Have your say on how homes are allocated

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community

Have your say about the way Epping Forest District Council prioritises housing applications and allocates affordable housing. We want your views on the draft revised Housing Allocations Scheme before 2 January 2018.

What is a Housing Allocations Scheme?

The current scheme was last reviewed in 2015. It is a document which sets out clear policies on how the council prioritises applications and allocates affordable housing to people on the housing register. The housing register is a list of homeseekers who are waiting to be offered a council or housing association property.

We are required by law to have a Housing Allocations Scheme for:

  • deciding priorities and the procedure to be followed in selecting homeseekers for council accommodation
  • nominating homeseekers for housing association accommodation

Alongside members of the public, we are also consulting with

  • The council’s Tenant and Leaseholders Panel
  • Town and Parish Councils
  • Partner agencies with an interest in the scheme
  • Every private register provider of social housing with which it has nomination arrangements

Have your say

Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor Syd Stavrou said: ”We are consulting with a variety of associated bodies and partner agencies, as well as our residents. We want to hear your views, so please make sure you complete the consultation.”

”If you would like to comment on the draft revised Housing Allocations Scheme 2018, please fill out the online form. Responses are needed by 2 January 2018. The Council’s Cabinet will consider the results of the consultation and when it has been approved, the new scheme and policy will come into force on 1 July 2018.”

Further information

Nazeing Triangle improvements complete

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area

Thanks to the Tesco and Groundwork’s ‘Bags of Help’ grant, the Epping Forest District Council Countrycare team and their volunteers, the Nazeing Triangle project is now complete. The site now boasts a new interpretation board, new aquatic plants and the installation of a hardened path which has significantly improved accessibility.

Interpretation board

Click on an image below to begin slideshow

Showcase of wildlife and plants

With the help of volunteers and the Bags of Help grant, this area has been transformed. The final piece to the puzzle was the installation of a brand new interpretation board in September, showcasing the wildlife and plants people are likely to see at this local Wetland Nature Reserve.

Peaceful pond

The Nazeing Triangle is a peaceful pond and wetland Nature Reserve which lies in the centre of ‘Old’ or Upper Nazeing. The Nazeing Triangle is our smallest Local Nature Reserve at 0.6 hectares, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

Preparing for winter

Countrycare and their volunteers have been busy preparing the site for winter, clearing the area along one of the boundary hedgerows and building a new reptile hibernaculum using rubble from the local area.

Thrilled with the transformation

Councillor Sam Kane Safer Greener  Portfolio Holder said: “We are thrilled with the transformation of the Nazeing Triangle Nature Reserve and we wouldn’t have been able to make all of these improvements without the help of Tesco and Groundwork’s ‘Bags of Help grant’, our wonderful volunteers and Countrycare team.

Thank you to everyone that has supported the work, you have ensured the Nazeing Triangle Nature Reserve is a beautiful little spot that can be enjoyed by everyone and most importantly, you have improved the environment for our local wildlife too! If you haven’t visited yet, make it a priority.”

Further information

Council Tax Support Scheme consultation extended

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Council tax, Democracy, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation has been extended, due to a problem with a link that was published on social media. You are now able to make comments until midnight on Wednesday 25 October 2017.

We’re asking for your views on the future of our Local Council Tax Reduction scheme (LCTS) to see whether any changes should be made. It’s important we get the views of our residents as it could affect the amount of Council Tax you pay, or the services you receive.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation

Government grant

“The Government gives us a grant to pay Local Council Tax Support which is reducing each year” explains Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra, “if we spend more than the grant, we have to decide how we pay for the excess.”

Making changes

“This year, in addition to looking at how the scheme is funded, we are deciding whether changes should be made to reduce the number of different Council Tax bills that people get when they receive Universal Credit, and whether Bereavement Support Payments should be disregarded. There are also changes to the way that we treat decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).”

Generate savings

Councillor Mohindra said: “We’ve looked carefully at the LCTS scheme and are aiming to providing a fair level of support to those residents on a low income as well as identifying potential changes which would generate savings for the council.

We will of course continue to fully fund support for those who suffer exceptional hardship, and none of the changes would make a drastic change to the amount of council tax individuals would pay.”

