the times. We have changed the way we work, making better use of technology wherever possible, changing our structures and streamlining our services to ensure we remain as lean and efficient as possible. That process is ongoing. We are now embarking on a more intensive transformation which may see much more use of flexible and home working, reductions in office space and more productivity.”

Working in partnership

He continued: ”We have also embraced private sector partnerships wherever we believed it could deliver better services. Next month Places for People takes on the management of our Sports and Leisure Centres. We already had a good track record with our previous provider. This new contract will see not only reductions in the cost to the council but will also potentially see the development of a brand new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey and improvements to other facilities. This is against a backdrop of other councils cutting back and closing down their leisure offering.”

”Our residents also play a huge role in our success. Recent fluctuations in recycling have seen the cost of our waste collection service increase, but overall, with the help of our residents diverting domestic waste from landfill to recycling, our new contract is saving many thousands of pounds every year. ”

Members of the Cabinet and senior officers inspected progress on Epping Forest Shopping Park just before Christmas. Yearly income from the park could be as much as £2.7 million and will be used to support local public services.

”And while our costs are coming down, we are increasing our income. Epping Forest District Council is one of the biggest land owners in our area. Our portfolio of shops, industrial estates, commercial units, car parks and North Weald Airfield brings in a significant rental income. This money is ploughed back into providing local services. That income is set to be boosted by as much as £2.7million per annum when Epping Forest Shopping Park opens later this year.”

”These major contracts, developments and investments are years in the planning and delivery but they are paying tremendous dividends.”

Bucking the trend

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council congratulated Cllr Gagan Mohindra and thanked the finance team for their hard work on another strong budget.

He said: ”The hallmark of a good council is to be low tax whilst protecting front line services. Councillor Gagan Mohindra and his team have done a marvellous job in bringing forward this budget. Times are tough. We are seeing substantial increases in Council Tax everywhere else. But we have been able to buck the trend at Epping Forest District Council.”

”The foundations of our financial strength can be found in years of careful management and investment. It has been a job well done but we must continue to look forward. Later this year I hope to see new changes to the management of our Pay and Display Car Parks which will cut costs without increasing charges. Longer term we are also looking at better use of our offices in Epping.”

”We have excellent management and staff committed to getting the best value out of every penny. It is by far the best way to balance the books but we never forget our purpose is to provide the best possible service at the least possible cost to our local residents.”

Community Transport saves Nazeing bus service

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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

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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.

Students become Dementia Friends

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In the run up to #Essexdementiaday, over 40 students from Braeside Independent School in Buckhurst Hill learnt more about dementia at a Dementia Friends session, delivered by Epping Forest District Council Community Services on 17 January 2017.

Dementia Friends Session

Epping Forest District Council teamed up with Braeside secondary school to deliver an interactive session for students aged 10 to 14 years old, to educate them on what it is like to live with dementia and that the small changes they can make help make a dementia friendly community.

First session for young people

Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder, Councillor Helen Kane said: ”The information sessions are great for increasing people’s knowledge and awareness of dementia. We have already delivered the information session to local community groups and to staff within Epping Forest District Council. This was the first session we have delivered for young people.”

Roll out to other local schools

She continued: ”The feedback we received from students and teachers was that the session was very informative and we aim to roll this out to other local schools in Epping Forest.”

Get involved

If you think you, your local school or group would benefit from attending a Dementia Friends Information session or would like any further information on the Dementia Friends programme please contact either Louis Walton lwalton@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or Karen Murray kmuray@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

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.”

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.”

 

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.

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.’