Housing Strategy Consultation

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Housing, Older people, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Epping Forest District Council is seeking views on a draft Housing Strategy which identifies current and future housing needs and sets out its vision for housing in the district. Residents are invited to read the Consultation Draft and to send their comments to the Council.

Organisations with an interest in housing are also being consulted. A well-attended conference was held in Waltham Abbey on 18 March. A wide range of organisations were represented, including Housing Associations, developers and other Councils. Groups representing people with particular housing needs were also invited to attend the presentations and workshops. Following the conference, local residents now have the opportunity to add their views.

The Consultation Draft Housing Strategy includes the objectives set out in the Council Plan. This states an overall vision, which is that “We want the Epping Forest district to be a safe, healthy and attractive place in which to live and work”. The Plan also sets out five key objectives in relation to housing, which are:

  • To make sure that growth in the number of homes being developed is properly planned (and sustainable)
  • To make affordable housing available (both for rent and for low cost home ownership) in rural and urban locations, for people who want to live in the district
  • To make sure that people with special needs are able to live in suitable accommodation with the right levels of support
  • To accommodate quickly homeless people in suitable, permanent accommodation
  • To make sure that all homes in the district, in both the public and private sector, are in a decent condition.

The Consultation Draft Housing Strategy sets out how the Council is working towards these objectives and how other issues will be approached – such as anti-social behaviour and energy efficiency. It explains how the Capital Programme will be financed and the final chapter includes a detailed action plan.

This is the first Housing Strategy to be published since May 2003. The Government at that time expected Councils to produce their own Strategies, according to a set of guidelines. While this is no longer a requirement, the Council has concluded that it should have an up to date Housing Strategy. After the consultation period, which ends on 5 June this year, the Council will consider all the responses received and then produce its final version for adoption in the summer.

Residents wishing to read the Consultation Draft can download it from the Council’s website www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/housing or they can phone the Housing Information Team on 01992 564292 to request a copy. There is a feedback form on the website. Alternatively, the Council would also welcome comments and suggestions by letter, addressed to the Housing Information and Strategy Team at the Civic Offices in Epping, or by email to: housinginfo@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Crime In Your Community Survey Prize Draw Winner

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Older people, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your home

Congratulations to Shelagne Sheldrake of Ongar, the lucky winner of a £100 Marks & Spencer voucher for completing Epping Forest District Council`s `Crime in your Community` online survey.  Chairman of Council Councillor John Knapman picked the winning number from the replies received.  

Epping Forest District Council`s Safer Communities Partnership undertook the survey between February and March this year via the Council`s website. The aim of the survey was to establish the public`s perception of crime and whether they felt safe.

The results received were measured against local and national indicators to establish the public`s perception of anti-social behaviour. The results showed 94.6% of people feel safe during daylight while out in their local area and 62.5% of people feel safe after dark while out in their local area. 74.1% of people requested an increase of police patrols, 9.8% feel people being drunk or rowdy in public places is a very big problem and 75.9% feel property crimes (vandalism and theft) is the biggest problem where they live.

The results of the survey, carried out over a month from mid February to mid March, will be used to assist in the setting of priorities for the coming year for the Partnership.

Chairman of Council Councillor John Knapman said:  I would like to thank all those who took the time to respond to our survey.  It really is very helpful when planning where to direct resources to know what our residents think about crime and safety.

News from the Cabinet

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

News from the Cabinet meeting held on 9 March 2009.

Agenda and decisions for Cabinet meeting on 9 March 2009
View webcast of Cabinet meeting on 9 March 2009 (opens in a new window)

The Meadows – Legal Costs

Legal costs of £7,250 awarded against Epping Forest District Council reminded Councillors of the risk of swift action to prevent unauthorised traveller encampments. Members of the Council`s Cabinet agreed to make the payment after the Council sought an injunction to prevent travellers moving on to The Meadows, land south of Waltham Road, Nazeing last October.