Let us know what you think

“Let us know what you think on this important issue” Councillor Mohindra asked residents. “ It takes just 10 minutes to complete the online questionnaire which runs until midnight on Wednesday 25 October 2017.

Any recommendations from this consultation will be considered by Full Council later in the year, with a view to bringing in changes from April 2018.”

Make a detailed reply or comments

If you want to make a detailed reply or comments, email benefits@eppingforestdc.gov.uk and enter ‘consultation’ in the subject heading. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can get a paper copy from the Benefits Division at the Civic Offices.

We cannot respond individually to each response.

Lower Sheering notice of poll

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Elections, Media, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

Notice of poll for the election of 1 district councillor for the Lower Sheering Ward on Thursday 19 October 2017.

The next election is on Thursday 19 October

Notice of poll

  1. A poll for the election of a councillor for Lower Sheering will be held on Thursday 19 October 2017, between the hours of 7am and 10pm
  2. The number of councillors to be elected is 1
  3. The candidates are
    • Ingrid Black (Liberal Democrats)
    • Paul Stalker (Conservatives)
  4. The situation of Polling Stations is
    • Sheering Village Hall, The Street, Sheering

Download

Two prosecuted for cutting down protected tree

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Doing business with the council, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our countryside, Out and about, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Francesca Schillaci a resident in Nazeing and Tom Casey of Casey Tree Services, Nazeing have collectively been fined over £3000 after cutting down a protected willow tree.

Willow tree - Honeysuckle Nazing

Preservation Order

The was tree situated in Mrs Schillaci’s garden in Back Lane, Nazeing and became subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in December 2016, following a proposal by Mrs Schillaci to cut it down.

In March 2017 tree and landscape officers noticed the willow tree had been cut down, although no consent had been given.

False claims

Mrs Schillaci admitted that she has known the tree was protected but claimed it had been damaged during “Storm Doris” in February 2017 and the willow required urgent removal as there was an imminent danger if this did not happen.

Mrs Schillaci stated that she had contacted the council and having explained the situation was given authority to have the tree felled.

Further investigations

Tom Casey of Casey Tree Services confirmed that he had cut down of the willow tree after Mrs Schillaci incorrectly informed him she had permission from the Council to do so.

Officers confirmed that a telephone call had been traced from Mrs Schillaci, the officer she spoke to did not give her permission to cut down the tree, but advised her in line with the Council’s standard procedure Mrs Schillaci should arrange for the tree to be inspected by a tree surgeon and send in a photograph of the tree in its alleged dangerous state.

Found guilty

At Basildon Magistrates Court in October 2017 Francesca Schillaci and Tom Casey Nazeing were each found guilty of cutting down the willow tree without authorisation.

The Magistrates stated that they found the evidence presented by council officers to be credible and the evidence given by Mrs Schillaci inconsistent.

They also advised as a professional tree surgeon, Mr Casey should have known not to accept what Mrs Schillaci told him without written proof.

The Magistrates were not satisfied that the tree was an immediate risk which required it to be cut down immediately.

Mrs Schillaci was fined £1500 and ordered to pay a contribution towards the council’s prosecution costs of £1,000.

Mr Casey was given a 6 month conditional discharge, ordered to pay a contribution towards the council’s prosecution costs of £1000 and has been removed from the Council’s approved list of contractors.

Further information

First new council homes for Waltham Abbey

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Housing, Housing repairs, Leader, Local business, Media, Older people, Our countryside, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Epping Forest District Council welcomed the first tenants into John Scott Court, Waltham Abbey this week.

50 guests gathered for the official opening ceremony, an event which marked the completion of Phase One of the Council’s House-building Programme to provide 23 new affordable rented homes in Waltham Abbey.

John Scott Court

Click on an image below to start slideshow

John Scott

The development is named after former District Health and Housing Officer and Joint Chief Executive John Scott as a tribute to decades of service to the Council and the local community.

Guests, including John Scott, MP Eleanor Laing and local councillors joined council officers, contractors and tenants to open the nine newly built homes at John Scott Court, all of which are being let to local residents in need of housing.

Energy efficient homes

The brand new energy-efficient homes, which are built to Lifetime Homes Standards, are built on a formerly under-used garage site.

