Domestic Homicide Review report published

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The Domestic Homicide Review Panel report into the murder of a 35-year-old mother of two, by her husband of eight years, has concluded that her death ‘could not reasonably have been foreseen or prevented by any agency, organisation or individual.’

The Epping Forest Community Safety Partnership has published the Domestic Homicide Review Panel Report into the tragic murder of Susan, a 35 year old mother of two from Theydon Bois. Her husband Peter assaulted her in February 2016 and set fire to her body in an attempt to conceal the murder.

What is a DHR?

The Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) process considers the circumstances that led to death from violence, abuse or neglect by a relation, partner or ex-partner of a member of the same household.

DHR’s establish whether public bodies and agencies could improve responses to situations, whether the correct safeguards are in place, identify lessons learned and highlight best practice – in order to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.

Absolute tragedy

Epping Forest District Council participated in the review. The Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Councillor Sam Kane said: “Susan’s death was an absolute tragedy. On behalf of myself and everyone on the panel, I would like to extend our condolences to everyone affected by her death, especially her children and loved ones.”

“The exact reasons for the murder were not uncovered but the report discloses an order of events and Peter’s subtle coercive and controlling behaviours that may have contributed to the unexpected attack.”

Subtle abuse

“The panel’s view was that irrespective of whether outreach services were available to Susan, it was unlikely that she, her family and friends would have recognised her need for access to them, because the domestic abuse she received was so subtle. This is indicative of the widening definition of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is far more than physical. It can take many forms that are not as obvious as broken bones or bruising.

“The report highlights the importance of health professionals in recognising potential domestic abuse through interactions with patients with non-physical symptoms such as low self-esteem or depression”.

Report concerns before it’s too late

Councillor Kane concluded: “If you or someone you know could be a victim, you can report your concerns anonymously to the police or to social services. Do not turn a blind eye. Your call could make the difference between life and death.”

J9 initiative

A team of agencies; Essex Police, Essex County Council Social Services, Safer Places and Epping Forest District Council, work together to form the Epping Forest Community Safety Partnership. Together they combat and raise awareness of Domestic Abuse under the initiative ‘J9’, set up in memory of domestic abuse victim Janine Mundy.

Visit the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board (SETDAB) website for comprehensive advice and guidance on how to get help

Further contact infomation

  • Police – 999 (if danger is immediate)
  • Police – 101 (non-emergencies)
  • Safer Places 24 hour helpline – 03301 025811
  • National domestic violence 24 hour helpline 0808 2000 247

Confident and bold decisions taken at Cabinet

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A series of far-reaching decisions were taken at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet, meeting at the Civic Offices on 10 December.

New home for Council

Councillors have agreed in principle to relocate staff to North Weald. While customer services, civic and democratic functions will remain at the Civic Offices in Epping, new purpose-built offices will provide space for up to 380 staff at Blenheim Way, North Weald within three years.

New partners will join remaining council staff in Epping, ensuring the northern end of the town retains a strong employment focus and economic footfall for High Street shops and businesses.

Demolition of the 1960s Conder Building attached to the Civic Offices will clear the way for a mix of new homes behind the Civic Offices.

St John’s Road Cinema, Homes and Leisure Centre

As the Civic Offices evolve, the Council will also be transforming the southern end of Epping with a new leisure centre, cinema, homes, businesses and parking. Subject to detailed negotiation and agreement, Epping Forest District Council proposes to work in partnership with Epping Town Council and leisure provider Places Leisure (also known as Places for People) to deliver the development.

The existing sports centre in Epping will be redeveloped for housing following completion of the new St John’s facility, allowing the Council Offices, St John’s Road and Hemnall Street to make a substantial contribution to housing demand identified in the emerging Local Plan.

Council staff working from the current housing depot off Epping High Street will move to new facilities already built at Oakwood Hill, Loughton.

Harlow and Gilston Vision and Design

Three strategic housing locations at Water Lane, Latton Priory and East of Harlow have been identified in the Local Plan for large housing developments on the boundaries of Harlow but within Epping Forest District. Councillors approved the vision and design guide – working documents developed by Epping Forest District Council in partnership with Harlow and East Herts District Councils for Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.