The site, an overgrown field was subject to clearance, leading local residents and the Council to suspect that the work was in preparation for use by travellers. Council Officers faced a dilemma of taking swift action based on incomplete information or potentially waiting too long for more information and being unable to prevent a potential incursion.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: We are disappointed with the Judge`s decision to award costs against us. I think there was significant cause for us to be concerned. Residents would not have thanked us, had we waited until it was too late to take effective action. Despite the financial risk, faced with the same circumstances in the future, I think most of our residents would want us to act decisively again.

Relaxation of Shared Ownership Rules

The economic downturn has led to a reduction in demand for new shared ownership housing. Members of the Cabinet agreed proposals to relax the requirement for shared ownership elements to new social housing schemes, providing greater flexibility to housing associations for the development of social rented housing or the use of a ` Rent Now – Buy Later ` scheme where tenants pay an intermediate rent of around 80 per cent of market rent until they can afford to buy a share of the property. Cabinet Members agreed to keep the policy under six monthly review.

Home Ownership Grants

The Council`s own pilot home ownership grants scheme has been very successful and is to be extended. Five families have so far used or are taking up the offer of £34,000 grants to move out of a Council house in order to buy private property. Council properties vacated through the scheme can be re-let to other families or individuals on the Council`s Housing Register in need of affordable rented housing. The Cabinet agreed the provision of five additional grants for 2009/10.

Jade Goody Memorial Service

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Ongar, Your area, Your council

Jade Goody was a local girl. She made Epping Forest District her home, coming to live initially in Ongar and then Upshire.

She passed away at home in Upshire on Mothers` Day on the 22 March 2009.

Jade lived her life in the media spotlight. Her funeral has been arranged to take place at 12 noon on Saturday 4 April 2009. Many mourners are expected to attend the service at St John The Baptist Church in Buckhurst Hill.

The service is expected to receive wide-spread media attention. Standing room in the car park outside the Church has been set aside for the media and members of the public who will be able to hear the service relayed via loud speakers.

The large number of people and media expected to attend the funeral is likely to lead to some local traffic disruption. Essex Police will close Buckhurst Hill High Road from Gladstone Road to Russell Road and Church Road from 11am until 2pm.

The funeral cortege will pass slowly through Loughton High Road before making its way up to Buckhurst Hill High Road.

St John The Baptist is a relatively small church. There is very little public car parking in the immediate area. Bus routes will be diverted during the period of the road closure. However, members of the public wishing to pay their respects are advised to leave their cars at home. Buckhurst Hill Railway Station on the Central Line is a short walk via Palmerston Road from the Church. Normal bus services to Buckhurst Hill include the 397, 20 and 549.

Residents living in the vicinity of Buckhurst Hill and Loughton are advised to adjust their travel plans through Saturday morning and into the afternoon.

Councillor John Knapman, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council said: “Jade made her home in our district, first in Ongar and then in Upshire. She lived her life in the full glare of the media spotlight. She was a controversial figure but made many friends and will be missed. I am sure the residents of Epping Forest would join with me in offering our condolences to her family and young sons. To lose your mother at such a young age is a tragedy. Once Jade is laid to rest, I hope the outside world will give her family the time and space they will now need to mourn in private.”

Civic Awards 2009 Leisure Bursary

Written on . Posted in Civic events, Sports, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your council

You can watch the awards presentation in full. Click the back button at the bottom of the page and click the link to watch the webcast.

Paralympic hopeful, Lauren Smith is the winner of the Sports Leisure Bursary for 2009. Lauren lives in Waltham Abbey where she attends King Harold School. She trains and competes at the elite level within the British Disability Swimming Programme and has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Danish Open Championships later this month.

Lauren was unable to attend the awards but a cheque for fifteen hundred pounds will help toward achieving her ambition to qualify for London Paralympics 2012.

Civic Awards 2009 Community Service Medals

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Community, Crime and safety, Loughton, Ongar, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

You can watch the awards presentation in full. Click the back button at the bottom of the page and click the link to watch the webcast.

Community Service medals are awarded to members of the Emergency Services who have made a special contribution or shown care and dedication well above and beyond the call of duty.