Resident delighted with her new home

One new tenant, who was delighted to move into her new home said: “I moved in last week and am so happy in my new home. I am very impressed with the size of the rooms, my son has lots of space for his toys. I’ve shown lots of friends and neighbours around my flat and they all want to live here!”

Programme of over 300 homes

The new homes at John Scott Court are the latest completions in the district-wide programme of over 300 new affordable homes to be built during the next 10 years. They will shortly be followed by the completion of Phase 2 of the Programme in Burton Road, Loughton, which is on schedule to complete by March 2018.

Proud to work with residents

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Portfolio Holder for Housing attended the official opening and said: “We are committed to making the best use of our housing stock and are continuing to build new homes for people in housing need within our community. We are proud to be working with residents and partners, building more well-designed homes for affordable rent in our district”.

After the ceremony there was an opportunity to visit another new development of six houses and flats at Hockley court, Waltham Abbey.

Further information

Nominate your Young Citizen of the Year 2018

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Chairman, Civic events, Grants, Local business, Media, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

The search is on for the Epping Forest District Young Citizen of the Year 2018.

Young Citizen of the Year

Highlighting positive contributions

The annual award presented to a young person in the district highlights extraordinary commitments, efforts and achievements made by young people in the district.

The finalists will be invited to attend the District Council`s Civic Awards ceremony in March 2018 where the winner will receive an award of £300 and a certificate of achievement.

Tomorrow’s future

Chairman David Stallan said: ‘The Young Citizen of the Year is part of the yearly Citizen of the Year awards, which is a great event showcasing the fantastic work that goes on throughout the district.”

“It’s important that we recognise all the good young people do in our community. The younger generation are our future and it always great to see the steps they are making to make the district a better place. If you know anyone between the ages 11 and 18 and feel they deserve recognition as well as £300 towards their work nominate them for an award today.”

Make a nomination

To nominate a young person aged between 11 and 18 for the Young Citizen of the Year award either

The closing date for nominations is Friday 24th November 2017.

Further information

For further information please contact Diane Gilson-Butler, Youth Engagement Officer

Register to vote by 19 October 2017

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Elections, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Properties in the district that have not yet confirmed their voting details will shortly receive a third Household Enquiry Form (HEF).  Please do not ignore this form as by law you are required to respond, even if there are no changes to the details printed on the form.  Please respond online, by phone or by text before 19 October 2017.

Household Enquiry Form - Annual Canvass 2017

What is a Household Enquiry Form?

All properties in the district have been sent a household enquiry form. This is known as the annual canvass, it happens every year and there are two stages to complete your registration. It tells us details of people who have moved out and adds details of new occupants.

Respond online

“It’s the easiest and quickest way for you to confirm your details or make any changes,” says Glen Chipp, Electoral Registration Officer, “it helps keep our costs down, which keeps the cost down for you too. You must respond, even if your details haven’t changed since the last election.”

Registering someone not already on the electoral register is a two stage process – adding a new name to the Household Enquiry Form is only stage one.

Stage 2 is providing more information about the new person so we can verify their identity.” Glen explained ”We will make contact either by email, phone or by sending out a registration form. Please do not ignore this – until the new person has been verified we cannot add them to the register.  To respond please either register online (www.gov.uk/registertovote) or call the elections helpline (01992 564411) before 19 October 2017 with the information required.”

First stage

You will need the 2 part security code on your household enquiry form and you can do 1 of the following

  1. Confirm online at www.householdresponse.com/eppingforest
  2. Text NOCHANGE – with your security number to 80212
  3. Confirm by phone 0800 197 9871

Need to make a change?

You will need the 2 part security code on your household enquiry form and can do 1 of the following

  1. Amend the information online easily and quickly at www.householdresponse.com/eppingforest
  2. Amend the form and return it to us in the prepaid envelope – please make sure you give a contact phone number or email address in case of queries

Second stage

Merely completing the Household Enquiry Form does not mean you are registered. Don’t forget to

You will need your date of birth, national insurance number, nationality and any previous addresses. Please also make sure you include a contact phone number and/or email address in case of queries.