£97 million Capital Programme

Ongoing development of new council houses form the major part of the five-year capital programme put before councillors at the start of the New Year budget setting process. Aside from approximately £8 million for the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre, completed in November 2018, around £80 million is identified for a combination of new council housing and improvements to the Council’s existing stock over five years.

Landmark Building

Councillors approved £140,000 to complete work necessary to let commercial units at the new Landmark Building in the Broadway, Loughton. Once let, rental income of around £250,000 a year will be used to support the Council’s public services.

A forward-thinking council fit for the future

After the meeting, Council Leader Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “This is probably one of the most significant Cabinet meetings in years. The strategic development of council services based in Epping, North Weald and our new depot at Oakwood Hill, Loughton dovetail with our determination to build much need new homes sympathetically and boost economic activity across the district.”

“These are bold decisions. They demonstrate vision, confidence in our council, commitment to our residents and belief in the future of our district.”

Epping Forest Community Champions initiative launched

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Health, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Volunteering opportunities, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Community Champions, a volunteer programme across the towns and villages of Epping Forest district is up and running.

The initiative aims to build on the skills and knowledge of local people to create, happy, friendly and healthy communities. To do this Epping Forest District Council is bringing together like-minded people from local towns and villages to share ideas and experiences from their communities to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.

The initiative was launched in October with nine Champions taking part in an induction morning where they learned about the support and development offered by the Council throughout the programme. They also all became Dementia Friends after taking part in an Information Session.

Community Champions have been recruited in the following towns and parishes:

  • Buckhurst Hill
  • Chigwell
  • Nazeing
  • Ongar
  • Theydon Bois
  • Willingale

What is the role of a Community Champion?

Community Champions can help you to:

  • Get to know what’s going on in the local area
  • Learn more about how to stay healthy and active
  • Access local services you might need
  • Organise community events

There is an ongoing recruitment campaign for volunteers from each of the towns and parishes within the Epping Forest district.

Do you know of a local resident who would be interested in joining us and making a real difference in the community?

We are looking for people who are:

  • Living in the Epping Forest district
  • Aged 18 years or above
  • Passionate about where they live
  • Able to build strong community connections
  • Happy to support and promote fun days and community events
  • Willing to share information about local services in the area
  • Able to promote useful health improvement information within the community

Get involved and make a difference

Councillor Helen Kane, Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder said: “I am extremely proud of our Community Champions for putting themselves forward to volunteer, and I am excited to hear their ideas. The Community Champions programme is a great way to meet new people and develop your skills and knowledge. We would love for you to get involved and make a real difference in your community!’’

More information and how to join

For further information on the Epping Forest Community Champions programme and details on how to join please contact Patrick Arnold, Senior Community Engagement Officer.

Floods Destroy – Are you at Risk? Are you Prepared?

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With the onset of winter, the Environment Agency has launched its annual Flood Action Campaign.

This year it’s titled Prepare, Act, Survive and is aimed at young people who are most at risk in a flood because18-24’s are least aware of dangers of flooding in their area and more than half would not know what to do in an emergency. The Environment Agency and British Red Cross are urging young people to learn how to protect themselves and help their communities when flooding hits.


“We are all individually responsible for the safety of ourselves, and our homes in the event of a flood,” said Cllr Nigel Avey, Cabinet Member for the Environment.

“There is so much self-help information available that there is no excuse for not being prepared in the event of a flood.”

“For instance flood doors and boards are available to hold back the water if you live in an area that is in danger of flooding, or you can buy self-inflating ‘sandbags’ that only take up a fraction of the space of traditional sandbags and can be deployed rapidly. We must all be prepared to help ourselves should the worst happen.”

I would also encourage all residents to check the flood risk in their area by visiting the Environment Agency’s website and if necessary sign up for automated email and text Flood Alerts.

Be prepared

The Environment Agency’s advice in their latest campaign is to:

Prepare a bag that includes medicines and insurance documents

Act, turn off gas, water and electricity. Move things upstairs or to safety. Move family, pets and car to safety

Survive Call 999 if in immediate danger, follow advice from emergency services, keep yourself and your family safe.