Police Community Support Officer Hayley Toye

Chairman John Knapman with PCSO Hayley ToyeEpping Forest District Council supports its local PCSOs, and works in partnership with them and Essex Police, and provides funding. As a result there has been real benefits from the introduction of PCSOs. No-one illustrates that better than the winner of the Epping Forest Police Community Service Medal for 2009.

Hayley Toye is a dedicated Officer serving the neighbourhood of Debden. Well known by local Councillors, residents and young people, she has made a particularly strong impact on anti-social behaviour. Her strength lies in talking with people and listening to them.

Building relationships and trust, Hayley has tackled problems as diverse as graffiti, racial abuse, shoplifting and inconsiderate parking. She uses her initiative to find new ways of communicating with local young people, one particular notable example being her Halloween disco.

Essex Ambulance Service Paramedic Brian Clark

Chairman John Knapman with Louise SamouelleBased at Ongar Ambulance Station, Brian Clark has been saving lives since 1980.

He is described as a `lovely, caring gentleman ` and he can be unaware of his impact on the people around him. Attending a minor emergency, Brian was surprised when the patient recognised him as the man who had saved his life years earlier. He has a reputation for remaining calm and level headed in pressurised and extreme situations.

Brian plays a big part in the social calendar of his station and the same friendly approach has endeared him to many of the new recruits he has mentored and trained over the years.

Brian is unable to receive his Community Service Medal in person but representing him at the awards presentation is Brian’s manager from the Essex Ambulance Service, Louise Samouelle.

Makedoandmend

Written on . Posted in Arts, Chigwell, Community, Loughton, Older people, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community

Makedo&mend image

Makedoandmend, an artistic collaboration between young and older people and adults with disabilities from Loughton, Chigwell and Waltham Abbey will be officially launched on Tuesday 7 April 2009 at 3pm at Loughton Youth Centre, 106 Borders Lane, Loughton 1G10 3SB. Vice Chairman of Council Councillor Penny Smith will be attending.

As we end a decade where recycling has become a global imperative, makedo&mend, a multi-disciplinary arts project run by Epping Forest District Council, takes its artistic inspiration from a decade in the previous Century when rationing was the norm, new clothing items rare and a harsh post-war era required people to make do with what they had or mend and repair items normally thrown away. The project sees groups `recycling` the fashion, music and film of the 1940s with contemporary styles to `make do` or `mend`, to create new and original work.

Makedo&mend has distinct strands that feed into each other throughout the year. Young and older people and adults with disabilities from Waltham Abbey, Chigwell and Loughton will collaborate to create a body of work consisting of an original fashion collection, a dance video, a music track and a style magazine featuring all the work produced. The initiative culminates in an exhibition running for two months in partnership with Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey from 10 October to 1 December incorporating rare pieces from the Museum`s costume collection and a programme of public workshops on the themes of makedo&mend.

The fashion aspect of the project grew out of the need to develop cross-generational relationships in Loughton. Makedo&mend will encourage older residents to pass on their memories and experience of 1940s fashion to young people on a project that is relevant to present day issues.

The London College of Fashion is also involved as a partner in the project to reach out to young people in environments such as youth centres to make them feel confident about their ability to achieve at higher education. As well as bringing generations together and creating pathways to careers, makedo&mend also reaches out to groups in care. Alder House is a residential home for people with disabilities aged 23 to 65 years and they will work with artist Emily Jost to design clothing with a 1940s slant but use their disability as an opportunity for design innovation.

Another aspect of makedo&mend is the music. The music becomes a pathway to mend relationships between groups of young people. A group from Waltham Abbey will create a tune using a 1940s track as inspiration and a group from Limes Farm will work with sound artist Arjunan Manuelpillai to write lyrics and record the vocals. In doing so, this part of the project facilitates two groups of young people who would normally be rivals to share and inspire each other.

Image details – John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Make do and mend, pamphlet, ca 1943. JCPML00715/7 Original held by National Archives of Australia B5641/1, K4.