Register to vote

Glen added: ”Please do not ignore the next round of reminders and have your responses back to us before 19 October 2017. If you ignore this reminder to register, you won’t be eligible to vote in the next election, you could face up to a £1,ooo fine and it could affect your credit rating too.”

Woman guilty of subletting council property

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Chigwell, Council tax, Equalities, Housing, Loughton, Our performance, Performance, Private housing, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Uncategorized, Working with the council, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Ms Paula Callaway of Dunmow Essex has been given a 12 month suspend sentence and 150 hours community service after being found guilty of 2 counts of Social Housing fraud.

Subletting council property

Paula Callaway became a tenant of Moat Housing housing association in 1999. The tenancy agreement required Ms Callaway to live at the property 49 Ravenoak Way Chigwell as her main home and not to sublet it without prior written permission.

In November 2011 Paula Callaway sought permission to carry out a mutual exchange with the tenant of a one bedroom flat Council property at 9 Felstead Road Loughton.

Reasons given for requesting the exchange was that Ms Callaway wished to downsize following her children leaving home. The mutual exchange was approved and took place in January 2012.

Confidential fraud hotline

Following a report to the Council’s confidential fraud hotline officers launched an investigation which revealed that Paula Callaway had purchased a three bedroom new build property and had been living in Dunmow since October 2009, whilst still claiming to be a tenant at Ravenoak Way, Chigwell.

Ms Callaway had not informed Moat Housing that she had moved out and had left her son at that property and also rented out to property to at least another five people.

The mutual exchange was therefore fraudulent and the reasons given false.

Further fraudulent activity

At trial it transpired that the tenant Ms Callaway carried out the mutual exchange with was her sister in law and the real reason for wanting to exchange was that her sister in law wanted to move to a three bedroom property.

Having then gained the tenancy of the one bedroom flat 9 Felstead Road, Callaway then illegally sublet it again. She moved in two individuals from Ravenoak Way into 9 Felstead Road, whilst still living in her own property in Great Dunmow, acting as the landlord for the 2 council owned properties.

Depriving families of a home

After a five day trial at Chelmsford Crown Court Ms. Callaway was found guilty of 2 offences relating to Social Housing fraud. Having previously pleaded guilty to the criminal offence of dishonestly subletting a property, she was sentenced with a 12 month suspended sentence on both counts of fraud, 150 hours community service and a victim surcharge.

The Judge stated: “You were given social housing once you had bought a home of your own. There is chronic shortage of social homes and you deprived a family from living in a home for six years. This went on far too long. It went on but you must know what you did was wrong.”

Fraudsters cheat us all

Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra said: “Fraud affects everyone. Money stolen by housing tenancy fraud, council tax fraud or business rates fraud is depriving our public services of the vital resources they need.”

“Please tell us if you suspect someone is committing fraud by filling in our online form or by calling our fraud investigation team”

You can report anonymously and don’t have to give your name or contact details unless you want to.

Watch out for deer, the rutting season is here

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Media, Residents, Your area, Your community

Motorists and dog walkers are being warned that the deer mating season, also known as the rutting or breeding season, has begun.

During the rutting season male deer can become highly aggressive as they attempt to fight off rivals to attract female deer. This makes them less aware of dangers around them, such as cars and bikes on the roads.

Wild animals (deer) road sign

“Accidents on the roads involving deer increase at this time of year and motorists should take extra care when driving though the forest and rural parts of the district” says Councillor Sam Kane, Portfolio Holder for Safer, Greener and Transport.

“The rutting season has begun and goes on until late November. Deer are particularly active at dawn and dusk. Unfortunately this coincides with commuting hours which are often the busiest times of the day on our roads.”

Deers are wild animals

“Deer are pack animals and often move in groups, if you see one, others are likely to follow. They can appear without warning and present a greater risk than other wildlife because of their large size.”

Cllr Kane has advice for dog walkers: “Keep your dogs on a lead. Deers are wild animals and can behave unpredictably if they feel threatened, so don’t get too close.”

Be deer aware

“Please read the safety advice and be more ‘deer aware’ during this time of year” says Cllr Sam Kane, “Whether you’re driving in our district or walking in our beautiful forest, I want everyone to complete their journey safely and without incident.”

Find out more