More useful information is available on:

#JustOneThing on YouTube

You wouldn’t leave your belongings out to be stolen, so why let them be taken by a flood? What #JustOneThing would you hate to lose in a flood?

Avoid the unwanted gift of food poisoning this Christmas

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Environmental health, Epping, Food safety, Health, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

There are an estimated one million cases of food poisoning in the UK every year, and without attention to food hygiene, this doesn’t stop during the festive season. To save your loved ones from a nasty bout of food poisoning over the holidays, follow these Food Standards Agency top tips from Epping Forest District Council to keep your festive season truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Top tips

  1. When Christmas food shopping, take sufficient bags to separate raw and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination
  2. Check the guidance on your turkey to ensure you have enough time to fully defrost it – it could take as much as four days
  3. Don’t wash a raw turkey – it splashes germs onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops
  4. To work out the cooking time for your bird, check the instructions on the packaging Check that the meat is steaming hot throughout; there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part, and the meat juices run clear
  5. Whether you cooked your turkey from frozen or fresh, your turkey leftovers can be used to make a new meal (such as a turkey curry). This new meal can then be frozen, but make sure you only reheat it once

Coucillor Anne Grigg, Portfolio Holder for Commercial and Regulatory Services said: “Cooking a Christmas roast for a large gathering can be a challenge. It is vital that the turkey, and other meat, is stored, defrosted and cooked correctly. Likewise, leftovers from Christmas need to be reheated and eaten within specific timeframes in order to avoid food poisoning.

“This is why Epping Forest District Council is supporting the Food Standards Agency in helping to relieve some of the stress of preparing the Christmas meal and to keep your family safe during the festive period.”

Adam Hardgrave, Head of Foodborne Disease Control at the Food Standards Agency, said: “The four Cs of food hygiene – chilling, cleaning, cooking and avoiding cross-contamination are important throughout the year, but especially at Christmas.

“In the flurry of preparing the Christmas meal, it’s important to remember to plan ahead and allow plenty of time. Remember that an average-sized turkey can take four days to fully thaw in the fridge, and it is vital to thoroughly cook it so that the meat is steaming hot, there is no pink meat visible, and the meat juices run clear.”

For more information visit: or follow @foodgov #SeasonsEatings on Twitter for tips and advice throughout the festive period.

Grant Aid for local groups in Epping Forest

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Local groups across Epping Forest District have been awarded a share of nearly £50,000 from Epping Forest District Council’s Grant Aid Scheme for 2018/19.

The grants, awarded on a one-off basis, have gone to:

  • The Bridge Club XL Youth
  • Epping Town Football Club
  • CanalAbility
  • Open Door
  • The Lopping Endowment
  • Ongar United Reformed Church
  • Epping Forest Sunflower Group
  • Ongar & District Twinning Association
  • Loughton Methodist Church
  • Voluntary Action Epping Forest
  • Youth Employment Services Partnership
  • Spark
  • Loughton Voluntary Care
  • Epping Forest Neighbourhood Watch
  • Epping Forest Singers
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability
  • Hastingwood Village Hall
  • Cunningham Can Do
  • Nazeing Litter Pickers

Apply again next year

Cllr Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services said: “We considered grant applications from lots of worthy organisations across the district so it was a difficult task making the final decisions.

“I would urge any groups who were unsuccessful this year not to be disheartened, but to apply again next year.”

To apply online visit

Get active with an Epping Forest Council grant

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Grants, Health, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Grants aimed at targeting inactivity are being offered by Epping Forest District Council.

Active Epping Forest Capacity Grants of up to £500 are available to individuals, clubs and small business to encourage local residents to reduce inactivity – particularly those doing less than 30 minutes physical activity a week.

The cash can be used to pump-prime new projects, which should then be sustainable through volunteer support or alternative approaches.

Funding can also be used to expand existing projects if applicants can demonstrate it will bring added value.

Targetting over 18s

Projects must target over 18s and demonstrate how they will reduce physical inactivity and achieve a 70% participation rate of participants considered to be inactive.