Crime Reduction at Limes Farm

Written on . Posted in Chigwell, Community, Crime and safety, Democracy, Residents, Working with the council, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Residents at Limes Farm in Chigwell have been invited to express their views on the dramatic reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour on the estate over the past year.

Organised by the Safer Communities Partnership a Special Action Group has been working with local residents at Limes Farm for the past 16 months and has seen a 31% reduction in crime and a 39% reduction in anti-social behaviour.

From 16 to 20 February 2009 questionnaires were distributed. Residents were invited to the community police office on the estate for a cup of tea to have a chat and fill in a questionnaire about their experiences of actions taken so far.

Some of their comments included:

I am pleased to see more Officers patrolling

There has been less crime

People feel safer on the estate and there is a good community atmosphere

Loughton Inspector Simon Werrett from Essex Police said: “All the hard work has paid off, not only by The Safer Communities Partnership and Police but by local residents working together to really make a difference in improving the quality of life on the estate. They truly believed in making the change and they have succeeded.”

Councillor Syd Stavrou Epping Forest District Council Community Wellbeing Portfolio Holder said: I think these results speak for themselves. There has been a lot of hard work put into this group by many different organisations and individuals. This has shown the value of a co-ordinated problem solving response. Lessons have been learned and the Special Action Group process will become `best practice` for other areas requiring attention in Epping Forest district.

Epping Forest College Recycling

Written on . Posted in Community, Epping, Recycling and waste, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

Councillors and student ambassadors for recycling

The Leader of Epping Forest District Council is delighted at the opportunity of working together with Epping College to introduce recycling in the new £38m College campus.

During a recent visit to the college the Leader of the Council Councillor Diana Collins and the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services Councillor Mary Sartin were introduced to the recycling scheme within the college by the students of the Green Group, formed to champion environmental action starting with recycling.

Epping Forest District Council was able to assist the college in their recycling initiatives by extending the recycling services to the College.

Councillor Diana Collins said: I am pleased that we have been able to assist the college in introducing the new recycling scheme. This will enable those already recycling at home to continue their good habits in the College whilst also encouraging those who discover recycling at College to spread the word.

The Green Group has plans for recycling expansion and is already talking about collecting unwanted clothes from fellow students and staff.

Councillors, staff and students with the new recycling bins

The new scheme was launched as part of Positive Contribution Week at the College. Students from the Green Group have acted as ambassadors for recycling – wearing distinctive t-shirts they have been setting a good example and actively encouraging others to recycle their cans, paper, card and plastic bottles.

They have also manned stands in the College explaining the benefits of recycling, demonstrating the items that can be recycled, and giving away recycled pencils, pens, bags, mugs and other goodies as well as booklets with tips for further ways to recycle “ all provided by the Council.

The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services Councillor Mary Sartin said: I am very impressed by the enthusiasm and hard work of the students. This is very encouraging and shows that our younger generation is keen to tackle the issues that affect our future.

Councillors Visit The Broadway

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Local business, Loughton, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council

Councillors Diana Collins and Anne Grigg lend a hand

The Leader of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Diana Collins and the Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder Councillor Anne Grigg visited The Broadway in Loughton on Wednesday 28 January 2009. They met with representatives of local traders and reassured them that every effort is being made to reduce the impact on local businesses whilst work to regenerate the area is being carried out.

This is following concerns expressed earlier by local traders and residents at a Town Centre Partnership meeting that steps should be taken to minimise disruption to businesses and residents. A number of steps have been taken to keep the Broadway accessible for traders and shoppers.

Access is being maintained to all the shops on The Broadway, only the eastbound carriageway has been shut for now. Crossing over points have been provided so shoppers can get from one side of The Broadway to the other, Vere Road Car Park has been re-designated for short-stay and permit holders only and free parking has been retained for The Broadway.

Councillors and local traders view work at the Broadway

Councillor Diana Collins said: I understand the concerns of local traders but every effort is being made to minimise the impact of this scheme to local traders and shoppers. Unfortunately large engineering projects can cause disruption but at the end we will have a much improved and enhanced town centre.