“So many people find it difficult to commit to regular exercise to improve their health and wellbeing,” said Cllr Helen Kane, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Community Services.

“Anything that encourages us to become more active is a positive step towards improving our physical and mental health.”

Health and Wellbeing Assessment will be made on how well the proposed project or initiative meets the priorities of tackling physical inactivity, and consideration will be given to how longer term sustainability will be achieved.

All health and wellbeing proposals will be reviewed by a panel of EFDC Officers.

Apply now

For application forms and for further information please email Louis Walton, Community Grants Officer at

Nominations open for Sports Award 2019

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Epping Forest Young Sports Awards 2019 is open for nominations until 23 November 2018.

The awards support young athletes between the ages of 13 – 25 to develop in their chosen sports.

£100 – £1,000 awards

Awards can range from between £100 to £1000 and nominations are open until 23 November.

To be eligible nominees must:

  • Be aged 13-25 (inclusive) on the closing date for applications
  • Live in the Epping Forest District (or if at Collage/University return ‘home’ to Epping Forest District during the holidays)
  • Competing at county, regional or national level in a nationally governed sport

Last year’s winner Christianna Vitanova has used her award to help her pay for specialist coaching in her discipline Rhythmic Gymnastics, and attend training camps. This coaching and extra support has allowed further improve in her chosen discipline and continue on the Olympic Pathway I her sport.

Previous winners

Previous award winners have included Athlete Daniel Rowden, heptathlete and now GB American football star Naomi Harryman, GB Ice Hockey player Glenn Billing.

Further information

To apply please visit the Epping Forest District Council Website or call Fabrizio on 01992 564567.

Spreading the word about Gateway drugs

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A three month advertising campaign on the back of local buses has been helping to raise awareness of Epping Forest Youth Council’s anti-drugs messages.

‘Say no to Gateway Drugs’ was the theme of the advertisement – urging young people not to start down a road that could lead to a hard drug habit.

The decision to champion the anti-drugs message came after a clean up of car parks across the district revealed over 500 ‘laughing gas’ cannisters.

Cllr Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Community Services said: “It is important young people understand the serious health risks the substance can pose. Nitrous oxide can be very dangerous when misused.”

The design of the bus poster was created by Youth Councillor Annabelle Yaman called ‘Don’t Open the Gate to Gateway Drugs’. The campaign ran from August to the end of October on Arriva buses across the Epping Forest district.

Youth Councillor ‘Stanimir Bakalov’ said: “The amount of canisters we found whilst out and about is worrying and it shows ‘laughing gas’ is a real issue for young people today. Through our drug awareness project we hope to highlight the risks and make young people aware of the damage they are doing.”

Cabinet 8 November 2018

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Extra investment to support improvements to 20 Council owned car parks, a council owned gymnastic centre in North Weald and to fund two Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau Debt Advisors, was agreed at Cabinet on 8 November 2018.

Improvements to Council car parks

Following the decision to change parking tariffs in September, Councillors have now agreed to reinvest some of the extra income into the improvement of 20 car parks across the district.

The plans to improve CCTV systems and upgrade to LED lighting were supported by Cabinet members. A study will also be commissioned to look into the viability of installing electricity charging points in council car parks.

Revamp for Gymnastic Centre

The Council owned Gymnastic Centre in North Weald is in need of investment and refurbishment. When it was built in 1986, it was seen as a centre of excellence, and for many years generated international level gymnasts and operated an intensive beginners programme.

Gymnastics continues to have a high profile within the district with a demand for good quality training facilities and the Council is committed to investing in leisure for residents.

£240,000 will be spent to bring the centre back to its former glory. Plans boast brand new equipment and apparatus, as well as essential building works and repairs.

The current lease for the facility is up for renewal at the end of December.

Council funds Debt Advisors

For three years, the Council has funded two Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Debt Advisors to assist residents in the district with their personal budgeting. Last night, Councillors decided to keep funding these advisors for a further year.

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Housing Portfolio Holder spoke passionately about how important the Epping Forest CAB is to residents of the district and to the Council itself – in keeping rent arrears low and preventing homelessness.